Can Screeners With Light Sabers Be Far Behind?
While it's probably safe to assume
few in the Department of Homeland Security will ever attain "Jedi"
status... soon some of DHS's finest will be equipped with
honest-to-goodness light sabers.
The Detroit Free-Press reports the Department of Homeland
Security will soon arm federal agents -- including air marshals,
border patrol agents, and customs officials -- with a non-lethal
weapon that emits a blinding strobe light to subdue criminals.
"The light could be used to make a bad guy turn away or shut his
eyes, giving authorities enough time to tackle the suspect and
apply the cuffs, all while sparing the lives of passersby, hostages
or airline passengers," according to a description from the
Homeland Security Department's science and technology division.
While people need not fear the potential loss of limbs,
Darth Vader-style... some human rights advocates still fear the
flashlight-sized devices will turn agents to the Dark Side,
especially along the US/Mexico border.
"I would imagine that Mexico wouldn't be particularly happy with
us using a device that would be more appropriate for criminals, not
just for people trying to get across the border who are looking for
better opportunities," said American Immigration Lawyers
Association president Deborah Notkin.
DHS hopes to have the LED Incapacitators in the hands of agents
by 2010. Armed with $1 million in test funding from Homeland
Security, the devices are now under development by Intelligent
Optical Systems, and will be tested at Pennsylvania State
University this fall (tip to students -- better hand in those
theses on time.)
"It's like someone shooting off a flashbulb in your face every
few seconds," said Bob Lieberman, president of Intelligent Optical.
"Because of the wavelengths and frequencies we use, there are
psychophysical effects -- a real disorientation. The reaction can
range through vertigo to nausea."
The device doesn't use lasers, or permanently blind people,
Lieberman helpfully added.