Friday, June 10, 2005

Sonic crowd control device deployed

I've been reading the reports over the last decade that theorized the development of a device, a weapon if you will, that produces a sound capable of either rendering a person immediately unconscious or making them flee the area. Seems like science fiction has become deployed fact.

::::::::The army employed the new device, which it dubbed "The Scream," at a recent violent demonstration by Palestinians (search) and Jewish sympathizers against Israel's West Bank separation barrier.

Protesters covered their ears and grabbed their heads, overcome by dizziness and nausea, after the vehicle-mounted device began sending out bursts of audible, but not loud, sound at intervals of about 10 seconds. An Associated Press photographer at the scene said that even after he covered his ears, he continued to hear the sound ringing in his head.

A military official said the device emits a special frequency that targets the inner ear. Exposure for several minutes at close range could cause auditory damage, but the noise is too intolerable for people to remain in the area for that long, he said.

The Irsaeli Army developed the device to assist them in clearing out settlers in the Gaza strip in August. They anticipate that some protesters will either barricade themselves or actually take up arms when the time comes and the goal has been to find a way to overcome that without resort to lethal force.

I have to admit being basically "agnostic" as regards such a device. Like anything, I know it could be abused or turn lethal under certain circumstances. However, it seems well designed to the task of dispersing crowds without a hail of gunfire, and I can't find anything wrong with that. Time will tell, I suppose. I just wonder how long it will be before we see one of these mounted on top of a police van in the US.