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camp delta guantanamo bay cubaSome time ago it became known that in Guantanamo, the prison used for terrorists, music is used as torture during the interrogations. Alone this was quite disturbing. But the track-list shocks even more: there are popular industrial, heavy-metal, rap, pop songs and even soundtrack from the ‘Sesame Street’.

Some time ago I was quite impressed by the very first concert of a famous industrial band, I ever saw. I do remember very well the words of a friend of mine, who said: This is THE quality! As if you were shot down with a machine-gun from the stage! Young fans of the violent Industrial music and other extreme musical directions would kindly smile as their parents would call this music a real torture. We go to club to chat with our old friends, to meet some new people. And we longing to drown into the ocean of deafening, explosive music, puffs of smoke and blinking stroboscopes and forget about all the problems and unpleasant reality outside the club… at least for some time.

But our favourite music sounds not just in the clubs. Instead of loud but still friendly dance-floor, I’d like to invite you to a humid stuffy prison cell, where the only person you see is the guard. With bit of luck you’ll his face before he puts a black bag over your head. The thomasrainer by achimwebel“entertainment program” includes several days of sleep deprivation, which you spend on the cold floor in the most uncomfortable position. Now the stroboscopes and loud music don’t seem to be that fun.

I find it terrible when any kind of art is used for any kind of negative purposes. Art should have something positive, cleaning - spread some kind of catharsis effect and NEVER be used as a weapon, torturing instrument or for some political purposes.
Thomas Rainer (L’Ame Immortelle, Nachtmahr)

2002 George W. Bush signed a resolution for “special interrogation methods“. It was about creating disturbing atmosphere to distemper the prisoner during the interrogation. Loud music for a long period of time, temperature torturing and sleep deprivation will never leave any physical traces. This is called “no touch torture”. According to “Red Cross“, “Amnesty International” and “Human Rights Watch”, American military people used to use this kind of methods dealing with detainees from the Middle East, like Iraq, Pakistan or Afghanistan. Reports about inhuman treatment of the prisoners at the scandalous Guantanamo Bay do really shock. The most of Guantanamo detainees are accused of terrorism and war crimes. Although lots of them have been imprisoned for several years, most of the times there were no tribunals or investigations.

Those who found their way to freedom told about all the Guantanamo horrors. Some servants did report about what is going on inside the prison’s walls or at Middle East American camps as well. For example, an officer who served in Afghanistan told to “Human Rights Watch” about the typical interrogation procedure:

You've been here for 24 hours. They start off with some softball questions, getting your name, getting warmed up, like that. And then, at the first “no,” at the first “I don't know,” at the first “I don't have any information,” the first wrong answer-that's when the lights went off, they put some strobe light on, put some kind of a heavy metal on-just some kind of loud music, whatever they could put on. So, typical first time interrogation consisted of some kind of heavy metal music really loud, strobe light, lot of yelled questions and stuff like that, until they finally would break down and cry and say “I don't know anything, I don't know anything!” Music or noise was often played so loud in the interrogation room that soldiers standing 30 feet away, at the metal container where detainees were initially held, would have to yell at each other to be heard. (“Soldiers’ Accounts” from Human Rights Watch)

One of the most popular songs, using for torturing are DROWNING POOL’s ‘Bodies’ and METALLICA’s ‘Enter Sandman’. The vocalist of METALLICA, James Hetfield, said he was honoured to serve to the US. “If the Iraqis aren't used to freedom, then I'm glad to be part of their exposure,” he said in one of the radio interviews back in 2004. And finished with a joke: “We've been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music forever. Why should the Iraqis be any different?” As for the DROWNING POOL, this band was even on tour to Iraq to support the American soldiers. The drummer Stevie Benton said: “I take it as an honour to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.” However, later the musician did apology for this.

DROWNING POOL’s - 'Bodies'


One of the ex-detainees reported: “I can bear being beaten up, it's not a problem. Once you accept that you're going to go into the interrogation room and be beaten up, it's fine. You can prepare yourself mentally. But when you're being psychologically tortured, you can't. From the end of 2003 they introduced the music, and it became even worse. Before that, you could try and focus on something else. It makes you feel like you are going mad. You lose the plot, and it's very scary to think that you might go crazy because of all the music, because of the loud noise, and because after a while you don't hear the lyrics at all, all you hear is heavy banging.” (“A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror”” by Andy Worthington)

erkaicrag by mandyprivenauSo far, the volume isn’t the only criteria to have an aggressive musical piece as a torture. For example, DEICIDE’s ‘Fuck Your God’ is successfully used to demoralize the Muslims… even if the song appeals to the Christians. For a detainees from the Middle East any kind of western music could cause stress: rock, rap, Italian opera or even BRITNEY SPEARS’ ‘…Baby One More Time’. This experience could be so unusual for them, that they just get broken down.

The spirit of art gets raped every time someone uses music to torture, it is just denigrating. No one has the right to use a piece of art of whatever nature as a psychological weapon. I think it is very positive that these cases get exposed and get discussed publicly.
Erk Aicrag (Hocico)

Another effective remedy is playing the same song all over again… and again… and again. “If you play it for 24 hours your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down, and your will is broken. That's when we come in and talk to them,” explained an American servant to Human Rights Watch. And the choice in this situation can be way more disturbing – children songs. One of the most popular is ‘I Love You’ by Barney the Purple Dinosaur. “I love you, you love me – we’re a happy family./ With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you,/ Won't you say you love me too?” sings the dinosaur.

