Havana Syndrome Victims to Get U.S. Support Under New Law

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Biden signs measures to compensate US diplomats, spies and others suffering mysterious neurological illness

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The legislation Mr Biden signed, the Helping American Victims with Neurological Attacks (Havana) Act, enables the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the secretary of state and other agency heads to provide financial compensation to individuals affected by the incidents. Many say that they have had to bear significant medical expenses.

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“Civil servants, intelligence officers, diplomats and military personnel have been affected by disproportionate health incidents around the world,” Mr Biden said in a statement, using the US government’s term for the attacks. “Some people are battling debilitating brain injuries that have curtailed their careers of serving our nation. Addressing these incidents has been a top priority for my administration.”

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who helped write the law, said that with the law’s enactment, “Havana syndrome victims will finally receive the financial support and medical help they deserve.”

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Mr Biden’s signing into law comes as senior administration officials say his administration has issued new guidance to government national security personnel, including the White House National Security Council, on what to do if they suspect they are under attack. Guidance instructs individuals, if they suddenly feel sound, heat or pressure on the head, to move away from the area.

A senior official described the guidance, first reported by McClatchy Newspapers, as part of a wider White House effort on the issue, including ensuring prompt medical attention for those affected, standardizing case reporting and evaluation across agencies. do, and aggressively investigate who and what is behind the incidents.

Attacks have been reported against US officials serving overseas and in some cases their families in Austria, China, Colombia, Germany, Serbia and elsewhere. An official traveling with CIA Director William Burns to India in September reported symptoms, and Vice President Kamala Harris temporarily delayed arriving in Hanoi in August, following reports of an incident there.

In December, a panel from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said the sudden onset of symptoms was consistent with “a directed radio frequency (RF) energy attack” rather than unintentional or environmental exposure. But it also said more research is needed, noting that the disease was “unlike any disorder in the neurological or general medical literature.”

A senior CIA official said this week that US intelligence agencies have not conclusively determined how the attacks are being carried out or who is responsible. “We have developed interesting clues, but there is nothing that can lead us to any firm conclusions,” the official said.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines is overseeing a panel of intelligence analysts and outside scientific experts tasked with determining the mechanisms used in the attack. The panel’s work is expected to be finished by this fall.

Former CIA and State Department officials said that until recently, his reports of symptoms had not been taken seriously by agency leaders, which forced him to seek self-care. Some have had to resign from the government over health issues.

“For too long, many of us have been treated as adversaries, not partners by our own agencies,” said Robin Garfield, a Commerce Department official who was injured in 2018 in Shanghai and Havana. Headed a syndrome sufferer advocacy group.” “This needs to stop and we need to stay united to protect the workforce, find the source of the attacks and continue our important work.”

write to Warren P. Strobel at [email protected]

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