February 9 2021 — During his confirmation hearing, incoming US Secretary of State Antony Blinken committed to sharing more information about the “Havana syndrome” affair. Blinken also promised “accountability” if a state actor was responsible. Four years down the Havana Syndrome mystery, we have finally obtained (from the CDC investigation) the exact sequence of events in Havana. And the timeline makes it quite clear what actually happened. I believe that, after just a bit of additional work, we may come to a reasonably safe conclusion very soon. Follow us on twitter: @Intel_Today
RELATED POST: HAVANA SYNDROME — International Legal Implications
RELATED POST: Three Years Ago — US Spies & the Havana Syndrome
As I wrote a few days ago:
Every Counter-Intelligence analyst should carefully study the Dreyfus Case.
The main lesson to be learned is this simple. Never focus on WHO did it before you fully understand WHAT actually happened!
Carefully collect the FACTS and build the best TIMELINE [WHAT, WHERE & WHEN] you can manage.
Eventually, the WHO and the WHY will become rather obvious.
A new piece by BBC Gordon Corera is the perfect counter-example.
Neither the author nor the former intelligence officers he interviewed have any explanation for what actually happened.
But they know one thing for sure. The Russians did it!
ZERO evidence Russia is behind these ‘attacks’
On Episode 24 [The Case of the Sick Spies] of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to four people who have followed the story closely: Jack Hitt, who covered it for Vanity Fair; Tim Weiner, the author of The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare 1945-2020; Adam Gaffney, a physician; and the journalist Natalie Shure.
In the conclusion, Nathalie Shure makes a very good point.
“So, the evidence that Russia had anything to do with the attacks that I don’t believe ever even happened — that evidence is practical nonexistent.
And there’s no doubt in my mind that if this potentiality was being raised about any other country, that wouldn’t fly at The New York Times or at GQ, two outlets that recently pushed a very jingoistic version of this story reifying the idea that these were weapon attacks and that Russia was behind it.
I think that’s a function of the fact that people have been pushing stories wherein Russia is a very reductive, two-dimensional, evil character.
And that feels true enough that it doesn’t require much more inquiry. I think that’s a shame, and it’s sort of amazing to step back and see that this sort of story has been accepted by the mainstream so wholeheartedly because it’s Russia and not another country.”
CDC — No idea what happened in Cuba
In 2018, Congress demanded the CDC investigate the illnesses. The agency’s “Cuba Unexplained Events Investigation” was a first attempt to synthesize all the medical records of 95 US diplomats and family members who were evaluated for these injuries, gathered from the State Department, National Institutes of Health, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Miami doctors who treated them.
The report, which was never made public, was obtained by BuzzFeed News via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The CDC report ultimately found that the diplomats’ medical histories alone could not explain their illnesses.
Inconsistencies in their records, as well as long times between symptoms and medical tests, “hindered CDC’s ability to discriminate patterns in the data,” the report concluded.
Investigators found 15 people suffered from a two-stage syndrome — often noises followed by immediate symptoms and then neurological injuries weeks later. Nine of those people reported improvement in their conditions over time, and none reported worsening. Another 31 more were “possible” cases, either lacking neurological symptoms or with an unclear starting point, and 49 were not likely cases.
“The only conclusion that seems clear is that a constellation of neurobehavioral symptoms was experienced among embassy personnel, but the underlying reasons for the symptoms are not known and the pattern of symptoms does not correspond to any known diseases,” said Brown University epidemiologist David Savitz.
The report does clarify the exact sequence of events in Havana.
The CDC investigation reveals that only one person from the embassy, in late December of 2016, reported neurological symptoms such as dizziness and headaches after hearing noises.
A second individual cited similar injuries in February of 2017, spurring the embassy to ask the rest of the personnel there whether they had experienced such symptoms, with some reporting similar experiences predating the first case.
Experts in mass psychology have suggested the embassy primed the group to experience the symptoms after those first two reports, possibly triggering subsequent real injuries driven by group psychology.
PS — On October 3 2017, I coined the expression “Havana Syndrome”. [Here is the tweet] As soon as I heard about this rather unusual saga, I immediately made a connection between the Havana attacks and the old story of the Microwave Syndrome, thus the conflation Havana Syndrome.
Is Russia targeting CIA spies with secret weapons? — BBC News
Medical Records Can’t Explain “Havana Syndrome,” A Buried CDC Report Says — BUZZFEED
Havana Syndrome — At long last, CDC investigation reveals the exact sequence of events