Report finds 'directed' microwave radiation likely made US diplomats ill in Cuba, China

Published December 6, 2020
Cuban officials make a presentation on a series of mysterious illnesses suffered by US and Canadian diplomats in Havana, reiterating that no evidence supports allegations that the symptoms resulted from high-tech attacks. — AP
Cuban officials make a presentation on a series of mysterious illnesses suffered by US and Canadian diplomats in Havana, reiterating that no evidence supports allegations that the symptoms resulted from high-tech attacks. — AP

A new report by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (NAS) has found that “directed” microwave radiation is the likely cause of illnesses among American diplomats in Cuba and China.

The study commissioned by the State Department and released Saturday is the latest attempt to find a cause for the mysterious illnesses that started to emerge in late 2016 among US personnel in Havana.

The study found that “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible,” explanation for symptoms that included intense head pressure, dizziness and cognitive difficulties. It found this explanation was more likely than other previously considered causes such as tropical disease or psychological issues. The study did not name a source for the energy and did not say it came as the result of an attack, though it did note that previous research on this type of injury was done in the former Soviet Union.

In its report, the 19-member committee noted that it faced significant challenges in trying to get to the bottom of the medical mystery. Among them, not everyone reported the same symptoms and the NAS research did not have access to all the previous studies on the illnesses, some of which are classified.

“The committee found these cases quite concerning, in part because of the plausible role of directed, pulsed radio frequency energy as a mechanism, but also because of the significant suffering and debility that has occurred in some of these individuals,” said committee chairman David Relman, a professor of medicine at Stanford University. “We as a nation need to address these specific cases as well as the possibility of future cases with a concerted, coordinated, and comprehensive approach.”

Earlier in October, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said “significant US government resources,” had been dedicated to solving the mystery but there was still no complete analysis, only theories, about how the incidents came to pass.

“We’ve done a lot of work to try and identify how this all took place and we continue to try and determine precisely the causation of this, while doing our best to make sure we’re taking care of the health and safety of these people,” Pompeo said.

The health effects were experienced by about two dozen Americans affiliated with the US Embassy in Cuba as well as Canadian diplomats and personnel at the US consulate in Guanghzhou in early 2017.

Some of the Americans have been critical of the US government’s response to their health complaints and at least one has filed suit against the State Department.

Between late 2016 and May 2018, several US and Canadian diplomats in Havana complained of health problems from an unknown cause. One US government count put the number of American personnel affected at 26.

Some reported hearing high-pitched sounds similar to crickets while at home or staying in hotels, leading to an early theory of a sonic attack.

Opinion

Poisoning minds
23 Jan 2021

Poisoning minds

ICS cadets were raised on James Mill’s notorious work.
The fog of Broadsheet
23 Jan 2021

The fog of Broadsheet

How can the government pump credibility into an official probe when it has already declared its own political verdict?
Cheating on online exams
23 Jan 2021

Cheating on online exams

The difficulty of preventing online cheating and low ethical standards means that these days most students cheat.
Language mess
Updated 22 Jan 2021

Language mess

Our policy confuses the medium-of-instruction debate with the language-acquisition debate.

Editorial

23 Jan 2021

Power price hike

ALREADY struggling to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising food prices, consumers received yet...
Updated 23 Jan 2021

Israeli land grab

WITH the chapter now closed on the Trump presidency, the eyes of many in the international community — ...
23 Jan 2021

New PhD policy

EARLIER in the week, the HEC chairman announced several changes for undergraduate and PhD degrees in the country....
Updated 22 Jan 2021

Time to heal

A multitude of foreign issues will test Biden’s mettle and require progressive thinking.
22 Jan 2021

Foreign funding

AS the pressure builds on his party in the foreign funding case, Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for an ...
22 Jan 2021

Decaying PTV

THE Cabinet Committee on State-Owned Enterprises has decided to remove Pakistan Television from the list of...