WASHINGTON – A panel of experts assembled by the Biden administration ends on wednesday that stress or mental reactivity could not explain some of the incidents of Havana syndrome they looked at, and said that radio waves could have caused some injuries to CIA officers and diplomats .
The panel, which includes government scientists and outside experts, did not attempt to determine who was responsible for the incidents, and officials said the conclusions did not contradict interim CIA findings that the unexplained incidents are not the result of an ongoing global campaign by Russia or another adversary.
But there are tensions between the panel’s work and the CIA’s conclusion. The panel’s findings may strengthen the argument of victims and legislators that a hostile foreign country can cause at least some of the injuries associated with Havana syndrome, perhaps by using use a listening device.
The panel’s conclusion also truncate the arguments of some outside experts suggested that mass hysteria, stress or psychotic reactions were the cause of the incidents. The panel found that the stress response may contribute to persistent symptoms, but that no so-called functional illness or mass hysteria could explain the initial lesions in the The case is the focus of the investigation.
The intelligence officials briefed on the panel’s findings did not say how many cases they focused on, though they said between 10 and 20 victims were interviewed. They said the trial panel focused on cases where victims heard strange sounds or felt pressure, then lost their balance and hurt their ears. In addition, the panel focused on cases where victims reported sounds coming from a specific direction.
The panel, assembled under the auspices of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA, was given access to more than 1,000 classified documents as well as the medical records of some of the victims. Its mission, officials said, is to determine what mechanisms may have justifiably caused the injury.
The panel has identified a potential cause it calls pulsed electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radio frequency range, also known as directional energy. The council said ultrasound can also cause some injuries. That mechanism, however, is less likely, since any ultrasound device has to be much closer to the person to injure them.
The panel ruled out the possibility that chemical and biological agents, ionizing radiation, or audible sounds could cause unexplained injuries.
Havana syndrome is named after injuries reported by a group of CIA officers and diplomats working in Cuba starting in late 2016. Since then, incidents have been reported in 70 countries. different, officials said. While some senior Trump administration officials viewed the incidents skepticallyThe Biden administration took office last year pledging to redouble its efforts to understand their cause.
The Biden administration has tasked with assigning who is responsible for unexplained cases to a CIA analysis team known as the Global Health Incident Cell. That team reported in January that the majority of incidents could be explained by environmental factors or undiagnosed medical conditions. While the team ruled out a lengthy global campaign to injure American spies and diplomats, the CIA said it was continuing to look into dozens of cases.
Other officials said the number of unexplained cases was closer to 100.
The panel’s findings suggest that in at least some of these cases, a hostile state may have used sonar or directed energy to injure American officials, whether intentionally or unintentionally. .
U.S. intelligence agencies agree that there is no widespread campaign by a single country to intentionally injure U.S. spies and diplomats, officials said. But that doesn’t mean foreign competitors aren’t involved in some of the incidents.
In an interview prior to the announcement of the panel’s findings, Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said she theorized that the devices wiretapping using some form of energy has injured people in various locations.
“My theory has always been that it was some kind of collection device and it wasn’t aimed at people, but at their computers, phones, confidential information,” said Ms. Collins, who funded the project. a bill called the Havana Act said. compensation to the victim. “Injuries and illnesses, if you will, are collateral damage due to collection equipment.”
A group of victims who have been critical of the CIA interim report released a statement on Wednesday saying the panel’s work should be included with the agency’s findings to give the fuller picture. .
Mark S. Zaid, an attorney who represents many victims of Havana syndrome, says more coordination is needed in government investigations and investigations are needed to look at more incidents. in the past.
“These partial agency assessments show inconsistent and even contradictory results that undermine this effort to resolve the dispute,” said Mr. Zaid.
On Tuesday, the White House announced that Maher Bitar, the senior director of intelligence for National Security Council employees, would act as coordinator overseeing the investigation into the unusual health incidents. often.
The Mystery of Havana Syndrome
What is Havana Syndrome? The mysterious diseasehas affected military officers, CIA employees and diplomats around the world, manifesting with a range of illnesses such as chronic headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
Intelligence officials insist the work done this year was coordinated and say it is wrong to describe the panel’s findings as undercutting the CIA’s analytical work. While it is scientifically possible that pulsed or microwave energy can cause unexplained brain injury and symptoms associated with Havana syndrome, that possibility does not prove that a hostile state has used those means to injure Americans, an intelligence official said.
The panel recommended improved medical and incident data collection, and called on physicians to work to identify new medical signs that could be detected in victims and to help identify potential medical conditions. future Havana syndrome cases. In the longer term, the panel believes that better methods need to be developed for diagnosing inner ear injuries soon after an incident.
The panel found that the use of a directed energy device was theoretically possible, but they did not identify a specific device that could cause injury, intelligence officials said shortly. Briefly about the research results.
The panel’s membership includes several members of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine team that concluded last year that a directed radio frequency energy device or microwave device has may cause the injuries associated with Havana syndrome.
Some intelligence officials believe that the continued use of a collection device, especially if multiple adversaries are already using it, will be detected by the United States. But at least hypothetically, a collector or other device used by a foreign adversary could cause health effects that the other country is unaware of, at least initially. head.
Officials said there is still no consensus on the hypothesis that a wiretapping device may be involved in limited circumstances, generally because the United States has not yet identified a device that could cause injury. and also failed to identify that device. was used near unexplained incidents.
Ms. Collins said the fact that the remaining unexplained incidents included groups of officials being injured suggests at least the involvement of an intelligence-gathering device, potentially using directed energy, which can have “devastating side effects”.
“If it was a collection device it would explain very similar symptoms, preceded by often a penetrating noise, for example, many government employees report areas with clusters,” he said. she said.
Ms. Collins said the authorities’ review of cases and calls for people to report unusual incidents ultimately resulted in reports of cases that were not examples of Havana syndrome. While spreading the net is advisable, she said, it has the effect of adding cases involving people with brain tumors, migraines and other unrelated conditions.
Ms. Collins said the government should continue to look into cases that remain mysterious. “I think we have to keep going,” she said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/02/us/politics/havana-syndrome-radio-energy.html Some cases of Havana syndrome can be traced back to radio energy, panel says