Senators introduce bipartisan bill to address ‘Havana Syndrome’

Bill would create National Security Council position to address ‘anomalous’ health incidents

John Bowden
Tuesday 03 August 2021 23:17 BST
Susan Collins on Capitol Hill
Susan Collins on Capitol Hill (Getty)

Two senators are teaming up for a bipartisan bill to address the so-called ‘Havana Syndrome’ attacks, which officials purportedly believe involve “directed energy attacks” targeting US personnel.

Sens Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins announced the bill on Tuesday in a statement to Politico. If passed, the legislation would create a new position on the White House National Security Council dubbed the “Anomalous Health Incidents Interagency Coordinator”, which would direct a government-wide response to the attacks.

The Independent has reached out for a copy of the legislation.

US officials have released little to no official information about the incidents, which are believed to affect hundreds of US personnel, including spies and diplomats, around the world. The attacks were first reported to be targeting US personnel in Cuba, earning the nickname.

The director of the CIA told NPR in March that he was “absolutely determined” to get to the bottom of the mysterious attacks, and was tripling the size of his agency’s medical team responsible for investigating the symptoms.

“We still don’t know for sure, but I am absolutely determined – and I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy on this in the four months I’ve been CIA director – to get to the bottom of the question of what and who caused this,” he said.

As recently as last month, the State Department reported that cases of the ailments had been reported among the US Embassy community in Vienna, Austria, and said that multiple agencies were investigating.

Among the new position’s responsibilities would be ensuring that victims of such attacks receive adequate medical treatment. Critics of the US government’s response thus far have complained that victims’ symptoms are not treated seriously by lawmakers.

Those targeted have reported conditions ranging from ringing in the ears to brain damage and loss of cognitive abilities, according to multiple news reports in recent years.

“U.S. public servants injured by directed energy attacks should be treated with the same urgency as any other American injured in the line of duty,” Ms Shaheen told Politico.

“They shouldn’t have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to access the care they need, which compounds the suffering they’ve already endured.”

A spokesperson for the NSC told the news outlet that it “look[s] forward to working constructively with Senator Shaheen on her legislation to advance our shared aim of ensuring the safety and security of Americans serving around the world, discovering the cause of these anomalous health incidents, and helping affected individuals receive the care they need as quickly as possible”.

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