Wed, May 21, 2003 - Page 7 News List

US military turns to heavy metal to torture prisoners

THE GUARDIAN , WASHINGTON

US military interrogators are using unorthodox musical techniques to extract information about weapons of mass destruction of fugitive Baathist leaders from their detainees -- ? a fearsome mix of Metallica and Barney the Dinosaur.

The Americans have long been aware of the impact of heavy metal music on foreign miscreants.

They blared Van Halen (among other artists) at the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega when he took refuge in the Vatican embassy in Panama City, and blasted similarly high-decibel music at Afghan caves where al-Qaeda fighters were thought to be hiding.

Now it is reported that the combination of high-voltage rock and happy-smiley children's songs can break the will of the hardest terrorist or rogue element.

"Trust me, it works," an American "operative" told Newsweek magazine.

"In training, they forced me to listen to the Barney I Love You song for 45 minutes. I never want to go through that again."

US interrogators routinely employ "stress-and-duress" techniques, including sleep deprivation: treatment which human rights activists describe as a form of torture.

"Prolonged sensory deprivation and prolonged sensory over- stimulation can cause intense suffering. You can torture someone with psychological pressure," said Dinah PoKempner of Human Rights Watch.

Ralph Peters, a former colonel in army intelligence, called heavy metal "the American equivalent of sending bagpipes into battle."

"Anything you can do to disconcert someone is going to help," he said.

"But it's a myth that torture is effective. The best way to win someone over is to treat them kindly."

Newsweek quotes a Sergeant Mark Hadsell explaining the qualities of heavy metal that bends the will of US enemies.

"These people haven't heard heavy metal before. They can't take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken.

"That's when we come in and talk to them."

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