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Still flogging the pain ray

Over the last decade, the US military's pain ray -- a clumsy weapon called the Active Denial System that uses millimeter waves to burn the outer skin layer of targets by making the water molecules twitch -- has been a public relations disaster. No one wants to see their career go down in flames over it, accused of using tech to torture unarmed crowds.Sent to Afghanistan, it was withdrawn without use. One can only imagine how popular it would be there right now, with what looks like the entire country except for the bought and paid for toadies, up in arms over the American presence.

Over the weekend, the non-lethal research arm of the US military again fired up the publicity machine for the thing:

"A sensation of unbearable, sudden heat seems to come out of nowhere -- this wave, a strong electromagnetic beam, is the latest non-lethal weapon unveiled by the US military this week.

" 'You're not gonna see it, you're not gonna hear it, you're not gonna smell it: you're gonna feel it,' explained US Marine Colonel Tracy Taffola, director the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, Marine Corps Base Quantico, at a demonstration for members of the media.

"The technology has attracted safety concerns possibly because the beam is often confused with the microwaves commonly used by consumers to rapidly heat food.

"'There are a lot of misperceptions out there,' lamented Taffola, saying the Pentagon was keen to make clear what the weapon is, and what it is not.

"The Pentagon has not yet decided to order any of the ADS system, but Taffola said they would be ready if asked."

From where I stand there's actually no misperception. The pain ray is rightly viewed as a weapon for use in torturing unarmed civilians. And it has no application against an armed angry crowd, as opposed to journalists who, in now virtually the scores over fifteen years, have gamely consented to be shot by it in return for a story.

More recently, its maker -- Raytheon -- has tried to peddle a smaller version into California prisons, where it could be used to shoot prisoners rioting in an enclosed room.

It would seem fairly obvious the pain ray's handlers saw an opening for revival when the OWS crowds hit streets nationwide late last year. (DD blog wrote on the non-lethal arms peddlers being ready for this, here.)

It's also fair to reason the same people advocating for its use against Afghans rioting over the burning of Qurans. Indeed, one can imagine a lot of scripted scenarios for use in Afghanistan, all ending in terrible outcomes and publicity in the real world now that the s--- has irrevocably hit the fan there. How does the pain ray do when some in the angry crowd have heavy machine guns or RPGs?

This is something they don't test with the reporters chosen to do stories on it. No one in the crowd to be repelled is ever given mock heavy weapons.

The pain ray's most remarkable property has been the doggedness of its salesmen. For over a decade they, along with a considerable number of journalists, have tried to sell this odious device into the desperate places of the world as well as onto American streets. And they have, somewhat surprisingly, failed again and again at it. There has never been a story in the mainstream criticizing it although there have been many proclaiming it revolutionary. It retains a nasty reputation as engineered cruelty on wheels proving you still can't polish a really big turd no matter how many people enlisted in the cause.

The pain ray has been in newspapers, magazines, on the Internet and on television, from 60 Minutes to Futureweapons on cable, all to no avail.


So my question, perhaps rhetorical, is when will the people pushing it be, justifiably. reassigned or fired?

Look guys, you've had long enough. Can't you just go back to burning ants with a magnifying glass or something?

On the pain ray -- from the archives.

This material was first published at Dick Destiny blog. Have something to get off your chest? Send it to webmaster at dickdestiny.

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