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Millimeter-Wave Weapon Certified For Use In Iraq 806

Posted by kdawson
from the bang-you're-hot dept.
jdray writes "Wired has a story on the certification of the Active Denial System for use in Iraq. The ADS is a millimeter-wave weapon that uses a reportedly non-lethal energy beam to inflict short-term pain on its targets, encouraging them to leave an area. Experimenters call this the 'Goodbye effect.' I can see using this in a wartime situation, but how long before we see these things mounted to the top of S.W.A.T. vans for domestic crowd control? And, is that a bad idea?" From the article: The ADS shoots a beam of millimeters waves, which are longer in wavelength than x-rays but shorter than microwaves — 94 GHz (= 3 mm wavelength) compared to 2.45 GHz (= 12 cm wavelength) in a standard microwave oven... while subjects may feel like they have sustained serious burns, the documents claim effects are not long-lasting. At most, 'some volunteers who tolerate the heat may experience prolonged redness or even small blisters'... There has been no independent checking of the military's claims." Wired use Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain documents on the military's testing program.
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Millimeter-Wave Weapon Certified For Use In Iraq

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:42PM (#17116220) Homepage Journal
    Time to don the triple layered Tin foil suit [wikipedia.org] with extra ball protection.
    The army will have to think harder when civilians start running at them with faraday cages around them.

    Additional questions ...

    Would a metal plate reflect the radiation back at them?
    How many minutes does it take to cook a human?
    Does this device go "ding" when its done?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Smidge204 (605297)
      Joking aside, how easy would it be to make protective armor against this kind of attack? You can buy rolls of steel or aluminum window screening at any hardware store for under $50.

      =Smidge=
      • Re:Suit up guys! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:23PM (#17117000)
        Joking aside, how easy would it be to make protective armor against this kind of attack? You can buy rolls of steel or aluminum window screening at any hardware store for under $50.

        The intended purpose of this device is for crowd control. The implication of people using "armor" would be that the "mob" is actually somewhat organized. You wouldn't be wearing the armor unless you anticipated being in a place where the millimeter-wave weapon would be used. You wouldn't anticipate being in such a situation unless you were planning to cause a disruption or asked to join in one.

        Wearing armor would also imply that the crowd is likely to atack. Try to picture someone putting on armor so they could quietly sit and protest. These are people who'd at least be throwing rocks.

        My guess is that if armor is possible and is used, that the army would put down the millimeter gun and pick back up the machine gun. You couldn't get away with firing an automatic weapon into the crowd during a riot in L.A., but something tells me it wouldn't be a problem in Iraq. Unless you haven't noticed, it's not exactly like we're going out of our way to detail the number of Iraqis killed by Americans in the news. We would probably never even notice. For this reason alone, I hope the energy weapon works as advertised.

        TW
        • Re:Suit up guys! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by joshtimmons (241649) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:40PM (#17117340) Homepage
          I disagree slightly with your deduction that if I'm wearing protective gear then I mean to attack. If I was planning to be in a peaceful protest and I suspected that this device would be used against me, then why wouldn't I plan to wear armor? Peaceful demonstrations are planned and organized too. I hope that doesn't mean that they'd fall back to using a machinegun on demonstrators!
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Phu5ion (838043)
            They would probably fall back to using rubber bullets... or fire hoses... W00t, wet millimeter-wave-armor contest!
        • Re:Suit up guys! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:49PM (#17117536) Homepage
          You wouldn't be wearing the armor unless you anticipated being in a place where the millimeter-wave weapon would be used. You wouldn't anticipate being in such a situation unless you were planning to cause a disruption or asked to join in one.

          Yeah, because no experienced protester expects that the police might employ anti-riot weapons even if the situation doesn't warrant it. It's simply inconceivable.

          *rolls eyes*
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You couldn't get away with firing an automatic weapon into the crowd during a riot in L.A., but something tells me it wouldn't be a problem in Iraq.

          You are quite clueless regarding the rules of engagements. US forces generally expose themselves to extra risk in order to avoid endangering civilians as much as possible.

