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Millimeter-Wave Weapon Certified For Use In Iraq

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the bang-you're-hot dept.

User Journal 806

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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806 comments

Suit up guys! (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116220)

Time to don the triple layered Tin foil suit [wikipedia.org] with extra ball protection.
The army will have to think harder when civilians start running at them with faraday cages around them.

Additional questions ...

Would a metal plate reflect the radiation back at them?
How many minutes does it take to cook a human?
Does this device go "ding" when its done?

Re:Suit up guys! (2, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116332)

Test it on Dick Cheney's pacemaker. Those things have warning against retail anti-theft devices!

Then we can see if it's use is safe against the general population.

Re:Suit up guys! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116448)

Dick Cheney has a heart? I thought his "pacemaker" was just used to keep track of him when he goes hunting.

Re:Suit up guys! (5, Funny)

BlueShirt (919167) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116636)

Why is it that all these control devices focus on causing pain? What about pleasure? One of those Larry Niven geegaws would not only stop a rioter, it would pwn them for life!!

I can see the guy, laying on a couch:

"I tried to belt him and he made me come! Does that make me a fag? I am sooo confused."

Re:Suit up guys! (2, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116376)

Joking aside, how easy would it be to make protective armor against this kind of attack? You can buy rolls of steel or aluminum window screening at any hardware store for under $50.

=Smidge=

Re:Suit up guys! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116688)

The next question is, "Will you be mobile enough to avoid the pepper spray, teargas, rushing beatdown and real bullets when they come?"

Re:Suit up guys! (2, Interesting)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116390)

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.

Re:Suit up guys! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116596)

Even if there are no lasting effects, that doesn't necessarily make it acceptable.

It reminds me of our government's line on torture of prisoners. They don't consider it torture if it doesn't have lasting effects. It's kind of like a rapist, claiming it wasn't wrong because he wore a condom.

Re:Suit up guys! (2, Insightful)

nonlnear (893672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116444)

Would a metal plate reflect the radiation back at them?
You'd have to use a corner reflector (or more probably an array of them). Such a reflector would send the beam more or less directly back in the direction it came from. This would only be a useful retaliation if the weapon were being held by the operator, or the operator were in close proximity to the weapon. If it were turret mounted, then there wouldn't be any point.

Re:Suit up guys! (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116542)

Even if you can reflect the rays from your body perfectly, won't it make it that much more potent against those that are unshielded?

Now, reflecting the rays back towards the soldiers with shields would be pretty damn clever.

I've got to say the ad placement was humerous (0, Offtopic)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116234)

So I went in to the thread see the comments, and was presented with an ad for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Keywords gone wrong, or just a funny coincidence?

SciFi Roots (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116244)

Sounds like the Neronic Whip that Isaac Asmiov described in his Foundation series. Now whether or not its a Good Idea(TM), that is a tough call. Likely it depends on whther you're on the trigger end or muzzle end, so to speak.

Re:SciFi Roots (2, Insightful)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116270)

Now whether or not its a Good Idea(TM), that is a tough call. Likely it depends on whther you're on the trigger end or muzzle end, so to speak.

I'm thinking that it depends on what the alternative is. If it's a choice between lethal and non-lethal force, it's a good thing. 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. Its all a matter of degrees.

Degrees. I don't believe I wrote that.

Middle ground (4, Interesting)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116474)

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 )

Re:Middle ground (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116756)

I'm only 29, but HOLY FUCK THAT IS TERRIBLE. Using that thing to repel youth is a fucking stupid idea, because I can hear things that all kinds of people my age can't, and I will pitch a fucking fit if I have to listen to that somewhere. I'm the guy who walks into a room and can hear that the television in the opposite corner is on. And by this I mean, like, a classroom (Just finished up my degree a couple years ago. Too bad it's one of the worthless ones) with people in it. But anyway, if there are people who can't hear it, it's not very useful, is it?

Re:SciFi Roots (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116298)

I think that if it is effective and they are using this non-lethal weapon in place of a lethal weapon then it is a good idea. The question is whether they can develop other non-lethal weapons which are as effective (or more effective) that do less long term damage.

