Man Bites Dog: NYT Does Journalism

Exclusive: When the Trump administration blamed Cuba for a “sonic attack” on U.S. diplomats, a New York Times reporter did something unusual for his newspaper: he tried objectively to assess the evidence, as Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

I often criticize The New York Times, Washington Post and other major mainstream media outlets for a very simple reason: they deserve it – especially for their propagandistic, unprofessional and reckless coverage of foreign crises.

U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. (U.S. government photo)

But there are occasional moments when some reporter at an MSM outlet behaves responsibly and those instances should be noted at least under the classic definition of “news” – something that is unexpected – or as the old saying goes, “dog bites man is not news; man bites dog is news.”

One such moment occurred earlier this month when a Times science editor assigned science reporter Carl Zimmer to look into the mysterious illnesses affecting U.S. diplomats in the recently reopened U.S. embassy in Cuba.

About two dozen U.S. diplomats supposedly were suffering hearing loss and cognitive difficulties due to what has been labeled a “sonic attack.” The Trump administration blamed the Cuban government even though the Cubans claimed to be mystified and would seem to have little motive for disrupting a long-sought détente with Washington along with the expected boon to their tourist industry. President Trump “retaliated” by expelling 15 Cuban diplomats.

Zimmer recounted the background to his story in a reporter’s notebook piece on Oct. 6: “On Tuesday, Michael Mason, my editor on the science desk, shot me an email. Would I consider writing an article about ‘this sonic “attack” business’? I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had been vaguely puzzled about this business for months.”

Checking Out the Story

Zimmer then did what professional journalists are supposed to do: he started contacting impartial experts to get their assessments of what was possible, what was likely, and what didn’t make sense.

“I decided to try to find something out — not as a political reporter but as a science writer,” Zimmer wrote in the sidebar that accompanied his news article. “I usually base my ideas on scientific research that has matured far enough that it is beginning to get published in peer-reviewed journals. … I knew that an article on sonic weapons would be very different from the ones I usually write. …

“I learned there was not even an official medical report. I decided to try to draw some boundary lines for all the speculation swirling around the story. Is the idea of a sonic attack plausible, based on what scientists know about sound and the human body? …

“So I hit the phone. I didn’t want to talk with just anyone — I looked for people with lots of experience in research that had direct bearing on this question. I started with Timothy Leighton, whose job title at Southampton University is, literally, professor of ultrasonics and underwater acoustics. Better yet, Dr. Leighton has published the only thorough recent scientific review of the effects of environmental ultrasound that I’m aware of.

“When I interviewed Dr. Leighton and others, I made clear I didn’t expect them to solve this mystery; I just wanted them to reconcile the question with what we know through science. …

“The consensus was that it was extremely unlikely the diplomats were the victims of a sonic weapon. It would be necessary to rule out less exotic possibilities before taking that one seriously.”

Yet, despite this skeptical scientific consensus among experts, Zimmer noted, “The notion [of a sonic attack] has ricocheted like mad around the press, making it possible for readers to assume that [the sonic attack explanation] has been generally accepted by experts. But it most certainly has not. I’ll be curious to see if articles like mine can put the brakes on the speculation.”

Suspecting Putin

Well, Zimmer could have read the Times editorial in the same day’s (Oct. 6) newspaper for a partial answer. While critical of the Trump administration for rushing to judgment in blaming the Cuban government and expelling 15 diplomats, the editorial concluded: “The sonic attacks on Americans are too serious to be used for cynical political ends.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Screen shot from

So much for the editorial writers reading their own newspaper, but clearly they were driven by a higher agenda. A New York Times editorial about some unpleasant topic anywhere in the world these days wouldn’t be complete without taking the opportunity to blame Russia or, in this case, at least suggest Russia as a possible villain in the mystery.

The Times wrote: “Other parties, most notably Russia, must also figure as suspects: President Vladimir Putin would probably welcome a setback to American-Cuban relations.”

Yes, every possible conspiracy theory must somehow circle back to Vladimir Putin, a real-life Dr. Evil. When he is not plotting how to flood Facebook with images of puppies or manipulate Americans in their pursuit of Pokemon Go characters, he is building secret sonic weapons to disorient U.S. diplomats in Havana and provoke President Trump to act rashly (when we all know how cool and collected Trump normally is).

But I thought the earlier conspiracy theory was that Putin had secret videos of Trump cavorting with prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel – knowing years ago that Trump would surely become the U.S. president – and thus all Putin would have needed to do was call Trump up and tell his Manchurian Candidate to ship home some Cuban diplomats.

Why would the evil Putin go to the trouble of inventing a sonic weapon when simply pulling Trump’s puppet strings would have done the trick? Perhaps it’s just that Putin is so evil that he delights in dastardly tricks for the sheer sadistic joy of hurting people. Yes, that must be the ticket!

Once again, the Times editors seem to be onto something – if only they could rein in their one journalist who still seems to think it’s necessary to report a story by seeking out genuine experts who don’t have some ax to grind or some lucrative government contract to audition for. It saves so much time and energy to just blame Putin.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

99 comments for “Man Bites Dog: NYT Does Journalism

  1. November 1, 2017 at 19:58

    Wow! What happened? I made a simple comment about consortiumnews’ valuable commitment to investigative journalism and it disappeared. All I did was remark on the apparent absence of investigative stories about the real cause of the WTC/Pentagon attacks and to be directed to the articles I must obviously have missed.