          . Unless you haven't noticed, it's not exactly like we're going out of our way to detail the number of Iraqis killed by Americans in the news.

          First, it is no secret and it could never
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Total_Wimp (564548)
            Dude, look at the last month, year, and 3 years news from Iraq on CNN, MSNBC, or any of the four networds. Look for stories of American casualties and then look at the number of Iraqi casualties in the same story. Not common to see them, is it? We fight, we get shot at, yet there doesn't appear to be a close account of how many we kill.

            Now look for stories that talk about how many civilians we've killed? Still kind of hard, isn't it? How about stories from the main invasion on how many Iraqi soldiers w
        • uWave vs. Fire hoses (Score:3, Interesting)

          by msobkow (48369)

          The use of firehoses for crowd control is frowned upon if not outright illegal as a human rights violation since their use in the race riots of the 1960's. Those weren't lethal either.

          Can anyone explain why weapons that would incense the human rights activists in the US or Canada are being deployed overseas? Aren't people overseas considered human by the administration(s)?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by E++99 (880734)

            Can anyone explain why weapons that would incense the human rights activists in the US or Canada are being deployed overseas? Aren't people overseas considered human by the administration(s)?

            Because the administration doesn't care what incenses activists. I'm with the administration on that point. They also want to be able to defend our soldiers without causing unnecessarily loss of life. I again agree with the administration.

            One persistant problem in Iraq is the recruitment of children to attack U.S. tr

      • Still a deterrent (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kadin2048 (468275)
        Joking aside, how easy would it be to make protective armor against this kind of attack? You can buy rolls of steel or aluminum window screening at any hardware store for under $50.

        Causing them to fall back to "Plan B," also known as rubber bullets (or real ones). I'm not sure that's an improvement.

        Plus, at least if I was going to deploy this, I'd probably use a mix of denial devices; tear gas, smoke, ultrasonics, psychological deterrents (recordings of people screaming, etc.), and the giant Radarange. If o
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Salvance (1014001) *
      Hey, you won't need the suit! Blisters aren't a sign of burning or anything ... they're just a coincidence. As the government says "there's no lasting effects".

      Riiiigggght.
      • Re:Suit up guys! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Walt Dismal (534799) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:26PM (#17117072)
        Yes, no lasting effects unless you count the cataracts and blindness in people who accidently stare too long straight at the antenna, trying to figure out what is causing the pain and when it will stop, while it cooks sensitive eye tissues.

        Also, the first time it is used at a US political protest, such as a GOP convention, there's going to be hell to pay.

        Or used on crowds with pregnant women, and tiny children who don't know what is going on. (Of course, in Cheney's view, ethics and minorities, no great loss.)

        Or when the field intensity ends up with strong lobes they never planned on, because of metal in the urban environment accidently causing concentration.

        This thing is, basically, a weapon of mass torture.

      • by Aqua_boy17 (962670) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:42PM (#17117380)
        Blisters aren't a sign of burning or anything ...
        Yeah, but at least it's a dry heat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nonlnear (893672)
      Would a metal plate reflect the radiation back at them?
      You'd have to use a corner reflector (or more probably an array of them). Such a reflector would send the beam more or less directly back in the direction it came from. This would only be a useful retaliation if the weapon were being held by the operator, or the operator were in close proximity to the weapon. If it were turret mounted, then there wouldn't be any point.
  • SciFi Roots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <<shadow.wrought> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:43PM (#17116244) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like the Neronic Whip that Isaac Asmiov described in his Foundation series. Now whether or not its a Good Idea(TM), that is a tough call. Likely it depends on whther you're on the trigger end or muzzle end, so to speak.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by djh101010 (656795) *
      Now whether or not its a Good Idea(TM), that is a tough call. Likely it depends on whther you're on the trigger end or muzzle end, so to speak.

      I'm thinking that it depends on what the alternative is. If it's a choice between lethal and non-lethal force, it's a good thing. If it's a choice between a loudspeaker saying "you guys need to leave here" and this, well, then I'd rather have the loudspeaker. Its all a matter of degrees.

