Dusting Off the Moscow Microwave Biostatistical Study, Have a Read

Posted: 2:40 am ET
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CBS News Radio broke the story last month on the mysterious attacks against U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Those evaluated reportedly were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, and with likely damage to the central nervous system. On September 18, CBS News citing “two sources who are familiar with the incidents” said that a top official in charge of security for the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, is among at least 21 Americans affected by mysterious attacks that have triggered a range of injuries. In a follow-up report on September 20, CBS News says this:

An internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9. The diplomats complained about symptoms ranging from hearing loss and nausea to headaches and balance disorders after the State Department said “incidents” began affecting them beginning in late 2016. A source familiar with these incidents says officials are investigating whether the diplomats were targets of a type of sonic attack directed at their homes, which were provided by the Cuban government. The source says reports of more attacks affecting U.S. embassy workers on the island continue.
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At the time, Nauert said she didn’t believe the number of Americans injured was in the tens or dozens. But a source says that by the time the State Department first publicly acknowledged the attacks, it knew the reports of Americans injured had reached double-digits.

Read in full: As number of injured diplomats soared, State Dept. kept Cuba attacks secret.

Related to these mysterious attacks, also see Microwaving U.S. Embassy Moscow: Oral History From FSOs James Schumaker and William A. Brown.

For those interested in the Moscow incidents, we’ve dug up the John Hopkins and subsequent technical reports on the Moscow microwave study (abstract and links below). We understand that there is also an AFSA report prepared on the Moscow incidents but we have not been able to locate a copy.

PB288163 | Evaluation of Health Status of Foreign Service and other Employees from Selected Eastern European Posts, Abraham M. Lilienfeld, M.D., Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health The Johns Hopkins University (1978): This is a biostatistical study of 1827 Department of State employees and their dependents at the Moscow Embassy and 2561 employees and their dependents from other Eastern European Embassies. Health records, health questionnaires and death certificates were the basic information sources. The study is the impact of the Moscow environment including microwave exposure on the health status and mortality of the employees·. It was concluded that personnel working at the American Embassy in Moscow from 1953 to 1976 suffered no ill effects from the microwaves beamed at the Chancery. Excerpt:

A relatively high proportion of cancer deaths in both female employee groups was noted–8 out of 11 deaths among the Moscow and 14 out of 31 deaths among the Comparison group. However, it was not possible to find any satisfactory explanation for this, due mainly to the small numbers of deaths involved and the absence of information on many epidemiological characteristics that influence the occurrence of various types of malignant neoplasms. To summarize the mortality experience observed in the employees’ groups: there is no evidence that the Moscow group has experienced any higher total mortality or for any specific causes of death up to this time. It should be noted, however, that the population studied was relatively young and it is too early to have been able to detect long term mortality effects except for those who had served in the earliest period of the study. (p.243)
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The results of this study may well be interpreted as indicating that exposure to microwave radiation at the levels experienced at the Moscow embassy has not produced any deleterious health effects thus far. It should be clear however, that with the limitations previously discussed, any generalizations should be cautiously made. All that can be said at present is that no deleterious effects have been noted in the study population, based on the data that have been collected and analyzed. Since the group with the highest exposure to microwaves, those who were present at the Moscow embassy during the period from June 1975 to February 1976, has had only a short time for any effects to appear, it would seem desirable that this particular study population should be contacted at periodic intervals of 2 to 3 years, within the next several years in order to ascertain if any health effects would appear. Furthermore, it would be important to develop a surveillance system for deaths in the entire study population to be certain that no mortality differences occur in the future and to monitor the proportion of deaths due to malignancies, especially among the women.

There is also a need for an authoritative biophysical analysis of the microwave field that has been illuminating the Moscow embassy during the past 25 years with assessments based on theoretical considerations of the likelihood of any biological effects.

