The Sound of Pain

Friday, April 24, 2009


The release of Bush-era memos and the declassification of a Senate Armed Services Committee report has brought to light more lurid details of the interrogation techniques – waterboarding, sleep deprivation, forced nudity - used on U.S. detainees. Writer David Peisner describes another all too common interrogation tool - popular music.

Comments [5]

Keith Kunkel from San Francisco

Back, decades ago, in the early 80's I was an Instructor at the USAF Survival School in Spokane WA. Some time in the last decade or so the name has changed to SERE so the program might have changed as well. While I was working in Resistance Training we played the loud music (and other odd homemade tapes) to cut down on the students communicating with each other. For the Instructors it just became background noise after a while and occasionally I'd find myself singing along. There was no research, just the guys making tapes at home and bringing them into work. I seem to remember a lot of The Residents and Tom Lehrer.

Apr. 29 2009 11:09 PM
sarah beddall from colorado

I was under the impression that the United States didn't torture or use torture tactics. GitMO has opened my eyes. I started looking and easily finding evidence on the net that we are torturing people or suspects. To get confessions through torture has proven to be unsuccessful. If anyone is tortured long enough they will confess to anything they didn't do. The irony is some of the songs the U.S. government has chosen for torture are anit-merican. Eminem's "White America" is about the disgust he olds to the U.S. government and the FCC for imposing censorhip. Rage Againt the Machine is band who's name says it all; the machine is America and her daughter corporations. I just hope this ends soon so when I hear Neal Diamond o the 4th of July, I don't think about torture. And I have no comment on the use of the "Barney" song.

Apr. 26 2009 10:36 PM
L. G. from Lexington, MA

And in what may be a case of Woody Allen imitating Billy Wilder, in Allen's film "Bananas", prisoners are tortured by having to listen to Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald.

Unusual but maybe not cruel.

Apr. 26 2009 02:26 PM
Alvin from Manhattan

You overlooked a classic pop-culture reference to torture by music. In the 1961 satirical film "One, Two, Three...", the East German police use the song "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" as an instrument of torture. The prisoner, who is clearly suffering while listening to this symbol of capitalist depravity, finally breaks when the record is played off-center. Is this a case of art imitating life, or vice-versa?

Apr. 26 2009 10:43 AM
Nancy Haynes from Charlotte NC

Brooke! More than one general attorney are "attorneys general" not "attorney generals" -- AAUUGGHH!!

Apr. 26 2009 07:14 AM

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