Noise pol­lu­tion? Mu­si­cians blast use of their tunes at Gitmo

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY AU­DREY HUD­SON

Par­ents have long com­plained that loud rock mu­sic is tor­ture; plenty of hipsters would say the same about Bar­ney the Di­nosaur and Christina Aguil­era.

But now some of the mu­si­cians are band­ing to­gether with the Na­tional Cam­paign to Close Guan­tanamo to protest the use of their songs as tor­ture mech­a­nisms.

Some of those mu­si­cians — Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Ma­chine — say their mu­sic has been played at ear­split­ting level to tor­ment ter­ror sus­pects and co­erce con­fes­sions at the de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity. Other pe­ti­tion­ers want to know whether their works have been used in such ca­pac­ity, in­clud­ing R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Jack­son Browne and Billy Bragg.

“The fact that mu­sic I helped cre­ate was used in crimes against hu­man­ity sick­ens me,” said Tom Morello, for­mer lead gui­tarist for Rage Against the Ma­chine, an in­dus­trial rock band whose songs have been linked to tor­ture tac­tics at the de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity at the U.S. Naval Base Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba.

“We need to end tor­ture and close Guan­tanamo now,” Mr. Morello said.

Based on in­ter­views and de­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments, a spokes­woman with the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Archives says acts whose mu­sic is known to have been used cov­ers the mu­si­cal gamut — from AC/DC to the Bar­ney theme song, Marilyn Man­son to Neil Di­a­mond, Tu­pac Shakur to Se­same Street, Limp Bizkit to Christina Aguil­era. And the Bee Gees. The Na­tional Se­cu­rity Archive, a re­search divi­sion of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity, filed Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act (FOIA) re­quests Oct. 22 on be­half of the mu­si­cians, ask­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to de­clas­sify doc­u­ments that ex­plain how spe­cific mu­sic is cho­sen, and what role it plays in in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques.

“There’s been a lot of out­rage and be­wil­der­ment on how this could be and what went on,” said Kate Doyle, archive se­nior an­a­lyst. “The mu­si­cians are us­ing the FOIAs to ex­press their out­rage and ob­jec­tion to the mil­i­tary us­ing th­ese songs and abus­ing their cre­ativ­ity in this way.”

The archive said it has al­ready found 20 de­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments that ref­er­ence loud mu­sic used to “cre­ate fu­til­ity” with un­co­op­er­a­tive de­tainees.

“We have spent the past 30 years sup­port­ing causes re­lated to peace and jus­tice,” R.E.M. 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 an­tiAmer­i­can, pe­riod.”

But De­bra Burlingame, a di­rec­tor with the na­tional se­cu­rity pol­icy group Keep Amer­ica Safe, called the mu­si­cians’ ef­fort “pa­thetic.”

“This is a preview of what the Gitmo de­fense at­tor­neys are go­ing to do with th­ese hard-core ter­ror­ists in fed­eral court. This tor­ture nar­ra­tive will com­pletely eclipse jus­tice for the 3,000 vic­tims,” said Mrs. Burlingame, whose brother was a pi­lot killed the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

One pris­oner, Mo­ham­mad alSliha, was ex­posed to “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” by Drown­ing Pool. An­other pris­oner, Asif Iqbal, was shack­led in a chair while a dance ver­sion of Eminem mu­sic was played re­peat­edly.

“The var­i­ous bands in­volved want to know why was their mu­sic used without autho­riza­tion or con­sul­ta­tion, how was their cre­ativ­ity used in a way that was re­pel­lant to them,” Ms. Doyle said.

The Na­tional Cam­paign to Close Guan­tanamo, lead by re­tired Gens. Robert Gard and John Johns, said the base has been al Qaeda’s big­gest re­cruit­ment tool and will re­main such un­til it is shut down. En­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques, in­clud­ing wa­ter­board­ing, were sus­pended at Guan­tanamo in 2003. Pres­i­dent Obama has pledged to close the camp.

“The tor­ture that went on there is dis­grace­ful and puts our troops at risk ev­ery day,” Mr. Gard said. “I sym­pa­thize for the mu­si­cians whose mu­sic was used without their knowl­edge as part of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s mis­guided poli­cies.” Oth­ers weren’t so sym­pa­thetic. “It’s al­most laugh­able to think that heavy metal bands like Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Ma­chine have a moral au­thor­ity on na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues,” Mrs. Burlingame said.

“They’re wor­ried about tor­ture of hard-core ter­ror­ists? This is re­ally some­thing I would ex­pect to read in the Onion.”

How dare you use my loud, weird and dis­turb­ing mu­sic this way? Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails

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