      Degrees. I don't believe I wrote that.
      • Middle ground (Score:5, Interesting)

        by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking.yahoo@com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:57PM (#17116474) Homepage Journal
        If it's a choice between a loudspeaker saying "you guys need to leave here" and this, well, then I'd rather have the loudspeaker.
        There is a middle ground - you could always have the loudspeaker play this [npr.org]. (If you can't hear this, then you're probably over 30. I'm 36, and I can't hear it. It annoys the @$#! out of those who can hear it, though. I have it bookmarked. :D )
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cptgrudge (177113)

          And as people get older, their net worth probably increases, and might be less likely to participate in a riot. You might get a higher percentage of young people in a rioting crowd. A search on Google results in some second-hand info and notes of a 20-something average age for individual riots, but nothing conclusive. Does anybody know the average age distribution for a normalized riot crowd?

          If younger people are more likely to join a riot, then a sonic repellent device might work out well. Plus you m

      • Re:SciFi Roots (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CKW (409971) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:46PM (#17117490) Journal
        .

        But we've already seen that it does not come down to a choice between lethal and non-lethal force!!! Yes that's what they said when it started out, but since it's got "no long term effects" - who cares!! Use it all you want!!!!

        Tasers are now used *much* more readily and at the drop of a hat than your "alternative to lethal force" would lead one to believe it was going to be used. It's used now SIMPLY TO CAUSE PAIN. Since when is causing pain okay just because the pain stops the moment the device is turned off? Just because there are no physical scars makes you think it's okay to make me feel like I'm being burned alive? WHEN THE FUCK did it become okay to punish someone with gross levels physical pain BEFORE convicting them, just because they weren't immediately complying with your orders as quickly as you'd like!??!?? Just to save you four or five minutes of wrestling with an unarmed person? Yeah sure if you think you're in immediate danger, sure. But that's not what's happening!!!

        NO IT WON'T BE USED instead of bullets. It WILL be used just to get their way whenever they want something done. "Do this OR ELSE". Where have you heard that recently?

        .
        • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:05PM (#17117796) Homepage Journal
          At least in my experience, Tasers replaced nightsticks and billy clubs because they're more photogenic and have less of a stigma. Most of the situations you see Tasers being used in, would in the "bad old days" probably have engendered use of the club. Only that's not quite acceptable anymore, so instead they've found a method that looks better from a distance, and leaves fewer marks. (No awkward explanations of how somebody 'fell down the stairs,' etc.)

          I'm not at all convinced that the level of police brutality has increased in recent years, if anything I think it's probably at its lowest level in this country historically. Arguing with people who consider themselves to be in a position of power has never been a safe sport, and depending on where and when you did it (and who you were), you might have been lucky to get out with the equivalent of a Tasering.

          I'm not defending the practice per se, I'm just suggesting that I think you're wrong to assume that the technology actually causes brutality; the brutality has always been there, and always finds an outlet. That the Taser seems to be the choice du jour for causing pain doesn't really make it unique.
  • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:45PM (#17116258)
    how long before we see these things mounted to the top of S.W.A.T. vans for domestic crowd control? And, is that a bad idea?

    Is using a non-lethal device for crowd control a bad idea? I'd guess it would depend on if this can create permanent harm or not. If it has no ill side-effects I'd say it's one hell of a lot better than tear gas that can kill people with some respiratory conditions.

    Crowd control in an of itself is not a bad idea if that's what you're getting at.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandrese (485)
      With crowd control you're really talking about the lesser of two evils:

      1. Inflicting pain and possibly infringing peoples rights, maybe even killing people depending on what means you use.
      2. Letting the angry mob run wild and trash the city, inflicting damage to property and also possibly injuring/killing people depending on how angry they are.

