Biden administration preparing to compensate some ‘Havana syndrome’ victims up to $200,000
The CIA and the State Department have been working to develop eligibility guidelines for the compensation payments, required by legislation Congress passed in 2021.
“CIA has been working in partnership with the interagency as part of a process coordinated through the National Security Council on developing implementing guidance required by the Havana Act and we will have more information on that soon,” a CIA official said in a statement on Thursday.
The State Department echoed those comments, with a spokesperson saying the Havana Act authorizes the department to provide payments to personnel for certain qualifying injuries to the brain and requires the department to publish implementing regulations.
“We will have more details to provide on that process soon,” the spokesperson said. “More broadly, the secretary’s top priority is the health, safety and security of the department’s personnel and family members. The department is doing everything possible to ensure that employees who report an AHI [anomalous health incident] receive immediate and appropriate attention and care.”
The Biden administration has already blown past the April deadline to deliver the required regulations, frustrating Congress and victims as the interagency approach to this mysterious illness has already been plagued by dysfunction and complications.
As victims wait for the rule to be published, there are concerns about the departments potentially coming up with separate definitions, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. There are also concerns about the two departments coming up with different compensation amounts for the victims, which the legislation also orders them to determine. That could result in two US government employees from different agencies having similar incidents but being compensated with different amounts.
The departments met separately with outside doctors and specialists to determine how they would define an injury to the brain, sources said.
In the coming days or weeks the Office of Management and Budget is expected to release those definitions and compensation amounts, after they have gone through a US government review, sources said.
When OMB releases the rule, there will be a 30-day period of public commenting, which will allow those with invested interests to give feedback before the rule is put into place in accordance with the legislation. Victims predict the response could be overwhelming and heated if there are definitions they do not agree with or compensation amounts that seem unfair.