Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney's latest project, Taxi to the Dark Side, is about torture and how America ended up doing it. It's only showing in L.A., New York and D.C. right now. We haven't seen it yet but we're going to; it's getting great reviews.
The trailer reminds us of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Back in the '70s a Stanford psychology professor set up a mock prison and put college students in the roles of guard and prisoner. He wanted to see how a prison environment affected "normal" people. He couldn't even finish the experiment because it got out of hand so fast. The "guards became sadistic and [the] prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress." The lesson: set up a prison environment and good people easily slide into evil. See below.
So if you're going to treat prisoners humanely you have to fight human nature to a certain extent. Rather than setting clear, high standards for how we treat prisoners, our country decided to exploit ambiguities in the Geneva Convention to back up its ends-justify-the-means approach to the "war on terror." But our appalling means are undermining the shit out of our ends. Abu Grhaib's net effect has been way negative. Also, torture is wrong.