Here Come The WMD's: Microwave Iraq

Friday, July 22, 2005

What exactly is a weapon of mass destruction? I think most rational people would assume it to be a weapon that can inflict damage or death to a number of people over a large area. Apparently, the U.S. government and the Bush administration have a completely different view on WMDs. The U.S. government has, to date, used chemical weapons and cluster bombs and now they are preparing to use Active Denial System (ADS) weapons in Iraq.

The weapon that will be deployed in the near future is called the Sheriff. This is a vehicle-mounted microwave weapon to be used for crowd dispersal. There are also portable versions being worked on. This new age weapon would fire a 95-gigahertz microwave beam with a range of approximatley 640 meters that heats the skin causing pain within 2 to 3 seconds and then becoming intolerable after less than 5 seconds. The beam will heat the skin to about 50 degrees celsius, which may not pose a danger to the skin during short exposure but could pose significant risk to the cornea. A study published in the jounal Health Physics last year showed exposure from 2 watts per square centimeter for three seconds could damage the corneas of rhesus monkeys. The burning stops only when a person moves from the path of the beam or when the beam is turned off. For the skin to burn, all that is needed is exposure to the beam for 250 seconds.

Not only is this new weapon being deployed in Iraq within the next year, Raytheon (who received a 7.5 million cost-plus award-fee contract to develop ADS's) is working on models to be used at nuclear power plants, and a portable version to be used by police in the U.S.. The government claims that no permanent damage results from exposure to the microwave beam, however not enough human research has been done. The only organization conducting research into the effects of this weapon is the Air Force lab. Can we really trust the armed forces to give a fair and balanced study into the use of their new weapon? Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News ,sums it up best:

"The only people who are doing health research on the effects of electromagnetic
radiation are the people who are developing this weapon-the Air Force Lab.
They're the only people who have any money in the United States to do research
on the health effects, and they're in firm control of the (safety)
standard-setting process... That's a clear conflict."
I am not a scientist and have very little knowledge of electromagnetic radiation, but I do know that if you put something into the microwave and press start...it cooks! I have to say President Bush was correct when he stated before the Iraq invasion that there were WMDs in Iraq. He just should have made the comment after we invaded and deployed these weapons.

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