      That's not to say that crowd control measures haven't been misused in the past (or the future), but ultimately it's someone's job to stop the rampaging mob befo
      • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:08PM (#17116678)
        I hate to break this to you, but angry mobs aren't just going to forget what caused them to air their grievances after being dispersed. In fact, denying them the ability to do so usually means the next step is violent civil resistance.
        • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:15PM (#17116828) Homepage Journal
          Angry mobs are often the result of an underlying social problem, but the fact of the matter is that mob mentality is dangerous even when the individuals aren't all that violent. Breaking up angry mobs can save a lot of lives and property because people just don't think straight when they're in one.
      • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Irvu (248207) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:25PM (#17117048)
        The catch is, at what point does one group become a "rampaging Mob" and does preparation for "crowd control" feed into that.

        In recent years there has been an ever increasing milarization of domestic police forces in the U.S. More and more money has gone to swat teams with armoured everything and less and less to programs like Community Policing which actually make people safe. This has produced two intertwining problems:
        1) Police have grown ever more violent with a greater tendency to respond with swat teams, and for politicans to call out the swat teams, and
        2) Protestors and other groups have found themselves more and more marginalized which lends itself to violent responses.

        Take the WTO protests as a test case. In Seattle and Florida the cities and states began by surrounding buildings with chain link, calling out heavily armoursed cops and evn changing the laws in the downtown areas so that protesters were banned "for their own protection." The resulting air of tension led to exteme overreactions on the part of the police. In the case of Seattle legal nonviolent marchers were tear-gassed and in Florida a legally sanctioned non-violent parade was broken up by police firing bean-bag guns which are "non-lethal but painful".

        This in turn has led to some groups seriously talking about and preparing for violence. If they feel that protesting bad policy will get you gassed, shot (it still is being shot whether the armarment kills or not) and jailed for your trouble why not throw some molotovs?

        There was a study some time ago done by a New York-based criminology professor. In it he looked at the effects of militarizing (i.e. via swat weapons and training) police forces. His conclusion was that it was bad, very bad, and he was one of the people who taught swat teams.

        You see military training is about dealing with "the enemy". And training to use weapons like tear gas to "take out dangerous crowds" actually increases the odds that you will resort to it. And increasingly training for these weapons requires a demonization of the enemy. The psychological separation between you the "good guys" and the enemy, protestors, anarchists, etc. "the bad guys" makes it easier to actually resort to force against them, and more likely that said resort will be taken. After all, they are "bad" and you are "good".

        As a result the heavier use of military style training actually increases the level of violence due to this cycle of overreaction.

        You may say that I am oversimplifying things but anyone who has actually gone outside and protested anything, even with no violence and legal permits can attest that things have changed. I have seen people menaced by dogs while obeying the law, seen armoured assault vehicles purchased for local police forces, I've even had undercover cops infiltrate (very poorly) anti-war groups just to keep an eye on what the grandmas were planning. When you scale this up and see film of a 40 year old woman cowering behind her cardboard sign as a line of swat police shoot, non-lethat but painful, guns at her for being where she had a legal right to be, and you arrive to protest outside the whitehouse (with legal permits and no violence) and see lines of cops with assault rifles waiting, and have some rent-a-cop demand to know what you are writing because he sees you as the "enemy" you begin to realize that "non-lethal" techniques still stifle speech and that the idea that you can have non-violent swat teams is a complete insult to the intelligence.

        The cycle of violence isn't just domestic. It occurrs in our society and futher blurs the line to the point where there is little ot no distinction beteen 'the enemy' abroad and 'the enemy' at home. Either way it is someone with a gun pointed at them by someone in a uniform. The fact that that gun is "painful but not lethal" doesn't mean anything. And the more money we spend on arming people whose job it is to protect us, and the more we train them to see themselves as good and "the enemy" as b
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:49PM (#17116336)
      How about if you're in a tightly-packed crowd with no hope of moving and some kindly riot cop decides to focus this beam on you for a minute or two? Bear in mind unlike tear gas and batons there is no tangible evidence this is being used except at the source and receiver. Makes dealing out pain anonymously much easier.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      What the matter with water? we KNOW it's non lethal and not damaging unlike this millimeter wave stuff. (they do not know that nailing someone prolonged time or multiple times will not cause problems a decade from exposure)

      Why don't the cops have the balls to start spraying the people with water jets? are they afraid that public outcry would be greater than this invisible weapon?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        There have been cases of riot police using water jets and having their vehicle overturned. At that point, things got...ugly. Water jets are, largely, point-focus weapons.

