An ironclad rule dealing with the development of any new coercive technology is: If government enforcers get it, they will find (or make) an excuse to use it.
Thus there’s nothing welcome in the news, conveyed by New Scientist, that “[The] Pentagon’s efforts to develop a beam weapon that can deter an adversary by causing a burning sensation on their skin has taken a step forward with the development of a small, potentially hand-held, version. The weapon, which is claimed to cause no permanent harm, could also end up being used by police to control civilians.”
“Claimed to cause no permanent harm”? Sure — just like the reliably lethal Taser is a “non-lethal” weapon.
The new infrared-based Thermal Laser weapon is supposed to inflict a sensation akin to burning, but below the “threshold of thermal injury,” just as the Taser is supposed to incapacitate a subject without killing him. One potential complication of the new “non-lethal” Thermal Laser weapon is the fact that it can cause blindness if directed at the eyes.
During protests outside the recent G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, police made gratuitous use of a truck-mounted Long-Range Active Denial (LRAD) system, which generates a painful sonic assault. Sure, it wasn’t really necessary to haul out the LRAD and attack thousands of sets of eardrums, but what’s the point of getting all this federally subsidized military tech if the donut-grazers can’t use them on the mundanes?11:37 am on October 1, 2009 Email William Norman Grigg