On Tuesday, I reported a new campaign to close Gitmo (the campaign website is now live). Today, a bunch of musicians are the joining the National Campaign against Torture to FOIA information on how music was used in the government’s torture program.

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I hereby request the following:

All documents, including but not limited to intelligence reports, briefings, transcripts, talking points, meeting minutes, memoranda, cables, audio/visual recordings and emails produced by the Central Intelligence Agency concerning the use of loud music as a technique to interrogate detainees at U.S.-operated prison facilities at Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan during 2002-the present.

The documents we seek include but are not limited to records that contain explicit references to the following bands or songs, among any other bands or songs mentioned:



Barney theme song (By Bob Singleton)

The Bee Gees

Britney Spears

Bruce Springsteen

Christina Aguilera

David Gray


Don McClean


Dr. Dre

Drowning Pool


Hed P.E.

James Taylor

Limp Bizkit

Marilyn Manson

Matchbox Twenty


Meow mix jingle


Neil Diamond

Nine Inch Nails




Rage against the Machine

Red Hot Chili Peppers



Sesame street theme music (By Christopher Cerf)

Stanley Brothers

The Star Spangled Banner

Tupac Shakur

If you regard any of this material as potentially exempt from the FOIA’s disclosure requirements, I request that you nonetheless exercise your discretion to disclose them.  As you know, President Barack Obama has called upon all agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government.” As the FOIA requires, please release all reasonably segregable, nonexempt portions of documents.  To permit me to reach an intelligent and informed decision whether or not to file an administrative appeal of any denied material, please describe any withheld records (or portions thereof) and explain the basis for your exemption claims.

Among the musicians joining the campaign are Trent Reznor and Tom Morello whose music is among those used in the government’s torture program. As Morello says, “The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me – we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now.” And Jackson Browne–fresh off his victory against McCain and the Republican party for stealing his music–is also joining the campaign.

Me, I hope we can recruit Barney and Big Bird to join the campaign.

This part of the campaign is a great way to show how our nation’s practice of torture perverts our everyday culture.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.