        And water is dangerous. Ask any drowning victim.
  • by whiskeyriver (909231) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:47PM (#17116286)
    "At most, 'some...may experience prolonged redness or even small blisters'"

    They slept with Susie too???! That tramp!
  • by Non-CleverNickName (1027234) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:47PM (#17116288)
    They do nothing!!
  • One problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:48PM (#17116308)
    The problem is that the people who were tested were told ahead of time to remove glasses, contact lenses, and any metal that could generate "hot spots". I really doubt they're going to extend the same courtesy to dissidents in a war zone. They're also assuming that the average grunt in the field is going to properly operate the equipment.
    • by Tiger4 (840741) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:55PM (#17117632)
      Actually, I think it would be pretty cool if they DID warn the crowd with a general purpose disclaimer.

      "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to irradiate you. Please remove all glasses, contact lenses, wristwatches, jewelry, rings and any other metal object from your body. We are pretty sure this won't harm you permanently, but it definitely hurts, and you notice we don't get in front of the beam. This is you last chance to leave the area. If you do notice any lasting effects, please write to the Advance Weapons Lab, Area Defense Branch, Los Alamos, New Mexico. Stand by for irradiation. OK, hit 'em Joe."

      Just put it on a recording that play the first time you pull the trigger.
  • In every war ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:49PM (#17116322)
    In every war the army mentions non-lethal weapons in the press to give the population the feeling that they try not to kill so many people.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:50PM (#17116352)
    Crowd control should be about de-escalating the chance for conflict. If you start burning people with microwaves, you radically and abruptly increase the chance for a peaceful protest to turn into a bloody lynching.

    During the protest against the invasion of Iraq in New York, just trying to deny all the intersections to protesters with sawhorses and mounted police caused surging to begin in the crowd, and the NYPD came within a hair's breadth of inciting a riot that would have burned out Midtown Manhattan and killed a lot of people.

    And if any police department or government agency in the United States gets the bright idea to employ this kind of means here against people exercising their constitutional rights, they should think very carefully and deeply and consider that I and many of my patriotic countrymen are very jealous of our rights and also possess automatic weapons. How far do you want to push us, Mr. Man?
    • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:12PM (#17116778) Homepage Journal
      This is why peaceful protests make me nervous. If "just trying to deny the intersections to protesters with sawhorses" nearly touched off a riot, then I'm not convinced that the demonstration was all that peaceful in the first place. People only show up to demonstrations when they're angry about something, and the odds of them achieving their goal immediately to appease them are essentially nonexistent.

      Bush wasn't about to show up and say, "Gosh, you're all right, I'll cancel the invasion". Even if the demonstration convinced him, the crowd wouldn't hear about it, and meanwhile they're pointing out to each other that their voices aren't being heard. Any interaction with law enforcement, no matter how well-intentioned, provokes "Help, help, I'm being repressed. Did you see how he was repressing me?"

      I've always wondered just how effective protests really are. Presumably the people you're protesting to have at least a rough idea of how many people are in favor of their idea and how many are opposed. A demonstration adds emphasis: not only are people opposed to/in favor of abortion/hunger/AIDS/war/trade, but they're willing to take time out of their busy schedules to show it.

      There have been many demonstrations in the history of the world, and some have been followed by change (e.g. the civil rights era), but correlation is not causation. And most demonstrations that I'm aware of (I live in DC, so I see a lot of them) have far bigger effects on the local commuters than they do on the decision makers.

