In 1989, when the US government used psychological warfare to coerce Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega’s surrender (in the hilariously named “Operation Nifty Package”), two of the big guns in its arsenal were Van Halen’s Panama and I Fought the Law by the Clash. Isolated in the embassy of the Catholic Holy See, with no where to retreat from the relentlessly loud and repetitive music, Noriega finally surrendered himself to the Navy Seals who’d been DJing for him for ten days.
With that sort of success, of course US Psychological Operations (Psych Ops) reprised the technique. Most recently, a Gitmo guard has claimed that tortuously loud and repetitive music is a regular part of life at Guantanamo Bay. From the same report, Canadian band “Skinny Puppy” learned that some of its music is in the Gitmo rotation, and they are far from pleased. Trouble is, Skinny Puppy never gave the US Army permission to use their song, and they are not big fans of the Guantanamo operation. So, the band sent the US Defense Department a bill for $666k. Basically, they’re suing for royalties.
There is no telling how the feds will deal with the bill or how Skinny Puppy would make its case in court if they decided to press the issue. How could they prove that their song had been played, given the security and secrecy that shrouds Guantanamo Bay? And, even if they established that their music had been played, what sort of royalty laws would apply to the government’s use of a song for psychological warfare?
Nothing against Skinny Puppy, but it seems to me that the real story here is the Army’s lack of imagination. If they really wanted to get some answers fast they would have gone with a 24/7 repeat of any or all of Farrah Abraham’s debut album/memoir soundtrack.