The saga of the secret sonic attacks at U.S. embassies has been a long and strange one. Last year, news broke that several U.S. diplomats had fallen ill while working at American embassies in Cuba and China. According to reports, the diplomats suffered from strange cognitive injuries including hearing loss, confusion, and even concussion-like symptoms. Right away, speculation began to swirl that these diplomats were the targets of some sort of covert attacks by an unknown type of sonic weapon. If there was such an attack, who was behind it and to what end?
Of course, since intelligence personnel are involved, we’ll likely never know the details. So, while we’re still no closer to answering the big questions in the case of the unexplained sonic attacks, things got a little weirder this week with the announcement that crickets, not a clandestine sound-based weapon, was responsible for the brain injuries inflicted upon innocent U.S. spies. Are spies ever innocent?
According to a report published in the open-source journal bioRxiv, sound recordings presented as evidence of the “sonic attacks” matches perfectly the call of a specific Caribbean cricket. Scientists performed spectral analysis on recordings given to the Associated Press that were reported as what American embassy personnel heard in Cuba. After performing those analyses, researchers Alexander Stubbs and Fernando Montealegre-Z believe the recording is of the call of Anurogryllus celerinictus, the Indies short-tailed cricket.
According to their research, the AP recording matches the duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, oscillations per pulse, and frequency decay in individual pulses of the call of the particular cricket. If this wasn’t a recording of a cricket call, someone sure worked hard to ensure whatever it was sounded and appeared exactly like one. The similarity between recordings of the Indies short-tailed cricket and off the alleged sonic attacks is indeed striking.
Is this an attempt to bury the truth behind these attacks? I mean, it would certainly be possible to invent a device which could project a narrow beam of high-energy sound waves carrying a recording of the Indies short-tailed cricket, right? Or did some particularly noisy crickets actually cause concussions for undercover spies? If cricket calls are capable of causing cognitive damage, why is this the first we’re hearing about it?
I don’t know, this tidy explanation just feels a little too tidy to me. Was the recording offered up to the AP a fake, merely a recording of cricket calls?