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Rubio Joins Collins and Colleagues in Introducing Bill to Support Victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’
The bipartisan legislation would support U.S. Diplomatic staff and others who have suffered head injuries from probable directed energy attacks like in Cuba and China
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) in a bipartisan effort to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries from probable directed energy attacks while stationed abroad. The legislation would authorize additional compensation for injured individuals and be provided to State Department or CIA employees at the discretion of the agency head. This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.
Last week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report on the more than 40 U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, and at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, who suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.” Ailments have included dizziness, tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties. Although the microwave attacks first began in late 2016, many of the affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems.
Under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA), a federal employee may currently receive a schedule award if the employee suffers the loss or loss of use of a part of the body, but not if the impairment is to the brain, back, or heart. The proposed legislation would provide the CIA Director and the Secretary of State additional authority to compensate their personnel who incur brain injuries in connection with war or a hostile act.
Joining Rubio and Collins in introducing this bipartisan bill were Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Angus King (I-ME), Ben Sasse (R-NE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Burr (R-NC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Tom Cotton (R-AR).
Rubio is the Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.
The text of the bill can be found here.
“Both the regimes in Havana and Beijing have failed, under international treaties, to protect the safety of foreign diplomats on their soil,” Rubio said. “As the Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I remain committed to providing adequate care for all U.S. Government employees who have suffered brain injuries while serving in our diplomatic posts abroad. I’m proud to join Senator Collins and other Senate colleagues in introducing this legislation that would provide additional authorities to the CIA Director and the Secretary of State to properly assist U.S. personnel, who have endured these attacks while serving their country abroad.”
“Public servants who work in our embassies and consulates overseas make many personal sacrifices to represent America’s interests abroad, and they deserve our strong support,” Collins said. “As we investigate the source of previous microwave attacks and seek to prevent them from occurring in the future, this legislation would provide additional financial assistance to Americans who were injured and continue to experience debilitating symptoms.”
“As the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I understand the lengths that our CIA officers go to in order to obtain critical intelligence and keep our nation safe,” Warner said. “Given the daily risks that these brave men and women endure for the sake of democracy, the least we can do is put financial safeguards in place for those afflicted by these awful attacks.”
“The mysterious injuries afflicting U.S. public servants and their loved ones are serious and for far too long, these Americans have suffered without the health care they need to manage their symptoms and recover. Providing them access to long-term, emergency health benefits has been a top concern for me, which is why I’m glad to partner with Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to build on that important work,” Shaheen said. “This legislation will add an important new benefit that the employees with brain injuries can use toward their long-term care and recovery. It also includes my language to ensure that federal retirees continue to have the option of accessing these benefits even after they have left government service. Federal employees impacted by these incidents should be heard, believed and assisted on their path to recovery. I’m encouraged by the bipartisan progress in Congress to address their needs, but more must be done to determine the causation of these attacks and prevent them from affecting any other employees.”
“The United States has a responsibility to care for any American public servant who sustains serious injuries while working on behalf of our nation,” King said. “This legislation would ensure that we are fulfilling that duty by providing for U.S. government employees who were afflicted by these mysterious ailments while serving oversees, with some still struggling with the effects to this day. It is imperative that Congress pass this law to support those harmed while representing our nation abroad – and that the United States identify and defend against the source of these injuries, so we can protect our public servants from similar threats in the future.”
“The men and women serving our nation abroad often do so at the risk of their own health and safety,” Burr said. “Since 2016, multiple U.S. officials serving in Cuba and in China have been the victims of attacks that cause sudden hearing loss and brain damage. This legislation helps those who have been afflicted with what is now called ‘Havana syndrome’ by making sure any brain injuries are covered. I’m proud to work with Senator Collins on this important bill and I look forward to the Senate’s consideration.”
“It’s common sense that our public servants should have access to care to treat injuries connected with their service protecting our country,” Bennet said. “This bipartisan legislation is an important step toward modernizing our system to keep pace with the evolving threats we face and ensure that government officials serving in posts overseas who sustain traumatic brain injuries receive the care they need.”
“CIA agents and Foreign Service Officers put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Cotton said. “This bill rightly ensures they’re taken care of as they seek treatment and recover from all types of cowardly attacks by our adversaries.”