Friday, November 18, 2011

Scream Machine

It's been called the audio equivalent of a fire hose. Israeli forces have dubbed their version of  it "The Scream" and used it successfully against Palestinian protesters at checkpoints.  The U.S. Navy has used it to deter pirates and terrorists in small craft from boarding ships.  And now, police departments in American  jurisdictions are using it for crowd control at OWS protests. The official name for the gizmo is Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

Invented, as the name implies, as a long distance communication gadget, the uses of LRAD have evolved right along with the insidious government morph from democracy to fascism-light.   The version the NYPD used in the Zuccotti park eviction is theoretically non-lethal.  But if you happen to be standing near one when it's deployed, your hearing can be irreversibly damaged  The effect has been described as a buzz saw going off inside your brain. According to Gizmodo:

"Use of the device has come under fire because of the potential for permanent hearing loss. Human discomfort starts when a sound hits 120dB, well below the LRAD's threshold. Permanent hearing loss begins at 130dB, and if the device is turned up to 140dB, anyone within its path would not only suffer hearing loss, they could potentially lose their balance and be unable to move out of the path of the audio. The device is also entirely operator dependent, which could lead to serious ramifications if the officer in charge doesn't have sufficient training".
Police insist they are not using the device as a weapon. NYPD Spokesman Paul Brown said:
“We don’t use it to disrupt. We don’t use it as some horrible noisemaker. We set it up away from where a crowd is. We create a 50-foot safety zone. It sends out a clear, uniform message that can be heard for several blocks.”
But according to manufacturer's own website, the master blaster is one cool all-purpose tool. At an average cost of $35,000, it's the perfect gift for a goon squad looking to avoid the fuss and muss of tear gas or smoke. It's a virtual smorgasboard of unlimited versatility. Besides its original purpose as a high-tech megaphone, it has been used for search and rescue, perimeter and infrastructure protection, enforcing security zones from remote secure locations (maybe from the same Nevada trailers where they deploy predator Drones?), SWAT operations  and crowd and riot control, and serving warrants (huh?)  But here's the disclaimer:  "LRAD Corporation maintains a strict policy of selling LRAD systems only to qualified government agencies and commercial entities that are fully trained in the device's operation and use".  Which leads one to ask what kind of commercial entity could possibly have a use for a Scream Machine. Goldman Sachs? BP? K Street? Store security at Walmart?

And come to think of it, with the big cities crying poverty and firing teachers and closing schools and hospitals and imposing all kinds of austerity measures on the citizenry, where in the world are they coming up with the cash to buy their LRADs?  NYPD has two, and they're mounted on special command Humvees, themselves going for well over $100,000 apiece.  

Just last month Mayor Michael Bloomberg fired close to 700 city education department employees.  St. Vincent's, the big charity hospital located near the World Trade Center attacks, was closed down last year after having served the city's poor for 160 years, and its buildings were gutted to make way for luxury condos, priced between $1 - $12 million.  Nurses and community members blasted Bloomberg at a rally this spring to mark the one-year anniversary of another of the city's sellouts to the highest bidder. See video here

Had enough?  Me too. The outrage is enough to make you Scream.


Anne Lavoie said...

The reasons for developing this technology sounds very much like the reasons for developing the technology of non-military drones, which of course are not the real reasons at all.

These companies actually donate this equipment to local government agencies for free to be used allegedly for just public safety use. I have seen firsthand a small city being given a Command Humvee for free by a rich businessman. Another small city I lived received a helicopter for free. The cost to maintain and use it is steep, but hey, it was free!

In most cases, new technology companies make these donations in order to get help developing their products by real life testing, and to promote their products at the same time.

For an actual recent case of a donation of a drone to a local government, read this story:

To see how Congress is playing their part in helping develop these industries and why, read:

Congress has been partnering with corporations since 9/11, if not before, to develop all kinds of weapons and tools for defense and offense, foreign and domestic. I wonder if the mini drones can carry a payload of a Scream Machine? I'm sure they'll figure a way.

