“I don’t publicize this much, but I have certainly been evaluated for possible exposure myself,” Johnson said during an interview with the Wisconsin Law Journal on Wednesday.
“I lost my hearing and my balance simultaneously,” Johnson said, noting that the 2018 hearing loss has been permanent.
Johnson said he experienced significant neurological symptoms consistent with Havana Syndrome following a 2018 trip to Moscow, which resulted in permanent hearing loss in one ear, balance issues and evaluation at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Walter Reed Hospital for Havana Syndrome.
“I had blood loss to my cranial nerve … I am basically deaf in my right ear. My balance has come back to a certain extent, but it’s still impaired,” Johnson said, noting he wasn’t given a definitive Havana Syndrome diagnosis, but that was what was being evaluated.
Washington, D.C., attorney Mark Zaid who represents victims of Havana Syndrome said, “imagine waking up one morning feeling great and getting ready for work. Then all of a sudden being hit with paralyzing simultaneous symptoms.”
Those symptoms include, but are not limited to, ear pain, blurred vision, vertigo, uncontrollable vomiting lasting days.
Zaid also said children and family pets have reported suffering from the same symptoms, noting this has been the case for the brave men and women of our intelligence community who work relentlessly each and every day to protect our freedoms and keep our nation safe.
New information provided to the Wisconsin Law Journal last week explains how technology likely developed and deployed by the United States has now been used by Russia to target American citizens. As a result, many U.S. citizens are entitled to settlements, and as Wisconsin residents are no exception. The need for legal representation is increasing.
Tier I settlements with the federal government under the Havana Act start around $140,0000, Zaid said during an interview with the Wisconsin Law Journal.
Zaid said he represents clients in the intelligence community throughout the nation, including CIA employees based in Wisconsin.
“I wish there were more attorneys involved. One of my CIA clients is originally from Wisconsin,” Zaid said, noting that he’s a small D.C. firm that specializes in National Security.
Navigating these complex legal matters within the intelligence community is no easy task, Zaid said, noting it’s not traditional litigation.
“Compensation under the Havana Act doesn’t require much in way of litigation work, it’s simplistic filings. It’s more trying to coordinate within agencies to push them to render decisions favorable of their clients,” he said.
According to Zaid, Havana Syndrome may be part of a larger scale government cover-up.
“I would dare say there is cover-up,” Zaid said, noting there are several theories why the U.S. government has downplayed it and made victims of the syndrome think there is something off with them psychologically, when in reality there is a serious brain injury.
In response, Johnson said there are certainly more questions than answers.
“I think the executive branch and the intelligence agencies classify way too much information. We are not transparent. We are not honest to the American public who are paying their bills,” Johnson said. “I will always be on the side of greater transparency and always suspicious of the federal government not telling us the truth.”
To start, Zaid noted that same microwave technology used in Havana Syndrome has been around since the 1950s and the U.S. government had a duty to protect its employees and perhaps has not, he said, noting that there are no known incidents back in that time frame. Zaid added, the Moscow Signal incident, “bathed” the U.S. Embassy with microwaves in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
“The technology goes back decades. It’s very likely the U.S. government created the technology in the first place. If it is what we think it is, and it has been going for as long as we think, this also means we didn’t take proper steps to protect our people,” Zaid said.
Zaid also pointed out that attacks on U.S. citizens could constitute an act of war and so perhaps it’s “intentional ignorance” that has prevented the federal government from responding appropriately.
“If it’s intentional to harm our people, not only overseas and here on our soil, this is an act of war and we need to respond. Nobody wants that,” Zaid said.
Johnson said he has learned a variety of different theories on the history and origins of Havana Syndrome.
“I don’t know what to believe other than I believe you really can’t trust the federal government to tell you the truth, which is really a sad state of affairs,” Johnson said, noting he has been kept out of classified briefings on the matter.
“You would think maybe a U.S. Senator who the State Department and NIH provided medical exams for because they thought I might be a victim of Havana Syndrome, might be a little more transparent with an individual like me, but I don’t have any clue,” Johnson said.
Zaid noted a theory floating around that the U.S. intelligence community first used similar microwave technology in surveillance operations, and the first victims of this were from those who were conducting those operations and then were exposed to the radiation.
Officially, “we do not publicly know who the first victims were/are. I have no knowledge that the first victims were exposed by these alleged U.S. operations,” Zaid added.
The Wisconsin Law Journal reached out to Northrop Grumman last week. Officials for the company said they would issue a statement, but did not.
