September 23, 2021

The Biden administration's dubious effort to solve the "Havana Syndrome" mystery.

Read this NBC News article about the resignation of the person the State Department put in charge. Pamela Spratlen was a retired ambassador to Uzbekistan: Why was she chosen in the first place? 
At the time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said she would “help us make strides to address this issue wherever it affects Department personnel and their families.” 
What I'm thinking now, after reading the whole article, is that "to address the issue" did not mean to discover the cause of the syndrome, but to get those affected by it to accept that they would never receive an answer.  Those people "lost... confidence" in her:
Diplomats suffering from Havana Syndrome  this month in a tense phone call with Blinken and Spratlen over continuing stigma and disbelief within the U.S. government about their injuries, more than four years after the incidents began in Cuba.... On the call, Spratlen responded to a question about an FBI study that found no evidence of an attack and determined that the staffers were most likely to be suffering from mass psychogenic illness, or mass hysteria. 
Spratlen responded by saying she had read the study but did not indicate that she agreed or disagreed with its findings — a response that sufferers on the call later described as “invalidating.”

That sounds like her role was to get them to accept their predicament. I suspect that she was appointed to deliver that message, and the "sufferers" don't like it. Here, read her Wikipedia page. What relevant expertise does she have... other than as an appropriate person to inspire quiet acceptance of the FBI study?

Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA officer who says he was hit by Havana Syndrome in Russia in 2017, wrote Tuesday on Twitter that declining to rule out the “mass hysteria” theory was “insulting to victims and automatically disqualifying” from leading the task force.

At least tell us we're not crazy. 

ADDED: Here's the Polymeropoulos tweet:

And there's this tweet after the resignation:

36 comments:

Temujin said...

Looking at her background, Amb. Spratlen is obviously very bright, or at least, very degreed. But she is a lifelong State Dept. employee. She is better equipped to host cocktail parties and sign off on new embassy standards than investigating what should be a very serious attack on US personnel in multiple locations. Serious not only because of the people hurt, but how they were hurt, the mysteriousness of it, and the possibility that a new type of weapon has been developed and tested on US personnel.

To have our two most bumbling and corrupt agencies- State and the FBI- handling the investigation is to know it is being buried. The FBI- fresh off of their ignoring the sexual attacks on our women's athletes, fresh off of the showing that they perpetrated and made the Russia Collusion case happen, initiating a soft coup, and fresh off of inserting their own people to 'kidnap' Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and stage last weekend's Jan. 6 'protest, are considered by many people today, to be the equivalent of a corrupt Keystone Cop organization. Bumbling and crooked. Not exactly who you would want to head up an investigation of missing ice cream, let alone these attacks.

We truly need a house cleaning, starting with State and the FBI.

Kai Akker said...

You're right, she has no qualifications other than having been in foreign service herself, while possessing black skin and Obama hair.

How could the FBI seriously report that the likely cause of the injuries is mass hysteria? When we all know these were alien abductions.

At what point does whatever weaponry is being used against our diplomats rise to the level of war? Or are diplomats permanently in the Spy vs Spy category, where all's fair?

David Begley said...

I find it hard to believe that the CIA and NSA can’t figure this out.

gilbar said...

Serious Question
Can somebody (Any Body?) point to Something, that the US Government didn't screw up?
I don't just mean the current Admin...
What was the last thing, that the US government did Okay on?

Anybody? Anything?
(please, Someone; please say "The Apollo Program, i need a morning laugh)

rhhardin said...

The cause of the Havana Syndrome is Systemic Racism.

Robert Marshall said...

Too bad the FBI squandered their credibility on a campaign of lies and deceit directed against Trump. That makes it hard to have much faith in whatever they do, including their 'study' of Havana Syndrome. Oh well.

Scott Patton said...

She was carefully selected to play an essential leadership role in the State Department's Shared Leadership Model.

TreeJoe said...

I'm not going to comment at all on "Havana Syndrome" - I have zero background in it and I'm not going to play google expert at this moment. Maybe next time.

A few things of special interest here:
- If the FBI publishes a finding that says people suffering from this are experiencing mass hysteria and you get on the phone with said people and say to people you don't reject the study findings, then you ARE automatically saying it's a strong possibility all the people you are talking to are making up the symptoms in their own minds. At the very least, extremely disrespectful.

