The Music We Play for Terrorists (and Dictators)

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From Newsweek, via Matthew Yglesias:

In addition to waterboarding, Zubaydah was subjected to sleep deprivation and bombarded with blaring rock music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One agent was so offended he threatened to arrest the CIA interrogators, according to two former government officials directly familiar with the dispute.

This is unfortunate news for the Chili Peppers. But it does bring to mind another musical attack: the U.S. “Rock ‘n’ Roll assault” on Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega in 1990. When Noriega was holed up in the papal embassy in Panama City, the U.S. blasted music on enormous speakers as part of an attempt to flush him out. Because of the Freedom of Information Act, the most important details of this operation are now declassified: We know what was played during those fateful days. Some highlights after the jump.

“Big Shot,” Billy Joel
“Feel a Whole Lot Better (When You’re Gone),” Tom Petty
“Hang ‘Em High,” Van Halen
“Judgment Day” Whitesnake
“One Way Ticket,” George Thorogood and the Destroyers
“Panama” (of course), Van Halen
“Electric Spanking of War Babies,” Funkadelics
“Wanted Man,” Molly Hatchet
“War Pigs,” Black Sabbath
“We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel

My favorite song on the list of U.S.-army-approved dictator-taunting music is “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” by Blue Oyster Cult. You just know that Noriega hates cowbell.

(You can read a longer list, see the original document, and learn the story of how it was released here.)

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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