June 2 2022 — Matsuo Bashō was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. After centuries of commentary, he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku. The CIA could learn a few things from his poetry. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
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UPDATE (May 16 2023) — A RAND Research Report raises a good question: Can the United States Deter Threats from Uncertain Origins?
Since 2016, approximately 1,000 U.S. officials deployed overseas have experienced unexplained headaches, dizziness, or memory loss—a series of symptoms that, in some cases, have been reported to cause long-lasting and debilitating injuries.24 The first public reports of the incidents were from the U.S. embassy in Cuba in 2016, from which the term for the incidents, Havana Syndrome, was coined. However, since then, public reporting has emerged on similar incidents at U.S. overseas missions in Austria, China, India, Russia, Serbia, and Vietnam and even on U.S. soil.
The United States is now investigating whether the Havana Syndrome might be the result of the actions, deliberate or otherwise, of a foreign power. In February 2022, an IC scientific panel of experts concluded that the injuries suffered by people in this smaller subset of cases were most likely caused by “pulsed electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radio-frequency range.” The findings of this panel expanded on a 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), which also found that pulsed electromagnetic energy was the most plausible explanation for the injuries.
In March 2023, the IC released an updated assessment in which seven intelligence agencies judged that it was unlikely or very unlikely that a foreign adversary bore responsibility for Havana Syndrome. Agencies varied from low confidence to moderate to high confidence in this judgment. The IC has thus not yet reached consensus on the issue, and some ambiguity remains. Regardless of whether a state actor was responsible, the potency of a threat like Havana Syndrome is primarily in the uncertainty it creates for U.S. government personnel deployed abroad and the bureaucratic time and energy that U.S. diplomatic and intelligence agencies must spend trying to muster a response with little information.
Whether or not Havana Syndrome is a global phenomenon, whether it affected only two dozen people, or whether it affected no one at all is, in some ways, not the most important thing. An adversary needs only to create the perception that it has the ability to clandestinely use technology to harm U.S. personnel at U.S. embassies around the world for such a coercive attack to have its desired effect.
All experts who have studied this issue agree at least on one point. The response of the CIA was slow, dubious, overly secretive and quite harmful to U.S. personnel at U.S. embassies around the world. All blame the agency legendary incompetence for its failure to tackle a basic task of counter-intelligence.
I am well aware that one should “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Then again, I have also learned that one should not rule out malice.
Today, we know that a cabal of former intelligence officials, but also a group of Central Intelligence Agency officers, wrote a letter to influence the outcome of the 2020 US Presidential election. According to these people, Hunter Biden’s laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
The CIA letter was a piece of disinformation designed to hide a very ugly truth. The Hunter Biden’s laptop story is 100% factual. And yet…
“That letter provided Democrats, journalists and social-media companies the excuse to dismiss and censor evidence of Hunter’s influence peddling, removing an obstacle from his father’s path to victory.” [Biden’s CIA Assist in the 2020 Presidential Election — Wall Street Journal (May 11 2023)]
On the very same day — October 19 2020 — GQ Magazine published an amazing story about a former CIA officer — Marc Polymeropoulos — who knew for certain that Russia was responsible for the Havana Syndrome attacks against CIA personnel and US diplomats.
The story suggests that although the US Government and the CIA are fully aware that Russia is behind these attacks, the Trump administration remained silent because of the infamous collusion between the White House and Moscow!
The CIA letter was written by former CIA acting director Mike Morell, and … former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos.
In order to publish the CIA letter, Morell contacted Mark Zaid to handle the declassification procedure, promising him in advance that it would go smoothly and quickly. In other words, the letter would be published right in time to influence the November 3 2020 election.
PS — During his four-hour testimony to House Judiciary Committee investigators behind closed doors last week, Former CIA director John Brennan has admitted that the infamous letter signed by 51 former intelligence officials falsely saying Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation ‘was political’.
Brennan could hardly have argued otherwise. Indeed, an email from Michael Morell to John Brennan — sent on October 19 2020 — makes it abundantly clear that the purpose of that disinformation op was to influence the outcome of the presidential debate.
END of UPDATE
UPDATE (January 25 2023) — On October 3 2017, I coined the expression “Havana Syndrome” which is now universally used, both by mainstream media and the research community.
In the same piece, I suggested for the very first time that microwave attacks, conducted for espionage, were the most likely explanation.
RELATED POST : Five Years Ago — And thus a new syndrome was born… [Havana Syndrome – October 3 2017]
Here is what I wrote:
“If the facts are confirmed and if the effects are indeed caused by a physical device, I find the microwave explanation far more likely than a sonic attack.”
In December 2020, the US National Academy of Sciences came to the same conclusion. In February 2022, the US ODNI released a short declassified Executive Summary which also agrees with my initial analysis.
Five years later, I came to the conclusion that these alleged attacks in Cuba never occurred.
In a new series of podcasts from VICE World News, journalists Jon Lee Anderson and Adam Entous take listeners to the heart of this saga. [Here is the link: Havana Syndrome — VICE]
The second episode — The Diplomat and The Spy — is particularly revealing for it contains much information coming directly for patient zero, a CIA officer working in Havana under cover from the State Department.
His testimony makes it very clear that he never was the victim of a microwave attack. It is also abundantly obvious that the “Russian Directorate” of the CIA wanted everyone to believe that Russia was behind these (non existing) attacks.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” And, for a while at least, they got away with that lie… Once again.
PS — In the interview, you will hear the good CIA officer explain that he was puzzled by the fact that the Cubans had immediately identified him as a spy. Ask yourself a simple question. Why exactly would the State Department recruit a former wedding photographer with no formal education whatsoever to conduct diplomacy in Cuba?
END of UPDATE
Perhaps, one of his most famous haiku is the following which he wrote during a summer retreat in a mountain temple:
Allow me to first provide the most accurate translation I can think of.
The feeling of being free from noise!
The sound of the cicadas
penetrates deep inside the big rock.
Now, the beauty of poetry is that each of us is allowed to interpret it the way he likes. Here is my own understanding of this masterpiece.
The noise of the cicadas is powerful enough to penetrate deep inside a big rock, but it can not reach inside the mind of a wise man.
In times of stress and chaos, it is only natural to be confused and distracted by the noise around us. Yet, one must be disciplined and stay focused.
In these most trying moments, we have a duty to think clearly and precisely.
Despite a $85 billion annual budget, it took the US Intelligence Community and the CIA task force more than 5 years to realize that the primary cause of the Havana Syndrome was just the chirping of Cicadas.
And yet, from the very beginning, the CIA had all the information needed to rule out microwave attacks.
PS — For the record — The expression “Havana Syndrome” was coined by Dr. Ludwig De Braeckeleer and appeared for the first time in a story published by the Intel Today blog on October 3 2017. [Here is the tweet] Why would Wikipedia dispute such a simple fact?
US Intelligence Agencies Are Trying To Solve Scientific Mysteries And Failing Badly — BuzzFeed News
Poetry — The Haiku Master, the Cicadas and the CIA
Poetry — The Haiku Master, the Cicadas and the CIA [Havana Syndrome : Was the CIA incompetent or malicious?]