It turns out those ‘sonic’ attacks on U.S. diplomats in 2017 might’ve been microwave attacks

It turns out those ‘sonic’ attacks on U.S. diplomats in 2017 might’ve been microwave attacks

Multicolored light waves flowing on a blue background
Multicolored light waves flowing on a blue background
Image: Getty Images

Remember the mysterious illness caused by suspected “sonic” attacks back in 2017 that afflicted some U.S. diplomats and spies in Cuba, China, Russia, and elsewhere? A report released Saturday, commissioned by the Department of State and authored by external experts, has landed on a likely culprit, and it is technologically terrifying.

Experts have identified “directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy” as the “most plausible” explanation for the constellation of symptoms experienced by diplomats and their families. This includes microwaves, which are electromagnetic waves within a certain spectrum (not the, uh, food heating machines). 

Essentially, repeated short blasts of electromagnetic waves within a certain frequency assault the inner ear, which can have both acute and long term effects — without leaving signs of physical damage. 

Common symptoms of the “dozens” affected involved hearing a loud sound, followed by the feeling of head vibrations, pressure, and pain. Sufferers had both short and long term dizziness, hearing loss, fatigue, memory loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and issues with balance. The onset of the symptoms occurred both at embassies and at some sufferers’ homes. Some have reportedly been forced into permanent retirement.

The studies the experts referenced showed that radiofrequency energy needs to be both directional and “pulsed” (rather than continuous) to explain these diffuse symptoms. That’s what leads them to describe it as most consistent with an “attack” of radiofrequency energy.

The experts warn that they are disturbed by the potential the report shows of “disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others,” or bad people committing dangerous acts in new ways.

The report doesn’t go into detail about the “new tools” of these “malevolent actors.” However, there is a class of devices called “directed energy weapons” that may apply. The report references one apparatus used in a study, with a mouthful of a name straight out of a Cold War-era Bond movie: the “Transformer Energized Megavolt Pulsed Output (TEMPO) microwave pulse apparatus.”

Many countries are developing these weapons. However, the New York Times reports that some of the affected diplomats were focused on “countering Russia covert operations with foreign intelligence agencies.” That, along with the fact that Russia is one of the more prolific sources of research and development in these weapons, leads to “suspicion,” according to the Times, that Russia is behind the attack.

The report suggests that more proactive steps need to be taken to counter these attacks. However, the first place to start is actually taking victims seriously, and bothering to systematically record and investigate symptoms — something the Trump administration failed to do, which has enraged victims who are now suing the government. 

Indeed, the Times reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has had this report since August, but did not acknowledge it when asked about the illnesses in October. The State Department made the report public Saturday after news outlets acquired and reported on its existence earlier in the week.

The futuristic weapons likely involved in these attacks — whether sonic, microwave, or something else — are terrifying. More terrifying is a government that takes no action when faced with an attack on American citizens, because it is a difficult to understand phenomenon with potentially thorny political ramifications.  In the future, let’s hope the weapons — not the government’s response – are our biggest problem.

Published at Sun, 06 Dec 2020 20:36:16 +0000

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Written by Riel Roussopoulos


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