    I would hate to think that CN is a gatekeeper for the official, discredited narrative. Please let me know where I can find CN’s contributions on this most important subject

  2. Zachary Smith
    October 27, 2017 at 13:23

    Cuba has presented a defense for the sound “attacks”. The likely culprit: local crickets.

    Thursday night’s special did not present an alternate explanation for the facts presented by U.S. officials, with one significant exception. Officials with Cuba’s Interior Ministry said that U.S. investigators had presented them with three recordings made by presumed victims of sonic attacks and that analysis of the sounds showed them to be extremely similar to those of crickets and cicadas that live along the northern coast of Cuba.

    “It’s the same bandwidth and it’s audibly very similar,” said Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Molina, a telecommunications specialist with the Interior Ministry. “We compared the spectrums of the sounds and evidently this common sound is very similar to the sound of a cicada.”

    The program’s narrator said that unnamed “North American researchers” had found that some cicada and cricket noises could be louder than 90-95 decibels, enough to produce hearing loss, irritation and hypertension in situations of prolonged exposure.


    I had no idea such critters could be so loud. A quick duckduckgo search found references to 100+ decibel sound outputs.


    That last link refers to a Columbian cricket with a nickname of “power saw”.

  3. Rodger Herbst
    October 25, 2017 at 01:18

    Actually, even an expose on the snow job done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in support of the official narrative of the collapse of the Twin Towers and Building 7 would be very helpful.

  4. Skeptical
    October 23, 2017 at 22:39

    This article is totally unconvincing in that it does not offer a plausible scenario on what is going on. Clearly there is some kind of hearing loss going on. So what is it? If it is not the Cuban government, or if it’s not a rogue Cuban agent, then why are diplomats loosing their hearing?

  5. eric
    October 23, 2017 at 14:23

    And to think that I tried to get Putin to run for the presidency in the USA instead of seeking a second term as president of Russia . That was before I knew about Putin’s power to affect hearing . He could have made us all deaf to wonderful things our present government is doing for the worldv .

  6. Gene Roban
    October 22, 2017 at 17:24

    Science really takes a lot of the fun out of politics. Can’t something be done about that?

    Thanks, Consortium News.

  7. October 22, 2017 at 15:50

    Why would anyone think that CUBA, which has been waiting for 50 years for normalization of relations with the United States, would have any interest–even the remotest!–in damaging the thaw by sonic attacks on the US Embassy? That Trump hasn’t the brains to see that this cannot be Cuba or Russia, where the only party that would want this to happen is our “gallant ally” in the Middle East, Israel. Because if the US can mend fences with a communist nation in the Western Hemisphere, why not in other regions of the world with Russia itself? I am dumbfounded that the obvious explanation has evaded him, which is one more of a growing number of reasons I no longer regard him as competent to serve as President of the United States.

  8. October 22, 2017 at 05:42

    China wants to drive the US out of the Caribbean and South America. What do the NY Times experts know of technology and weapon advancements in China?
    Are the victims available for interview?

  9. Joe Morgenstern
    October 21, 2017 at 18:51

    Subwoofers are sonic weapons and the users of them should be shot to death.
    (Band members and roadies excepted)

  10. Zachary Smith
    October 21, 2017 at 11:44

    I wonder: has consortiumnews run similarly highly regarded exposés on the scientific evidence that debunks the official narrative of the WTC/Pentagon attack?

    Not that I know of. In the highly unlikely event Mr. Parry believes such things, he has been wise enough not to draw attention to those beliefs.

    • October 22, 2017 at 15:00

      And you opinion is based on what, exactly. I can prove my arguments. Can you say the same? Robert Parry is the sort of honest reporter who WOULD write about the fallacy of the WTC/Pentagon narrative.

  11. Gregory Kruse
    October 21, 2017 at 08:20

    I accidently watched Ari Melber hosting the Lawrence O’Donnell “show” on MSNBC last night, and was shocked to realize at the end that Russia wasn’t blamed for General Kelly’s performance as apologist for Trump’s sociopathetic behavior, although Vladimir Putin’s name was mentioned in passing. Melber was clearly angry at the prospect that generals are now above the law, and did an honest show, but I’m sure he will be punished for it going forward.

    • David G
      October 21, 2017 at 14:41

      It’s depressing to watch obviously smart and capable journalists/broadcasters like Ari Melber and Chris Hayes toe the line on Russia, Syria, etc.

      I think they have to realize they’re prostituting themselves. But I guess they’ve got kids to put through top colleges, and vacations to the Galápagos Islands to plan.

  12. John Sanguinetti
    October 21, 2017 at 03:02

    Years ago while working as an electrician in Silicon Valley I was given a service call at a company that (I assume) was developing medical equipment similar to an MRI. They had a problem in their building with a source of mili gauss that was disturbing their work. I was given a mili gauss meter and allowed to roam the building to try and determine the source of the problem. All wiring was in metallic conduit. It turned out that someone had rewired some of the original circuiting in the building not realizing that a loop in the neutral would or could be a source of mili gauss at sometime in the future. My point is that unplanned or inadvertent physical structure in a building where exotic equipment is being used (as I imagine would be the case in Havana) could cause unintended results.

    • Sam F
      October 21, 2017 at 09:25

      Weak electrical or magnetic fields (“mill gauss”) might affect that company’s MRI measurements but would not affect health. The fields from fluorescent lights would be many times stronger.

  13. Zachary Smith
    October 20, 2017 at 23:33

    If masses of yammerheads decide the issue, then here is PROOF that climate change from global warming is not happening.