      By all means, I support the right of the people to petition and seek redress, and to gather peaceably in large numbers. Law enforcement absolutely must be taught how to deal with those crowds delicately, keeping the peace without becoming the cause of disturbance. Demonstrations should absolutely continue to happen. But I wonder if it would be a valuable word of advice to the organizers of such things that their efforts might be better expended elsewhere.
      • by daigu (111684) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:24PM (#17119386) Journal

        Here's an idea, actually go to a peace demonstration. I'm a Quaker. I go to peace marches, vigils, rallies, you name it. I've yet to see angry peace protestors (which is one of the primary forms of protest these days). People are also realistic in that they don't believe they will achieve their goal - world peace - today. Your whole argument shows a basic lack of familiarity with demonstrations and what they are intended to accomplish (awareness in the larger population). You should actually go to a protest and talk with people. It will be probably a very interesting experience. I can say it was for me (I had never protested anything prior to the last three years).

        I will also say that the first time I went to a peace demonstration I looked down two city blocks full of police in riot gear on either side of the street. If you don't think that's about intimination and repression as much as about public safety, you've never stood in the middle of that street with the knowledge that they are they because of you. I'd also say it is very empowering to march right through that the police. It at least makes you feel like you have a voice and you are using it. When's the last time you felt that as a citizen? For that reason alone it is worth it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twifosp (532320)
      Inventing ways for crowd control is almost like admitting that the "powers that be" recongnize that people do not like what they do and flat-out expect dissent on a wide scale. The fact that these devices are actually made proves that not only do they expect it, but they don't care about the reasons behind the dissent, and only want to control it. It's this kind of mentality that has caused foriegn terrorism to blossim.

      Whomever approves of this device with either a signature or funding is basically sayi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Crowd control should be about de-escalating the chance for conflict. If you start burning people with microwaves, you radically and abruptly increase the chance for a peaceful protest to turn into a bloody lynching.

      I imagine this device would be like existing methodologies - to be used when lesser means have failed. (Yes, I know it doesn't always work this way - but you hear more about the exceptions than the sucesses.)

      During the protest against the invasion of Iraq in New York, just tryin

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Phoenix666 (184391)
        With respect, our right to exercise our constitutional rights to free speech and assembly trump the shopper's right to get to the Disney Store on 5th Avenue unimpeded, especially when it's one afternoon out of a 365-day year and doubly especially when it's to protest a war that everyone can freely acknowledge now is a disaster in terms of lives, money, and global influence.

        Am I a hyper-sensitive asshole for saying so? Well, lemme see, the government now spies on us without warrants or oversight of any kind
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons (302214)
          With respect, our right to exercise our constitutional rights to free speech and assembly trump the shopper's right to get to the Disney Store on 5th Avenue unimpeded,

          That's an opinion - not a fact of nature or law. I snipped the remainder of your reply but will say this - it's nothing but a demonstration of your inability to differentiate between fact and opinion and of your belief that threats are a reasonable substitute for reasoned discourse.
  • by balsy2001 (941953) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:52PM (#17116382)
    Because they have never mislead us before.
  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:52PM (#17116384) Journal
    On the one hand, it beats the hell out of using machine guns for crowd dispersal.
    On the other, because it doesn't (apparently) kill people, armed forces will be *much* more likely to use it to disperse people, instead of trying to do things that keep people from rioting. Technical solution to non-technical problem isn't a solution, it's a treatment.
    Any bets on whether this is already in use for interrogation?
  • by Zarhan (415465) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:53PM (#17116408)
    The ADS shoots a beam of millimeters waves, which are longer in wavelength than x-rays but shorter than microwaves -- 94 GHz (= 3 mm wavelength) compared to 2.45 GHz (= 12 cm wavelength) in a standard microwave oven..

    I wonder how it relates to UV, visible light and IR then? That's mighty big frequency range from 2,4GHz to 30 EHz.

    Why couldn't they just say "EHF" if they needed to specify the frequency area where 94 GHz resides. I hate these articles that try to sound technical with some babble but in reality just betray that the writer does not know what's he talking about.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rob the Bold (788862)
      Why couldn't they just say "EHF" if they needed to specify the frequency area where 94 GHz resides.