Re:SciFi Roots (5, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116502)

This being a non-lethal weapon is precisely why it's worse than a lethal one, at least in the long term. If the army opens fire on a bunch of protestors and blows away 2 or 3 dozen, there are usually consequences from either their superiors (trial/imprisonment) or the protestors (further resistance).

The power to simply inflict torture-level pain on people who have no broken any law without oversight or evidence is one of the most horrifying things I can thing of.

Re:SciFi Roots (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116776)

The power to simply inflict torture-level pain on people who have no broken any law without oversight or evidence

It'd be crazy if police or even army were allowed to use this on a whim. Tear gas, water cannons, not to mention batons, also provide varying degrees of (usually) non-lethal coercion. But they can't just inflict this on passers by without a lot of paperwork.

Re:SciFi Roots (1)

Linnen (735667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116696)

Tasers are a 'non'-lethal weapon too. And look how that turned out. [as submitted here at /.] [slashdot.org]

Re:SciFi Roots (1)

herczy (1024845) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116326)

Neuronic Whips stimulated the nerve endings to cause pain. This just heats up the water in the body, I think.

Re:SciFi Roots (1)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116486)

I was thinking more along the lines of the pain box that Paul Atreides was tested by the Reverend Mother with.

Re:SciFi Roots (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116664)

A closer analogy would be the ``sunburn gun'' which was featured near the beginning of John Varley's _Wizard_ (middle book of the Gaea trilogy, Titan first and Demon last).

It was actually used for crowd dispersal on a fairly indiscriminate basis if memory serves.

William

No. (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116258)

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?

Is using a non-lethal device for crowd control a bad idea? I'd guess it would depend on if this can create permanent harm or not. If it has no ill side-effects I'd say it's one hell of a lot better than tear gas that can kill people with some respiratory conditions.

Crowd control in an of itself is not a bad idea if that's what you're getting at.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116334)

With crowd control you're really talking about the lesser of two evils:

1. Inflicting pain and possibly infringing peoples rights, maybe even killing people depending on what means you use.
2. Letting the angry mob run wild and trash the city, inflicting damage to property and also possibly injuring/killing people depending on how angry they are.

That's not to say that crowd control measures haven't been misused in the past (or the future), but ultimately it's someone's job to stop the rampaging mob before they destroy everything.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116678)

I hate to break this to you, but angry mobs aren't just going to forget what caused them to air their grievances after being dispersed. In fact, denying them the ability to do so usually means the next step is violent civil resistance.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116336)

How about if you're in a tightly-packed crowd with no hope of moving and some kindly riot cop decides to focus this beam on you for a minute or two? Bear in mind unlike tear gas and batons there is no tangible evidence this is being used except at the source and receiver. Makes dealing out pain anonymously much easier.

Re:No. (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116544)

I'm not doubting that there is the potential for abuse of this but I'd like to think that if this is going to be used domestically (in the US, for me) that there will be steps taken to know when the device is triggered and by whom. Police cars already have cameras that take note of things like the cars speed, if the red and blues are on, etc. Why couldn't this device be included in the same monitoring system?

Re:No. (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116602)

This was my thought. TFA says that most subjects left the beam area within 3 seconds, and nobody stayed more than 5 seconds. That's all great, but what happens at longer duration bursts? Like the aforementioned tightly packed crowd, or someone who falls in the attempt and can't get out of the beam (or the occasional operator that slews the beam to cause a particularly aggravating protester to remain in the beam as they run - no, that would *never* happen). Let's activate every pain nerve in the skin and burn them alive...possibly from a concealed location. I think I'd rather be shot.

Parent has a good point - the beam is invisible, so the operator presses a button and people magically writhe in pain, without knowing even the direction the pain is coming from (easier for the portable version mentioned)- reminds me of that psych experiment involving giving people shocks...

Re:No. (1)

gt_mattex (1016103) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116422)

The decision on whether it's a good idea or not isn't singularly based on whether the residual effects are permanent or not.

