Don’t Ray-Gun Me, Bro!

Check out this baby: The Pentagon’s Ray Gun. You can watch a clip from 60 Minutes about the Active Denial System, a new technology being developed for crowd control. According to the ADS Fact Sheet (PDF file):

The ADS projects a focused beam of millimeter waves to induce an intolerable heating sensation on an adversary’s skin, repelling the individual with minimal risk of injury.

It sounds cool and it seems like another positive advancement in technology, but when you watch the 60 Minutes clip and think about some of the possibilities, it brings with it far more detriment.

For instance, did you notice in the clip that the ray gun is being tested on anti-war protesters? And these protesters, armed with nothing more than rocks, are perceived as a safety threat to armored and armed soldiers? Yes, that’s how you deal with people carrying signs that say, “Hug Me,” “Peace Not War,” “Love For All,” and “World Peace” — you microwave them to shut them the hell up with their crazy ideas.

This really has little to do with foreign crowd control; it’s really a domestic crowd control weapon. We’ve seen the advent of the Taser and in its relatively young age, and we’ve seen it abused — far too much. The ADS will be abused in the same way, only this new technology, since it controls large crowds, is more beneficial for politicians interested in squelching dissenters. It’s bad enough that you have to register to protest in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 1 when the Republicans arrive (the protesters are penned like livestock far away from the intended recipients of the message), and it’s bad enough the federal government has specified “protest zones.” The ray gun only helps the advancement of a police state and only hurts the existence of free speech.

Equally as appalling in the 60 Minutes clip is that David Martin never once asks about any potentially harmful side effects that may arise from the 100,000 watt beam. How does it react to those wearing contact lenses? Won’t the beam heat up the lens and cause it to fuse to the cornea? What happens if the victim is caught in the beam for too long, perhaps because he’s been trampled by the rest of the crowd? Won’t it cook the victim from the inside?

And most importantly, what steps are being taken to ensure oversight on the use of the ray gun, so that it is not abused?

Seriously, are crowds of protesters really a danger to armed members of the military? I thought the real danger was that there are terrorists hiding in caves in the Middle east, not sign-carrying proponents of peace.

Another possibility to consider: Blackwater, the privately-owned (by the son of a Christian neo-conservative) military company. They have essentially everything the military has, but they aren’t required to abide by military law. What happens if they get their hands on this ray gun? Considering that they’re right-wing Christian war-mongers, the possibilities are endless, and none of them are good.

It’d be nice if the media (which definitely doesn’t have conflicted interests) actually did some real investigation about the potential uses of this ray gun, instead of simply assuming that power never corrupts. It’s cliche at this point to reference George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, but this ray gun has Thought Police written all over it.