US: ‘Havana syndrome’ not caused by foreign adversary

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — U.S. intelligence agencies said they cannot link a foreign adversary to any of the incidents associated with the so-called “Havana syndrome,” the hundreds of cases of brain injuries and other symptoms reported by American personnel around the world. 

People who were believed to have been affected have reported headaches, dizziness and symptoms consistent with concussions, with some requiring months of medical treatment. Some reported hearing a loud noise before the sudden onset of symptoms.

The mysterious set of symptoms sickened several U.S. personnel and intel officers while traveling overseas.

However, the findings released Wednesday by U.S. intelligence officials cast doubt on the longstanding suspicions by many people who reported cases that Russia or another country may have been running a global campaign to harass or attack Americans using some form of directed energy.

Instead, officials said, there is more evidence that foreign countries were not involved.

In some cases, the U.S. detected among adversarial governments confusion about the allegations and suspicions that Havana syndrome was an American plot. And investigators found “no credible evidence” that any adversary had obtained a weapon that could cause the reported symptoms or a listening device that might inadvertently injure people.

The CIA, along with six other intelligence agencies, finished a yearslong review of about 1,500 cases in 96 countries.

Many of those cases, officials said, have been linked to other potential explanations aside from a foreign campaign: medical illnesses, malfunctioning air conditioning and ventilation systems or electromagnetic waves coming from benign devices like a computer mouse. And some people may have come forward to report symptoms based on what they had heard about other cases or the exhaustive media reports about Havana syndrome, officials said.

A core group of roughly two dozen cases identified in an interim assessment published last year has been exhaustively studied, officials said. None of the cases was linked to an attack by an adversary.

The symptoms are often referred to as Havana syndrome because of a well-known series of cases affecting personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba beginning in 2016. 26 diplomats and their families began experiencing dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, memory loss and even brain damage.

Some U.S. employees have left the government due to the severity of their illnesses.

The Biden administration said it accepts the report, but more needs to be done.

“You saw the assessment, they laid out pretty clearly, through ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) what we’re committed to is making sure that the workforce and their families get the assistance they need, the medical care, and look, the work is ongoing,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Bill Burns, the CIA director, echoed the White House, saying these findings don’t change the fact that something medically happened to these American service members and they need continued care and answers.

While no one publicly is going so far as to say the intel reports are wrong, the heads of the House Intel Committee in Congress said they’d like to see more. Some attorneys representing victims of Havana syndrome also said they’d like to be shown the intelligence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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