Performers angry their music used in Guantanamo interrogations
Interrogators at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay liked to blast rock ‘n’ roll music at inmates to try to induce them to talk.
Now some of the folks that made that rock ‘n’ roll music are blasting back.
Trent Reznor, Tom Morello, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., Pearl Jam and other musicians have joined the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo.
The newly formed campaign, led by retired Lieutenant General Robert Gard and retired Brigadier General John Johns among others, is increasing pressure on the Obama administration to move ahead with the president’s pledge to close the prison.
“Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured,” Morello said in a statement released by the campaign, charging that some inmates had been subjected to loud music for 72 hours in a row.
“Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney’s idea of America, but it’s not mine,” he added. “The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me — we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.”
Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, said his group has obtained at least 20 declassified documents that refer to blasting Guantanamo detainees in an effort to “create futility” and encourage them to talk.
Gard, a senior military fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said “the torture that went on there is disgraceful and puts our troops at risk every day.”
“Guantanamo will remain al Qaeda’s biggest recruitment tool unless it’s shut down,” he added. “I sympathize for the musicians whose music was used without their knowledge as part of the Bush administration’s misguided policies.”
“To call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program’s legal underpinnings and safeguards,” Cheney said. “Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well.”
He said alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would not have begun giving U.S. interrogators useful intelligence against al Qaeda had he not been subjected to the harsh techniques.
“To completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme,” Cheney said. “In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Deborah Gembara (Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay take part in morning prayers); Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Cheney speaks at American Enterprise Institute in May)