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CIA recalls Vienna station chief for bungling cases of suspected attacks causing ‘Havana Syndrome’

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The CIA has recalled its station chief in Vienna, Austria, amid concerns about mismanagement of suspected cases of the mysterious health issue known as “Havana Syndrome” at the city’s U.S. embassy, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday. Appearing on the network’s “Fox and Friends First”, former CIA Station Chief Dan Hoffman offered insight into the developing story.

“Do we know enough about this situation to suspect foul play?” the host asked Hoffman.

“We know enough to know that roughly 130 people have been afflicted by this syndrome … the first cases were detected back in 2016,” he replied.

“We know a lot about the forensics, the science. The National Academy of Sciences has concluded that this is an electric pulse frequency; a microwave attack against our people. What is left for us to determine is who’s conducting these attacks.”

The CIA’s decision followed apparent criticism of the station chief’s failure to adequately investigate alleged cases of the syndrome, referred to among CIA officials as “anomalous health incidents.” The removal occurred after dozens of U.S. personnel stationed in Vienna reported symptoms consistent with the illness in recent months.

The station chief was also accused of being skeptical about whether the reported cases of Havana Syndrome were genuine.

A story here from August of 2021 describes the buildup of known cases and the strange effects of the illness, all seemingly concentrated and directed at CIA officials and U.S. diplomats, not only in Vienna, but in China, Moscow, Berlin, and as locally as Washington D.C. The syndrome is named for its initial discovery five years ago in Havana, Cuba.

In fact, in August, it emerged that Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Vietnam had been disrupted over fears of Havana Syndrome. At least two U.S. officials fell ill while in Hanoi, Vietnam, and they had to be evacuated shortly before Harris headed there to reassure the locals that it would help them stand up to Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Victims have described in detail that the attacks usually come at night; they heard strange noises like that of cicadas or crickets. Others said they heard minute-long bursts, while some said they heard nothing at all but felt unusual vibrations

While most of the puzzling attacks were felt at U.S. embassies, one diplomat reported feeling the same effects while in his hotel room. He described it as a blaring cacophony that jolted him awake. When he moved to another part of the room, it disappeared. But when he went back to the same part of the room, the agonizing sound struck him again, causing him to feel dizziness and nausea.

The host asked Hoffman, “What does the Biden administration need to be doing about this?”

“They need to find and fix and then disrupt these attacks before they cause harm on our people. That means mobilizing the State Department, the Department of Defense, the intelligence community as well as our own state and local and federal law enforcement.”

“We have a moral and ethical responsibility to do something about this,” he added, saying that in the initial stages of 2016, there were many who doubted the attacks were actually taking place.

Hoffman said, “We started way too late. We’re kind of playing catch-up. I’m not sure we’re going to be able to attribute any of the past attacks to a state actor like Russia, which is highly suspected of being responsible, given Vladimir Putin’s history of serving in the KGB.”

Analysts confirmed that a portable microwave weapon — using the same basic technology as a microwave oven that heats food from the inside – is capable of causing the symptoms described and has in recent years been developed by several countries including the U.S., Russia and China. The U.S. however has more or less discontinued its research, citing concerns over testing on human subjects.

Skeptics however, have countered that a weapon capable of damaging the human brain from a distance would need to be far too big to be used in a city. But some microwave experts say that a device could be transported as the contents of two large suitcases, and could focus energy on a small part of the brain. They say that rapid microwave pulses can heat soft tissue in the brain just enough to cause a “thermoelastic pressure wave” inside the skull. That pressure wave will initially be felt as sounds.

The CIA declined to directly comment on the station chief’s removal.

Frank Webster

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