I'd like to once again remind everyone that the pictures that were going to be released aren't CIA types carefully applying graduated techniques to elicit confessions but are home-movies of US soldiers run amok. If nothing else, they serve as a stark reminder that when cruelty is officially sanctioned, the normal checks to evil behavior are gone and this is what ensues. It's simple human nature and labels like "American" or "Taliban" don't change the basic equation.
The the moral authority that the US has enjoyed in the past is a direct result of our adherence to the principles of human rights even when it was inconvenient (or frightening). It's not too late to regain that authority, but if there isn't a sharp break between the current administration and the last one, then all the justification we have to engage in geopolitics in our current "world leader" role will dissolve into dust.