In a post last year (link), I related how a WFMU listener serving in Iraq had requested some MP3s of the band Happy Flowers (mp3 sample) so that he could use them as audio aids for his interrogations of Iraqi prisoners.
Well, the listener in question is home now between his second and third tours of duty in Iraq, and he stumbled across that blog post. He sent me an e-mail discussing his use of the tunes, and he indicated it would be OK to print them here as long as I didn't reveal his name:
"I just came across your Soundtrack for Torture blog entry. Just a follow up. I finally found a couple of Happy Flowers records from a seller in England, thanks for the link, by the way. I wasn't able to convert them to MP3 until I got back to the states but I did use them during my second deployment to Iraq.
Now, don't get me wrong. Abu Ghraib bothers me. Not that the Soldiers there got caught, but that they were doing the wrong thing in the first place. The problem with being part of an organization is that you are judged as a whole. When one element makes a mistake it makes us all look bad.
As a member of the Armed Forces it is not my place to speak on policy and my comments do not represent current military practices, but I would like to share some of my personal experiences. I did use Happy Flowers effectively during my latest deployment.
Here is the problem in Iraq. The Iraqis understand that we follow a code of conduct and the answer to every question we ask is always "I don't know anything about that" Unless you catch a terrorist red handed, they know you will release them in 2 days. We are not allowed to harm a prisoner and I have absolutely no problem with that, but you have to be creative to get information. That's Psychological Warfare comes in. It doesn't work on the hardened terrorist, but it does work on the guy who knows who the terrorist is, or is involved but not in a major way. Such as the Farmer who hides bombs because he is told if he doesn't he will be killed. If we can make his stay with us unpleasant and make him feel that it will continue until he is willing to give a statement that will allow us to apprehend the real bad guys and put them away, that's all we can really hope for.
For example; We came across a bomb in the road and while waiting for EOD to arrive to disarm it, I noticed a guy on the other side of a canal watching the area with binoculars. So we have a bomb, we have a triggerman... unfortunatly, by the time we can get around the canal he managed to escape. The triggerman was within 50 meters of a house. We go to the house and of course the gentleman living there has seen nothing. We had questioned this guy before and not gotten any information so this time, we put him in the Humvee, tell him we are taking him with us and start playing "Mom, I Gave the Cat Some Acid" over and over.
After about an hour of Happy Flowers and being told that we don't want to take him, and that if he would tell us what he knows we will take him back home, he finally tells us who the triggerman is, where we can find him, where other bombs are hidden and ID's 3 corrupt policemen. All without having to threaten, imprison, or break any of our rules of conduct. I couldn't tell from your article whether you were against the use of music to obtain military goals or whether it was just a talking point, but I wanted to just let you know why we do it, how it works, and to hopefully convince you the as a whole the US Army is not malevolent and we don't just drive around trying to torture innocent people.
Thanks, (name and rank withheld)"
After asking him if it was OK to post his comments on the blog, he replied:
"I just ask that you don't post my name. I don't want to sound as though I have anything to do with current army policy. I am not aware of any restriction or procedure for using music or for questioning insurgents and don't want to come across as someone in authority within the military. Thank you for the response."