Russia-Havana Syndrome Report Met With Incredulity

This would be '25th-century technology,' says Glenn Greenwald
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2024 8:27 AM CDT
Russia-Havana Syndrome Report Met With Incredulity
Tourists ride classic convertible cars on the Malecon beside the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 3, 2017.   (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, File)

There's increasing pushback to a media investigation that traced Havana syndrome cases to a Russian intelligence unit alleged to have used secret sonic weaponry against targets around the world.

  • 'Serious problems': The investigation avoids exploring the potential technology, which is where the theory meets "serious problems," writes Sharon Weinberger at the Wall Street Journal, citing an expert who says a microwave device capable of producing auditory effects at the distance implied in the cases would require a transmitter the size of a shipping container—far too large to go unnoticed.
  • Random attacks?: There's no scientific evidence showing smaller devices are possible. But if they are, we're left with "the seeming absurdity of a hostile country randomly zapping diplomats and spies with their most advanced weaponry for no discernible reason other than harassment," Weinberger writes. Cases are not only found in victims whose work relates to Russia, as the investigation suggests.

  • No physical signs: Plus a directed energy weapon ought to leave a mark on internal organs, the skin, or the brain, per Reason. But there's been no physical injuries, including brain injuries. There's also no sign of microwaves in tests in China using both wearable and stationary detection devices, a source tells the Journal.
  • Alternative explanation: The FBI previously concluded the symptoms might indicate a "mass sociogenic illness," involving the spread of symptoms socially through a group in the absence of a physical cause, per Reason. "That does not mean the alleged victims are faking their symptoms, but just that the symptoms are incredibly common, and can be explained by any number of other things."

  • 'Mass psychosis': On his show, System Update, Glenn Greenwald says the idea that Russia "somehow developed in secret this, like, 25th-century technology" allowing them to direct energy waves at targets "is so crazy that it's hard to overstate." He concludes "the more the media talked about this, the more people deployed overseas (became) convinced that they had the symptoms because that's how mass psychosis works."
(More Havana syndrome stories.)

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