This is a very powerful weapon that, short of immediate damage, would be untraceable and hence subject to abuse. And, yes, most things are subject to abuse but a gun shot/pistol whip/tazer/punch will leave evidence, this seemingly will not.

Re:No. (1)

Stalyn (662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116438)

Crowd control in an of itself is not a bad idea if that's what you're getting at.

I think the problem is if "crowd control" is as simple as flipping a switch then it becomes much more susceptible to abuse. Imagine an oppressive government using such a device on a crowd of protesters. Then again to circumvent such a device might be easier than we think. If anything it might just make "crowd control" more violent. Instead of an angry mob throwing back cans of tear gas they might start using RPGs and mortars.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116610)

What the matter with water? we KNOW it's non lethal and not damaging unlike this millimeter wave stuff. (they do not know that nailing someone prolonged time or multiple times will not cause problems a decade from exposure)

Why don't the cops have the balls to start spraying the people with water jets? are they afraid that public outcry would be greater than this invisible weapon?

Re:No. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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???

Small red blisters... (5, Funny)

whiskeyriver (909231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116286)

"At most, 'some...may experience prolonged redness or even small blisters'"

They slept with Susie too???! That tramp!

Re:Small red blisters... (1)

Funkskillet (787050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116306)

cue the civil rights panic squad in 3, 2, 1...

The goggles! (4, Funny)

Non-CleverNickName (1027234) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116288)

They do nothing!!

Safety concerns (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116304)

Absolutely NO amount of radiation is completely safe. I'm wondering if this will be a new disaster like the use of radioactive munitions by NATO in former Yugoslavia...

Re:Safety concerns (5, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116534)

Absolutely NO amount of radiation is completely safe. I'm wondering if this will be a new disaster like the use of radioactive munitions by NATO in former Yugoslavia...

I'm not saying I like the idea of this thing, I don't, but you're confusing nuclear radiation with mm wave RF. Light is radition, too.

Re:Safety concerns (1)

dsci (658278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116540)

Uh, this "radiation" is just light, and much LOWER energy than the radiation you see with your eyes. The radiation you fear is much HIGHER energy than visible light. Don't be so quick to kneejerk to the word radiation.

Re:Safety concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116694)

Nothing is completely safe, but what this is about is causing these people pain via RF transmission rather than shooting them full of holes. If you ask me, I'd say the RF is 'safer' than bullets.

Re:Safety concerns (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116742)

You obviously don't know what you are talking about. How about the ~300 mrem per year you get just by being on earth? Its natural. That number is higher if you live in denver (less atmosphere), or if you live in downtown DC (lots granite that emits), or Pennsylvania (the high radon in the clay soil...

One problem (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:One problem (1)

therealking (223121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116482)

Well whats worse? Putting a bullet through thier head or freaking them out with microwave 'magic'?

After seeing a few pics of the red smear left after being hit with a machine gun, I think giving you a little sun burn is a pretty preferable.

Re:One problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116672)

You're assuming a red smear is the worst of it. Getting zapped in the eye while you're wearing contact lenses could be a lot worse than getting a bullet in the arm, for example.

Re:One problem (2, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116766)

How about not doing whatever it is that's causing widespread unrest?

Re:One problem (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116726)

> and any metal that could generate "hot spots".

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.

Nail struck firmly on head (1, Insightful)

Attaturk (695988) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116744)


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.

Precisely. If I hadn't just burned through a batch of mod points that'd get one from me.

White phosphorous [wikipedia.org] is a chemical weapon issued to US forces so that it can be used for smoke screen purposes. However since it has historically also been used as a particularly nasty incendiary weapon, some of the more 'enterprising' elements of those same US forces have used it as an offensive weapon - most notably against civilians in Fallujah [wikipedia.org] . I'm not trying to blame the so highly lauded US soldiers here - I know what that'll get me thanks - but I am trying to reiterate that soldiers under high stress on the battlefield will use whatever tools you give them without necessarily taking the ethics arguments into account at all - and who could blame them? The same logic of course extends to law enforcement and so-called "crowd control".

