29 Aug. 2007

What If They Developed A Weapon That Was Too Horrible To Use?

Apparently the military in Iraq is screaming out for Raytheon's heat gun but the Pentagon won't let them use it:
The main reason the tool has been missing in action is public perception. With memories of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal still fresh, the Pentagon is reluctant to give troops a space-age device that could be misconstrued as a torture machine.

"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.
There are unconfirmed rumours that the heat gun can kill when set to max.

And cost also appears to be a major issue: any such weapon would be a major target of the insurgency, and at several million dollars per machine (they wont say exactly what it costs) that could blow a major hole in the budget. The Pentagon has spent $62 million developing and testing the system, which now looks like a waste of money - maybe they should bring it to APEC, where it's less likely to get damaged?