The United States compensates some of the victims of the “Havana Syndrome” with six-figure payments

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The Biden administration plans to pay roughly $100,000 to $200,000 to some diplomats and intelligence officers to make up for the mysterious health problems known as “Havana syndrome,” according to congressional aides and a former official familiar with the matter.

The payment plan is the culmination of multi-year lobbying by Congress, which passed a law last fall requiring the State Department and the CIA to compensate current and former officials suffering from what the government calls anomaly health incidents.

Despite six years of investigations, the United States still lacks certainty about the cause of symptoms, which include headaches, vision problems, dizziness and brain fog, among other illnesses. Health problems were first reported among US diplomats and intelligence officers working in the Cuban capital, but have since been reported on every continent except Antarctica.

People who were briefed on the plan and who spoke like the others said on condition of anonymity because the plan was not approved for release.

US officials cautioned that the scope of the compensation is not yet final and could change as the State Department’s regulation goes through the final stages of the review process, which is coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget.

This winter the CIA decided to be a foreign country most likely not Behind a “global campaign to harm US personnel with a weapon or mechanism” – an assessment that cast doubt on years of speculation that health problems were the result of a mysterious directed energy weapon used by Russian or Chinese agents.

Government investigators reviewed more than 1,000 cases, most of which were attributed to a pre-existing medical condition, environmental or other factors. Dozens of other reported cases remain unexplained.

As word of compensation packages reached the federal workforce, some officials noted that the packages were generous while others said the scope of compensation appeared inadequate, given the loss of future and past income for those who had suffered severe neurological damage and could no longer work.

The Biden administration has not yet released the criteria for how to determine eligibility for compensation, but they are expected to be announced soon. Those who were briefed about the plan said current and former officials as well as their family members would be eligible to file claims.

Under the Havana Act, Congress gave the secretary of state and the director of the CIA the power to determine eligibility, which has already raised concerns about whether diplomats and intelligence officers would be treated the same way.

β€œIt is critical that the CIA and the state implement Havana law in an identical manner. To ensure that the exact same criteria are used to qualify for compensation. There can be no daylight between agencies,” said Mark Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA officer. which was previously an unfortunate hallmark in how the US government responded to mental health indicators.” He retired in 2019 while experiencing symptoms, including excruciating headaches, after a trip to Moscow in 2017, when he was helping with covert operations in Russia.

Developing a compensation plan has been particularly challenging for US government officials, given the lack of compelling evidence of what causes illnesses and the inability to establish a clear diagnosis for the wide range of symptoms that can also sometimes be debilitating.

State Department and CIA officials said Thursday that Havana law allowed agencies to make payments to employees for “qualifying brain injuries.”

The CIA official said the two agencies are working in partnership with the National Security Council on how the payment system works and will have more information about it soon.

The official added that the legislation gives the CIA and other agencies “the authority to make payments to employees, eligible family members, and other individuals affiliated with the CIA.”

“As Director Burns emphasized, nothing is more important to him and to CIA leaders than caring for our people,” the official said, referring to CIA Director William Burns.

Officials from the National Institutes of Health, the Pentagon and other agencies jointly developed a new two-hour medical examination to screen for potential new cases that doctors or other practitioners could administer to US personnel on foreign assignments.

The triage process includes a visual, vestibular and blood test but not imaging of the brain, a fact that reflects the ever-changing and sometimes contested science about injuries. Although some doctors predetermined Perceptible changes in the brain As a result of the apparent attacks, State Department doctors say they now believe the scans have no scientific validity.

Officials are also seeking to better educate medical personnel on missions around the world, instructing them to be receptive to the experiences of potential victims – and stress that skepticism is no longer the norm.

In January, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the State Department, like the CIA, was focused on providing medical care to those who need it, and would continue to look for a cause behind the health issues.

“We will continue to use all of our resources to learn more about these incidents, and there will be additional reports to follow. We will not go unnoticed,” he wrote.