James Hetfield says that he is "honored" the U.S. military used METALLICA's music to psychologically torture prisoners of war because it "help[ed] us stay safe."
According to U.K. publication The Guardian, U.S. interrogators seeking to disorientate and break Iraqi prisoners played music from METALLICA and other heavy rock acts such as AC/DC, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and NINE INCH NAILS, as well as less aggressive and somewhat more surprising selections from Britney Spears, David Gray, Eminem, AEROSMITH, and even children's shows like "Barney And Friends" and "Sesame Street".
Asked by Thrasher magazine in a recent interview if he is offended at all by the CIA's use of METALLICA's music to torture prisoners, Hetfield said: "Ha! We've tortured people with it for a long time. A lot longer than the CIA."
He continued: "I've got nothing to say about that, really. I'm honored my country is using something to help us stay safe, if they are. But then again, once the music is out, I don't have control over that. Just like how someone's giving it away online. They're using it to do what they do.
"There's plenty of METALLICA cover bands, there's plenty of people doing 'Enter Sandman' or 'Nothing Else Matters' in Gregorian style, bluegrass style or Celtic harp combos and, you know — the music is out there and it gets used, so there you go."
Asked about Kerry King's comment that SLAYER's music "would have been scarier and maybe more effective" in psychologically torturing prisoners of war, Hetfield said: "I agree. No doubt about that, but there's still even scarier stuff than SLAYER too. There's some pretty intense crazy stuff out there."
Hetfield's latest comments echo those he made in 2008 when he was asked by a German TV network how he felt about the band's music being used to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He replied: "Part of me is proud is because they chose METALLICA... And then part of me is kind of bummed about it that people worry about us being attached to some political statement because of that."
In a 2009 appearance on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show", METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich was also asked about the band's music being used to psychologically torture prisoners of war. He responded: "There is a lot of METALLICA music that's helping a lot of scared 18-, 19- and 20-year-old kids out there who are out on the front lines and who are doing a hell of a job on behalf of you and me and the rest of us. But, obviously, when you hear stories like the one you're telling, it all seems so bizarre and so strange that METALLICA's music, which generally sort of facilitates bringing people together, is used in these bizarre circumstances. It's certainly not something that we in any way advocate or condone."
Ulrich also told Maddow that if someone really wanted to use music to torture others, there are groups out there that are way more extreme than METALLICA. "If there are people that are dumb enough to use to interrogate prisoners, you're forgetting about all the music that's to the left of us," he said. "I can name, you know, thirty Norwegian death metal bands that would make METALLICA sound like SIMON & GARFUNKEL."