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Scientific Panel Backs Theory That Cuba Attacked US Diplomats

(Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A panel of U.S. scientists confirmed that a directed energy pulse seems to be the cause of dizziness, memory loss and other strange medical symptoms among U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published the panels conclusions Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported. The scientists say “directed, pulsed radio frequency (RF) energy” is the most likely cause of these strange symptoms seen in diplomats posted at U.S. installations. However, the energy pulses that fall under this category are rather broad, such as microwave radiation. (RELATED: China Is Using Human Testing To Develop ‘Biologically Enhanced’ Soldiers, Top Intelligence Official Says)

Among dizziness and memory loss, the broader list of symptoms included headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and other cognitive difficulties, the Wall Street Journal reported. U.S. and Canadian diplomats working at the U.S. facilities in China and Cuba experienced the symptoms that were “unlike any disorder in the neurological or general medical literature,” according to the panel.

The diplomats in Cuba began experiencing these symptoms in 2016, reportedly causing then President Barack Obama’s administration to rethink their attempts to normalize relations with the communist island nation. The symptoms, dubbed “Havana syndrome,” affected over three dozen U.S. diplomats and their family members over from 2016 to 2018, the Washington Post reported in Dec. 2018.

A recording of a high-pitched sound suspected of causing the mental and physical impairment of U.S. diplomats in Cuba was made public by the Associated Press in October of 2017. The recording was one of many taken from the U.S. facilities in Cuba and caused U.S. intelligence agents to believe that the Cuban government was using an unknown sonic weapon to attack foreign diplomats.

Victims of these purported attacks on U.S. facilities said that they would sometimes hear what sounded like crickets chirping before the onset of symptoms. At other times, they said they could hear nothing at all. Investigators from the U.S. Navy were reportedly worried at the time that the Cubans could be developing more sophisticated sonic weaponry.

Since, further research into these attacks suggests that microwaves — not a sonic device — were the cause of these symptoms.

Douglas H. Smith, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, was one of the first medical experts to thoroughly investigate these incidents being caused by microwaves in 2018. Smith and his team’s research found that exposure to microwaves, a kind of radio frequency energy, could cause the symptoms experienced by these diplomats stationed overseas. The panel’s report seems to concur with Smith’s research.

The panel was comprised of 19 experts in scientific and medical fields relating to these strange symptoms. The panel will advise the State Department on how to manage the symptoms faced by U.S. officials at these locations, the Wall Street Journal says.

“Because the committee was not able to assess specific scenarios involving malevolent actors, one strong suggestion is that follow-up studies on this topic be undertaken by subject-matter experts with proper clearance, including those who work outside the U.S. government, with full access to all relevant information,” wrote David Relman, chairman of the panel and a professor of medicine at Stanford University in a preface to the Saturday report.

In the panel’s investigation of the incidents, Relman and the 18 other experts explored other alternatives to a direct energy pulse, including exposure to chemicals or diseases, as well as psychological causes in the workplace. While pointing to “a directed radio frequency (RF) energy attack” as the most probable culprit for these medical issues, the Wall Street Journal reported that the panel acknowledged more research needed to be conducted to rule out other possibilities.

Trump publicly blamed Cuba for the incident, according to The New York Times — an accusation the Cuban government has denied repeatedly. Later on, similar symptoms were experienced by diplomats posted in China, as well as others working on Russia-related issues across the world.

Throughout modern history, governments such as the former Soviet Union and the U.S. have performed experimental research on using concentrated, direct energy as a weapon or for espionage, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cuban dissidents Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez and Luis Zuniga testified that they had endured “ultra-sonic” torture for more than 20 years while imprisoned for opposing Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro at a Freedom House and the Justice Cuba International Commission hearing in November 2016.

“The sounds oscillated from high-pitch to very high-pitch that almost pieced the eardrums,” Zuniga said when describing the torture he endured as a prisoner in 1979.