In early 2016, as Barack Obama was beginning to close the book on his historic two-term presidency, something curious and unaccountable was happening in Cuba. At the time, Obama had just recently re-established relations with the island nation after 56 years of brittle cold war hostility. The U.S. was within months of opening an embassy in Havana.
But strangely, American diplomats in the Cuban capital and some other federal workers were suddenly falling ill. Many reported similar stories of strange high-pitched noises – followed by the onset of physical ailments, including hearing and balance impacts. In the most extreme cases, those sickened suffered concussion-like cognitive changes readily identified through advanced imaging.
What was happening?
A spokesperson for the Office of National Intelligence confirmed the agency is now taking the matter seriously and is escalating its efforts to determine the source of the ailments. The spokesperson further asserted: “As of now, we have no definitive information about the cause of these incidents, and it is premature and irresponsible to speculate.”
Weapon or Side Effect?
Conjecture has coalesced around a leading theory – that intense electromagnetic energy waves may have caused the onerous damage suffered by victims. If that is the case, then it follows that these energy waves may have been deployed on purpose. Unfurling the theory further, some have speculated that the sonic waves may have initially been used to try to access the phones, computers, and other tech devices of American workers and diplomats – and that the serious physical impacts were unintentional. Having learned of the deleterious effects by happenstance, however, it is thought that some adversaries may be seeking to weaponize the serendipitous discovery – or so the theory goes.
The concern is that if true and such efforts to extract information from cell phones and other tech devices and the ancillary physical impacts are in play – they are very difficult to trace. The majority of these purported incidents have taken place outside U.S. international boundaries.
Still, a former employee from the Department of Defense has now come forward to assert that officials believe at least one incident took place in the Washington DC area, with another case confirmed in China and other incidents possible in Europe and Russia. One senior official from the Biden administration stated:
“At this time, we do not know the cause of these incidents, which are both limited in nature and the vast majority of which have been reported overseas. We also do not know whether they constitute an attack of some kind by a foreign actor, but these are areas of active inquiry.”
The National Academies of Sciences issued a report last year that asserted the ailments suffered by those exposed were consistent with those of directed microwave energy. Many U.S. officials, including former Trump appointee John Bolton, believe Russia to be behind the suspected attacks but have no smoking gun to tie them to the uncanny ailments suffered by the afflicted. Without proof, it is unlikely President Biden will broach the topic with Vladimir Putin during an upcoming meeting.
Failing direct address of the problem with our international adversary, Congress is at least trying to legislate the issue. The Senate passed a bill called the Havana Act that allows for compensation to individuals who have suffered brain injury because of these suspected attacks. While this is an appropriate measure for those impacted, it is cold comfort to Americans who may wonder why we are playing catch-up with our adversaries in regard to a new and potentially devastating weapon that can produce crippling, permanent ailments.
Co-chair of the Senate’s intelligence panel, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), recently stated:
“There is no doubt that the victims who have suffered brain injuries must be provided with adequate care and compensation. Further, it is critical that our government determine who is behind these attacks and that we respond.”
But the myriad mysteries surrounding the origins of these incidents make any bold action impossible. In the meantime, a suspected weapon that seems like something out of a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming will remain shrouded in uncertainty.
Read more from Pennel Bird.