By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON — The military considered unleashing a never-used before heat ray to clear a park near the White House of demonstrators on June 1 — a weapon who use was eschewed for deployment in Afghanistan and overridden by the former head of Homeland Security when sought to be unleashed on migrants on the US-Mexico border.
It also amassed thousands of rounds of ammunition in preparation for clearing a peaceful protest in Lafayette Square in June, according to written House testimony from an Army National Guard major who was at the scene.
In written responses to the House Committee on Natural Resources first obtained by NPR, Major Adam DeMarco of the D.C. National Guard said he was copied on an email from the Provost Marshal of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region. He was looking for two things: the heat ray, known as the Active Denial System, or ADS. and a long-range acoustic device known as an LRAD.
In his appearance before the committee in June, DeMarco testified that tear gas was in fact used — in contrast to the official account from federal officials.
The ADS uses electromagnetic waves – millimeter wave technology – to essentially heat the skin of those targeted by its invisible ray. It was developed by the military about 20 years ago as a way to disperse crowds. It was deployed in 2010 with the United States military in Afghanistan but withdrawn without being used.
The invisible beam has a range of 550 yards. The ray generates heat up to 54 degrees centigrade — 131 degrees Fahrenheit — to penetrate the top layer of skin.
The heat ray was developed under the sponsorship of the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program with the Air Force Research Laboratory as the lead agency in part in response to intelligence that Russia and China have or are close to developing their own versions, Pentagon officials said.
It is currently vehicle-mounted but Marines and some police departments are developing portable versions, Pentagon officials said.
According to news reports, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department announced its intent to use this technology to control incarcerated people in the Pitchess Detention Center in Los Angeles, stating its intent to use it in “operational evaluation” in situations such as breaking up prisoner fights.
In August the New York Times reported that U.S. border officials suggested deploying the heat ray against migrants a few weeks before the 2018 elections. The Times reported that Kirstjen Nielsen, then secretary of homeland security, told an aide after the meeting “that she would not authorize the use of such a device, and that it should never be brought up again in her presence.”
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew M. Huff)