Washington, DC, October 22, 2009 - On behalf of a coalition of U.S. and international musicians, including R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Tom Morello and Jackson Browne, the National Security Archive today filed a series of FOIA petitions requesting the full declassification of secret U.S. documentation on the strategy of using music as an interrogation device at Guantanamo and other detention centers.
Bands and Recording Artists Named in the Requests
The National Security Archive has requested information held by the U.S. government about the use of music by the following bands and recording artists during the detention and interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo and other US facilities.
The names come from declassified and published reports on the treatment of detainees, as well as interviews with former detainees and guards.
Barney theme song (By Bob Singleton)
The Bee Gees
Meow mix jingle
Nine Inch Nails
Rage against the Machine
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sesame street theme music (By Christopher Cerf)
The Star Spangled Banner
The Archive also posted several declassified documents and published reports that refer to the use of "loud" music to "create futility" in uncooperative detainees at Guantanamo. A 2004 Defense Department report on abuses at the military base in Cuba, for example, stated that the "futility technique included the playing of Metallica, Britney Spears and Rap music."
Archive analysts filed the FOIA requests with the CIA, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the FBI, among other agencies, requesting all documentation pertaining to how the music was chosen and the specific role it played in interrogations of detainees at the Guantanamo base.
"At Guantanamo, the U.S. government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture," said 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."
The documents posted here today are drawn from "The Torture Archive," a collection of more than 83,000 primary source records related to the detention and interrogation of individuals by the United States, in connection with the conduct of hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the broader context of the "global war on terror."
Click here to read the press release issued today by the musicians and the Campaign to Close Guantanamo.
Read the documents from The Torture Archive
Army Regulation 15-6: Final Report--Investigation into FBI Allegations of Detainee Abuse at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba Detention Facility
[Furlow Report; Amended June 9, 2005], April 1, 2005
Details an Army investigation into the use of loud music as an enhanced interrogation method. See page 9, for example: "Futility technique included the playing of Metallica, Britney Spears, and Rap music."
Senate Armed Service Committee, Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody
November 20, 2008
References the use of music in interrogation of high-level detainee Mohammed al-Khatani: "He had also been deprived of adequate sleep for weeks on end, stripped naked, subjected to loud music, and made to wear a leash and perform dog tricks." (p.xxi/PDF p.23) See page 139 (PDF p.170) regarding the interrogation of another prisoner, Mohammad al-Sliha, at Guantanamo, who was "exposed to variable light patterns and rock music, to the tune of Drowning Pool's 'Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.'"
Composite Statement: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay
July 26, 2004
Contains multiple references to music in interviews with former detainees. See page 77, paragraph 226, for interview transcript of detainee Asif Iqbal regarding his treatment at Camp Delta, Guantanamo, in 2003: "After three days I was taken to 'the Brown building'. I was long shackled and sat in a chair. I was left in a room and strobe lighting was put on and very loud music. It was a dance version of Eminem played repeatedly again and again. I was left in the room with the strobe lighting and loud music for about an hour before I was taken back to my cell. Nobody questioned me."
U.S. SOUTHCOM Public Affairs After Action Report Supplement, "Operation Just Cause"
Dec. 20, 1989 - Jan. 31, 1990.
The U.S. military has used music in its operations in the past. In December 1989, Army troops participating in the invasion of Panama broadcast music through huge loudspeakers toward the Vatican embassy in Panama City, where head of state General Manuel Noriega was holed up, trying to avoid capture. The National Security Archive obtained declassified documents about the tactics years later, including the song-by-song playlist of the music used in the operation.