Thursday, December 11, 2008

RAGING AGAINST THE TORTURE MACHINE

Telegraph, UK - Prominent rock bands such as Massive Attack, Rage Against the Machine and Elbow have joined forces with a legal charity to campaign against the use of music as a instrument of torture.

US military interrogators play tracks by artists such as Metallica, AC/DC, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen and even Britney Spears at deafening volume to detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

The music is blasted relentlessly in a bid to "break" prisoners, according to Reprieve, which says the practice continues despite a ban on the use of loud music in interrogations by the United Nations and European Court of Human Rights.

Using loud music "to create fear and disorient detainee(s) and prolong capture shock" was among a host of interrogation tactics authorized by then commander in Iraq Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez in a memo dated September 14, 2003. . .

Musicians backing the initiative include Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, who at a recent concert suggested taking revenge on President George W Bush by putting him in a cell and blasting his own band's music at him.

"What we're talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them," singer-songwriter David Gray has said of the practice.

"That is torture. That is nothing but torture. It doesn't matter what the music is - it could be Tchaikovsky's finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn't matter, it's going to drive you completely nuts."

According to Reprieve, some of the music used by interrogators is written for children. Christopher Cerf, who wrote music for Sesame Street, told the Associated Press he was horrified to learn songs from the children's show were used in interrogations. "I wouldn't want my music to be a party to that."

Binyam Mohamed, a Guantanamo inmate and former London resident, told Reprieve he suffered months of torture at the hands of CIA operatives while in a secret prison.

"There was loud music, (Eminem's) Slim Shady and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over," he said. "The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night for the months before I left. Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off."

Other supporters of the campaign include Mercury Prize winners Elbow, The Magic Numbers, James Lavelle of UNKLE, comedian Bill Bailey and The Musicians' Union, which represents more than 30,000 musicians.

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