August 3 2021 — Judy Woodruff and Nick Schifrin discuss the debilitating medical ailments affecting U.S. diplomatic and intelligence officers in Cuba — which have become known as Havana Syndrome. Nothing new but a good summary of the current situation. Follow us on twitter: @Intel_Today
The U.S. government is intensifying its efforts to establish the cause of the “Havana Syndrome” as reported cases proliferate.
The prevalent but unofficial hypothesis is that the cases are the result of attempted intelligence collection by Russian government operatives who are using directed energy technology to gather information from cell phones or computers, but which has damaging neurological effects on its human targets. [CBS News (July 27 2021)]
The U.S. intelligence community has said it has not determined the cause of the incidents or even whether a foreign actor is responsible. [Office of the Director of National Intelligence]
The new CIA task force chief, who at one point led the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and remains undercover, is expected to boost the use of ‘targeting’ — a term in intelligence collection and analysis to describe a more focused, resource-intensive approach to identifying new leads or existing gaps — in order to invigorate the investigation.
At the State Department, Secretary Blinken has designated Pamela Spratlen, a former U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, to oversee the department’s response and engage with affected employees.
The Pentagon said it was working with the National Security Council to investigate reported cases.
“I think the gravity of this can’t be overstated. But there’s so much that we don’t know as to the cause,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said.
“I think we have to reserve judgment until we get the answers, and then when we do have the answers, there needs to be real accountability for any who may be responsible.”
The ODNI and the CIA are well aware that some people may soon be asking why the U.S. spends $85 billion annually on an intelligence community that cannot answer a basic question.
Interview [Judy Woodruff and Nick Schifrin]
Judy Woodruff: And that is these debilitating medical ailments. They have become known as the Havana Syndrome. What steps is the Biden administration taking on this?
Nick Schifrin: So, these are serious ailments reported by hundreds of people across government over the last five years for — the first ones were in Havana.And the Biden administration says this is one of their top priorities. And so they have created new standards of care. That allows or ensures that people who report symptoms get proper treatment. They have created new processes for intelligence-sharing across the agency, so everyone can see details of possible cases.And they have lowered the reporting threshold to encourage possible victims to report their symptoms. But understanding the source, Judy, remains a real challenge. Last administration, CIA analyzed what device could exist that could possibly recreate some of these symptoms.And they had real challenges on the size of a device and a device needing line of sight to these hypothetical targets. They also had a review or a scrub of all intelligence, current and former, of any foreign entity talking about or deploying any of this kind of technology. And it came up empty.So this administration says those efforts have been reinvigorated, not only the reporting, the treating, but the technical hunt for the cause of this. And CIA has approached that hunt like it did the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Judy Woodruff: Wow. So, are they any closer to figuring out the cause?
Nick Schifrin: In a word, no. They don’t know who, what or if anyone set out to target U.S. officials.
CIA still investigating cause of ‘Havana Syndrome’ ailments affecting U.S. diplomats
Six months in, what steps has the Biden administration taken to aid those affected?
Havana Syndrome — CIA still investigating cause of ‘Havana Syndrome’ ailments affecting U.S. diplomats [PBS NewsHour]