Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How To "Torture" Someone

Much has been made of the supposed "torture" of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other foreign locations. I sincerely doubt any "true" torture has been taking place, although I found it highly amusing when I read these two articles (here and here) which described the musical selections that these detainees are forced to listen to for long spans of time. According to a British source, here are some of the most commonly used songs:

• "Enter Sandman," Metallica.

• "Bodies," Drowning Pool.

• "Shoot to Thrill," AC/DC.

• "Hell's Bells," AC/DC.

• "I Love You," from the "Barney and Friends" children's TV show.

• "Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen.

• "Babylon," David Gray.

• "White America," Eminem.

• "Sesame Street," theme song from the children's TV show.

Other bands and artists whose music has been frequently played at U.S. detention sites: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Don McLean, Lil' Kim, Limp Bizkit, Meat Loaf, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tupac Shakur.

So is this torture?? I guess it depends on your definition of torture. But if your goal is to force enemies of our country to cough up information that will contribute to the safety of our citizens, then I have no problem with blasting Springsteen at them. Or Barney.

Here are some quotes regarding the efficacy of these tactics:

The experience was overwhelming for many. Binyam Mohammed, now a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, said men held with him at the CIA's "Dark Prison" in Afghanistan wound up screaming and smashing their heads against walls, unable to endure more.

"There was loud music, (Eminem's) 'Slim Shady' and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over," he told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. "The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night for the months before I left. Plenty lost their minds."

Not all of the music is hard rock. Christopher Cerf, who wrote music for "Sesame Street," said he was horrified to learn songs from the children's TV show were used in interrogations.

"I wouldn't want my music to be a party to that," he told AP.

Bob Singleton, whose song "I Love You" is beloved by legions of preschool Barney fans, wrote in a newspaper opinion column that any music can become unbearable if played loudly for long stretches.

"It's absolutely ludicrous," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "A song that was designed to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the emotional breaking point?"

Some musicians, however, say they're proud that their music is used in interrogations. Those include bassist Stevie Benton, whose group Drowning Pool has performed in Iraq and recorded one of the interrogators' favorites, "Bodies."

"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," he told Spin magazine. "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."

He said he was locked in an overcooled 9-foot-by-9-foot cell that had a speaker with a metal grate over it. Two large speakers stood in the hallway outside. The music was almost constant, mostly hard rock, he said.

"There was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, including 'March of the Pigs,"' he said. "I couldn't tell you how many times I heard Queen's 'We Will Rock You."'

For those of us who find rock music to be morally offensive in general, and even for those who don't, there are a lot of insights to be had here....

2 comments: said...

All this proves is that terrorists don't know good music when they hear it.

OK, Drowning Pool sucks, but Tupac? I "torture" myself with my Pac playlist a couple of times a week.


Peter Matesevac said...

I might be prone to believe Barney could be construed as painful, but not tortuous.