- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Central Intelligence Agency disclosed Thursday that its investigators have so far found that a string of mysterious suspected directed-energy attacks on U.S. intelligence and diplomatic personnel overseas do not appear to be the work of a single hostile government.

However, an agency interim report on mysterious brain illnesses indicates that some two dozen unexplained cases are still being probed for possible links to covert attacks that produce debilitating effects from what has come to be known as the “Havana Syndrome,” after the first cases were detected in Cuba six years ago.

Early speculation centered on Russia as a possible source for the attack, and a U.S. intelligence official said “we have not ruled out the involvement of a foreign actor in those cases” still under intense examination.

But for the majority of the 1,000 cases looked at by intelligence analysts, the official noted: “Taking into account all of the intelligence we have collected and reviewed at this point, we assess it is unlikely that a foreign actor, including Russia, is conducting a sustained, worldwide campaign harming U.S. personnel with a weapon or mechanism.”

Other people familiar with the investigation said some of the several hundred reported cases among intelligence, diplomatic and military personnel appear to have been caused by directed energy attacks potentially carried out by agents of China or Russia.

After the first cases surfaced in Cuba in 2016, American officials in Guangzhou, China, experienced similar symptoms, raising the prospect of Chinese government involvement.

One U.S. official said Beijing’s extensive internal security controls in China and large-scale surveillance of foreign embassy personnel indicate any directed energy attacks could not have been conducted without government approval or knowledge.

The CIA interim study said most of the cases it investigated were caused by environmental factors, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress.

However, a study of State Department officials reporting Havana Syndrome symptoms by a special committee of experts at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, said the victims’ symptoms were similar to those that would be experienced in a directed energy exposure.

“The committee found the unusual presentation of acute, directional or location-specific early phase signs, symptoms and observations reported by [Department of State] employees to be consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed radio frequency (RF) energy,” according to the report made public in December. “Many of the chronic, nonspecific symptoms are also consistent with known RF effects, such as dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive deficits and memory loss.”

The Academies’ report called for further investigation and said its experts were hamstrung by government secrecy in examining the issue.

The report stated that the cases were caused by directional and location-specific sources and “is unlike any disorder in the neurological or general medical literature.”

The CIA said the two dozen cases being studied intensively were reported in Vienna, Paris, and Geneva, in addition to Havana and Guangzhou, the CIA concluded.

CIA Director William Burns said in a statement that investigators continue to pursue the cases with “analytic rigor, sound tradecraft and compassion and have dedicated intensive resources to this challenge.”

“While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done,” he stated. “We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it.”

Mr. Burns told a Senate confirmation hearing in February 2021 that he would do everything he could “to help get to the bottom of who’s responsible for those attacks.”

The official did not refer to the incidents as attacks but instead described the cases as “anomalous health incidents.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Havana Syndrome cases remain unexplained along with the origin.

“To date, we don’t know exactly what’s happened and we don’t know exactly who is responsible,” Mr. Blinken told MSNBC.

Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement that the “anomalous health incidents” were not always taken seriously by the government in the past.

“There is no question that members of the intelligence workforce have suffered from conditions requiring a medical response,” the Virginia Democrat said.

Mr. Warner said it is important to remember that the CIA announcement “reflects only the interim work of the CIA task force.”

“The Senate Intelligence Committee will continue pressing for answers on a bipartisan basis, and we look forward to robust engagement with the intelligence community, as well as the conclusions of the outside experts panel that has been assembled to seek answers to these very urgent and difficult questions,” he said.

Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA official whose Havana Syndrome symptoms date back five years to a posting in Moscow, said the CIA preliminary findings leave a number of questions unanswered.

“Lots of questions should be asked,” he wrote on Twitter. “Why an interim report?Why no [coordination] with [the Defense Department]? … They seem to have solved a problem they created with their mass data call — but core cases remain.So [are] we back to square one? I’d simply urge the [U.S. government]: keep going.”

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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