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Behind the Musical Torture

R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Billy Bragg and David Byrne don’t like to think of music as torture, or part of any “enhanced interrogation techniques.” But declassified government documents show that at least some music — notably, Metallica, Britney Spears and some unidentified rap music, according to a 2004 Defense Department report — were used to “create futility” in some detainees who were seen as being uncooperative.So a group of 17 different bands and musicians, with the help of the National Security Archive, today filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests seeking complete declassification of secret U.S. documents revealing the strategy of using blaring rock and rap music as an “enhanced” interrogation tool.

“At Guantanamo, the U.S. government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture,” said Thomas Blanton, the Archive’s executive director, in a statement released today. “The musicians and the public have the right to know how an expression of popular culture was transformed into an enhanced interrogation technique.”

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