flesh. In other words, were this nasty little neurotransmitter to be accurately released during say, a Superbowl game with 100,000 fans, it is reasonable to assume that a significant majority of the stadium would almost immediately descend into irrationality: self-doubt, terror, unexplainable hysteria or, more plainly, insanity. As with the victims of the Moscow theater attack, it’s not clear if or when they would come back. Another of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate’s many disturbing hobbies is the development of electromagnetic weapons, so called “people zappers,” such as a truck-mounted “microwave oven” that instantaneously heats protestors’ skin to 120 degrees. Are we having fun yet? Consider a related proposal from the Pentagon’s intrepid researchers. Delving through the scientific literature, military contractors at Pennsylvania State University’s Institute for Emerging Defense Technologies \(run by the Directorate’s new anesthetic drug increases patients’ sensitivity to electrical shock. In other words, it makes it hurt more. The only medical application for the drug, sold under the brand name Precedex, is to help sedate severely injured persons on artificial respirators, usually in or near emergency rooms. The Penn State pro posal: Use Precedex for military purposes by dosing people with it. For those groggy few who can remain standing after being dosed with Precedex, follow up with the “people zapper.” At this point, the remaining protestors, their minds half-blown by drugs, will be reduced toyou guessed itquivering lumps of flesh due to their drug-enhanced sensitivity to electromagnetic weapons. These kinds of weapons could be very convenient if you’re engaged in street combat in, say, Baghdad. Indeed, any gas weapon is tempting when sticking your head around the corner runs the risk of having it blown off. Who else would be subjected to the Pentagon’s new weapons? According to the same report, the likely candidates include “hungry refugees that are excited over the distribution of food,” “a prison setting,” an “agitated population,” and in “hostage situations.” We learned a good bit about the military properties of ‘non-lethal’ gases in Vietnam, where U.S. forces used tear gas extensively in urban and enclosed spaces, like tunnels. Our purpose was to flush Viet Cong out of hiding in order to shoot them. Much like the more recent Russian performance in Moscow, where as many as 50 Chechen separatists were killed with a bullet to the headafter the gas rendered them unconscious and unable to resist. Unfortunately, the whole idea of “non-lethal” weapons is a cultural myth, currently much in vogue among certain sections of the Pentagon. Historically, “non-lethal” biochemical weapons have been used to enhance the effects of other weapons, beginning in the First World War, when both Germany and its French and British enemies resorted to chemical warfare. They started with smoke, escalated to into lethal mustard gas, stopping along the way to explore items like chloropia chemical with legitimate uses in agriculture, but malicious ones for militaries. Used in World War I, PS gas had the “beneficial” effect of penetrating gas masks. This caused vomiting victims to remove their protective gear, whereupon PS was followed by a healthy dose of deadly mustard. Its use in war has been prohibited since the 1925 Geneva Protocol. In 1992, the Chemical Weapons Convention tightly regulated its production and sale for non-weapons purposes. The Bush Departments of State and Commerce have recently moved to relax export restrictions on chloropicrinand the more familiar pepper gasclaiming that they have no significant military value. The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate is unabashedly enthusiastic about biochemical weapons. Its research director, Susan LeVine, tells us that “We need something besides tear gas, like calmatives, anesthetic agents, that would put people to sleep or in a good mood.” \(“Calmative” is Cold War terminology Marine Col. George Fenton, says, “I would like a magic dust that would put everyone to sleep, combatants and noncombatants.” Meanwhile, the Armstrong Labora tory at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio is exploring genetically engi neered weapons to destroy materials. That is, microbes that are designed to continued on page 20 A perp walk with these guys would be the stuff of international head lines, and Johnny Sutton could write his own ticket to the upper echelons of the Justice Department. But he hasn’t answered my letters. I am beginning to suspect that it might have something to do with the identities of these particular weaponeers. Saddam Hussein’s secret serv ice? Osama bin Laden’s chemical corps? The guys playing with fentanyl and mortars are a cabal consisting of the Pentagon’s Joint Non-Legal Weapons Directorate in Quantico, Virginia; U.S. Army outfits in Maryland and New Jersey; and a small host of defense contractors. 12/20/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1
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