The year 2000 was a good one for boy bands. *NSYNC dropped No Strings Attached, which produced singles like “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” while Backstreet Boys were still cruising off hit ’99 album Millennium, which went on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. Across the Atlantic, Irish boy band Westlife released Coast To Coast, the third-best selling album in the United Kingdom that year, powered by “syrupy” lead single “My Love.”
Turns out that ballad was a favorite of the CIA as well.
A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union says the Westlife track and various heavy metal songs were used to torture a prisoner named Suleiman Abdullah in Afghanistan. The songs were played at an ear-splitting volume to break Abdullah down, and though the metal songs are not named in the report, titled Out of the Darkness, the Westlife hit was singled out.
“His interrogators would intersperse a syrupy song called “My Love” with heavy metal, played on repeat at ear-splitting volume,” states the report. “They told Suleiman, a newly wed fisherman from Tanzania, that they were playing the love song especially for him. Suleiman had married his wife Magida only two weeks before the CIA and Kenyan agents abducted him in Somalia, where he had settled while fishing and trading around the Swahili Coast. He would never see Magida again.”
It goes on: “The music pounded constantly as part of a scheme to assault prisoners’ senses. It stopped only when a CD skipped or needed changing. When that happened, prisoners would call to one another in a desperate attempt to find out who was being held alongside them. A putrid smell that reminded Suleiman of rotting seaweed permeated the prison. His cell was pitch black; he couldn’t see a thing. The U.S. government refers to the prison as ‘COBALT.’ Suleiman calls it ‘The Darkness.'”
As the NMEnotes, ten years ago a report on Guantánamo Bay torture techniques named tracks by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dr. Dre, and Eminem as being used as weapons by the US government.