Intelligence

Intelligence community: Pulsed energy device most probable ‘Havana syndrome’ cause

The intelligence community on Tuesday deemed “pulsed electromagnetic energy” as the most likely cause for “Havana Syndrome” symptoms experiences by roughly 1,000 U.S. officials. 

The panel, made up of experts from outside and inside the government, was established last year by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to investigate what the community calls anomalous health incidents (AHIs) primarily impacting State Department and CIA officials stationed overseas and in Washington, D.C. 

​​Officials have complained of neurological symptoms ranging from vertigo to insomnia.

“Stimulation and disruption of these biological systems has been credibly demonstrated in cells and tissues, and persons accidentally exposed to radiofrequency signals described sensations similar to the core characteristics,” according to the report.

Those core characteristics include 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.

In the conclusion of its executive summary, the panel wrote “Pulsed electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radiofrequency range, plausibly explains the core characteristics, although information gaps exist.”

Pulsed electromagnetic energy can travel through the air for tens of thousands of meters, even making its way through building materials. 

The conclusion largely aligns with a 2020 National Academy of Sciences report that determined that microwave “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy” to be the most likely cause.

Some also believed the symptoms could be psychological and could arise from stress, not an outside force, although the panel found otherwise. 

The panel said the symptoms of the syndrome were “genuine and compelling” with “psychological factors alone” unable to account for most of the cases. 

The panel found that a subset of AHIs [anomalous health incidents] cannot be easily explained by known environmental or medical conditions and could be explained by certain external factors. Moving forward, the work of the IC Experts Panel will help sharpen the work of the IC and broader U.S. Government as we focus on possible causes. We will stay at it, with continued rigor, for however long it takes,” CIA Director William Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said in a joint statement regarding the conclusions. 

The summary comes weeks after the CIA determined it was unlikely Havana syndrome was caused by foreign entities. 

“Taking into account all the intelligence that we have received and collected over the last several years, we assess that it is unlikely that a foreign actor including Russia is conducting a sustained, worldwide campaign harming U.S. personnel with a weapon or mechanism,” a senior CIA official told The Hill last month.

Updated: 6:42 p.m.

Tags Avril Haines Bill Burns havana syndrome intelligence community William Burns

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