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C.I.A. Outlines Plan to Confront ‘Havana Syndrome’

The C.I.A. is stepping up efforts to confront the trigger and results of mysterious sonic incidents, believed to be assaults, which have injured U.S. officers, by rising medical workers and assigning an company veteran who hunted Osama bin Laden, the company’s director, William J. Burns, mentioned in an interview on Thursday.

“I’m actually persuaded that what our officers and a few members of the family, in addition to different U.S. authorities workers, have skilled is actual and it’s severe,” Mr. Burns instructed NPR in his first interview since taking on the C.I.A. three months in the past.

“We’re very targeted on attending to the underside of this,” he mentioned.

In March, simply earlier than Mr. Burns, a profession diplomat, took workplace, the C.I.A. created a job power geared toward increasing efforts to seek out the reason for the so-called Havana syndrome — unexplained episodes which have injured its officers and different U.S. authorities staff in Cuba, China, Russia and elsewhere.

The duty power will work with the State Division and different intelligence businesses to gather new proof concerning the episodes and re-examine materials to attract conclusions on whether or not assaults occurred and, if that’s the case, what brought about the accidents and who was accountable.

“We’ve tripled the variety of full-time medical personnel at C.I.A. who’re targeted on these points,” Mr. Burns mentioned of the efforts to help victims. “We now have diminished the period of time it used to take to attend to get into Walter Reed for our officers, from greater than eight weeks to lower than two weeks.”

He mentioned one other a part of the workforce, led by an unnamed official who “a decade in the past led the profitable hunt for bin Laden,” was targeted on discovering the culprits behind the assaults and figuring out the know-how they used.

“We’re throwing the easiest we now have at this subject,” added Mr. Burns, who mentioned the workforce’s work was primarily based on a 2020 discovering by the Nationwide Academy of Sciences that an as-yet unidentified international actor launched a “directed power” at American installations.

Mr. Burns, who served as ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, was additionally requested concerning the precarious state of Afghanistan’s navy as Western international locations withdraw their forces.

He mentioned he believed the Afghan authorities had the navy capability to carry off the Taliban, offered it had “the political willpower and unity of management” to “resist the Taliban.”

He shortly conceded, nonetheless, that the “pattern strains are actually troubling.”

Mr. Burns was equally equivocal when requested concerning the C.I.A.’s investigation into the likelihood that the coronavirus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China.

“The sincere reply in the present day,” he mentioned, “is that we can’t supply a definitive conclusion about whether or not, you recognize, this originated in a lab accident or whether or not it originated in a pure transmission from contaminated animals to human beings.”

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