In 2014, a scandal involving the CIA revealed that it used Tupac or Eminem to torture prisoners.
Imagine yourself trying to sleep on the floor of your cell. 2 centimeters from your ears, music at high volume, played on a loop for hours or days. You’ll go crazy, right? According to declassified reports released in 2014, as well as videos and testimonies from guards and soldiers, the US government used music to torture detainees. And in their little playlist, “All Eyez On Me” by Tupac, certain songs by Dr. Dre or even “White America” and “Kim”, by Eminem.
Binyam Mohamed said he had “suffered” from “Slim Shady”by Eminem, for 20 days. “I heard that all the time”he reportedly told Clive Stafford Smith, his lawyer and the founder and director of Resumea UK-based organization determined to end the practice of musical torture. “I could hear other people in the prison screaming and banging their heads against the walls.”
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CIA used to play Eminem’s Real Slim Shady repeatedly to detainees as a torture method pic.twitter.com/qoiLSPDJGy
—Corpse Crusader🫀🇫🇮 (@CorpseCrusader) February 6, 2022
“The train of thought slows down and the will breaks”
Musical torture was a common practice of the CIA as an integral part of the “enhanced interrogation technique“. Used by the government of George W. Bush (2001-2009), this technique designated new methods of interrogation applied by the American military intelligence services and the CIA. The individuals concerned by their application had been captured within the framework of the war against terrorism, after the attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2009, the government of Barack Obama concluded that these methods are equivalent to torture. It prohibits the “enhanced interrogation technique”.
The objective of musical torture: to prevent prisoners from sleeping until they are driven to madness. Trigger in them delirium, vulnerability. Mark Hadsell, at the time a member of the psychological operations team in the United States, described the effectiveness of this method. “If you listen to music for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to decline. Your train of thought slows down and your will breaks. That’s when we come in, and we talk to them.”
This psychological coercion consists in exposing an individual to the same auditory signal. Generalized and perfected, soldiers had already used this technique in the 70s. At the time, Great Britain had been condemned for its use of sound weapons, intended to destabilize Irish prisoners.
Dr. Dre, Eminem and Tupac chosen according to specific criteria
Some former prisoners have described this overexposure. The CIA actually employed two methods, each as perverse as the other. Use loud noises broadcast at a volume of approximately 82 decibels, interrupted for only 7 seconds every 45 minutes. Or the broadcast of pieces in a loop, chosen according to their structure or the theme addressed within the track. For example, some selected pieces may be offensive to a prisoner’s religion or culture.
Background noises of war, some rappers and singers used have none of the idea most of us would have of torture. Eminem, Tupac, Dr. Dre, or even Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Prince and the Bee Gees are among them. In fact, certain hip-hop sounds are very conducive to diminishing brain capacity. The loops used on the beatsas well as drums high-volume thrusts, can be terribly painful repeatedly. Often associated with violence, drugs or sex, rap was also intended to shock the religious captives of the CIA. The CIA’s special torture playlist also features many metal artists.
According to a media survey AlJazeera, Al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah suffered this type of torture while in captivity. Chained by the wrists to the ceiling of his cell, his jailers subjected him to an endless loop of music at very high volume. A source from Al Jazeera, a member of the CIA, confided that the music used to torture him was that of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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