In a previously classified report addressed to the National Intelligence Director, experts concluded that previously unexplained symptoms experience by the intelligence committee abroad, did not occur naturally, contrary to previously released reports from the intelligence community.
The declassified documents were initially related to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by The James Madison Project, founded by Washington, D.C.-based attorney Mark Zaid who’s practice focuses on government accountability and transparency.
According to the now declassified documents, “an external electromagnetic or acoustic stimulus, regardless of frequency, can reach and couple with the inner ear and other parts of the brain that the Panel assess are responsible for the core characteristics.”
According to Zaid, the request to the Department of State for records concerning the Havana Syndrome Report originated from JMP and Brian Karem and were prepared for the agency by the National Academy of Sciences pertaining to the investigation of acoustic noise that affected personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. According to FOIAProject.org, after others failed to receive the requested documents, the organizations filed a formal complaint.
Salon reported back in February a ProPublica investigation of the case, based on interviews with more than three dozen U.S. and foreign officials and an examination of confidential government documents, represents the first detailed public account of how the Cuba incidents unfolded. However, other diplomats were then reporting similar symptoms in other parts of the world.
In March of 2023, Salon reported “Although heavily redacted, the 153-page report clearly outlines that the ‘signs and symptoms’ of Havana syndrome are ‘genuine and compelling,’ and finds that some of the cases ‘cannot be easily explained by known environmental or medical conditions and could be due to ‘external stimuli.'”
As Salon noted, to date Federal officials have said there was no reason to believe Havana Syndrome was caused by human activity.
According to the declassified documents, “the short-duration pulses cause localized, rapid heating in the brain, but only on the order of one-millionth of a degree Celsius for the microwave auditory effect. The localized heating causes a localized pressure increase. The sudden and possibly uneven pressure change in the brain causes a propagating stress wave in the brain. This mechanical wave shakes structures in the ear, causing the perception of sound. It is hypothesized that the same effect at much higher power density levels could cause pressure waves similar to those experienced during traumatic brain injury. Microwave pulses need to be shorter than a single roundtrip time of the propagating stress wave in the head, otherwise the mechanical wave can wash out and mechanical pressures drop.”
Several portions of the documents were redacted, so it is unknown who is behind the microwave attacks. However, NBC News reported CIA Director William Burns delivered a secret warning to Russian intelligence services that they will face “consequences” if they are responsible for the mysterious health incidents known as Havana Syndrome. In the original Washington Post article, it was reported the CIA director’s decision to raise the possibility of Russian involvement directly to his counterparts in Moscow underscored the deep suspicion the CIA has of Kremlin culpability.
The Wisconsin Law Journal reached out to Zaid on Wednesday, but he could not be reached for comment.
While The New York Times reported CIA guidelines for paying its injured officers will be kept secret, Congress has advanced legislation that would pay some officers up to $187,000 for the brain damage incurred, according to various media reports.
The Havana Act specifically authorizes the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State, and other agencies to provide payments to agency personnel who incur brain injuries from hostilities while on assignment.
According to the language of the measure, the bill allows agency personnel and their families to receive payments for brain injuries that are incurred (1) during a period of assignment to a foreign or domestic duty station; (2) in connection with war, insurgency, hostile acts, terrorist activity, or other agency-designated incidents; and (3) not as the result of willful misconduct.
The bill’s authority applies to injuries incurred before, on, or after the date of the bill’s enactment. Agencies must submit classified reports on the bill’s implementation, including the number of payments made and the amount of each payment.
“Since 2016, some intelligence, diplomatic, and other governmental personnel have reported experiencing unusual cognitive and neurological impairments while on assignment (particularly abroad), the source of which is currently under investigation. Symptoms were first reported by personnel stationed in Cuba and have since been collectively referred to as Havana Syndrome,” congress.GOV states.