Pearl Jam and REM have joined The National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, a coalition of musicians supporting Barack Obama’s efforts to close the controversial prison. The bands join Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Roseanne Cash, Billy Bragg, Bonnie Raitt, and Rage Against The Machine in the coalition.
Several artists are particularly upset about their music being used to interrogate prisoners. The BBC reports that a document published in November 2008 by the Senate Armed Services Committee made several references to the technique. The news service also reports that the National Security Archive states that tracks by AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, and Marilyn Manson have been played into detainees’ cells at Guantanamo, as well as the Meow mix cat food jingle, the Barney theme song, and Sesame Street songs. The CIA told the BBC that music was played “at levels far below a live rock band,” and that it was used only for security, rather than “punitive purposes.”
REM said in a statement: “We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice. To now learn that some of our friends’ music may have been used as part of the torture tactics without their consent or knowledge, is horrific. It’s anti-American, period.”