Intelligence Committee Chairman Warner: “Let there be no mistake, in terms of who was the relentless driver, some might even say persistent beyond belief driver, of this issue. It was Susan Collins.”
Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ remarks.
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Intelligence Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today to applaud the unanimous passage of the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act she authored to support American intelligence and diplomatic staff who have been victims of likely directed energy attacks. She also urged her colleagues and the administration to support a “whole-of-government” approach to get to the bottom of these attacks and identify the adversary responsible.
“For several years, American personnel serving our country in Cuba, China, and elsewhere have experienced unexplained, serious medical harm, including in some cases, permanent brain injuries,” said Senator Collins. “Their conditions are believed to be the consequence of a mysterious, directed energy weapon used by an adversary. As we investigate the source of previous attacks and seek to prevent future ones, the bill that passed the Senate last night would provide additional medical care and financial compensation to Americans who continue to experience debilitating symptoms as a result of these heinous attacks.”
“The injuries that many of these victims have endured are significant and life-altering. I have talked with many of these victims. They have described debilitating headaches, a loss of vision, a decreased ability to hear, dizziness, and many other symptoms as well, including a decline in their cognitive abilities. In some cases, they have been forced to medically retire. In other cases, they somehow continue on while coping with these symptoms,” Senator Collins continued. “I have spoken several times to CIA Director Burns and the Director of National Intelligence Haines about these attacks, and I am heartened by the commitments that they have made to me and to other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to care for the victims and to identify the perpetrators and the weapon used in these attacks. We can speculate. We have our suspicions. But the fact is, we do not know exactly what the weapon is, nor who is wielding it. We need a whole-of-government approach to identify the adversary who is targeting our American personnel. And I am grateful to the Chairman and Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who I know are committed to getting to the bottom of these attacks. I hope that when President Biden meets with President Putin, that he will ask President Putin about these attacks, that he will grill him about them to see if the Russians are responsible.”
Following Senator Collins’ remarks, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said, “Let there be no mistake, in terms of who was the relentless driver, some might even say persistent beyond belief driver, of this issue. It was Susan Collins. And once again, her service shows that she's standing up for America's diplomats, the intel community serving our country around the world, who has Senator Collins already indicated, have been involved in dangerous incidents resulting in brain trauma and other unexplained illnesses.”
“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016. Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy,” and there have been according to the press more than 130 total cases among American personnel, including on U.S. soil. Symptoms have included severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years after the attacks. The HAVANA Act would give the CIA Director, the Secretary of State, and other agency heads additional authority to provide financial support to those suffering from brain injuries as a result of these attacks.
The HAVANA Act would authorize the CIA Director and the Secretary of State to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries. Both the CIA and State Department would be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment. This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.