Torture playlist

Mother Jones has an audio feature up this week -- a compilation of songs believed to be used in US military prisons and on bases...
to induce sleep deprivation, "prolong capture shock," disorient detainees during interrogations–and also drown out screams.

Based on a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees, here are some of the songs that guards and interrogators chose.


  1. I don’t know why Raspberry Beret by Prince is on here, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know

  2. #2: Because a woman out of a burka is an offense against God, dontcha know!

    She wore a raspberry beret/
    The kind you find in a secondhand store/
    Raspberry beret/
    And when it was warm, she wouldn’t wear much more/


  3. The music is all shit, unsurprisingly, and also pretty chilling stuff.

    Imagine yourself being waterboarded, beaten, sleep deprived and god knows what else listening to these tracks. Now imagine your screams being drowned out by them.

  4. The songs on the Torture playlist pic used in the story are all on my iPod. I guess I like to torture myself. 70% of the songs on the list are on my iPod. heh.

  5. Most of these songs seem kind of weak. Okay, any of the theme songs would probably grate on my nerves after a bit but I doubt they would make me loose it. If they were looking for something more disturbing why not try Aphex Twin or something along those lines? Yeah, I could totally sleep through Come To Dadddy at 100db……

  6. its pretty obvious they needed something in a hurry to drown out the screams and just used whatever was lying around. More evidence the information gained was most likely useless. The picture is crystalizing: bored, unsupervised,sadistic children, whiling away the time before being told what to do next.

  7. Remember how pissed Springsteen was when Reagan used “Born in the USA” for a campaign song? I think he’ll be a bit more upset now. Rage Against the Machine will be super pissed and Metallica will prob sue the DOD for copyright infringement…

  8. 1. Does this count as public performance? Royalties?

    2. Too bad those RIAA shrinkwrap agreements don’t mention that you can’t use the music to torture people.

  9. knoxvillegirl I didn’t think of that. He’s sure to be told too. Well I guess we can all be proud Americans now.

  10. @BCSIZEMO: Come to Daddy is pretty mild when it comes to Aphex Twin. If I wanted to torture someone and keep them awake, I’d go with some other Aphex Twin song, like Ventolin (Salbutamol Mix). I personally love this song but I know that a lot of people will find it aggressive and annoying.

    Here’s a link to it on YouTube:

    Remember to turn your volume down.

  11. Um, I can think of better Neil Diamond songs they could use to prolong capture shock. Sweet Caroline, anyone?

    “Sweet Caroline
    Good times never seemed so good
    I’ve been inclined
    To believe they never would”


  12. Theres at least one prisoner rocking out right now…

    Just kidding, but I think it’s great that we don’t let our prisoners have peace and quiet. Maybe some cold water would be nice for them, too.

  13. Music soothes the savage beast. Maybe this helps the prisoners vent their frustrations in a controlled environment. Or not.

  14. what, no Aqua?

    Most of that list would irritate me to no end. Although they should have used more recent Metallica is they really wanted to hurt someone….

  15. migods! Sondra Prill… the musical equivalent of watching Seinfeld’s Elaine dancing. Was that really neccesary?


    I [i]love[/i] that Ventolin song. Personally I’d chose some shitty speedcore or noisecore.

    Like from The Gerogerigegege:

    The Gerogerigegege is japanese for “barf diarrhea (sound of those two occuring at the same time)” So yea…

    That or persistant binaural beats. That would make em go crazy

  17. What’s pretty amusing about this list is that most (if not all) of the artists would likely be pretty taken aback and feel that their art is being abused, or otherwise feel upset that their music is being used this way – but Deicide is probably thrilled!

  18. #28 – You’ve heard Babylon right? I’d consider it torture…

    I bet RATM are spitting that they are included in this awful act…

    Anyway, keep doing stuff like this America – awesome way to get allies.

  19. In the Channel4 recreation of torture methods at Guantanamo that they broadcast here in the UK about 2 years ago, they had a naked man standing in the middle of a room , blindfolded ,and with Subhuman by Throbbing Gristle blasting out of a set of headphones.
    I have to say, that since I’ve been listening to TG for over 20 years, that the crap listed in that playlist really would be torture to me.

  20. certainly, and waterboarding saves showering.

    There is a price you pay for being an apologist for torture and murder.

  21. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the musicians whose songs are used this way. Yipes. Have there been any reactions?

  22. The musicians are too busy trying to get John McCain and Mike Huckabee to stop playing their songs to worry about Guantanamo.

