I remain intrigued by the so-called ‘Havana Syndrome’, the strange affliction reported by some (mostly) US government and embassy officials when they are in other countries. Starting in 2016, these people reported hearing ringing or chirping sounds and headaches and the like. Since the first reports came from US embassy personnel in Havana, people jumped to the conclusion that the Cubans or Russians were trying out some new kind of weapon using targeted microwaves or ultrasound. But that theory always seemed implausible, both for technical and geopolitical reasons.
The US government has devoted considerable effort to try and identify the cause with little success. Now the CIA has issued yet another report that suggests that the ‘foreign power’ theory is not tenable.
An initial CIA investigation into the mysterious set of symptoms known as Havana syndrome has found that it is unlikely to be the result of a worldwide campaign of attacks by a foreign power against US diplomats and spies.
However, two dozen cases, including some of those originally afflicted in Havana in 2016, could not be explained and would be further studied for evidence of a possible attack, according to a senior CIA official who briefed the US press.
Since the original outbreak of the symptoms, which include hearing strange sounds, dizziness, loss of balance, nausea and memory loss, more than 1,000 cases have been studied around the world.
The interim findings of a CIA investigation have found that the majority of cases could probably be attributed to a pre-existing medical condition, or environmental factors, or stress, the senior official said.
The CIA finding suggests that after the initial cases were reported, hundreds of US embassy and intelligence agency employees started to wonder whether their symptoms could be related. Government agencies asked for anyone who thought they might be affected to file a report.
So if there was not some kind of microwave or ultrasound weapon, what might be left as a possible cause? Other theories were floated, that it was due to crickets chirping or pesticide poisoning but those also seemed dubious, given that the complaints came from all over the world.
The people who reported symptoms are not happy with the remaining suggestions that it might be all in their heads or due to some pre-existing conditions.
The whole thing is quite mysterious. Most of the people who reported symptoms are run-of-the mill government bureaucrats, not your typical tin-foil hat types. That so many of them spread out all over the world report similar symptoms makes it hard to imagine that it is some kind of mass hallucination.
This is one of those cases where every theory that is floated has major problems and inconsistencies. It is an intriguing puzzle that will be interesting to definitively resolve, if it ever is.