Barney the Purple Dinosaur - I Love You’


Several years ago there was a case of a man, who sued Disneyland after he stuck at some of attractions and had to listen to the song ‘It’s A Small World’ for thirty minutes. He got $8,000 from Disney. As for those who stuck at the Guantanamo Bay, they have to listen to such songs for days non-stop.

‘It's A Small World’ - Disney


Christopher Cerf, who wrote the music for ‘Sesame Street’, was horrified to learn that the show's theme tune had been used in interrogations. 2010 together with a German director Tristan Chytroschek he created a documentary ‘Musik als Waffe’ (“Music as a weapon”). They managed to reproduce and to test the Guantanamo tortures on themselves.

adrianhates by silkejochumSpontaneously it reminds me on the “Clockwork Orange“. Probably normal people know just a tiny part of what is really going on at Guantanamo Bay, but what we already discovered is unbelievable and can’t be explained or approved by any excuse. The idea that for someone the known bands and artists will be associated with misery, suffering and torture for the rest of their lives could be unbearable for every musician and artist.
Adrian Hates (Diary of Dreams)

2008, a group of well-known musicians, among them PEARL JAM and TRENT REZNOR, signed a petition called “Zero Db”. Musicians from RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, MASSIVE ATTACK and R.E.M. took the public actions against using music for torturing people as well. Some time ago there was news that Canadian band SKINNY PUPPY sued the US Department of Defence for using their music during the interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. According to papers the Canadians wanted to get $666,000 from American government. However, later there was disproof of the information that the musicians wanted any money.

Each feeling seems to have its own soundtrack, and it seems that the Yankee troops loved to torture their inmates with some special tunes, in this case the very well-simonesalvatori  by protassoknown band SKINNY PUPPY (well, even the other bands were also mentioned as possible soundtracks as METALLICA, RATM etc.) Frankly it doesn’t surprise me if some assholes in the army used to “caress” their enemies listening some kind of PUPPY tunes! SKINNY PUPPY claimed 666,000 dollars and express outrage at their music. [Comment: the musicians gave the comments before the information about Skinny Puppy's case was disprooved] It reminds me when, back in the 80’s, for example, conservative courts and hysterical hyper protective moms pointed the hairy metal bands as the worst stimulations for their kids, pushing them to use drugs or commit suicides and all these shit. Now I wonder, is there any point to behave exactly like them? Well, too often we try to find an excuse for our weakness, for our mistakes, for our disgraces or whatever! The easiest way is to find a solution out there: pointing at someone as possible responsible for our stupidity or frailty, call it as you want. The solution comes from our inside, with a constant search for ourselves of our limits on the one hand and our infinite possibilities on the other. The acceptance that the evil is also inside of us, in each of us, and it’s present, it’s here! Stop looking for empty alibis, especially if they ended up with 666,000 dollars.
Simone Salvatori (Spiritual Front)

Of course in the society we live in there can’t be any excuse neither for terrorism nor for tortures. As for the musicians, who against their will caused suffering, it is the question of responsibility as well. Those who use their music for evil are responsible for their deeds, but the musicians are responsible for their creativity as well. The influence of music on the society is obvious. To prove it, it would be enough to mention that the very first hit by BRITNEY SPEARS ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ was renamed to ‘…Baby One More Time’ to prevent the domestic violence. And should we really be surprised that aggressive music was used to cause fear and desperation? And it is quite interesting that in the torturing Top there are pop-songs as well as extreme music. With the only difference: till now there were no comments from BRITNEY SPEARS.

The well-known Guantanamo torturing tracklist:
01. AC/DC - Hells Bells
02. AC/DC - Shoot To Thrill
03. Aerosmith - Cryin
04. Anal Cunt - Fuck Yeah
05. Barney the Purple Dinosaur - Theme tune
06. Bee Gees - Stayin Alive
07. Britney Spears - Baby One More Time
08. Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA
09. Burzum - Dunkelheit
10. Choke ft. Met - Morning Dubz
11. David Gray - Babylon
12. Death In June - All Pigs Must Die
13. Deicide - Fuck Your God
14. Don McLean - American Pie
15. Dope - Die MF Die
16. Dope - Take Your Best Shot
17. Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg - Still D.R.E
18. Drowning Pool - Bodies
19. Eminem - Kim
20. Eminem - The Real Slim Shady
21. Eminem - White America
22. Last Days Of Humanity - Rectal bowel inquisition
23. Lil' Kim - Lighters Up
24. Limp Bizkit - Hot Dog
25. Matchbox Twenty - Cold
26. Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
27. Metallica - Enter Sandman
28. Neil Diamond - America
29. Nine Inch Nails - March Of The Pigs
30. Nine Inch Nails - Mr. Self Destruct
31. Prince & The Revolution - Raspberry Beret
32. Queen - We Are The Champions
33. Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name Of
34. Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Taste The Pain
35. Saliva - Click Click Boom

A Russian version of this article is online at http://rockoracle.ru/articles/469-guantanamo-music.html

Photo Credits:
Thomas Rainer by Achim Webel
Erk Aicrag by Mandy Privenau
Adrian Hates by Silke Jochum
Simone Salvatory by P. Rotasso



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