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Today I received the December issue of the International Musician, the official publication of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. You know, the musicians’ union. There was news item on the use of music to torture detainees:

Musicians File a FOIA Request for “Torture Songs”

A group of prominent musicians and singers, including many AFM members, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the declassification of all records related to the use of music in interrogation. The artists also voiced a formal protest against the use of music in torture and requested the names of all songs that were blasted at prisoners for hours, sometimes days, as punishment or means of coercion beginning in 2002….

In October the Washington Post ran an article on the subject:

Torture songs spur a protest most vocal

Musicians call for release of records on Guantanamo detainee treatment

By Joe Heim

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, October 22, 2009

….Tom Morello, formerly of the band Rage Against the Machine, also expressed outrage.

“The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me,” Morello said in a statement. “We need to end torture and close Guantanamo now….”

….”Sound at a certain level creates sensory overload and breaks down subjectivity and can [bring about] a regression to infantile behavior,” said Suzanne G. Cusick, a music professor at New York University who has studied, lectured about and written extensively on the use of music as torture in the current wars. “Its effectiveness depends on the constancy of the sound, not the qualities of the music.”

Played at a certain volume, she said, “it simply prevents people from thinking….”

Apparently once the group which filed the request finds out what music was used they’ll explore their legal options.

It’d certainly be ironic if a civil suit for non-payment of performance rights brought accountability to the torture regime.