from the so-what-*IS*-it? dept.
A U.S. adversary is not engaged in a sustained global campaign aimed at harming or collecting intelligence on hundreds of American diplomats serving abroad, according to an interim CIA finding on the so-called Havana Syndrome.
But there remain a significant number of cases that the agency cannot yet attribute to a specific source. The interim finding, described to POLITICO by three intelligence officials, does not rule out the possibility that a foreign actor or a sophisticated weapon is behind a specific, smaller number of mysterious incidents that have stumped U.S. officials for more than five years.
The new CIA-prepared interim finding assesses that the vast majority of reported cases can be explained by medical, environmental or technical factors — including previously undiagnosed illnesses — and that it is "unlikely" that a malicious state actor is inflicting purposeful harm on U.S. diplomats on a far-reaching, worldwide scale. The broader intelligence community has varying levels of confidence in that assessment.
"There's no one explanation" for the large number of reported cases around the world, a senior CIA official said, insisting "we don't see a global campaign by a foreign actor." There are still unresolved cases, the official continued, and the CIA is still open to the notion that a nation-state or specific device is causing symptoms such as headaches and nausea — if the agency finds evidence to that effect.
[...] "We would definitely not rule out the possibility of foreign-actor involvement in some discrete cases," the official said, adding that "we have not identified a causal mechanism, a novel weapon, that's been used at this point" on a worldwide scale, including a long-suspected directed-energy weapon.
The Federal Employees Compensation Act program has issued guidance on coverage of what it calls the "anomalous health incidents" known as Havana Syndrome [...] Federal employees experiencing such symptoms should file a standard claim form "as current understanding of AHIs are that they are specific events that occur over a single day or work shift" and should designate that as the specific cause, it says. Such claims are to be reviewed by a special claims unit which will consider "medical evidence submitted to determine if any medical conditions have been diagnosed in connection with the AHI incident."
Also at NYT.
Four more US diplomats working in Geneva and Paris have fallen ill with a suspected neurological illness known as "Havana syndrome", US media report. Three diplomats became sick in the Swiss city and one in the French capital last summer, with some 200 people affected over five years.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the American government was working to get to the bottom of the mystery. There are fears an adversary may have targeted diplomats with microwaves. Mr Blinken said the issue had been raised with Russia but no determination had been made.
[...] A more innocent, but also unproven, theory is that those who got sick suffered from a mass condition brought on by some stressful underlying situation.
A US intelligence report by a panel of expert scientists has named pulsed electromagnetic energy and ultrasound as plausible causes for the mystery Havana Syndrome symptoms suffered by US diplomats and spies in recent years.
The report found that a group of cases could not be explained by health or environmental factors or by psychosomatic illness. It also said that devices exist with “modest energy requirements” which were concealable and could produce the observed symptoms and be effective over hundreds of meters or through walls.
The panel, established last year by the director of national security, Avril Haines, and the CIA director, William Burns, said the investigation was not tasked to identify a culprit, but in a statement accompanying the report, Haines and Burns said it would help sharpen the search for the origins of they mysterious ailments.
“We will stay at it, with continued rigor, for however long it takes,” they said.