In tense Blinken meeting, ‘Havana Syndrome’ diplomats complain of skepticism
Intense Blinken meeting, ‘Havana Syndrome’ diplomats complain of skepticism.
U.S. diplomats suffering from the mysterious “Havana Syndrome” used a heated meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken this month to express increasing dissatisfaction with the US government’s continued stigma and skepticism regarding their ailments, four years after the events started.
Blinken spent more than an hour in his first meeting with the State Department employees impacted in Cuba and China, giving reassurances and answering concerns,
with the majority of those affected participating by phone. His message is that those who are suffering must be believed and that the government is doing all it can to investigate and care for them.
However, the assurance from America’s top diplomat contrasted sharply with the ongoing difficulties that affected diplomats say they face in receiving proper medical care, evaluation,
and benefits, as well as the widespread skepticism about their injuries that they say exists even among some high-ranking government officials.
“It’s really heartbreaking. One of the ambassadors added, “It’s the worst part of the bureaucracy,” characterizing the conversation as “similar to so many previous phone calls” in which they’re informed about procedures in place to guarantee appropriate treatment.
“It’s infuriating because those procedures aren’t in place — at least not in the manner they believe they are.”
More than a half-dozen individuals who took part in the Sept. 10 call talked with NBC News. They highlighted a chasm between the government’s public,
official narrative and the reality on the ground, and claimed the administration’s reluctance to call the events “attacks” is fuelling their colleagues’ mistrust.
When the events in Cuba were initially reported in 2017, the Trump administration labeled them “targeted assaults.” However, the government cease referring to them as assaults in recent years,
instead of using the term “unexplained health events,” or UHIs, as the Biden administration prefers.
Several people in Cuba and China who diagnose with Havana Syndrome said the State Department’s Bureau of Medical Services first informed them their symptoms caus by stress or that their cognitive problems were related to aging.
One of the diplomats said, “It’s disgusting comments like this that foster this skepticism.
” He said that employees realize the government can’t share all the facts of the inquiry with them.
“We understand; it’s classified information,” says the narrator.
But don’t pretend it’s nothing if you’re seeing things. It’s called this for nothing.
Don’t broach the subject of our stress levels.”
Others described a never-ending series of bureaucratic roadblocks that prevented them from receiving benefits authorized by recent legislation to address Havana Syndrome,
such as lost wages for workers whose brain injuries forced them to retire early or prevented them from progressing professionally.
In response to queries about Blinken’s conversation with the diplomats, a senior State Department official admitted that there is “frustration” within the group over a perceived stigma or lack of empathy among their colleagues, but that this did not extend to those at the top.
In an interview, the official said, “That is definitely not the situation with the secretary and top leadership.” “Everyone is treating it as if it were a genuine problem impacting individuals who are suffering actual symptoms.”
Multiple US departments, including the State Department and the Pentagon,
have urged their workers to submit any instances of worry or symptoms to be examined in order to defuse the skepticism.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence made an unusual public statement last month,
calling the stepped-up inquiry a “top priority”
and promising to help anyone impacted “to ensure they are believed, understood, and appreciated.”
At least 200 US diplomats, spies,
and other government workers come forward since 2017 to describe possible signs of what authorities think are the most direct energy assaults using microwave technology.
The initial instances found in Havana,
but subsequent cases report on every continent except Antarctica, including those in the United States.
Vice President Kamala Harris’ travel to Vietnam delay by several hours late last month due to alleged events in Vietnam shortly before she suppose to arrive.
According to NBC News, a CIA officer
who traveled to India with CIA Director William Burns last month reported symptoms and is being treated.
Before experiencing symptoms such as cognitive and memory difficulties, balance challenges, and hearing and vision abnormalities, some of the employees have described hearing odd high- or low-pitched noises or feeling strange feelings.
Traumatic brain injuries identify by doctors recruited by the US government to treat them.
Despite the fact that the US government has been investigating for more than four years,
the intelligence community yet to officially identify a cause or perpetrator.
The Biden administration, which took office in January and took over the unsolved investigation,
appointed a senior official from the White House National Security Council to oversee the response,
which now includes new task forces involving scientific and medical experts with access to classified information.
“The fact that we haven’t been able to establish the cause or attribution is perplexing
and confusing to everyone who works on this,”
the senior State Department official said. “The term ‘attacks’ indicates that we are aware of what has occurred and what is causing it, as well as the presence of a state actor.
Obviously, it’s the popular idea that proven or disproven.”
Some of the first diplomats in Cuba.
who afflict got official FBI letters stating that they are the victims of a crime,
rewards from the Secretary of State for a wound in the line of duty, or both?
However, after several trips to Havana to investigate,
the FBI released a report concluding that there was no proof of an assault
and that the employees were most likely suffering from mass psychogenic sickness or mass hysteria.
Ambassadors have reacted angrily to the fact that the FBI did not question the diplomats personally.
At least one diplomat urged the State Agency to publicly dispute the story during the Sept. 10 conversation, when Blinken asked how the department might decrease suspicion.
Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, who appoint by the Biden administration to supervise the State Department’s reaction, refuse to definitively rule out the mass hysteria hypothesis, diplomats told NBC News.
According to notes from the conversation, she informed the diplomats,
“The FBI study is one I have really read.” “We understand that not many people are talking about it right now,
but we heard what you had to say about it, and we now have your perspective,
which we will certainly consider as we consider our future actions in dealing with that issue.”
That answer characterizes as “invalidating and disrespectful” by one diplomat in the conversation.
Another person said that Spratlen was “clearly stating that she has not ruled out the possibility that we are insane.”
A third diplomat on the conversation claimed, “In the end,
we were interrupting Spratlen to try to get others in” to talk. “It was revolting.”