Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 12:56 UK

REM call for Guantanamo closure

Michael Stipe of REM
REM's Michael Stipe is backing the campaign

Rock bands including Pearl Jam and REM have joined a coalition of musicians to support the US president's efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, which also includes former military officers, launched on Tuesday.

Many of the artists who have signed up are angry that their music was used as an interrogation tool in the jail.

But CIA spokesman George Little said music was used only for security, rather than "punitive purposes".

In a statement, REM 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."

Other artists to sign up to the coalition include Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Roseanne Cash, Billy Bragg, Bonnie Raitt and Rage Against The Machine.

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.

'Terrify and punish'

A report published in November 2008 by the Senate Armed Services Committee report, has already made several references to the technique.

In one case interrogators played records to "stress" a prisoner, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who believed music was forbidden.

In 2003, he was questioned while being "exposed to variable lighting patterns" and repeated plays of a song called Let the Bodies Hit the Floor by the band Drowning Pool.

Jayne Huckerby, from New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, said loud music was also played at clandestine prisons run by the CIA.

Following an early information request, Ms Huckerby received a CIA document dated December 2005 in which the agency explained that the use of loud music or white noise was needed "to mask sound and prevent communication among detainees".

She argued that such sounds were not a "benign security tool," but a way "to humiliate, terrify, punish, disorient and deprive detainees of sleep, in violation of international law".

According to the National Security Archive, tracks by AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees and Marilyn Manson were used at Guantanamo.

The Meow mix cat food jingle, the Barney theme song and an assortment of Sesame Street tunes also were played into detainees' cells.

But the CIA insisted any music was played "at levels far below a live rock band".

And Major Diana Haynie, a spokeswoman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said loud music has not been used with detainees since the fall of 2003.

Barack Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo detention camp by January, but Republican opposition in Congress has made fulfilling that promise look less likely.

Print Sponsor


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific