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May 20, 2003 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Heavy metal music and popular American children's songs are being used by US interrogators to break the will of their captives in Iraq. Uncooperative Iraqi prisoners are being exposed for prolonged periods to tracks by rock group Metallica and music from children's TV programmes Sesame Street and Barney in the hope of making them talk, reports the commies at the BBC today.

Barney the dinosaur would break me in a nanosecond. What would *you* play to break the spirit of your boss, childhood enemy, or - beautiful image- to wipe that smug smile of Barney's crimson visage and leave him whimpering in the arms of Baby Bop?
posted by Pericles (79 comments total)

 
What would *you* play to break the spirit of your boss

I know exactly what to play. The new Electric 6 album. Unfortunately, that would be a phyrric victory.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:00 AM on May 20, 2003


pick a clearchannel station
any will do
posted by 11235813 at 9:03 AM on May 20, 2003


Even worse, all the Metallica they're playing is post- "...And Justice For All."
posted by Ty Webb at 9:04 AM on May 20, 2003


What I'd would like to know is if they paid for the tracks they are using (specially the Metallica ones). On second thought, with the Pentagon involved, a necessary follow up question would be "and how much did you pay for them?"
posted by magullo at 9:06 AM on May 20, 2003


What would I play?

Whitehouse. Torture Chamber to be precise. At concert-level volumes.
posted by sigma7 at 9:07 AM on May 20, 2003


If they really wanted to freak 'em out, they wouldn't play the weaker tracks from Metallica. Give them some crustcore. Assuck, AssChapel, or Anal Cunt would likely do quite well.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:10 AM on May 20, 2003


Rock N Troll!
posted by BentPenguin at 9:11 AM on May 20, 2003


Despite what the article may say, this technique has been around for some time. US troops blasted heavy metal music in Panama to drive Noriega out of his compound. Oh, and Marty McFly blasted heavy metal music in "Back To The Future" to force his father into courting Marty's would-be mother.
posted by herc at 9:12 AM on May 20, 2003


V/Vm
posted by nylon at 9:14 AM on May 20, 2003


"There's A New Sound (The Sound Of Worms)" by Tony Burrello. On an endless loop. At peak volume. They will be begging for mercy within an hour.
posted by jonmc at 9:14 AM on May 20, 2003


When they do it, it's a breach of the Geneva convention.
When we do it, it's vaguely entertaining.

Any questions?
posted by spazzm at 9:17 AM on May 20, 2003


I read that a particularly effective way being used to interrogate the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is to have the interrogation done by women. The sexist bastards don't have a chance. I find it very interesting that (gasp!) being forced to be subservient to a woman screws with these men so much. Very interesting, indeed. I'd love to get my hands on them. I'd scare the hell out of them.

So, maybe play "the Donna's"-it talks about shacking up with guys and throwing them away afterwards and not caring about men. Hmmm.
posted by aacheson at 9:17 AM on May 20, 2003


Alternately:

Put the subjects in a slightly loopy frame of mind (hallucinogens and/or sleep deprivation would be fine) and play the Doll Cycle (Doll Doll Doll, Find Candace) by Venetian Snares. Scare them witless.
posted by sigma7 at 9:21 AM on May 20, 2003


I'd love to get my hands on them. I'd scare the hell out of them.

Would it bother you at all that you'd have no idea if any of them were innocent?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:21 AM on May 20, 2003


Without hesitation - I will always love you by Whitney Houston.
posted by jamespake at 9:23 AM on May 20, 2003


I'm confused. When did Disney buy the rights to Sesame Street?
posted by rocketman at 9:25 AM on May 20, 2003


BTW, are they paying royalties for the use of the music? With Hillary's drafting Iraq's copyright laws, I smell a double standard here.
posted by BentPenguin at 9:27 AM on May 20, 2003


V/Vm and Venetian Snares! In one thread! Wee!

