The first report was an update released by the CIA in mid-January, with Agency officials stating that although the majority of cases of Havana syndrome could be explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress, the two dozen cases that are definitively caused by unknown means are unlikely to have been caused by those of a foreign adversary. Agency officials say they are now focusing on the 24 anomalous cases, saying that these instances offer the best chance of providing clues that might lead investigators to the cause of the mysterious ailment.
It should be noted that the cases that could have more prosaic explanations aren’t being outright dismissed by the Agency; rather, a significant number of other cases that could possibly have mundane causes behind them are still on the board, and their investigative focus is being placed on the truly anomalous instances.
“This finding does not – it does not – call into question the fact that our officers are reporting real experiences and are suffering real symptoms, nor does it explain every report,” according to the senior official involved in delivering the interim report. The CIA also reports that they have not found any evidence regarding whether or not the phenomenon was caused by attacks perpetrated by foreign adversaries such as Russia or China. However, they assert that this possibility is still on the table.
Many individuals suffering from Havana syndrome were dissatisfied with the report, feeling that their cases had been dismissed by the findings. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed these concerns, saying that he had “no doubt” that those affected had “real experiences, real symptoms and real suffering.”
“These findings do not call into question the fact that our colleagues are reporting real experiences and are suffering real symptoms,” Blinken also said in a workforce-wide memo. “We are going to continue to bring all of our resources to bear in learning more about these incidents, and there will be additional reports to follow.”
The second report was produced by a joint investigative group called the IC Experts Panel on Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs), and declassified by Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines on February 1. Although sections of the report have been redacted, the Panel identified four “core characteristics” associated with Havana syndrome; they deduced that at least some of the cases were caused by “external stimuli” and not psychological or other known medical causes; and that the affected subjects may have been the victims of devices that make use of “pulsed electromagnetic energy”.
The four “core characteristics” identified by the Panel included:
- The acute onset of audio-vestibular sensory phenomena, sometimes including sound or pressure in only one ear or on one side of the head.
- Other nearly simultaneous signs and symptoms such as vertigo, loss of balance, and ear pain.
- A strong sense of locality or directionality.
- The absence of known environmental or medical conditions that could have caused the reported signs and symptoms.
The report also states that “psychosocial factors alone cannot account for the core characteristics,” meaning that the syndrome doesn’t appear to have a psychosomatic cause. The report also lists numerous “implausible explanations” for the symptoms being displayed, with sources such as ionizing radiation, chemical and biological agents, infrasound, audible sound and ultrasound being all but ruled out.
However, “pulsed electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radiofrequency range” is speculated to be the most likely cause behind the symptoms associated with AHI in the report. Sources for pulsed energy “exist that could generate the required stimulus, are concealable, and have moderate power requirements,” and could “propagate their beams “with low loss through air for tens to hundreds of meters, and with some loss, through most building materials.” A redacted portion of this section appears to deal with the effects of these energy sources on biological tissues, and the similarity between these known effects and the symptoms displayed by AHI.
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