That's why it's all the more important that governments, international legislative bodies and military/law enforcement authorities keep themselves and each other in check and only issue such weapons under situations of absolute necessity if at all. Any power or weapon issued to anyone will some day be abused. The more powerful, potentially unethical and/or just plain nasty that power or weapon the more grave the risk to innocents.

So it's imperative that we, you know - the people, do everything we can to keep these things out of their hands.

In every war ... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:In every war ... (3, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116764)

In a situation like Iraq, you do not want to kill lots of civilians -- even those who are angry at the military already -- because that begets more enemies. If there's a huge riot against American forces because the security promised never appeared, shooting into the crowd will cause more fanaticism.

Shooting a microwave into the crowd hopefully will break up these things without a huge firefight.

Interesting (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116324)

What happens if it's aimed at the head for a prolonged time?

What if it's aimed at someone with a pacemaker?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116556)

If you read the documents, the penetration depth is about 0.5mm. The effect is confined to the skin and fully absorded by the dermal layer. Pacemakers would not be affected. Hard to say what would happen to your eyes though.

domestic usage (2, Interesting)

10100111001 (931992) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:domestic usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116538)

It should be tested on Congress when they vote yes on laws counter to the constitution.

Re:domestic usage (1)

dsci (658278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116746)

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.

You are making the assumption that the crowd in 'crowd control' automatically implies non-violent. Why would anyone want to deploy ANY weapon, lethal or otherwise, on a crowd of non-violent people?(*) Part of the problem is there seems to be a sliding scale of "non-violent civil disobedience" that sometimes includes throwing rocks at innocent passerby, breaking windows, looting, etc.

In other words, it is POSSIBLE to be FOR freedom and human rights and also see that SOMETIMES, those hiding behind the blanket of 'non-violent civil disobedience' are actually rioting.

(*) I know it DOES happen; in those cases, the OP has a good point and in those cases the arguement is bigger than WHICH weapon is used. My objection is to the overgeneralization that ALL protesting crowds are non-violent, which is certainly not the case.

parabolic dish (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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:parabolic dish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116642)

Because being the one guy with a giant dish strapped to his back won't get you shot. Why not draw a bullseye while you're at it.

They should be careful about escalating (3, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116352)

Crowd control should be about de-escalating the chance for conflict. If you start burning people with microwaves, you radically and abruptly increase the chance for a peaceful protest to turn into a bloody lynching.

During the protest against the invasion of Iraq in New York, just trying to deny all the intersections to protesters with sawhorses and mounted police caused surging to begin in the crowd, and the NYPD came within a hair's breadth of inciting a riot that would have burned out Midtown Manhattan and killed a lot of people.

And if any police department or government agency in the United States gets the bright idea to employ this kind of means here against people exercising their constitutional rights, they should think very carefully and deeply and consider that I and many of my patriotic countrymen are very jealous of our rights and also possess automatic weapons. How far do you want to push us, Mr. Man?

Re:They should be careful about escalating (2, Interesting)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:They should be careful about escalating (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116752)

Im thinking automatic rifles that burn your skin as they amplify heat from submicrowave radiation arent going to be to useful as they fall to the ground at your feet. Its a nobel sentiment, but the government has a much greater amount of weapons than you do. The only hope is that if their was a revolution, some army personelle would break away with the revolutionaries and you would have access to the same amounts of high tech weapons that the government had.

Re:They should be careful about escalating (3, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116778)

This is why peaceful protests make me nervous. If "just trying to deny the intersections to protesters with sawhorses" nearly touched off a riot, then I'm not convinced that the demonstration was all that peaceful in the first place. People only show up to demonstrations when they're angry about something, and the odds of them achieving their goal immediately to appease them are essentially nonexistent.

Bush wasn't about to show up and say, "Gosh, you're all right, I'll cancel the invasion". Even if the demonstration convinced him, the crowd wouldn't hear about it, and meanwhile they're pointing out to each other that their voices aren't being heard. Any interaction with law enforcement, no matter how well-intentioned, provokes "Help, help, I'm being repressed. Did you see how he was repressing me?"

