The Music We Play for Terrorists (and Dictators)

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


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.)

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate