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The Guardian

Havana Syndrome: NSA officer’s case suggests microwave attacks since the ’90s

When Mike Beck developed a rare form of Parkinson’s U.S. intelligence, he concluded he was the victim of a high-tech weapon Havana Syndrome illustrating the use of suspected micro / radio waves Composite: Guardian Design / Getty When the first reports emerged of a mysterious disorder , that was Mike Beck̵

7;s reaction that hit dozens of US diplomats on Cuba was a recognition and relief. Beck, a retired counterintelligence from the National Security Agency, was at his home in Maryland, scrolling through today’s news on his computer when he saw the story, remembering shouting at his wife. “I was excited because I thought, ‘Well, it’s coming out now, since it’s not a mirage,'” Beck said. “I felt bad for the victims, but thought: ‘Now I am no longer one of them. I am one of many. ” Beck had been forced to retire in late 2016 by a rare, non-tremorous form of Parkinson’s disease that came on early, and he had evidence from the NSA and CIA that he may have been the victim of a deliberate attack from a microwave weapon. After years of lonely struggle, he now feels justified. Last December, the National Academy of Sciences published a report finding that the number of CIA and State Department officials affected by “Havana Syndrome” in Cuba, China, and elsewhere most likely suffered “the effects of targeted, pulsating radio frequency energy. “. After years of dismantling the reports and failing to provide proper medical care to the victims, Washington is now clearly concerned about the consequences of the attacks. The Democratic and Republican leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan statement on Friday, saying, “This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens who serve our government appears to be on the rise.” The statement came the day after the White House said it was investigating “unexplained health incidents” after reports that two of its own officials had been targeted in the Washington area. The CIA and the State Department have launched task forces to investigate, and it was reported last week that the Pentagon had launched its own investigation into suspected microwave attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East. Earlier this month, Juan Gonzalez, the senior director of the Western Hemisphere’s National Security Council, expressed concern about the continuing risk to US diplomats from microwave weapons in Cuba in an interview with CNN’s Spanish language service. The reality is that this has been a matter of intelligence for decades Mark Zaid But what is so striking about Beck’s case is that its origins were two decades earlier – and that it produced official confirmation more than eight years ago that such weapons had been developed by America’s opponents. It raises several questions as to why the CIA and State Department were so reluctant to believe that their own officers could have been targeted by such weapons when cases surfaced in Cuba and then China in 2018 and elsewhere around the world. “The reality is that this has been a matter of intelligence community for decades,” said Mark Zaid, a lawyer representing both Beck and Havana Syndrome victims. An NSA statement was declassified in 2014 for Beck’s case of work injury compensation, stating: “The National Security Agency confirms that there is information from 2012 linking the hostile country to which Beck traveled in the late 1990s. , with a powerful microwave system weapon that may have the ability to weaken, intimidate or kill an enemy over time and without leaving evidence. “The information from 2012 showed that this weapon is designed to bathe a target’s living quarters in microwaves, causing several physical effects, including a damaged nervous system.” Beck is still not allowed to name the hostile country he visited in 1996, but said he and a colleague, Charles “Chuck” Gubete, had gone to make sure a U.S. diplomatic building under construction was not intercepted. “It was a sensitive task,” Beck told the Guardian. “So we knew what we were getting into when the hostile country was a critical threat environment.” Upon arrival, he and Gubete were detained at the airport and then placed in adjoining rooms at a budget hotel after their release. On their second day on the project, they extended their sweeping to a neighboring building and encountered what he calls “a technical threat to the equity we were there to protect”. A worker looks at a giant Cuban flag built in front of the US Embassy in Havana last month. Photo: Yamil Lage / AFP / Getty Images They reported the device to their superior and left it in place. The next day, they were sent a message from a local translator working with the Americans that the host country authorities, in Beck’s words, “had seen what we were doing and it was not a good thing.” The next day, Beck said, “I woke up and I was really, really groggy. I was not able to wake up routinely. It was not a normal event. I had several cups of coffee and it did nothing to get me started. “The symptoms went away when Beck and Gubete returned to the United States. But ten years later, while Beck was in the UK, on ​​secondment to General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK’s NSA counterpart, he suddenly came down with crippling symptoms. “The right side of my body started to freeze up. I was lame and could not move my arm, ”he said. He was referred to a neurologist who diagnosed Parkinson’s. At the time, Beck was 45. I thought it was no coincidence that we were both presenting the same variant of Parkinson’s at the same time Mike Beck Shortly thereafter, he visited NSA headquarters and happened to encounter Gubete. Beck was shocked by what he saw. “He walked like an old man,” he recalled. “He was knocked down and walked really awkwardly. I went to him and said, ‘What’s going on?’ “Within a few days, Gubete, 55, was diagnosed with the same form of Parkinson’s disease as Beck.” I’ve been working with intelligence for the most part in my career, “Beck said.” I thought this was not coincidental. “We’re both presenting the same variant of Parkinson’s at the same time. This is not the case.” The reason for their common situation was a total mystery to Beck until 2012, when he saw US intelligence communications about a microwave weapon with potentially debilitating neurological effects developed by the land he and Gubete visited together.He was able to get part of the intelligence service that was declassified to his work department claims in 2014 – but then it was too late for Gubete.He had died at home, due to a suspected heart attack the previous year Mike Beck Photo: Distribution Even with the declassified intelligence, the NSA leadership continued to oppose Beck’s claim, so he arranged a briefing of the CIA. experts who came to the NSA headquarters in the spring of 2016. “Their opinion was based on information they had – and that the NSA did not have access to – and they supported my confirmation that I had been attacked in the hostile country with a microwave weapon, Beck reminded. “They said it was a ‘no-brainer’ that this medical condition was due to an attack.” On August 24, 2016, according to Beck and his attorney, Zaid, the head of NSA security and counter-effectiveness, Kemp Ensor, sent an email to NSA Chief of Staff Liz Brooks supporting Beck’s account. The NSA did not respond to a request for comment. There are still many unanswered questions about the Beck case. Gubete had a family history of Parkinson’s, and any causal effect between microwave radiation and the disease is unknown and differs from recent cases. But it is clear from the Beck case that when the wave of Havana syndrome injuries began in 2016, the U.S. intelligence agencies knew much more, as they admitted. My head was spinning, incredibly nauseous, I felt like I had to go to the toilet and vomit. It was just a scary moment Marc Polymeropoulos It took a three-year campaign by the CIA and government officials targeted by the attacks to get their diseases taken seriously, to get proper treatment and for the mysterious attacks to be properly investigated. “That it has taken me three years to get treatment is shameful, ethical and moral,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior officer in the CIA’s secret service. “You make a pact when you join the Central Intelligence Agency – especially on the operational side, the silent service. They asked me to do some really unusual and risky things over the years in some pretty bad places, but you always had a pact with your leadership that if you got stuck, they would have your back, ”he said. Polymeropoulos was visiting Moscow in 2017 as deputy chief of operations of the CIA’s Europe and Eurasia Mission Center when he experienced crippling symptoms of an attack. “I was woken up in the middle of the night with an incredible case of dizziness,” he said. “My head was spinning, incredibly nauseous, I felt like I had to go to the toilet and vomit. It was just a scary moment for me. I had tinnitus which rang in my ears and the dizziness was really that which was incredibly debilitating and I was really not sure what was happening. I could not get up. I fell over. “Since this incident, I have had a headache 24/7 for three years and there is also a mental health challenge in this,” said Polymeropoulos. “I was able to work two hours every morning, but then I was used. Even after having a conversation like this I would be exhausted after that. “The US Embassy in Moscow in 2012. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images He is convinced that Russia is behind the attacks, and also says that he is sure that Russia is the unnamed country in the Beck case. . In 1996, the United States was in the process of demolishing the top two floors of its Moscow embassy because the building was so full of bugging devices. Four new floors were built with the aim of creating a safe environment. The new CIA director, William Burns, assured Congress earlier this month that he took the issue seriously and that he had appointed a senior officer to lead a task force that “assured people the care they deserve and need,” and also made sure we get to the bottom of this. “Polymeropoulos, who is now being treated at Walter Reed Military Hospital and is pushing for other CIA victims to receive similar treatment, said he was cautiously optimistic.” Under Bill “Burns seems to be a sea change. We need to see action now, not just words. But I have hope,” he said. “Meanwhile, Michael Beck is still fighting for work compensation a quarter of a century after his unfortunate journey to a hostile nation.The Ministry of Labor has rejected his claim, but the one-year window for appeal is still open. “I’m not suing anyone,” he said. “I’m just looking for what’s right out of this.”

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