Havana and the global hunt for U.S. officers

Expert Opinion – More than 200 U.S. military officers have been hunted around the world and have been targeted by opponents using mysterious weapons that cause permanent brain damage. It’s time to fight back in earnest.


Paul Kolbe has worked in the CIA’s operations bureau for 25 years. He is currently the head of the Intelligence Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Marc Polymeropoulos has been with the Central Intelligence Agency for 26 years. He is the author of “Clarity in Crisis: The CIA Leadership Course.”

John Silver worked for the Secret Service of the Central Intelligence Agency for 28 years. He is now a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council and the co-founder of Spycraft Entertainment.

Before 9/11, al-Qaeda declared war on the United States, bombed the USS Cole, and destroyed the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Despite the heavy casualties, the United States still regards the successive terrorist attacks of Al Qaeda as unique and does not represent a greater threat or state of war. Despite the clear warning, we continued to conduct business, but failed to take strong action against Al Qaeda. Our failure to make a strong response led to 9/11 and the Twenty Years’ War that followed.

Fast forward to today. According to reports, since 2016, more than 200 U.S. officials have experienced a series of mysterious symptoms that have caused long-term, debilitating injuries. Due to burning headaches, dizziness, visual impairment and nausea, many victims were officially diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and other major hospitals. Family members and young children were also affected. Some medical tests can now confirm signs of brain damage, similar to those suffered by concussion victims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These injuries began in a series of reports in Cuba in 2016 and are now commonly referred to as Havana syndrome. According to reports, Moscow, Vienna, Belgrade and Hanoi are among more than ten cities where US officials have been attacked and injured. U.S. officials are being hunted down in homes, streets, vehicles, and even in safe U.S. facilities. Shockingly, it was reported that even close aides of CIA Director Bill Burns were attacked when they visited India in August last year.

After a period of confusion, delay, and sometimes denial, the CIA now seems to take these threats very seriously. CIA Director Burns and Deputy Director David Cohen publicly stated that US officials are “under attack.” They improved the medical care of injured CIA officials. An agency working group is working hard, trying to obtain more information about those responsible. We thank Director Burns for his solid leadership.

What is the cause of these injuries?this National Academy of Sciences It has been pointed out that directed energy weapons, devices that emit microwave pulses, can cause pain and damage tissues. The United States, Russia, China, and other countries have all developed directed energy weapons to destroy equipment, counter drones, and control crowds. This is not science fiction.

Directed energy weapons will explain the highly directional and locational nature of these events. When the victim can “leave x,” the iconic sounds, sensations, and pain that accompany the attack usually cease, even though the damage has already occurred. The amount of exposure seems to affect the degree of injury. Other technologies may be working and are being studied, but microwave seems to be the most likely carrier. Russia has used them before, and for decades, microwave radiation has flooded the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Regardless of the form, the weapons used in these attacks are no different from terrorist weapons, designed to cause harm to non-combatants. Who would use this weapon to attack US intelligence officials, diplomats, and military personnel, and for what purpose?

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CIA Deputy Director Cohen said at a recent intelligence summit that the United States is closer to identifying the culprit, and politics According to reports, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee increasingly believe that Russia or other hostile opponents are behind the attack, although according to reports, no conclusive evidence has been found.

As a former CIA operations officer with extensive experience in dealing with counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence issues, we hardly doubt who will be listed as the culprit. For at least ten years, Russia has been in a state of conflict with the West, especially the United States. Russia has launched cyberattacks affecting critical infrastructure and supply chains, using nuclear poisons and chemical weapons to assassinate opponents, using criminal agents to shoot in the streets, destroying Czech ammunition depots, and launching a violent coup attempt in Montenegro. It also bombed the US Embassy in Moscow with microwave radiation and used carcinogenic “spy dust” without considering the health effects. Attacks on U.S. officials fit this pattern of behavior.

