The other intelligence assessment that dropped last week was on so-called Havana Syndrome.
This one was led by the CIA, and, unlike the assessment of how SARS-CoV-2 jumped to humans, there is a reasonable role for intelligence agencies. Whether an adversary country is sending agents with a mystery weapon to disable government workers is the kind of thing the intelligence agencies are set up to investigate. The assessment issued last week also represents several years of effort; investigation of one sort or another has been in progress since the first reports of symptoms in 2016.
A summary report has been issued, but the complete report is classified. Beyond the CIA, none of the intelligence agencies was identified in the New York Times or Washington Post reports, which contain additional material.
Five of those agencies determined it was “very unlikely” that a foreign adversary was responsible for the symptoms, either as the result of purposeful actions — such as a directed energy weapon — or as the byproduct of some other activity, including electronic surveillance that unintentionally could have made people sick, the officials said.
Another agency found it “unlikely” and one more abstained from a conclusion.
The intelligence assessment also examined whether an adversary possessed a device capable of using energy to cause the reported symptoms. Of the seven agencies, five determined that it was “very unlikely,” while the other two said it was “unlikely.”
The Washington Post article mentions two independent studies that “found” that external energy sources “could” have caused the symptoms. I put those two words in quotes to indicate that the “finding” was that the panels couldn’t think of anything else, so yeah a death ray makes sense. (That last is sarcasm.)
All this is consistent with what I wrote in 2021 – that until someone shows that directed energy can cause these symptoms and that an adversary has a mechanism to produce them, it’s all conjecture.
Back in the 1970s, when I was working on lasers, some folks wanted a death ray. Sorry for the irreverence, but the desire and concept clearly (to someone who has had these discussions far too many times) come from the comics and science fiction movies. If you don’t understand microwaves and you don’t understand death rays, well hey maybe that might be it! Further, some people will continue to believe it can be done. I am sure there will be some in government in 2123, along with their colleagues looking for spaceships in radar reflections.
But real people have suffered real symptoms, some of those symptoms disabling and continuing through the present. The statements in the two news articles carefully avoid discussing the cause of the symptoms. The reported symptoms cover a wide range and could not be sorted into a syndrome as medically defined.
What is left after the mystery weapon of a mystery adversary is removed as a cause is mass psychogenic illness. This is taken very badly by many of those affected. But the observations are consistent with it. There are probably other conditions as well.
The government will continue to compensate workers who believe they have been harmed in this way. The American Foreign Service Association issued a statement emphasizing the welfare of its members.
Arguments will continue. As for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 in humans, releasing the full report would help our understanding.
Image from my 2021 article.
Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money