In 2004, documents were released showing that FBI agents witnessed abusive treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay that included “detainees being chained to the floor for extended periods of time and being subjected to extreme heat, extreme cold or ‘extremely loud rap music.’” In fact, the use of loud music as “torture lite” has been a common tool employed at not just Guantanamo, but also at prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Last year, a coalition of musicians, along with British human rights charity Reprieve, created an anti-torture initiative called “Zero db” that sought to end the use of music in torture. Now, a new coalition of international musicians, including Trent Reznor, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Jackson Browne, Rage Against the Machine, Rosanne Cash, Billy Bragg and the Roots, is launching a new protest against the use of music used during torture and are joining the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo.
As part of their protest, the musicians are supporting an effort seeking the declassification of all secret government records pertaining to how music was used in interrogations. From the group’s press release:
“At Guantanamo, the U.S. government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture,” said Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, a freedom of information act organization that is assisting the musicians in seeking the documents. “The musicians and the public have the right to know how an expression of popular culture was transformed into an enhanced interrogation technique.” [...]
On behalf of the campaign, the National Security Archive is filing a series of FOIA requests today seeking still-secret documentation from CIA, U.S. Special Operations Command, and FBI, among other agencies, pertaining to how the music was chosen and the specific role it played in interrogations of detainees at the base.
For the musicians, Guantanamo is a symbol of the legacy of torture the Bush administration left behind. “As long as Guantanamo stays open, America’s legacy around the world will continue to be the torture that went on there,” said R.E.M. in a statement. “Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney’s idea of America, but it’s not mine,” said Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello. “The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me – we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.”
“When we found out that music was being used as part of the torture going on at Guantanamo, shackling and beating people – we were angry,” said The Roots. “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. Congress needs to shut Guantanamo down.”