I've always wondered just how effective protests really are. Presumably the people you're protesting to have at least a rough idea of how many people are in favor of their idea and how many are opposed. A demonstration adds emphasis: not only are people opposed to/in favor of abortion/hunger/AIDS/war/trade, but they're willing to take time out of their busy schedules to show it.

There have been many demonstrations in the history of the world, and some have been followed by change (e.g. the civil rights era), but correlation is not causation. And most demonstrations that I'm aware of (I live in DC, so I see a lot of them) have far bigger effects on the local commuters than they do on the decision makers.

By all means, I support the right of the people to petition and seek redress, and to gather peaceably in large numbers. Law enforcement absolutely must be taught how to deal with those crowds delicately, keeping the peace without becoming the cause of disturbance. Demonstrations should absolutely continue to happen. But I wonder if it would be a valuable word of advice to the organizers of such things that their efforts might be better expended elsewhere.

dental work (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116358)

I'm sure the DoD has covered all the angles and this is just needless worrying, but what happens to those of us with rather extensive metal deposits in our teeth?

Kids (1)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116362)

Will it keep you young whippersnappers off my lawn?!

Come on think big (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116364)

What about all the S&M clubs out there!

Pew pew! (1)

ImaNihilist (889325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116374)

Set phasers to stun.

Torture at a distance (1, Insightful)

Black Art (3335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116378)

How is this "humane"? Inflicting wide area pain at a distance is somehow better than delivering it in person? (It will not be long before we hear about this being used on confined prisoners.)

People remember what you do to them. If you make them suffer, they are not going to thank you for it later. This is going to be just another reason for people to hate the US. (Like we have not given them enough Shock and Awe already...)

How long before it gets used on US citizens? Protest and find out!

A troll? (1)

binary paladin (684759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116624)

What jackass marked this as a "troll"? (Yeah, mark me up as well. Fuck you preemptively.)

Re:Torture at a distance (2, Insightful)

RocketScientist (15198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116770)

Here are the options to clear a group of protesters:
Non-lethal area denial weapon
The usual water cannon/rubber bullet/tear gas in-your-face personal approach.

One of those will put a lot of riot cops in close contact with rioters. The other will not. Given the choice, I'd rather keep the riot cops far away, so they don't get hurt. Why? Because an angry riot cop is more likely to seriously injure/kill someone than a non-angry riot cop. Both approaches are equally likely to cause a stampede problem and trampling death. The nice thing about the "at-a-distance" approach is the beam could be focused near the exit points first, and then swept towards the front of the riot, hopefully reducing the problem. The only way to use the in-your-face method is to start at the end away from the exit and "push" the rioters.

That's just one use for these. Let's look at another application that you're not thinking of.

Consider for another moment a need for a more permanently installed area denial weapon. The standard choice for this, for decades:

Land mines.

This could be a very nice replacement for large minefields, or at least a supplement to anti-personnel mines (I think you'd probably still need anti-tank mines, but this would help reduce the number of the far-more-dangerous-to-children anti-personnel land mines). This could be less expensive over the long run, easier to deploy and maintain, so it's a very attractive military alternative to anti-personnel mines. Accidentally zapping a kid with one of these weapons is much less permanent than having the kid step on a land mine.

There are ways this could be used in torture. But guess what: Just about anything can be used for torture. Rubber hoses are far cheaper. I don't think "ooh, you can torture people with this" is a valid argument, or we'd be looking at wanting to ban rubber hoses also.

Lets trust the military! (4, Insightful)

balsy2001 (941953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116382)

Because they have never mislead us before.

Re:Lets trust the military! (-1, Troll)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116662)

I *MOSTLY* trust the military. It is the civilians in charge of the Military that scare me more (most???). I don't trust them at all. It is the civilians that place nearly impossible demands on the military.

Kill the enemy, but not civilians (even though they might be the enemy).

Don't kill the enemy if they are hiding in Mosques, even if they are killing you, for you might "offend" them and their "sacred" shrines.

