A diverse group of musicians joined a coalition on Tuesday asking that the Obama administration close down the terror suspect camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Taking issue with their music reportedly being blasted at ear-bleeding levels in an attempt to break uncooperative terror suspects, artists including [artist id="1009"]R.E.M.[/artist], [artist id="1006"]Pearl Jam[/artist], [artist id="1001"]Nine Inch Nails[/artist], [artist id="1010"]Rage Against the Machine[/artist], Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle and [artist id="299"]Billy Bragg[/artist] announced their support for the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, according to The Associated Press.
As part of their effort, the National Security Archive in Washington is filing a Freedom of Information Act request in an effort to uncover classified records that detail the use of loud music as an interrogation device. A November 2008 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee makes several references to the use of loud music as an interrogation tool, including the case of a Mauritanian prisoner who was allegedly blasted with music, such as Drowning Pool's "Bodies," to "stress" him because he believed listening music was forbidden. Drowning Pool has not objected to the use of its music at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. detention sites.
Among the songs reportedly played at high volumes near prisoners in the detention camp are death-metal band Deicide's "F--- Your God," Metallica's "Enter Sandman," the Meow Mix cat food jingle, music from "Sesame Street," Don McLean's "American Pie," Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," Nine Inch Nails' "March of the Pigs," Queen's "We Will Rock You," the "I Love You" song from the children's show "Barney," as well as tunes by R.E.M., Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, Marilyn Manson, and others.
A spokesperson for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo told the AP that loud music has not been used with detainees since the fall of 2003; the first batch of prisoners were sent to the facility in January 2002. President Obama signed an executive order on January 22, 2009, pledging to close the facility within a year, but the move has drawn criticism from some Republican members of Congress, and it is unclear if the timetable will be achieved. A CIA spokesperson said the music was used for security purposes, to block detainees from communicating with each other, for instance, not for "punitive purposes — and at levels far below a live rock band."
According to BBC News, in a statement announcing their participation in the coalition, R.E.M. said, "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. It's anti-American, period."