tv Inside Story LINKTV January 18, 2022 5:30am-6:01am PST
again, we saw this playbook before, including the widespread effort to push out misinformation, not just in eastern europe, but around the global community. anchor: russian security says it shut down -- the crime group are people. they arrested several members of their group, behind hacking of the largest oil pipeline last year. novak djokovic is fighting attempts to deport him from estrella. -- australia. the tennis star is back in detention after they canceled his visa over a of vaccine exemption. it's the second time his visa has been revoked. djokovic refuses to say whether he's been vaccinated against covid-19. staff at the official residence of britain's prime minister had regular friday dreams during the coronavirus lockdowns.
according to a report. boris johnson has already apologized to queen elizabeth for a party held at downing street for prince philip's funeral. there are fears in india that a religious gathering from hindu pilgrims could become a so-called super-spreader event. india recorded more than 260,000 you -- new cases over the past 24 hours. and germany has reported its highest number of daily infections since the pandemic began, more than 90,000 new cases were reported on friday. the highly contagious omicron variant now accounts for most of those infections. health officials are warning that if cases continue to climb, they could swamp the health care system. those of the headlines. coming up next year on al jazeera, it's inside story. ♪
>> it is a mysterious illness affecting u.s. diplomats worldwide. attacking the nervous system, and in some cases, forcing people into early retirement. it's called the havana syndrome, but what or who is behind it? this is inside story. hello and welcome to the program. i'm peter dobbie. more than five years on and the so-called havana syndrome is back with us. four american victims have called in sick this week with the cases of the syndrome in paris and geneva. the u.s. secretary of state says
the federal government is working to identify the illness and who or what might be behind it. the mystery condition has affected about 200 diplomats and their family members since 2016. it's believed the ailment may be caused by what's called a directed energy attack. symptoms include migraines, nausea, memory loss, and dizziness. and it can be so bad, it's forced some victims into early retirement. will begin our discussion in a moment. first, let's take a closer look at how it all started. it's called havana syndrome because the first cases were reported in 2016 by u.s. diplomats in cuba. they started experiencing neurological symptoms, mimicking what happens after a concussion. but they had suffered no head injuries. since then, dozens more cases have been reported by u.s. officials and families around the world, including in russia and in china. a number of canadian diplomatic staff in cuba were also affected.
a cia team searching for a cause is focused on about 200 cases, which do remain unexplained. in september, the u.s. president joe biden signed into law a bill to compensate the victims. ♪ ok, there we are. here we go. whispering in our guest. in auckland, new zealand, we have robert bartholomew, senior lecturer in the debarment of psychological medicine. he's also the co-owner of havana syndrome, mass psychogenic illness and the real story behind the embassy mystery and hysteria. we have natasha lynne start, specialist on u.s. foreign policy. she is a social science's deputy dean at the university of essex and in boston, massachusetts, we have glenn call, a career cia officer and formally a deputy national intelligence officer. welcome to you all. glenn, havana syndrome, what
might it be? peter: well, -- glenn: well, the immediate thought of all of my colleagues and the introducing's -- institutions involved in foreign policy is that the russians are the most likely ones to have done this kind of activity whether to attain -- obtain intelligence or to harass or both. there are only four countries or so that would have the capability or the interest in doing this sort of thing, assuming that what appears to be happening is happening. that would be russia, china, iran, north korea. but nobody knows. this is one of the big mistress. peter: has there been anything like this in the past? natasha: not that i know of. we have no idea what is really causing this.
