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United States Toys

Homeland Security Funds LED Light That Blinds, Disorients 455

katzmeow writes "Ryand Singel's Wired blog notes that Homeland security has developed an LED flashlight that uses 'powerful flashes of light to temporarily blind, disorient and incapacitate people.' The idea is to use it to incapacitate people — 'arrest them' — on airlines, borders, etc. without using traditional weapons. The company's president Bob Lieberman says the tool is perfect for confronting 'border jumpers.' 'You don't want to hurt or kill them, just take them into custody,' says Lieberman. 'With this, they don't need to know English to comply.' The 'light saber' can even be scaled up to bazooka size for subduing crowds."
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Homeland Security Funds LED Light That Blinds, Disorients

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  • I'm sure... (Score:5, Funny)

    by robo_mojo ( 997193 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:15AM (#20007981)
    that this will never get into the wrong hands. Oh, wait.
  • Sunglasses anyone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by andyh3930 ( 605873 ) *
    So I'll have to remember to bring my sunglasses too now if I want to cross into the USA illegally, as well as the tinfoil suit to ward off their microwave guns http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg187250 95.600 [newscientist.com]
  • Just in: (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:18AM (#20008007)
    In Mexico, welding helmet demands have gone through the roof.
  • Easily countered (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ceriel Nosforit ( 682174 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:19AM (#20008013)
    Self-dimming welder's goggles should be enough to render this weapon useles.
  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by okinawa_hdr ( 1062664 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:24AM (#20008043) Homepage
    "subduing crowds"...I don't like the sound of that.
    • Yes, not even unruly crowds, just groups of people. I didn't know gatherings had to be subdued.
    • Well, maybe Homeland Security has reason to worry that there will soon be large angry crowds that need subduing.

      Although it has been a while since there have been any riots in the US. Maybe they know something we don't.

      And here I thought Homeland Security was supposed to be worrying about terrorism.
    • Re:Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:56AM (#20008237) Homepage Journal

      "subduing crowds"...I don't like the sound of that.
      But given the choice, would you rather be subdued by:

      a) rubber bullets
      b) tear gas
      c) water cannon
      d) wall of shields and batons
      e) bright lights

      I know what I'd chose! :)

      Of course we're missing the uber-overlord crowd-suppressor; the rubber bullet firing tear gas cannon super-bright torch baton.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by hviezda14 ( 580875 )
        c) is correct - most fun of all choices.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by somersault ( 912633 )
        I think I'd prefer a couple of bruises to being permanently blinded.. though I've never been hit by a water cannon or rubber bullets, maybe it's not as fun as it sounds? :P
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MrMr ( 219533 )
        Nice idea for a poll

        I'd say
        d) If you're on a brick road, but dodging c) back trough their own ranks is also fun.
      • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by badfish99 ( 826052 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:37AM (#20008491)
        I wouldn't like to be subdued by any of them, thank you very much.

        But, if you're going to give the police a weapon, there's an argument that a gun is better than any of these. Everyone knows that a gun is lethal, so a policeman is going to think carefully before using it on anyone who is not immediately threatening his life.
        But if the policeman has got a simple non-lethal weapon like this, he's got a strong motivation for "subduing" anyone who happens to disagree with him or who doesn't instantly obey his orders. What better instrument of oppression than a police force that is always instantly obeyed for fear of something like this?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Stiletto ( 12066 )
          I wouldn't like to be subdued by any of them, thank you very much.

          What are you, a ... TERRORIST?!?!?

          This is the USA. The police are always right. They never have bad intentions. So if they are subduing you, they have a good reason to. Be glad they're only blinding you, and not beating you or sodomizing you with a broomstick. If you immediately curl up in a ball and obey their orders, they might just let you live (in jail for the next 5 years, that is). It's really for your own good, what with all the
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          But then what happens when the officer does need to subdue someone? If all he has is a gun, lethal force is his only option. Let's say he's being attacked by somebody with a baseball bat and they're swinging really hard. He could blind and subdue them or shoot.

          I'm not a cop nor do I know any personally, but killing someone, no matter the cause, is something that would haunt anybody for the rest of their life. I would think that any cop would rather have, maybe in addition to their sidearm, a non-leth
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by StarfishOne ( 756076 )
        There are FOUR LIGHTS!

        (ST:TNG - Chain of Command, Part II)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fnj ( 64210 )

        But given the choice, would you rather be subdued by...

        Subdue: verb: 1 : to conquer and bring into subjection.

        I don't think I want to be subdued at all, thank you.
    • Re:Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:10AM (#20008313) Homepage
      I like the fact that it can be used for subduing crowds without having to talk to them, everythings much simpler when you don't have to engage in any dialouge with enemy.
  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:26AM (#20008057)

    ... nor have plans to "become" one, let me be the first to say:

    You should welcome your light-bearing overlords.

    (Hmmmm, isn't that something like "luciferian" in Latin??)

  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:38AM (#20008129)
    From "The Mole People":

    "ARGGGHHH! Light just slightly brighter than what we're accustomed to!"

    No, seriously, this sounds really lame. SWAT teams already do this, successfully, with "flash-bang" grenades. Or you could use a big-ol' magnesium flashbulb. No need for new yet wimpy LED's.

  • Not New (Score:3, Informative)

    by vic-traill ( 1038742 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:39AM (#20008139)

    This is not a new concept. I recall hearing about this class of device twenty years ago when I worked the door at a couple of bars - always wished I had one (it's a hard way to make cash to fund your education, letting people beat on your head so you can learn to make a living with self-same head). Never saw one though.

