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 (February 22 2022) — In a 60 Minutes documentary, Scott Pelley reports that high level U.S. officials believe they were stricken with Havana Syndrome both at home and work in Washington, D.C.
I have great doubts about that story… Nevertheless, I find this documentary interesting for a couple of reasons.
It is the first “Havana Syndrome” documentary that makes a reference to microwave espionage. And secondly, it is rather clear what CIA director William Burns thinks the motive of these attacks — if real — might be.
A quick hint to microwave espionage
“The investigation is also trying to understand who could be behind this and their motive. Microwaves can be a tool for spies. Some devices are capable of collecting data, remotely, from phones and computers.”
A threat to the highest levels of government?
Former national security adviser John Bolton fears there is a threat to the highest levels of government — given the two national security officials who say they were overcome on West Executive Avenue by the West Wing inside the White House gates.
John Bolton: If we were at war and an adversary could disable the president and his top advisors, or commanders in the field. It could render us extraordinarily vulnerable. We don’t know that that’s the threat we’re facing. But I would much rather focus on finding out the answer now, rather than finding out later when it may be too late.
Scott Pelley: Is the national security structure in danger of being incapacitated during a time of crisis?
William Burns: No, I don’t think that’s the case.
Scott Pelley: But if people are being overcome on West Executive Avenue, is that an indication that the White House and its grounds are no longer safe?
William Burns: No. I don’t believe that’s the case. What it is an indication of is that we need to take each of these reported incidents very seriously. And as a government — and this is a government – wide effort — to pour the very best resources we have into this.
PS — One of the former US officials — interviewed by Scott Pelley for this documentary — recorded a sound outside his home in Havana, Cuba. Let me repeat one more time. If you can record an audio, the sound has nothing to do with the Frey effect and the story is not a potential case of Havana Syndrome. Full stop.
END of UPDATE
UPDATE (February 16 2022) — The Rise and Fall of the Ultracrepidarians
Over the last 5 years, the debate was largely dominated by a group of ultracrepidarians.
“Sutor, ne ultra crepidam” is a Latin expression meaning literally “Shoemaker, not beyond the shoe”, used to warn individuals not to pass judgment beyond their expertise.
Today, the debate is over. Contrary to what so many ‘pseudo-experts’ have repeatedly claimed, a microwave attack is a perfectly plausible mechanism capable of causing the “Havana Syndrome”.
How will these ultracrepidarians react to the last and conclusive reports?
Some of them will overnight find a new field of expertise, and — sadly enough — the media will quote them as respected authorities on their new hobby.
The smarter ones will do a quick U-turn in order to save face and minimize the damages to their reputation.
Bio-engineer Kenneth R. Foster has stated on multiple occasions that the microwave hypothesis was implausible.
“Maybe someone went to the trouble to truck in a large microwave transmitter to cause the employees to hear ‘clicks,’ but there are simpler ways to harass people than that.”
“You might as well say little green men from Mars were throwing darts of energy,” Foster concluded.
In his last interview, Foster appears to have radically changed his mind on these issues….
“I had been a skeptic, but after my recent study, I am convinced that it is possible to cause a frightening (…) experience to someone using pulsed microwaves. The challenge is to make such attacks ‘stealthy’ (not observed), but I think that is possible also.”
Finally, a third group will go on talking absolute nonsense and denying scientific knowledge.
Half of them will continue to believe — or claim to believe — in a grand Russian conspiracy to harass every US diplomat all over the world.
Others will continue to ignore the fact that microwave espionage is very real, not science fiction. The NSA runs a joint project with their British partners (GCHQ) and you can be sure that other top Intel agencies also use this well known technique.
Dr Robert Bartholomew knows absolutely NOTHING about the physics and engineering of microwaves. He also knows NOTHING about microwave spying. And yet, Bartholomew continues to dispute the conclusions of the top world experts in this field!
Professor James Lin — one of the top experts in this field — has summarized the situation:
“Until we finally find a culprit or a smoking gun, we really don’t know. So all we can do is based on what we know about what could happen and this (microwave attack) above all is the most plausible scientific explanation.”
PS — The panel of experts was not asked to consider either WHO may be conducting those attacks, nor WHY. But if you read carefully the Executive Summary, one word makes it clear what they suspect. “The signals could be propagated…” If they suspected harassment, they would have used the word radiation. On the other hand, the word ‘signals’ implies information, and therefore microwave spying. Intel Today never had any doubts about that.
END of UPDATE
UPDATE (February 3 2022) — Intelligence Community Experts Panel : “Incidents plausibly caused by pulsed electromagnetic energy”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) jointly convened an Intelligence Community Experts Panel to help elucidate potential causal mechanisms of the Havana Syndrome. [Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs)]
The IC Experts Panel is composed of experts from inside and outside the U.S. Government with expertise in relevant areas of science, medicine, and engineering. They received dozens of briefings and more than 1,000 classified documents on a range of scientific, medical, and intelligence topics, including sensitive intelligence reporting, AHI incident reports, and trend analysis.
