'Science fiction like' weapons on tap for political conventions

David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Raw Story
Jul. 08, 2008

The political parties are arming themselves, in preparation for their respective conventions.

Congress has approved $100 million to pay for security expenses at this summer's presidential nominating conventions, with $50 million dedicated to each party.

CNN's Ed Lavendera reports that Denver and St. Paul officials have said that the types of weapons being purchased are "top secret."

Apart from the traditional pepper spray and rubber bullets employed by police for controlling large protests, Denver, Colorado and St. Paul, Minnesota officials may be spending large sums on weapons CNN calls 'science fiction like'.

Weapons such as the sonic ray gun, which emits a head-splitting frequency and deafens large groups of people. Also rumored for the conventions is the goo gun -- which shoots a gel that can coat and wrap people whole, or stop a moving vehicle in its path -- and a microwave pulse emitter -- a radio frequency device that makes one's skin feel it is on fire, previously deployed in the streets of Baghdad, Iraq.

The ACLU is suing both cities to disclose how security money is being spent, with hopes as to determine what specific weapons may be deployed against Americans. However, officials say it is important they be secretive about the technologies employed by their security forces, lest the crowds which will inevitably surround the conventions gain the upper hand.

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast July 7, 2008.

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ROBERTS: Pepper ball rifles, goo guns, sonic rays. some are wild rumors but some may not be. some may protect our political convention this year. Ed Lavandera in Denver where the democrats will meet and he’s got more.

LAVENDERA: To prepare for this summer’s political conventions, Congress is giving the host cities, Denver and St. Paul, Minnesota, $50 million each to pay for security expenses. But what exactly that money is being spent on is top secret here in denver.

NEWMAN: $25 million buys a lot of very interesting things.

LAVENDERA: Bob Newman is an anti-terrorism consultant, helping Denver companies prepare for the Democratic convention. He’s anxious to see what kind of crowd control weaponry authorities will deploy for the convention.

NEWMAN: There are also crazy rumors going around.

LAVENDERA: City officials and the police department won’t talk about most of the weapons and equipment they’re buying.

FLEENER: This is your pepper rounds.

LAVENDERA: But confirmed one report several hundred thousands of high powered pepper ball rifles will be used to disperse crowds.

FLEENER: When that hits, the ball breaks, powder expels. the same reaction as pepper spray. Except it’s powder.

LAVENERA: Congressional testimony revealed there will be specialized gas detection equipment and biohazard equipment. Then there are the science fiction-like weapons that may or may not be part of the arsenal, like the goo gun.

SECURITY CONSULTANT: It shoots a rubbery gelatin mass when it strikes the body and comes out in a stream it wraps around limbs and the torso and the person can’t move.

LAVENERA: It can make a Humvee have spin in place. Then there are the weapons that would make unruly crowds run for cover like a sonic ray gun, a device which emits an ear piercing sound and a microwave device that can be focused on an area and can make you feel like your skin is on fire. The ACLU has sued the city of Denver to find out if these weapons are in the arsenal.

SILVERSTEIN: Instead of asking the public, “How come you want to know?” Maybe the question should posed to the government, “Why are you interested in keeping this secret?”

NEWMAN: Rational people are not concerned. Those concerned are the ones causing problems.

LAVENDERA: In Minnesota where republicans are holding their convention, the ACLU says it’s trying to find out how security money is being spent but law enforcement agencies insist these weapons should be kept secret so they have the upper hand in keeping the convention safe.

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