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actions & protests | imperialism & war

Invisible beam tops list of nonlethal weapons

Soon, the police will have energy weapons like this at their disposal. What will democracy look like then?
Test subjects can't see the invisible beam from the Pentagon's new, Star Trek-like weapon, but no one has withstood the pain it produces for more than three seconds.
People who volunteered to stand in front of the directed energy beam say they felt as if they were on fire. When they stepped aside, the pain disappeared instantly.

The long-range column of millimeter-wave energy is known as the "Active Denial System" for its ability to prevent an aggressor from advancing. Senior military officials, who plan to deliver the device for troop evaluation this fall, say years of testing has produced no sign it will lead to health effects beyond perhaps causing skin to temporarily redden.

It is among the most potent of a new generation of futuristic, "less-than-lethal" weapons being developed by the Defense Department - tools that could dramatically alter the way police control riots and soldiers fight wars.

Other nonlethal devices undergoing tests include "superlubricants" that could make a road or runway too slippery for car or airplane tires to gain traction; directed sound waves to drive people away from an area; and nets able to stop cars.

Marine Col. David Karcher, who heads the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, says the energy beam is aimed at helping troops and police in confusing situations by offering options "between bullets and a bullhorn."

Marine Capt. Dan McSweeney, a spokesman for the Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, pointed to "instances in Iraq where crowd situations have unfortunately ended in violence" and death.

Karcher and other military officials are trying to alleviate fears that the device might be misused to harm civilians or converted into a torture machine that leaves no marks.

In an attempt to anticipate how the world would greet the new weapon, the Air Force this month asked social science graduate students at the University of Minnesota and other colleges for help.

Researchers were offered $12,000 to spend the summer reviewing literature and assessing how Americans and other cultures might react to its use.

In the solicitation, Maj. Jonathan Drummond of the Air Force's Directed Energy Bioeffects Division noted that the Active Denial System could provide U.S. forces "with a nonlethal capability in military operations other than war." Among possible uses, he listed peacekeeping, humanitarian operations and crowd control.

Introduction of such a device in either noncombat or wartime situations could raise thorny questions: Would it be acceptable to inflict so much pain on unruly protesters? How would such a weapon be viewed if used on crowds in Third World countries? Would it violate international humanitarian principles if used in battle? Might it be used secretly during interrogations to torture suspected terrorists into cooperating?

Karcher said the Active Denial System "is absolutely not designed or intended or built" to be a torture device.

"To use this as any sort of torture device would be in direct violation of" the Pentagon's definition of nonlethal weapons, he said. "Nor, as professionals, would any of us sign up for it."


I can see it!!! 03.Jun.2004 11:26


But my eyesite goes well into the infra-red!!!

old hat 03.Jun.2004 11:39


everything you never wanted to know:


didn't reproduce the whole article 03.Jun.2004 12:40

the beam can be blocked

"The beam easily penetrates clothing, he said, because clothes are porous, though a thin suit of armor would block it."

Can it be reflected back at the sender? What happens when it hits metal? (They say not to put metal in a microwave. I haven't tried it yet.)

Rather than decrying the cruelty, let's look for countermeasures.

blocking microwaves 03.Jun.2004 13:42

those little screens you see

in the door of your microwave oven block microwaves because of the geometry of the screen.. Microwaves are ~1cm wavelength and the screen in the window of your oven reflects niney-some percent. So, to block ~1mm waves, one would need a similar pattern in miniature.. around 1/10 the size. Those screens are ferrous, too.

homework 03.Jun.2004 13:49

library mouse

tt01's link bears study.

Though tedious, and inherently repelling to activists seeking non-violent means for effecting change, we need to be familiar with these actual and potential weapons in the arsenals of repression and domination, understand and anticipate their studied affects. By contemplating these tools of counter-revolution, tactical countermeasures can come to the surface.

If nothing else, familiarity with these weapons will blunt the shock and awe for individuals whenever they are used.

Some of them are already being used. We should be prepared to confront the others

this needs more looking into 03.Jun.2004 16:23


but a suit made out of chicken wire with a battery attached might help

WHAT IF 03.Jun.2004 19:03


what if those 3.99 silver "emergency blankets" could reflect the light. what if whatever metal is needed to bounce the light could be hid discreetly under ones clothing? then what if they bring out the sound beam and give you a concussion with it.

OH CRAP 03.Jun.2004 19:06


i just read from the orig. article in the little cartoon at the bottom "the targets flee before the beam causes serious burning. imagine if you cant flee or dont; does it burn up your eyeballs?!

Pentagon's Secret Scream + Raytheon Beam Controls Mobs 03.Jun.2004 23:13

see also

The Pentagon's Secret Scream


Marines arriving in Iraq this month as part of a massive troop rotation will bring with them a high-tech weapon never before used in combat or in peacekeeping. The device is a powerful megaphone the size of a satellite dish that can deliver recorded warnings in Arabic and, on command, emit a piercing tone so excruciating to humans, its boosters say, that it causes crowds to disperse, clears buildings and repels intruders.

"[For] most people, even if they plug their ears, [the device] will produce the equivalent of an instant migraine," says Woody Norris, chairman of American Technology Corp., the San Diego firm that produces the weapon. "It will knock [some people] on their knees."

The new megaphone being deployed to Iraq can operate at 145 decibels at 300 yards, according to American Technology, well above the normal threshold for pain. The company posits a scenario in which Al Qaeda terrorists would run screaming from caves after being subjected to a blast of high-decibel sound from the devices, their hands covering their ears. But in Baghdad or other Iraqi towns, where there are crowds and buildings, the sick and elderly, as well as children, are likely to be in the weapon's range.


Raytheon Beam Controls Mobs


They call it "non-lethal" because you don't die right on the spot, but it is essentially an open-air microwave oven, with all the genetic and health damage that implies.
the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)
the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)
Active Denial System:  an effect that literally gets under your skin
Active Denial System: an effect that literally gets under your skin

There's an easy way to make them stop 03.Jun.2004 23:29


Shoot the operator with a gun and shoot anyone in a uniform standing nearby.

escalation 04.Jun.2004 08:25


Hear hear. Any gummint forces dumb enough to bring such a device to a "crowd control" event here in the States, risks massive rage and riots, if not outright war from its targets.

Not to Mention Lawsuits... 04.Jun.2004 10:05


...if one of those sonic beam emitters is used at a protest, just make sure to go to an audiologist to document damage to hearing immediately afterward...

Once police get their hands on toys like this, they tend to use them unwarrantedly, like Portland cops have been doing with the taser, which is a less-lethal weapon which *should* be used in lieu of deadly force. Instead, they use it instead of a control hold or pepper spray, or just use it on people who act up, like partially blind elderly women...

Duh 04.Jun.2004 18:20


"converted into a torture machine that leaves no marks"

Converted into? Converted into??

That's exactly what it already is.

rpg preferred but molotov cocktails will do 05.Jun.2004 11:31


the device range is less than the range of an RPG let alone it's very expansive weakness in side and rear.

This device ain't going to Iraq where it would have a half life of a few days at best. It's for controllig the dumb sheepe protesting against a rigged election where the loser is put in office via a bunch of his allies on the supreme court.