  23. This is making me rethink my approach to mixtapes now. I usually use different genres just for funnies, but I can see how the alternation of really heavy music and uncannily creepy soft rock could drive anyone positively mad.

    i only have one of these songs on my pod, btw: raspberry beret.

  24. @TTCFCL: Oooh, binaural beats. Used properly, those could really mess with your head, quite literally.

    I agree that shitty speedcore and noisecore can certainly be annoying, I don’t think there is any song out there more grating and annoying to the average joe’s ear than Ventolin (Salbutamol Mix) simply because of the sustained, high-pitched tone (well, there might be an electro-acoustics piece somewhere that’s worse…).

  25. From the psychological perspective, this is an excellent tracklist for torturing people because it includes a lot of tracks which serve specific functions. Some are glorifying the USA, some diminish the defeated (prisoner) while yet anotherone just produce auditive ‘overload’ far away from pleasant. Every single one works in another way. I can imagine with some experimentation, this playlist is a horrifying instrument if in the wrong hands.

    I wonder what the artists would say if they knew that their songs are used for torture. Can’t somebody ask them?

  26. L O L @ Ventolin. I remember playing that in a study hall in high school on headphones and having the some girl get up and ask me to turn it down. Horrific garbage music.

  27. I always thought a weapons grade torture list was supposed to contain a bit more Aphex Twin and speedcore.

  28. ah ha ha , oh you crazy kids!

    “Around midnight, they took me to the basement. In the basement, the guard opened a door for me, a metallic door. I could not believe my eyes. I looked at him and I said, what is that? He didn’t answer. He just said to me: Enter.

    The Grave

    The cell was about three feet wide, six feet deep and about seven feet high. It was dark. There was no source of light in it. It was filthy. There were only two thin covers on the floor. I was naïve; I thought they would keep me in this place for one, two, maybe three days to put pressure on me. But this same place, the same cell that I later called the grave was my home 10 months and 10 days. The only light that came into the cell was from the ceiling, from the opening in the ceiling. There was a small spotlight and that’s it.

    Life in the cell was impossible. At the beginning–even though it was a filthy place, it was like a grave–I preferred to stay in that cell rather than being beaten. Whenever I heard the guards coming to open my door I would just think, you know, this is it for me that would be my last day.

    The beating started the following day. Without no warning…(long pause as he fights tears) without no warning the interrogator came in with a cable. He asked me to open my right hand. I did open it. And he hit me strongly on my palm. It was so painful to the point that I forgot every moment I enjoyed in my life.


    This moment is still vivid in my mind because it was the first I was ever beaten in my life. Then he asked me to open my left hand. He hit me again. And that one missed and hit my wrist. The pain from that hit lasted approximately six months. And then he would ask me questions. And I would have to answer very quickly. And then he would repeat the beating this time anywhere on my, on my body. Sometimes he would take me to a room where I could, where I was alone, I could hear other prisoners being tortured, severely tortured. I remember that I used to hear their screams. I just couldn’t believe it, that human beings would do this to other human beings.

    And then they would take me back to the interrogation room. Again another set of questions, and the beating starts again and again. On the third day the beating was the worst. They beat me a lot with the cable. And they wanted me to confess that I have been to Afghanistan. This was a big surprise to me because even the Americans who interviewed me, the FBI officials who interviewed me, did not ask me that question. I ended up falsely confessing in order to stop the torture. The torture decreased in intensity.”

  29. I’m surprised you don’t know. It’s public record. That would have been Mr.Maher Arar, proud Canadian, sold by racist and incompetent Royal Canadian Mounted Police and CSIS (the “sissie boys” as the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service are known) to Fatherland Security, the FBI, the CIA and ultimately his rendition torturers. Go on,read of his exploits, its all out there. He’s healed up nicely. Mostly.

  30. Ironic that Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” is on the list. They’d probably be apoplectic if they knew about it.

  31. Honestly – I’m surprised that no one mentioned The Butthole Surfers – Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave, and Olivia Newton John – Let’s get Physical.

    The first time I played The Shah Sleeps… I couldn’t figure out what speed to play the 45 at, and I had to turn the room lights on ’cause I was scared.

  32. Yeah we all might ike some of the songs, but we have all been raised around them. Imagine them torturing us with whatever local crap they listen too. They wouldn’t mind it because it’s all they know but we would hate it and probably be willing to cooperate a little more. Now all of a suddon having them listen to pro-American songs, hard rock, and rap doesn’t sound like a cakewalk does it?

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