[Reader-list] Sonic Weapons at G20

Paul D. Miller anansi1 at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 29 08:54:19 IST 2009

The Long Range Acoustic Device was used for the first time on American soil:

It's been used on Iraqi's for the last couple of years in places like "Camp Bucca" Iraq and are being tested in regions of Baghdad, Fallujah, along with other regions of Iraq. The LRAD device was on hand at protests of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City[3] but not used; it was extensively used against protesters in Georgia against opposition protesters in Tbilisi on November 2007

I just thought I'd pass this along. Intriguing first person account of the scenario.

Robocops Come to Pittsburgh
and bring the latest weaponry with them

by Mike Ferner

September 28, 2009

No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies,
an  arsenal of "crowd control munitions," including one
that reportedly made its debut in the U.S., was
deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence
in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.

Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups
charged the many thousands of police (most transported
on Port Authority buses displaying "PITTSBURGH WELCOMES
THE WORLD"), from as far away as Arizona and Florida
with overreactingand they had plenty of weaponry with
which to do it.

Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC
(Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, flash-bang grenades, batons
and, according to local news reports, for the first
time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic
Device (LRAD).

Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier
(APC), I saw the LRAD in action twice in the area of
25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an old
Pittsburgh neighborhood.  Blasting a shrill, piercing
noise like a high-pitched police siren on steroids, it
quickly swept streets and sidewalks of pedestrians,
merchants and journalists and drove residents into
their homes, but in neither case were any demonstrators
present.  The APC, oversized and sinister for a city
street, together with lines of police in full riot gear
looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for
a scene out of a movie you didnt want to be in.

As intimidating as this massive show of armed force and
technology was, the good burghers of Pittsburgh and
their fellow citizens in the Land of the Brave and Home
of the Free ain't seen nothin yet.  Tear gas and
pepper spray are nothing to sniff at and, indeed, have
proven fatal a surprising number of times, but they
have now become the old standbys compared to the list
below thats already at or coming soon to a police
station or National Guard headquarters near you.
Proving that "what goes around, comes around," some of
the new Property Protection Devices were developed by a
network of federally-funded, university-based research
institutes like one in Pittsburgh itself, Penn State's
Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies.

·   Raytheon Corp.'s Active Denial System, designed for
crowd control in combat zones, uses an energy beam to
induce an intolerable heating sensation, like a hot
iron placed on the skin.  It is effective beyond the
range of small arms, in excess of 400 meters.  Company
officials have been advised they could expand the
market by selling a smaller, tripod-mounted version for
police forces.

·   M5 Modular Crowd Control Munition, with a range of
30 meters "is similar in operation to a claymore mine,
but it delivers...a strong, nonpenetrating blow to the
body with multiple sub-munitions (600 rubber balls)."

·   Long Range Acoustic Device or "The Scream," is a
powerful megaphone the size of a satellite dish that
can emit sound "50 times greater than the human
threshold for pain" at close range, causing permanent
hearing damage.  The L.A. Times wrote U.S. Marines in
Iraq used it in 2004.  It can deliver recorded warnings
in Arabic and, on command, emit a piercing
tone..."[For] most people, even if they plug their
ears, [the device] will produce the equivalent of an
instant migraine," says Woody Norris, chairman of
American Technology Corp., the San Diego firm that
produces the weapon. "It will knock [some people] on
their knees."  CBS News reported in 2005 that the
Israeli Army first used the device in the field to
break up a protest against Israel's separation wall.
"Protesters covered their ears and grabbed their heads,
overcome by dizziness and nausea, after the
vehicle-mounted device began sending out bursts of
audible, but not loud, sound at intervals of about 10
seconds...A military official said the device emits a
special frequency that targets the inner ear."

·   In "Non-lethal Technologies: An Overview," Lewer
and Davison describe a lengthy catalog of new weaponry
including the "Directed Stick Radiator," a hand-held
system based on the same technology as The Scream.  "It
fires high intensity sonic bullets' or pulses of sound
between 125-150db for a second or two.  Such a weapon
could, when fully developed, have the capacity to knock
people off their feet."

