CIA agents believe agency not doing enough to investigate Havana Syndrome, report says

“There’s just no answer,” said one House Intelligence Committee member

Gino Spocchia
Friday 07 October 2022 12:16 BST
Related video: CIA says ‘Havana Syndrome’ not an attack by foreign power

Dozens of CIA agents have said the agency has not done enough to investigate the mysterious neurological illness known as Havana Syndrome, according to a report.

The strange phenomenon was the subject of at least three dozen communications between agents with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and members of Congress over the past year, CNN reported on Thursday.

Those who reached out to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees reportedly expressed concerns about the ongoing investigation into Havana Syndrome.

While similar concerns have been raised before, the CNN report was the first time CIA agents were said to have contacted US lawmakers about their experiences and the intelligence agency’s work to understand Havana Syndrome.

Beginning in 2016, injuries including dizziness, loss of balance, nausea and a ringing sound in sufferers ears have been reported among an estimated 200 or more people.

A preliminary report released in February this year found that a foreign adversary was not likely behind the symptoms associated with Havana Syndrome. Officials have however been unable to pinpoint what is exactly causing the illness however.

“There’s just no answer,” said one House Intelligence Committee member briefed on the CIA investigation to CNN. “They’ve done an immense amount of work, literally spreadsheeting every catastrophic set of symptoms down to the headache and there’s just nothing. None.”

In some instances, Havana Syndrome has left sufferers with long-term brain damage, a CIA doctor sent to investigate the first reports of the illness in Havana, Cuba, in 2017 said this month.

“It gets to the point where you just don’t want to go out of the house because you say what’s the point?” Dr Paul Andrews  (using a pseudonym) said in an interview with CNN. “I want to go do this, but I know it’s going to make me sick. I don’t want to be nauseated. I don’t want to be tripping and falling.”

Outside the US embassy in Havana, Cuba (Getty Images)

The CIA said in its preliminary report that a “pulse electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radio frequency range, plausibly explains” symptoms associated with the strange illness, although that remains unconfirmed.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior intelligence officials have pledged to help those effected as well as investigate the phenomenon, which has affected US staffers and their families in locations including Austria, China, Russia and Vietnam.

“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,” Mr Blinken said in January. “And we are leaving no stone unturned.”

Mark Zaid, an attorney who is representing some of those seeking compensation from the CIA, meanwhile questioned such claims and told CNN: “From what I have seen, there are tons of significant, credible leads that to the best of our knowledge the agencies are not addressing”.

He continued: “Leads that clients of mine put into the system — and they’re not doing it. To me, this is where they need to be held accountable to explain why”.

A spokesperson for the CIA told CNN following the new report that it is fulfilling its “profound obligation” to conduct “the most rigorous investigation possible” and that the agency had “great confidence” in those working on the probe.

The CIA referred The Independent to a press briefing on Thursday in which principle deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said the first round of compensation payments had been approved for Havana Syndrome sufferers and that more cases would be reviewed.

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