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Sesame Street songs were repeatedly played for days on end to torture Guantanamo Bay prisoners, repo

1 June 2012 04:14 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Sesame Street composer couldn't believe it was true
  • Guidelines say music can be 'as loud as a jackhammer'
  • Puppet programme songs also used on Iraqi POWs

They were written to teach children colours and strange words but distorted versions of bouncy Sesame Street songs have been used to torture Guantanamo Bay prisons for days, it has been claimed.

The staggering assertion has been made in a documentary from Al Jazeera and follows previous claims in 2008 that heavier tunes such as Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ and Drowning Pool’s ‘Bodies’ were played incessantly to prisoners at the naval base in Cuba.

According to the report ‘innocent children's songs were abused for inhumane purposes’ as music from the popular US children programme was blasted repeatedly into prisoners’ ears.
Torture: An Al Jazeera documentary claims that Taliban and al-Quaeda detainees were repeatedly played Sesame Street songs for days on end
Christopher Cerf, the man behind the distinctive Sesame Street theme tune and a further 200 songs used in the show over the years, says he was shocked to discover that his music which was intended for good was used as a form of torture.

Speaking in the film he says: ‘'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.’

Painful note: Big Bird performs a song with youngsters on Sesame Street. Tunes from the show have been used to torture detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention centre it has emerged   Controversial: Christopher Cerf, the man behind the distinctive Sesame Street theme tune says he was shocked to discover his music was used as a form of torture
It is not the first time Sesame Street music was reported as being used to break the will of prisoners.

In 2003 the U.S. military allegedly used the soundtracks to soften up Iraqi POWs.

Award-winning Mr Cerf, who has been working for the famous children's television show for four decades added: '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.’

A CIA document shown in the report entitled 'Guidelines for Interrogation Methods' and produced by the medical services department of the CIA states that permitted levels and durations for which music can be played to prisoners is the equivalent to being: ‘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 programme Thomas Keenan from The Human Rights Project at Bard College in New York claims that sometimes prisoners were left for hours or even days listening to music at Guatanamo Bay, Kabul and other hidden sites.

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