Much of the sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib was not standard operating procedure. But using Muslim prisoners’ sexual phobias, taboos, and religious prohibitions against them was common. Whether smearing fake menstrual blood on a prisoner’s face, or having a woman like Lynndie England mock the exposed genitals of a terrified prisoner, sexual humiliations were not violations of the techniques you authorized. They were the techniques you authorized. And they depended for their effectiveness on the specific religious and cultural beliefs of Muslims. So to wage a war designed to expose the evil of the Taliban’s religious intolerance, we deliberately manipulated Islam into a means of abuse. In a war designed to prove that the West was not Islam’s enemy, we used Islam and Muslim culture as tools to break down the psyches of prisoners suspected of terrorism. To save religious freedom, we abused it.

Andrew Sullivan, “Dear President Bush,”