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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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  • One problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:48PM (#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.
  • In every war ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:49PM (#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.
  • domestic usage (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 10100111001 (931992) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:50PM (#17116338)
    "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?"

    It is not a bad idea if you are for the system and the establishment, trying to protect your own interests and the status quo. Fry them hippies.

    It is a bad idea if you are not a member of the elite, and you are trying to resist tyranny and fight for freedom and human rights via non-violent civil disobedience. This would only be one more tool for police to potentially abuse, like the tazer which has its good and bad sides.
  • parabolic dish (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:50PM (#17116340)
    1. Construct a reflective parabolic dish with focal length x meters.
    2. Stand x meters from the millimeter-wave weapon.
    3. Enjoy frying your aggressor with their own energy.
  • Re:Suit up guys! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Salvance (1014001) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:52PM (#17116390) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:56PM (#17116450)
    You've will definitely be flagged for a comment like that and your database score will go up a few points as a result. Go easy with the aggressive tone in the future, chill your speech in this post-911 world.
  • Middle ground (Score:5, Interesting)

    by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking@Nospam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:57PM (#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 )
  • "Get Away" or GITMO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DJ.Flecktarn (1028326) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:58PM (#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.
  • I wonder (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@praecantator . c om> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @01:59PM (#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.

  • Pulling teeth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chipster (661352) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:03PM (#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 Toby The Economist (811138) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:07PM (#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 :-(
  • Re:No. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:10PM (#17116740)
    Umm, you may have your terms wrong.

    I see NO need at all to use this type of device under the guise of 'Crowd Control'. If you want to use it for 'Riot Control' or 'Looting Control' (see post-Katrina, LA-Riots), fine and dandy. Under NO circumstance should this be used on non-riotous demonstrators, protesting the Republican National Convention, or WTO meetings.

    The mere thought that this thing is probably going to be implemented right along with 'Free Speech Zones', makes me want to commit 'hari kari'. The government doesn't realize it, but this type of thing feeds the anti-government establishment, and confirms the fears of those who think the US is heading towards a Totalitarian 'Big-Brother' state.

    Is it fear-mongering or paranoia, even if you are correct???
  • Re:Middle ground (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge @ g m a il.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:23PM (#17117006) Journal

    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 might have the added benefit of being able to single out the instigators of the riot; those people might be older and more dedicated to the "cause", but won't run because they can't hear the noise.

  • Re:One problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Glock27 (446276) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:30PM (#17117148)
    I have two metal bars embedded alongside my spine.

    Hard to remove and externally invisible.

    I really wouldn't like them to start getting hot. You can take your glasses off.

    Not to worry - this radiation doesn't penetrate beyond the first mm. or two of skin.

    Now, those who wear metal jewelry in external body piercings...THEY should worry. ;-)

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

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:02PM (#17117760) Homepage Journal
    Because it's easier to inflict pain than pleasure. A single half second smack inflicts debilitating pain. But it takes a few minutes of stimulation/visualization/etc to inflict debilitating pleasure.

    A good compromise, though, is tickling. Invent a tickling field and you may be on to something.
  • Re:Ohforfucksake (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Muad'Dave (255648) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:46PM (#17118618) Homepage

    ...any sovereign nation (not just the U.S.) needs a standing military to defend itself when and as needed...

    Maybe this would be a humane and cost-effective way to guard the US-Mexican border against illegal invaders. Establish a DMZ just inside the US. As you cross the border and enter the DMZ, the pain level would increase the farther into the DMZ you go.

  • uWave vs. Fire hoses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:41PM (#17119780) Homepage Journal

    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)?

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:44PM (#17119834)
    Using these tools against people BEFORE they have broken the law is wrong.

    You're confusing the use of a crowd control device before the crowd does some stupid crap with using them as the crowd is doing stupid crap. Freedom of assembly and speech aren't damaged at all if 500 drunk frat boys dancing around a bonfire made up of a flaming police car and all of the books they just stole from the storefront they just trashed are dispersed by some non-lethal mechanism. You could march 100 police officers in, but you risk physical harm if they have to physically handle people to get them to leave, and you can't just call up 100 police officers in some mid-sized college town after you realize that idiots are pouring gasoline on utility poles and lighting them.

    But if you position those officers right there, in advance, then you get accused of being Nazis. So, you can't win, if it's your job to keep the main street next door to Enormous State University intact until the next business day after a particularly exciting basketball game. So... things get out of hand, and a small number of crowd control officers could fire teargas cannisters (and risk hitting people in the head, catching clothes on fire, or killing asthmatics), or perhaps they could use some newer technlogy that doesn't involve high speed projectiles, incindiary devices, etc. That's what's being talked about here.

