Good Apples, Bad Barrel?

Disclaimer –
I am not offering this article as any type of justification for the prison abuses going on. Let me be 100% clear – I think what has happened in the Abu Ghraib prisons, and perhaps elsewhere as well, is atrocious and I am angry about it. It is our fault as a country and we need to fix the problem immediately. Those responsible for overseeing these horrible travesties should be severely punished and things must change immediately.

Actual post –
In the interests of learning from the situation and trying to understand factors at play, I came across the following article, which said “It’s not that we put bad apples in a good barrel. We put good apples in a bad barrel. The barrel corrupts anything that it touches.” The shocking discoveries cited in the article are very interesting to me. For the context of this blog, I found the brief mention of the shift in our attitudes towards torture as a law enforcement tool particularly interesting. What implications does this have for civil liberties in this country? What implications does it have for the way in which extremist groups condition their followers to do horrible things? Is the most noble of God’s creation (ashraf al-makhluqat) really this bad/corruptible at heart?