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U.S. Government Uses Hip-Hop For Torture; Artists Sue

One of the many horrific torture tactics used by the United States is the practice of blasting music at prisoners with ear-shattering volume and repetition. The federal government, no stranger to some wildly unethical interrogations under the Bush Administration, is finally getting much more than an earful about this technique. A new musician-sponsored lawsuit called ‘The National Campaign to Close Guantanamo’ is currently moving forward in an increased effort to get the U.S. to finally shut down Guantanamo Bay — a big first step in ending American torture around the globe.

Wait, didn’t Obama promise to shut that joint down the first week of his presidency? Short answer: an economic crisis, divided country and distracting healthcare debates makes it pretty difficult to walk the walk on such promises. The musicians, led by Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello (among others), are hoping to get the ball rolling towards closure again with this lawsuit.

“Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured,” Morello said in a recent interview. “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 ear drums. 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 – with its loud beats and objectionable lyrics — was commonly used in torture practices. Popular selections by interrogators included songs by Dr. Dre, Lil Kim, Tupac and Eminem. Slim Shady’s ‘White America,’ an angry song that is actually rather critical of American politics, was one of the more commonly used numbers.

Along with a grip of former U.S. lawmakers and military professionals, artists such as The Roots, R.E.M., Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails are primary acts behind the suit. While it’s hard to believe that musicians have any real say in U.S. policy, it’s encouraging that some of our biggest acts are banding together to demand President Obama fulfills his promise and shuts down Guantanamo Bay as soon as it’s feasible.

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