Friday, August 31, 2007

Lawfare kills again

...internal military correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, U.S. commanders were telling Washington that many civilian casualties could be avoided by using a new non-lethal weapon developed over the past decade.

Military leaders repeatedly and urgently requested - and were denied - the device, which uses energy beams instead of bullets and lets soldiers break up unruly crowds without firing a shot.

It's a ray gun that neither kills nor maims, but the Pentagon has refused to deploy it out of concern that the weapon itself might be seen as a torture device.
So can a pocketknife. Nice voice of confidence in the troops REMF.
On April 30, 2003, two days after the first Fallujah incident, Gene McCall, then the top scientist at Air Force Space Command in Colorado, typed out a two-sentence e-mail to Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"I am convinced that the tragedy at Fallujah would not have occurred if an Active Denial System had been there," McCall told Myers, according to the e-mail obtained by AP. The system should become "an immediate priority," McCall said.

Myers referred McCall's message to his staff, according to the e-mail chain.

McCall, who retired from government in November 2003, remains convinced the system would have saved lives in Iraq.

"How this has been handled is kind of a national scandal," McCall said by telephone from his home in Florida.
Sounds like one. August 2003, Richard Natonski, a Marine Corps brigadier general who had just returned from Iraq, filed an "urgent" request with officials in Washington for the energy-beam device.

The device would minimize what Natonski described as the "CNN Effect" - the instantaneous relay of images depicting U.S. troops as aggressors.

A year later, Natonski, by then promoted to major general, again asked for the system, saying a compact and mobile version was "urgently needed," particularly in urban settings.
In October 2004, the commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force "enthusiastically" endorsed Natonski's request. Lt. Gen. James Amos said it was "critical" for Marines in Iraq to have the system.

Senior officers in Iraq have continued to make the case.
"We want to just make sure that all the conditions are right, so when it is able to be deployed the system performs as predicted - that there isn't any negative fallout," said Col. Kirk Hymes, head of the Defense Department's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.

Reviews by military lawyers concluded it is a lawful weapon under current rules governing the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Nov. 15 document prepared by Marine Corps officials in western Iraq.

Private organizations remain concerned, however, because documentation that supports the testing and legal reviews is classified. There's no way to independently verify the Pentagon's claims, said Stephen Goose of Human Rights Watch in Washington.

"We think that any time you have an emerging technology that's based on novel physical principles, that this deserves the highest level of scrutiny," Goose said. "And we really haven't had that."
You will never make those people happy. How does he sleep at night knowing the following?
According to AP statistics, more than 27,400 Iraqi civilians have been killed and more than 31,000 wounded in war-related violence just since the new government took office in April 2005.
Let's say .5% would have been saved by the tool. That works out to 137 dead and 155 wounded. All to avoid this,
The Active Denial System is a directed-energy device, although it is not a laser or a microwave. It uses a large, dish-shaped antenna and a long, V-shaped arm to send an invisible beam of waves to a target as far away as 500 yards.

With the unit mounted on the back of a vehicle, U.S. troops can operate a safe distance from rocks, Molotov cocktails and small-arms fire.

The beam penetrates the skin slightly, just enough to cause intense pain. The beam goes through clothing as well as windows, but can be blocked by thicker materials, such as metal or concrete.
...which makes them run away - instead of being put 6-feet in a hole.

Industry is ready to go with a few prototypes,
Mike Booen, Raytheon's vice president for directed energy programs, said the company has produced one system that's immediately available.
...but Lawfare rules, I guess.
A Dec. 1, 2006, urgent request signed by Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Robert Neller sought eight Silent Guardians.

Neller, then the deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, called the lack of such a non-lethal weapon a "chronic deficiency" that "will continue to harm" efforts to resolve showdowns with as little firepower as possible.
In the time it took to go from bolt-action M1903 rifles in Wake Island to nuclear weapons ... we are here.

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