Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Friday that the Biden Administration has appointed two officials to direct the State Department’s investigation into cases of Havana Syndrome.
Havana Syndrome is a neurological condition suffered by many diplomats and other state employees domestically and abroad. Its symptoms typically include a loud, unexplained ringing in the ears that resemble tinnitus and episodes of vertigo and tiredness.
Blinken’s announcement constitutes his most expansive public engagement with the topic of Havana Syndrome. He described having met with individuals who have suffered from the condition and said that the government will work to establish the origin of Havana Syndrome, pledging to get “to the bottom of what and who is causing these incidents.”
“This is an urgent priority for President Biden, for me, for our entire government. We will do absolutely everything we can, leaving no stone unturned, to stop these occurrences as swiftly as possible.”
“We’re working tirelessly with partners across the government to identify what is causing these incidents and to learn who is responsible,” Blinken affirmed.
Mysterious origins of Havana Syndrome have not yet been determined
The government has not been able to trace the exact source of Havana Syndrome. The syndrome seems to exclusively affect U.S. diplomats and government workers, almost overwhelmingly when they are working overseas.
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said earlier this week that the government is gaining ground in its pursuit of the root cause of the syndrome, but that they have not yet reached a definitive answer:
“I would say that we are marginally closer,” he said when asked at the Aspen Security Forum, “I don’t feel that I have a lot more optimism than that. I think we’re making progress. But it has been very slow and much slower than, certainly, I think any of us like to see. It’s not for a lack of effort.”
Schiff closed his remarks by acknowledging the deeply mysterious nature of the affliction:
“I still personally have profound questions about what is causing this, and whether it is one cause, or several. And so we still, I believe, have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The State Department’s investigation into Havana Syndrome is being led by the National Security Council, according to a spokesperson from the forum:
“We look forward to continuing to work with the State Department’s Health Incident Response Task Force, and with Ambassador Moore and Ambassador Uyehara, as part of the National Security Council-led government-wide effort to investigate the cause of these anomalous health incidents and do everything we can to ensure the safety and security of Americans serving around the world.”