One statute lies beyond the powers of the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. Itís called the Law of Unintended Consequences, and once again that Law is about to do some serious damage.
The Active Denial System (ADS) seems to have come from a 1950s Sci Fi movie. In fact, the device hasn’t been around for long–but long enough to have been employed intelligently. Yet it hasn’t.
During the first Iraq war, U.S. commanders wanted to use it. Their requests were turned down. The field generals in Iraq want to use it now. Again they are being denied.
What is ADS?
Itís a non-lethal weapon that beams electromagnetic radiation at human targets as far away as 500 yards. Located on a flatbed truck or Humvee, those rays can be directed to go through windows. They can easily penetrate clothing. They breach the skin slightly but painfully, causing out-of-control rioters to stop their actions before somebody gets killed or valuable property is destroyed.
Thatís all the rays do. They donít kill. They donít maim. They donít disable, save for the moment.
The system was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, and during twelve years of testing, only two injuries occurredósecond degree burns that healed quickly.
So why is the Pentagon set against the use of the Active Denial System?
Because in the Beltway, PR trumps ADS.
The brass is concerned that the weapon would be perceived as a torture device, an electronic extension of Abu Ghraib.
And so it would be by every group seeking to portray the U.S. military as a bunch of Torquemadas out to persecute the enemy with maximum anguish.
George Soros, no doubt, would be among the plaintiffs, as would the People for the
, Nation magazine, Noam Chomsky, Jimmy Carter and other reliables who would rather foment than think.
In fact, ADS would stop Iraqis from hurting or slaying each other, and from doing the same to the American troops.
And so the Pentagonians, in their wisdom, are providing the latest demonstration of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, will be injured or murdered because they folks in Washington are more worried about perception than about protection.
Once again, in the military, as in politics (and who can tell the difference these days?) the road to hell is being paved with good unintentions.
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