Radio Your Way
9/19/06 - The Charles Goyette Show
Tue Sep 19, 2006 15:09

 

9/19/06 - The Charles Goyette Show
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Big Brother is shouting at you
Last updated at 21:02pm on 16th September 2006



Radio Your Way
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Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne seems to see nothing wrong with using American citizens as lab rats.

As reported by the Associated Press, in remarks made on September 12, 2006, Wynne suggested that the military use nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices on Americans in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield. His reasoning is that domestic use of such new weapons would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns. Wynne added, “If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation.”

The weapon Wynne was referring to, dubbed “Rumsfeld’s Ray Gun,” uses the Active Denial System (ADS), which dispenses brief, high-energy microwaves at a target, resulting in a sensation of severe burning pain. As one reporter explained, the $51 million crowd-control device “rides atop a Humvee, looks like a TV dish, and shoots energy waves 1/64 of an inch deep into the human skin.”

The ADS weapon directs electromagnetic radiation toward its targets at a frequency of 95 GHz. Upon contact with skin, the energy in the waves turns to heat, causing the water molecules in the skin to heat up to around 130 degrees Fahrenheit. When you consider that a standard household microwave oven only uses 2.4 GHz waves, you begin to get a sense of this weapon’s power.

While the military has not been overly forthcoming about this weapon and its intended uses, Edward Hammond, director of The Sunshine Project, a Texas-based watchdog group opposed to biological weapons, has proven to be a critical source of information.

In May 2005, Hammond was inadvertently sent classified documents about ADS in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, including a 112-page description of the crowd-control weapon and information on its development by Raytheon Corporation and subsequent military tests.

According to the documents, experiments were conducted on volunteer test subjects in 2003 and 2004 at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. The results indicated that the ADS causes pain within two to three seconds and becomes intolerable within five seconds, the intent being that the pain would be severe enough to cause a person to flee. As a test volunteer explained, “For the first millisecond, it just felt like the skin was warming up. Then it got warmer and warmer and felt like it was on fire…. As soon as you’re away from that beam your skin returns to normal and there is no pain.”

The Air Force also explored the weapon’s ability to control riots and unruly crowds by firing the ADS beam at volunteers acting as rioters or intruders. When the volunteers were zapped by the beam, they held their hands up and were given 15 seconds to cool down before being targeted again. Most of the volunteers experienced severe pain but were otherwise unharmed. It should be noted that volunteers were required to remove their glasses, buttons, zippers and watches for fear that exposure to the beam could cause “hot spots” or severe burns. However, actual targets—such as average, ordinary American citizens—would certainly not be given the opportunity to remove such objects before being targeted by the beam.

Although the military has been guarded about the radiation weapon’s effect on humans, several medical professionals insist that ADS beams could cause severe long-term health problems, including corneal damage, cancer, cataracts and, as Dominique Loye of the International Committee of the Red Cross put it, “new types of injuries we’re not aware of and may not be capable of taking care of.” And as reporter Kelly Hearn points out, there are more questions than answers right now about how the weapon works, “what it does to the body and how it will be used in the streets of Basra and Baghdad or, one day, Boston.”

Which brings us back to Secretary Wynne’s remarks about trying out nonlethal weapons on Americans. Reportedly, on orders from the Justice Department, a version of the ADS is being developed by the Raytheon Corporation for use by U.S. police departments. Someday, according to a Raytheon spokesperson, ADS may be “miniaturized down to a hand-held device that could be carried in a purse or pocket and used for personal protection instead of something like Mace.”

Despite the military’s insistence that the ADS will save lives by helping troops battle hostile crowds without the use of lethal weapons like bombs and bullets, experts like Neil Davison, a coordinator of the nonlethal weapons research project at the University of Bradford in England, are skeptical. “How do you ensure that the dose doesn’t cross the threshold for permanent damage? What happens if someone in a crowd is unable, for whatever reason, to move away from the beam?”

Obviously, the potential for government abuse of this so-called “nonlethal” weapon is great, especially in the hands of domestic law enforcement. Americans would do well to remember that modern police weaponry was introduced with a government guarantee of safety for the citizens. Police tasers, stun guns and rubber pellet guns were brought into use by police departments across America supposedly because they would be safe. But as we’ve seen, the “nonlethal” label seems to have caused police to feel justified in using these dangerous instruments more often and with less restraint—with some even causing death.

The real issue is how much Americans trust their government to protect their interests. As one reporter has noted, “For most Americans, zapping Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad with a potentially unsafe weapon is one thing; cooking political protestors in Boston or Biloxi will surely be another.”
http://www.rutherford.org/articles_db/commentary.asp?record_id=430
 

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