    31,487 American scientists have signed this petition, including 9,029 with PhDs

    The example at the link is Edward Teller, a very bright guy who knew as much about Climate Change as I do about making Hydrogen Bombs. Yet the ignorant old geezer was persuaded to add his name to the Petition.

    If they’re still accepting names, claim you’re a Scientist or Engineer and go sign the Petition yourself.


    • October 22, 2017 at 14:58

      This means nothing. Global warming is an empirical fact based on scientific DATA. Anyone can sign a petition.

  14. evelync
    October 20, 2017 at 16:25

    I’ve done a google search on this subject and am reading anything that was published since October 1, 2017. There are several google pages of hits from my search.

    Here’s an opinion piece – not that it explains any of the science but links to an English translation of an article written by a Cuban writer who has his own take on current Cuban/American relations:

    • Zachary Smith
      October 20, 2017 at 23:20

      Nice link. The author points to even more reasons the Official Story stinks.

  15. evelync
    October 20, 2017 at 15:37

    October 5th article in MIT’s WIRED – bottom line: insufficient evidence currently available to the public although the article goes into some depth to explain various mechanisms for hearing loss, including ototoxicity.
    10.05.1707:00 AM

  16. Susan Sunflower
    October 20, 2017 at 13:48

    Probably the biggest unanswered question is who sold this shoddy fairy tale to Trump? Trump has shown no discernment wrt to what he simply repeats (Polly wanna cracker) as seen in his clueless — according to the new revised explanation — repetition of Kelly’s advised “framing” in his condolence call(s) — in which every generic military death was a matter of voluntarily accepted risk(s) and being surrounded by the “best and the brightest” of colleagues. Shades of the Beirut massacre where the sleeping dead, victims of successful truck-bombing, were declared heroes … and any number of other military deaths resulting from miscommunication, friendly fire, equipment failure, bad leadership, all fell into some generic heroic mold. Kelly’s son apparently stepped on a landmine and was blown away — one hopes he died before he even realized his “misstep” …

    So Trump brainlessly, cluelessly, tactlessly simply repeated Kelly’s formulaic condolence call template … and Kelly — shamefully —
    took the blame as well as berating a witness to the call and the wife’s distress because that person, in addition to being a family friend and designated person to accompany the family in picking up the casket/body on arrival was a congressperson …and female, and black and unafraid to call Trump a liar.

    One of the first rules of condolence calls is that your main job is to LISTEN … and listen some more … not to offer up the pablum of folks being better off in heaven or death being better than the alternative or any of the other nostrums, particularly not to a very pregnant widow whose loss is not yet fully realized and will never be …

  17. Clifford Heindel
    October 20, 2017 at 13:04

    Thank god for your writing. And at last, open mockery. Well done.

  18. Ian
    October 20, 2017 at 12:18

    If you care to read about the fundamental problems in our society then have a read of: I’ve been reading CS for a few years and have always wondered why it avoids this huge financial elephant and instead seem content to focus on only the secondary effects (i.e. the waste) of the elephant.

    • Dave P.
      October 20, 2017 at 15:54

      Ian –

      Yes. It is an excellent analysis of today’s Western Economies by Michael Hudson. Hudson’s analysis of Soviet Economy and Russian Economic disaster of 1990’s is very true. I used to be perplexed during 1990,s when it was happening that how come Russian leaders are so ignorant that they are destroying all this economic progress and social gains they accomplished over 70 years at a very great price and sacrifices . Yeltsin was a charlatan, a traitor, in the hands of The West. But there were others – seemed like mostly ignorant of West’s Economic system and it’s History.

      But today, it seems to me if a country dares to take a path towards a somewhat different economic path which is some what socialistic, the West which is very strong gangs up on that country through sanctions, NGO’s, propaganda and other means. Western Block – add Japan and S. Korea vassal states – is very strong. The change from Financial Predatory Capitalism to other forms of economic system have to come here first in The West. Other Nations will follow.

  19. Jay
    October 20, 2017 at 09:21


    Why involve Canada.

    See the Seer point for one.

    And remember, the cause is not necessarily Cuban government in origin.

  20. Herman
    October 20, 2017 at 09:18

    If this is a case of good journalism by the NYT, don’t hold your breath that such reporting will be extended to our real enemies list. You can even surmise that the target this time was once again Donald Trump and his impetuous action to punish the Cuban Government. I wouldn’t expect anything like that for Syria, Russia, Iran et al. Still, it doesn’t hurt to give praise where it is due.

  21. October 20, 2017 at 08:50

    Three different questions: 1) Were the people in the embassy attacked by some sort of techno weapon?, 2) If so, what was the nature of the weapon/technology used?, 3) If so, who employed the weapon, and what was their motivation? If not , then what is the explanation for the reports?

    Lack of detail makes it hard to answer all those questions. IMO though, it is most likely that these people were attacked with some type of techno weapon to make them sick, the attacker was the CIA/DOD, and the motivation was to have things to blame on Cuba and to interfere with the possibility or normalizing relations and a reduction of military expenditures.

  22. October 20, 2017 at 08:27

    But, of course, you never considered that it was just fake news since the diplomats were suffering from mass hysteria because of their contacting something like viral meningitis is the bunker-like embassy.

    You just protect the looney American government in the final analysis.

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 20, 2017 at 13:18

      Mr Ford I’m having a hard time comprehending your comment, but I’m intrigued to try and understand you. Could you further explain what you mean, and to how this article protects the looney American Government. Thank you Joe

      • October 21, 2017 at 10:19

        I am saying that the diplomats and their families, especially their children,caught viral meningitis, living in an enclosed environment which caused their hysteria, and which competent doctors. never consulted, could easily have diagnosed.

        Not doing so helps the US government by implying that the commies are still somehow behind it. Just more evidence of how paranoid Americans are.

        Won’t spend more time explaining for fear that it will just be deleted too.

        • Joe Tedesky
          October 22, 2017 at 23:07

          Thank you Mr Ford. I agree with what you said, and I apologize for my being a little dense with what your first wrote. Again thank you sir for your well appreciated comment. Joe

  23. October 20, 2017 at 07:28

    Russians and all humans being not US Citizen cannot trust americans who just phony idiots…

  24. Michael K Rohde
    October 20, 2017 at 02:36

    I never fail to be amazed when I see another example of the NYT pulling this sort of nonsense. Sonic attacks? Have we ruled out Dr. No some where in the Bahamas with a new weapon we haven’t discovered yet? Then again it could be the Chaos organization and Goldfinger, he actually survived the fall from the out of control jet to gain his revenge. We should rule out all possible suspects, you know, the Chaney Doctrine of even it is only an infinitesimal chance of occurring we treat it like a mushroom cloud. Is this the same gang that published the Pentagon Papers? Really?

    • Brad Owen
      October 20, 2017 at 06:42

      I suspect Klingons. They have Sonic Disruptor pistols dontchaknow.

      • Brad Owen
        October 20, 2017 at 07:02

        Then again, the Klingon Empire was a stand-in for the old Soviet Union…so maybe Putin did it afterall.

  25. E Wright
    October 20, 2017 at 01:06

    As with most good lies, there are half truths. During the Cold War all sides aimed beams at each other to try to extract information. Among the most successful were the UHF sound waves that turned windows into diaphragms. I have little doubt that they also experimented with x-rays and that more than a few diplomats had their genetics altered. It might be worth doing a study on cancer rates of diplomats vs the general population in places like Moscow, Bonn and Washington.

  26. R.A.
    October 20, 2017 at 01:02

    I strongly suspect that the whole “sonic weapons” story is a cover for some other reason for withdrawing the diplomats. The “tell” is the lack of medical reports uncovered by Zimmer. You would think that if the State Department really felt that their diplomats were under attack in the way officially described, they would be putting top medical people on the case in order to protect their people from further assault. But as things stand, we don’t know if the assault actually happened. That the NY Times has completely ignored their own reporter’s expose of the implausibility of the official story and continues to push the official line appears to be confirmation–this “sonic attack” is part of the continuing anti-Russian campaign. As Leo G. Carroll, playing a spymaster, remarked in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, “everyone’s been cooperating beautifully.”

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 20, 2017 at 06:36

      And then there’s all the things you just mentioned. Very good. Joe

  27. tina
    October 20, 2017 at 00:42

    Just think about this. If you were the Cuban government “Gee, let’s make those diplomats sick. But how? Oh I know, Earaches., Yes that is it the solution to this problem. We will give them earaches. Brilliant. We will bring down the Yanquis with earaches.” This is the premise of my novel. You guys and women here write the rest and take credit for the book.

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 20, 2017 at 01:31

      Yeah tina, and do you know what the Americans give Cuba? Headaches that’s what. Joe

    • October 19, 2017 at 23:35

      Obviously a poltergeist!…perhaps of Russian origin.

    • David G
      October 19, 2017 at 23:46

      NYT article came first.

      • Susan Sunflower
        October 20, 2017 at 11:44

        apologies — the Guardian article didn’t reference the NYT and this article didn’t reference the more risk-takingly emphatic Guardian article ….

        There are no known sonic weapons to account for the vaguely described symptoms of a group of people (what percentage of the workers in the Cuban American embassy were affected and to what degree, with what symptoms and/or incapacity?)

        Similarly symptom clusters without apparent cause have historically been found to be mass hysteria (even when dealing with a relatively small number of people, it’s the relationships and interactions between the “sufferers” that creates the “hysteria” or transference of symptoms and mind-set).

        The guardian probably should have credited the NYT, and I would fault the Guardian also for it’s use of vague and lazy “numerous experts consulted” …

        Scientific evidence? We don’t need no steenking scientific evidence complicating the narrative….

        Note, I had read the Guardian article at time of publication and never saw the NYT article(s) … which I guessed/assumed I had not picked up on (if I saw the headline) because the Guardian had already addressed the issue … I should have verfied dates. again apologies.

  28. October 19, 2017 at 20:31

    It’s interesting that in this day and age a reporter feels the need to educate the public, and perhaps even his peers, by detailing how a proper investigation is conducted. And I’m not talking about the inestimable Mr Parry.

  29. Lois Gagnon
    October 19, 2017 at 19:56

    Cui bono?

  30. Tim Armstrong
    October 19, 2017 at 19:48

    Not that I expect anyone to believe a random internet comment, but I’m compelled to speak up nonetheless.

    Sonic weapons definitely exist; they’re one type of directed energy weapon that can seriously injure people in a variety of ways. The symptoms that can be caused by infrasound and other (mostly) inaudible sonic weapons include: memory loss, confusion, drowsiness, anxiety, tinnitus, insomnia, and changes in mood. Other directed energy weapons affect the body below the head in a variety of ways, most commonly causing muscle soreness & fatigue. That’s what I can confirm. There are other reports about more serious effects, but I can’t speak to that.

    As to who did it: I know these weapons exist and have been used in the US against dissidents, but that doesn’t preclude other countries from obtaining similar capabilities.

    So that’s what I know, unfortunately. Do with it what you will.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 19, 2017 at 20:23

      Good points. If “energy” weapons were involved, they could be detected. And shielded, too. Nary a mention of any of that in any story I’ve seen.

    • Seer
      October 19, 2017 at 22:04

      “As to who did it: I know these weapons exist and have been used in the US against dissidents, but that doesn’t preclude other countries from obtaining similar capabilities.”

      Yup. AND, it also doesn’t preclude the US from using it against it’s own State Department personnel (and, if the claims by Canadians has merit, them too) in order to blame on Cuba (or Russia). Again, good time to revisit the dastardly Operation Northwoods plan from the early 60s.

    • David G
      October 19, 2017 at 23:45

      Read Zimmer’s piece in the NYT: sonic devices exist, but they don’t function in a way that matches these reports.

  31. October 19, 2017 at 19:43

    Russia and Putin manipulate us through puppy pics and Pokemon! Diabolical! No doubt Rachel Maddow is on the case and no doubt the rest of the world perceives us as a very large lunatic asylum with our very own launch codes.

    • Seer
      October 19, 2017 at 22:01

      You know, dogs have more sensitive hearing. Maybe there’s a connection?

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 19, 2017 at 22:47

        Yeah, Seer has any dogs been brought into the investigation? Joe

        • Seer
          October 19, 2017 at 23:32

          Joe, Parry’s use of “dog” in the title of this article would seem to suggest that we ought to take this lead :-)

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 20, 2017 at 01:24

            Who reads the articles anymore?

    • David G
      October 19, 2017 at 23:43

      I fast forward through Maddow’s show most evenings, and she is definitely on the case. I haven’t heard her explicitly blame Putin yet, but you can tell she is itching too. Critical journalism such as Zimmer’s gets no quarter there.

  32. Paul
    October 19, 2017 at 19:43

    When this story first broke there was a report somewhere (can’t remember where I read it but one of the websites such as Counterpunch, Consortiumnews etc) that there was a local parasite that could cause the symptoms similar to tinnitus, including headaches etc. Amazing that this fairly simple explanation seems not to be entering the lexicon, buried in favour of “sonic weapons” BS.

    Maybe you can find the references? When that report came out I assumed that would be the end of the story, but no. It seems to be carrying on, just like the “Russia did it” narrative. Amazing what saturation coverage of a propaganda talking point can do…

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 19, 2017 at 22:44

      I like where your going with the parasite theory Paul. In a not so joking way, I wonder if this reaction the American diplomats are experiencing is due to their finally eating non GMO processed food? I’m just throwing that out there, but Paul your adding in the parasite is a fresh angle, and one that should probably be included in our pondering of a thorough investigation. Joe

  33. mike k
    October 19, 2017 at 19:27

    I never put any credence in this idiotic charge of sonic weaponry. The diplomats there just caved in to psychic contagion and paranoid groupthink.

    • Sam F
      October 19, 2017 at 20:55

      Interesting hypothesis. Their prior susceptibility to contagious groupthink is well established. Perhaps one of them got a paid vacation by pleading job-related psychic problems, more followed suit, and soon they were all back at home. Or perhaps they were all involved in an infiltration scheme to sell Democracy ™ that fell completely flat, and needed an excuse to be relocated.

      • Seer
        October 19, 2017 at 22:00

        Was any of this happening before Trump started bellowing that he was going to reverse the relations with Cuba (another item to notch off the “things the n*gger did that have to be undone” list)?

        Oh, and we “know” that the US would NEVER perpetrate any such things on it’s own people! (can you say “Operation Northwoods?” here we are again, Cuba…)

        • Sam F
          October 20, 2017 at 08:39

          One hypothesis is that the USG was using a new acoustic countermeasure system against acoustic spying, that caused intermittent hearing problems over a long enough period that it was not deactivated until it was too late. That would be unusually careless, but as you suggest, the effects may have worked in some higher plan for accusing Cuba, or removing staff involved in a coming assassination attempt, or one that failed and might be exposed.

  34. Knomore
    October 19, 2017 at 19:24

    Robert Parry at his best — the EV Putin asides are priceless; also the commentary on reporting habits of the NYT.

    But as to what might be behind this strange story of sonic? attacks, I thought immediately of Katherine Horton, an Oxford PhD in particle physics who made the mistake of attending a trial somewhere in London some years ago and was picked up on someone’s radar, thereby becoming the victim of directed energy attacks. She describes the history, the attacks, their frequency, etc. in many online posts). I wonder if this ties in with a story out on YouTube (since withdrawn) about a Lisa Lam who seems to have been a victim of similar [mind?] control tactics from a distance. I believe Lam was the one found dead in the septic system of a hotel in L.A. When these YouTubes were available scenarios were suggested as to how this young woman might have ended up where she did.

    What this suggests is that there are very serious weapons out there that have potentially deadly effects about which we know next to nothing — and given YouTube’s actions: it would seem they don’t want us to know what’s behind this — Horton believes that the end game of the attacks on her which have continued for 20 years? is to eventually kill her.

    By putting up with this extremely noisome problem on a daily basis while maintaining self-composure, and presenting a smiling face to the world, she’s a heroine in her own right. She monitors a discussion group to inform the public, and can be found by putting Katherine Horton into any internet search engine. Also follow the link below:

  35. October 19, 2017 at 19:15

    As usual, Sam, your intelligent critique goes far beyond the capability of the USG investigators. It is absolutely ludicrous not to have done a medical report, or a thorough physical examination of the building and surrounding environment. Or are the journalists reporting this reporting poorly?

