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U.S. intelligence officer traveling with CIA chief in India reported "Havana Syndrome" symptoms

Austin calls for "Havana Syndrome" reports
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calls for "Havana Syndrome" reports 06:37

Washington — An intelligence officer traveling with CIA Director William Burns in India this month reported symptoms consistent with "Havana Syndrome" and sought immediate medical care, according to two people familiar with the matter. It is the second case known to have occurred during a senior U.S. official's travel overseas, and the latest of dozens of new incidents reported this year alone.   

Last month, Vice President Kamala Harris's trip to Vietnam was temporarily delayed after her delegation was told that at least one American official in Hanoi had suffered symptoms associated with the neurological illness that first emerged years ago among U.S. personnel in Cuba.  

Intelligence Chiefs Brief Senate On Worldwide Threats To National Security
CIA Director William Burns speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill, April 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. GRAEME JENNINGS/Getty

The symptoms of Havana Syndrome, or "Anomalous Health Incidents," as the Biden administration refers to them, include headaches, nausea and vertigo. Some cases have resulted in a diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury. More than 200 American officials, including 100 intelligence officers, have reported suspected cases thus far. 

It is unclear whether the officer who fell ill in India was targeted because of a link to the CIA director. Circumstances of the event are still being investigated. The incident was first reported by CNN. 

The U.S. intelligence community has not yet determined whether a foreign actor is to blame, according to previous statements issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). But some U.S. officials suspect the cases may be the result of attempted surveillance by foreign intelligence services using directed energy technologies to target officials' electronic devices.  

Of particular concern, current and former officials say, is that suspected instances of the illness have not abated, and they may even be proliferating globally. Some believe the proximity of recent incidents to current senior administration officials is an indication that the perpetrator may be growing more brazen in its choice of targets.  

A CIA spokesperson told CBS News that while the agency does not comment on specific cases or personnel, it has "protocols in place for when individuals report possible anomalous health incidents that include receiving appropriate medical treatment." 

CIA taps lead officer from Osama bin Laden hunt to find cause of Havana Syndrome 06:12

The agency, under Burns, has tripled the number of medical staff dedicated to the health incidents and reinvigorated a task force charged with investigating their cause, "bringing an intensity and expertise to this issue akin to our efforts to find [Osama] bin Laden," the spokesperson said.      

The intelligence community has also convened an expert panel that includes senior CIA and ODNI officials as well as and outside scientists and medical experts to investigate possible causes. 

Possible cases of "Havana Syndrome" under investigation in Vienna 06:39

CIA Deputy Director David Cohen said last week that the agency had made some progress in identifying the incidents' origin, but had not yet issued an analytic judgment about what could be behind them. 

Last Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sent a memo to all Pentagon employees and contractors urging them to report suspected anomalous health episodes. The memo urged those experiencing symptoms to "immediately" leave the area where they were first felt.

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