‘Havana Syndrome’ Attacks Still a Mystery
He wrote that two senior officials – Brian P. McKeon, Assistant Secretary of State, and Ambassador Pamela Spartan – were leading a State Department task force that began holding town hall-style meetings at embassies that were suspected targets. There was a similar effort underway at the CIA, where Mr. Burns, who encountered victims on his first day on the job, recently told NPR he believed about 100 officers and their families had been affected.
It’s “real and it’s serious,” Burns said in the interview. He said only a few powers had the technology and reach to carry out attacks around the world – since the first reports in Cuba, they ranged from Europe to China to Washington – but Mr Burns hesitated to say that the government of Vladimir V. Putin was responsible.
“It’s possible, but honestly I can’t – I don’t want to suggest until we can draw more definitive conclusions that it might be,” Mr Burns said. “But there are several possibilities. “
Investigations attributed some of the reports to other causes. This spring, for example, US military personnel operating in Syria suspected that a sudden illness may have been caused by a Russian plane that may have been directing microwaves at them; it was later determined that they had food poisoning. But studies conducted elsewhere on victims have concluded that there is evidence of traumatic brain injury, but without the type of impact normally associated with concussions.
Throughout the Cold War, Vienna was at the heart of East-West diplomacy. Officials say they don’t think recent reports of attacks there, which are still unconfirmed, are related to this, although the city has been a site of negotiations over resuming the nuclear deal. Iranian.
Some officials suspect that with Russia, Iran could be responsible for some of the attacks, but the focus is also on Cuba, China and other countries. The mystery was compounded by the fact that some attacks took place on Russian and Chinese soil, including against a CIA officer in Moscow four years ago and a number of State Department officials in Guangzhou, in China, in 2018.
Speaking on behalf of the White House, a senior administration official said the National Security Council “draws on a wide range of scientific and medical expertise within and outside government.” to explore multiple hypotheses and generate new information ”about the episodes in order to“ protect our staff and identify who or what is responsible.
Part of that effort, officials say, is to develop wearable sensors that could be widely distributed to detect attacks. But it’s difficult to guarantee the sensors will work, an official said, with no certainty that microwaves are the cause of the unexplained illnesses. And even if they are the cause, the sensors should be able to pick up signals across a large part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Julien barnes contributed reports.
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