According to William Arkin last year, the US is spending probably half a billion dollars a year on laser weapons technology.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Right now you have about $50 million a year being spent for non-lethal weapons, you have about another $200 million or so being spent on High Power Microwaves, Active Denial type Systems, you’ve got probably another $100-200 million being spent on “secret”, “black” laser programs, and then you have the big lasers, the High Energy Lasers of the Air force and the other Tactical Lasers. So probably, when you add all of that up, you know the United States are probably spending $½ billion a year right now on directed energy weapons. This is a significant amount of money; this is the size of the Defence Budget of some countries in Europe.

There’s more:

NARRATOR: As in any war, the war in Iraq left us a dreadful gallery of horror, images of mutilations that not even doctors can explain. The witnesses referred to laser weapons, arms with mysterious effects. We do not know what kind of weapons could produce such terrible effects. We tried to learn more about it by asking for interviews to members of companies manufacturing laser and microwave weapons, yet the U.S. Defense Department prevented any information from being released to us. They also did not answer, up to the time the film was edited, the questions we had sent them in order to know whether or not experimental weapons had been tested in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We tracked down the Pentagon press conferences from before the beginning of the second Gulf war to see if they spoke about any new weapons being tested. The words of the Secretary of Defense and General Myers indicate a willingness to try weapons that had never been used before. And the questions from the press about direct energy and microwave weapons made them visibly uncomfortable.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Secretary, can I ask you a question about some of the technology that you’re developing to fight the war on terrorists, specifically directed energy and high-powered microwave technology? Do you—when do you envision that you can weaponize that type of technology?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Goodness, it is in—for the most part, the kinds of things you’re talking about are in varying early stages. Do you want to—do you have anything you would add?

GEN. RICHARD MYERS: I don’t think I would add much. I think they are in early stages and probably not ready for employment at this point.

DONALD RUMSFELD: In the normal order of things, when you invest in research and development and begin a developmental project, you don’t have any intention or expectations that one would use it. On the other hand, the real world intervenes from time to time, and you reach in there and take something out that is still in a developmental stage, and you might use it. So the—your question’s not answerable. It is—it depends on what happens in the future and how well things move along the track and whether or not someone feels it’s appropriate to reach into a development stage and see if something might be useful, as was the case with the unmanned aerial vehicles.

JOURNALIST: But you sound like you’re willing to experiment with it.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS: Yeah, I think that’s the point. And I think—and it’s—we have, I think, from the beginning of this conflict—I think General Franks has been very open to looking at new things, if there are new things available, and has been willing to put them into the fight, even before they’ve been fully wrung out. And I think that’s—not referring to these particular cases of directed energy or high-powered microwave, but sure. And we will continue to do that.

I don’t know how you read that, but to me it sounds like these gentlemen had no qualms about using live human beings as guinea pigs for their cool new weapons toys that US taxpayers pony up a half a billion dollars a year to develop.

Think of it this way. If someone parked a Lamborghini in your driveway, left the keys in the ignition, and passed out in a drunken stupor on your couch at 3am, would you take the car out for a spin? Just around the block for shits and giggles?

Oh, and by the way, you’re a cop. Does that help you decide?

h/t usexpatriote