Torture Tunes

October 27, 2009

Music is kind of like trash and treasure — it’s all in the appreciation.

Last week, the National Security Archive filed a series of petitions (pdf) under the Freedom of Information Act seeking all kinds of data “concerning the use of loud music during detention and/or as a technique to interrogate detainees at U.S.-operated prison facilities used in its War on Terror at Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan during 2002-the present.”
The NSA’s action was on behalf of a long list of rock-and-rollers, some head-bangers in there, too, from AC/DC to Tupac Shakur with the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, even Neil Diamond and Nine Inch Nails thrown in between — just about all musical tastes represented.
Torture tunes also included a Meow mix cat food jingle, the Barney theme song and some Sesame Street melodies.

Also unfurled Oct. 22 was the musician coalition from which the FOIA requests were based, the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, with music as torture underscored:
From the BBC:

In a statement, REM said: “We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice. To now learn that some of our friends’ music may have been used as part of the torture tactics without their consent or knowledge, is horrific.
It’s anti-American, period.”

Of course, the CIA responded: Spokesman George Little said music was used only for security, rather than “punitive purposes…” and insisted any music was played “at levels far below a live rock band.”
Dude, AC/DC can’t be played anywhere near “far below” the screaming of a wounded hyena.

Other NSA tidbits, previously revealed (all pdf), which led to last week’s filing included:
In 2002, a female interrogator rubbed perfume on a detainee’s arm — “At the time of the event the detainee responded by attempting to bite the interrogator and lost his balance, fell out of his chair, and chipped his tooth. He received immediate and appropriate medical attention and did not suffer permanent injury.”
Ha!
And: Interrogators stated that cultural music would be played as an incentive. Futility technique included the playing of Metallica, Britney Spears and Rap music.
Listening to any of those three could, in some musical circles, be considered a heinous form of torture in itself.

Also in 2002: Mohammed al-Khatani: “He had also been deprived of adequate sleep for weeks on end, stripped naked, subjected to loud music, and made to wear a leash and perform dog tricks.”
And, Mohammad al-Sliha, at Guantanamo, who was “exposed to variable light patterns and rock music, to the tune of Drowning Pool’s ‘Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.'”

In 2001/2003, the testimony of Asif Iqbal on his capture and interrogation at Gitmo:  “After three days I was taken to ‘the Brown building.’ I was long shackled and sat in a chair. I was left in a room and strobe lighting was put on and very loud music. It was a dance version of Eminem played repeatedly again and again. I was left in the room with the strobe lighting and loud music for about an hour before I was taken back to my cell. Nobody questioned me.”

And there’s way more.
All of this shit is like reading something out of the Spanish Inquisition or some horrible fiction from some faraway horrible place.
And remember, these sonofabitch US interrogators were acting in all US peoples name, they were representing us, displaying to the whole world, the horror of a lying hypocrisy.
America is a major party to the UN’s Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, an international law signed by Ron Reagan in April 1988.

In December 2008, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails eloquently retorted:

“It’s difficult for me to imagine anything more profoundly insulting, demeaning and enraging than discovering music you’ve put your heart and soul into creating has been used for purposes of torture.
If there are any legal options that can be realistically taken they will be aggressively pursued, with any potential monetary gains donated to human rights charities.
Thank GOD this country has appeared to side with reason and we can put the Bush administration’s reign of power, greed, lawlessness and madness behind us.”

Or so we hope.

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