- Why is that publication coming from the FBI and why not from an independent group of medical experts?

- I never really looked up Bill Burns before but now I'm keenly interested. Deputy SoS for 3 years under Obama when John Kerry was SoS....not a good sign. However, career foreign service officer as a state department official in russia, near east, etc. Then he retires for 7 years to run Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Then he gets unaminously voted in as director of the CIA. MORE interesting to me is Burns is credit as being the partner with Jake Sullivan to drive the Iran deal, but initially met with Iranians in 2008 directed by Bush.

Really interesting guy all around. On the one hand, from a career perspective, what a weird move to go from Deputy SoS to Carnegie for 7 years to CIA Director. On the other hand....if you read between the lines this is a serious professional dedicated to oversees representation of the U.S., albeit with some questionable results under his belt (i.e. Iran).

Owen said...

Well, I would certainly trust the FBI and the State Department in this as in all things. The FBI is not only highly competent and honest, it specializes in Real Science as applied to wiretapping suspicious people like Donald Trump. And the State Department would have no conflict of interest here, trying to ignore evidence of occupational injury for which it might be financially liable. In fact it is the same State Department that decided to set up an office in Benghazi and ignore urgent and repeated requests for better security; and, after its employees were slaughtered, it did nothing to punish those who let it happen.

/sarc

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Those two tweets are exactly the same at the end there. If the Afghan debacle did not scare people off from working for State Department then maybe gaslighting the disabled diplomats won’t either. WTF does Putin have on Biden to be able to make him dance like a marionette!

Big Mike said...

Kind of similar to the FBI’s approach to Dr. Nassau’s repeated rapes of our Olympic gymnasts, i.e., “nothing to investigate here, so never mind.”

This sorry episode reminds me of the way male (and an unfortunate number of female) doctors approached female health issues back before the 1990s, i.e., if they couldn’t immediately diagnose a problem then it must be psychosomatic.

Drago said...

"That sounds like her role was to get them to accept their predicament. I suspect that she was appointed to deliver that message, and the "sufferers" don't like it. Here, read her Wikipedia page. What relevant expertise does she have... other than as an appropriate person to inspire quiet acceptance of the FBI study?"

Now extrapolate that tactic to all other open issues the democraticals/LLR-democraticals are attempting to shove down our throats at this very moment from the larger macro to micro:

Permanent deep state/dems directed tech/media censorship of conservatives (leading to social credit scoring affecting financial/medical/employment status), weaponization of law enforcement/intel services against domestic political opponents, wide open borders, full Mao-ization of academia/corporate life, and on and on and on.

rehajm said...

State never heard of a spectrum analyzer? A microwave oven leakage detector? (available through the Althouse Amazon Portal)...

Joe Smith said...

'What relevant expertise does she have...'

I guess they were looking for somebody who could be diplomatic.

Caroline said...

Anthony Blinken telegraphs weakness and decline.

Ann Althouse said...

"Those two tweets are exactly the same at the end there."

Sorry. I find it hard to copy Twitter code. It doesn't seem to "take" some of the time. Anyway... I fixed it.

robother said...

Warren Zevon was right: the only remedy for the Havana Syndrome is lawyers, guns and money.

Joe Smith said...

'Anthony Blinken telegraphs weakness and decline.'

He makes an empty suit seem authoritative...the personality of a wet rag.

Howard said...

Unknowable

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

A pack of corrupt money whores and liars can't figure sh*t out? no way!

meanwhile- Hillary Clinton is a vile evil b.

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/russiagate-more-like-watergate

Ceciliahere said...

The Fake Bureau of Investigation is a corrupt, inept group of bureaucrats which no one should trust to solve any crime. The State Dept. is the same…a group of government employees who really do not give a shit about this country. I have lost all respect and confidence in my government. Joe Biden is a disgrace and a danger to this country.

LA_Bob said...

Caroline said, "Anthony Blinken telegraphs weakness and decline."

Big time. He's the perfect Biden appointee. He can stand there and look irrelevant while Biden bloviates and pretends he's relevant.

Skeptical Voter said...

