CubaBrief: 60 minutes links Russia to Havana syndrome and a speeding mustang with high-tech equipment in Florida.

5-year “Havana Syndrome” investigation finds new evidence of who might be responsible


The Embassy of the United States of America overlooking the Malecón, taken at night. [ Bjen78 ]

Eight years later, a string of attacks that started in 2016 and targeted Canadian and U.S. diplomats stationed at their respective embassies in Havana remain unsolved officially. However, after a five-year investigation, CBS Newsmagazine 60 Minutes concluded that Russia was responsible for the attacks, despite official denials from the US government.

“60 Minutes producers Michael Rey and Oriana Zill de Granados discuss the evolution of their 5-year investigation into ‘Havana Syndrome,’ which led them to what one source calls “a receipt” for acoustic weapon testing done by a Russian intelligence unit.”

Officials in the Cuban government have also been quick to dismiss the Havana Syndrome, but the record shows that if Russia was testing an acoustic weapon on American and Canadian diplomats stationed in Havana, the Cuban secret police would know about it, report it to their superiors, and approve it. Havana’s role in supporting Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, including the deployment of Cuban soldiers in Russian uniforms fighting on the front lines, underscores their strategic relationship with Moscow.

60 Minutes, March 31, 2024

Havana Syndrome mystery continues as a lead military investigator says bar for proof was set impossibly high

By Scott Pelley

March 31, 2024 / 7:42 PM EDT / CBS News

This report is the result of a joint investigation by 60 Minutes, The Insider, and Der Spiegel

Tonight we have important developments in our five-year investigation of mysterious brain injuries reported by U.S. national security officials. The injured include White House staff, CIA officers, FBI agents, military officers and their families. Many believe that they were wounded by a secret weapon that fires a high-energy beam of microwaves or ultrasound. This is our fourth story and for the first time, we have evidence of who might be responsible. Most of the injured have fought for America, often in secret. And they’re frustrated that the U.S. government publicly doubts that an adversary is targeting Americans.

One of them is Carrie. We’re disguising her and not using her last name because she’s still an FBI agent working in counterintelligence. She says, in 2021, she was home in Florida when she was hit by a crippling force.

Carrie: And bam, inside my right ear, it was like a dentist drilling on steroids. That feeling when it gets too close to your eardrum? It’s like that, you know, times ten. It was like a high pitched, metallic drilling noise, and it knocked me forward at, like, a 45 degree angle this way.

She says she was by a window in her laundry room.

[ Full transcript and video available here ]


“Foreign adversaries may be involved in Havana Syndrome, sources say.” – CBS Evening News “Connection revealed between Havana Syndrome, speeding Mustang in Florida” – CBS Mornings

 Full report tonight on 60 Minutes on CBS.

National Security reporter Jeff Stein, and founder of Spy Talk gives his analysis on the latest installment of the CBS newsmagazine show 60 Minutes report on Havana Syndrome that points to the Kremlin.

Two teasers, one on CBS News, and another on CBS Morning, offer  reasons for concern, and to question the official narrative.

This blog has been following this story since August 9, 2017 when spokesperson Heather Nauert in a State Department briefing revealed that two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the United States on May 23, 2017 in response to “incidents in Cuba.”  According to U.S. officials five U.S. diplomats were targeted by a “sonic weapon” that led to “severe hearing loss” that led to some of them canceling their tours and returning early to the United States. [ Full entry here ]

On August 10, 2017 another shoe dropped, the Associated Press reported that Canadian government said that at least one Canadian diplomat in Cuba has also been treated for hearing loss. “Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Brianne Maxwell said Canadian officials ‘are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana.'” [ Full entry here ]

The attacks began in November 2016 during the Obama Administration which apparently had no knowledge of what was going on or downplayed it out of fear that it would negatively Cuba normalization policy.

The Daily Mail headline on September 20, 2017 stated “Damning evidence Cuba’s launched a sci-fi sonic weapon at America: How 21 US diplomats were hit by hearing and memory loss – and even mild brain damage – after suspicious attack.”  

On January 9, 2018 three State Department officials testified before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the subject of the 2016-2017 attacks on U.S. diplomats and dependents stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba that seriously impacted 24 of them. 

The three officials who testified are: Senior Bureau Official Francisco L. Palmieri Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Assistant Director Todd J. Brown of the International Programs Directorate, Bureau of Diplomatic Security; and Dr. Charles Rosenfarb, Medical Director for the Bureau of Medical Services. 

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) asked when they became aware that brain trauma was involved and Dr. Charles Rosenfarb responded that the first patient was medically evacuated on February 6, 2017 and over the next two months evacuated 40 people.  [ Full blog entry ]

Injuries have been documented, and hypotheses to explain how they have been caused put forward, but no satisfactory explanation provided to date. 

Efforts to downplay the inconvenient fact that Cuba has a top notch intelligence service, and that such attacks on U.S. diplomats could not be carried out without their knowledge, and consent led to a letter to the editor in The Washington Post to set the record straight.

The Washington Post, October 30, 2020 


Cuba has a long history of using sonic weapons

The Oct. 26 editorial “Another invisible enemy” was correct when it called for the perpetrators of sonic attacks on Americans in Cuba to be identified, Americans protected and a proper response delivered, but too many are quick to believe the claims from Cuban officials that nothing happened and that they had no knowledge of what caused the injuries.

The Castro regime has a history, stretching back decades, of harassing American diplomats such as: killing their pets, trying to run them down or crash into their vehicle and switching out mouthwash with urine

Furthermore, on Oct. 18, dissident Cuban artist Tania Bruguera described and recorded a sonic attack that caused her a headache and ear ache that she found difficult to tolerate. Two former Cuban political prisoners, Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez and Luis Zuniga, described at a forum held on Capitol Hill in November 2017 how prison officials used high-pitched sound to cause them physiological harm in 1979. This history and the recent attack against Ms. Bruguera using the same kind of sonic weapon with similar symptoms that had been visited on U.S. diplomats should invite greater scrutiny of Havana.

John Suarez, Falls Church

The writer is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

[ Full blog entry ]

Fox News, March 31, 2024

Florida car chase in 2020 may be linked to Havana Syndrome: report

The illness was first reported in Cuba in 2016

By Bradford BetzFox News

A high-speed chase in Florida may be linked to the mysterious phenomenon known as “Havana Syndrome,” according to a new report.  

U.S. and Canadian embassy staff first reported the condition in Cuba in 2016, and it was later reported by hundreds of American personnel in multiple countries.

A promotional clip of a story from CBS News’ ’60 Minutes,’ set to air later Sunday, shows body cam footage of officers chasing a car down a highway in Key West in June 2020. The chase goes on for 15 miles, with the driver topping speeds of 110 mph. 

Eventually, he’s pulled over and apprehended. Inside the man’s car, officers found bank account notes, and a device resembling a walkie-talkie that can erase a car’s computer data, including its GPS history. 

Officers also found a Russian passport. The suspect gives his name as Vitalii and says he is from St. Petersburg. 

When asked why he fled police officers, he repeatedly says, “I don’t know.” 

The report comes weeks after the release of a nearly five-year study from the National Institutes of Health, which found no explanation for the mysterious health problems – including headaches, balance problems and difficulties with thinking and sleep – that have been reported by U.S. diplomats and other government employees. The NIH conducted an array of advanced tests but found no brain injuries or degeneration.

The NIH did appear to contradict some earlier findings that raised the specter of brain injuries in people experiencing what the State Department now calls “anomalous health incidents.”

[ Full article ]