A CIA intelligence assessment concluded that the purported “Havana Syndrome” is not part of a foreign adversary plot, NBC News reports.
The agency said it could not rule out foreign involvement in about two dozen cases, many of which were reported at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba in 2016. But in hundreds of other cases, the CIA “found plausible alternative explanations,” according to the report.
The CIA believes that the idea that Russia or another adversary caused widespread brain injuries to Americans in numerous locations around the world is “unfounded.”
The CIA did not coordinate its assessment with other agencies.
Officials told NBC that there is an “intensive intelligence gathering and analytical effort” the other two dozen cases.
“Even two dozen cases is a lot of cases if Americans were attacked,” one official said.
What is Havana Syndrome?
Hundreds of US officials based in more than a dozen countries have reported symptoms that have come to be called Havana Syndrome.
Media outlets reported in 2018 that intelligence officials considered Russia a leading suspect behind would-be microwave or similar attacks on diplomats and CIA officers abroad.
But intelligence agencies have not found any evidence of an attack.
A State Department review found nothing like the reported symptoms in medical literature.
Congress last year passed a bill to provide aid to “victims” of Havana Syndrome.
“I’ve heard them. I’ve listened to them. You can’t help but be struck by how these incidents disrupted their lives and their well-being,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “We’re doing everything we can to care for them.”
Critics push back:
Critics of the CIA assessment pushed back, complaining that the agency did not coordinate with other agencies.
“CIA just kind of struck out on their own,” one source told NBC.
“The CIA’s newly issued report may be labeled ‘interim’ and it may leave open the door for some alternative explanation in some cases, but to scores of dedicated public servants, their families, and their colleagues, it has a ring of finality and repudiation,” Advocacy for Victims of Havana Syndrome said in a statement. “We have reason to believe the interim report does not even represent the consensus of the full CIA, instead reflecting the views of a subset of officials most interested in resolution and closure.”