WASHINGTON — The U.S. authorities has not decided what brought about some American diplomats and intelligence officers to endure from a mysterious, debilitating affliction whereas they have been abroad, regardless of devoting huge sources over greater than three years to investigating it, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated Wednesday.
Beginning in late 2016, dozens of American officers and members of the family residing in Cuba and China or touring for work in different international locations, together with Russia, reported contracting an sickness that has turn into referred to as Havana Syndrome, primarily based on the place it first publicly emerged. The signs included complications, reminiscence loss, vertigo, nausea, bloody noses and listening to unusual sounds.
Some U.S. officers, together with skilled C.I.A. analysts, and scientists imagine the victims have been focused by a overseas adversary wielding weaponized microwave radiation. Russia beamed microwaves on the American Embassy in Moscow within the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, and it has extra not too long ago harassed diplomats and fueled violence against American soldiers.
Different U.S. officers and scientists say the accidents will be the product of a psychological sickness, and even pesticides.
Mr. Pompeo, who was the C.I.A. director earlier than main the State Division, stated the federal government was nonetheless analyzing a number of theories in what he described as “a really difficult scenario.”
“There may be not but any full U.S. authorities evaluation which definitively tells us exactly how these all got here to be, whether or not they’re a part of a single cohort,” Mr. Pompeo stated at a information convention.
“There are important U.S. authorities sources now, what, three-plus years on, dedicated to attending to the underside of this after which holding these accountable accountable — ought to we decide that that’s required,” he stated.
Mr. Pompeo was responding to a reporter’s query about what the State Division was doing to guard diplomats, and why there seemed to be deep disparities within the response to the episode in Cuba in comparison with the one in China. Mr. Pompeo took umbrage on the query.
“Yeah, that query is sort of like, ‘When did you cease beating your spouse?’” Mr. Pompeo stated. “Proper? Proper?”
The query referred to the findings of separate investigations in The New York Times and GQ printed on Monday. Many U.S. authorities staff and members of the family who left China in 2018 have needed to combat the Trump administration for advantages, and a few say that has led to retaliation by the federal government. Some victims are believed to be completely injured.
The articles additionally revealed new victims — C.I.A. officers who had not too long ago made brief journeys abroad. One suspected assault passed off in Moscow. In different circumstances, the officers have been assembly with companion intelligence businesses to debate plans to counter Russian covert operations, The Instances discovered.
Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, will not be satisfied Russia carried out any assaults associated to the sicknesses, officers stated. Russia has denied any position.
The investigations led to some lawmakers criticizing the Trump administration over the reported mistreatment of diplomats and spies. The lawmakers are additionally calling for Mr. Pompeo and different high officers to cease concealing info on the suspected assaults.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, stated on Tuesday that the articles have been “deeply troubling and will spur the Trump administration to do every thing in its energy to guard federal staff from these assaults and examine the total scope of this risk.”
“These findings ought to put an finish to the foot-dragging, evasiveness and obstruction on the State Division to ship advantages to all of those injured federal staff and their households, and get to the underside about what occurred,” she added.
A half-dozen American officers instructed The Instances that the Trump administration’s responses to the suspected assaults diversified primarily based on political issues.
In Cuba, the place President Trump sought to undo President Barack Obama’s rapprochement, the State Division withdrew all however a handful of American diplomats. It additionally expelled Cuban diplomats from the USA.
However the administration took a softer strategy in China as Mr. Trump pursued a trade agreement with Xi Jinping, the authoritarian chief whom the president praises. And Mr. Trump has additionally tried strengthening ties with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
On Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo stated “there have been no politics hooked up to this” and it was “patently false, clearly false, unambiguously false” that the administration’s responses to the episodes have been conditioned on political targets.
“We don’t need any nation all over the world to suppose for a second that they will do one thing, and we received’t take critical motion,” Mr. Pompeo stated.
The State Division has refused to offer primary info to Congress concerning the episodes — even obscuring the variety of American authorities staff and members of the family affected worldwide. Lawmakers and scientists additionally concern the division is making an attempt to bury an in depth report on the episodes it acquired in August from a committee on the Nationwide Academies of Sciences.
On Tuesday, after The Instances reported on the State Division’s refusal to launch the report back to the general public or Congress, Consultant Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, said on Twitter that he had simply directed aides to request the report from the division.
He wrote: “There’s no motive @SecPompeo must be hiding this info from the American folks.”
Marc Polymeropoulos, a 26-year C.I.A. clandestine officer who retired after the suspected assault in Moscow left him with fixed migraines, stated Wednesday that the present scenario was just like an earlier occasion through which the U.S. authorities refused to acknowledge fight accidents. “That is the C.I.A.’s gulf conflict syndrome,” he stated.
Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.