September 23 2021 — On Monday, CNN and the New York Times reported that a CIA officer who was traveling with CIA director William Burns to India earlier this month reported symptoms consistent with Havana syndrome. Follow us on twitter: @Intel_Today
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In a piece titled CIA officer reports Havana syndrome symptoms on India trip, REUTERS claims that:
“[CIA Director William] Burns has said there is a ‘very strong possibility’ that the syndrome is intentionally caused and that Russia could be responsible.”
This statement was quickly re-posted by others, such as the AXIOS website.
“Burns has said previously that there’s a ‘very strong possibility’ that Russia is behind the syndrome and that it could be intentionally caused, Reuters notes.”
In truth, this second quote is totally incorrect and the first quote is highly misleading.
In July 2021, William Burns gave his first sit-down interview since assuming the role of Central Intelligence Agency director.
In a wide-ranging conversation, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly asked him several questions about the Havana Syndrome.
Beside a quick comment during his confirmation hearing, this is the only time Burns has spoken publicly about the Havana Syndrome. Please, read VERY carefully!
Q — Have you learned what causes it?
A — We still don’t know for sure, but I am absolutely determined to get to the bottom of the question of what and who caused this. (…)
Q — So you’re persuaded this is real.
A — I’m certainly persuaded that what our officers and some family members — as well as other U.S. government employees — have experienced is real and it’s serious. (…) we have a very strong team of people — the best across CIA — focused on those questions of “What?” and “Who?”, led by a very experienced and accomplished senior officer who, a decade ago, led the successful hunt for bin Laden. So we’re throwing the very best we have at this issue…
Q — When you say you’re trying to figure out what’s causing them and who is causing them, that suggests that this is someone taking action.
That’s certainly a very strong possibility. The National Academy of Sciences, a year ago, in a very extensive report that they did, suggested that the most plausible theory for what caused this was some form of directed energy, and that sort of narrows, then, the number of potential suspects who could have used this, have used it historically and have the reach to do this in more than one part of the world… So, yeah, we’re very focused on getting to the bottom of this.
Q — Is it Russia?
A — Could be, but I honestly cannot — I don’t want to suggest until we can draw some more definitive conclusions who it might be. But there are a number of possibilities. (…)
In other words, Burns said that:
1 — He is persuaded that the Havana Syndrome is real
2 — There is a very strong possibility that the attacks are intentional.
3 — There are a few suspects, and Russia is one of them.
Let me repeat and make it very clear.
CIA director William Burns NEVER said that there’s a very strong possibility that Russia is behind these attacks.
The Havana Syndrome is a serious, fascinating and highly complex issue. The last thing we need is this kind of disinformation.
Reuters should correct that piece and apologize to its readers.
PS — There has been a persistent rumor that Reuters cooperates with Western Intelligence agencies. [Carl Bernstein: “The CIA and the Media”] This kind of ‘reporting’ is unlikely to dispel these allegations.
Transcript: NPR’s Full Conversation With CIA Director William Burns — NPR
Havana Syndrome — Textbook case of disinformation from Reuters