Editorial: Micro sense / Weapon for crowd control is beyond belief

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Some stories go beyond satire. Reports that the U.S. military will test an experimental high-power microwave device on American civilians before using it on foreign forces sounds like something straight out of a comic book.

Michael Wynne, secretary of the Air Force, insisted recently that use of the nonlethal weapon as a domestic crowd-control device would be a way to build international acceptance of its use.

"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," Mr. Wynne told The Associated Press, espousing the kind of logic Dr. Strangelove would be proud of.

"[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," Mr. Wynne said.

Too late, Mr. Wynne. Anyone who would sanction experimental weapons for domestic crowd control before introducing them into the international theater will be vilified, anyway.

The weapon sounds relatively benign when described by military folks. The best-case scenario has "Weapon X" emitting an intense energy pulse that weakens the human target while disabling electronic devices in the vicinity.

The Air Force is still in the research phase with no street tests scheduled anytime soon (as far as we know). But if you find yourself among an especially rowdy crowd of anti-war protesters one day, don't be surprised if you find your forehead melting inexplicably.



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