Did a US Spy Contract Parkinson’s Disease Via a Microwave Attack?

The Washington Post published a bizarre story earlier this month that is equal parts interesting and terrifying!

A US National Security Agency counterintelligence officer (AKA a spy) is claiming that while on assignment in a hostile country, he suffered a high-powered microwave attack, which resulted in his Parkinson’s’ disease diagnosis a decade later.

Kinda crazy, right? So here are the details:

After a lifetime of no significant health or neurological issues, Mike Beck suddenly struggled to type on his computer keyboard in 2006. Things then got worse – his right arm didn’t swing normally while he walked; his right hand stiffened; his right leg started to drag.

After seeing a doctor, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

On its face this isn’t so extraordinary – except for the fact that he was only 46 at the time (an unusually young age for a Parkinson’s diagnosis) and no one in his family was ever diagnosed with it.

Here it where it gets a little creepy.

He learned that an NSA colleague – whom he’d spent a week together in 1996 in a hostile country — had also just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s…and he read a classified intelligence report that convinced him that he and this colleague were likely the victims of a covert attack on that 1996 trip.

The gist of the classified report lead Beck to believe that while he and his colleague were sleeping in their hotel rooms, the hostile country, deployed a high-powered microwave weapon against them, damaging their nervous systems and eventually leading to Parkinson’s.

In Parkinson’s disease, certain brain neurons break down or die, and when neurons that produce dopamine are lost, abnormal brain activity can occur. This leads to signs of Parkinson’s.

The cause behind why these neurons die is unknown, but certain factors can play a role, including environmental triggers, like toxins, which is what Beck suspects.

Beck has since been trying to convince the Labor Department to award him 75% of his salary, under a workers’ compensation claim – but the Labor Department has been skeptical, given the highly unusual circumstances.

“We have tremendous sympathy for him, and we’d like to try and help him. But we can’t manufacture evidence,” said Glenn Gerstell, the NSA’s general counsel. “If the Department of Labor asked us, ‘Do you think this is a possibility?’ then that would be different. But they didn’t ask that.”

The Labor Department won’t approve Beck’s request without evidence that he was targeted.

Read the full story in the Washington Post here.

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