OK, I'll play along. Forget Electric Six, my new answer is Duran Duran Duran's »Drunk on Cock«. Although, I haven't heard it yet, but if my man Donna Summer says I should wait for it, so I shall.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:28 AM on May 20, 2003


jamespake ---

you mean like ... this???
posted by 11235813 at 9:30 AM on May 20, 2003


US troops blasted heavy metal music in Panama to drive Noriega out of his compound.

right you are! and what did they play? Van Halen's "Panama". over and over and over and over and over...
posted by quonsar at 9:31 AM on May 20, 2003


Cotten Eyed Joe, by the Red Nex. evil evil song.
posted by gemshwil at 9:31 AM on May 20, 2003


Loop David Hasselhoff's "Hooked On A Feeling" endlessly.

PS, TORTURE IS NOT AN EFFECTIVE FORM OF INTERROGATION. APART FROM BEING COMPLETELY IMMORAL, IT CAUSES PROFOUND PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE FOR VICTIM AND INTERROGATOR ALIKE. THIS POST IS IN QUESTIONABLE TASTE, EVEN FOR A FAN OF BLACK HUMOUR LIKE ME.
posted by Bletch at 9:33 AM on May 20, 2003


Sleep, Jerusalem..one song, 65 minutes of sludge.
posted by GiantRobot at 9:34 AM on May 20, 2003


Wait a minute-- they need a public performance license! They're stealing his copyright! Somebody call Lars, quick!
posted by Cerebus at 9:36 AM on May 20, 2003


The Dwarves or The Misfits should get them pretty tweaked. Nina Hagen or Wendy O. Williams might really drive them nuts.

Hey spazz and Armitage lighten up already.
posted by monkeyman at 9:37 AM on May 20, 2003


such as sleep deprivation... which leave no long-lasting effects but do have the end result of breaking down the individual's will to resist questioning."

No long lasting effects, not what I've read, one it makes you crankier from then on.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:37 AM on May 20, 2003


Yes, thanks, that was truly awful 11235813 (or can I call you Fibonacci). That song always makes me want to gnaw off my own ears.
posted by jamespake at 9:37 AM on May 20, 2003


you too, Bletch. Barney songs may be tortorous, buy it isn't torture. It' just really, really annoying.
posted by monkeyman at 9:39 AM on May 20, 2003


Anything by Phillip Glass would probably make me talk.
posted by teo at 9:42 AM on May 20, 2003


As the parent of a child who turns two tomorrow, let me just say that if listening to the same Elmo CD day in and day out for weeks at a time can't break my will to live, nothing can.
posted by briank at 9:43 AM on May 20, 2003


Did they add the video's to these tunes...?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:44 AM on May 20, 2003


Armitage,
No, I would just enjoy turning the tables on them and make them subservient to woman for once in their lives.
posted by aacheson at 9:47 AM on May 20, 2003


Well, monkeyman, I think that depends on what's actually being done to prisoners here -- and none of us know that information. We don't know the duration or intensity of the sound exposure, or a number of other factors that make the distinction between your approved torture-lite ("really, really annoying") and actual torture (interrogation by causing physical discomfort).

Would you approve of playing a 3 minute sound loop to someone at 90 dB for 24 hours? How about for 96 hours? How about if it was pink noise or a 12 kHz tone at 115 dB for that period with the prisoner blindfolded (the preferred KGB method)? What, if any, guidelines are being adhered to in order to make sure that the victims don't suffer
  • permanent hearing damage
  • psychological damage such as post-traumatic stress disorder
  • death or heart problems caused by lack of sleep?
Given the reported torture of Iraqi POWs by US troops already, and the lack of inspections of interrogations by international inspectors, what makes you so confident that these "harmless" repeated Barney songs aren't being played at 120 decibels until the prisoners bleed from the ears?
posted by Bletch at 10:00 AM on May 20, 2003


Anything by Wings.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:06 AM on May 20, 2003


How about something by Merzbow? If they insist on the metal, they ought to make it something at least pummeling, say, Meshuggah?
posted by The Michael The at 10:07 AM on May 20, 2003


Hey spazz and Armitage lighten up already.

