CIA Says Havana Syndrome Isn’t Caused by Russia or Other Foreign Adversary: Report

CIA Says Havana Syndrome Isn’t Caused by Russia or Other Foreign Adversary: Report
File photo of CIA Director William Burns, testifying on Capitol Hill in 2021. (Photo: Tom Williams / AFP, Getty Images)

Havana Syndrome, the name for a variety of illnesses reported by U.S. spies and diplomats working overseas, isn’t caused by Russia or any other foreign adversary, according to an interim report by the Central Intelligence Agency covered by multiple news agencies late Wednesday. But people who insist Havana Syndrome is real are already saying the report is biased, with some even calling the CIA’s unpublished report “disinformation” on social media.

Havana Syndrome was first discussed as a possible medial condition back in 2016 after U.S. diplomats and spies in Cuba reported strange symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, and nausea. There was rampant speculation that Americans were being targeted with some kind of directed-energy weapon, though no evidence for this theory has ever surfaced.

“The idea that widespread brain injury symptoms have been caused by Russia or another foreign power targeting Americans around the world, either to harm them or to collect intelligence, has been deemed unfounded,” NBC News reported overnight, citing six unnamed intelligence sources who’ve been briefed on the issue.

Directed-energy weapons include lasers, which have been deployed by the U.S. during the Iraq War to destroy IEDs and have been installed on U.S. Navy ships in recent years. But the speculation is that the directed energy weapons allegedly responsible for Havana Syndrome would scramble someone’s head in such a way as to give them brain damage. Again, no evidence has ever been presented of these weapons being used against spies.

The CIA found other plausible explanations for the vast majority of Havana Syndrome cases, according to NBC News, with some other cases considered “unresolved.” But whatever the cause, the CIA interim report says nothing points to a foreign adversary such as Russia, China, or North Korea, being behind the illnesses.

Roughly 1,000 cases of Havana Syndrome have been reported to the U.S. government, according to the New York Times, and most can be attributed to environmental issues or undiagnosed medical conditions. Stress is also seen as a possible factor, since many of the people reporting Havana Syndrome symptoms are working as spies in hostile nations during the New Cold War.

From the Times:

Some outside experts believe that stress has contributed to psychosomatic reactions or so-called functional illness. Many victims have found those explanations for chronic headaches and nausea offensive.

But the CIA is leaving open the possibility that a limited number of the cases could have an explanation tied to a foreign power. They simply don’t know about every single case at this point.

“While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done,” CIA Director William J. Burns said in a statement to the New York Times. “We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it.”

Spies who reports symptoms of Havana Syndrome are pointing out that his interim report by the CIA wasn’t worked on by anyone from other agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defence. And people involved in legal cases against the U.S. government aren’t mincing words about this new report.

“CIA interim report is disinformation,” national security attorney Mark S. Zaid tweeted late Wednesday about the new findings.

“Other agencies furious no coordination occurred & they disagree. This still shows how individual agencies disregarding uniform approach & not including proper experts. Why? We already filed lawful whistleblower complaint challenging CIA,” Zaid continued.

Former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos, who says he got Havana Syndrome on a 2017 trip to Moscow, told the New York Times he didn’t want this interim report from his former agency to be the last word on the matter.

“It took us 10 years to find Osama bin Laden,” Polymeropoulos told the Times. “I would just urge patience and continued investigation by the intelligence community and the Department of Defence.”

Whatever the cause of symptoms, the Biden administration has determined it’s important to support Havana Syndrome victims with money. The latest defence budget from the White House included $US30 ($42) million for people who say they’ve got Havana Syndrome.