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Bands ‘rage against the machine’ for torture info

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At least two rock stars whose songs have been reportedly used to torture Guantanamo Bay detainees are demanding the federal government release details of the use of music by the U.S. government during interrogations of prisoners.

The National Campaign to Close Guantanamo is working with musicians in their latest effort to drum up public support for Congress to close U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine are both putting their names to Freedom of Information Act requests to be submitted Thursday that demand the government come clean about how music was used to potentially torture suspected terrorists. The music of both Reznor’s and Morello’s bands have been linked to alleged detainee torture in the past, and both musicians are now hoping their effort to declassify the information will push Congress to close U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.

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“Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured — from water boarding, to stripping, hooding and forcing detainees into humiliating sexual acts — playing music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the eardrums,” said Morello. “Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney’s idea of America, but it’s not mine. The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me — we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.”

The Associated Press notes that a November 2008 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custory  “makes several references to the use of loud music as an interrogation tool.”

“At Guantanamo, the U.S. government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture,” Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, an independent research institute that will officially file the FOIA request, told the Associated Press.

Blanton’s group says that according to already public documents and interviews with former detainees, the playlist for potential torture included cuts from AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, Marilyn Manson. They also say a cat food jingle, the Barney theme song and an assortment of Sesame Street tunes were played in detainee cells.

A spokeswoman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo told the AP that the U.S. has not used loud music on detainees since the fall of 2003.

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The Freedom of Information Act request is seeking “all documents, including but not limited to intelligence reports, briefings, transcripts, talking points, meeting minutes, memoranda, cables, audio/visual recordings and emails produced by the Central Intelligence Agency concerning the use of loud music as a technique to interrogate detainees at U.S.-operated prison facilities at Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan during 2002-the present.”

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reports the hip-hop band The Roots is also signing onto the request.

“When we found out that music was being used as part of the torture going on at Guantanamo, shackling and beating people — we were angry. Just as we wouldn’t be caught dead allowing Dick Cheney to use our music for his campaigns, you can be damn sure, we wouldn’t allow him to use it to torture other human beings. Congress needs to shut Guantanamo down,” the statement from The Roots said.

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