Music weaponry at its finest

Some people use music as a calming device.
Some people use music to cheer up.
Other people use music as a torture device.

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By Stacy Lee / Staff Writer

By Stacy Lee / Staff Writer

Some people use music as a calming device.
Some people use music to cheer up.
Other people use music as a torture device.

New information has emerged showing that the government may have used it as an interrogation technique at Guantanamo Bay.

Former detainees have testified that a variety of music was played during interrogations by artists including Rage Against the Machine, the Bee Gees, AC/DC and Britney Spears.

In addition, several theme songs were played, including Sesame Street and Barney.

Music was played at deafeningly loud levels as part of the attempts to “break” the suspects, said an article in The Guardian.

In addition, MSNBC.com said this “auditory assault” can last for several months with music blaring for up to 20 hours a day.

“At Guantanamo, the U.S. government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture,” Thomas Blanton said, executive director of the National Security Archive, a freedom of information organization.

“The musicians and the public have the right to know how an expression of popular culture was transformed into an enhanced interrogation technique,” Blanton said.

Musicians are now coming forward, demanding to know whether or not their music was used as a torture device.

Several of the performers have even banded with zero dB, part of Reprieve, a human rights company in the United Kingdom who represents over 30 Guantanamo detainees.

Reprieve has helped these artists file freedom of information requests with several US agencies including the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense and the Defense Intelligence Agency to get the official play list of songs released.

According to a Reprieve press release Zero dB is backed by the Musicians Union which is calling on British musicians to voice their outrage against the use of music to torture.

“What we’re talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them,” musician David Gray said.

“That is torture. That is nothing but torture. It doesn’t matter what the music is – it could be Tchaikovsky’s finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn’t matter, it’s going to drive you completely nuts,” Gray said.

Several of the artists joining the campaign and speaking out are Nine Inch Nails, Billy Bragg, Tom Morello (guitarist with Rage Against the Machine), Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Massive Attack and Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash.

“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,” Trent Reznor said, guitarist of the group Nine Inch Nails, on his official blog.

Even artists that are not worried about their music being played are speaking out on behalf of their friends.

We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice,” REM said in a statement.

“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,” REM said.
While some artists like Drowning Pool haven’t objected to their music being used, others are furious.

“The fact that music I helped create was used as a tactic against humanity sickens me,” Morello said. “We need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.”    

The Roots, a popular music group, also agreed.

“Just as we wouldn’t be caught dead allowing Dick Cheney to use our music for his campaigns, you can be damn sure, we wouldn’t allow him to use it to torture other human beings,” they said.

It is clear that the artists working on this cause have a fight ahead of them.

Artists have banded together in the past in support of a cause and been successful.

However, only time will tell if zero dB, the artists or Reprieve will be successful in their pursuit of information.

For more information, go to http://www.reprieve.org.uk.

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