So the State Department is accused of abandoning its own employees and officials. Sorta like the way the State Department (running the show in the skedaddle from Kabul) abandoned a lot of Americans in Afghanistan. Hmmh--seems to be a pattern here.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

“Fixed it.” Ah. If only more Biden appointees had the balls to resign like this former diplomat.

PerthJim said...

Seems to me the most likely explanation for this is that the State Department part of the investigation was essentially the public relations department for the actual investigation. Their role was simply, as Ann says, to smooth over the public complaints about the issue. The real investigation was being run in the background by the CIA/NSA. Assuming they've solved the mystery of the syndrome, they did it using means that they don't want revealed. So, they told the State Dept to play it down and hope it goes away.

Maybe I've read too many novels, but I assume this kind of stuff happens all the time.

Ralph L said...

A likely culprit would be State's own buildings. Remember the Moscow embassy that was never used? They probably did so many things to prevent surveillance that it made occupants sick. What were our people doing in Cuba anyway? There weren't any citizens or asylum seekers to look after.

Did Pompeo address this publicly at all? I see he's lost weight, so he's likely running for prez.

tastid212 said...

How is "Havana Syndrome" not a bigoted ethnic slur of our LatinX friends? (JK, obv.)

Seriously though, this is one more example of the federal government's, and the Biden Administration's, incompetence, lack of seriousness, and inability to act strategically. And how can those who champion ever-larger government not be challenged on this?

stutefish said...

You'd think the CDC would be all over this.

Interested Bystander said...


The government denies Agent Orange caused problems for many years too. Nothing new here.

Narayanan said...

So when we put FBI in charge of investigating something we get inconclusive findings and determinations >>>> good to know.

Richard Aubrey said...

Sounds like the Bigs have the answer but are afraid to let it be known. Kind of a shame, though, since if the cause were known, treatment might be available.

StephenFearby said...

First of all, let's debunk the assertion that: "an FBI study that found no evidence of an attack and determined that the staffers were most likely to be suffering from mass psychogenic illness, or mass hysteria."

VOA July 23, 2019
'Havana Syndrome:' Scans Show Differences in Affected Diplomat's Brains

"Brain scans show "significant neuroimaging differences" in 40 U.S. embassy employees affected by mysterious neurological symptoms in Cuba in late 2016, according to a study released Tuesday.

The diplomats had significantly smaller amounts of white brain matter, and markedly lower levels of connectivity between parts of the brain responsible for sight and hearing, said the study, published by the Journal of American Medicine.

https://www.voanews.com/a/science-health_havana-syndrome-scans-show-differences-affected-diplomats-brains/6172475.html

Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive description of the various cases of Havana Syndrome, but not about what you can do about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havana_syndrome

The symptoms seem to be caused by either microwave or directed pulsed Radio Frequency (RF energy). The damage to the brain is almost certainly caused by a severe immune system reaction. Just like "Long COVID", those who have a poorly modulated (instead of a competent) immune system will likely incur more severe and longer-lasting symptoms.

Analogy. Football players frequently get hit on the head, sometimes incurring concussions (a traumatic brain injury) of varying severity. Some players, for example, wide receiver Wayne Cherbert of the NY Jets, incurred multiple concussions but didn't commit suicide like star linebacker Junior Seau (who also had multiple concussions).

Persistent inflammation in the brain is caused by a poorly modulated immune system. Ways to address this include:

Neuromolecular Med
2021 Sep;23(3):344-347
Antioxidant Combo Therapy Protects White Matter After Traumatic Brain Injury

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33486699/

Antioxidants (Basel) 2020
Antioxidant Therapies in Traumatic Brain Injury

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7139349/

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Sorry, but to me, "Polymeropoulos" is just too funny. Gets my O-Chem hindbrain running in crazy directions.

Bunkypotatohead said...

If this discourages people from working for the State dept, so much the better. How about we farm these positions out to our new Haitian citizens-to-be.

phantommut said...

If Havana Syndrome was found to be the result of actual attacks on US Embassy staff, the United States would be obligated to respond strongly. Hence there is non way that it will be found to be the result of actual attacks.

holdfast said...

If the FBI says some thing, I just assume they are either lying or are too dumb to know better. Their recent track record supports that.

I believe the Canadian diplomats in Cuba also experienced a similar issue.