Zaid then outlined another theory, not yet proven where our adversary used the technology for surveillance purposes and it morphed into a weapon given it is publicly known humans are being injured.
He also noted most who suffer from Havana Syndrome were actively working on Russian intelligence operations.
State Department personnel in Cuba and CIA officers in Europe have all been targeted. The targeting does not stop with the intelligence community. Families have been “zapped” too, according to Zaid.
“Minor children and the family pet have been hit too, Zaid said. “Most of the time the incidents happen at home where sometimes family members are caught in the wave,” he added.
Zaid also noted hotels are frequent targets. According to another theory, in some cases the adversary will rent a hotel room right next to the target to “zap” them in close range.
“It’s especially easy when in a country where the host nation would have greater knowledge of individual U.S. officials staying there,” Zaid noted.
Russia has recently proudly claimed responsibility for attacking the U.S. intelligence community with a directed energy weapon.
“There is no doubt that Russia is the primary party responsible for this,” Zaid said, noting other adversaries of the United States also engage in similar activities.
To date, the majority of those who have been targeted are U.S. State Department employees and Central Intelligence Agency personnel who have been working on gathering intelligence on Russia, Zaid said.
On Sept. 15, 2023, Reuters reported a top Russian security official bragged how Moscow had successfully “neutralized” hundreds of foreign spies in recent years.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, wrote in Russia’s foreign intelligence agency’s house magazine:
“In recent years, hundreds of employees of foreign intelligence services, as well as other persons involved in organizing intelligence and subversive activities against our country and our strategic partners, have been identified and neutralized.”
Zaid said no one is safe from being targeted, even those who have never written about the subject or represented a client who suffered from it.
“An interesting working theory, wouldn’t it make sense for the adversary in order to hide tracks or undermine legitimacy of actual incidents by hitting random people across the country who have no connection to anything intelligence related? Those people sound like they are crazy, so everyone gets lumped into the same basket. Mass hysteria and mass psychosis, no evidence,” Zaid said.
Among those “random” people — Chicagoland Doctor Len Ber had been a medical doctor in the former USSR before having to go on disability after what he says was a targeted energy attack — Havana Syndrome. Ber said the attack occurred while in his home in suburban Chicago.
Reporting a similar onset of symptoms as those employed by the CIA and State Department, he says although he never worked for the intelligence community he was diagnosed with acquired neurosensory dysfunction and is now a part of an 18-party lawsuit, represented by Attorney Ana Toledo.
Ber claims he has been in close contact with the Department of Defense as well as other U.S. government agencies about the incident.
“They swept it under the rug. Nobody is looking for answers,” Ber said.
As previously reported by the Wisconsin Law Journal, a small portable microwave-based energy weapon is deployed by the foreign agent. The way the technology works is 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.
“The reality is the Russians don’t give a damn about stuff like that and have done research well beyond would be ethically appropriate. They have much better data and or they don’t seem to care about impact,” Zaid said.
Beyond the intelligence community, a lower dose of the microwave technology is currently being deployed throughout the United States by local law enforcement for crowd control and crowd disbursement, Zaid said.
What seems like it might belong in a James Bond film are actors who carry these small, highly concealable and portable directed energy weapons to “zap” victims at hotels, in private residences, in office buildings and even in automobiles, Zaid said.
“From our understanding, it’s a handheld device that can be easily hidden. I’m not aware of the government ever having caught anyone in the act of deploying the energy weapon. No device has been captured,” Zaid.
According to Zaid, to date there are only a few members of Congress on Capitol Hill who have stepped up to the plate to advocate for targeted U.S. Citizens who are victims of Havana Syndrome. Among those elected officials who have taken an interest in pursuing justice is Sen. Johnson, Zaid said, who noted he, along with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, have been meeting with constituents and members of the intelligence community to investigate and hold those accountable.
Johnson said Shaheen was his ranking member when he was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Rubio is co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Johnson again expressed his frustration over getting answers about Havana Syndrome, regarding his own health, the health of his constituents and other Americans who may have fallen victim to Havana Syndrome.
“Getting information out of the Federal government is like pulling teeth. They simply do not provide it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that Havana Syndrome is only one example of a government cover-up, citing other examples such as a lab leak being one of the most likely ways the coronavirus spread.
“My guess is this has happened time and time again with the Federal government being involved in things, not working out too well, then using all of the power of the federal government to cover it up, and they have awesome powers of covering things up.”
The Wisconsin Law Journal reached out to officials at the State Department and the NIH. The NIH deferred questions to the State Department. A comment was not immediately available from the State Department prior to publication.