In the early 2000s, the CIA introduced its enhanced interrogation program which was used to create fear, disorient and prolong capture shock. The concept is pretty simple. The government would blast loud music in order to keep its prisoners awake for long periods of time: we’re talking weeks, even months at a time here. The “problem” with traditional torture (a.k.a beating a person) is that they can actually prepare for it and at some point, the physical pain stops hurting. Psychological pain on the other hand is nearly impossible to train for.
Former Guantánamo prisoner Ruhal Ahmed stated:
“From the end of 2003 they introduced the music and it became even worse. Before that, you could try and focus on something else. It makes you feel like you are going mad. You lose the plot and it’s very scary to think that you might go crazy because of all the music, because of the loud noise, and because after a while you don’t hear the lyrics at all, all you hear is heavy banging”
So did the CIA just blast really loud bad music? No, not necessarily. As you’ll see in this declassified list of songs, most of the tracks were actually pretty good. Originally, they would torture their prisoners with heavy metal music as they had never heard that style before so it was foreign to them, but they later started to introduce pop music which worked just as well.
The public found that torture via music was more palatable but the prisoners didn’t agree: Music torture was far worse for them and would drive some of them insane.
Below, you’ll find the most used songs that the CIA used to torture prisoners.
17Drowning Pool - Bodies
Bodies by Drowning Pool made a lot of sense to use. The countdown, the screaming, the lyrics. Play this a bunch of times on repeat with the volume on max and anyone will have a hard time sleeping. There is so much anger in this song that we chose is as one of our best songs to listen to when you're angry.
16Metallica - Enter Sandman
Trying to keep the captives awake while blasting music about sleeping is definitely torture. Hey, at least they have a sense of humor?.. right?..
15Neil Diamond - America
The logic behind this choice is "If they hate America, let's give them some American music".
14Sesame Street Theme Song
Even children's music can be torturous if repeated enough. Those of you with kids know what I'm talking about.
13Matchbox Twenty - Cold
Overplayed overplayed overplayed.