NO "E-BOMB" FOR SADDAM?Just weeks ago, the "e-bomb," a high-powered microwave designed to fry the circuits of enemy equipment, was being hailed as the new "wonder weapon" in the forthcoming Iraqi conflict.But now, the Wall Street Journal reports, top Pentagon officials are shying away from using the "e-bomb" against Saddam.
(These officials) are concerned its use could alienate the Iraqi populace by crippling Baghdad's phone and electrical systems and, hence, the city's hospital and emergency-services infrastructure. Because of the permanent nature of the damage it causes, it would significantly raise the financial cost of rebuilding Iraq's economy once a conflict is over.There are other practical considerations as well. Military and industry officials say the use of the experimental weapon could burn out electronics on U.S. military equipment in the vicinity. Electronic circuitry on most Air Force systems hasn't yet been redesigned to survive a concentrated onslaught of electromagnetic pulses, according to a February 2000 report by Air Force Col. Eileen Walling. "The U.S. doesn't want the rest of the world to get their hands on something that we're highly vulnerable to," says Loren Thompson, executive director of the Lexington Institute think tank based in Washington.