CIA John Kiriakou

John Kiriakou: Havana Syndrome — Paranoia or Reality?

Gang-stalking. Extremely low frequency radiation. Voice to Skull (V2K) technology. None of these were terms the author had ever heard of during his 15 years at the C.I.A.
U.S. Embassy in Havana on Aug. 14, 2015, the day the U.S. flag was raised to mark the resumption of full diplomatic relations. (U.S. Embassy Havana/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By John Kiriakou / Consortium News

In 2015 I began receiving emails from people telling me that they believed they had been targeted by elements of the U.S. government using something called Directed Energy Weapons.  They frequently used terms like “gang-stalking,” “extremely low frequency” radiation and “Voice to Skull” (V2K) technology. 

I had never heard any of these terms in my 15 years at the C.I.A.  Most of the people who reached out to me called themselves Targeted Individuals, or TIs, and they believed strongly that it was the C.I.A., with the likely help and connivance of NSA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and possibly the F.B.I. targeting them.

I received so many of these communications that I took advantage of my attendance at an event hosted by the American Psychological Association (APA) to ask if any of the psychologists there could shed any light on the allegations.

Two of them looked at each other knowingly and told me that they also had received dozens of these inquiries.  They told me that what I was describing was a very common form of mental illness. 

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They said that when some people felt overwhelmed by life’s problems, their brains defaulted to the easiest understandable explanation — there had to be some external force impacting their lives negatively, something that was preventing them from exercising control over their lives.  The easiest answer to what entity would do such a thing is the one that is best known — the C.I.A.

I believed that that was the end of the story until, about a year later, I ran into Bill Binney, the former technical director at NSA, that service’s former fourth-ranking officer.  Bill is a renowned and highly-respected national security whistleblower and I value his opinion greatly. 

I mentioned what I had heard at the APA and he said that he thought that was wrong.  He said that, while it was not necessarily his area of expertise, he was enough of a tech expert to know that there might be something to the complaints that I was receiving. 

DARPA, he said, would be the governmental entity responsible for developing weapons that would cause at least some of the complaints that I was hearing about.  We already knew from press reports that the military was developing weapons that could destroy enemy tanks with lasers, or might blind enemy soldiers without killing them. 

More People, Same Complaints

As time passed, I came into contact with more people with the same kinds of complaints. 

I’m not talking about crackpots, such as the woman who writes to me to complain that my ex-wife had rigged a system of train tracks underneath her house so that she could install a giant magnet that controlled this woman’s movements after surreptitiously giving her a mastectomy and implanting steel rods in her chest. 

I’m not talking about the former ambassador’s wife who sent me more than 250 photographs of shadows in her apartment one night to “prove” that the C.I.A. was irradiating her; and that was after she had covered literally the entire interior of her apartment with aluminum foil. 

I’m talking about a medical doctor from Harvard Medical School, a practicing psychologist, and a PhD chemist from the University of California at Berkeley.  These were people who were highly-functioning, who were clearly intelligent and well-informed, and who were obviously in distress.  I began paying even closer attention to the issue.

In 2016, staff members at the U.S. and Canadian embassies in Havana began reporting that they were suffering from ringing in the ears, vertigo and even cognitive dysfunction.  More “official” Americans assigned to U.S. embassies and other installations in places as far-flung as China, India, Europe and Washington, D.C., reported similar symptoms, which the government began calling “anomalous health incidents” (AHI). 

Several Studies 

Physicians from the C.I.A. and the State Department confirmed that their officers were among the officials complaining that they were affected by what came to be called “Havana Syndrome.” 

The Departments of State and Defense and the entire Intelligence Community were tasked with getting to the bottom of the phenomenon, alternately concluding that it was caused by crickets, by “unidentified foreign actors,” by ultrasound or microwave weapons, pesticides, toxins or even as a result of mass hysteria

In the end, nobody could agree on anything.  An interim C.I.A. report released in January 2022 found that Havana Syndrome was “not the result of a sustained global campaign by a hostile power,” at least in 976 of the 1,000 cases reviewed. 

study released by the Biden administration a month later found that the malady was likely not a result of stress or psychosomatic reactions and that it “could have been caused by radio waves.”  A State Department study released around the same time found that it was “unlikely that a directed energy attack had caused the health incidents.” 

And in March 2023, seven U.S. intelligence agencies released an unclassified report finding that “available intelligence consistently points against the involvement of U.S. adversaries in causing the reported incidents.”  Pentagon efforts to recreate Havana Syndrome in animals by exposing them to radio waves for extended periods were unsuccessful. 

I believe that Havana Syndrome is real.  It’s now well-documented, with MRIs in many cases showing documentable traumatic brain injuries.  I have no idea if it is a result of something called a “Directed Energy Weapon.” I don’t know if there even is any such thing as a Directed Energy Weapon. 

People whom I respect and trust — who do understand the advanced technology that something like a Directed Energy Weapon would require — tell me that even if such weapons existed, which they can’t confirm, they wouldn’t be able to “follow” a victim as that person moved from location to location. 

It’s possible, they argue, that, instead, some victims of Havana Syndrome are especially sensitive to radio waves.

The U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone, which includes portions of West Virginia, Virginia and a small part of Maryland. (Joel Bradshaw, Public-domain, Wikimedia Commons)

A 2013 investigation by Slate also found that that might indeed be the case. 

Slate documented some 25 people who claim to suffer from Havana Syndrome-type symptoms have moved to Green Bank, West Virginia, an area known as the U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile area where most types of electromagnetic radiation on the radio spectrum are banned. 

These include radio and television broadcasts, WiFi transmissions, cell phone signals, Bluetooth and anything else that uses wireless technology.  The reason for this quiet zone is so that the signals do not interfere with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the home of the world’s largest radio telescope. 

The 25 people with Havana Syndrome-like symptoms say that, since moving to Green Bank, they no longer suffer from the dizziness, nausea, rashes, irregular heartbeats, weakness and chest pains that had afflicted them previously. 

Could Havana Syndrome be caused by the untold number of invisible radio waves surrounding us at any given time?  It’s certainly possible.

I wish that I could provide answers to the many, many questions that I get.  But I don’t have those answers.  I truly hope that we are not seeing governmental experimentation using futuristic weapons.  I hope we aren’t seeing futuristic weapons developed by our enemies.  Whatever these phenomena are, I hope the people affected by them find relief.

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John Kiriakou

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

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