'Havana Syndrome' Noises Were Likely Crickets, Not Super Weapons, State Department Report Says

Crickets, and not microwaves wielded by a foreign adversary, are believed to be responsible for the noises connected to strange symptoms affecting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, according to a declassified report ordered by the State Department and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The noises were believed to be linked to “Havana syndrome,” a term that describes an affliction affecting State Department diplomats in Cuba who said they were suffering from sudden, unexplained symptoms such as hearing buzzing sounds, feeling pain and vertigo, and having trouble concentrating.

According to the report, written by the independent science advisory group JASON, researchers analyzed at least eight “audio and video recordings of high-frequency sounds taken by U.S. personnel” in addition to reviewing personal accounts from diplomats and their medical information.

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The heavily redacted report notes that “many” of those reporting symptoms described hearing “unusual sounds” but states that in only one instance someone experienced medical symptoms immediately after hearing the sounds. The report goes on to say that JASON could identify “no plausible single source of energy (neither radio/microwaves nor sonic) [that] can produce both the recorded audio/video signals and the reported medical effects.”

Instead, the scientists wrote that the most likely source of the sound heard in the recordings is the Indies short-tailed cricket, whose call, it says, “matches, in nuanced detail, the spectral properties of the recordings from Cuba.” Still, the report hedges, saying that “other hypotheses are plausible,” including that the sounds were created by a mechanical device or “structure-borne vibrations.”

“While we can’t rule out the idea that somebody might have been trying to harass the U.S. officers, the idea that these were attacks intended to cause injury is supported neither by a smoking gun nor by clearly identified victims,” the report says.

A separate report on the Havana syndrome phenomenon by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) that was also commissioned by the State Department and released in December of last year said that the “most plausible” explanation was that the symptoms were caused by “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy.”

Cuba isn’t the only country where diplomats have reported unexplained symptoms. In July, The New Yorker reported that two dozen U.S. intelligence officials, diplomats and government employees in Vienna, Austria, said they experienced similar symptoms to those experienced by diplomats in Cuba.

Last week, the House unanimously passed a bill from the Senate that authorized additional support for U.S. officials, the Havana Act, giving them access to financial support and additional medical care. The bill is now with Biden for signature.

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