A group of musicians, including bands such as Massive Attack, has backed a lobby group that is urging governments to stop the use of music in torture.
They're working with British law group Reprieve, which represents dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Reprieve is reporting that audio torture is a common tactic in the U.S. war on terror, and detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo are subject to hours of loud music every day.
Using loud music "to create fear and disorient detainee(s) and prolong capture shock" was among a host of interrogation tactics authorized by then commander in Iraq, Lt.-Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, in a memo dated Sept. 14, 2003.
Songs by Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, AC/DC, Eminem and Bruce Springsteen were played up to 16 hours a day at high volume at the prison camps, Reprieve says.
The bad news, of course, is that this is necessary. The good news is that the musicians aren't taking a personal risk by doing so.
Addendum: There've been a couple of suggestions that the government could be sued for copyright violation. This has a certain absurdist charm, and satisfies a minuscule fraction of the desire to punish. However, it really doesn't solve anything to set a precedent that the government can use music to torture as long as it pays a royalty.