"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Laser 'optical incapacitator' issued in Iraq

Odd that CNN would start out with:

Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, defended its use as legal and said the devices were intended to prevent civilians from being shot.
But it isn't too unusual when you consider Reuters quoting Steve Goose, Arms Division Director for Human Rights Watch.
Obviously, it's been a big problem for them and they need to find better ways to avoid civilian casualties at checkpoints. But you don't want to 'solve' it by using weapons that may run afoul of an international prohibition.
Human Rights Watch requested assurance from the U.S. that the blindness caused by the laser was in fact, temporary. Nor would you want to question the use of a new device/weapon without having a clue regarding it's nature. We're not talking about the effects of a 50 caliber on the human body here.

"Have tests been run to ensure that it cannot be used as a permanent-blinding weapon?" asked the Goose. One of the concerns raised by the rights group being the possibility of using it at too close a range, which I guess would be from the hood of a vehicle as it attempts to pass through a checkpoint soldier.

The Seattle Times take a stab thanks to the LA Times:
(S)o-called tactical laser devices have been controversial in the past. A protocol to the Geneva Convention bans the use of lasers that cause blindness, and human-rights groups have protested previous U.S. attempts to employ such weapons.
I wonder at the use of "so-called?" Do they mean "commonly named : popularly so termed" or the more likely "falsely or improperly so named." Hmmmm, you be the judge.

But I digress (that's two days in a row I've done that), Seattle Times reports that:
A decade ago, the experimental use of tactical laser devices by Marines in Somalia was curtailed at the last minute for "humane reasons," according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which called their use "repugnant to the public conscience" in a 1995 report.
Rather than ponder the advances of techonology, Human Rights Watch goes media before any inquiries. Laser weapons are "repugnant to the public conscience," like life is repugnant to bullets.


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