Non-lethal weapons leave no immediately visible marks on their victims, but can cause startling psychological and physical destruction. And a leak of the latest Pentagon projects shows that fears of such dystopian damage are already coming true.
In a 1908 New York Times letter to the editor, revolutionary scientist Nikola Telsa wrote, “When I spoke of future warfare I meant that it should be conducted by direct application of electrical waves without the use of aerial engines or other implements of destruction.”
And with last week’s leak of the US military’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate’s “Non-Lethal Weapons Reference Book” by PublicIntelligence.org, it appears that Tesla’s vision is coming to life.
While increasingly high-tech tasers remain in vogue, modified guns shooting a cache of 600 rubber pellets filled with pepper spray have found synergy between two increasingly infamous tools used to counter the Occupy Wall Street protests across America.
However, the latest weapons of non-lethal war go beyond attacks on flesh and blood, striking much deeper.
One device, known as the Active Denial System (ADS), is described as a “long range, directed energy, vehicle mounted system that projects an invisible electromagnetic millimeter-wave energy beam beyond small arms range.”
Already having been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the device, which looks like a TV satellite dish mounted on a Humvee, is euphemistically said to create “potential for minor burns if overexposed.”
However, critics have said it can lead to more several thermal injuries – including blindness – while it is believed that the projected invisible electromagnetic energy beam could potentially cause cancer.
What’s more, the ADS may soon go airborne, with modifications to put the device on “a fixed-wing platform” in the works.
While an array of Acoustic Hailing Devices (AHD) providing “scalable, directional warning tones” can cause “auditory damage” to those on solid ground, a device known as an eLOUD© can assault divers with similar auditory impairments and feelings of nausea from up to 457 meters away.
And if one needs to both blind and deafen a target, the Distributed Sound and Light Array (DSLA) “uses a combined laser, non-coherent light, and acoustics to produce a synergistic engagement system.”
Also mentioned are a battery of conceptual systems that can either redirect or stop altogether vehicular movement on the land, sea and air via electromagnetic attack.
All in all, the ability of police and law-enforcement to completely disable unruly populations via all-out sensory assaults is cause for concern in times of deepening economic and social crisis.
And while Americans may believe these tools will be used for crowd control in the far-flung vestiges of the world, they should not be so sure.
In September 2006, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said that Americans should be the first to be subjected to the ever-developing array of non-lethal weapons.
“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 non-lethal 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 Media Freedom Foundation reports.
In fact, with assaults on freedom of speech intensifying across America, it might come as a surprise that voice-to-skull directed acoustic neuro-electromagnetic devices were used as early as 2004 by New York City police against demonstrators at the Republican National Convention.
When Tesla imagined all the ways the electromagnetic spectrum would be used in the waging of future wars, he said “this is not a dream,” and he was right. Now, it sounds more like a nightmare.