Biden asks to identify officials who may be vulnerable to “Havana syndrome”

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United States embassy building in Havana.

Photo: YAMIL LAGE / AFP / Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The President Joe Biden ordered Tuesday that his team of national securityto the identify those US officials most at risk of so-called “Havana syndrome”.

In a letter to six members of his cabinet, Biden also appointed a person in charge of coordinating the government’s response to these strange symptoms, which dozens of US diplomats in various countries around the world have suffered for five years.

Is about Maher Bitar, who serves as senior director of intelligence programs in the National Security Council (NSC) of the White House, and who will now add to that function that of “intragovernmental coordinator regarding anomalous health incidents”, confirmed a source official.

Bitar was one of the legal advisers who helped the Democratic congressmen during the first impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump (2017-2021).

A year ago he joined the NSC and since then has been at the forefront of coordinating sensitive intelligence originating from various US government agencies.

The last US defense budget, which Biden signed in December, forced the president to appoint a coordinator for the government’s response to the mysterious incidents, who will be in charge of directing the investigations in this regard and caring for the victims.

Biden further directed in his letter that, “no later than February 25, 2022,” your government issues new “guidelines on elements of its workforce considered to be at risk of exposure to abnormal health incidents.”

Specifically, the agencies that must identify these vulnerable officials are the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security; in addition to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines.

More than 200 US diplomats and officials stationed in different countries have suffered symptoms of “Havana syndrome,” so named because it was in that city where the strange health problems were first detected in 2016.

Those affected by these incidents -registered in countries such as Cuba, China, Austria and Colombia, as well as in Washington- had symptoms similar to those of brain injuries, with dizziness, headaches and lack of ability to concentrate, which in some extreme cases have forced them to withdraw.

Two weeks ago, several US media reported that the CIA has ruled out that these problems are the result of a campaign led by an enemy country of the United States, such as Russia, something that many in Washington believed.

The origin and author of these mysterious “attacks” is still unknown, although some experts suggest that radio frequency energy could have been used to perpetrate them.

In 2017, Trump accused the Cuban government of having failed to guarantee the security of US diplomats in its territory, and drastically reduced the staff of the embassy in Havana, even at a minimum.

It may interest you:

– Cuba asks Biden to reopen embassies after the CIA report on the Havana Syndrome

– CIA evaluation rules out that cases of “Havana Syndrome” were a foreign attack

– FBI acknowledges that some agents may have symptoms of Havana syndrome

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