Extract information from prisoners, but don't "torture" them or anything even remotely close to torture.

Quite frankly the military has done a quite remarkable job, and will continue to do so. Don't beat them up because some politico can't figure out what he/she wants.

unintended consequences... (2, Insightful)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116384)

On the one hand, it beats the hell out of using machine guns for crowd dispersal.
On the other, because it doesn't (apparently) kill people, armed forces will be *much* more likely to use it to disperse people, instead of trying to do things that keep people from rioting. Technical solution to non-technical problem isn't a solution, it's a treatment.
Any bets on whether this is already in use for interrogation?

No long lasting effects? (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116404)

"At most, 'some...may experience prolonged redness or even small blisters'"

Yes, and a similar thing would happen with short term exposure to FIRE...and if you stay in FIRE long enough you get serious burns instead of blistering. I think I'd like to wait on some serious testing (such as, can they cook a 20lb turkey with it) before saying "WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!!"

In any case, if the options are lead bullets or this, I'm guessing those on the receiving end would probably prefer the latter. Heck, in cold climates they might cause public disturbance just to get them to use it!

Wow, longer than x-rays! (2, Insightful)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116408)

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..

I wonder how it relates to UV, visible light and IR then? That's mighty big frequency range from 2,4GHz to 30 EHz.

Why couldn't they just say "EHF" if they needed to specify the frequency area where 94 GHz resides. I hate these articles that try to sound technical with some babble but in reality just betray that the writer does not know what's he talking about.

Re:Wow, longer than x-rays! (2, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116690)

Why couldn't they just say "EHF" if they needed to specify the frequency area where 94 GHz resides.

Radar guys use the term millimeter-wave, so I guess it means that radar guys developed it, not communications engineers.

Active Revenge Induction Device (4, Insightful)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116410)

I'm all for nonlethal weapons when the other choice is killing people en masse. But in the current Iraq situation, all I can see in a device that causes pain without killing is a lot of hurt people wanting payback big time. Something like this could be perverted into a horrible torture device. To ever use something like this against a civilian population would be dubious at best. Doesn't the world hate the U.S. enough already?

longer wavelength than x-rays... (1)

Prof. Whom (946089) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116420)

Sort of goes without saying, dosen't it?

effects (1)

teh MrCrow (965340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116424)

People won't be able to precisely foretell arising effects until the technology has actually been in action anyway. And even then, nobody can be sure that no long-term effects crop up.

Some time ago, people thought that it would be a good idea to feed cows with meat and bone meal.

better than bullets (1, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116440)

I'd rather suffer "intense pain" that is non-lethal than get shot. I have the same argument for tasers, if the cops are going to take me down because I'm drunk and throwing bottles at them better a taser than a bullet.

the problem becomes in what situations is force, even if non-lethal used. if we march on washington because we don't like the results of the next election and start getting zapped and tear gased, I don't think that is acceptable. unless of course the protest became a violent mob, which happens so easily these days.

Only one thing to say (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116480)

Flame on!!!!

"Get Away" or GITMO? (5, Interesting)

DJ.Flecktarn (1028326) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Probably like microwaves... (2, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116490)

Probably has effects like other microwaves. The military found out long ago that exposure to microwaves increases the incidence of cataracts. That's why there are rather low exposure limits-- a few milliwatts per cm^2.

Might be non-lethal (3, Informative)

cptgrudge (177113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116500)

But by the article's admission, we don't know the long lasting effects yet. The burning rays are supposed to be absorbed by the top layer of your skin. But what happens if there's nerve damage that becomes apparent in ten years? Or an increased risk of skin cancer later on in life?

Unless it is absolutely necessary, we probably shouldn't use this weapon yet. The US has the unenviable distinction of being the only country to use large-scale nuclear weapons in war, and that event and it's reasons are debated and discussed to no end. I wouldn't want another weapon used that, although smaller scale, still ends up killing people decades later because they are put at an increased risk for other factors. Especially if the "intent" is non-lethal. But if we can be almost certain that it's truly non-lethal with no long lasting effects, this would be a good tool to use, for both military and riot police.

