(Trends Wide) — A bipartisan group of senators asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to appoint a new high-level official to lead the State Department’s efforts to deal with ongoing “anomalous health incidents,” also known as “Havana syndrome.” , stating that the incidents reflect “a significant and total threat to our national security.”
The lawmakers, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, Senior Republican Member Jim Risch, and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, said they “are extremely alarmed by the fact that reports on these incidents continue to increase. “
“We believe that this threat deserves the highest level of attention from the State Department, and we remain concerned that the State Department is not treating this crisis with the necessary high-level attention that it requires,” they wrote.
“Furthermore, while progress has been made, we continue to hear concerns that the Department is not communicating with or responding sufficiently to diplomats who have been injured by these attacks,” they wrote. “We are also concerned that the Department is not sufficiently committed to interagency efforts to find the cause of these attacks, identify those responsible, and develop a plan to hold them accountable.”
Trends Wide contacted the State Department for comment.
Reports continue to emerge of US officials suffering from the mysterious health ailments. As Trends Wide reported, more than a dozen US officials working at the US Embassy in Colombia and their family members have reported symptoms consistent with “Havana syndrome” in recent weeks, according to an official with the administration and a source familiar with the situation.
Lawmakers asked Blinken to appoint a new senior official to lead the State Department’s efforts to respond to the incidents following the departure of Ambassador Pamela Spratlen after six months in office.
“It is essential that this position is filled by a high-level official directly under your direction. It is essential that this person has the necessary experience to interact effectively with affected people and with interagency,” they wrote.
The letter praises President Joe Biden for passing the HAVANA Act, and urges Blinken to prioritize its “swift implementation.”
“Many victims have waited for the approval of this legislation to receive much-needed financial and medical support,” they noted. “The signature of the president and the bipartisan support behind the law sends the unequivocal message that all affected people should have access to benefits and financial support. We ask that you quickly implement these provisions to ensure that victims of these attacks receive equitable access to health care and treatment. “
“We owe it to our diplomats to exhaust all efforts to try to ensure a full recovery,” they said.
The letter was also signed by Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida; Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland; Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware; Bill Hagerty, Republican of Tennessee; Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia; Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii; Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey; and Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah.