The White House web site is actually pretty funny on this one: the picture of grave men "saving" us by legalizing torture operations/gulags and the concomitant kangaroo courts.
I think there's one good outcome of the unfortunate torture policy: the legislation is an acknowledgement of an unspoken part of US and Western foreign policy that's existed since after WWII (and before): brute force, violence and the destruction of both human rights and human dignity. All these things are used, have been used, and will be used for political ends. The post-WWII West doesn't have the "special" call/purpose or status that we think it does. Human rights/"freedom" is a goal, not a reality, and it always was a goal and won't be a reality until after we're dead.
France's excursion into Algeria sets the precedent; France is now perceived as "weak" and "liberal" and "feminine." Well, in brutalizing another country your country gives into brutality; at least they have the know-how to forsake their own evil. I think France is about 30 years ahead of us, then.
Hegemony, and pimpin', ain't easy. I gotta get paid. --adam