    Implying that the only way to save time, injuries, thin municipal budgets, etc., is to use such devices in advance is nonsense. The whole idea is to give the law enforcement people responding to such mayhem something new, safer, and more effective with which to get things back to civilized without having to have the paramilitary-looking guys (who wear that stuff so they don't get cut up with broken glass, etc) there in the first place. And that reduces tensions. And if the twits that like to smash store windows, burn cars, and block streets understand that something passingly unpleasant is one of the tools in the police toolbox, they might even think twice about showing up with that molotov cocktail (or making one out of rum) in the first place. And, thus no mayhem, and thus no need to act in response. Good for everyone involved.
  • by pNutz (45478) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:50PM (#17119930)
    Well, in Jefferson Parish, you're tasered until you fall to the ground, then your beaten with the clubs until you need facial reconstruction surgery. Then the cops take your drugs and leave you convulsing softly and bleeding in the street. Say what you will, but it keeps the blacks out of our perfect shitpeople "city" (David Duke's former congressional district). If they had a new piece of technology that made people feel like they were on fire, but left no scars... they'd probably just set up a battery of them along the 17th street canal and fire them at New Orleans.

    Hail King Lee [npr.org], may the fat fucker be rotated slowly on a spit for all eternity. Or maybe he's just carrying on the legacy of Jefferson Parish Race Relations [evergreen.edu].

    Offtopic, I realize. I just fucking hate cops, growing up where I did.
  • by bussdriver (620565) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:07PM (#17120216)
    Coming to a library [youtube.com] near you!
  • Re:Stupid idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by susano_otter (123650) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:44PM (#17120866) Homepage
    The right to free assembly just means that you're free to gather with like-minded individuals somewhere. If you gather on private property, 'nuff said.

    But if you gather on public property, your gathering will prevent your fellow citizens from using that property themselves. Since your fellow citizens have an equal privilege to use public property, and since your desire to use it doesn't trump their desire to use it, some kind of arbitration is needed.

    And that arbitration is carried out by exactly the people you'd want to carry it out: elected representatives of the citizenry or their appointed public servants. That is, the arbitration is carried out by you and me, as citizens, via our constitutionally-defined agents.

    How else should our conflicting claims on our joint property be decided?
  • Re:Stupid idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by letxa2000 (215841) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:49PM (#17120954)
    Protests are a stupid waste of time. What, do you think that people are just driving down the road and then they run into a bunch of traffic trying to navigate a 100,000+ protest against Iraq and these people think, "Damn, I really supported the war in Iraq, but now that I've seen 100,000+ people in the streets and they've succeeded at turning my 15-minute commute into a 60-minute commute, well, dang it, they're right. I'm against the war now."


    Protesting in the streets is a lazy man's solution to avoiding the proper legal and political process, and gives them a good excuse to kick back a few cold ones with 100,000 of their closest friends and make a mess. Society would be much better served if everyone just stayed home and just 1 out of 100 of the protesters participated in the political process with meaningful and substantive support for their position.

  • Re:Suit up guys! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dedalus2000 (704571) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:18PM (#17122094)
    this particular knot would be easy enough to cut through if the US hadn't in fact invaded a country to stop a dictator they installed in power in order to act as a bull work against an enemy they sold arms to but made by installing another dictator who overthrew a previous democracy who had oil we wanted. did I leave anything out?
  • Re:Suit up guys! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rei (128717) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:44PM (#17122366) Homepage
    Give me 10 minutes, a burqua, tight-fitting underclothes, and a bit of conductive paint (the stuff used to paint electronics), and I'll give you a mobile faraday cage that's hardly noticable (paint the inside, fit all pieces together tightly, make sure the paint touches on all pieces). If a burqua isn't your style, give me a ski mask and a bit of wire mesh for the eyes.

    Heck, from the sound of this, it only impacts the outermost layers of your skin and is of a frequency that would be absorbed by water, so simply covering or coating yourself head to toe in something that contains water, be it a flexible solid or a gel, should be enough.

    This reminds me of typical US military form, be it creating a video game that programmers aren't allowed to have the enemies learn in, or running the most expensive war games of all time and resurrecting your fleet after the enemy sinks it because they didn't do what you expected them to. Sometimes, it seems, the more hype there is around a weapon, the less effective it is. Remember the Stryker? It's been a disaster in Iraq.
  • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @09:59PM (#17123624)
    It isn't as if it "could be perverted into" a horrible torture device. It IS a torture device. It causes excruciating pain, and leaves no marks. It will be used (if it isn't already) for interrogation. In Iraq first, and eventually it will be purchased by police departments stateside.

