Opinion: Barney the Purple Gitmo Torturer, and other singers used to break detainees


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Hey parents, your little ones may posses stronger wills than a hardened Guantanamo Bay detainee. Some of the kid-friendly entertainment consumed on a mass scale by children, including Barney the Purple Dinosaur and the Sesame Street puppets, is being used for so-called enhanced interrogation of suspected terrorists:

A coalition of mega-bands and singers outraged that music -- including theirs -- was cranked up to help break uncooperative detainees at Guantanamo Bay is joining retired military officers and liberal activists to rally support for President Barack Obama’s push to shutter the Navy-run prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba. Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails are among the musicians who have joined the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, which launched Tuesday.


On behalf of the campaign, the National Security Archive in Washington is filing a Freedom of Information Act request seeking classified records that detail the use of loud music as an interrogation device. ...

Based on documents that already have been made public and interviews with former detainees, the archive says the playlist featured cuts from AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, Marilyn Manson and many other groups. The Meow mix cat food jingle, the Barney theme song and an assortment of Sesame Street tunes also were pumped into detainee cells.
Read the whole article by AP here.

Using G-rated jingles from childhood is a curious method to break suspected terrorists, not so much because the songs are meant to sooth and entertain children than because of the feeling that this practice doesn’t come across as very surprising. There seems to be a point in our lives when our toddler-years immersion in kiddie media gives way to a wholesale rebuke of this entertainment, sometimes going so far as to result in a phobia. After all, who doesn’t know at least one fully grown adult who suffers from coulrophobia? (Perhaps we can just chalk that one up to the clown scenes in the TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘It.’)

But I’d like to know: What’s on your torture playlist? What list of songs, played repeatedly at high volume, would make you cry,’Stop!’? Would Barney and Big Bird break you? Post your list of songs as a comment below.

-- Paul Thornton