Over 20 suicide attempts! Detainees under 16! No rights to due process! And now this! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! It's a laugh riot!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:22 AM on May 20, 2003


STEELY DAN
posted by mookieproof at 10:36 AM on May 20, 2003


I suppose we could always fall back on Saddams ways of doing business and just start cutting tongues out, and chopping arms off, hang a few people, suspend some others by their own skin. The worst thing we are doing is denying them sleep? They are getting off easy.
At the end of the day, I don't give a shit about them. My primary opposition to the war was that it would remove Saddam, and put an end to his regime. I rather liked how he ran his country. It was all good by me. Now what do we have? A pestilant shithole that undoubtedly will cost us more in money and in grief due to the long, long occupation we are going to have to undertake. GW made a big mistake in going into Iraq. I would have just sat back and let it ride, then it only cost Iraqi lives. Of course the Iraqis themselves could have tried to do something, oh, wait a minute, that would have required some effort on their part.
posted by a3matrix at 10:42 AM on May 20, 2003


I heard once of a hazing incident where a pledge was locked in a closet and forced to listen to the song Mexican Radio (Wall of Voodoo) for 12 hours.

I was once involved in an ahem, team building program that featured a My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult CD on continual repeat for four days. It definitely broke my will, and I wasn't even the target.
posted by ednopantz at 10:47 AM on May 20, 2003




um, yeah. That all sounds real awful, but I thought we were talking about what playing Barney and Metallica, like that article and post said. You can always do your own FPP about audio torture techniques.

Yes, Armitage it is funny. Not what you linked, but the original post was and it would be nice if you kept on topic. The subjects of the articles you linked to have been thoroughly discussed on Mefi and have nothing at all to do with the post.

E-mail me if you want to keep bickering. I enjoy it.

This post is over now anyway, because I figured which performer will really drive them over the edge. Are you ready? L'il Kim. Nasty and obnoxious.
posted by monkeyman at 11:04 AM on May 20, 2003


Dan Hill. Because sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much.
posted by orange swan at 11:10 AM on May 20, 2003


The Star Spangled Banner.
'Brave' indeed.
Torture is funny now, I get it.
posted by asok at 11:10 AM on May 20, 2003


i think it was michael moore who pulled a tv stunt where he tracked down the CEO of Muzak and arrived in front of his domicile at 6am on a sunday morning with enough audio to kill a tank. THAT was funny.

I wonder what type and duration of noise it would take to dislodge the current administration from the white house?
posted by quonsar at 11:19 AM on May 20, 2003


Any track ever made by Shonen Knife...
posted by SweetJesus at 11:28 AM on May 20, 2003


Jeez H Christ. That is shocking. There have been 11 suicide attempts in Guantanamo since the beginning of the year (11 in 68 days - from Jan 1st to the date the article was posted, 09 March - )! APR = (11/68x365) 59 attempts per annum in a population of 650, 59/650 makes it) 9%!
The US has est. 734,000 attempts p.a., in a population of, what, 280,000,000? (734,0000/280,000,000 makes it 0.0026 % p.a.)

Fucking hell, what is going on here? A statistical blip?

For crying out loud, what will be the verdict of a well balanced observer from 2103 on that experience?

I was gonna just gonna propose the B-side of Souixsie & The banshees 'Hong Kong Garden', a renowned pub-clearer back in the days of limited opening hours for pubs here in blighty: 'Voices in the Air', but it just aint funny now.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:36 AM on May 20, 2003


Even worse, all the Metallica they're playing is post- "...And Justice For All."

*standing ovation*
posted by Cyrano at 11:51 AM on May 20, 2003


I take back the Shonen Knife comment. I re-read the article and found out they're using that song "Bodies" by Drowning Pool.