      Radar guys use the term millimeter-wave, so I guess it means that radar guys developed it, not communications engineers.

  • by blueZhift (652272) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:53PM (#17116410) Homepage Journal
    I'm all for nonlethal weapons when the other choice is killing people en masse. But in the current Iraq situation, all I can see in a device that causes pain without killing is a lot of hurt people wanting payback big time. Something like this could be perverted into a horrible torture device. To ever use something like this against a civilian population would be dubious at best. Doesn't the world hate the U.S. enough already?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dr_dank (472072)
      Something like this could be perverted into a horrible torture device.

      Perverted? A device like this is perverted by its very nature. Unless you can make hot cocoa with it, there is no non-agressive alternate use for this.
  • "Get Away" or GITMO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DJ.Flecktarn (1028326) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:58PM (#17116488)
    While this weapon certainly could be more human for crowd dispersal than some curently available (Tear gas that can cause death in athmatics, rubber-coated steel bullets [you didn't think they were just rubber, did you?] which can kill, being hit with sticks, ect.), there's the follow-up possibility of other places to consider. After the interrogation techniques seen at Abu Ghraib and Guantanama Bay, the ability to make someone feel like they're on fire, say while blindfolded, might be too juicy a plum not to be picking.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:58PM (#17116490)
    Probably has effects like other microwaves. The military found out long ago that exposure to microwaves increases the incidence of cataracts. That's why there are rather low exposure limits-- a few milliwatts per cm^2.
  • Might be non-lethal (Score:4, Informative)

    by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:59PM (#17116500) Journal

    But by the article's admission, we don't know the long lasting effects yet. The burning rays are supposed to be absorbed by the top layer of your skin. But what happens if there's nerve damage that becomes apparent in ten years? Or an increased risk of skin cancer later on in life?

    Unless it is absolutely necessary, we probably shouldn't use this weapon yet. The US has the unenviable distinction of being the only country to use large-scale nuclear weapons in war, and that event and it's reasons are debated and discussed to no end. I wouldn't want another weapon used that, although smaller scale, still ends up killing people decades later because they are put at an increased risk for other factors. Especially if the "intent" is non-lethal. But if we can be almost certain that it's truly non-lethal with no long lasting effects, this would be a good tool to use, for both military and riot police.

  • I wonder (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@NosPAm.praecantator.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:59PM (#17116506) Homepage
    I wonder what the effects are when riot-cop freaks out and starts zapping someone huddled on the ground over and over again with one of these.

    Better than getting worked over with a club, I suppose.

  • by tttonyyy (726776) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:00PM (#17116524) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like a good idea in principle, but someone, sooner or later, is bound to abuse it [youtube.com]. Who will be responsible for determining when it can/can not be used? For a soldier to kill someone with a gun, they have to have a damn good reason to do it. To use something that inflicts pain with no long term effects? Very high danger of abuse.
  • Pulling teeth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chipster (661352) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:03PM (#17116574)
    Wired used Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain documents on the military's testing program.
    Yeah, and they (Wired) didn't make them available to the public, as some decent news sources do. Would have been nice if they made them available in their article - because "everyman" trying to obtain gov. docs via the sunshine laws is like pulling teeth. I've done it.
  • by crabpeople (720852) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:04PM (#17116586) Journal
    From the article:
    "In human tests, most subjects reached their pain threshold within 3 seconds, and none of the subjects could endure more than 5 seconds."

    Then later:
    "Effective range is at least 500 meters,"

    Do you know anyone that can run half a kilometre in 5 seconds?

    "The [AC-130] typically engage targets at a range of two miles or more, which implies an ADS far more powerful than System 1 has been developed."

    Light of god ftw..

  • Counter measures (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metoc (224422) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:05PM (#17116594)
    1) Develop new weapon.
    2) Deploy weapon during a civil war.
    3) Watch insurgents develop counter measures via trial and error.
    4) Insurgents publish counter measure globally.
    5) Return to step 1.
  • S.W.A.T. vans aren't my concern, what about the poor children swimming?
  • by Toby The Economist (811138) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:07PM (#17116652)
    Question is, how long before people are tortured with this device?

