The US State Department is readying six-figure payments for the victims of mysterious brain injuries known as "Havana Syndrome," according to AP, citing officials and a congressional aide.
Both current and former State Department staff and their families who suffered "qualifying injuries" since 2016 will receive payments between $100,000 and $200,000 each - with specific amounts to be based on the severity of the victims' injuries.
The payments will only cover victims employed by the State Department as well as their dependents - around 20% of cases - while other victims will have to seek compensation from whatever federal agency employed them.
The officials and aide spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the expected publication next week of the State Department’s plan to compensate victims under the terms of the HAVANA Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year.
That draft rule is expected to be published early next week and will not become final until after a 30-day period in which public comment will be solicited. The State Department, along with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, will consider the comments before enacting a final rule. -AP
According to the report, the HAVANA Act will authorize the State Department to "provide payments to personnel for certain qualifying injuries to the brain," and requires the agency to publish plans for deploying the funds.
The mysterious syndrome, which in January the CIA ruled out Russia or other 'hostile powers' as the cause, have affected US personnel in foreign embassies, who complained of nausea, severe headaches, disorientation, vomiting, and even concussion-like symptoms.
Out of literally hundreds of alleged instances, some which were claimed to have happened in the streets of D.C., the CIA says it only considers "about two dozen cases" instances where they "cannot rule out foreign involvement".
Since 2017 there's been an estimated 200 possible Havanda Syndrome incidents. Last year The Wall Street Journal called attention to "a steady expansion of attacks on American spies and diplomats posted overseas by unknown assailants using what government officials and scientists suspect is some sort of directed-energy source."
As we noted at the time, bizarre reports began to emerge that nearly two dozen American diplomats - and a handful of Canadians - serving at embassies in Havana suffered hard-to-pin-down symptoms from the alleged "sonic attacks". But from the start anything in the way of actual evidence was lacking - other than the reports of the strange symptoms themselves (something which varied from person to person, and remained highly subjective in terms of description or severity). The whole initial episode focused on the US Embassy in the Cuban capital gave rise to endless theories.
One prime theory that emerged in 2019 ascribed it to a natural phenomenon due to sounds produced by crickets in Havana.
This particular theory wasn't merely based on the musings of some random US officials, but was advanced by a team of scientists, and was featured in The Guardian in 2019. Other scientists had simultaneously posited the possibility of mass hysteria among staff serving in a high stress environment.