Musicians Demand Classified Gitmo Memos on How Their Tunes Were Used as Torture

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Of all the outrages perpetrated at Guantánamo Bay -- which New Times explored in depth earlier this year on our visit to the prison camp in southern Cuba -- one of the strangest has to be the military's music-based "futility technique."

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via Wikimedia Commons

In case you've succeeded in washing the stain of Gitmo from your memory, Army interrogators came up with a laundry list of disturbing "enhanced interrogation methods" -- also known as "torture" to the nonmilitary among us -- to try to force detainees to talk.

Those methods included sleep deprivation, faux dog attacks, and, Dick Cheney's personal favorite, waterboarding. And in recent months, the Army has also admitted to using music as a torture device. 

In this memo, declassified by the National Security Archive, the Army admits interrogators' "futility technique included the playing of Britney Spears, Metallica, and rap music." 

Another memo notes that one prisoner, named Mohammed Al-Sliha, was "exposed to variable light patterns and rock music, to the tune of Drowning Pools' "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor."

Pretty messed up, right? Well, today a coalition of big-name musicians has signed onto a Freedom of Information request to the Pentagon demanding that the military declassify all memos related to how their music was used to torture detainees.

The coalition that signed on, all part of a group called the Campaign to Close Guantanamo, includes R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Billy Bragg, Trent Reznor, and the Roots.

The National Security Archive, a group based at George Washington University, helped file the FOIA with the CIA, the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, and the FBI.

"At Guantánamo, the U.S. government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture," says Thomas Blanton, the archive's executive director. "The musicians and the public have the right to know how an expression of popular culture was transformed into an enhanced interrogation technique."

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