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Biden signs law to compensate victims of mysterious ‘Havana syndrome’

Written by David E. Sanger, Katie Rogers and Julian E. Barnes

US President Joe Biden on Friday signed a new government program to compensate CIA officers, State Department diplomats and other federal officials. traumatic neurological injuries That the intelligence community has yet to know, initiated by the attackers, has yet to be identified.

The Havana Act authorizes Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA Director William Burns to provide financial assistance to employees who have suffered brain injuries. The act is known as Havana Syndrome, a series of unexplained injuries whose victims were first identified five years earlier at the US Embassy in Cuba.

But Biden’s silence about the new law – he issued a statement but avoided a public ceremony where he could be asked questions – was telling. While some officials believe the syndrome is the result of attacks and that one or more rival powers are responsible, intelligence agencies have yet to come to any firm conclusions.

There is a widespread belief, supported by a study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, that the cause is directed energy, possibly microwaves, possibly targeted at embassies and residences. But this is also just the leading theory, and although Russia is the prime suspect, it is hardly the only country with the technology to launch such attacks.

The events have provided a rare example of a bipartisan agreement. The original bill was written by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Main. Representative Adam Schiff, D-California, guided the bill through the House, where it was passed unanimously.

Zaid, an attorney representing several victims, said the legislation was “a good and necessary first step, but it falls short in many ways.”

The bill relies on CIA and State Department leaders to make their own determinations about who is covered and how much compensation they receive, which means “it has the opportunity to create incredible discrepancies between agencies that they How’s it working. It,” said Zaid.

An administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose internal communications said officials standardized what they acknowledged was an ad hoc and uneven reporting process across agencies before Biden took over.

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