The Experts Panel was asked to examine WHAT could be the cause of the Havana Syndrome. The panel was not asked to consider either WHO may be conducting those attacks, nor WHY.
These experts studied cases that met four “core characteristics”: the acute onset of sounds or pressure, sometimes in only one ear or on one side of the head; simultaneous symptoms of vertigo, loss of balance and ear pain; “a strong sense of locality or directionality”; and the absence of any known environmental or medical conditions that could have caused the symptoms.
Based on a defined methodology, the Experts Panel issued six findings:
The signs and symptoms of AHIs are genuine and compelling.
A subset of AHIs cannot be easily explained by known environmental or medical conditions and could be due to external stimuli.
Pulsed electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radiofrequency range, plausibly explains the core characteristics of reported AHIs, although information gaps exist.
Ultrasound also plausibly explains the core characteristics, but only in close-access scenarios and with information gaps.
Psychosocial factors alone cannot account for the core characteristics, although they may cause some other incidents or contribute to long-term symptoms.
Ionizing radiation, chemical and biological agents, infrasound, audible sound, ultrasound propagated over large distances, and bulk heating from electromagnetic energy are all implausible explanations for the core characteristics in the absence of other synergistic stimuli.
The Executive Summary was DECLASSIFIED by DNI Haines on 1 February 2022. Here are 2 extracts from the 4 pages document.
Plausibility — The panel considered a mechanism to be feasible if all members agreed there was at least some credible evidence that it was technically and practically feasible in each of five areas– a concealable source that could generate the required stimulus; propagation of the stimulus to an individual; coupling of the stimulus to the human body; ability of the coupling to cause biological effects; and ability of the biological effects to explain the reported clinical signs and symptoms–and other evidence did not exclude the mechanism.
Recommendations — The panel offers seven main recommendations to help the US Government better understand, prevent, and manage AHIs. Implementing these recommendations will require a coordinated approach because the challenges and solutions transcend organizational boundaries. Panelists emphasize the importance of appropriate classification, privacy, and security controls on research and information that may result. Four recommendations are of especially high priority:
In a statement accompanying a public summary of the panel’s work, Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, and William Burns, the CIA director, said it will “help sharpen the work of the IC and broader U.S. Government as we focus on possible causes. We will stay at it, with continued rigor, for however long it takes.”
Dr. Eric Lander, the Biden administration’s director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a statement that the government had convened panels in the past to examine the potential causes of the syndrome, “but this is the first time a panel has had such wide-ranging access to intelligence reporting and patient data, and has engaged directly with affected individuals. The panelists spent almost nine months undertaking this study … Their meticulous approach provides a roadmap for important work we still need to undertake.”
PS — All major newspapers have already reported the findings of the Intelligence Community Experts Panel. Most of them do not report these findings accurately. Here is a typical example from CNN [US intelligence community report says ‘pulsed electromagnetic energy’ could cause Havana Syndrome] :
“Using nonstandard antennas and techniques, the signals could be propagated with low loss through air for tens to hundreds of meters, and with some loss, through most building materials.”
The same claim is repeated by the BBC [Havana Syndrome may be caused by ‘directed energy’ by Security correspondent Gordon Corera] :
“It says that non-standard antennas could create the effects on the human body. Such a source could be concealed and require only moderate power. It could also travel through the air and through walls of buildings.”
How about The Guardian? [Havana Syndrome could be caused by pulsed energy devices – US expert report]
Using what the report described as “nonstandard antennas and techniques”, electromagnetic pulsed energy could be directed at a target “through air for tens to hundreds of meters, and with some loss, through most building materials”.
The statement about “nonstandard antennas” is entirely fabricated. As you can see for yourself, words between ‘nonstandard’ and ‘antennas’ have been redacted! Is this serious journalism?
A piece posted on BuzzfeedNews (US Spy Agencies Now Look To Microwaves Or Ultrasound In “Havana Syndrome” by Dan Vergano) is so bad that he clearly confuses Ultra Sound and Microwaves!
I will come back to this important issue soon, but I will just make a simple comment. Because the panel was asked to investigate the potential causal mechanisms of the Havana Syndrome, and not WHY someone may conduct such attacks, the hypothesis of ultra-sounds was not ruled out, although the experts find it unlikely.
But the world of Intelligence is not merely limited by scientific considerations. There is simply no way that a spy could operate a bulky, high power ultra-sound source in the close vicinity of the target. There is also no reason for an Intelligence Agency to do so… On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to operate a microwave device from far away, and the reason for doing so is rather obvious: microwave spying. The NSA and GCHQ (among others) conduct such attacks routinely.
Experts Conclude Microwave Energy Is Most Likely Causing ‘Havana Syndrome’
NBC News’ Hallie Jackson is joined by NBC News’ correspondent ‘Microwave expert’ Ken Dilanian to break down the report.
For years, Ken Dilanian has ridiculed the idea that ‘microwave attacks’ could be the cause of the Havana Syndrome.
Now that the US Intelligence Community Experts Panel has confirmed the plausibility of this hypothesis — first suggested by Intel today — Ken Dilanian blames the Russians. Of course, without a shred of evidence.
