https://www.gq.com/story/cia-investigat ... ve-attacks
The Mystery of the Immaculate Concussion
He was a senior CIA official tasked with getting tough on Russia. Then, one night in Moscow, Marc Polymeropoulos's life changed forever. He says he was hit with a mysterious weapon, joining dozens of American diplomats and spies who believe they’ve been targeted with this secret device all over the world—and even at home, on U.S. soil. Now, as a CIA investigation points the blame at Russia, the victims are left wondering why so little is being done by the Trump administration.
this shit is
He’s not alone. Smith, of the University of Pennsylvania, told me that “the good news is that everyone improved and many people’s symptoms resolved.” Yet many of the State Department staffers affected in Cuba and China are still disabled. Some are wheelchair-bound; others have to wear weighted vests for the rest of their lives to correct their balance. Many have had to retire prematurely.
Smith’s ongoing research has offered new insights into the Havana Syndrome—if little encouraging news for those suffering from it. In 2019, Smith and his team published a follow-up study that used advanced neuroimaging and brain-connectivity studies to look at the brains of diplomats hit in Havana. This technique showed what less sophisticated imaging had missed. The patients’ brain connectivity was severely affected, especially in the cerebellum and brain networks that control auditory and visuospatial functions. Their volumes of white matter—the inner, deeper part of the brain—were significantly reduced. White matter is made up of axons, the delicate wiring of the central nervous system. According to Smith, it was the axons and their carefully arranged structure that were damaged in people suffering from the syndrome. “If the axons break, that’s it,” he told me. “They won’t reconnect. And you’re not going to grow new axons. You only have the ones you’re born with.” The brain can learn to make up for and work around some of the damage, Smith says, but that takes time and the compensatory mechanisms are often far from perfect.
American foreign policy specialists who want to reinvent the U.S.-Russia relationship can’t quite understand why the Russian security services are still doing this—other than because they can, and because, with Trump in office, they will most certainly get away with it. “They create the reason to keep fighting with them,” says the former national security official about the Russian government. “We don’t even know why they’re doing this. We don’t even want anything from each other anymore, other than an arms-control agreement. We have to kind of push back, we have to do that, but we also have to find a way of living together too.” Yet the Russians, the former official explains, “can’t get used to the fact that we’ve moved on. They want to pull us back into the fight again—the question is for what? This is what we kept telling [Russian officials], that if you want to have a relationship of equals and get stuff done, knock this other crap off.”