We recognize that it is important for the intelligence community to complete its work, and its findings must inform policy actions. Congress and the government must work together to formulate a series of possible response measures. It is too early to start. As Senator Collins and others have said, these attacks are “acts of war,” so it is necessary for national security agencies to prepare for future attribution calls. So how should the United States respond?

Let’s start with the things that don’t work-sanctions. The sanctions feel good and satisfy the need for action, but they are weak. The sanctions did not prevent Russia from killing dissidents, stopping the Beixi No. 2 pipeline, forcing withdrawal from occupied territories, reducing support for tyrants, or impeding oil and gas production. Sanctions only force Russia to develop more creative money laundering and sanctions evasion mechanisms.

So, what will work? First of all, we must understand that the Putin regime believes that it is in a state of conflict with the United States. There is no war, but it is still fatal. We are dealing with a country that supports terrorism, which is operating on a global scale to weaken the power of the United States abroad, divide it from its allies, and sow discord at home. Our policy must be adjusted to win this conflict, not to trigger a gun battle, but there is a risk of war.

Russia understands reciprocity and strength. In 1985, when four Russian diplomats were kidnapped by extremists in Beirut and one of them was killed, Russia reportedly responded by kidnapping and brutally killing a relative of the leader of the organization. The surviving diplomat was released immediately. This story may be fabricated, but it does illustrate the Russian approach. Although it may be tempting for the United States to take tit-for-tat retaliation, we do not need to reflect Russia’s actions. On the contrary, we should use our greater economic, diplomatic and military advantages.

We provide five elements to formulate countermeasures: recruit US allies, expand frontier deterrence, limit the opponent’s range of influence, stifle funds, and bring those responsible to justice.

NATO: With evidence of attacks against US officials, we should activate NATO’s fifth collective defense clause. The only time it was issued was after 9/11. As a justification, in addition to the Havana Syndrome attack (which also caused Canadian casualties), we will also include GRU and FSB assassinations across Europe, fatal destruction in the Czech Republic, coup attempts in Montenegro, ongoing cyber attacks, and a series of other Described as an operation of unconventional warfare against NATO members.

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The front line exists: One clear signal that we understand the nature of Russia’s hybrid warfare and is responding is to strengthen our military presence in Poland, the Baltic States, and the Black Sea region. These forces will not pose an offensive threat to Russia, but will make it clear that the United States is prepared to counter any Russian tricks. We should also substantially increase lethal aid and training to Ukraine, because Russia’s aggressive nature is well known. The weakness of Eastern Europe is the trigger for conflict.

Travel and presence: We should completely restrict business and tourist travel in Russia, because these trips are used as a cover for FSB and GRU operations. We will reduce Russia’s diplomatic presence in each capital to a minimum—a few, not hundreds. Counterintelligence experts in the United States and Europe believe that there are more Russian intelligence personnel working in embassies than during the Cold War. Limiting the size of Russia’s spy infrastructure will complicate the planning and execution of all its intelligence operations.

finance: A key tool for counter-terrorism operations is the ability to target funding sources that constitute material support for terrorism. In this case, we will apply this principle to the Russian government, state-owned enterprises, and individuals that provide cover, tools, and funding sources for Russia’s violence, terror, and media manipulation to disrupt the West. Russian dirty money is used to undermine the West and poison our politics. We should limit the easy access of black money into Western banks.

Criminal case: We need to submit war crimes cases to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. After ten years of conflict in the Balkans, the International Court of Justice brought 161 war criminals from Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia to justice. This was an amazing success-a raid that included law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the United States and Europe. Just like Nuremberg after World War II, these actions to hold criminals responsible for war have drawn a line on the sand.

This is the beginning. Successive Democratic and Republican governments have pursued a Russian policy that represents hope to overcome experience. We have treated the symptoms of Russian malicious behavior, not the underlying pathology. Now is the time to finally admit that we are in a prolonged mixed conflict and forget about the illusion of changing Putin’s behavior. Only the new regime in the Kremlin can hope to change its actions. Eventually, the Putin regime will die or collapse, but before that, we and our allies must better protect ourselves.

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