President Barack Obama isn’t the only one wanting to shut down Guantanamo Bay. Musicians and bands including Pearl Jam,R.E.M., and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails have joined the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo with hopes that the president will follow through on his word and shut down the U.S. Naval Base by January 2010.
The National Campaign to Close Guantanamo launched Tuesday with ads on cable television urging Congress to reject the “failed Bush-Cheney policies” and close the prison for terrorist subjects in Cuba. The group is led by Tom Andrews, a former congressman from Maine.
The organization’s website, CloseGitmoNow.org, noted that in addition to Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and Trent Reznor, artists that have signed an open letter to Congress include Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Billy Bragg, Michelle Branch, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, Steve Earle, The Entrance Band, Joe Henry, Bonnie Raitt, Rise Against and The Roots.
A November 2008 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding treatment of detainees in U.S. custody reported that loud music was used as an interrogation tool. Prisoners at Gitmo were forced to listen to particular songs for hours, or even days, over and over again.
The National Security Archive in Washington has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking classified records and further information about how music has been used to interogate and torture prisoners.
The group of musicians is demanding to know the names of every single song that has been used as a means of torture since 2002, according to the Washington Post.
According to documents that were previously made public and interviews with fromer detainees, the music included songs used to torture prisoners included tunes by Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, Eminem, Queen and Marilyn Manson. Repetitive songs such as the Meow mix cat food jingle, the Barney theme song and Sesame Street songs were also used.
"The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me," Morello said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. "We need to end torture and close Guantanamo now."
Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who has been at Guantanamo for more than seven years, was “exposed to variable lighting patterns” and forced to listen to Drowning Pool’s "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" while being questioned by an interrogator called “Mr. X” during a 10-day period in July 2003.
The music was used to “stress” Slahi because he believed music is forbidden, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Jayne Huckerby, research director at New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, said music was also used as torture in clandestine prisons run by the CIA.
Huckerby said the music was used "to humiliate, terrify, punish, disorient and deprive detainees of sleep, in violation of international law."
CIA spokesman George Little has defended the use of music, saying that it was necessary for security, "not for punitive purposes — and at levels far below a live rock band."
Maj. Diana Haynie, a spokeswoman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said music hasn’t been used to interrogate prisoners since fall 2003.
Although Obama promised Gitmo would close its doors in his first year in office, the prison may stay open a bit longer because of logistical snags and Republican opposition.
Click here for the Washington Post article.
Click here for the AP article.
Click here for the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo’s website.