    • Sam F
      October 19, 2017 at 21:21

      Thanks; likely the reporting is very incomplete. But it seems odd that the USG withdrew some personnel rather than experiment with headphones, then put up sound barriers in windows. That is not difficult or costly, and would have greatly reduced any sound problems indoors. Then they could have installed existing sound intensity recorders on each outside wall, set up an alarm for high intensity, and used that to make directional measurements to spot the source.

      One would also expect them to have checked every other reasonable hypothesis based upon the symptoms, moving in teams of professionals to make more sophisticated measurements, and publishing preliminary and final results, so that timely administrative and policy decisions could be made.

      Perhaps the embassy staff were deeply involved in immoral assassination schemes, so that they were burdened with guilt and deeply feared retaliation, leading to the perception of imaginary symptoms. Or they may have been pulled out hastily because an assassination scheme failed and was likely to be revealed as the work of the USG. That may be why they could not be interviewed. The Cuban government would be well advised to look to the safety of their own key personnel.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 19, 2017 at 22:37

        Hey Sam I respect your opinion, and your hypothesis that the sonic annoyance could be a problem within the buildings structural composition itself, or whatever, makes a lot of sense.

        Let me throw this at you, wouldn’t it seem plausible to suspect the many American interest who were against our nation having any detente with Cuba? Like Robert Parry brought up, of how to the Cubans this new start with the U.S. is a welcome thing, so how much should we suspect them of this strange occurrence? When I first heard of this, my mind went straight to the few who are very upset with this new relationship that has evolved to the point of detente between Cuba and the U.S., which the Obama Administration was able to put in place. Could this be another one of the Trump Adminstrations efforts to undo everything Obama? Better still how about the CIA being at the center of these sonic happenings?

        I also will add here, how it is encouraging to see possibly the birthing of the next Robert Parry, or Chris Hedges, is now working at the NYT in the science editorial department. Well at least I hope Carl Zimmer will pursue his truth telling, with or without a NYT pay check.

        Great analyzing on your part Sam. Joe

        • Sam F
          October 20, 2017 at 08:26

          Yes, regardless of the cause, the withdrawal of embassy staff could be a bone thrown to the Miami Cuban faction.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 20, 2017 at 09:51

            How about a US Naval vessel tie up somewhere in Havana Harbor, and have at least a skeleton crew of State work their diplomatic chores from there? I say this, because at least this would initiate an extension of American goodwill, and a gesture of not pointing to any sense of suspicion towards the Cuban Government leaving the investigation to go forward in a unbiased manner, while allowing investigative facts to conclude to what the sonic interference may be, and to whom may have installed this strange annoyance of a possible contrived deliberate weapon, if it were purposely done in the first place.

            Ask yourself Sam to how the U.S. would react to any other country, if this sonic menace or some other kind of disturbance were to have occurred in one of our few allied partners country. Would we expel English, German, or what about Israeli diplomats from DC if somekind of occurrences like this one in Cuba, were to happen in our embassies in their countries? Wouldn’t it seem that a consistent policy of guarding the safety of our State employee staff be accomplished better if done fairly and with all but one efficient way of security being observed, and to not be hurried through with an irrational approach?

            We are going down the rat hole with this one Sam. Nothing about it, or how it is being confronted is right. The impulsive response by our U.S. Government is revealing of a couple of things. One being America’s reluctance to forget it’s pass with Cuba, and to create a new era of peaceful coexistence going forward being denied. The other could be America’s wanting to insure that the U.S. must continue to keep Cuba on the enemy list, because Cuba serves as it being a good example of everything for what America is defending itself from.

            There you go Sam, just a little more to contemplate. Joe

          • Sam F
            October 20, 2017 at 18:46

            Good idea. The use of a temporary quarters would allow analysis of the problem without disturbance of embassy functions, and using a naval vessel would surround the embassy staff with others not noticing symptoms. Just don’t choose the USS Maine.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 20, 2017 at 21:54

            Sam not to beat a dead horse, but wouldn’t you think that the State Department Embassy’s after all these years would have developed a contingency plan for something like this sonic annoyance problem? Also don’t you think at the very least, our American State Department would control the news narrative better with the hopes of providing Cuba with some respect for Cuba’s sovereignty to show a sign of U.S. goodwill coverage for a renewed friend, until the results are in?

            No Sam somebody wants this done this way.
            Now get he up Sam, just say’n. Joe

  36. Don
    October 19, 2017 at 19:15

    OK so what is the conclusion? What is causing the physical damage to these diplomats?

    • Seer
      October 19, 2017 at 21:54

      When did you stop beating your wife?

      • David G
        October 19, 2017 at 23:36

        Well, if I take your meaning correctly, we shouldn’t be dismissive of these people’s complaints. Psychosomatic symptoms can be genuinely distressing. And there may have been some external etiology, at least to start with.

        The problem is the U.S. turning an isolated medical/psychological incident into a diplomatic one.

        • Seer
          October 20, 2017 at 01:34

          Are we sure that people have actually been harmed, that there is substance and it’s not just fiction?

          Are there just a few “actors” that are the ones telling the story?

          • David G
            October 20, 2017 at 02:32

            I didn’t say they’d been harmed. But if somebody says they’re in physical pain or distress, my first inclination is to believe them. Afaik, the people trying to use this against Cuba are the usual Washington warmongers (and Miami auxiliary) not the embassy employees.

            But I suppose in some circles it’s more natural to think they’re all graduates of the same acting school as the Sandy Hook parents.

