President Biden’s top aides were told on Friday that experts studying the mysterious illnesses affecting scores of diplomats, spies and their family members were still struggling to find evidence to back up the leading theory, that microwave attacks are being launched by Russian agents.
The report came in an unusual, classified meeting called by the director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, according to several senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the investigations and efforts to treat victims of the so-called Havana syndrome — the unexplained headaches, dizziness and memory loss reported by scores of State Department officials, C.I.A. officers and their families.
While Mr. Biden has said almost nothing publicly about the episodes, the National Security Council has begun an urgent effort to address the issue, and two separate task forces are now in operation, one investigating the cause and led by the C.I.A. and another focused on finding commercial technology that could detect or block attacks.
The subject of the Friday meeting of the Joint Intelligence Community Council was confirmed on Sunday evening by Timothy Barrett, the assistant director of national intelligence for strategic communications.
“This is a top priority for the intelligence community,” he said, “and we are supporting the N.S.C.-led effort to get answers, take care of our people and prevent future incidents.”
The meeting included Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken; Attorney General Merrick B. Garland; the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns; and the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray.
The high-ranking nature of the session was an indication of how quickly the attacks, which date to 2016, have risen from a medical mystery to an urgent national security issue. Biden administration officials say they were shocked at how disorganized the government response was over the past four years, in part because there was no central way for departments to share reports of the episodes and because many of the targets were intelligence officers whose identities and locations could not be revealed.
A December 2020 study of the causes by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that microwave attacks were most likely the cause, but Biden administration officials say the group had no access to classified information.
Source From Nytimes