April 16 2021 — For the first time ever, a top ranking US official appears to confirm that US diplomats in Havana have suffered microwave attacks. During a recent interview on CNN (Spanish), Juan Gonzalez (Special Assistant to POTUS & NSC Senior Director for Western Hemisphere) admitted that US diplomats in Havana were indeed subjected to microwave attacks. Follow us on twitter: @Intel_Today
RELATED POST: HAVANA SYNDROME — International Legal Implications
RELATED POST: Three Years Ago — US Spies & the Havana Syndrome
UPDATE (April 29 2021) — Officials are investigating two potential “Havana syndrome” attacks on U.S. soil. [CNN cited unnamed official sources for its report.]
According to CNN, one of the attacks took place near the Ellipse, the grassy oval lawn just south of the White House, harming a National Security Council official in November 2020.
The second US incident concerned a White House staffer who was walking her dog in Virginia in 2019, when she heard a high-pitched noise in her ears that was followed by an intense headache.
“The health and well-being of American public servants is a paramount priority for the Biden administration. We take all reports of health incidents by our personnel extremely seriously. The White House is working closely with departments and agencies to address unexplained health incidents and ensure the safety and security of Americans serving around the world,” a White House spokesperson stated.
Lawmakers on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees were briefed on the issue earlier this month.
Meanwhile, a group of Canadian diplomats is accusing Canada’s government of withholding information about what the diplomats say are three new cases of brain injury resulting from “Havana Syndrome” that have been identified in the past two years.
“The distortion of information misleads the public and causes significant risk to new personnel being sent to Cuba, as they are not being fully apprised of the risks to which they are exposed,” the diplomats wrote.
Shaheen Questions DNI Avril Haines on Reports of ‘Havana Syndrome’ Attacks
END of UPDATE
UPDATE (April 26 2021) — NBC’s Andrea Mitchell spoke with a veteran CIA officer who claims to be a victim of a microwave attack while visiting Russia.
Marc Polymeropoulos describes the debilitating medical conditions that ended his career.
Meanwhile, two other CIA agents believe they were also attacked with a sophisticated microwave weapon while they were visiting Australian in late 2020.
In an official statement, CIA spokesman Timothy Barrett said that:
“The CIA is working alongside other government agencies to double down on our efforts to find answers regarding the unexplained global health incidents that have impacted personnel. The Agency’s top priority has been and continues to be the well-being of all of our officers.”
Sources familiar with the ongoing investigations out of the separate US agencies — including the CIA, the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the State Department — say that a major impediment to their efficacy is the fact that they are largely siloed efforts. Inter-agency coordination has been limited, in part due to the highly classified nature of some details…
It is not clear if the Biden administration will bring the multiple investigations of these suspected microwave attacks under one roof, but officials at the National Security Council are discussing that possibility.
UPDATE (April 23 2021) — US military leaders believe Russia is behind a series of suspected “directed energy” attacks causing illness in US troops and diplomats.
The Pentagon has briefed top lawmakers on intelligence surrounding suspected directed-energy attacks against U.S. troops, and officials identified Russia as a likely culprit, according to anonymous sources quoted by POLITICO. [Pentagon investigated suspected Russian directed-energy attacks on U.S. troops]
The Pentagon has briefed top lawmakers on intelligence surrounding suspected directed-energy attacks against U.S. troops, and officials identified Russia as a likely culprit, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The incidents of suspected directed-energy attacks by Russia on Americans abroad became so concerning that the Pentagon’s office of special operations and low-intensity conflict began investigating last year, according to two former national security officials involved in the effort. It’s unclear exactly how many troops were injured, or the extent of their injuries.
A spokesperson for the director of national intelligence declined to comment.
The investigation is part of a broader effort to look into directed-energy attacks on U.S. officials across multiple agencies in recent years. Since late 2016, close to 50 officials have reported symptoms of a mysterious illness that became known as “Havana syndrome” among U.S. diplomats posted in Cuba.
Directed-energy attacks on U.S. spies and diplomats are well-documented; the CIA recently set up its own task force to look into the issue. But the recent Pentagon effort to look into similar incidents affecting U.S. troops has not previously been reported.
The investigation evolved into a larger discussion involving the National Security Council, the CIA, State Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said three former national security officials involved in the discussions.
Russia has denied any responsibility and US Congressmen briefed on this new information have not been willing to discuss it in public.
Based on this information, there is no way of knowing whether these attacks — if they occurred at all — share any similarities with the suspected attacks in Havana.
Yet, I will take this opportunity to repeat an obvious point which was made by Professor James Lin — University of Illinois, Chicago — since the very beginning of this saga.
“Whether or not a microwave weapon was the culprit, this stealth technique may be a weapon of the future. I would not be surprised if some military establishment around the world invests or has already been engaged in such a program.”
As a rule, whenever it was possible to build and use a new weapon, human beings have almost always done so. There are exceptions — such as the use of blinding laser weapons — but the ban of a new weapon before its development is a very rare event.
In any case, the story appears to confirm that the White House and the US IC are really taking the Havana Syndrome mystery very seriously.
PS — A few weeks ago, Professor Lin has kindly sent me a couple of papers on the subject and I will discuss his findings as soon as possible. Stay tuned!
END of UPDATE
The Biden administration has signaled a commitment to solving the “Havana Syndrome” mystery.
During his confirmation hearing, CIA Director William Burns stated that it would be a “High priority to solve Havana attacks mystery.”
Both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA Director Nominee William Burns promised to get answers on who is responsible for these attacks on U.S. spies and diplomats.