Read the full report here: PB288163. (PDF)

NTIA-SP-81-12 | The Microwave Radiation at U.S. Embassy Moscow and Its Biological Implications: An Assessment
(by NTIA/ERMAC, US Dept. of Commerce; US Dept. of State; and Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University) 1981:  This report presents the results of an assessment of the likelihood of biological effects from the microwave environment within the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, USSR, based on a retrospective analysis of that environment. It contains a description of the microwave fields and models power density distribution within the Embassy from 1966 to 1977; estimated personnel exposures as a function of work and living locations in the Embassy; and the results of an assessment of the biological implications of the type and levels of exposure described. In summary, it was concluded that no deleterious biological effects to personnel would be anticipated from the micro- wave exposures as described. Read the full report here PB83155804 (PDF).

 

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Retired Navy Rear Admiral Edward Masso to be Ambassador to Estonia

Posted: 2:23 am ET
Updated: July 2, 2018
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Update: On May 24, 2018, the White House sent the following withdrawal to the Senate:

WITHDRAWAL SENT TO THE SENATE
Edward Masso, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Estonia, which was sent to the Senate on September 5, 2017.

On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate retired Admiral Edward Masso to be Ambassador to Estonia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Admiral Edward Masso to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Estonia. Mr. Masso is a highly decorated Naval Officer who is the founder and president of Flagship Connection, a consulting company focused on business development, strategic planning, and operations analysis in the areas of missile defense, cyber security, and data analytics. During his distinguished 32-year career in the U.S. Navy, he held nine command assignments, including Commander, Navy Personnel Command/Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel. He has served in NATO and the United States European Command. Mr. Masso is a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Cyber Security. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1977.

JINSA has a detailed bio of Admiral Masso here.

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Jennifer Gillian Newstead to be @StateDept’s Legal Adviser

Posted: 1:42 am ET
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On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Jennifer Gillian Newstead to be Legal Adviser at the State Department. The WH released the following brief bio:

Jennifer Gillian Newstead of New York to be Legal Adviser at the Department of State.Ms. Newstead is a partner in the law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP, where she has a global practice representing clients in cross-border regulatory, enforcement and litigation matters. Ms. Newstead previously served in several senior government positions, including as General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy, and Associate Counsel to the President. Ms. Newstead previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C and earlier in her career clerked for Justice Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School, and a 1991 graduate magna cum laude of Harvard University.

Her law firm has a more detailed bio:

Ms. Newstead is a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department. She has a global practice representing leading international corporations, financial institutions and Boards of Directors in white collar criminal defense, regulatory and securities enforcement matters, internal investigations and related civil litigation. She advises clients in high-profile, cross-border investigations involving alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, U.S. economic sanctions and anti-money laundering laws, securities and accounting laws, and other financial regulations. She represents clients before regulatory and law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice, the SEC, the Federal Reserve Board, Treasury/OFAC, the NY Department of Financial Services, and other authorities. She has conducted investigations related to business in numerous countries in Asia, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin and South America. Ms. Newstead frequently advises clients on the design and implementation of global compliance programs to mitigate risk.

Ms. Newstead joined Davis Polk after a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship. She left the firm in 2001 to serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service. She served as an Associate White House Counsel from 2002 to 2003 and as General Counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2003 to 2005. She rejoined the firm in 2005.

Back in June, BuzzFeed reported that Ms. Newstead, a former George W. Bush administration official and architect of the Patriot Act was slated be the top lawyer at the State Department. See A Lawyer Who Helped Write The Patriot Act Is Trump’s Pick For A Top State Department Job.

The White House sent her nomination to the Senate on September 5, and it has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As of this writing, the SFRC has yet to schedule this nomination for a hearing.

Former Legal Adviser John B. Bellinger III (2005–2009) notes that if confirmed, Ms. Newstead would be the first woman to serve as Legal Adviser of the State Department. He writes that this position was created by statute in 1931, replacing the Solicitor, which had been the chief legal officer of the State Department since 1891.

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Snapshot: Stop/Start Process For Hardship Pay For Employees Traveling Away From Post

Posted: 12:57 am ET
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Via GAO:

Stop/Start Process For Hardship Pay (click on image for larger view)

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