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<nettime> Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs
eyescratch on Sun, 15 Jun 2003 11:06:32 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs

[ Another one for the 'Wark' files. Isn't this the same thing that
   happened at Waco? Guns&Roses then, no teletubies now?  Will the
   internet have come to fruition when it can be used in such a way,
   or is that just the twilight of TV instilling hate by method of 
inane? es ]


Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK

Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs

'Culturally offensive' music is being used to break prisoners

Heavy metal music and popular American children's songs are being used 
by US interrogators to break the will of their captives in Iraq.

Uncooperative prisoners are being exposed for prolonged periods to 
tracks by rock group Metallica and music from children's TV programmes 
Sesame Street and Barney in the hope of making them talk.

The US's Psychological Operations Company (Psy Ops) said the aim was to 
break a prisoner's resistance through sleep deprivation and playing 
music that was culturally offensive to them.

However, human rights organisation, Amnesty International, said such 
tactics may constitute torture - and coalition forces could be in 
breach of the Geneva Convention.

    Sergeant Mark Hadsell, of Psy Ops, told Newsweek magazine: "These 
people haven't heard heavy metal.

"This is an issue that seriously concerns us. If there is a prolonged 
period of sleep deprivation, it could well be considered torture"  
Amnesty International spokesperson

  "They can't take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body 
functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your 
will is broken. That's when we come in and talk to them."

Sgt Hadsell's favourites are said to be 'Bodies' from the XXX film 
soundtrack and Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'.

  The theme tune from the US children's programme Sesame Street and 
songs from the purple singing dinosaur Barney are also on their hit 

"In training, they forced me to listen to the Barney "I Love You" song 
for 45 minutes. I never want to go through that again," one US 
operative told the magazine.

'No lasting effect'

   Rick Hoffman, vice president of the Psy Ops Veterans Association, 
told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that such a tactic would have no 
long-lasting effect on prisoners.

  "The use of this kind of audio-technique is rather new in 
interrogation," he said.

"There have been other kinds of non-lethal, non-harmful techniques, 
such as sleep deprivation... which leave no long-lasting effects but do 
have the end result of breaking down the individual's will to resist 

The TV theme tunes are repeated over long periods

Amnesty International told BBC News Online that at least one Iraqi 
captive - a civilian, later released - had reported being kept awake 
for up to four days by loud music.

"This is an issue that seriously concerns us. If there is a prolonged 
period of sleep deprivation, it could well be considered torture," said 
a spokeswoman.

"It is a very difficult line to draw between what constitutes 
discomfort and what constitutes torture - that line will vary for 
individuals and it would depend on each particular case," she added.

She said they were looking into whether the US and UK were abiding by 
their responsibilities under the Geneva Convention on the treatment of 
prisoners of war.

The UK's Ministry of Defence has said all its prisoners are being held 
under the terms of the Geneva Convention and are visited by members of 
the International Red Cross.

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