    Here's a reference from 2005 to such a device, with a different name. I don't know if it is the same company, or a different development: http://www.defense-update.com/products/s/sabershot .htm [defense-update.com]

  • I'll stick to my surefire tactical light. Its nice small, and is actually effective as a bludgeon if need be.
    • Huh, I always used my little surefire as a fist packer. It's just about the right size, has a good heft and is pretty dense. Still doesn't change the fact that when you hit someone it hurts your fist, but it hurts their face a hell of a lot more.
  • meh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slobarnuts ( 666254 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:48AM (#20008185) Homepage
    That's what we were missing all along. A flashlight. Trust a flashlight to cure all of societies ills. They've been touting and developing crap like this for years. Every time someone takes taxpayer money to develop a Friggin Laser Beam or light that 'blinds and disorients', someone puts out an article about it, discovery channel runs some cheap filler reruns of 'omg non-lethal', a couple years later, you hear nothing else about it. Lasers would be alot more effective than this crap though, at least you can focus the light into a narrow beam. LEDs, not as effective at a fair enough distance, even with a 'built in range finder'.
    • by witte ( 681163 )
      This device disorients, but doesn't permanently burn your retinas to useless pulp like lasers would. See the difference ?
  • No damage - same as teasers!

    I wonder if those [millerwelds.com] would do any good?

  • Epilepsy warning? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ParaShoot ( 992496 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:05AM (#20008293)

    The LED Incapacitator uses a range-finder to measure the distance to a target's eyes and then unleashes continually changing, multi-color light pulses that both blind and disorient the person.
    How long until this triggers an epileptic seizure in some poor unfortunate - and worse still, would whoever's wielding it be able to tell the difference between the potentially life-threatening seizure and the normal reaction?
    • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      How long until this triggers an epileptic seizure in some poor unfortunate - and worse still, would whoever's wielding it be able to tell the difference between the potentially life-threatening seizure and the normal reaction?



      Oh, that doesn't matter. In case of epileptic seizure, the police officer can reasonably feel threatened and shoot the guy. Problem solved !

    • How long until this triggers an epileptic seizure in some poor unfortunate - and worse still, would whoever's wielding it be able to tell the difference between the potentially life-threatening seizure and the normal reaction?

      Many LED bicycle lights also flash at 9-12 Hz. As technology improves and light output increases this is likely to become a problem.

  • These have been in use in prisons for a while. They're even on a Modern Marvels episode about new police equipment.
  • Is there anything to stop me getting a reasonable sized mirror to bounce this back and make the police the ones that puke?
  • It's going to have to be one hell of a beam to get past the current fashion of wearing sunglasses. And with mirror effect there could be amusing side effects..

  • There's a rather underrated 80s film called Looker [amazon.com] which uses this sort of device as a subplot. The gun in the film freezes people for an hour or two, and obviously can be used for nefarious purposes by the baddies.

    Rich.

  • ...will be the little flashlight that alters memory, like in MiB. Nothing to see here. Move along.
  • by MarkoNo5 ( 139955 ) <MarkovanDoorenNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:42AM (#20008527)
    ... there's nothing to see here.
  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:49AM (#20008559)
    "With this, they don't need to know English to comply"

    My word sir, you Yankees are becoming more like the true heirs to the British Empire as every day passes! Well said sir, Johnny Foreigner is a semi-savage, and can't speak a word of the King's English (or President, or whatever you colonists have these days). Don't be fooled by his suit, you'll find it's a cheap imitation and close examination will prove that the buttons on the cuffs are fake and the pockets have been cut at the wrong angle. Shine a torch in their faces, and shout in God's own language NICE and LOUD and SLOWLY. They'll understand then, by George!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gjbivin ( 204168 )

      Johnny Foreigner is a semi-savage, and can't speak a word of the King's English (or President, or whatever you colonists have these days).
      I'm not sure what language our President speaks, but it certainly doesn't seem to be English.
  • Universal Language (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kaleco ( 801384 ) <greig...marshall2@@@btinternet...com> on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:51AM (#20008581)

    'With this, they don't need to know English to comply.'

    Ah yes, the universal language of violence.

  • by St1086lichnaya ( 1128983 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @07:52AM (#20008593)
    Because crowds need to be subdued, obviously... If they ain't happy, it's the govt's obligation to find out what it's doing wrong!
  • This would put to use by protesters, border jumpers, assorted criminals, etc... for the purpose of blinding cops and/or their victims.

    After all, if you're blind, how could you identify the suspect?

    I find it kind of scary that our government thinks it is somehow morally acceptable to develop weapons which blind people. Sure, it's temporary - now - but how long will it be before someone figures out a way to make the blindness permanent? Or, worse, what if it causes *permanent* damage in only a small

  • "There's one wavelength that gets everybody," Lieberman said, according to the newsletter. "Vlad calls it the evil color."

    There is also a back audio weapon they're working on, apparently it don't incapacitate the offender it just really takes the fight out of them

    Apparently it emits a tone that gets "everyone", Vlad calls this one "The Brown note" :-P

  • Can someone tell me who arranges purchasing for these sorts of contracts? Because they can have every unnecessary blue LED off all my tech kit from the last few years - that should be enough for the Mexican border...
  • by bensafrickingenius ( 828123 ) on Friday July 27, 2007 @08:44AM (#20009039)
    First he did it with some of the methods the terrorists used on 9/11 in Debt of Honor, now he's done it with this new weapon. I think his anti-terrorist characters John Clark and Ding Chavez used the same weapon in, oh what was it -- Executive Orders? Anyway, that book came out about 14 years ago.

We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure that it wasn't a fish. -- Marshall McLuhan

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