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Musicians Demand Records On Bush Administration's Use Of Music For Torture

Sam Stein

group of prominent musicians are joining a campaign to close Guantanamo
Bay and demanding the release of records about what music was used
during the potential torture of detainees there and at other facilities.

Some of the more famous names in the music industry are formally
lending their prestige to an effort being led by retired generals,
progressive groups and a former member of Congress to shut GITMO down.
The list includes Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Tom Morello of Rage
Against the Machine, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Jackson Browne, Rise Against,
Rosanne Cash, Billy Bragg and the Roots, all of whom are joining the
broader National Campaign to Close Guantanamo which was launched
earlier in the week.

Hoping to cast further light on the potential illegalities that took
place at the detention facility, the group is also working to obtain
records about why and how music was used (under laws authorized by the
Bush administration) to effectively torture suspected terrorists. The
musicians have officially endorsed a Freedom of Information Act request
for the declassification of all secret government records pertaining to
music utilized during interrogations. At least two members of the
coalition, Reznor and Morello, have had their music linked to

"Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where
human beings have been tortured -- from water boarding, to stripping,
hooding and forcing detainees into humiliating sexual acts -- playing
music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the
eardrums," said Morello, in a statement provided by the NCCG.
"Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney's idea of America, but it's not mine.
The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity
sickens me -- we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now."

The National Security Archives will be officially filing the FOIA
request on behalf of the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo (NCCG).

The FOIA request comes on the heels of a renewed effort on behalf of
the NCCG and others to compel Congress to complete GITMO's closure. The
group launched a national ad campaign
earlier in the week, in which it argued that the continued operation of
the detention facility was undermining America's reputation in the
world community and Congress' standing as a legislative body.

That spot, as well as the broader NCCG effort, was put together by
retired Generals Robert Gard, John Johns, as well as former member of
Congress, Tom Andrews (D-Maine), and Vote Vets Chairman and Iraq War
veteran, Jon Soltz, all of whom have been vocal critics of the use of
GITMO to house suspected terrorists. The Obama administration has
echoed the campaign's concerns. But they have also all but conceded
that the facility will not be shut down in the 2009 calendar year.


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The decision behind issuing a FOIA request for additional
information actually took root well before the National Campaign to
Close Guantanamo came to fruition. Working with the New York University
School of Law's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Trevor
FitzGibbon -- a well-known progressive communications adviser -- began
looking into the use of music as an interrogation method on terrorist
suspects. Over the course of six months the idea of putting a
microscope on this sliver of interrogation policy festered until he
brought it to others who were pushing to shut GITMO down. FitzGibbon,
who is doing much of the public relations work for the NCCG, was able
to recruit musicians to the cause due, in part, to his past work with
the industry on other political issues.

The FOIA, which is officially being distributed on Thursday, will be
sent to the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the U.S.
Southern Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Joint Forces Command, U.S.
Army Special Forces Command, DOA Criminal Investigative Task Force,
Defense Intelligence Agency, Federal Communications Commission, FBI,
CIA, and the Department of Justice.

It requests "all documents, including but not limited to
intelligence reports, briefings, transcripts, talking points, meeting
minutes, memoranda, cables, audio/visual recordings and emails produced
by the Central Intelligence Agency concerning the use of loud music as
a technique to interrogate detainees at U.S.-operated prison facilities
at Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan during 2002-the present."

The use of jarring music during the interrogation of suspected
terrorists has been reported in many works documenting the
authorization of torture during the Bush administration. At least 20
declassified documents currently exist that reference the use of "loud"
music to "create futility" in uncooperative detainees. Among the
artists whose music is believed to have been used include Metallica,
Britney Spears, the Drowning Pool, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen and the
Bee Gees.

Not all of these bands and musicians signed on to the NCCG FOIA. But
others, whose music was not reportedly used, did so out of
philosophical objections.

"We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace
and justice," read a statement from REM, "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 anti-American,

Added the hip-hop band The Roots: "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. 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."

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