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Bill supporting "Havana Syndrome" victims passes Senate

U.S. reviews "Havana Syndrome" incidents
U.S. reviews "Havana Syndrome" incidents 04:57

A bill passed in the Senate on Monday that offers financial support to U.S. diplomatic staff who have suffered brain injuries resulting from "Havana Syndrome," a mysterious set of symptoms known to have afflicted scores of American personnel over several years.

The Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks authorizes more compensation for State Department and CIA employees who have been injured by the so-called Havana Syndrome. It passed without any objections on Monday, the authors of the bill said in a release. 

The effort is a bipartisan one, led by Senators Susan Collins, Mark Warner, Marco Rubio and Jeanne Shaheen. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has introduced companion legislation in the House. Specifically, it would give affected CIA and State Department employees financial aid and other benefits, in accordance with "fair and equitable" criteria, as described in the legislation. 

People suffering from Havana Syndrome have reported a number of neurological symptoms, which have included dizziness, nausea, persistent headaches. Some have even been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. 

More than a dozen CIA officers serving in multiple overseas locations have returned to the U.S. to seek care this year after reporting symptoms consistent with Havana Syndrome, which is thought to have already afflicted scores of U.S. personnel since 2016, according to current and former U.S. officials and people familiar with the matter. The new suspected incidents occurred in the early months of 2021, and at least one happened as recently as March, according to three sources.  

In many of the cases, the officers felt so sick, so suddenly, that they required emergency medical evacuation, two people familiar with the matter said. The recent incidents have taken place on three continents, according to one of the people.  

The reported cases are the latest in what lawmakers of both parties have said is an "increasing" pattern of suspected "attacks" on U.S. officials — which have included diplomats, intelligence officers and military personnel — and which have prompted several government investigations at the CIA, State Department and Pentagon.   

Last month, a White House spokesperson said the cause of the incidents is an area of "active inquiry," and that the National Security Council (NSC) has been coordinating a "government-wide effort" since the start of the administration to determine who is responsible and ensure those affected receive medical evaluations and proper care. 

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