Hi-tech Torture

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"…Now the US military directorate charged with developing non-lethal weapons, which has invested more than a decade developing the Active Denial System (ADS), has launched a concerted effort to convince both the public and its own bosses at the defence department of the device’s merits.

"With brand new technology like this, perception is everything," said Col Kirk Hymes, a former Marine artillery officer who heads the directorate.

He added that tests were almost complete and the first ADS, also known as the Silent Guardian, could be deployed early next year if the Pentagon allows. The decision is so sensitive that it is expected to be made personally by the defence secretary, Robert Gates, who sent senior representatives to the demonstrations…"

— The Telegraph – UK, November 19, 2007

Just when it seems that things cannot get any worse, we learn that U.S. military commanders in Iraq are seeking permission to use a new weapon system. This will be the ultimate torture weapon. Its purpose is to cause excruciating pain, but leave no evidence of wounds on the victim. Imagine this weapon at AbuGhraib or Guantanamo. Imagine this weapon at your local precinct. The Department of Defense has named this weapon system "Active Denial".

Besides torture, this weapon can also be used for crowd control – a ray gun which could literally make blood boil. It is based on the same technology as a microwave oven. The human body is comprised mostly of water… think of the sensation of boiling blood. The purpose of this weapon system is to cause an unbearable level of pain so that the victim will submit to the will of the US military or police.

The gun produces a 95-gigahertz microwave beam that is designed to penetrate 1/64th of an inch. Hummmm, should the experts be trusted to achieve zero defects with a technology that requires so precise a tolerance?

Raytheon, with headquarters in Waltham, Mass. is listed as the prime contractor on this project. Raytheon reports sales of $20.3 billion in 2006. The development of torture devices brings high profits to the corporation. Profits before people seems to be the accepted practice in the United States.

This project brings to mind some questions. The Raytheon web site states that this weapon will be used for "civilian law enforcement". Is this system being designed for domestic use against U.S. citizens? Will it be used for "crowd control" at sites of labor disputes and strikes? Will it be coming soon to a war protest near you? Will it be used at the borders to prevent immigration? Does International Law prohibit the use of this weapon on the battlefield? Will the government hide behind Sovereign Immunity when a citizen is injured or killed by this weapon? How will this weapon effect children? Will the NRA lobby for access to this weapon? How will it affect the performance of an implanted medical device, such as a pacemaker?

The bad news is that this weapon is now operational. The good news is that the weapon system has had some major design problems. The designers have failed to realize that a person is not a potato. Microwaving a human to the exact degree of doneness is proving to be problematic. Is there anyone out there who wants to volunteer as a subject for any further field tests that may be required? What they need is a test subject, with a pacemaker, contact lenses, a lot of amalgam dental fillings, and maybe a few metal surgical staples from an old appendectomy. Will they pay a bonus if the subject is pregnant? When the experiment is completed, if the subject is incapacitated, but still alive with no visible wounds, the field test is a success.

Fifty-one million dollars has already been spent on this weapon system. This gun has killed before the trigger was even pulled. In the U.S., 18,000 die each year because of the lack of health care. If that 51 million dollars had been used to provide health care to our fellow citizens many lives would have been saved. The real enemies of the American people are those whose priorities are so warped that they allocate money for ray guns while ignoring the humanitarian needs of the populace.

The design and production of redundant weapon systems is pushed by the lobbying efforts of the arms manufacturers who have been doing a land-office business. Somehow all of this seems to be OK with the employees of Raytheon. The argument that, "We need the jobs", is an old one that has been used to justify the development of the most horrific weapons. It is puzzling that the psyche of so many U.S. workers allows them to be engaged in the design and manufacture of a weapon system designed to torture. As the U.S. economy disintegrates, more will be willing to sell their souls for the pay check at the end of the week.

Will those in the legal community speak out against this hi-tech torture system? Its legality under international law is questionable – but then compliance with international law is not a high priority in the US.

Will church leaders give sermons about hi-tech torture? It does not seem to be a hot topic among the clergy.

Will shareholders dump their Raytheon stock? Does Wall Street have a conscience – dumb question, I know.

Will US taxpayers object to having their money used to make weapons of torture? They don’t seem to object to cluster bombs, land mines, or nukes.

Will US citizens be duped by the spin of the Pentagon and State Department into thinking that this is just another "nice" weapon that we need to "protect our freedom"? The propaganda campaign has already begun. Col. Kirk Hymes is quoted as saying,

"With brand new technology like this, perception is everything."

Waterboarding is low-tech torture. Active Denial is hi-tech torture. Torture is torture no matter how it is done. Most people – with the exception of at least one Justice on the Supreme Court – understand that. Torture by any other name is still torture.

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Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. She was arrested, tried, and convicted for her participation in a peaceful protest of the war. The conviction was appealed and overturned in the State Supreme Court. The government then announced plans to retry the case. Finally, after years of legal proceedings, all charges were dropped. She contributed this article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from the US.

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