Those articles are just two I ran across by accident. I am afraid to Google for more. Which reminds me of research being done a decade ago to develop technology to create excrutiating pain but block the brain from losing consciousness, which it would normally do. A torture machine.

They sure are into PAIN, aren't they? Now they want to direct the pain to our ears.

Tip of the iceberg, I'm sure. The more I think about it, the more it looks like a battle of Good and Evil. Jesus Christ, where are those damn churches when we need them? We could use all the help we can get.


Fred Drumlevitch said...

Thanks for focusing on yet another insidious means of domination that supposedly-democratic governments have started to deploy. It's all designed to appear so "clean", so "humane", and often masquerades under that all-purpose euphemism of "crowd control" — but crowd control of any sort is illegitimate when intended to coerce people from exercising their inalienable rights to assemble and protest.

The use of these devices against non-violent protestors exercising fundamental rights is a double affront to the workings of a democracy, for these devices are designed to cause pain and coerce while leaving no obvious outward signs of that pain and coercion that can be communicated to the vast majority of the populace that will know of these actions only through the news media.

By the way, these “Long Range Acoustic Device” weapons are just the tip of the iceberg; microwave-based ones are the latest hot thing, no pun intended:

4Runner said...

LRAD does indeed seem to be a pretty nasty device. YouTube has a bunch of videos showing it street-live in very annoying use. claims its effects can be cancelled out with earplugs.

James F Traynor said...


Since Constantine, the Christian Church has been the handmaiden of the emperor. And I imagine the same can be said of almost any of the main stream religions.We have only ourselves.

What angers me is that the same can be said of science, of which I have long been enamored, particularly the natural sciences. But science in service to the state often shape shifts into Science, for which I have little regard. Again, we have only ourselves.

WestVillageGal said...

greetings, Karen.

thank you for yet another top-notch report:
LRAD's are an atrocity.

my thanks, also, for posting the video with the intrepid Eileen Dunn of Saint Vincent's Hospital at the one year "anniversary" of it's forced closing . . .

i live just a few blocks from (what once was) Saint Vincent's Hospital, and have been - as much as i've been able - active in
protesting this sweet deal with Rudin Real Estate (so glad Christine Quinn was also called-out in this: many are unaware what a an opportunistic traitor she has been). i have, also, (and most thankfully) been an ER patient of S.V. on 2 occasions and, additionally, had been seen by a(n excellent) specialist - on staff at Saint Vincent's - who since relocated to Philadelphia in order to continue his practice there (no openings here).

as far as i know, the doors are still shuttered but the (de)construction has not yet commenced (unless i've missed something since the last community board meeting - - or my fury has mutated into denial). additionally, this hospital has (had) served (many, many more than just) 'the city's poor'. (nope - i'm not one of wealthy Lower West Siders.) in fact, many who are financially stable, or more, have both benefited from our hospital's services *and* been ceaselessly fighting for its survival. i think that "the rich" can easily (and unjustly) get lumped-in with a narrative's "evil doers", either directly or by innuendo: these are *not* all of Rudin's (or Bloomberg's) ilk, and - as a West Village Denizen - i wanted to convey that, lest you or your readership be left with only a partial impression.

anyhow, keep on truckin' . . .

with my thanks & best wishes -

Neil said...

Yes Karen, I’ve had enough too. The Scream Machine is diabolic. Wikipedia reports that the Nazis developed sonic weapons as part of its wunderwaffe, or wonder weapons program, with a strategic objective of turning the tides of World War II in Nazi Germany's favor at a time when the war was already strategically lost. They are weapons of desperation and last resort.

So now Mayor Bloomberg is using Nazi technology against his own citizens. How disgusting.

The only encouraging information I read in the links you provided was on Gizmodo: "The Occupy movement has become of the longest large-scale protests in US history..." If that is true, that is quite an accomplishment.

I’m a big supporter of OWS, but questioned the practice of camping in parks as unsustainable. Now that the Occupy movement is a nationwide, even worldwide phenomenon, it may be time to develop long-term strategies to keep OWS going, and growing.

I’d like to see a network of safe houses and support for protesters. Also protests should be coordinated to allow working people who live at home to show up and protest when they have time. OWS must broaden the protest beyond the hippie-in-the-park mischaracterization.

