Musicians call for release of records on Guantanamo detainee treatment


A high-profile coalition of  music artists — including members of Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and the Roots –requested on Thursday 15 October that the US government release the declassification of all records related to the use of music in interrogation practices under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the National Security Archive, a Washington-based independent research institute. The artists also launched a formal protest of the use of music in conjunction with torture.

The musicians’ announcement was coordinated with the recent call by veterans and retired Army generals to shut Guantanamo. It is part of a renewed effort to pressure President Obama to keep his promise to close the prison in his first year in office.

Musicians, including  REM and Tom Morello, formerly of the band Rage Against the Machine, also expressed outrage.

“The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me,” Morello said in a statement. “We need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.”

“We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice. 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,” said R.E.M in a statement. “It’s anti-American, period.”

A White House spokesman said music is no longer used as an instrument of torture, part of a shift in policy on interrogations that Obama made on his second full day in office. “The president banned the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ and issued an executive order that established that interrogations must be consistent with the techniques in the Army Field Manual and the Geneva Conventions,” a White House official stated.

“Sound at a certain level creates sensory overload and breaks down subjectivity and can [bring about] a regression to infantile behaviour,” said Suzanne G. Cusick, a music professor at New York University who has studied, lectured about and written extensively on the use of music as torture in the current wars. “Its effectiveness depends on the constancy of the sound, not the qualities of the music.”

See more on this in the Washington Post :

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