U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that the mysterious “Havana syndrome” affecting mostly U.S. diplomats can’t be tied to direct attacks from a foreign adversary, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
A formal intelligence assessment involving the CIA and six other agencies examining hundreds of cases suggests that a foreign enemy did not target U.S. personnel with a clandestine weapon, two intelligence officials familiar with the report told the Post. The formal assessment shatters prevailing theories about the cause of the illness, which affected officials and diplomats serving at American missions abroad with symptoms that include experiencing painfully loud noises, the officials said.
Most patients allege that they fell victim to an attack by a hostile power — Russia has emerged as a prime suspect — possibly through a directed energy attack or as a byproduct of electronic surveillance efforts, causing acute discomfort. Symptoms include ringing in the ears, nausea and feelings of intense cranial pressure. (RELATED: Kevin McCarthy Calls For ‘Church-Style Investigation’ Into Past FBI, CIA Abuses)
The final report contradicts that theory in almost every respect, the officials told the Post. Instead, a review of roughly 1,000 “anomalous health incidents” produced nothing that could point to a foreign cause, hostile or otherwise.
The agencies examined clusters of reported incidents, including at U.S. embassies, but could not identify a clear pattern in surrounding circumstances that could link each case, the officials told the Post. Forensic analysis and review of geolocation data yielded nothing to indicate that a direct line of sight existed for radio waves or ultrasonic beams to reach the alleged target.
“There was nothing,” one official said of the instances where U.S. intelligence had the ability to examine every aspect of a patient’s environment during the time of the suspected attack.
One agency said it was “unlikely” a foreign actor caused the symptoms, the officials told the Post. Another agency did not offer a conclusion on foreign involvement.
However, no agency dissented from the final assessment that a foreign country was not at fault, one of the officials added. However, it was “unlikely” or “very unlikely” a foreign power possessed the necessary technology.
Intelligence collected on U.S. adversaries, such as Russia, does not indicate foreign leaders approved or knew of any attack on U.S. personnel, the officials told the Post.
There is no higher priority than protecting our people. None.
As we examine the cause of the illness known as Havana Syndrome, we must ensure those impacted get the care they deserve.
My HAVANA Act will do just that. And it’s on its way to President Biden’s desk for signature.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 21, 2021
Analysts have yet to arrive at a “plausible” explanation, one of the officials told the Post. The official expressed dismay at the lack of clarity on a syndrome that affected many of the official’s colleagues.
Attempts to combat the phenomenon have jacked up medical bills and led Congress to pass the HAVANA Act in 2021, which requires the federal government to compensate victims.
“Since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, we have focused on ensuring that our colleagues have access to the care and support they need. … Our commitment to the health and safety of U.S. Government personnel remains unwavering,” Maher Bitar, the senior director for intelligence programs on the National Security Council, told the Post on Wednesday.
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