          • Susan Sunflower
            October 20, 2017 at 12:12

            As I recall there were claims of demonstrated actual physical damage, primarily hearing loss, and more vaguely “cognitive difficulties”, however it sounded as if these individuals had been subjected a batteries of tests with conclusive findings … adding (likely faux) substance to the claim of an “attack” and a “weapon” … it is very curious that only 2 dozen embassy “diplomats” were “stricken” (whatever their symptoms might be or have been) in a building that large and likely well populated. If only certain individuals – diplomats – were “attacked”, how to explain the lack of symptoms in support personnel, etc.

            The stress in any workplace is rarely related to the physical environment, rather the political environment. I would imagine that the embassy personnel were grappling with the Trump about-face after Obama’s outreach and “detente” … this must the situation in much of the government as Trump telegraphs his “intentions” often far in advance of actually taking action … so he makes endless repeated headlines with his threats in advance of changes being made (and as with immigration, then there are lengthy court battles and delays) … I don’t think this is “brilliant” subtefuge as ADD like lack of focus and boasting and bragging and big promises of revenge against Obama policies, etc….

    • TammyWayne
      October 20, 2017 at 07:22

      Voice to Skull (v2k), electromagnetic weapons, extra low frequency weapons (ELF) are all documented & declassified developing US military technology. They have even commercialized it as ‘audio spotlight technology’. So it’s not as far-fetched as most here seem to think. Former Honduran President, Manual Zelaya claimed that he was subjected to it several years ago. At least two other probable high-profile cases also come to mind: the Naval Shipyard Shooter & Myron May; as well as many other untold involuntary human guinea pigs who have been more than likely covertly used for decades testing it ‘in real-world applications’. This is a crime against humanity that has been hiding in plain sight. But of course, most will pooh-pooh the reality that it’s probably not Cuba, but the US who is the transgressor in this incident. Not like collateral damage is an unknown US tactic.

  37. Sam F
    October 19, 2017 at 19:02

    The USG story is not very plausible or complete:
    1. It is odd that no medical report was done; perhaps those involved may make info available;
    2. It is strange that the USG could not find evidence of any acoustic anomalies, let alone locate them, when the military medical departments and others have sets of acoustic recorders etc;
    3. It is strange that no effort was made to simply install sound barriers in the windows;

    The USG attribution of the problem is not very plausible:
    4.The government of Cuba is the least likely suspect;
    5. A Russian initiative would almost certainly have occurred elsewhere first;
    6. Other governments or even individuals might want to experiment with acoustic weapons;

    There are probably other explanations than an external acoustic source:
    7. Many buildings have problems with vapors like Formaldehyde from curing materials;
    8. Many buildings have problems with mold in the A/C ducts;
    9. The US may have been using acoustic noise countermeasures against acoustic spying;

    Finally, the State dept itself is hardly a source of reliable data on acoustic phenomena:
    10. It has become such an echo chamber that it may be a health problem itself;
    11. They have been hearing strange hubristic voices for so long that this may be nothing new;
    12. One wonders know how many of them reported hearing voices of divine confirmation.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 19, 2017 at 20:20

      Good remarks! This story has always smelled to high heaven with me. If the US government doesn’t have reams of information it is guilty of severe malpractice.

      I wonder if Mr. Zimmer wasn’t severely restricted as to what he was allowed to write. As John Richards says, why not an interview with the victims? If they had been made unavailable then that ought to have been mentioned.

      • Sam F
        October 19, 2017 at 21:41

        Yes, the lack of interviews of the affected personnel suggests that they are all CIA and were up to no good.

        That may be the real reason that they were suddenly pulled out with a silly cover story: they were involved in an assassination plot that failed and were likely to be arrested if it were traced, and that might be a delayed action which is about to occur. The Cuban government should guard against a coup attempt, look after security of its key personnel, and consider upcoming pathogen releases etc. in their homes and offices. The USG has no principles and will do anything without a policy.

      • Rob Roy
        October 19, 2017 at 23:31

        I have to jump in here somewhere and offer a couple of things:
        1. Someone suggested in these comments that there may have been a psychosomatic spread of an “illness” because of the stress of being in Havana. I’m here to tell you all that there is NO stress in Havana (unless, of course, you are there to disrupt another country’s policies and replace them with your own country’s. I’ve been in many countries, and the most peaceful of any is Cuba.
        2. Trump shot himself in the foot by pulling out diplomats because they are there to undercut the free elections that according to Raul Castro are on the near future agenda. The US will do everything it can to put their choice in office. Guaranteed.
        3. Why all this concern for these peoples’ hearing? Our Navy uses so much sonic sound under water that they are destroying sea life faster than we are killing people in other lands. There are too many humans, right? Sea life is more important, isn’t it?

        • Seer
          October 20, 2017 at 01:40

          #2 says it all. That is the entire purpose, to kill any diplomatic channels so that fire and brimstone can be used. It’s more of a story-build to paint a bigger bullseye on Cuba. Again, Obama started to normalize relations, which means that this action HAS to be undone (does not matter what affect it will have so much as it’s another item to scratch off the “things that the n*gger did that have to be undone” list).

    • Seer
      October 19, 2017 at 21:53

      Excellent post!

      • Sam F
        October 20, 2017 at 08:57

        Thanks; another possibility is the use of diet soft drinks in that hot climate. The most common sweetener causes annoying headaches and other problems not often suspected, even with 1-2 cans daily. Like many other hypotheses this could be correlated with other symptoms using staff questionnaires on consumption.