On March 12, 2021, the State Department announced the appointment of retired Ambassador Pamela Spratlen as Senior Advisor to the task force handling the agency’s response to the Havana Syndrome.
The CIA is working with others to “double down” on finding answers regarding the unexplained global health incidents,” CIA press secretary Timothy Barrett has stated.
The CIA has set up a centralized team with doctors, counterintelligence officials, and human resources for anyone affected.
Last week, during an interview on CNN (Spanish), Juan Gonzalez — Special Assistant to POTUS & NSC Senior Director for Western Hemisphere — admitted that US diplomats in Havana were subjected to microwave attacks. [Joe Biden no es Barack Obama en la política hacia Cuba]
“Tenemos que asegurarnos de que nuestro personal en la embajada estadounidense en La Habana estén seguros y no corran peligro de un ataque de microondas o no sé cómo lo están llamando hoy.”.
[“We have to make sure that our staff at the US embassy in Havana are safe and not in danger of a microwave attack or I don’t know what they are calling it today.”]
“Quienes piensan que EEUU va a entrar en estos momentos con un diálogo de múltiples años con Cuba, yo creo que no entiende el momento político y la situación en donde estamos viviendo y el desorden que heredamos de la Administración previa.”
[Those who think that the US is going to enter into a dialogue of multiple years with Cuba, I believe that they do not understand the political moment and the situation in which we are living and the disorder that we inherited from the previous Administration.]
“No se invertirá de forma inicial el capital político o el tiempo de esta Administración.“
[“The political capital or time of this Administration will not be invested initially.”]
This is the first time ever that a high level US official appears to confirm that us diplomats in Havana have indeed suffered microwave attacks.
On Wednesday (April 14 2021), US Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, thanked CIA Director William Burns for his focus on Havana Syndrome.
“I promised in my confirmation hearing that I take very seriously ensuring that our colleagues at CIA… receive the care that they deserve and that we get to the bottom of the question of what caused these [Havana Syndrome] incidents and who might have been responsible,” CIA Director Burns told Senator Collins.
“And I look forward to staying in close touch with you on that. I know my colleagues at CIA deeply appreciate your personal commitment on this issue.”
Did you know? — On October 3 2017, I coined the expression “Havana Syndrome”. [Here is the tweet] The expression is now universally used, both by the media and the research community. A Google search of the expression “Havana Syndrome” brings about 3.5 million results!
The expression “Havana Syndrome” has entered the lexicon of widely different people, from judges and lawyers to various kind of artists. Why did I coin the expression “Havana Syndrome” and what does it mean?
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.
FLASHBACK — A formerly classified internal State Department review obtained by the National Security Archive reveals that the CIA closed its station in Havana before the diplomats were pulled out.
The Accountability Review Board [ARB] report provides the first official confirmation that the CIA closed down its Havana station and pulled its operatives out of Cuba in September 2017.
A September 13, 2017, entry in a chronology of U.S. government actions states: “CIA informs [Acting Assistant Secretary Francisco] Palmieri of its decision to withdraw personnel from Havana for the foreseeable future.” Secretary Tillerson ordered the departure of all non-emergency personal on September 29 2017.
The decision appeared to be precipitated by two more U.S. intelligence officers falling ill on August 22 2017, while staying at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, reinforcing suspicions at the CIA that their agents were being targeted.
“In August 2017, two TDY [temporary duty travel] personnel experienced medical injury from an incident at a Havana hotel.”
The ARB criticized the CIA for failing to share information about the health-related experiences of its agents in Havana in late 2016 and early 2017, delaying the State Department’s ability to rapidly react.
“Both at [Havana] Post and in Washington, response to the incidents was characterized by excessive secrecy that contributed to a delayed response,” the report noted in its findings on communication and information sharing.
The Board forcefully recommended that:
“The Secretary of State should advise employees, and his counterparts at other agencies represented at missions overseas, that he expects complete transparency and prompt notification regarding any episode that results in harm or increased danger for USG employees.”
The Board received information on similar health incidents in at least three other countries. “In addition to Embassy Havana, there were reports of similar incidents at several other posts (Tashkent, [redacted country/city name], and China).”
In the case of China, the report included a cable (not released with the declassified version) from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, dated May 21, 2018, stating that the Embassy had convened an Emergency Action Committee to address a “victim of auditory or sensory phenomena.”
According to the Board, there was “one medically confirmed report regarding a Consulate Guangzhou employee, who described incidents in Guangzhou, China, similar to those experienced by Embassy Havana community members and whose injuries were confirmed by medical experts to match those of the Havana victims.”
The CIA’s involvement may have also made the U.S. response more difficult, as the spy agency was reticent in sharing information about its affected personnel, the report said. [ABC News]
“Both at Post and in Washington, response to the incidents was characterized by excessive secrecy that contributed to a delayed response,” it said, calling for “complete transparency and prompt notification regarding any episode that results in harm or increased danger for USG (U.S. government) employees.”
CIA spokesperson Nicole de Haay declined to answer specific questions.
“CIA’s first priority has been and continues to be the welfare of all of our officers,” said de Haay.
“The U.S. investigation into attacks that had sickened American diplomats in Havana in 2017 is still underway and remains a high priority,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on February 11 2021. [REUTERS]
CNN Interviews Senator Jeanne Shaheen on Havana Syndrome
Biden administration gears up to solve ‘Havana Syndrome’ attacks mystery — Washington Examiner
Havana Syndrome — White House official confirms Microwave attacks
Havana Syndrome — White House Official Confirms Microwave Attacks [UPDATE : Pentagon suspects microwave attacks against US troops.]
Havana Syndrome — White House Official Confirms Microwave Attacks [UPDATE : CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos speaks out.]