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Politics|William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, outlines plans to face the ‘Havana Syndrome.’
- July 22, 2021, 5:33 p.m. ET
The C.I.A. is stepping up efforts to face the origin and effects of mysterious sonic incidents, believed to beryllium attacks, that person injured U.S. officials, by expanding aesculapian unit and assigning an bureau seasoned who hunted Osama bin Laden, the agency’s director, William J. Burns, said successful an interrogation connected Thursday.
“I’m surely persuaded that what our officers and immoderate household members, arsenic good arsenic different U.S. authorities employees, person experienced is existent and it’s serious,” Mr. Burns told NPR successful his archetypal interview since taking implicit the C.I.A. 3 months ago.
“We’re precise focused connected getting to the bottommost of this,” helium said.
In March, conscionable earlier Mr. Burns, a vocation diplomat, took office, the C.I.A. created a task force aimed astatine expanding efforts to find the origin of the alleged Havana syndrome — unexplained episodes that person injured its officers and different U.S. authorities workers in Cuba, China, Russia and elsewhere.
The task unit volition enactment with the State Department and different quality agencies to cod caller grounds astir the episodes and re-examine worldly to gully conclusions connected whether attacks occurred and, if so, what caused the injuries and who was responsible.
“We’ve tripled the fig of full-time aesculapian unit astatine C.I.A. who are focused connected these issues,” Mr. Burns said of the efforts to assistance victims. “We person reduced the magnitude of clip it utilized to instrumentality to hold to get into Walter Reed for our officers, from much than 8 weeks to little than 2 weeks.”
He said different portion of the team, led by an unnamed authoritative who “a decennary agone led the palmy hunt for bin Laden,” was focused connected uncovering the culprits down the attacks and identifying the exertion they used.
“We’re throwing the precise champion we person astatine this issue,” added Mr. Burns, who said the team’s enactment was based connected a 2020 uncovering by the National Academy of Sciences that an as-yet unidentified overseas histrion launched a “directed energy” astatine American installations.
Mr. Burns, who served arsenic ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, was besides asked astir the precarious authorities of Afghanistan’s subject arsenic Western countries retreat their forces.
He said helium believed the Afghan authorities had the subject capableness to clasp disconnected the Taliban, provided it had “the governmental willpower and unity of leadership” to “resist the Taliban.”
He rapidly conceded, however, that the “trend lines are surely troubling.”
Mr. Burns was arsenic equivocal erstwhile asked astir the C.I.A.’s probe into the anticipation that the coronavirus originated from a laboratory successful Wuhan, China.
“The honorable reply today,” helium said, “is that we cannot connection a definitive decision astir whether, you know, this originated successful a laboratory mishap oregon whether it originated successful a earthy transmission from infected animals to quality beings.”