The CIA's Favorite Music Torture Songs

The CIA recently declassified a few more songs that were used as torture music in the early 2000s

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”

“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.

17

Drowning 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.

16

Metallica - 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?..

15

Neil Diamond - America

The logic behind this choice is "If they hate America, let's give them some American music".

14

Sesame Street Theme Song

Even children's music can be torturous if repeated enough. Those of you with kids know what I'm talking about.

13

Matchbox Twenty - Cold

Overplayed overplayed overplayed.

12

Prince - Raspberry Beret

Raspberry Beret is actually a great song. This comment from redditor OK_Soda sums it up pretty well:

Yeah even if the waterboarding broke me I'd probably still hold out just to get them to keep playing Raspberry Beret, that song's catchy as hell. 

Yeah even if the waterboarding broke me I'd probably still hold out just to get them to keep playing Raspberry Beret, that song's catchy as hell.

11

Queen - We Are The Champions

Queen's We Are The Champions is just humiliating to give up to. That's pretty much the point, losers.

Side note, science has proven that this is one of the catchiest songs of all time.

10

Deicide - Fuck Your God

Blasphemy and heavy metal. I can't even listen to this one at normal volume, my apologies if the embeded video has something weird at the end.

9

Marilyn Manson - The Beautiful People

This one falls under heavy music that will drive you nuts after a while. The song is great but a bit too intense to play at a high level for a long period of time.

8

The Meow Mix Theme Song

I think I would have lasted about 5 seconds before I confessed to my crimes... and I didn't even commit any.

7

The Bee Gees - Saturday Night Fever

Bad music will break just about anyone.

6

Barney & Friends Theme Song

You know when you hear a popular song on the radio every single drive to work and back and it drives you nuts? Imagine that feeling but with the Barney them song for several weeks nonstop. Yeah, I don't think you'll say I love you back anymore.

5

David Grey - Babylon

The title of the track is enough to make you think of the bible. According to this article from Mic, a prisoner began sobbing immediately after hearing the song.

4

Mohamed el-Qasabgi - Zikrayati (My Memories)

Another form of torture is to use their religion against them. It's against Islam law to listen to Arabic music. To make matters worst, they would play the music on Ramadan.

3

Christina Aguilera - Dirrty

Why was a song like Dirrty by Christina Aguilera used as torture? It's not heavy, it's not loud. It's a form of humiliation; the track is sung by a woman and is sexual. It's against their practice and beliefs.

2

Dope - Take Your Best Shot

After hearing this song on repeat for a few hours, prisoners could no longer hear the lyrics anymore, just the loud beat. Some of them lost their minds rendering their intel useless.

1

Eminem - The Real Slim Shady

Sure, they probably learned all the lyrics to the song but this was a serious torture. Binyam Mohamed had to endure this song for 20 straight days. It was so bad that he would hear captives in other cells smashing their heads against the wall. Pretty brutal.

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