Clip File: War Toys On the Homefront

It's hard not to think the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has money to burn in light of its purchase of a "ray-gun" for its jail.
To the shock of absolutely no one, the ACLU hates the idea of blasting Los Angeles prisoners with an invisible heat ray. The civil liberties organization has sent a letter to L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca, begging him to not use the pain weapon, less than a week after its installation at the Pitchess Detention Center.

But both sides of this energy weapon fight seem a little, um, confused. The ACLU claims that the so-called “Assault Intervention Device” is a killer — and “robot-like,” to boot. (Not that the system has killed anyone, or can operate on its own.) The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is claiming the ray gun can’t cause lasting harm. (Well, if you ignore those test subjects with second degree burns.)
Wired happily notes that, so far, "the Active Denial System hasn’t actually killed anyone, after more than 10,000 test-blasts on human subjects."

Wait a minute. 10,000 test-blasts on human subjects! It's nice that the Pentagon wants to develop non-lethal weapons, but this can't be the only way to figure out whether or not a particular contraption is lethal. Not that anyone wants to get PETA fired up, but these are people we're talking about.

The rest of the story: ACLU Blasts Jailhouse Pain Ray, Condemns ‘Star Wars Tech’ by Noah Shachtman (Wired/Danger Room 2010-08-27).

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