Six journalists, photographers and activists brought the lawsuit at issue after suffering injuries from an acoustic weapon known as an LRAD that NYPD officers deployed in December 2014 at a Black Lives Matter protest. Writing for a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit, Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Katzmann noted Wednesday that “the disparity between the threat posed by the protest and the degree of force is stark.” For all the plaintiffs, the 48-page ruling states, their proximity to the LRAD led to “auditory pain, migraines, tinnitus, and hearing loss, of varying degrees and duration.” (here).
The issues in Edrei v. Maguire were, of course, quite different from those at the center of the Sonic Weapons Attack against U.S. personnel in Cuba, China and elsewhere. But it does suggest that sonic weaponry has become common place enough for use by municipal police forces. Such sonic weaponry appears to be part of the arsenals of police now and are part of police arsenals that serve multiple purposes. But these are noisy rather than stealthy weapons. Still, they appear to be able to cause injury in some respects similar to those complained of by U.S. personnel abroad. In that context, of course, denials grounded in notions that such injuries are impossible, or that there are no tools at the disposal of states that might produce the sort of injury seem to ring false. But beyond that, there is little.
It is not for nothing, then, that the Trump Administration takes reports of injury seriously. Anxiety increased with reports of injury in China. That has prompted additional reports in other places, including Singapore and Uzbekistan, which for the moment appear to be unconnected to sonic weaponry (26 Americans in 7 Cities Have Now Been Hurt by Unusual Sounds). And then there are the Canadians, reluctant players in the unfolding course of these actions (Ottawa defends response to mystery attacks on Canadian diplomats in Cuba) whose diplomats and citizens appear to have also suffered injury.
But the press also reports opinion that such symptoms are merely expressions of mass hysteria (see here)--a charge that was first made by Cuban authorities last year. Things are made more difficult as authorities across the world have substantially reduced communication about thes eincidents except in carefully controlled bursts.
That wariness might be heightened as the Affair of the Sonic Weapons Attack plays out against an intense political battle for control of the apparatus of government between multiple factions of the American elite.Since reporters first blindsided spokesperson Heather Nauert with questions about the incidents last August, the State Department has been reluctant to give on-the-record details about its investigation. It still refers to these cases as “specific attacks” without saying what is specifically happening. We’ve seen numerous theories for what could cause these kinds of symptoms floated over the last year, including weaponized microwaves or radio waves and malfunctioning surveillance gear. The fact that they don’t know how the attacks occur tends to obscure the fact that we don’t know why they’re occurring in the first place. (here)
Even under the best of circumstances governments may manipulate public perceptions of threats. But in the current political environment, with an administration that has shown disdain for science and the scientific method, leaving key science adviserpositions unfilled – and a president who once described climate change as a Chinese hoax and vaccination as causing autism – the American public should be wary of what this administration says about these incidents, who perpetrated them, and why. (here).
And there is where one must leave things for the moment--the likelihood of more symptoms reporting, and the expectation of ambiguity in whatever report the State Departments eventually circulates to the public. It is the story that is untold that will eventually produce action--the shadows of which will be our only clue about its scope and effect.Members of Congress are demanding more answers on how the State Department is responding to mysterious health incidents affecting U.S. diplomats in China that are medically consistent with those that took place against more than two dozen American workers in Cuba.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.), who sits on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, has asked Secretary of State Pompeo for a State Department report that includes the U.S. government's current and planned efforts to address and combat the "assessed causes" of the recent spate of "sonic" attacks on Americans in China and Cuba. (here).