A group of prominent artists are moving forward with a lawsuit against the U.S. government for using music as a means for torture at Cuba’s controversial Guantanamo Bay facility.
Last December, news hit media outlets about how military personnel were using music to humiliate and demoralize detainees.
Rage Against the Machine member Tom Morello is participating in the suit, and revealed that reports have shown the music was played just low enough to prevent detainees from suffering shattered eardrums.
“Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured,” Morello explained. “From waterboarding to stripping, hooding and forcing detainees into humiliating sexual acts, playing music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the eardrums. Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney’s idea of America, but it’s not mine. The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me.”
Hip-Hop music was a staple of the torture tactic, with selections from Dr. Dre, Lil Kim, Eminem (“Kim,” “Slim Shady,” “White America”), and Tupac (“All Eyez On Me”) being used.
Even though songs like Eminem’s “White America” are ironically critical of American politics, the Bush Administration approved the track as a part of the “futility technique,” which seeks to show torture victims the hopelessness of their situations.
The goal of the musicians’ lawsuit, dubbed the “National Campaign to Close Guantanamo,” is to have all government documents declassified on music torture and have the base shut down.
In addition to artists such as the Roots, REM, Pearl Jam, and Nine Inch Nails, several former U.S. generals and lawmakers have joined the suit.
Previously, President Barack Obama had promised to close the facility by January 22, 2009.
However, the economic crisis and resistance from Congress have delayed that goal. At press time, a court date has not been announced.