I wonder (3, Interesting)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116506)

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.

Who to trust with this device? (4, Insightful)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116524)

Sounds like a good idea in principle, but someone, sooner or later, is bound to abuse it [youtube.com] . Who will be responsible for determining when it can/can not be used? For a soldier to kill someone with a gun, they have to have a damn good reason to do it. To use something that inflicts pain with no long term effects? Very high danger of abuse.

Frost nova and sheep (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116546)

have always worked pretty well for me, sometimes sap does too but it tends to break early.

Of course this is bad! (1)

Fysiks Wurks (949375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116560)

Using this device for domestic crowd control will deny me the pleasure of watching post "big game" revelers/rioters roll down the street under the playful stream of a water cannon!

That's one of the few enjoyable aspects of a riot.

Pulling teeth (4, Interesting)

chipster (661352) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Run 500 metres in 5 seconds? (3, Informative)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116586)

From the article:
"In human tests, most subjects reached their pain threshold within 3 seconds, and none of the subjects could endure more than 5 seconds."

Then later:
"Effective range is at least 500 meters,"

Do you know anyone that can run half a kilometre in 5 seconds?

"The [AC-130] typically engage targets at a range of two miles or more, which implies an ADS far more powerful than System 1 has been developed."

Light of god ftw..

What if you can't get away? (1)

GuNgA-DiN (17556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116588)

So what happens if you are at the front of a very large mob and they start shooting you with this thing? The people in back don't feel it but the people in front are getting cooked. They start to push to get away and suddenly you end up with a large scale riot and people getting trampled to death. Sounds like a lot of fun! :/

comment (1)

objwiz (166131) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116592)

Im commenting this from my failing mind, so its possibly wrong:

I believe this "product" came out of DARPA as a result of the military wanting nonlethal means of exerting influence in the US, if called to do so. AKA riot, bio panic attack, etc....

Any one have more details....?

Counter measures (2, Insightful)

metoc (224422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116594)

1) Develop new weapon.
2) Deploy weapon during a civil war.
3) Watch insurgents develop counter measures via trial and error.
4) Insurgents publish counter measure globally.
5) Return to step 1.

What about mounting them on sharks? (2, Funny)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116604)

S.W.A.T. vans aren't my concern, what about the poor children swimming?

I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116618)

I thought Bush was in Active Denial for the past 6 years......

If not this, what can they use? (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116646)

Obviously there's a lot of opposition to this weapon. The problem is currently they're not allowed to use weapons of any kind. Given the unanimous opposition to granting marines weapons of any kind, let's try another alternative.

What if Al Queaeada was given a new weapon and the new weapon caused u.s. to pull out of Iraq. Would you support it then?

Application as a non-harmful torture device? (3, Interesting)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 :-(

Armour (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116670)

Tin foil suits perhaps?

They don't hate us for our freedom. (1)

rovdjur (241969) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116682)

They hate us because we want to cook them like popcorn.

Ballpark Frank (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116684)

Plump When You Cook HIM!®

This replaces the standard loud broadcast of DISCO (1)

oldwarrior (463580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116686)

at the enemy, which produces the same "Goodby Effect". BeeGees works particularly well when played loud enough with the right amount of treble on the mixer.

Does this stuff matter in Iraq? (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 7 years ago | (#17116774)

The same kind of exotic new weapons were always being touted in Vietnam too. We are so antiseptic about war. We see it like a fancy game or something and think that we will win if we only have a better cheat code. All of our powerful weapons and technology will never prevail if what we are fighting for is wrong, unless we are prepared to become completely and totally ruthless to terrorize and cow the Iraqis into doing things 'our' way, in which case we don't need any new non-lethal weapons.

See you at the warcrimes trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17116780)


Doesnt the Geneva Convention prohibit these types of weapons ?
weapons designed to inflict extreme pain as apposed to outright kill

not that iam surprised by this considering how far USA has come in ignoring it so far

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