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.

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10 comments

  1. tophatal

    March 04, 2008 02:52 PM

    It’s great to see that the military wants a weapon that with all of its cost overruns doesn’t actually kill the enemy. It supposedly incapacitates them. But apparently once the generals found it doesn’t maim or kill they don’t see the necessity for it at all. Ah the military industrial complex and the assholes in the military and civilian who profilgate the landscape. You either got to hate ‘em or love ‘em ?
    Common sense and this civilian administration never went in hand in hand did they ?

    tophatal ………..

  2. Rob

    March 04, 2008 04:07 PM

    Good entry Bill, but I think your fears are remarkably short sighted.

    Think about all the good a Ray Gun could do if it fell into the proper hands.

    “I think that David Eckstein is very gritty because he overcomes his size and [ZAP!!]…”

    “Sure Joe Blow had a .335 oba, but he drive in 100 runs and [ZAP!!!]…”

    “I know that Santana limited the boys to 3 hits, but they just didn’t seem to have any fire or energy today [ZAP!!!]…”

    Embrace the technology Bill.

  3. Bill B.

    March 04, 2008 04:17 PM

    Thank you, Rob, for keeping me in line. In the future, I’ll make sure to keep such possibilities in mind. In fact, I can think of one right now: “Aaron Rowand may be 0-for-his-last-150, but he brings veteran leadership to the clubhouse, so it’s even.”

  4. Schrecken Licht

    March 04, 2008 10:31 PM

    Well, there is one huge factor separating this weapon from the Taser – currently there’s no way you can fit the ADS in your pocket or on your belt! Given the state of technological progress (and the apparent lack of funding for this project) it will be many, many years (probably decades) before we ever see videos of some rogue cop tormenting a handcuffed suspect with ADS. That’s a good thing.

  5. Bill B.

    March 05, 2008 01:17 AM

    The way I’m seeing the potential use of the ADS is at large political appearances to disperse protesters. As I mentioned, they already squelch the protesters by penning them like livestock far away from where the politician(s) are going to appear (so they can’t be seen nor heard), there’s really nothing stopping them from using the ray gun on the protesters.

    And I can see the ray gun being abused more harshly than the Taser.

  6. CJ

    March 05, 2008 09:52 PM

    “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.”

    Good god* man, what exactly are you implying? Give us a few examples.

    *Not to say god exists.

  7. CJ

    March 08, 2008 05:17 PM

    Dude, it’s a neoconservative right-wing Christian plot. Why is “the ray gun is being tested on anti-war protesters?” So what if 60 Minutes said they were just military volunteers “creating a scenario that soldiers may encounter in Iraq.” And that the most likely mass, civil disturbance in Iraq would be….anti-war protesters who American GIs would not want to harm. CBS and Bush want you to get caught up in the “logic.”

    But we all know that the right-wingers that control everything have been totally flummoxed with how to silence domestic anti-war protesters. When’s the last time you heard from an American opposed to the war? Exactly. They know that if a huge domestic anti-war protest takes place, all they have to do is roll in a bunch of these scary tank-like trucks with giant satellite things on top, shoot lasers at the earnest liberals, and dissent is silenced. The neocons win the PR war, after they shoot the onlooking journalists, of course.

    We’re through the looking glass, people. Republicans have always wanted to shoot Americans with lasers. The military industrial park complex has finally given them the power.

  8. Bill B.

    March 08, 2008 06:39 PM

    CJ, take a look at Chile when a military junta put Augusto Pinochet in power. It’s not just a fantasy. The U.S. is trending almost exactly like Chile did right before Pinochet took over.

    Read this and this if you don’t believe me.

  9. CJ

    March 10, 2008 09:33 AM

    Bill, I won’t waste your bandwidth battling you and the two Naomis. Your view is probably more popular on the Internet than mine. Certainly among the left.

    I just see today’s Hollywood-fueled conspiracy fervor as a poisonous development. I have to voice an objection.

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