Time to get more people on board too, from our own George R, to the MF Global victims, to everyone who has had enough. Its time to put aside minor or middling differences, and focus on the prize - our very survival as a democratic nation.

DreamsAmelia said...

Don't worry Anne--If the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) (I'm sure Sardonicky readers will come up with alternatives) passes, the internet will not be as you currently know it. I'm sure one day it will no longer dish up any disturbing articles the Govt-Corps (GuvCorpse?) doesn't want you to hear. Every time I hear the advertisement on NPR for, about scrubbing your online identity, it seems more and more corps are using it. Hard to investigate companies like Deer Park Water, for example, on the internet....

I Yahoo! things because Google knows too much. But resistance in digital identity tracking is futile. (Which is why NYTimes' easily scalable paywall is so sad, in a way. A kindergartner could have made it secure, these days).

See more about location tracking when you purchase subway cards with your phone, at this Motherboard website--Also, tragically, see the photos of the smashed OWS laptops at the sanitation dept., and hear one protester's tale of woe in being unable to retrieve his stuff, including $5,000 cash....

Elizabeth Adams said...

This is a great device for those who like to use violence without the messy red stuff that makes the aggressors look bad in the MSM.

Valerie said...

Once again, this should be what is on the front page of the newspapers and is something we are only hearing about here on Sardonicky. Our mainstream media disgusts me!

It would be great if the device would come to have the Nazi association Neil mentioned.

I guess I have known all along that the Homeland Security and all the "resources" at their disposal were really designed to be used against our own people. Civil libertarians have been yelling at the top of their lungs since 9/11 opened the perfect door for these kinds of weapons to be used on civilians at the behest of the plutocracy. Who needs dogs and water hoses when you have weapons like this! Elizabeth is right, no blood to make the police and security forces look bad.

And @DreamsAmelia - I imagine the Internet is under all kinds of assaults we have no idea about. You can bet those in power are doing everything they can - throwing their considerable financial resources behind rendering it as toothless as possible.

I think a lot of us feel that the tipping point is here - either we get things right with the Occupy Movement or we will go past the point of no return. We really have to do this before they can take the Internet away from us. It really is now or never - at least in America.

Neil said...


Re: Our mainstream media disgusts me!

The New York Police are working to suppress news coverage.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) released Nov-17-11 "Roundup: Treatment of reporters at NYC Occupy raid"

"New York City police are facing tough criticism for their treatment of reporters covering Tuesday's overnight raid of the Zuccotti Park base of the Occupy Wall Street movement for what some journalists are calling and hashtagging a "media blackout."

"According to reports by the Associated Press, at least half a dozen journalists, including
NYPD-credentialed reporters, were arrested in and around the early-morning eviction:
an AP reporter, an AP photographer, a New York Daily News reporter, a freelancer for
NPR, a blogger for at The New York Times’ Local East Village, a Vanity Fair
correspondent, a news editor for and a number of freelancers."

"Others reported that police pushed journalists back and even roughed them up to keep
journalists from getting close to the raid on Zuccotti Park, where police arrested about 200 protestors under orders from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to clear the encampment for health and safety reasons."

"The behavior of authorities toward the media set off a flurry of defense and condemnation as some press advocates questioned if the police were deliberately stifling coverage of the operation."

Read more at the link

Support The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press at

Valerie said...

@ Neil,

I hope this is a wake-up call for the media. While the MSM has been complicit in carrying water for the 1% hopefully within their ranks are some reporters - real reporters not stenographers - who will fight this and publicize it. They, along with the REAL journalists who are now almost exclusively operating on the Internet or through a few magazines, need to convey to the public how importance Freedom of the Press is to our democracy. And hopefully a population that is so used to a canned, propagandized message will be able to understand that.

Of course, our REAL challenge will be - As @DreamsAmelia has pointed out to us in this thread - to keep the Internet out of the control of the plutocracy. Imagine how well informed we would be without the blogs and the connections we have to each other allowing us to share links and to alert each other to legislation that being slipped in under the radar.