A new 45-minuteÂ documentary from Al Jazeera shows that Sesame Street songs have been used sinceÂ 2003 to “break” prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Human Rights researcher Thomas KeenanÂ explained that prisoners were attached to chairs, left alone with the music blaring through headphones for up to days on end, reports Business Insider.
âPrisoners were forced to put on headphones. They were attached to chairs, headphones were attached to their heads, and they were left alone just with the music for very long periods of time. Sometimes hours, even days on end, listening to repeated loud music,âÂ Keenan said.
âThe music was so loud,â Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram, says, according to The Daily Call. âAnd it was probably some of the worst torture that they faced.â
Award-winning composerÂ Christopher Cerf has created music for the famous childrenâs television show Sesame Street for 40 years.
Cerf has won two Grammy Awards and three Emmy Awards for his music, reports Global Post.Â Cerg has written more than 200 songs for that help to teach children to read, write and speak in multiple languages.
Cerf was stunned to learn how his music was being exploited.
“My first reaction was this just can’t possibly be true,”Â he told Al Jazeera. “…Of course I didn’t really like the idea that I was helping break down prisoners, but it was much worse when I heard later that they were actually using the music in Guantanamo to actually do deep, long-term interrogations and obviously to inflict enough pain on prisoners so they would talk.”
âIn Guantanamo they actually used music to break prisoners. So the idea that my music had a role in that is kind of outrageous,â he says. âThis is fascinating to me both because of the horror of music being perverted to serve evil purposes if you like, but Iâm also interested in how thatâs done. What is it about music that would make it work for that purpose?â
The composer embarked on a journey to learn just what it is that makes music such a powerful stimulant.
He spoke to soldiers, psychologists and prisoners tortured with his music at Guantanamo Bay and found out how the military has been employing music as a potent weapon for hundreds of years.
The Huff Post reports that this isn’t the first time that music from Sesame Street has been used to break the will of prisoners. In 2003, the U.S. reportedly used the soundtrack toÂ soften up Iraqi POWs.
According to other reports in 2008 theÂ detainees at Guantanamo Bay had been tortured by songs such as Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Drowning Pool’s “Bodies.”
US forces also used songs like âEnter Sandmanâ by Metallica, âBorn in the USAâ by Bruce Springsteen, âWhite Americaâ by Eminem and âI love Youâ from Barney and Friends to torture detainees.
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello told concertgoers he opposed torture of any kind after he learned about the methodsÂ American forces used.
âI suggest that they level Guantanamo Bay, but they keep one small cell and they put (former President George W.) Bush in there … and they blast some Rage Against the Machine,â he said.
Al Jazeera’s âSongs of Warâ debuted May 29 on the news channel, and it will be rebroadcast throughout the week.