    Then you'll hear from suspects that it was used on them, and the police departments will deny it. Eventually it'll happen to a telegenic white person, and there'll be a congressional hearing (assuming the Democrats are still in office) and they'll discover that US police departments are using them to torture confessions out of people. Everyone will act shocked, condemn the "few bad apples" and it'll continue as before after a brief pause.

    Understanding of this issue is divided starkly into two camps--those who understand that power is abused, and those who think power is only abused by that other political party, the one they don't like. I know that humans are who they are. I spent part of my morning reading http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=6 &did=110 [deathpenaltyinfo.org], and time and time again I read of police torturing confessions out of people. Police do this. In every country. Every police officer? No, but that distinction won't matter when it's you feeling as if your arm is being cooked.

    It isn't that particular police officers are "bad people" but that people can't be trusted with this much power. Give any population of human beings the power to inflict great pain without being caught, make it convenient for them to use it because doing so will get results, and the results will always be the same--people will do the wrong thing if doing so is in their best interests. Call it original sin, whatever, but power corrupts. It's part of our nature, and can't be negated by optimism or indignant "cops are good people!" responses. People invariably take it as an insult to good cops they know, because they think that evil in this world is due to a few bad apples, not to an innate, insurmountable flaw in our nature. It's that naive optimism that prevents us from acknowledging the limitations to what we can trust people with, and leads us to keep inventiing torture devices like this. This is one of those cases where optimism causes more harm than good, and a bit of cynicism would result in a lot less human suffering.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dcam (615646) <david&uberconcept,com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:56PM (#17124736) Homepage
    Otherwise, we have 3k+ dead soldiers who died for nothing at all.


    We do.


    That's not true. They died to make your country less safe.
  • Re:Protest vs. Mob (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mysticgoat (582871) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:57PM (#17124746) Homepage Journal

    So this heat ray device is for use against disorganized mobs rather than organized protestors.

    Why is it better than tear gas for this purpose? Is it because tear gas leaves clear signs of its usage that can be videotaped during or immediately after an event, while the heat ray leaves no evidence of its use?

    If it is better than tear gas, does that allow whoever is calling the shots a wider scope of action than tear gas would? Is this a good thing, if the scope of action is expanded from dispersal of crowds that threaten the peace to dispersal of crowds that threaten to delay the Hummer from getting back to base in time for the evening movie?

    How will a detail of US soldiers fair when an insurrectionist hits them with a blast from a "liberated" heat ray device? Would this leave them more vulnerable to a second punch with a machine gun or RPG? Or is this heat ray device for use in a fantasy world where the bad guys simply aren't allowed to get hold of the fancy weapons?

    At this point I think the Pentagon has spent $40 billion on yet another boondoggle, and that they know it, and that is most of the reason why this thing has been developed in secret. The only strong rationale for developing this weapon is that it would allow the US forces to disperse crowds without the telltale evidence that tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets leave behind. In short, I think it is probably an inferior method of crowd control that is favored only because it could be used with great impunity, since it would be almost invisible to the media.

    I think I do not like this heat ray very much.

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Walt Dismal (534799) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @12:53AM (#17125128)
    And would you rather I blindly believe some random flamebait from Slashdot

    Gosh, dear, those are the sweetest words you've ever whispered in my ear.

    If anything, the flamers are the people who blindly believe what they're told by the military, then spout off against those not accepting the official line.

    The easiest and quickest link for item 5) is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Denial_System [wikipedia.org] but I have read in perhaps four or five sources about the volunteers being asked to remove glasses, so it's pretty well-known. Just Google Active Denial Systems and read a bit. Also note the wiki mention of people being burned by metal objects in their clothes.

    I add a prediction to my previous comments. The cornea contains tiny and delicate nerves that govern feedback for the eye's lachrymal (tear) system. If these nerves are damaged by millimeter wave energy, it can result in eventual breakdown of the tearing system and the condition known as 'dry eye'. This in turn can cause major eye damage. Cataracts can result, and a lot of other nasty things. So though someone hit by mm wave RF might not go blind instantly, their eyes could still be damaged as an after-effect. The military experiments only seem to have looked for near-term injury and have ignored follow-on, as far as I can tell. The review panel for the experiments concludes misleadingly that the probability of thermal eye injury is low. However, 1) low is not non-zero, and 2) there can be other damage as I've noted, that does not show up immediately as thermal damage.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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