A recent claim said that Sesame Street songs, which were written to teach children words and other things, are used to torture Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
A documentary from Al Jazeera made this asseration about the naval base in Cuba. In 2008, there were claims that music, such as Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Drowning Pool’s “Bodies,” was played repeatedly to bother prisoners.
Christopher Cerf, the musician who created the children show’s theme song, said he was shocked when he found out that his songs could be used for something without good intentions.
My first reaction was ‘this can’t possibly be true, this is just too crazy’ it was just absurd. I didn’t really like the idea that I was helping to break down prisoners, but it was much worse when I heard later that they were actually using the music in Guantanamo to do deep interrogations to inflict long-term pain on prisoners so that they would talk.
Cerf would be saddened to learn that this was not the first time that his Sesame Street music was used to break down prisoners.
In 2003, the U.S. military allegedly used the music to torture Iraqi POWs.
Cerf, who has worked with Sesame Street for 40 years and has created over 200 songs for the show, was also interested in the process of turning his songs into torture.
This is fascinating to me because of the horror of music being perverted to serve evil purposes, but I’m also interested in how that’s done and what is it about music that would make it work for that purpose. The idea that we would be doing torture ourselves to save our own freedom is very ironic.
According to a CIA document shown in the report “Guidelines for Interrogation Methods,” the music played to prisoners can be “as loud as the highway for 18 hours a day, the volume of a cranked up motorbike for eight hours or a jackhammer for two hours.”
In the documentary, Thomas Keenan, a member of The Human Rights Project at Bard College, said that prisoners are often left for hours or days listening to music at Guantanamo Bay or other similar sites.