Opinion: Did Bush WH torture Gitmo prisoners with R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Sesame Street? Musicians demand records


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Torturing detainees with waterboarding is one thing. But now a coalition of musicians is demanding the details of the Bush administration practice of blasting music -- everything from the Meow mix jingle to Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born in the USA” -- to try to coerce information from terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

“The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me,” said Tom Morello, once with the rap metal band Rage Against the Machine. “We need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.”


Rosanne Cash, daughter of famed country singer Johnny Cash, is also troubled by the allegation. “It seems so obvious,” she said. “Music should never be used as torture.”

Apparently not that obvious to the Bush administration, according to the National Security Archive -- a research institute that filed a Freedom of Information request on behalf of musicians demanding that the government declassify and make public all the musical torture records.

A full listing of the bands who joined the FOI request -- part of a campaign to pressure President Obama to keep his promise to close GItmo in the first year of his presidency -- is below.

For the record, the Obama White House says it no longer uses music as an instrument of torture.

But we wonder. Is listening to nonstop Britney Spears really inhumane?

-- Johanna Neuman

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A Freedom of Information Act request filed on Thursday names 35 musicians or songs that it said were used against detainees at U.S. military detention centers, including the one at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The National Security Archive -- the Washington-based independent research institute that filed the request -- said the documents it is seeking “contain explicit references to the following bands or songs”:

  • AC/DC
  • Aerosmith
  • Barney theme song (By Bob Singleton)
  • The Bee Gees
  • Britney Spears
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Christina Aguilera
  • David Gray
  • Deicide
  • Don McLean
  • Dope
  • Dr. Dre
  • Drowning Pool
  • Eminem
  • Hed P.E.
  • James Taylor
  • Limp Bizkit
  • Marilyn Manson
  • Matchbox Twenty
  • Meatloaf
  • Meow mix jingle
  • Metallica
  • Neil Diamond
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • Pink
  • Prince
  • Queen
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Redman
  • Saliva
  • Sesame street theme music (By Christopher Cerf)
  • Stanley Brothers
  • “The Star Spangled Banner”
  • Tupac Shakur