Several bands, composers and musicians have recently learned that their music is being used to torment prisoners at the US Government’s Cuban detention center, affectionately known at Gitmo.
The interrogators use earsplitting music to hopefully extract sensitive information from enemy combatants, according to information from prisoner rights group Reprieve. The playlist includes songs from artists including
Yanni, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, AC/DC, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Nine Inch Nails, David Gray, Drowning Pool, and, brace yourself, even songs from Barney and Sesame Street. The songs are reportedly played over and over at extremely loud volumes, a technique that’s been used since the Vietnam war.
The technique has been an “approved” interrogation technique since September 2003. A declassified Army document approves “yelling, loud music, light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee and prolong capture shock.”
The concept is allegedly very effective with one inmate recalling his stay at the Dark Prison in Afghanistan where tracks by Eminem and Dr. Dre, sometimes the same song for hours or days on end, left inmates “screaming and smashing their heads against the wall.”
The U.N. and European Court of Human Rights have banned music torture, “but to this day its widespread use in secret prisons around the world is widespread,” according to Reprieve, a British law group that represents several inmates at Guantanamo Bay.
Here’s some artist takes on the use of their tracks:
“If I was a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay and they blasted a load of music at me, I’d be like, ‘Is this all you got? Come on.’ I certainly don’t believe in torturing people, but I don’t believe that playing loud music is torture either.” –Deicide drummer Steve Asheim, whose band’s song F#@& Your God is said to be an interrogators favorite.
“We’ve been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music forever. Why should the Iraqis be any different?” — James Hetfield / Metallica
“People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played over and over it can psychologically break someone down. I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.” –Drowning Pool bassist Steve Benton, quoted by Spin magazine.
“I would rate the annoyance factor to be about equal with hearing my neighbor’s leaf blower. It can set my teeth on edge, but it won’t break me down and make me confess to crimes against humanity.” Bob Singleton, author of the Barney song “I Love You.”
“These interrogators have no idea what they’re doing. Metallica?? Please. I’ve got some Hardcore Techno that will have these prisoners crying for their mommies in no time.” –Greg Geller, FutureMusic
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