This claim is false. (Taken from an update to my Rec'd Diary from Yesterday)
False Claim: That the events at Abu Ghraib were in no way connected to changes made in Bush Policy.
As shown by the ACLU's Torture Timeline.
Following Bush's determination that "Geneva Doesn't Apply" and various memos from Gonzales, Yoo and Bybee authorizing and justifying the use of a variety of harsh interrogation methods which were first tested on Zubaydah in Thailand, were exported in response to requests from the commanders at GTMO. Following that request in Dec of 2002 SECDEF Rumsfeld authorized new techniques such as hooding, stress positions, nudity, the use of phobias, dogs, sensory deprivation, environmental controls (hypothermia), sexual humiliation as a way to "soften up" detainees.
On that memo Rumsfeld handwrote... "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" Rumsfeld used a "standing desk" for doing his work, the problem with his argument is that he has freedom to move and shift positions, but in a standing stress position the subjects movements are limited which can over the coarse of time induce renal failure and death. That's why the 4-hour limit.
In January of 2003 the commander at Bagram AFB, Afghanistan officially implemented the new Rumsfeld's techniques going far beyond the Army Field Manual, which is written to be consistent with Geneva. This ultimately results in the death of several detainees (A clear violation of even the "Bybee Standard").
In August of 2003 on recommendations from Lt. Gen Sanchez, Rumsfeld sent the commander of Guantanamo (Gen. Miller) to Abu Ghraib to Gitmo-ize it. The new commander removed the authority of the standard base commander Gen. Kaprinski over the "Hard Site" and positions the MP's handling prisoners there under the command of Military Intelligence, then proceeded to implement The same tactics Rumsfeld had previously approved for GITMO and Bagram
The pictures that we all saw at Abu Ghraib, the hooding, the nudity, and stress positions were all authorized by Rumsfeld and exported to the Hard Site on his orders. The argument has long been that this wasn't an "Intelligence Mission" because those who were mistreated clearly were not high-value members of al Qaeda, but using his sources journalist Sy Hersh (who first broke the Abu Ghraib story) has found the explanation for all this. In his book "Chain of Command" he argues that this treatment was intended to be used a s blackmail (hence all the pictures and photos) against low-value targets who would them be released and coerced into becoming spies against the insurgency.
The original idea behind the sexually humiliating photos taken at Abu Ghraib, Hersh said he had heard, was to use them as blackmail so that the newly released prisoners - many of whom were ordinary Iraqi thieves or even civilian bystanders rounded up in dragnets - would act as informants. "We operate on guilt, [Muslims] operate on shame," Hersh explained. "The idea of photographing an Arab man naked and having him simulate homosexual activity, and having an American GI woman in the photographs, is the end of society in their eyes."
Abu Ghraib was no boating accident, it was a Covert Op.
This is why even in while putting together the Taguba Report, investigators into Abu Ghraib were prohibited from looking at the actions and motivations of higher-ups, and instead told to focus on scapegoats like Grainer and England who were for the most part only doing what Un-ranked Military Intelligence Officers had instructed them to do.