i mean, there was speculation that there was some sort of microwave attacks that had occurred against americans in russia, in soviet union. but there's nothing like this where we don't even know what the diagnosis is, who is doing it, what it actually is. there's a lot more questions than answers, and that's what makes it so puzzling. and we don't even know if it's something real. so, we're still looking for answers, but i have the view that this is something that is real because we see some of the victims have been dealing with some of the after effects, that they're still experiencing nausea and headaches, and there's enough people describing similar symptoms to take really seriously. peter: robert bartholomew, in new zealand, i've counted so far here on the program seven uses of the word "it." we don't know what "it" is,
robert. is the time now to call "it" a covert sonic weapon? robert: i think there of that evidence is overwhelming it is a massive psycho had looted jack illness -- that evidence is overwhelming it is a massive psycho hallucinogenic illness. a panel would not rule out the possibility of mass psychogenic illness, and she was forced to resign and people were saying we are not crazy. we are not suffering from a mental disorder. mass cycle hell is a genic illness does not mean you are crazy or suffering from a mental disorder. they are real symptoms. this is a real condition that is the known -- been known for thousands of years. and the evidence is overwhelming. now what we're looking at here is mass cycle? it illness -- peter: just to stop you there for a second, when you talk
about mass psychogenic illness, a.k.a., people think themselves into being really sick, with the same symptoms, because they're in the same datastream, data group when it comes to be analyzed. what we're talking about here is career diplomats, people who are intelligent, well-traveled. they're well educated people. they're presumably mature, in their 40's or 50's. they don't tear up when they're watching hallmark tv, a chick flick, a girly movie, when they're watching something that pulls at the heartstrings. robert: no one is immune to mass psychogenic illness because mass psychogenic illness is based on a belief. think of it as the placebo effect in reverse. if i give you a sugar pill and tell you you're going to feel better, often you will. it's the power of framing. but if i give you a sugar pill and tell you you're going to feel better and someone rushes
in and says that sugar pill i gave you has been contaminated with rat poison, there's a good chance that within a few minutes, you'll get a headache, stomach pain, nausea. you might even vomit. but there's nothing physically wrong with you. think of it as a software problem, an overstimulation of the nervous system. peter: but the reality, glenn in boston, shirley is this. russia, the united states, and china. you mentioned this. they all researched microwaves as weapons. and i don't mean they went to a supermarket and they bought a microwave and threw it at somebody. i mean they tried to come up with technology that used a microwave gun or a device or something that could point microwaves at an individual or any building. . glenn: yes, that's true, but first i have to correct the first ever the high have ever heard al jazeera make, which is that cia officers don't cry at hallmark movies. i can contradict that in fact.
it does occur on occasion. but the, to be more serious, the deputy chief diplomat who was removed from her position for having raised the possibility of psychogenic illness, that occurred, yes, and i think that was an error to do. i think what may not be accepted or understood by the broad public and perhaps by my colleague in auckland is that it is one of the possibilities that i am certain is being analyzed. the people who reacted are the victims. and one would understand if they feel sick, they would take umbrage at having been characterized as loony, which is how they would react to it, although that's not the case in the diagnosis.
but i'm certain that the state department come the cia, the military, the government as a whole, is looking at all the possibilities. the first step that one takes when one doesn't know what's going on in science is you categorize because what more can one do? and i think we are still stuck in that position of simply trying to gather facts to the extent we can establish that they are facts. no one knows, and on think -- i don't think any possible -- i don't think anyone should be or is being dismissed, but i would very seriously doubt that 200 colleagues in disparate countries at different times would suffer from a collective delusion. and my last comment for the moment is the working title of my book, which is about torture in the cia and the u.s. government, was "victims of delusion." and i've seen people sincerely
believe events, actions to be one thing and to personally have observed that is not the case. and yet my colleagues are intelligent and sincere. so i'm not dismissive of the potential of delusion. i really don't believe that that's the likeliness of this. peter: and also, just a flash i what you said briefly in about 30 seconds, statistically, we're talking about 200 people who have operated in the upper echelons of the diplomatic service. it is highly unlikely, shirley, they have character traits that link them and are given to behaving in a way where they clearly lack emotional equilibrium, and they believe that they have a certain set of symptoms, so therefore they carry on displaying the symptoms, even when they are ending up working part-time or they have been retired from that job early. glenn: i think that's true. i think perhaps more significant
