(WATCH) Havana Syndrome

Original air date: Jan. 28, 2024

You may have heard about “Havana Syndrome,” a strange phenomenon where U.S. government employees began suffering from mysterious illnesses, possibly from a secret weapon invented by an adversary. The whole controversy became enveloped in politics and questionable science. Today, we’re off to Havana to hear from the lead scientist on Cuba’s assessment, who tells how the story unfolded there.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

“Havana Syndrome,” named after the first reports in Cuba’s capital, was a mysterious illness said to impact more than 1,500 U.S. government employees in Cuba and around the world starting in 2016.

Dr. Mitchell Joseph Valdes-Sosa is director of the Cuban Center for Neuroscience. He led Cuba’s investigation.

Sharyl: So, knowing everything that you know now, what do you think this is a story of?

Dr. Mitchell Joseph Valdes-Sosa: I think this is a tremendous story. Not the story that originally many people saw, you know, Flash Gordon, mysterious kind of weapon. That is immediately a headline story, right? But that’s not true. But the other story is just as interesting. It is, “How could science be sidelined for seven years?”

Victims of “Havana Syndrome” reported headaches, dizziness, a loud sound in their ears, even memory loss.

The History Channel clip: They’re having neighbors over for drinks. And suddenly, they hear this sound. And it fills the air, and it sounds kind of like cicadas. Only it’s a more piercing, metallic sound.

As rumors spread, more cases surfaced. Media reports and experts fueled speculation that Russia or China had deployed some sort of secret, new weapon.

Valdes-Sosa: The narrative that was accepted very widely is that a group of diplomats or spies that were in the American embassy had been attacked by some mysterious energy weapon that produced a new syndrome, a new disorder, with brain damage, with damage to the hearing. And this same kind of attack later generalized to other countries and was reported over a dozen countries around the world, including the U.S.

Sharyl: At first, did Cuban authorities treat this as though there might be something to it? Were they concerned?

Valdes-Sosa: Yes. Yes. The first reaction, and officials, including some from the Ministry of Foreign Relation, is that this had to be looked in very seriously. The problem is, as more and more research was carried out from the very first moment, things didn’t make sense.

He says Cuba’s Academy of Sciences convened a team of experts: neurologists, ear specialists, epidemiologists, engineers, and physicists.

Valdes-Sosa: And everybody agreed that microwaves were impossible. Sound was impossible. There was no known source. Now the problem is that, if you look at all the energy sources, sound so loud to harm somebody, you first would have the destroy all the ear — everybody had their ears intact, but they could have a little hearing problem — to damage the brain. Second, microwaves — you had to burn the skin to get to the brain. Third, ultrasound. Right? You’d have to place the probe next to the person. If a sound is very widespread, you can’t focus it. So we looked at each and every one of the sources, and it didn’t fit into what was described. But the diplomats were saying, “I was in a room, and I was targeted specifically from outside the room.” But it’s not possible with any energy source we know of.

Valdes-Sosa and his team published their findings in 2021.

Valdes-Sosa: Saying that we believe that the whole narrative was false, because it’s impossible. Then, the conclusion reaches, there’s no real basis to this whole narrative of the “Havana Syndrome.”

The report fell on deaf ears, he says, largely due to the strained political relationship between Cuba and the U.S.

Then, last March, a U.S. intelligence community assessment of cases in over 90 countries admitted there was no evidence to support the theory that “Havana Syndrome” was caused by some sort of secret weapon.

PBS NewsHour newsclip: Today the intelligence community has assessed it was likely not the work of a foreign adversary.

Valdes-Sosa: I’m willing to take the leap if there’s evidence of another source saying, “This needs an explanation.” But the question is, “What needs explanation?” Because if there’s no brain damage, if there’s no hearing loss, if there’s no new syndrome, if there’s no evidence of any perpetrator, then why do I have to search for a mysterious— and make that leap.

Sharyl (on-camera): In 2021, by the way, Congress passed a law offering victims $180,000 each.

Watch video here.

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1 thought on “(WATCH) Havana Syndrome”

  1. “Second, microwaves — you had to burn the skin to get to the brain.” What kind of male bovine soil additive is he selling? Microwaves pass through the skin more readily that internal tissue, resulting in inside-out cooking instead of the outside-in cooking of ovens. If he’s in charge, the investigation was botched, or he was misquoted or mistranslated.

    Also, brain damage occurs with both radar and microwaves (and cell-phone frequencies), damage that would be missed by most imaging techniques. The heating effects of those frequencies operate at the molecular level (bending, rotationaI, vibrational excitations) that would be invisible to MRI and CAT scans, but would be visible via fMRI and PET scans that would collect metabolic rate data (tissue functionality).

    This is a classic “corrupt science” strategy, measure with a tool that cannot see what you do not want to be seen.

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