    • Brad Owen
      October 20, 2017 at 03:41

      Could be the CIAs own electronic listening equipment emitting resonant vibrations…which would kill the story as it would lead to,top secret equipment.

  38. JGJG
    October 19, 2017 at 18:56

    If history is any guide, after this praise for going against the deep state, Zimmer should be careful not to get Webbed.

  39. John Richards
    October 19, 2017 at 18:54

    It would seem logical to follow the lead regarding the absence of an official medical report on those injured. Did Zimmer track down and interview the victims? That would seem to be a logical starting point for assessing the injuries and then the possible cause of those injuries. How can sonic experts render an opinion about the source of an injury without this information? So to suggest that this is a “Man Bites Dog” story is a bit premature. Maybe “Man Contemplates Biting Dog… We Think” would be closer to the mark. Where is the logical thinking in the MSM these days? This story is fluff without some additional facts.

    • David G
      October 19, 2017 at 23:31

      The experts know the physics and engineering, and can say that what is being reported isn’t possible.

      The fact that some people have suffered some real distress, whether psychosomatic or not, doesn’t bend the laws of physics.

      • Susan Sunflower
        October 20, 2017 at 11:57

        yes, part of the issue here is that if this is a “sonic weapon” it is so subtle as to be/have been undetectable by the targets … questions should also be asked as to how universal symptoms are among embassy staff and what the “epidemiology” of both symptoms and complaints (the threshold of complaining or seeking treatment / explanation being different than “feeling off” or having a mild headache or feeling a little dizzy) …

        My impression is that the number of complaints increased as awareness that “something” might be going on …the timeline (not shared) is also significant (wrt this undetectable “sonic attack”) … Most adults probably somewhere in their memories have heard of “sick buildings” … moulds and toxic chemicals, not to mention horrors like Legionnaires in the airconditioning reservoirs.

        Yes, “sonic weapons” have been and are being developed … but seemingly from the researchers cited, these are not undetectable stealth disablers.

    • Dave P.
      October 20, 2017 at 14:38

      John Richards –

      I don’t think U.S. Government would allow the victims to be interviewed by the science reporters or others without prior approval at this stage. The whole thing seems to be very fishy at this time. Who knows, may be truth will come out. But at least NYT got a good chance to beat up on Evil Putin and bad Russia. NYT knows it that If there is a break in propaganda, people may forget about these bad Russkies and their Evil leader. So, they have to keep the drum beat going.

      • stinky rafsanjani
        October 23, 2017 at 10:26

        of course not! most of the (alleged) victims were intelligence operatives.
        which begs the question(s): why them? what were they doing, where were they
        doing it, and what were they doing it with?

        a more logical explanation is some poorly-calibrated high-tech spy gear,
        improperly installed in the new embassy compound.

  40. David G
    October 19, 2017 at 18:26

    Having also read the Zimmer article in the NYT, I was naive enough to assume it would inform the paper’s subsequent coverage, notwithstanding the same-day editorial cited by Robert Parry.

    But naivete it was! NYT news stories on the “attacks” have *not* been citing the real reporting by the paper’s own reporter, instead being written as if no such useful knowledge had been developed.

    Get back to the science beat, Zimmer. Nerd! Leave the political reporting to the professional fabricators.

  41. Jay
    October 19, 2017 at 18:20

    Zimmer is kind of an independent science blogger, whom the NY Times gets a weekly column form.

    And generally, yes, he’s more responsible than many Times “reporters”. Though, the Times has only really one infamously bad science reporter.

    No, whatever is harassing CIA types in Havana is not a sonic weapon, however the results appear to have an audible component. See the difference?

    So indeed within the bounds of “is it a sonic weapon”, the Zimmer answer of “no” is basically correct and a responsible one. However Zimmer’s answer is far from final.

    • dfc
      October 19, 2017 at 20:50

      “harassing CIA types” If it is CIA, why involve Canada?

      At least 5 Canadian diplomats and families hit by mysterious ‘sound attacks’ in Cuba, source says

      At least five Canadian diplomatic families were affected by mysterious “sonic attacks” in Cuba that left them with symptoms including hearing loss, headaches and dizziness.

      That is a larger number of people than previously reported and suggests the Canadian diplomats were targeted intentionally and were not merely victims of mistaken identity in a wave of attacks that affected a larger number of U.S. diplomats.


      It still does not add up.

      • Seer
        October 19, 2017 at 21:52

        Right, pretty rare for Canada to lock-step with the US…

        • SqueakyRat
          October 23, 2017 at 14:23

          Canada has never complied with the US embargo on Cuba, has it?

      • David G
        October 19, 2017 at 23:26

        That’s the point: it “involved” Canada because it’s just mass hysteria, possibly starting out as the flu or something.

        Sorry if I’m misunderstanding what you meant.

      • Brad Owen
        October 20, 2017 at 05:19

        Just remember “The Five Eyes”. The intelligence communities of UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and NZ are fully integrated and coordinated. They steer the course that is followed by the rest of our institutions of government. The course being steered is set by the 1%er oligarchy in City-of-London, Wall Street, and the financial districts of Canada, Australia, and NZ. They set policy and decide methods to achieve policy targets through their REAL Parliament: Bilderberg, Davos, Mt Peleren, CFR, Trilateralists, Tavistock, etc…and people say the British Empire no longer exists. They managed their greatest policy feat by lassoing in the “Rogue” break-away colony:USA (during the Post-War Truman years). The 99%ers have no effective say in matters. Occupy Wall Street struck a nerve. Remember.

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