Lauren Weinstein Can’t Believe His Eyes

Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs,

Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.
Vehicle-mounted Active Denial System

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

Lauren Weinstein posted his reaction to Dave Farber’s Interesting People mailing list,

I kept hoping that I was getting it wrong.

But no, it means what it says. Our own Secretary of the Air Force is concerned that new “non-lethal” weapons systems might injure foreigners on the battlefield, with devastating negative PR as a result. His suggested solution? Test the stuff on U.S. citizens first! You know the type — unruly crowds, protesters, perhaps folks trying to crash large Bush rallies (are there still large Bush rallies?)

In any case, I suppose that the Air Force chief’s theory is that it would be so difficult for U.S. citizens to successfully sue the government if their brains, eyes, or gonads are fried by the latest microwave weapon, that our own populations are a less risky target — rather than tempting global condemnation if something goes wrong outside the country. You know how distracting global condemnation can be.

I’m all for appropriate and complete empirical testing of novel systems that are being pushed into deployment — be they computers, non-lethal weapons, or the “alternative” interrogation techniques that we’re told render the Geneva Conventions obsolete. But perhaps a rule when it comes to the latter two categories should be that those persons who propose these so-called “safe” technologies and techniques should be willing to test them on themselves first, before placing other citizens into the crosshairs.

As for the Secretary of the Air Force — Rumsfeld must love this guy.

Lauren Weinstein

I suspect that what the Secretary really meant was that by using the weapons here, we could demonstrate how fundamentally harmless they really were.

At least, I hope that’s what he meant. Of course, the trouble is that “high-power microwave devices” and other Active Denial Systems have not been demonstrated to be all that harmless, especially if used outside laboratory conditions.

He did mean that, didn’t he?

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7 Responses to Lauren Weinstein Can’t Believe His Eyes

  1. Ugh says:

    Non-lethal crowd control will come in handy when Bush refuses to leave office in January, 2009.

  2. Joe says:

    Why don’t we test those weapons on the Air Force Academy’s graduating classes of the last ten years? I assume that most of them are ass-kissers anyway, and that they would be willing to test the weapons if it would help their meager promotion opportunities.

  3. Joe Deegan says:

    I say use all new weapons on enemies.
    Waco is the only case I can remember of heavy duty
    US Military weapons being used on Civilians.


  4. Mojo says:

    Thanks, Joe, for proposing attacking military people (including a couple of friends of mine) just because Bush appointed an idiot as their boss.
    IMHO, the real reason Wynne is speaking out about spending on these nonlethal systems is that he’s trying to go on the record as opposing some acquisition program to cover the fact that he’s crippling the Air Force to pay for the F-22, Joint Strike Fighter, new tankers, etc. and the kinds of nonlethal weapons which could potentially be used for crowd control are nothing the Air Force really cares about anyway. And did I mention that he’s an idiot?

  5. He was asked about nonlethal weapons, and the context was him responding to that question, in what’s quite a reasonable way (if not exactly the most polished)

    I actually called the Air Force to inquire about the story, ans was sent a transcript of that part of the interview, which I’ve posted.

    TRANSCRIPT – Air Force Secretary On Nonlethal Weapons, Testing, US crowds

  6. Joe says:

    Mojo, I did four and a half years in the navy and three years in the reserves. Several of my acquaintances are now O-6’s and one star staff officers. I have a first cousin who graduated from West Point. I would only test these devices on volunteers. If you read the general’s statement, and don’t take it out of context for the purpose of fabricating a lead paragraph, he says that we should not use these non-lethal weapons on anyone unless we were willing to use them on our own citizens. Of course, if you are black and you live in Oklahoma or Philadelphia, you know that the government has used lethal weapons on its own citizens.

  7. Nomi says:

    It is alleged that these weapons are being used experimentally on unwilling, non-consenting American citizens in actions that amount to torture and leave the body destroyed and in pain.

    There is a group that is composed of selected, targeted individuals of these weapons, over a hundred all across the country, that is lobbying Senate and Congressional representatives in Washington, DC and holding rallies.

    There will be an article in the Washington Post Magazine late September or October, 2006, by Sharon Weinberger exposing these experimental weapons and the situation of the targeted individuals.

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