By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
For most people, the mere mention of the Star Wars missile defense system recalls memories of wackos in the Reagan years. If only.
Today, beneath all the scientific and military gobbledygook are programs that will make the H-bomb obsolete, replacing it with "nonlethal" electromagnetic zaps from the ionosphere designed to take out an enemy's entire communication system, change weather patterns by turning sunny skies into torrential downpours, and drive you literally crazy by shooting sounds into your head.
Part of the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program, or HAARP, this latest theoretical weapon shoots a zapping electromagnetic beam into the ionosphere, where it becomes superheated before being steered back to earth. The Pentagon claims this research will improve our communication system, but the technology could also be aimed at adversaries, domestic or foreign.
Think how the Justice Department could have zapped David Koresh at Waco with a tissue-destroying beam. Instead of a bum sniper killing Randy Weaver's wife and baby with one lousy shot, the feds could have used the new technology to take out Weaver alone. Law enforcement officials dream of the day they can use the technology to take out drug traffickers and terrorists. Just imagine what it could do to Osama bin Laden, even as he hides in an Afghan redoubt. Best of all, the victims of the attack don't have a clue where it's coming from, or even that it's an attack.
Project HAARP builds on military research projects originating in the 1950s. The closest the government comes to plain-speak is a report from the air force's scientific advisory board on weapons for the 21st century. Unearthed by independent investigator Nick Begich, the report states: "One can envision the development of electromagnetic energy sources, the output of which can be pulsed, shaped, and focused, that can couple with the human body in a fashion that will allow one to prevent voluntary muscular movements, control emotions with both short-term and long-term memory, produce an experience set, and delete an experience set." What's more, the technology may be able to create high-fidelity speech in humans, "raising the possibility of covert suggestion and psychological direction." It may be possible to "talk" to selected adversaries "in a fashion that would be most disturbing to them."