Here's what the "CIA pros" did to prisoners (the non-CIA pros improvised the president's directive to torture and abuse prisoners in very similar ways): stress positions, nudity, hooding, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, long time standing, beatings, hypothermia, and walling. They key thing, according to the CIA, is to enhance "the potential dread a high-value detainee might have of US custody." Notice the shift from the standards of the past. In the past, the US was known for being a country whose soldiers would never mistreat prisoners; now, the US wants the world to know that US custody is something to be dreaded. That's what Cheney did to America. He's proud of it. If you are ever captured by a US soldier, and suspected of terrorism, you know that torture will be coming soon. The values of Washington and Eisenhower and Reagan are inverted. The reputation of the US as a defender of human rights is reversed. The point is that America must be feared for its willingness to abandon all human rights.I remarked to a friend recently that all of us were sad and scared after 9/11; I know I made a number of not-very-rational comments. I was also certain, within minutes of hearing about the events, that Al Quaida was responsible; Iraq never crossed my mind. The whole piece linked above is worth reading... of particular note are the passages dealing with prisoners being forced to lie in their own excrement.
Which leads to the point I want to tack on here. Within a week or two after 9/11, as the fear and fury receded, and a touch of rationality returned, I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. I still feel it was necessary, I just wish we'd had some sane leadership. Because Bush, and particularly Cheney, never did get over that bone-chilling, stomach-clenching terror. I guess Cheney felt if he was going to spend nearly eight years crapping in his britches, that'd be fine for the prisoners too. He wasn't strong, his policies weren't determined, the results didn't improve American standing and safety. His reaction was that of a panicked four-year-old, running around screaming and hitting, and fouling his underwear.
The outcome was pretty similar too, but on a global scale. The main difference is that a panicky four-year-old gets over it in a few minutes. Cheney never has.