is the reports of the syndrome came really out of the blue from people who are not inclined to conspiracy theory thinking or to jumping to conclusions. and they say this is what i feel. and from there, there has been an investigation. and then as i understand it, independent of any reports of "havana syndrome" having occurred, the people have reported this phenomenon separately and without knowledge of it having occurred elsewhere. so someone impairs felt these -- in paris felt the symptoms and said hey, my brain is not working right. and they were independent of each other and not a copycat, subliminally influenced event. peter: natasha, do we need to
subdivide the conversation that we're having here about the technology? one package we carried on this channel in 2016, 2017 about the havana syndrome using microwaves/sound, delivered by some sort of sound kanaan device, and -- canon device, and the people we spoke to, they said it would have to be so big that you couldn't do it in secret because you've got to have literally speakers the size of a concert venue speakers on the back of a truck. and if you drive that up to a secure compounded type zone surrounding an embassy, everyone would see you. and yet on the other hand, the sound canon technology is there. it is out there. and the london authorities -- this is a matter of fact -- the london authorities had plans or a conversation to use it around the olympic's in 2012 for crowd control purposes. so, some of the technology is
out there. we know about it. some of the technology is painted the fanciful, no? natasha: i think that's one of the biggest issues is we don't completely understand what technology is being used, and we can't rule out that it could be possible. it's a technology that we haven't discovered yet, whether a group is using this or entity or state is using this. that there are so many unknowns about it. but one thing we do know, the victims have reported hearing a sound, a loud sound in their head before they started having problems so that may be something connected to that that needs to be better explored, that it's not just something in their head, that that was actually a comment -- common stream among the victims. and just to bring back the issue of russia, this is why i think -- at least my gut reaction upon hearing this -- this could
involve the russians. there no evidence that it does, but this is sort of one of their hallmarks is secretly using, whether it be nerve agents or biological chemical weapons to really perforate. and that's heather used a, to really perforate the lme -- enemy, to create havoc and disarray, sew discontent. and look at what the end outcome is. if we just look at the cuban case, the cuban embassy used to have the u.s. embassy, the diplomats are now down to 10. this has dissipated. so the real outcome is the thing that we also need to investigate. who is really benefiting from this? in addition to also it really exploring what is the technology? peter: robert bartholomew, we will come back to that point in a second if we can. you clearly, you are a skeptic,
the arguably the father of havana syndrome was a thing called the moscow signal. you cannot explain, from your stance, why back to back consecutive u.s. ambassadors in the 1960's into the 1970's in moscow died of cancer. the men who got the job in 1976 was diagnosed very quickly with a severe blood disorder. and then he later died of leukemia. that's three u.s. ambassadors who worked in the same building in the same city in the same country, all died of a form of cancer. robert: well, people died of cancer. but here's the point i want to make -- peter: can you just address my question, please, sir? back to back, three u.s. ambassadors to moscow died of a form of cancer. statistically, that is highly, highly unlikely. robert: i don't know what that has to do with havana syndrome,
though, in the way that the u.s. government has treated this. for example, the fbi report has been leaked. and the fbi concluded that it was massive psychogenic illness, straight up not microwaves. in 2018, there was a secret report of elite scientists who examined the possibility of microwaves, and they said it was virtually impossible. because if you go back and look at the context of what's going on here, the first 21 people who recorded their symptoms, eight of them recorded the attacks when they happened. those recordings were analyzed by that government classified group, and the concluded they were the mating sounds of the indies short tail critic. desk cricket. the u.s. -- short tail cricket. the u.s. government kept that secret. the documents on the adjacent
report didn't come out until september of this past year. so, the u.s. government wants to be more open and frank about what they are doing. and the other point that's important is i been told that of the 200 people, globally, that have been affected, about 100 of them were intelligence officers. how can you explain that? i can explain that from a psychological standpoint because the first people who reported symptoms in cuba were intelligence officers and then the u.s. government, the state department, and the department of defense, has issued alerts around the world for people to be on the lookout for health incidents, and intelligence officers may be the targets. so, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. peter: natasha, do we have to accept that there is clearly a political glaze on top of this debate and it's this? presidents and prime ministers from or in the affected countries need to adjudicate on
what is possibly a killer condition that doesn't kill for months or years. it slowly disables and then it kills people. but the reality is that presidents and prime ministers don't want to adjudicate because then they have to accept the idea of culpability. that's why certain diplomats are actually suing their employer, i.e. the government of the country where they come from. natasha: right, this is what makes it so complicated. because if we admit that there is really something there, then that puts a lot of liability on the government's to take care of their employees, to make sure that their particular diplomats are represented of of the state -- representatives of the state are safe. so it puts governments in a very precarious situation. now, we already mentioned the new bill to better offer support for people who have been victims of some sort of traumatic rain injury. -- brain injury. they're really careful about the
