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Why's the Western Press Betting on Reviving Havana Syndrome Hoax?

© AP Photo / Ramon EspinosaA classic American car flying a Cuban flag drives past the American embassy during a rally calling for the end of the US blockade against the island nation, in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 28, 2021.
A classic American car flying a Cuban flag drives past the American embassy during a rally calling for the end of the US blockade against the island nation, in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 28, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.04.2024
US broadcaster CBS has claimed there is reason to believe that American officials struck by the so-called Havana Syndrome were "attacked" by Russia, despite five US intelligence agencies debunking the theory last year. What's behind this new round of hysteria?
In what appears to be a bad April Fools joke, a group of Western mainstream media outlets, namely CBS' 60 Minutes, The Insider, and Der Spiegel, has brought a busted "Havana Syndrome" theory that points the finger at Russia back to life, again.
The latest 60 Minutes show featured a retired army lieutenant colonel, an FBI agent, a Washington DC-based lawyer representing Havana Syndrome sufferers, and Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev, well-known for his anti-Russian bias and accused by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) in December 2022 of working hand in glove with the Ukrainian security agents on a plan to hijack several Russian warplanes. CBS' interlocutors asserted to the broadcaster that "there are no barriers on what Moscow" could do.
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What’s Havana Syndrome?

Havana Syndrome is a condition that was seemingly first reported in 2016 by employees of the US Embassy in Cuba who complained about vertigo, migraines, hearing and memory loss, and nausea. The symptoms described by the sufferers are often reported to follow pressure in their heads or strange sounds.
Later, some American government, military and intelligence officials and their family members cited similar symptoms at US embassies around the world, triggering speculation about the use of some sort of mysterious energy weapon. Cuba, Russia and China were named as potential culprits behind what the US mainstream media called a "hostile power attack".
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US Intelligence Agencies Debunked Claims of Russian Involvement

After conducting a thorough investigation into the matter under the Biden administration, the US intelligence community (IC) concluded that it was highly unlikely that the collection of debilitating symptoms was caused by unidentified foreign actors' attacks.
The Washington Post reflected on the IC's years-long probe, which included the review of approximately 1,000 cases of "anomalous health incidents", on March 1, 2023.
"Five of [the US intelligence] 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 newspaper wrote.
The IC said it found no pattern or common set of conditions that could link the cases in question. It also did not find any proof, including forensic information or geolocation data, that would indicate that a potential adversary had used some sort of "directed energy such as radio waves or ultrasonic beams."
One official interviewed by the WaPo stated that in locations where US intelligence had a complete ability to monitor the environment for signs of malicious interference, they had found no evidence of an adversary power targeting US government employees. On top of that, there was no intelligence confirming that foreign leaders, including from Russia, had any knowledge of or had authorized a hypothetical attack on US personnel.
The findings of the US intelligence community were met with ire by Havana Syndrome sufferers and their attorneys. This outrage could be partially explained by six-figure compensations promised by the Biden administration to those severely affected by the "syndrome."
 Tourists ride classic convertible cars on the Malecon beside the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, on Oct. 3, 2017 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.03.2023
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National Institutes of Health Nipped Mystical Sonic Weapons Theory in Bud

Independently of the IC investigation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed its conclusions in two studies released on March 18, 2024. The NIH found no evidence of brain or inner ear injury in scans or blood markers of Havana Syndrome sufferers. The results were published in the reputable Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

According to the NIH, 41% of those who complained of the mysterious Havana Syndrome from nearly every geographic area either "met the criteria for Functional Neurological Disorders (FND)" or showed symptoms indicating underlying psychological distress. The reported health complaints were also usually closely related to a wide range of pre-existing conditions, anxiety reactions, or environmental factors.

Commenting on the NIH studies, Robert E. Bartholomew, an honorary senior lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, lambasted peddlers of an "adversary power attack" theory in the scientific community and referred to flaws in their studies in his op-ed for Skeptic.
The scientist stressed that one shouldn't underestimate the role of psychogenic disorders and distress US diplomats and spies are usually subjected to during their work overseas. It's hardly surprising that a mating call of the Indies short-tailed cricket was taken by some US Embassy employees in Cuba as the sound of a mysterious sonic weapon, according to him. Psychosis was quick to spread, instigated by fears of an adversary attack.
"Some media commentators and rogue scientists continue to speculate that a small number of cases in US personnel in both Cuba and later around the world, may have involved a directed energy weapon. Yet, Occam’s razor fits well here. Given two competing explanations, the simplest is the most likely," Bartholomew wrote. "The entire episode is explainable using conventional psychology, and without recourse to foreign actors and secret weapons."
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Havana Syndrome Theory Used to Stoke Fears About US Rivals

What's behind the Western media agitation with Havana Syndrome? According to Jacobin staff writer Branko Marcetic, one should pay attention to the timing of the fuss surrounding the energy weapon theory.
"The supposed foreign culprit behind the alleged attacks was constantly cycling through the rogues’ gallery of Washington’s villains of the week, from Cuba, initially, to Russia, then China. The most surprising thing is that Iran didn’t at any point end up in the rotation," Marcetic noted.
Indeed, the theory of Havana Syndrome being caused by adversities to the US gained traction at the time when the Trump administration cracked down hard on the Caribbean nation. Reports alleging Chinese traces were fuelled by the US' trade wars against the People's Republic and crusade against its hi-tech sector.
Naming Russia as a potential "culprit" fitted into the US foreign establishment's agenda under both Trump and Biden so as to stoke fears about the alleged "Russian threat".
The rhetoric of US adversaries being behind Havana Syndrome was just one in a string of other debunked outlandish claims, including fake news that Iran had sentenced fifteen thousand protesters to death; that Russia blew up the Nord Stream pipelines; that China had deliberately flown a spy balloon over the US, and many more, Marcetic emphasized.
According to the journalist, the hysteria was deliberately stirred up by the US to justify unfriendly and hostile acts against the aforementioned nations.
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Timing of Havana Syndrome's Revitalization Speaks Volumes

The timing of the US mainstream media's effort to bring the Havana Syndrome theory back to life speaks volumes.
First, it comes amid a string of Ukraine's defeats on the battlefield which appears to inflict serious reputational damage on Biden's 2024 campaign ahead of the election. Second, it follows the Crocus City Hall terror attack, conducted by Islamists with the apparent participation of Ukrainian operators.
Most recently, Russian investigators have confirmed that the terrorists received cash and cryptocurrencies from Ukraine. What's more, the Russian Investigative Committee's report suggests that alleged Ukrainian masterminds could be directly connected to the CIA, MI6 and MI5, Kirill Kabanov, chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, told Sputnik on March 30.
On Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in an official statement that it had conveyed to the Kiev regime its demand that those involved in terrorist attacks on Russian territory, including Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) head Vasyl Malyuk, be arrested and extradited to Moscow.
The Foreign Ministry's demand was followed by a Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) statement on Monday saying that the Biden administration is "covering up those responsible for the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall" and is "stepping up work to form a distorted picture of the large-scale terrorist attack that took place in Russia on March 22."
Are the allegations once again being circulated by the Western press of powers adverse to Washington causing Havana Syndrome just a part of this strategy?
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