“Havana Syndrome” – A Panel featuring Nicky Woolf, Marc Polymeropoulos, and Mark Zaid
This week’s episode is the result of a collaboration with The Sound, a recent limited series podcast exploring the so-called Havana Syndrome. The guests are host and investigative journalist Nicky Woolf (Twitter), former senior CIA operations officer and sufferer Marc Polymeropoulos (Twitter), and attorney and advocate Mark Zaid (Twitter).
What You’ll Learn
- What Havana Syndrome is
- Who it is affecting
- Theories to explain it
- The role of intelligence organizations
- The unending search for truth
- Humanity in the intelligence field
And much, much more …
In late 2016, a number of American and Canadian embassy personnel in Havana, Cuba were the first to report debilitating idiopathic symptoms. Sufferers reported loud ringing in their ears, severe vertigo, headaches, and loss of cognitive abilities. Now, almost 6 years later, over 200 people have come forward experiencing similar symptoms.
Despite the number of reported sufferers and extensive investigations, there is still no conclusive answer. This week on SpyCast, we bring you the recording of an in-person program held at the International Spy Museum in February which brought together a panel to examine the issue.
This episode was produced in collaboration with THE SOUND, an investigative podcast series by Project Brazen and Goat Rodeo with PRX. Tune in to all 8 episodes of THE SOUND now for a more in-depth and comprehensive look at the mystery of Havana Syndrome.
Quotes of the Week
"There’s a betrayal I felt when the CIA didn't give me the medical attention that I needed. You know, if you're not feeling well and an employee comes to you, send 'em to the doctor. And they weren't able to do that. And to me, that's just a leadership fail for the ages." – Marc Polymeropoulos.
- The Past 75 Years: A History of the CIA with Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (2022)
- Dealing with Russia with Jim Olson (2022)
- One of the CIA’s Most Decorated Field Officers with Marc Polymeropoulos (2021)
- NatSec and the Law with Mark Zaid (2018)
- Havana Syndrome: What We Know, B. Tau and W. P. Strobel, The Wall Street Journal (2023) [Short article]
- What is the “Havana Syndrome?”, Brut America, YouTube (2022) [3 min. video]
- What is Havana Syndrome?, B. Cuffari, News Medical (2022)
- To Catch a Spy, J. Olson (Georgetown University Press, 2021)
- Putin’s People, C. Belton ( Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2020)
- The Moscow Rules, A. Mendez & J. Mendez (Public Affairs, 2019)
- Havana Syndrome unlikely to have hostile cause, US says, B. Debusman Jr., BBC News (2023)
- Don’t Be Misled by the ‘New’ Havana Syndrome Claims, R. Bartholomew, Psychology Today (2023)
- ‘Havana syndrome’ not caused by energy weapon or foreign adversary, intelligence review finds, S. Harris & J. Hudson, The Washington Post (2023)
- The Strange Case of the Havana ‘Sonic Attacks’, J.M. Kirk, International Journal of Cuban Studies (2019)
- Havana Syndrome Among Canadian Diplomats: Brain Imaging Reveals Acquired Neurotoxicity, A. Friedman et al., MedRxiv (2019)
- Who or What is Behind Havana Syndrome?, Al Jazeera, YouTube (2022)
- Early Victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’ Speak Out About Ongoing Health Struggles, NBC News, YouTube (2021)
- Updated Assessment of Anomalous Health Incidents, National Intelligence Council (2023)
- Havana Act of 2021, Federal Register (2023)
- Anomalous health Incidents: Analysis of Potential Causal Mechanisms, IC Experts Panel (2022)
- Cuba Travel Advisory: Level 3, U.S. Department of State (2018)
- Senate Hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, U.S. Senate (1978)
- Kissinger Telephone Conversation with Ambassador Dobrynin, National Security Archive (1975)
- Samuel Koslov Memorandum to the State Department, “Biomedical Phenomena,” National Security Archive (1965)
- Havana Syndrome is an example of a toponymic term in the medical field – A name that comes from a geographic place. For more on medical etymology, check out this article that shares the backstory of the name of 7 well-known conditions.