Havana syndrome US intelligence community convenes new panel to probe Havana
Up to 200 Americans reported possible 'Havana syndrome … Tue, 20 Jul 2021 09:00:00 -0700-The U.S. intelligence community has launched a new panel of experts to investigate the "anomalous health incidents" affecting dozens of U.S. personnel around …
A new cluster of reported cases raises fresh concern.
The U.S. intelligence community has launched a new panel of experts that brings together senior officers and outside medical and scientific experts to investigate the “anomalous health incidents” affecting dozens of U.S. personnel around the world, an intelligence official told ABC News.
The U.S. government still has not reached a conclusion into the cause of the incidents, sometimes known as “Havana syndrome” after the first cluster of cases was reported at the U.S. embassy in Cuba.
But more reported cases are now being investigated at the embassy in Austria’s capital, Vienna, according to the State Department, whose spokesperson said Monday that it is “vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents” among U.S. personnel there.
Austria is just the latest country where incidents have now been reported. The National Security Council is overseeing a government-wide review “to ascertain whether there may be previously unreported incidents that fit a broader pattern,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, and “whether they constitute an attack of some kind by a foreign actor.”
Beyond that review, the intelligence community also established the new panel of experts earlier this month — bringing together senior officers from the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and outside scientific and medical experts — to explore the multiple hypotheses into what is causing the “health incidents,” an intelligence official told ABC News.
It’s the latest federal government review into an issue that has vexed officials since 2016 when the first cases were reported in Cuba, underscoring how little U.S. officials still know about it.
The new panel will build off of the findings of a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine last December, according to the official, which concluded that “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases, especially in individuals with the distinct early symptoms.”
Dozens of U.S. officials have been diagnosed with injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, after reporting strange experiences like high-pitched sounds or feelings of pressure or vibration, or debilitating symptoms including headaches, nausea, cognitive deficits, and trouble with seeing, hearing, or balancing.
Before Austria, the U.S. government had acknowledged, in public or in declassified documents, reported cases in Cuba, China, Uzbekistan, Russia, and the United States, although the White House has said “the vast majority” of cases have been reported overseas.
The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee warned in May that the “pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing.”
“In coordination with our interagency partners, we are vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents among the U.S. embassy community there” in Vienna, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.
The agency has declined to provide more details, including the number of affected personnel. But according to The New Yorker magazine, which first reported on the Vienna cluster, it totals around two dozen U.S. diplomats, intelligence officers and other government officials — now second only to Havana.
A CIA spokesperson told ABC News that director Bill Burns “is personally engaged with personnel affected by anomalous health incidents and is highly committed to their care and to determining the cause of these incidents” but declined to provide more details.
Both the CIA and the State Department have elevated their internal task forces investigating reported incidents among their personnel, while the State Department has its own team of medical experts that responds to reported incidents around the world.
US intelligence community convenes new panel to probe 'Havana … Tue, 20 Jul 2021 09:00:00 -0700-Up to 200 Americans have reported possible directed energy attack symptoms, including new cases in Vienna that came to light last week,
Up to 200 Americans have reported possible directed energy attack symptoms, including new cases in Vienna that came to light last week, according to NBC News.
Biden administration officials have received a steady stream of cables from overseas posts reporting potential new cases of “Havana syndrome” symptoms, a U.S. official told the network.
Officials said there are now possible cases on every continent except Antarctica, with almost half of the possible cases involving CIA officers or their relatives. Around 60 cases involved Defense Department employees or relatives, while about 50 were tied to the State Department.
One official told the news outlet that while the phenomenon is global, there are a disproportionately large number of cases in Europe.
The most recently announced of such cases include a series among the U.S. embassy community in Vienna, which will be “vigorously” investigated by multiple American agencies, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Monday.
The New Yorker was the first to report as many as two dozen cases in Austria’s capital.
Numerous current and former FBI agents and personnel have also reported symptoms while overseas, particularly in Europe and Central Asia, with several such employees hit in Vienna as far back as more than 10 years ago.
There was also a recent and previously unreported incident in Berlin that prematurely ended at least one diplomat's term in Germany, according to NBC.
Havana syndrome first appeared at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba in 2016 when American officials began to get mysteriously ill. Some needed hospital treatment for months, and others had brain injuries.
The cause of the illness is unknown, though some believe it is caused by an attack by U.S. adversaries using radio wave weapons.
A Defense Department spokesman told NBC that it is “heavily engaged on this issue as a part of the [National Security Council]-led interagency process across the federal government to address anomalous health incidents, and is fully committed to determining both the causes and source.”
“The safety, health and welfare of our personnel remains a top priority for the Department,” the official added.
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– July 20, 2021