Monday, June 25, 2007

The Joy of Cooking

Here's a very interesting story that I missed when it came out on MSNBC almost a year ago. Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary (Michael Wynne) said last September.

“If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation,” said Wynne. “(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press.”

The "it" Wynne is talking about specifically is a riot-control device the Air Force calls "Active Denial Technology," or ADT. According to a 2001 article at the website, ADT is "is designed to heat people's skin with a microwave beam" and "uses a 2-metre dish to create a narrow beam of microwaves (delivered at the crowd from an aircraft) that can be scanned across a crowd or even aimed at individuals."

Apparently Secretary Wynne is not worried about what the domestic press would think if the Air Force microwaved a bunch of scruffy demonstrators. I guess nobody's scared of "60 Minutes" any more.

The Air Force Research Laboratory reassures us "that the 3-millimetre wavelength radiation penetrates only 0.3 millimetres into the skin, rapidly heating the surface above the 45 °C pain threshold." At 50 degrees C., a person would feel like he or she is on fire. "Someone would have to stay in the beam for 250 seconds before it burnt the skin," the AFRL adds, which would give demonstrators "ample margin between intolerable pain and causing a burn."

All those old jokes about the lady who gave her poodle a bath and then tried to dry it in the microwave aside, this is pretty scary stuff.

I believe this is another bit of anecdotal evidence which shows that the patients are now in charge of the asylum.

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