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Music Torture as a real phenomenon has been reconfirmed by the publication this past week of the Senate Report on CIA Torture: “The long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee torture report that was released to the public on Tuesday revealed some horrible physical torture performed by the CIA — waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and sexual assault. But it also detailed the agency's use of ‘sound disorientation techniques,’ as the report calls the music blared at detainees 24 hours a day. One of those was the Blues Brothers' ‘Rawhide.’”

The song is described in an article on music torture, as follows: … " ‘Rolling, rolling, rolling,’ Rawhide begins. … In the Blues Brothers recording, the main vocals are a deep alto with a soulful, upbeat tone ...‘Don't try to understand 'em. Just rope, throw, and brand 'em. Soon we'll be livin' high and wide’ … The song ends with men cheering over the sound of a thrashing whip.”

--Article in Vox:

In a letter to the President and the Justice Department, I am calling for the investigation, indictment and prosecution of those musical works known to have been involved in acts of torture—and for the prosecution of those who approved the plan to use music as torture. The list of musical works will include: Dope: "Die MF Die", "Take Your Best Shot" -- Eminem: "White America", "Kim" -- Barney & Friends: theme song -- Drowning Pool: "Bodies" -- Metallica: "Enter Sandman" -- Meow Mix: commercial jingle. Read here for details regarding the above musical works, and their alleged involvement in torture:

The torture “program” was administered to some alleged terrorists, but also to many civilians having nothing to do with terrorism, and guilty of no known crimes. They were subjected by the CIA to extremely harsh and loud music, played for hours, days, or even weeks on end with no let up. This produced total sleeplessness, mental confusion and psychological break down in numerous cases. The United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights have banned the use of loud music in interrogations. Detailed Information about and analysis of the practice can be gleaned from an article by Suzanne G. Cusick, written for the Journal of the Society of American Music:

For a simpler account, one can read:

Suzanne G. Cusick writes the following, and poses some questions for us about the practice:

“In my view, the fact that the United States has theorized and deployed music
as a weapon of interrogation is a fact to be faced."

She says this fact will "shift radically" the way that musicians and scholars of music look at their subject. She asks how the weaponization of music will further affect civilian musical practices, and how civilian musical practices have affected the weaponization of music.

Perhaps most importantly she poses the question: When the American public and the musical community become more aware of the facts, will they approve of this use of tax payer money and "condone this use of music done in our name?"

Do members of the “Composers Forum” have any comments, questions or observations to share on the CIA practice of stripping detainees naked, chaining them to the floor in dark rooms (or hanging them from the ceiling) and playing music at “ear-splitting volumes” for hours, days and even weeks on end for the purposes of torture?

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MORE NEWS ABOUT TORTURE, and more reflections about music and torture.

There are many dimensions to the story of music being used by the US government (and its allies) as a form of torture against adversaries around the world.   Torture has resurfaced in the news again, in a big way, as a result of the coverage given Eric Fair's new book, Consequence: A Memoir.  It's a confession and repentance autobiographical work about the author's use of torture on behalf of the Bush Administration at Abu Ghraib.   


Many reviews of the book are appearing, and there is much commentary about "Consequence" in the mainstream media.  On Democracy Now (Thursday, April 7, 2016 edition), there was an in-depth interview of the author:


This may bring us to reflect more deeply upon the whole issue of torture, and to revisit the notion of the use of ultra loud, deafening music for the purposes of torture.  Here is another dimension of such use, which I had not previously read about or considered. The story is about using "Britney Spears" music in a project which included the deployment at sea of a  Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD.


“the weapon is essentially a small dish that beams hellishly loud noise that is deafening but not lethal.”


'Referring to pirates who were repelled by a LRAD while attacking a cruise ship, Spiegel wrote, “It’s possible they received permanent hearing damage, but at the very least they experienced an excruciating headache and ear pain to the point that they could no longer see or hear.”'


Other similar uses:


'Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” was played on loop for 20 days at a U.S. prison in Kabul, according to a detainee who told Human Rights Watch that “plenty lost their minds” during the broadcast.'


Also we read,


'NBC reports  Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” “was said to serve as the morning wake-up call for years” at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. The source linked to (Daily News, 6/2/12) actually says that prisoners were “strapped to chairs and played music…at loud volumes for hours or days on end,” and accurately refers to this as a form of torture.'


See the full article, detailing these and other instances of music used as torture in,


Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (F.A.I.R.),







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