Yahoo News investigation finds ‘mounting skepticism’ about Havana syndrome link to foreign ‘attacks’
An investigation by Yahoo News found that there was “mounting skepticism” from U.S. officials about Havana syndrome cases being linked to foreign attacks, the outlet reported on Wednesday.
Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, told Yahoo News that there was no evidence that foreign actors caused the Havana syndrome health problems that have been reported in the last few years.
“A Yahoo News investigation has found there is mounting skepticism among senior officials about a key underlying premise of the new law: that the symptoms associated with Havana syndrome, which the government formally refers to as Anomalous Health Incidents (AHI), can be linked in any way to hostile attacks by a foreign power,” the outlet reported.
President Biden signed the HAVANA Act in October 2021, which provides up to to $187,300 for victims who are former or current officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who have experienced brain injuries and other related health problems that have become known as Havana syndrome, according to the New York Times.
U.S. officials reported the first cases of Havana syndrome in Cuba in 2016. “We have not identified any outside causality in any Anomalous Health Incidents,” Nichols said on the Yahoo News’ “Conspiracyland” podcast titled “The Strange Story of Havana Syndrome.”
CIA Director William Burns has also said they have not found evidence that would connect foreign actors like Russia to a “sustained global campaign on the scale of what has been reported.”
The CIA can answer for a majority of Havana Syndrome cases but there are still a few that remain under investigation. “But privately, senior officials say the lack of hard evidence has made them increasingly dubious about the existence of a supposed microwave superweapon or other exotic devices that might have caused the symptoms — an emerging view that suggests the entire Havana syndrome narrative, as has been reported by much of the media for the past five years, may end up being a conspiracy theory that simply never panned out,” the Yahoo News report said.
“As I began to read the data, read the intelligence, read the results of the investigations and the assessment work that was being done around the world, it just became harder and harder to explain these instances as an attack. I never saw anything that was clear-cut that provided even an identification of who was doing it… or a definitive source for what was causing these symptoms,” John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary for intelligence and analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, told the Yahoo News podcast
Yahoo news reported that there were often clashes between officers that were skeptical of Havana syndrome being linked to foreign attacks and those who believed they “were victims of hostile actions from a foreign adversary.”
Cohen said that intelligence officials were even “pursuing a theory that the entire Havana syndrome controversy was being stoked by a foreign intelligence ‘disinformation’ campaign designed to play up health incidents in order to create chaos within the U.S. intelligence community and to undermine internal ‘cohesion,’” Yahoo News reported.
They added that no evidence was found on that theory.
In 2021, several U.S. diplomats at the Berlin embassy reported having symptoms of Havana syndrome. Symptoms include hearing sudden piercing noises, dizziness, headaches, severe fatigue, vertigo, nausea, and sometimes cognitive difficulties.