I couldn't take 30 minutes of that song. If hell has a sound track, Drowning Pool is the house band.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:06 PM on May 20, 2003


They could play Let The Eagle Soar on a continuous loop, but no interrogator is that heartless.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:39 PM on May 20, 2003


Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed. Anyone that bought that back in the 70's thinking they were getting a real Lou Reed album knows exactly what I'm talking about.
posted by reidfleming at 12:57 PM on May 20, 2003


Lars Ullrich of Metallica on the war in Iraq:

"We've always just tried to…… And this is not, like, pussying out or not taking a stand…… I've just always had this weird thing about, like…… Just because you are a musician, and just because people listen to what you are saying, that doesn't mean that you should mouth off on every single subject that anybody asks you. [...] I guess I have trouble with myself using Metallica as some kind of soapbox to stand up and talk about what I feel –– it's always been awkward for me, so I'd rather not go there."

-- source
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:24 PM on May 20, 2003


I dunno - I may have the winner here -

24 hours straight of Elton John's "Crocodile Rock."

"Laaaa; Lalalala la. Lalalala la. Lalalala la..." Repeat... 3 times each song, 576 plays in a day.
posted by Perigee at 1:50 PM on May 20, 2003


How about the Shaggs?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:21 PM on May 20, 2003


"The commies at the BBC"? The BBC isn't perfect but that off-hand remark is plain wrong. At least the BBC gets close to the story unlike most USA media.
posted by ifenn at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2003


At least Lars (finally) was smart enough to realize that getting his own uninformed opinion out in the public domain was not a good play. Contrast that with his shameless and off-target proselytizing for the RIAA in the fight vs. Napster.

/end lars rant

Actually as far as getting me to talk... All it would take is about five minutes of listening to all that god awful warbling that those neo-R&B singers on American Idol are doing.
posted by psmealey at 2:30 PM on May 20, 2003


What about Paul McCartney's Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime? Anyone who walked around a mall this past Christmas season knows my pain.
posted by jmevius at 2:49 PM on May 20, 2003


neighbors, no one loves you like he loves you,
and no one cares like he cares.
neighbors, let us join today in the holy love of god and money,
because neighbors, no one loves you like he loves you.
and what better way to show your love than to dig deep into your pockets.
dig real deep, until it hurts. alleviate your guilt,
free yourself once again, because he gave to you, brothers and sisters.
please give a 10, 25, or 50 dollar tax-deductible donation,
and i assure you your modest pledge will be used to censor tv and radio,
ban questionable books, and contribute to many other godly services.
no longer will young christian americans hedonistically indulge in masochistic
submission to rhythmic music, for with your monetary support,
there is no end to what we can achieve in this country.
the voice of god is government. the voice of god is government.
the voice of god is government. in god we trust, sinners repent!
can't you see what we believe in, all our thoughts, all our reasons,
pursuit of life and liberty and happiness we cannot see?
speak of truth with a mighty voice, but politics are your real choice.
hire men to change the law, protect and serve with one small flaw.
voice of god is government. the voice of god is government.
voice of god is government. in god we trust, sinners repent!
if we shun god and jesus christ, religious love is sacrifice.
love for god is shown in cash, the love they send is mailbox trash.
with every pamphlet we receive, more money asked for godly needs.
build a million dollar church, with money spent on god's research.
voice of god is government. the voice of god is government.
voice of god is government. in god we trust, sinners repent!
on late night tv, god can heal, a certain force you cannot feel.
love for money in god's name, religion's now a tv game!
build a million dollar church, with money spent on god's research.
build a million dollar church, with money spent on god's research.
voice of god is government. the voice of god is government.
voice of god is government. in god we trust, sinners repent!
yeah!
voice of god is government. the voice of god is government.
voice of god is government. in god we trust, sinners repent!
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:51 PM on May 20, 2003


Wind Beneath My Wings
*vomits on keyboard* See what I mean?
posted by dg at 3:10 PM on May 20, 2003


pipe these guys in for a few weeks
posted by clavdivs at 3:11 PM on May 20, 2003


Torture is funny.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:27 PM on May 20, 2003


.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:36 PM on May 20, 2003


"The commies at the BBC"?


