Havana syndrome: Member of CIA chief’s team reported symptoms on recent trip to India

The incident set off alarm bells throughout the US authorities and left Burns “fuming” with anger, one supply defined. Some officers on the CIA considered the chilling episode as a direct message to Burns that nobody is protected, together with these working instantly for the nation’s high spy, two sources stated.

The occasion marks the second time in lower than a month that reported circumstances of the mysterious sickness have impacted the worldwide journey of high Biden administration officers. Final month Vice President Kamala Harris’s go to to Vietnam was barely delayed when a number of US personnel reported symptoms in line with the syndrome simply forward of her go to, and not less than two of them had to be medevaced.

Below Burns and the Director of Nationwide Intelligence, Avril Haines, the intelligence group has undertaken a wide-ranging investigation into the mysterious assaults, together with a 100-day probe into the potential causes that started earlier this summer time. Whereas that investigation is anticipated to be concluded earlier than the top of the 12 months the timeframe may very well be considerably adjusted and there’s no public report deliberate, two sources stated.

“We do not remark on particular incidents or officers. We’ve got protocols in place for when people report potential anomalous well being incidents that embrace receiving applicable medical therapy,” a CIA spokesperson stated. “We’ll maintain doing every thing we will to shield our officers.”

The state of affairs in India may have dramatic implications: the CIA director’s schedule is tightly held and there are deep issues amongst US officers about how the perpetrator would have recognized in regards to the go to and been in a position to plan for such an aggression.

The individual touring with Burns who skilled the symptoms in India obtained quick medical consideration after they returned to the US, sources stated.

Rising concern

US investigators have struggled to decide what or who’s inflicting the mysterious symptoms, and the way precisely they’re doing it. Incidents of Havana syndrome started in late 2016 in Cuba and there have since been circumstances reported in Russia, China, Austria and different nations throughout the globe. CNN has beforehand reported that incidents additionally passed off on US soil, together with two workers members of then-President Donald Trump’s nationwide safety council who had been struck close to entrance factors to the White Home.

The continuing incidents have put US diplomats and intelligence officers on edge main up to the UN Normal Meeting in New York this week the place diplomats from around the globe — together with many US diplomats — will convene in shut quarters. Solely a handful of the overall reported incidents have occurred on US soil, however the gathering in New York is at all times considered as a target-rich atmosphere for espionage.

President Joe Biden was just lately up to date on the general state of affairs — together with the truth that there are greater than 300 potential circumstances, the type of medical assist being offered to these impacted, and the investigation into the matter that’s led by the intelligence group.

Over the summer time the Director of Nationwide Intelligence, Avril Haines, launched the 100-day investigation into the “mechanism” behind the incidents, and efforts that may very well be taken to defend towards the assaults. Placing a timeframe on it was half of an effort to drum up the depth of the investigative effort, however the deadline may very well be prolonged if that’s wanted, sources stated.

There are additionally different ongoing investigations by the US intelligence group targeted on the query of the perpetrator behind the incidents, which the US authorities calls anomalous well being incidents or AHIs, and what the US can do to defend towards these incidents.

The US authorities is “pursuing a number of strains of effort” to examine the Havana syndrome, a CIA spokesperson stated. The spokesperson added that one of these efforts is led by ODNI and CIA officers in addition to the surface scientific group to “to work collectively to improve our understanding of the potential mechanisms that may very well be inflicting AHIs.”

Since Biden took workplace his nationwide safety team has been keenly targeted on probing the mysterious incidents and getting impacted US personnel the help they want.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with US diplomats affected by the Havana syndrome earlier this month which marked his first assembly with these impacted, in accordance to a State Division Spokesperson. The dialog got here after CNN reported of frustration amongst rank-and-file staffers about how the division had dealt with the mysterious incidents.

Lawmakers had been initially crucial of the Biden administration for not sharing common updates on the mysterious incidents. However in recent months the administration, in an effort led by Burns, have made modifications to the processes and assist for these impacted and personnel working on these efforts.

“We have strengthened efforts to decide the origins of the incidents, together with assembling a team of our highest specialists — bringing an depth and experience to this subject akin to our efforts to discover bin Laden,” a CIA spokesperson stated. “The senior officer who leads the team spent greater than a decade on counterterrorism points and was a driving power in CIA’s analytic and focusing on work that led us to discover bin Laden.”

Nonetheless, the incidents have continued to happen, leaving US diplomats and US intelligence officers on edge as they take on new assignments abroad.

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