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Barney the Purple Gitmo Torturer, and other singers used to break detainees

BarneyHey parents, your little ones may posses stronger wills than a hardened Guantanamo Bay detainee. Some of the kid-friendly entertainment consumed on a mass scale by children, including Barney the Purple Dinosaur and the Sesame Street puppets, is being used for so-called enhanced interrogation of suspected terrorists:

A coalition of mega-bands and singers outraged that music -- including theirs -- was cranked up to help break uncooperative detainees at Guantanamo Bay is joining retired military officers and liberal activists to rally support for President Barack Obama's push to shutter the Navy-run prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba.

Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails are among the musicians who have joined the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, which launched Tuesday.

On behalf of the campaign, the National Security Archive in Washington is filing a Freedom of Information Act request seeking classified records that detail the use of loud music as an interrogation device. ...

Based on documents that already have been made public and interviews with former detainees, the archive says the playlist featured cuts from AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, Marilyn Manson and many other groups. The Meow mix cat food jingle, the Barney theme song and an assortment of Sesame Street tunes also were pumped into detainee cells.

Read the whole article by AP here.

Using G-rated jingles from childhood is a curious method to break suspected terrorists, not so much because the songs are meant to sooth and entertain children than because of the feeling that this practice doesn't come across as very surprising. There seems to be a point in our lives when our toddler-years immersion in kiddie media gives way to a wholesale rebuke of this entertainment, sometimes going so far as to result in a phobia. After all, who doesn't know at least one fully grown adult who suffers from coulrophobia? (Perhaps we can just chalk that one up to the clown scenes in the TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's "It.")

But I'd like to know: What's on your torture playlist? What list of songs, played repeatedly at high volume, would make you cry,"Stop!"? Would Barney and Big Bird break you? Post your list of songs as a comment below.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo credit: AP


Comments () | Archives (8)

The comments to this entry are closed.

turn the radio off

Hmm... I know the call is for songs, but I might have to include artists as well. An assault on my sanity might just be successful if it contained large doses of any of these:

The Osmonds
William Hung
Ace of Base
Survivor (Eye of the Tiger)
Michael Bolton
Rod Stewart
David Hasselhoff (Mercy. HALP. especially if they played the "Hooked on a Feeling" music video... they're all pretty bad..)
Crash Test Dummies
Henry Rollins
Captain and Tennille - Muskrat Love
Billy Ray Cyrus - Achy Breaky Heart
Deep Blue Something - Breakfast at Tiffany's
Herman's Hermits - Henry the Eighth
Patti Page - Doggie in the Window
Bryan Adams - The Only thing that Looks Good on me is You (What the...?)
Los del Rio - Macarena
The Knack - My Sharona
Falco - Rock Me Amadeus
Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me with Science
Culture Club
All-4-One - I Swear

And honestly, anything by these:
Ray Stevens
Saigon Kick
Ted Nugent
and yes, KISS..

I was going to include Menudo, but in a strange way they, after all of the above, they might not be so bad...

If they played "Feelings" by Beaker from the Muppet show (I think it's on YouTube) on repeat, very loud, I think my ears would start bleeding.

I've wondered before if they play "Ahab the Arab" by Ray Stevens at Guantanamo...

Katharine Saavedra

First of all, any song or melody repeated over and over will drive one mad if it goes on long enough. Ask anyone who works retail how they feel about Christmas songs. That said, for me personally, the list of songs I hate is long. Here is a sampling.

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,
Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,
I Will Always Love You,
Tomorrow (from Annie)
It's A Hard Knock Life ( also from Annie)
Pretty much anything from Annie or shows which feature legions of little girls.
We Built This City (on Rock and Roll)
Tell Me Something I Don't Know
Anything by the Violent Femmes
I Enjoy Being a Girl
Bye, Bye Birdie
Stand By Your Man
Achey Breaky Heart

Bob Johnson

Looks like the left's love affair with the slime stinking up Gitmo continues unabated.

Jon Healey

@Bob -- Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, having your music used to torment people is bad for your CD sales? And that even bleeding hearts like Pearl Jam might be more eager to protect their brands and their livelihoods than to comfort detainees?

If I were one of these songwriters, I'd want to know if the feds were paying royalties to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. I don't think I could stop them from piping my songs into the cells, but I could demand compensation just as if the Pentagon were playing my music in its elevators.

San Diego

"It's a Small World" would have me sobbing confessions in less time than it takes to make the ride at Disneyland. We were on the ride once when it broke down and had to listen to that tune for a good 45 minutes while they tried to fix the "boats" that we were riding. I've never been able to stand that song since then.

A Metrolink rider

Jon, that's the point of Gitmo--no one knows what law applies there.

Gordon Potik

I loved the elder Kennedys and Shrivers; but some of the younger generation are really confused. Power must be respected and not abused.

Ms. Shriver must get control of herself. What kind of example is she setting for her own offspring? She is abusive of her power as first lady of California. Maybe being a lame duck first lady is painful?

Srike three you are out!!!

jeff finney

Anything by "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch"



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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