The CIA used Red Hot Chili Peppers to Torture Detainees, Plus More Artists Used

The Senate Intelligence Committee's declassification of the CIA's internal reports on their "interrogation" practices used after 9/11 revealed some pretty grisly stuff. But the most surprising was one particular prisoner's torture by way of listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a loop, which was intended to "batter the detainee's senses."

No doubt, it's pretty disappointing for Anthony Kiedis and co. I mean, how would you feel if your work was used to torture other people? It's sort of like being the Alfred Nobel of music. Except you haven't had an award named after you (okay, maybe this is a bad analogy). But fortunately (or rather, unfortunately), the Red Hot Chili Peppers aren't alone. There's a whole slew of bands whose music has been used as an instrument of torture...

Bruce Springsteen

When music is used as an instrument of torture, it's generally chosen by the soldiers in charge. Thus, it's often a reflection of what the soldiers believe their prisoners will find most offensive. So often, patriotic songs like Springsteen's "Born in the USA" will be played (even though the song isn't patriotic as much as it's mistaken for patriotic).


Heavy rock songs are also often used for their obvious scare and intimidation factor. They're also often repetitive and occasionally reach the point of physical discomfort. AC/DC's torture hits? "Shoot to Thrill" and "Hell's Bells."

Skinny Puppy

Similarly, Skinny Puppy's electro-industrial music was used to assault the ears of prisoners. But once the band heard their music was being used from a former Guantanamo Bay guard, they filed the U.S. government an invoice for $666,000. Band keyboardist Calvin Key said "I am not only against the fact they're using our music to inflict damage on somebody else but they are doing it without anybody's permission." No word if they've gotten their money back yet.


Metallica's "Enter the Sandman" was also used to scare and intimidate prisoners. But unlike many artists who became upset when they found out their music was used for torture, the members of Metallica were pleased, stating that their music was meant to be scary and was serving that purpose.


Like Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," Eminem's music is often used for its title instead of its actual lyrics. Eminem's "White America" is similarly used as a patriotic anthem, when in fact most of the lyrics are a rant against racism and censorship in America.

Christina Aguilera

Xtina and other female artists' music has been used by soldiers because they believe that prisoners will find the overtly sexual lyrics offensive. "Genie in a Bottle" was used to attempt to get information from a suspected 9/11 hijacker.


Barney's "I Love You," of course, has been used for no other reason than its irritating, cheery repetitiveness.