Stunning New Data
On 'Non-Lethal' Weapons
From Tim Matthews <>
Dear Jeff
I attach some snippets from a new report entitled "An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control" written by Mr. Steve Wright of the Omega Project (Manchester) for the Scientific Technological Options Assessment (STOA) of the European Parliament.
I think you'll agree that this is pretty disturbing - it occurs to me that there may well be a link with aspects of MILAB here...let's hope not for everyone's sake.
"5.6 Second Generation Incapacitation Weapons
In the Nineties, the revolution in so called 'non-lethal weapons' was given fresh impetus by new US programmes to fight internal conflicts - ostensibly without casualties. The US Government was driven towards finding a universal panacea because of a series of embarrassing and widely publicised debacles including the Rodney King beating, the Waco siege and their unfortunate experiences in Somalia, where they failed in crowd control operations with only lethal technology. The new policy was avidly pushed in the States by the likes of Col. John Alexander (who made his name as part of the Phoenix Assassination programmes during the Vietnam war) and science fiction writers such as Alvin Toffler (Toffler, 1994) and Janet and Chris Morris, (Morris & Morris, 1990, 1994) and picked up by the
DoD and Justice Department
Thus a second generation of kinetic, chemical, optico-acoustic, microwave, disabling and paralysing technologies is on the horizon, to join the existing arsenal of weapons designed for public order control. Much of the initial new work has been undertaken in US nuclear laboratories such as Oak Ridge, Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos. Many cynics see the work as a rice bowl initiative with scientists looking for new weapons projects to justify their future careers as the cold war made their old skill redundant. Already they have come up with a pandora's box of new technologies. These include:
* Ultra-sound generators, which cause disorientation, vomiting and involuntary defecation, disturbing the ear system which controls balance and inducing nausea. The system which uses two speakers can target individuals in a crowd.
* Visual stimulus and illusion techniques such as high intensity strobes which pulse in the critical epileptic fit-inducing flashing frequency and holograms used to project active camouflage.
* Reduced energy kinetic weapons. Variants on the bean bag philosophy which ostensibly will result in no damage ( similar claims were once made about plastic bullets). (See Fig. 32)
* New disabling, calmative, sleep inducing agents mixed with DMSO which enables the agent to quickly cross the skin barrier and an extensive range of pain causing, paralysing and foul-smelling area-denial chemicals. Some of these are chemically engineered variants of the heroin molecule. They work extremely rapidly, one touch and disablement follows. Yet one person's tranquillization may be another's lethal dose. (See Fig. 33)
* Microwave and acoustic disabling systems. (see Fig. 34)
* Human capture nets which can be laced with chemical irritant or electrified to pack an extra disabling punch. (See Fig. 34)
* Lick 'em and stick 'em technology such as the Sandia National Laboratory's foam gun which expands to between 35-50 times its original volume. Its extremely sticky, gluing together any target's feet and hands to the pavement. (See Fig. 35)
* Aqueous barrier foam which can be laced with pepper spray.
* Blinding laser weapons and Isotrophic radiator shells which use superheated gaseous plasma to produce a dazzling burst of laser like light. (See Fig. 36)
* Thermal guns which incapacitate through a wall by raising body temperature to 107 degrees.
* Magnetosphere gun which delivers what feels like a blow to the head.
We are no longer at a theoretical stage with these weapons. US companies are already piloting new systems, lobbying hard and where possible, laying down potentially lucrative patents. For example, last year New Scientist reported that the American Technology Corporation (ATC) of Poway California has used what it calls acoustical heterodyning technology to target individuals in a crowd with infra-sound to pinpoint an individual 200-300
37 _______________
...metres away. The system can also project sonic holograms which can conjure audio messages out of thin air so just one person hears.79 Meanwhile, Jane's reported that the US Army Research Laboratory has produced a variable velocity rifle for lethal or non lethal use a new twist to flexible response.80 Other companies are promoting robots for use in riot and prison control.
The National Institute of Justice in the US is now actively soliciting new ideas for such weapons from corporate bodies,81 and corporate US has responded with bodies like SPIE (The International Society For Optical Engineering), which have enthusiastically responded with a special conference on 'Enabling Technologies for Law Enforcement and Security' at the Hynes Convention centre in Boston, Nov 19-21, 1996. The panel on less than lethal technologies has experts talking on subjects such as: The non-lethal laser baton; design of a variable velocity gun system for law enforcement applications; sticky shocker; definition of lethality thresholds for KE less-lethal projectiles; violence reduction and assailant control with laser sighted police pistols; directed energy technologies: weaponisation and barrier applications; pepper spray projectile for countering hostage and barricade situations; aqueous foam as a less than lethal technology for prison applications etc. A formal Pentagon policy on the use of non-lethal weapons was prepared last year in response to Congressional instructions to initiate a joint acquisitions programme. Whilst there are practical problems regarding whether it is preferable to leave an enemy or a citizen dead rather than permanently maimed, and whether or not hallucinogenic or other psychotropic 'calmative' agents fall foul of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the spending call was for $15 million annually over the next three years, to fund new and existing projects.82
Critics of such projects suggest that non-lethal war is a contradiction in terms. Many of the so called non-lethal weapons are in reality are far from non-lethal. They can and have killed, maimed, blinded and scalped innocent bystanders. There is a real danger that they will make conflicts more lethal by enraging crowds and by paralysing people making them more vulnerable to other operations by the military and security forces. In that sense these weapons could be considered pre-lethal and actually lead to higher casualty rates. (See above) In fact the US proponents of these weapons are under no illusions. Their focus is 'not to replace lethal munitions but to augment existing and future capabilities which will provide a spectrum of force response options.'83 The area most commentators have not addressed is the extent that such weapons will help the military create new roles for themselves as part of internal policing operations.
Most of the debate has been about their role in war. We know from the proceedings of the Non Lethal Defence II conference, (organised by The American Defence Preparedness Association held in March last year), that the that the Joint Program Office of Special Technology Countermeasures (JPO-STC) have developed a multi-service co-ordination strategy that incorporates both the HQ Allied Forces of Southern Europe and the 'Doctrine & Training HQ' of the United Kingdom.84 Other formal liaison links between the USA non-lethal research community and Member States are anticipated but little public information has emerged.
The work done so far has led to dubious weapons based on dubious research, strongly influenced by commercial rather than humanitarian considerations. There is a pressing need for a wide ranging debate in the European Parliament of the humanitarian and civil liberties implications of allowing these weapons on to European soil to become part of the technology of political control in the EU. Much of the work that has been undertaken in secret, but part of the bibliography of the present report covers a representative sample of the available literature. What is required is a much more detailed assessment of these weapons than space permits here and it is recommended that a new study be commissioned to achieve this work.