Energy weapons are real. Military and weapons researchers have developed microwave guns and lasers that can be used to disable soldiers or shoot down drones — but a new report from the CIA and other intelligence agencies say that these kinds of weapons probably aren't responsible for the condition known as Havana Syndrome.
When US personnel overseas began suffering from unexplained headaches, nausea and hearing problems in 2016, many were quick to suspect foul play by a foreign adversary. A panel of experts concluded that the anomalous health incidents that came to be known as Havana Syndrome could plausibly have been caused by "pulsed electromagnetic energy," prompting some of those afflicted with the condition to blame their symptoms on a mysterious new energy weapon, possibly wielded by Russian operatives. Now, seven intelligence agencies say that panel got it wrong.
The Washington Post reports that even after reviewing about 1,000 cases across the world, the CIA and half a dozen agencies concluded that it was unlikely that the symptoms were caused by a foreign adversary. Not by energy weapons, not from electronic surveillance, and not from unintentional exposure to radio waves or ultrasonic beams. Analysts simply couldn't find any common pattern that linked the anomalous health incidents together that could suggest an intentional attack, noting that in some cases there wasn't even a direct line of sight from which an energy weapon could have been used.
So, what does cause Havana Syndrome? Officials say that the majority of the cases they reviewed could be linked to pre-existing medical conditions. Environmental factors, like poor building ventilation, could also contribute to some of the symptoms — but the report simply couldn't find a link to an intentional, external factor.
The report seems pretty confident that Russia isn't using an experimental energy weapon to cause nausea, hearing loss and headaches, but officials say that new information could change that assessment: If intelligence reports reveal that a foreign government has developed technology capable of causing these symptoms, they'll take another look and reassess.