What a joke the media here resembles the state run propaganda of the former Soviet Union more then the BBC does. What are you smoking boy?

Frustrated by the failure of US-based broadcast networks to provide a realistic account of the political machinations that led to the Iraq war, millions of Americans tuned in British news reports - which were picked up on public broadcasting and community radio, the internet and television stations.

[snip]
The general director of the BBC bemoaned the "gung ho" coverage of the US networks while a veteran British Cabinet minister dismissed US news coverage of the war as "old-fashioned propaganda."

"What the US networks give you is just a rehash of Bush Administration announcements, and worse. There's no news in it," says Tony Benn, one of the best-known political figures in Britain and a frequent commentator on international news programs. "Does anyone take them seriously?"
posted by tljenson at 4:02 PM on May 20, 2003


Mind you, many would describe Tony Benn as a fucking commie.

Love'imbless'imsqueeze'im.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:16 PM on May 20, 2003


Anything by Abba.

BTW Someone wants to lighten up for a sec, you know who you are, asshole.
posted by Joeforking at 4:49 PM on May 20, 2003


I once went on a three-day trip with 7 people who played a single cassette tape over and over for 8 and more hours every day. When I gave the CD version to a physicist boarding a transatlantic flight, he reported that he played it non-stop for almost the entire duration of his flight. One Amazon reviewer claims to have listened to this CD easily thousands of times; ... another claims to have played this music throughout several 10 hr roadtrips ..."

Personally, my inclination would be trying some stuff with these guys to turn their heads around in a positive way. First idea that occurs would be the rave technique: really hot live samba / capoeira bands snaking about through the complex for three days, full of happy, raucous young Brazillians shaking their stuff, punctuated by hashish-enhanced all night slideshows of the wrathful deities and the appropriate Tibetan chanting on endless loop, with a few blasts on the human bone horns as needed to wake those deaf to enlightenment. A few days to sleep it off, and start over again ... Seems to me it wouldn't take much more than a few weeks for even the most hardened of indivduals to reconsider whether life doesn't look like a lot more fun ...

It also sounds like this would be a rather unique test group for inner healing music or the Buddhist peace chant from Hiroshima. (The sound is quite compelling, but all I find are photos.)

Giving equal time to the afflicted, here's a link for anyone attempting to recover fron hypnotic sound techniques or trance states intentionally induced by a cult, etc.
posted by sheauga at 6:07 PM on May 20, 2003


Diamanda Galas followed with a Controlled Bleeding chaser.
posted by black8 at 6:34 PM on May 20, 2003


The anarchists during the Spanish Civil War used to torture fascist prisoners by putting them in cells with surrealist art and forcing them to watch Un Chien Andalou.
posted by jonp72 at 7:07 PM on May 20, 2003


Rip Taylor reading Maxim articles would do me in. I don't think my mind would be able to wrap quite that far around.
posted by cryosis at 9:19 PM on May 20, 2003


I'm sure plenty of people scoff at the idea that prolonged exposure to children's music can constitute torture, but at one point in my life I was stuck in a hospital room with a malfunctioning piece of equipment that played a cheerful six-note tune to signal that something was wrong. Over and over. And over. For weeks. By the end of the first week, I was a basket case.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:28 PM on May 20, 2003


"I say I was treated well," said the general, "but I should mention the headset I was required to wear, through which blasted heavy metal music. I'm hearing impaired now, partially because of that."

US General Dozier, commenting on his being held hostage by Italian Red Brigade in Verona Italy in 1981.

The scuttlebut was that the music he was forced to listen to was Wendy O. Williams. Points to monkeyman for having the right mindset!

