We're living in the dumbest spy novel ever
American deference to the intelligence community has reached the point of absurdity. According to the powers-that-be, we are supposed to believe that someone is sending little green men to Guangzhou, Hanoi, Havana, Vienna, India, and the National Mall, pointing sound guns at them and giving them concussions.
This affliction, known as ‘Havana Syndrome’, is experienced by certain diplomats after “a laser-like ‘beam’ of sound, seemingly aimed at them from outside with no obvious source.” So it’s a sound, but like a laser. Maybe it’s a “directed-energy” weapon. Maybe it’s high-pitched noise, maybe it’s low-pitched — accounts vary. Some incidents haven’t involved sound at all. Or maybe it’s “lovelorn crickets.”
Havana Syndrome has all the signs of a scientific hoax: advanced technology never before seen by mankind combined with vague and contrasting accounts from survivors. UFO abductees provide more detail than Havana Syndrome sufferers.
But the American government’s response to it is now very real. The House passed a bill last week authorising compensation for victims in the CIA and State Department with no votes against, awaiting President Biden’s signature.
The Trump administration called them “targeted attacks,” while Biden has preferred “unexplained health incidents” — a safer designation for sure, even if most reporting on Havana Syndrome seems to prefer Trump’s version. But for the maximalist case of Havana Syndrome to be true — in other words, for the concussion noise gun to be real — foreign adversaries of the United States have to be following diplomats around the world, to their homes and workplaces, pointing a strange new weapon at them that causes headaches and concussion-like symptoms. And to what end? It isn’t clear.
There is simply no sound weapon that can give someone a concussion, and certainly not one that can be heard by one house and not by the one next door. As for microwaves, take it from Kenneth Foster, a specialist in the Frey effect, believed to be the mechanism for such a weapon: “The idea that someone could beam huge amounts of microwave energy at people and not have it be obvious defies credibility.”
There are approximately 200 claimed cases, widely distributed across every corner of the planet. Two diplomats came down with it in Vietnam ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit, with the charge d’affairs saying they “experienced anomalous acoustic incidents here in Hanoi.” On Tuesday it was reported that a member of the CIA director’s team fell ill with Havana syndrome in India. Vienna is said — by the New Yorker no less — to be a hot spot.
The best explanation for Havana Syndrome is mass psychogenic illness, possibly due to stress. Two researchers, Robert Baloh and Robert Bartholomew, have a monograph from last year laying out the case. They dismiss as “science fiction” the sonic or microwave explanations, as well as the possibility of poisoning. The mass delusion explanation fits the record of cases. “The significant variability and clinical heterogeneity of the illnesses affecting DOS personnel leave open the possibility of multiple causal factors over time and place, both for individual cases and for the population,” the National Academy of Science report prepared at the behest of the State Department reads.
Neither reasonable explanations, nor an FBI debunking of the sound-waves theory, have stopped the Havana Syndrome hype. History of medicine professor Edward Shorter says, “medicine has a long history of assuming psychogenesis when occult organic disease is at play,” comparing the psychogenic theory to Victorian medical treatment of hysteria.
The Havana Syndrome panic even has unnamed diplomatic sources begging to be taken seriously. From pee tapes to Russian bounties to spook Morgellons, we’re living in the dumbest spy novel ever.