WASHINGTON – The CIA’s internal watchdog conducts a review of how the agency first handled reports that some of its operatives suffered from neurological symptoms now known as Havana Syndrome , while the matter has not been taken seriously enough at the highest levels, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The CIA Inspector General’s office is interviewing people who have experienced symptoms and officials involved in dealing with the problem, the sources say.
The House Intelligence Committee is also conducting its own “deep dive” into the matter, said a committee official with first-hand knowledge.
“The abnormal health incidents plaguing our staff around the world are of great concern,” said the head of the committee. “There is no higher priority than ensuring the health and safety of the people who serve our nation.”
“On a bipartisan basis, the House Intelligence Committee spoke to people with direct knowledge of how these health incidents are being handled and how they have been handled in the past,” the official said. “As a result of this work, we are very concerned about the way that some people have not been able to access necessary medical services and care. The committee remains focused on ensuring that the government takes all necessary steps to address these issues.
Some former officers, including Marc Polymeropoulos – who suffered an apparent brain injury during a trip to Moscow in 2017 – accused CIA leadership and medical officials under the Trump administration of not responding correctly to the growing number officers who believe they have been targeted by what some experts believe to be a directed energy device or weapon.
Polymeropoulos told NBC News that the approach taken by CIA Director William Burns “was a radical and most welcome change from the previous administration. He showed compassion to the victims, a revamped the CIA’s healthcare response and dedicated additional resources to finding out who is in charge. “
Former CIA Director Gina Haspel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The IG journal was first reported by CNN.
The CIA recently appointed a new head of its Havana Syndrome task force, a veteran officer who was instrumental in the successful hunt for Osama bin Laden, an official familiar with the matter told NBC News.
NBC News reported on Tuesday that as many as 200 U.S. officials or family members have reported possible symptoms. About two dozen cases have been reported in Vienna alone.