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20 Jan, 2022 10:38

CIA comments on claims that most ‘Havana Syndrome’ cases caused by foul play – media

The US spy agency reportedly couldn’t unearth a foreign campaign to harm American diplomatic staff
CIA comments on claims that most ‘Havana Syndrome’ cases caused by foul play – media

Most of the 1,000 reported cases of ‘Havana Syndrome,’ a mysterious condition that since 2016 has been plaguing US officials stationed in foreign nations, could not be traced to a foreign adversary, an internal CIA report has said, according to US media. The spy agency could not rule out malign action in about two dozen cases, but found no proof of it.

It concluded that there was no sustained global campaign by a hostile power like Russia or China harassing Americans with an untraceable weapon, contrary to what some commentators believed.

The interim CIA report, which was detailed by the New York Times, NBC News, and Politico, has frustrated people who have reported suffering symptoms of Havana Syndrome. 

One person cited by NBC News said that “even two dozen cases is a lot of cases if Americans were attacked,” referring to the instances of Havana Syndrome where foul play was not ruled out by the CIA. William Burns, director of the CIA, pledged to “continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it,” according to a statement cited by The Times.

An advocacy for sufferers said the timing of the report’s release and its contents were suspicious.

“The decision to release the report now and with this particular set of ‘findings’ seems a breach of faith, and an undermining of the intent of Congress and the president to stand with us and reach a government-wide consensus as to what is behind this,” it said in a statement.

The group suggested the investigation lacked interagency coordination and that the report produced by the CIA may not “even represent the consensus of the full CIA, instead reflecting the views of a subset of officials most interested in resolution and closure.”

According to sources cited by the media, various parts of the US intelligence community had differing levels of confidence in the CIA’s conclusions, ranging from low to high. 

The syndrome was named after the Cuban capital, where the first cases of the mystery condition were reported during a short period of Barack Obama’s presidency, when US diplomats were deployed to the country as part of an attempted détente. Donald Trump, who during his time in office reversed that re-engagement, said he “believed Cuba is responsible.” The island’s scientists rejected the allegations. In recent years, US officials around the world reported having similar symptoms.

A 2020 study by the National Academies of Sciences, commissioned by the US Department of State, identified microwaves as the “most plausible” cause of the condition.

A 2018 report by the scientific group JASON, which advises the Department of State, said it was highly unlikely that Havana Syndrome was caused by some kind of direct energy or sonic weapon. The report was declassified only in 2021.