Guantanamo music use condemned
Musicians to file lawsuit aimed at uncovering use of loud music against detainees.
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2009 22:14 GMT
Morello said that he was 'sickened' at the thought of his music being use during interrogations [EPA]

A group of bands including REM and Pearl Jam have said they are to file a lawsuit aimed at accessing US documents on the use of music during interrogations of terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison.

The announcement on Thursday came as the bands expressed support for the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, launched by former US military generals and politicians.

The musicians launched "a formal protest of the use of music used in conjunction with torture that took place at the prison and other facilities".

The group said it was supporting "an effort seeking the declassification of all secret government records pertaining to how music was utilised as an interrogation device".

Members of the group include Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.

The two bands' music has been linked to interrogations at the prison, according to previously released government records.

"Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured - from waterboarding 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," Morello said.

"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."

Interrogation technique

Robert Gard, a retired US general, said the musicians' music "was used without their knowledge as part of the Bush administration's misguided policies".

"They are outraged that their creative work has been used to potentially torture the detainees, and they want to know exactly how, when and why"

Kate Doyle, senior analyst with the National Security Archive

The campaign cited a report released by the US defence department which referred to an interrogation method known as the "futility" technique, which included the playing of loud music to detainees.

Kate Doyle, a senior analyst with the National Security Archive, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request to release information on the use of music in detention centres, told Al Jazeera that they were hoping to identify and target documents that make reference to specific bands and songs.

"These musicians are outraged. They are outraged that their creative work has been used to potentially torture the detainees, and they want to know exactly how, when and why," she said.

"One measure of the impact of loud music, I think, is the repeated reference in interviews with former detainees and former guards, in the declassified documents we have already seen, to this tactic as something that the detainees really took note of.

"They really bothered and harassed them; they described being forced to listen, for example, to a dance version of an Eminem song for up to 24 hours at a time - as a way of harassing them, as a way of preventing them from sleeping."

Barack Obama, the US president, said on his second day in office that he would move to close the prison at Guantanamo by January 22.

However, White House officials say that the deadline is unlikely to be met due to a series of legal and political obstacles.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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