U.S. to Continue Paying for 'Havana Syndrome' Despite Intelligence Community Findings

07 Mar, 2023 Liz Carey

                               

Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – Despite findings by the U.S. intelligence community that it’s highly unlikely “Havana Syndrome is caused by foreign influence, the U.S. government will continue to pay benefits to diplomatic employees struck by it.  

On Wednesday, the U.S. intelligence community rejected the idea that the government of another country had attacked or caused a series of injuries and illnesses suffered by U..S. government employees working overseas. Starting in 2016, federal employees have reported illnesses stemming from strange incidents all over the world. Originally reported by a diplomat in Havana, Cuba, the incidents have spread to embassies all over the world, including in China, Austria and Serbia. The victims have reported hearing strange high-and low-frequency sounds just before symptoms appears. Some even reported feeling as though they’d been hit by an invisible blast wave.  

Since then, federal officials have gone back and forth over the real cause.  

Officials have said the symptoms are “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radio frequency energy,” but that there was no concrete information on who or what could be responsible for the attack. The U.S. State Department has referred to the events as “unexplained health incidents.” While there is no consensus on what causes the syndrome, an expert committee from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible cause, but that it could also have been caused by ultrasound, pesticides, or mass psychogenic illness.  

The U.S. government refers to the incidents as “Anomalous Health Incidents,” that cover a range of conditions including dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive difficulties and memory loss of varying severity. As a result of these health incidents, some diplomats and intelligence officers have left active service.  

The majority of the reports of Havana Syndrome occur in employees in the CIA and U.S. State Department serving overseas, but the illnesses and injuries have affected personnel in other agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Defense and Commerce.  

But Wednesday, after a two-year investigation, seven U.S. intelligence agencies told the Washington Post that there was “no credible evidence” that any foreign adversary to the U.S. possessed a weapon capable of causing the syndrome, and that the illnesses and injuries were more likely caused by pre-existing conditions, conventional illnesses and environmental factors. 

However, a spokesperson for the White House said payments to those government employees for Havana Syndrome, will continue.  

“This doesn’t change the commitment that the president has in making sure that, you know, these families, our colleagues in the workforce, get the help and the assistance that they need. And they’re going to continue to work through that,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press conference. 

The payments were authorized by Congress last year in response to the outrage among federal employees who felt department heads and cabinet officials didn’t believe the victims’ accounts.  

In 2021, Congress approved the Havana Act which provides up to $187,300 in compensation to each victim. Tammy Kupperman Thorp, CIA director of public affairs, said the bill gave the CIA the authority to provide payments to its employees, their family members and other individuals affiliated the agency who have “a qualifying injury to the brain.”  

“The guidelines put in place were developed in partnership with the interagency and permit payments regardless of where the incident occurred,” Thorp said. “As we have previously said, these authorities are an important part of the agency’s commitment to support its work force.” 

While the U.S. State Department did not specify how much it had paid out, the department will continue to make the payments. Additionally, the CIA program will not change either.  

In all, the federal government has received nearly 1,500 reports of Anomalous Health Incidents in 96 countries. New reports dropped significantly in 2021 and 2022, with only a few reported in 2023, reports indicate. 

Victims of Havana Syndrome rejected the intelligence communities findings.  

"This report leaves us, and the American people, no closer to an answer and insinuates that our injuries are not real. Our medical records demonstrate otherwise, and weapons capable of causing these types of injuries are known and have existed for decades,” the victims said in a statement. “This cannot and must not be the last word on this matter because it is neither definitive nor comprehensive." 


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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