Diplomat accuses State Department of cover-up over “directed energy weapons” attacks
10/29/2021 // Matthew Davis // Views

Mark Lenzi, a Department of State official who sustained traumatic brain injuries while on assignment in Guangzhou, China, accused the department of hiding the source of his and other diplomats' ailments and withdrawing information from Congress.

According to Lenzi, the State Department was doing its own medical tests to evaluate patients who experienced "directed energy exposure" on foreign soil. The disclosure forms of two victims were provided to Politico. Lenzi was on assignment in Guangzhou in late 2017 and was evaluated in June 2018. He was sent home days after a medical test. He was diagnosed with a brain injury on July 22, 2018.

Politico reported that lawmakers were not briefed on the State Department's medical tests for directed energy exposure until early 2021. Lenzi claimed leaders in the State Department have retaliated against him for speaking out about the issue and working with Congress as it investigates the matter, Politico reported.

The federal agency that handles whistleblower claims previously found "a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing" in the case of Lenzi and his claims of retaliation, according to an April 2020 Office of Special Counsel (OSC) memo. The retaliation probe is still underway. Lenzi's administrative leave was revoked without explanation, according to Politico.

More than 200 American personnel – diplomats and intelligence officers alike – in foreign countries and on U.S. soil have suffered from unexplained health incidents since 2016. "The State Department has not treated this syndrome as seriously as it should. And that is very disturbing to me," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).


While declining to comment on Lenzi's case, a State Department spokesperson said: "The safety of our personnel is our highest priority. We take every report we receive extremely seriously, and we are doing everything we can to ensure affected individuals get the best care and treatment."

Lenzi told Politico the State Department's handling of the issue has gotten worse under Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The OSC investigation is expected to be completed before the end of the year. At that point, the results would be shared with the White House and Congress. If Lenzi's allegations are substantiated, he would be considered a whistleblower under the statutory definition and entitled to protections under the law.

Intelligence officers hit by "Havana Syndrome"

Meanwhile, the National Security Agency confirmed in a letter back in 2014 that the U.S. was investigating whether microwaves had been beamed at an embassy and were causing illness to intelligence officers, diplomats and others. The mysterious illness was dubbed as "Havana Syndrome."

In 1996, NSA colleagues Michael Beck and Chuck Gubete traveled to a "hostile country" on a brief assignment and ended up falling ill. Beck and Gubete were allowed to enter the country but not after being detained for one hour at the airport. The men said they knew they were being watched.

Beck said they were a few days into their assignment when he started becoming ill. "It was extreme fatigue and weakness," he recalled. "I was a bowl of jelly and couldn't get moving."

Beck was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease 10 years later at the age of 46.

Gubete, whose family had a history of Parkinson's, died several years later. In 2014, Beck filed a worker's compensation claim with the NSA, which send him a letter confirming the microwave attack.

"The National Security Agency confirms there is intelligence information from 2012 associating the hostile country to which Mr. Beck traveled in the late 1990s with a high-powered microwave system weapon that may have the ability to weaken, intimidate or kill an enemy over time and without leaving evidence," the NSA said in its letter.

"This weapon is designed to target the living quarters in microwaves, causing numerous physical effects, including a damaged nervous system."

Now 61 years old, Beck is trying to prove his claim. His lawyer Mark Zaid pointed out that the NSA's s letter came in 2014, two years before the first Havana Syndrome cases were reported after diplomats and intelligence officers were sickened while in Havana, Cuba.

Now, there are more than 200 cases of people in several different countries describing symptoms including high-pitched sounds, steady "pulses of energy" in the head, pain, nausea, dizziness and memory loss. (Related: Mysterious "Havana syndrome" affects more American diplomats, soldiers and spies than previously thought.)

Retired Central Intelligence Officer John Sipher, who served in Moscow during the 1990s and led the spy agency's operations at Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in the 2000s, described Russia's intelligence services as being particularly aggressive.

"They would use whatever means possible to collect [intelligence] against us," said Sipher. "I've stayed in touch with a lot of folks, and it is a general view that the Russians have probably taken actions that have impacted the health of American diplomats and intelligence officers."

Microwave signals target embassies

The use of microwave signals to target embassies were stated in memos from the State Department, the CIA and presidential advisers.

In 1978, Jack Matlock, Moscow embassy's No. 2 official at the time, wrote: "This would seem an appropriate opportunity to reiterate at a high level our standing demand that microwave signals directed at Embassy be shut off forthwith."

The illness wasn't caused by an accident, said Dr. James Giordano, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University who is investigating the initial cases from Havana for the State Department.

The National Academies of Sciences also compiled a report supporting the microwave theory

"The mechanism that we found most plausible was a form of microwave radiation that occurs in a pulsed or intermittent form," said David Relman, a Stanford University professor.  "We believe, although we can't show with direct evidence, that this microwave phenomenon could account for at least some of the clinical features."

Sources include:



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