By the way, contrary to what he says, CIA director William Burns did NOT mention the subject of Havana Syndrome during his recent trip to Moscow. That story is also a fabrication of US media.
END of UPDATE
UPDATE (February 2 2022) — Expertise in a “Post-Truth” Society — Natalie Shure is the new ‘top expert’ on the Havana Syndrome, microwave spying, and microwave weapons.
Her last piece — Washington’s “Havana Syndrome” Promoters Have a Lot to Answer For (The New Republic, Jan. 29 2022) — really got my attention…
“Looking back at five years of media coverage of Havana Syndrome — as I have done compulsively, for better or worse!—some things have become rivetingly clear. For one, it isn’t just that we lack sufficient or evidence that these cases of nonspecific illness among U.S. employees were caused by microwave lasers — there’s never been much evidence at all.
Additionally, it’s not certain that too many people within the government actually ever believed this crap in the first place. But if the ostensibly noble cause of American innocents getting sniped with sci-fi gear never seemed irrefutably true, it was at least politically useful.”
First thing first. As I have explained, microwave spying is not science fiction. In fact, Snowden has leaked a highly relevant document regarding the US microwave spying program. [As a side comment, I do not understand why Snowden leaked this document. What good does that achieve? It has nothing to do with mass surveillance and may very well inspire bad actors.]
Next point. Natalie Shure seems to have a strange and misguided view of sciences. “never seemed irrefutably true” — Well, a theory is genuinely scientific only if it is possible in principle to establish that it is false. Irrefutable truths belong to religions, not sciences.
But the part that really really got my attention is those words: “caused by microwave lasers”. Microwave LASER???
The word LASER is actually an acronym for ”Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” The first fully functional laser was completed in 1960.
The word MASER stands for ”Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Masers were invented in 1953 by two scientists, Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow. Masers use microwaves; hence, the M in its acronym.
Microwave LASER is an oxymoron. It simply does not make any sense. Obviously, the person who wrote this nonsense has zero knowledge of electromagnetism!
So, I decided to look up the background of Natalie Shure. She is a stand-up comedian. She has ZERO training in sciences. That is hilarious!
During an interview [The danger of pushing the foreign attack theory for ‘Havana Syndrome’] with NPR’s Michel Martin, Natalie Shure ridiculed the idea of microwave hearing (known as the FREY effect) and she seems completely unaware that microwave exposure cause migraines.
If you wish to learn more, I recommend this excellent article posted on the Microwave News website. [Abandoning Inconvenient Science — How RF Research on the Blood-Brain Barrier Was Shut Down — Again]
Salford and Persson were not the first to show that microwaves could alter the permeability of the BBB. They were in the second wave.3 The first was led by Allan Frey —the same Allan Frey who has been in the news in recent stories on the Havana Syndrome. In that context, the “Frey Effect” refers to his discovery that it’s possible to “hear” pulsed microwaves.
Microwave-induced BBB leakage is the other Frey effect, first reported in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1975. “It appears that RF electromagnetic energy affects brain permeability and behavior,” Frey wrote back then.
Frey’s motivation was much like Salford’s. “Part of my thinking was using [EMFs] to open the BBB to treat brain tumors with meds such as methotrexate,” he told me recently via email.
Work on the Frey BBB effect was quietly suppressed by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. Nicholas Steneck presents a full account of the cover-up in his 1984 book, The Microwave Debate. At the time, Steneck was a professor of history at the University of Michigan (he is now emeritus).
Frey, ever independent, persisted and extended his work to the eye’s blood-vitreous humor barrier, a smaller analog of the BBB. At a conference in Washington, DC, in 1981, I heard Frey describe how pulsed microwave radiation could cause leakage there too. This, like Aubineau’s headaches, is a further indication of the general proposition that microwaves could cause membranes to leak.
The U.S. Navy tried to stop Frey from publishing his work on the eye-blood barrier. (This too is in Steneck’s book.) Frey’s paper appeared in 1984 in the Journal of Bioelectricity, which had been founded by Andrew Marino a few years earlier, to serve as an alternative to Bioelectromagnetics, then controlled by the Navy.
I would like to point out that there is an ongoing campaign to suppress the evidence linking GSM radiation to cancer. [See: Pressure Mounts To Retract Grimes RF–Cancer Review]
The Telecom industry is relying on the very same tricks developed long ago by the Tobacco, Oil and Sugar industries. Once again, the consequences will be devastating.
PS — Back to the real cases of Havana Syndrome. 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. 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. Stay tuned!
END of UPDATE
UPDATE (January 25 2022) — White House Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, (January 24, 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)]
Havana Syndrome — CIA Report : “No Worldwide Campaign by Foreign Adversary” [UPDATE — Intelligence Community Experts Panel : “Incidents plausibly caused by pulsed electromagnetic energy”]
Havana Syndrome — CIA Report : “No Worldwide Campaign by Foreign Adversary” [UPDATE — The Rise and Fall of the Ultracrepidarians]
Havana Syndrome — CIA Report : “No Worldwide Campaign by Foreign Adversary” [UPDATE — U.S. officials report injuries on White House grounds]