“I am very happy that the Senate has shown that it cares about these officials and wants to make sure they get the medical care and compensation they need,” said Collins, a senior member of the Intelligence Committee.
The Intelligence Committee heard from several victims of the mysterious attacks who had to “fight” with the federal government to obtain sufficient medical treatment, Collins said.
“Anyone who spoke to them would be appalled to learn that these officials, who in many cases serve in harsh or dangerous environments, find it difficult to seek treatment after being attacked by this weapon by an unknown adversary. she added in a brief interview.
The bill authorizes funding for treatment of attack-related illnesses and gives the CIA Director and Secretary of State increased discretion over how the money is spent. The legislation also requires the CIA and the State Department to keep Congress informed of how funds are being used – a nod to lawmakers’ long-standing frustrations with intelligence officials over what they see as a failure of several years to properly address the issue. .
A bipartisan group of lawmakers across Capitol Hill, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) And his GOP counterpart, Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Recently presented a complementary bill that could soon hit the floor of the house.
U.S. officials have long been baffled by the alleged attacks and the symptoms associated with them, including intense ringing and pressure in the ears, visual and hearing impairment, loss of balance and other cognitive abilities, as well as permanent brain damage. Officials across government have also struggled to learn more about the specific type of weapons that direct highly concentrated electromagnetic energy at a victim.
The attacks were first detected in 2016 in Havana, Cuba, where dozens of US diplomats have been sidelined in what sparked a massive US government investigation. The resulting illness became known as “Havana Syndrome”.
Last year, U.S. officials followed a sharp increase in similar incidents affecting U.S. personnel in various countries and, for the first time, directly at home. A National Security Council official was reportedly hit by a directed energy attack while walking on the Ellipse, the lawn just south of the White House; two other NSC officials were recently shot near their homes outside Washington.
The US intelligence community has not formally determined who is responsible for the alleged attacks, which are extremely difficult to attribute due to their “invisible” nature. However, administration officials told lawmakers they believed the Russian military intelligence unit, the GRU, was responsible, POLITICO first reported.
The US government has significantly stepped up its investigation in recent months to include the entire intelligence community in addition to the National Institutes of Health. As recently as last week, a senior State Department official referred employees who report symptoms consistent with Havana Syndrome to the NIH, which played a “lead role” in analyzing the symptoms, according to a congressional official briefed on the investigation.
“The next step is to continue to find out who is doing this,” Collins said.
Warner and his counterpart at the top of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Have vowed to “shed light” on the alleged attacks, and CIA Director William Burns receives daily information on the state of the government investigation. .
Americans diagnosed with traumatic brain injury have started to sound the alarm bells about the alleged attacks and the federal government’s lackluster response.
Marc Polymeropoulos, who served in the CIA for 26 years, including senior positions in covert operations, suffered debilitating symptoms of an alleged directed energy attack during a December 2017 stint in Moscow. Polymeropoulos said the CIA and other government agencies initially did not take his concerns seriously.
“This is an emotional time for many victims, who have suffered not only from the moral prejudice of being rejected by their respective national security institutions, the pain and suffering of their invisible wounds, but also from the fact that sometimes they paid thousands of dollars. pocket for their own health care, ”Polymeropoulos said in an interview. “We are deeply grateful to Senator Collins and many other senators for their tireless efforts which have led to this day. “
Recent versions of the annual Congressional Intelligence Authorization Act and the National Defense Authorization Act have addressed the medical treatment of people like Polymeropoulos, but the measure passed by the Senate on Monday is the expansion most significant of these efforts to date. Collins and other lawmakers are still trying to ensure that victims of the alleged attacks can also access the brain injury unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.