·   The Penn State facility is testing a "Distributed
Sound and Light Array Debilitator" a.k.a. the "puke
ray."  The colors and rhythm of light are absorbed by
the retina and disorient the brain, blinding the victim
for several seconds.  In conjunction with disturbing
sounds it can make the person stumble or feel
nauseated.  Foreign Policy in Focus reports that the
Department of Homeland Security, with $1 million
invested for testing the device, hopes to see it "in
the hands of thousands of policemen, border agents and
National Guardsmen" by 2010.

·   Spider silk is cited in the University of
Bradford's Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project, Report
#4 (pg. 20) as an up-and-comer.  A research
collaboration between the University of New Hampshire
and the U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and
Engineering Center is looking into the use of spider
silk as a non-lethal "entanglement" material for
disabling people. They have developed a method for
producing recombinant spider silk protein using E. coli
and are trying to develop methods to produce large
quantities of these fibres."

·   New Scientist reports that the (I'm not making this
up) Inertial Capacitive Incapacitator (ICI), developed
by the Physical Optics Corporation of Torrance,
California, uses a thin-film storage device charged
during manufacture that only discharges when it strikes
the target. It can be incorporated into a ring-shaped
aerofoil and fired from a standard grenade launcher at
low velocity, while still maintaining a flat trajectory
for maximum accuracy.

·   Aiming beyond Tasers, the Homeland Security
Advanced Research Projects Agency, (FY 2009 budget:
$1B) the domestic equivalent of the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA), plans to develop
wireless weapons effective over greater distances, such
as in an auditorium or sports stadium, or on a city
street.  One such device, the Piezer, uses
piezoelectric crystals that produce voltage when they
are compressed.  A 12-gauge shotgun fires the crystals,
stunning the target with an electric shock on impact.
Lynntech of College Station, Texas, is developing a
projectile Taser that can be fired from a shotgun or
40-mm grenade launcher to increase greatly the weapon's
current range of seven meters.

·   "Off the Rocker and On the Floor: Continued
Development of Biochemical Incapacitating Weapons," a
report by the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre
revealed that in 1992, the National Institute of
Justice contracted with Lawrence Livermore National Lab
to review clinical anesthetics for use by special ops
military forces and police.  LLNL concluded the best
option was an opioid, like fentanyl, effective at very
low doses compared to morphine.  Combined with a patch
soaked in DMSO (dimethylsufoxide, a solvent) and fired
from an air rifle, fentanyl could be delivered to the
skin even through light clothing.  Another recommended
application for the drug was mixed with fine powder and
dispersed as smoke.

·   After upgrades, the infamous "Puff the Magic
Dragon" gunship from the Vietnam War is now the AC-130.
"Non-Lethal Weaponry: Applications to AC-130 Gunships,"
observes that "With the increasing involvement of US
military in operations other than war..." the AC-130 
"would provide commanders a full range of non-lethal
weaponry from an airborne platform which was not
previously available to them."  The paper concludes in
part that "As the use of non-lethal weapons increases
and it becomes valid and acceptable, more options will
become available."

·   Prozac and Zoloft are two of over 100
pharmaceuticals identified by the Penn State College of
Medicine and the university's Applied Research Lab for
further study as "non-lethal calmatives."  These
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), noted
the Penn State study, "...are found to be highly
effective for numerous behavioral disturbances
encountered in situations where a deployment of a
non-lethal technique must be considered.  This class of
pharmaceutical agents also continues to be under
intense development by the pharmaceutical
industry...New compounds under development (WO
09500194) are being designed with a faster onset of
action.  Drug development is continuing at a rapid rate
in this area due to the large market for the treatment
of depression (15 million individuals in North
America)...It is likely that an SSRI agent can be
identified in the near future that will feature a rapid
rate of onset."

In Pittsburgh last week, an enormously expensive show
of police and weaponry, intended for "security" of the
G20 delegates, simultaneously shut workers out of
downtown jobs for two days, forced gasping students and
residents back into their dormitories and homes, and
turned journalists' press passes into quaint, obsolete
reminders of a bygone time.

Most significant of all, however, was what Witold
Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania ACLU, told
the Associated Press: "It's not just intimidation, it's
disruption and in some cases outright prevention of
peaceful protesters being able to get their message


Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio and president of
Veterans For Peace

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