WASHINGTON: The Pentagon insisted Thursday that it has not abused prisoners at Guantanamo Bay after a documentary said US forces a decade ago blared music of children’s show “Sesame Street” to break in inmates.
The United States has previously acknowledged playing music to influence behavior at the controversial camp, which was set up under former president George W. Bush for detainees captured in the “war of terror” against al Qaeda.
A documentary on Al-Jazeera gave further details, saying that prisoners in 2003 were strapped to chairs and played loud music through their headphones for hours or even days and that “Sesame Street” was among the selections.
Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said he did not know the playlist at the prison camp but that previous investigations covering the time period had approved of the use of music.
“Universally, these investigations have shown, and leadership has revealed, that music can be used as both an incentive and a disincentive. It depends on how you use it,” Kirby told reporters.
Kirby said he did not know whether music was still played at the prison camp. But he said US forces “rigorously” followed a policy against mistreatment of prisoners.
“We do not torture. And we do not abuse our detainees at all,” he said.
President Barack Obama on taking office in 2009 vowed to close the prison within a year, saying the indefinite detentions were an affront to US values and a recruiting bonanza for Al-Qaeda.
But Obama failed to meet the deadline as lawmakers blocked the transfer of detainees to US soil and many countries balked at accepting former inmates even if cleared of wrongdoing.
“Sesame Street,” which debuted on US public television in 1969, follows the antics of puppets in a socially diverse New York neighborhood and has been hailed as a way to teach children to respect one another’s differences.
“Sesame Street” has since aired in more than 150 countries. The United States recently underwrote a version for Pakistan that aims to promote tolerance and girls’ rights in a country that has seen frequent violence by Islamic militants.
Previous revelations of music at Guantanamo Bay have angered artists including Rage Against the Machine, whose songs were allegedly played despite the rap metal band’s left-wing politics.
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