Thu, Sep 14, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US air force wants to test nonlethal arms at home

AP , WASHINGTON

Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on US citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the US Air Force secretary said on Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, Secretary Michael Wynne said.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," Wynne said. "[Because] if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on them until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.

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