Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pearl Jam Joins the Close Gitmo Now Campaign

Today, has announced that several high profile musicians have signed onto their Close Gitmo Now campaign.  I know Pearl Jam's pretty busy, but could we hope for some Close Gitmo concerts?  Wouldn't it suck if you wrote some music with which you were really happy and then you found out that someone decided that your music was a good way to torture people?  Anyhow, here's more:

Despite what Dick Cheney would have us believe, the torture of detainees at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere has been well documented. Even Susan Crawford, the Bush Administration’s top official for reviewing practices at Guantanamo has admitted that torture happened there.

Among the types of torture condoned and practiced by the Bush Administration was the use of music in ways the artists themselves never intended. Spin Magazine has reported that "the military is attempting to break down Muslim prisoners by bombarding them with ear-splitting rap and metal," and now the musicians are fighting back. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine - both of whose music we know was used to torture - and the nearly 20 musicians listed below have endorsed our campaign to Close Gitmo Now and our effort seeking the declassification of government documents on music-related abuses.

The use of music as no-touch torture at Guantanamo is nothing new. In fact, most of the abuses we've become far too familiar with - hooding detainees, stress positions, sexual humiliation, exposure to extremes of hot and cold, light and dark, sound and silence - are part of a comprehensive arsenal of techniques first institutionalized in the CIA's cryptically named KUBARK manual from 1963. Human Rights First revealed in their 2006 report "No blood, No foul" how music was used in psychologically breaking detainees as part of the Bush/Cheney "War on Terror." The pseudonymously named Nick, a former prison guard at the Forward Operating Base Tiger near al-Qaim, Iraq described:

So, typical first time interrogation consisted of some kind of heavy metal music really loud, strobe light, lot of yelled questions and stuff like that, until they finally would break down and cry and say "I don't know anything, I don't know anything!" ... He's on his knees, usually a rifle pointed at him, strobe light going, music going, whatever. Then the guys sitting at the desk asking him questions directly. It was always yelling at that point-you had to, in order to hear [over the music].

Outraged over these tactics and the thought that their music might have been used to torture has compelled a growing list of artists to act. Encouraged by the the unequivocal call to end torture and close Guantanamo by President Obama and respected military leaders like former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, they've courageously spoken out. Join them by signing the open letter to Congress. It's time to close Gitmo now.