Now how could you like to hear it over and over, for days on end?
A new documentary from Al Jazeera world, released online Wednesdays, delves deep into some of the U.S. military's methods of interrogation, focusing on the deep psychological damage loud, repetitive music can cause detainees.
The doucmentary focuses on Christopher Cerf, the award-winning composer who has written music for the children's television show Sesame Street for four decades, who was shocked to discover some of his beloved songs were used as part of a regimine of torture at Guantanamo Bay.
"The lyrics of the songs talk about magic numbers, strange words, or the names of the colors," the narrator says. "But these innocent children's songs were abused for inhume purposes. In 2003 it transpired that US intelligence services tortured detanees with Sesame Street music for days."
The film says the methods were discovered through examination of the recently declassified (and yet, still heavily redacted) guidelines for interrigation methods, compiled by the CIA medical professionals--methods that "leave no visible traces on the prisoners, such as noise or loud music."
An unemployed, homeless former soldier based at Guantanamo, Chris Arendt, described the "Gold Building," a hall of torture used to blast prisoners with blaring American rock music, at dance club volumes. He described bringing prisoners into interrogation booths and leaving them there for hours, sometimes all day. The idea was to weaken and disorient prisoners, so they'd be easier to interrogate and more willing to share intelligence.
He said sometimes two songs would playing against each other, completely off tempo, at the same time. Take, for example,a Johnny Cash tune and a heavy metal song (around minute 9 of the video): it's hard to listen to, at low volume, for even a few seconds. Now imagine that for hours, or days.
"My head had a hard time working around why that was really torture, but then I came to realize these are just really insidious psychological techniques that are being utilized," Arendt said.
"Most of them are already pretty broken," he said. "I don't know how effective these things were. Just them being in the cage alone had already broken a lot of people."
Koreans and Chinese were the first to systematically use music for interrogation during the Korean war in the 1950s. In the 1970s, tests conducted at Megill University were supposed to help U.S. soldiers prepare for potential torture situations, but were instead used by the CIA to improve their own torture programs.
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