PS I will warrant no anti-Rip Taylor comments, regardless how funny and true they might be!
posted by Dagobert at 11:14 PM on May 20, 2003


Joeforking: calling someone an asshole is great, but to do it while telling them to lighten up? Uhh...
posted by letitrain at 2:11 AM on May 21, 2003


.. and there was me thinking my first FPP would be a little light relief.
posted by Pericles at 3:00 AM on May 21, 2003


This should do it...

One of my favourites, in fact, but not something to be listened to repeatedly...
posted by monkey closet at 4:23 AM on May 21, 2003


"The worst thing we are doing is denying them sleep? They are getting off easy.

At the end of the day, I don't give a shit about them. My primary opposition to the war was that it would remove Saddam, and put an end to his regime. I rather liked how he ran his country. It was all good by me. Now what do we have? A pestilant shithole that undoubtedly will cost us more in money and in grief due to the long, long occupation we are going to have to undertake. GW made a big mistake in going into Iraq. I would have just sat back and let it ride, then it only cost Iraqi lives. Of course the Iraqis themselves could have tried to do something, oh, wait a minute, that would have required some effort on their part."
- -a3matrix

Ugliest. comment. Ever.


Thought experiment: it is 2017, and we have developed the technology to patch directly into the brain stem and make people feel pain without touching their bodies. Mind searing pain, but it leaves no trace (no physical trace, that is). The World Court comdemns the practice but the US, China, Russia and Israel use it anyway while simply denying their use of the reprehensible torture technique.

Then, DARPA discovers how to pipe canned experiences into the brain stem to reprogram people by blitzing them with months of canned "experience" while their bodies are kept on a nutrient drip feed (a la The Matrix).

Lo! We can remake Iraqis (or whomever) to be just like Americans!

Americans, Borg like, assimilate the World.

Bwahhahahahaha! bwahahahahaha....
posted by troutfishing at 5:42 AM on May 21, 2003


But back to the thread theme: how about Mr. Rogers singing "It's a beautifull day in the neighborhood" (at high volume) as a torture device? Demonic.

Show no mercy, right? Better than "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out", right? Can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs, right?....

Lots of good suggestions here. Psyops is all ears.
posted by troutfishing at 5:49 AM on May 21, 2003


Doesn't a thought experiment require thought?

Anyway, I second "Cotton Eyed Joe," as that song has given me no end of pain.

Maybe Wesley Willis? He's fun and all, but I imagine that 2 hours of "Suck a Cheetah's Dick" would drive the most mild-mannered person to hysterics.
posted by Snyder at 6:02 AM on May 21, 2003


Snyder - I forgot to insert the (obvious?) "consider the implications...."
posted by troutfishing at 6:23 AM on May 21, 2003


They should try Bob the Builder. An hour of that theme song would have any hardened criminal singing like a canary.
posted by adampsyche at 6:28 AM on May 21, 2003


The implications? Well, either people will believe the U.S. or not, regardless of available evidence, and probably act the same way even if the U.S. (and other countries) weren't doing it. Some people upset, some not. Same as now, anyway.

WRT magic matrix reprogramming machine, well, is everyone happy now? Maybe you shouldn't turn them into
"Americans" (a more homogenous race you've never found, right,) but into some other kind of mindset more adaptable to your point of view. Hey, science finally found a way of (somehow) improving human behavior!

How about this for a thought experiment? It's not much, but something for short notice? Is it ethical (assuming its possible) to "rewrite" someone in the way you describe? How about this? Say there is a drug that increases one's empathy, one's compassion for human beings? Would it work as advertised, or would we humans become overloaded with a kind of compassion fatigue, where we become unable to act? Perhaps our brains compensate by separating us from our own pain, so while we feel for others as we would feel for ourselves, we don't feel very much at all in either case. Is it ethical to use? Is it ethical for me to get so wildly off topic?

The point is, you presented a scenario, not thought experiment.
posted by Snyder at 7:29 AM on May 21, 2003


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