wording they're using. they don't want to put blame on the wrong country. you see representatives of the u.s. government have been very cautious and careful with the way they talk about this. but i think they're trying to explore all options because one scenario, if it's nothing, if ti's something that's psychosomatic, it's one thing. but i think it's more likely there's another country involved, and that requires further investigation and pressure to understand who is culpable and responsible for things. peter: glenn in boston, clearly the people directly affected by this, whether it's real, imagined, whether they thought themselves into it or whether it's somebody someplace pulling the strings, it doesn't really matter. do they need to have formal recognition that they have got something? glenn: oh, and president biden and the ministration and the state department, the national security establishment has two
recognize this and take this seriously. that's the simple answer. yes, that should occur. if i can go back to a point you made before, of course we all know that correlation is not necessarily causation. however, we do know multiple instances in multiple different ways that the russians, specifically, have done all sorts of things that -- mostly intelligence officers -- that have caused harm. davies radioactive powders that are invisible. they used different kinds of waves. i don't know the details of the three ambassadors, but i do know that the russians have used radioactive materials against -- some of them colleagues of mine i know personally and closely to harass, at the least to harass. so it's not a stretch to think
that the likely perpetrator are the russians. now, the second point i'd like to make, in brief, i think our colic in auckland is -- colleague in auckland is perhaps misconstruing what the government would go through by focusing on the dead ends that one will encounter in an investigation. one wouldn't want a report that's been found to be not conclusive or leading the investigation astray, or so on, to be taken as, to frame the perception of the overall investigation. the conclusion so far is that we don't have one. peter: i'm going to interrupt you because we are rapidly approaching the end of the program. let's go back to robert bartholomew in auckland. some of the people directly affected by this have not been near cuba, the island, the
country, havana, the capital city, or the u.s. embassy. they didn't sleep near a colony of crickets. some of the canadians that have been directly affected by something have been transported from ottawa to halifax, nova scotia. they have been medically tested, and it's been found that the left-hand side of their brain does not connect properly with the right hand side of their brain. that's a matter of medical fact. on top of that, some of the canadians -- you're shaking your head. hang on. let me finish. some of the canadians are expensing early symptoms of parkinson's or early dementia. again, you -- i've used the word a few times, statistically highly unlikely -- and they've had no conversations with americans who were affected by this. robert: well, that's just not true. the canadians and the americans knew what was going on because they were sharing data peter: there wasn't some sort of
hysteria down a skype line from an american diplomat to a canadian diplomat. robert: that's exactly what was going on. it spread like wildfire. the diplomats in the american embassy that we talked to said that everybody knew it spread like wildfire throughout the embassies. and then they were told don't sleep near or stand near windows and things like this, which really hyped up the anxiety. and i also want to address the point about, why not release the fbi document? because it might misconstrue things. well, why was the cdc document released? why was the national academy of sciences's document released when those documents were also inconclusive? peter: natasha, very last word to you. in the last 30 seconds of the program, if this is a weapon, it is an amazing weapon. and i use the word amazing advisedly. the next iteration of this weapon, what might it be capable of doing?
natasha: i think that's the scary thing is the unknown. it might be capable of being a leash on a larger population -- unleashed on a larger population. and that would really disable a big portion of the public if they were able to leash it on a much greater part of the population. and i think that's one of the unknowns that makes this so incredibly scary because we have people retiring from their jobs that they were really passionate about because they been so disabled by this mysterious syndrome. peter: ok, we must leave it there. thank you to our guests, robert bartholomew, natasha lynn stat, and glenn. thank you for watching. you can see the show anytime via our website. and for questions, go to our facebook page. you can also join the conversation on twitter. our handle is at @ajinside story. for me, peter dobbie, and
[tom cruise impersonation] tom cruise: my fellow americans, you deserve the truth and i know you can handle it. i won't be your next president. that point has been made crystal clear. [president barack obama impersonation] barack obama: we're entering an era in whi our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time. like, president trump is a total and complete d--. ♪♪♪ [jeremy fernandez impersonation] jeremy fernandez: hello, welcome to "foreign correspondent." i'm jeremy fernandez. well, it took a global pandemic to force us all indoors and to increasingly rely on video screens to connect our lives. but is seeing still believing?