U.S. Still Searching for “Havana Syndrome” Answers

We assess that it is unlikely that a foreign adversary, including Russia, is conducting a sustained worldwide campaign harming U.S. personnel with a weapon or mechanism,” the official said. “We have so far not found evidence of state actor involvement in any incident.”

Despite the findings of the interim report, U.S. officials said Thursday that they continue to take the reports of illnesses among U.S. government employees seriously, and that making sure medical care was available remains a top priority.

I have no higher priority as secretary than the health and safety of all of our colleagues and their families,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Thursday during a news conference in Berlin.

When you talk to people, when you hear them, when you hear what they’ve been through, there is no doubt in my mind but that they have had real experiences, real symptoms, and real suffering,” he said. “We are going to continue to do everything we can with all the resources we can bring to bear to understand, again, what happened, why, and who might be responsible. And we are leaving no stone unturned.”

CIA Director William Burns also emphasized the need to care for those who have been ill, and for any personnel that could be affected in the future, describing their suffering as real.

While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done,” Burns said in a statement. “We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it.”

Lawmakers’ Response
Some U.S. lawmakers praised the efforts of the CIA to determine the cause of the ailments but said more still needs to be done.

Reports of anomalous health incidents among intelligence, diplomatic and military personnel emerged as early as 2016 but were not always taken seriously,” the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Democrat Mark Warner, said in a statement.

I am heartened that there are now procedures in place to ensure that those who are affected by these anomalous health incidents finally have access to the world-class care that they deserve,” he said, adding, “The Senate Intelligence Committee will continue pressing for answers.”

Republican Marco Rubio, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s vice chair, was equally adamant that lawmakers would keep pressing U.S. intelligence officials for answers.

The CIA must continue to make this issue a priority,” Rubio said, noting the possibility that the unresolved cases could still be “the work of a foreign government or a specific weapon or device.”

U.S. lawmakers, led by Warner, Rubio and Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, passed the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act, or HAVANA Act, last year, when it was signed by President Joe Biden.

The law provides financial support for U.S. government employees suffering from symptoms attributed to Havana syndrome.

Jeff Seldin is VOA national security reporter.  VOA’s Carla Babb and Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report. This article  is published courtesy of the Voice of America (VOA).