    In fact, given the current administration's apparent view that coercion which causes non-permanent harm is not torture (e.g. waterboarding), this seems ideal.

    I wish I was kidding :-(
  • by JungleBoy (7578) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:43PM (#17117398)
    Intentionally inflicting intense pain on a person to illicite a response is torture. Saying the pain is non-damaging and short term, doesn't change the fact that it's torture. This is a mass torture device.

    In crowd control situations, I can't think of a scenario where this wouldn't also be collective punishment. It's like two Geneva Convention violations wrapped in one. Go USA!
  • by Cervantes (612861) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:43PM (#17118560) Journal
    I oppose nonlethal weapons, and I am a pacifist.

    Let me tell you why. Lethal weapons have consequences. If you shoot someone, it's undeniable that you shot them, and you will have to answer. If you're the police, facing off a crowd, and the only enforcement tool you have is a gun, you're MUCH more likely to do the proper thing, and talk the situation down or handle it in such a way that it stays in control.

    If you have a magic ray gun, you're much more likely to shoot as soon as you bloody well feel like it, without trying to properly address the situation. Not only does this give you a crowd of angry, hurt people, it also fails to address the underlying cause of the disturbance in the first place.

    Additionally, the media treats them so much differently. If the police shoot into a crowd of protesters, there is instant, full coverage, and possible society-changing events (Kent State?). If the police shoot tear gas into a crowd, or now shoot them with the magic ray gun, the story is always "An unruly crowd of protesters was dispersed by police. We'll tell you how they were bad people at 11". And nothing else happens. If someone tries to sue for the force being used without cause, the response is usually "it was just tear gas, ya big baby, get over it". So, nothing changes.

    And while I do agree that society is becoming a bit more violent, it's also true and documented that police in many countries have taken to instigating violence at large protests in order to have an excuse to disperse the entire event. There are videos of plainclothes officers getting out of police vehicles, mingling with the crowd, and then starting vandalism or violence in an effort to encourage others. So it's no longer a fair measuring stick to say "we'll only use it on violent crowds", because the police are making the violent crowds.

    A respect for life is about the only thing we have left going (and it's marginal at that), so it's for that reason that I say we use it to our advantage, and I discourage the use of nonlethal weapons for crowd control. Make the police do their job, not just hit a button every time they think it's time for a coffee break.

    (this is also the reason I oppose the use of unmanned combat vehicles, but that's a discussion for another thread.)
  • by TheLink (130905) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:51PM (#17118712) Journal
    It's a recruitment tool. This is going to be used to recruit more "terrorists" etc.

    Also, if it causes a net increase in trouble and violence I guess the _weapons_ companies are going to be a bit bothered about that aren't they?

    1) Sell something to the US military that's supposed to make people pissed off with them "move away" by using something that will piss them off.
    2) ...
    3) Profit!

    There's actually plenty of info out there on how to actually reduce terrorism, win people to your side, lots of actual real life cases etc.

    But it actually seems the people controlling the USA are not interested in reducing the threats to the USA. Just look at the US actions after 9/11 - many Islamic nations were on the US side immediately after 9/11, but what did the USA do instead?

    It's not Iraq or Iran or North Korea that's the greatest threat to the USA or the world (it never was Saddam Hussein or even Osama), it's the people ruling the USA. And that's been true for many decades.

    Funny the USA spends billions on weapons and wars, and can't even afford to make and use voting machines that work. Makes you wonder what the real priorities and motives are eh?
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:17PM (#17119232)
    Perfect! Now we have something for Stinger missiles and or controlled guns to home in on. And I don't blame the Iraqis one bit for fighting us tooth and nail. Whether Saddam was right or wrong, we have invaded their country - think how *you* would feel if Chinese troops marched into the US today, toppled the government, and talked about setting up the most democratic government in the world.


    -b.

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