CIA Director Says He Is Escalating Efforts To Solve ‘Havana Syndrome’ Mystery


    CIA Director William Burns says he has redoubled the agency’s efforts to uncover the cause of Havana syndrome — the mysterious set of ailments that has afflicted more than 200 U.S. officials and family members around the world. NPR reports: That includes the assignment of a senior officer who once led the hunt for Osama bin Laden to lead the investigation and tripling the size of a medical team involved in the probe, Burns told NPR on Thursday in his first sit-down interview since being confirmed as the agency’s chief in March. “I am absolutely determined — and I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy on this in the four months that I’ve been CIA director — to get to the bottom of the question of what and who caused this,” Burns said. “We’re no longer the only big kid on the geopolitical block, especially with the rise of China. And as you know very well, there’s a revolution in technology which is transforming the way we live, work, compete and fight. And so, CIA, like everyone else in the U.S. government, has to take that into account,” he said. Under Burns’ direction, the CIA has tripled the number of full-time medical personnel at the agency who are focused on Havana syndrome and has shortened the waiting period for afflicted personnel to be admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “I’m certainly persuaded that what our officers and some family members, as well as other U.S. government employees, have experienced is real, and it’s serious,” Burns said. The director says he is seriously considering the “very strong possibility” that the syndrome is the result of intentional actions, adding that there are a limited number of “potential suspects” with the capability to carry out an action so widely across the globe. A report from last December by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that microwave radiation is the “most plausible” explanation for the symptoms. To head the task force investigating the syndrome, Burns has appointed a veteran officer who helped lead the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The identity of that officer is still undercover, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We’re throwing the very best we have at this issue, because it is not only a very serious issue for our colleagues, as it is for others across the U.S. government, but it’s a profound obligation, I think, of any leader to take care of your people,” Burns said. The syndrome first appeared in 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, where more than 40 diplomats complained of symptoms such as migraines, dizziness, and memory loss. Dozens more cases have been reported in the years since. Last week, about two dozen U.S. intelligence officers, diplomats, and other government officials in Vienna have reported experiencing mysterious afflictions similar to the Havana Syndrome.” The Biden administration is “vigorously investigating” the reports, but the causes of the syndrome still remain unclear. Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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