January 20 2022 — According to a new CIA report, most cases have environmental or medical causes. Two dozen incidents remain unexplained. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: Havana Syndrome — Chris Carter [X-Files] : “I Believe the Havana Syndrome and your government denied it.” [Intel Today : What was the motive of these attacks? Here is a plausible scenario.]
UPDATE (January 25 2022) — The CIA interim report has prompted very predictable responses from various actors.
Understandably, those who have been convinced that they were the victims of a Russian secret microwave weapon are very disappointed. Their lawyer is even more disappointed…
Xinhua News Agency — the official state press agency of the People’s Republic of China — just posted a story titled: “Havana Syndrome just another episode in U.S. lying saga”.
“But truth will ultimately prevail. The Havana Syndrome story is yet another farce of self-serving Washington and another old trick in its playbook full of lies. If Washington continues to act recklessly without genuine self-reflection, it is in for a credit bust.”
Even NPR appears to make a U-turn on their previous reporting. [The danger of pushing the foreign attack theory for ‘Havana Syndrome’]
MARTIN: You know, it was interesting to me that you said at one point in your reporting on this that – you said that those in the national security space, you know, a lot of reporters – some reporters, certainly officials who are – have people who work in foreign policy and national security as their constituents, for example, embraced the Havana syndrome theory but that a lot of health and science reporters and analysts and researchers really did not. And I was just wondering about that. Could you talk a little bit about why you think that might be?
SHURE: Yeah. I think it is a red flag and something that stood out to me that this story was being almost exclusively pushed by national security reporters and not by people who report on health topics. And, you know, speaking to people who do health reporting or, you know, what little titters you saw online, I think that there was a lot more skepticism. There were some questions of, hey, wait a minute; why would you think that migraines point to a microwave attack? It just doesn’t add up. And I think that there are a few reasons for that. I think that some people really got swept away in the excitement of the story and that it led them to, you know, drop skepticism that they really should have had about this.
Let me remind you that this story is not over, far from it. Here is a Q/A from the White House Press Briefing.
Q — So much of the public discourse about so-called “Havana Syndrome” has come from anonymous leaks. And I’m just wondering: How soon will the National Security Council release their expert report on Havana Syndrome and — these anomalous health incidents? And will this report be made, you know, public in a fulsome way?
MS. PSAKI — Sure. Well, I know there’s been a recent CIA report that talks about the findings of their interim analysis. It does not — which does not rule out that a foreign actor may be involved in a subset of reported cases and affirms that the intelligence community will be drilling down in its analysis on a subset of cases — the toughest unresolved ones, of course, to try to determine whether a foreign actor may be involved.
There are a range of investigations and efforts underway across the U.S. government. And we continue to take every report of a suspected incident seriously.
What’s most important is the President has aksed — has asked his National Security team to ensure we are leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that people who have been impacted receive the proper healthcare they need.
I can’t make a prediction of what a final release of a report would look like. I would really point you to the intelligence community on that.
As the Editorial Board of the Washington Post wrote quite correctly: “The ‘Havana syndrome’ is still a mystery. It is too soon to stop investigating.”
“The CIA interim Report does not exclude the possibility that lesser actors — perhaps subcontracted — are responsible for the attacks, nor does it rule out that multiple sources are to blame. That might explain the diverse locations where the victims report being hit, although if such a large group of attackers was afoot, it might also increase the chances the culprits would be caught. So far, no one has.
The intelligence community must keep burrowing into the question, and we hope that a report from a panel of experts who have scrutinized the classified material will be forthcoming soon. (…)
There is a smaller group of victims with injuries that may help point the way to a cause and perpetrators, and there is every reason to focus on them for forensic clues. This troubling challenge is not yet resolved.”
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. I believe that the CIA report is correct. That is not the job of the CIA to investigate the cases that obviously have nothing to do with the Havana Syndrome mystery. But they must be able to solve the real cases.
PS — As I wrote, the CIA interim report has prompted very predictable responses. But the tweet from Snowden baffles me. Surely he should know better considering that he leaked secret documents revealing a puzzling NSA-GCHQ collaboration on microwave spying.
END of UPDATE
The C.I.A. has concluded that most cases of Havana syndrome are unlikely to have been caused a foreign adversary.
“C.I.A. officials said there was agreement within the intelligence community about the finding that the majority of Havana syndrome incidents were not the work of an adversarial power conducting a sustained campaign around the globe.” [NYT]
According to their investigation, the majority of 1,000 reported cases can be attributed to a preexisting medical conditions or environmental or other factors.
“Of the cases that have been resolved, some had medical explanations, including previously undiagnosed conditions, while others were said to have had environmental causes, though C.I.A. officials did not offer examples.”
Two dozen incidents remain unexplained.
“In about two dozen cases, the agency cannot rule out foreign involvement, including many of the cases that originated at the U.S. Embassy in Havana beginning in 2016. Another group of cases is considered unresolved.” [NBC News]
Just an ‘Interim Report’
Across various intelligence agencies, confidence in the C.I.A. assessment range from low to high.
“U.S. officials stressed that the interim report was not a final conclusion of the broader Biden administration or the full intelligence community. The White House National Security Council has convened a task force involving outside medical and scientific experts that is also examining Havana Syndrome and is expected to release some findings in the near future, officials said. The Defense Department, the FBI and the State Department are all still working to investigate the origins of the syndrome and how to mitigate it, the officials said.
Instead, the interim CIA report is focused narrowly on the number of incidents that are believed to be potentially attributable to a foreign actor, officials said.” [NBC News]
An expert panel has been looking at classified information about the incidents. The panel, which has provided its findings to the government but is still finishing its report, explored technologies that could result, at least theoretically, in the symptoms being reported.
The conclusion of the CIA report is hardly surprising.
In a recent post, I told you that it was very likely that Havana attacks — if they ever happened — were limited to a small number of high value targets.
RELATED POST : Two Years Ago — Havana Syndrome : Pesticide may have caused diplomats’ illness. Really? [Comments from Dr James Giordano] [UPDATE : Beside Microwave, what else could it be? Maybe, Hyponatremia.]
The media reports do not offer a single example of what preexisting medical conditions or environmental factors may have caused the symptoms reported by so many U.S. officials.
CIA finds no ‘worldwide campaign’ by any foreign power behind mysterious Havana syndrome — Washington Post (January 20 2022)
Most ‘Havana Syndrome’ Cases Unlikely Caused by Foreign Power, C.I.A. Says — NYT (January 20 2022)
CIA says ‘Havana Syndrome’ not result of sustained campaign by hostile power — NBC (January 20 2022)
Havana Syndrome — CIA Report: “No Worldwide Campaign by Foreign Adversary”
Havana Syndrome — CIA Report : “No Worldwide Campaign by Foreign Adversary” [UPDATE — White House Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, (January 24, 2022)]