On September 3, we blogged about the Havana Syndrome again: Blinken Talks the Talk on Unexplained Health Incidents, Where’s the Walk? #HavanaSyndrome.
On September 21, NBC News reported that Secretary Blinken finally did meet with diplomats who were afflicted with the Havana Syndrome mystery illness. It did not go very well, did it?
Via NBC News:
“It’s just incredibly sad. It’s the worst part of bureaucracy,” one of the diplomats said, describing the call as “identical to so many other phone calls” where they’re told about protocols in place to ensure proper treatment. “It’s so maddening because those protocols aren’t in place — not the way they think they are.”
A senior State Department official, responding to questions about Blinken’s call with the diplomats, acknowledged that there’s “frustration” among the group about a perceived stigma or lack of empathy by their colleagues, but said it did not extend to those at the top.
“That’s certainly not the case with the secretary and the senior leadership,” the official said in an interview. “Everyone is taking it seriously as a real issue that is affecting people who are experiencing real symptoms.”
Which members of the senior leadership is the SDO official talking about?
Diplomats told NBC News they were dismayed that Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, tapped by the Biden administration to oversee the State Department’s response, declined to conclusively rule out the mass hysteria theory.
One diplomat on the call described that response as “invalidating and inconsiderate.” Another said that Spratlen was “very clearly saying that she has not ruled out that we’re crazy.” “In the end, we were interrupting Spratlen to try to get people in” to speak, a third diplomat on the call said. “It was ugly.”
Folks, if they’re talking about protocols in place that aren’t in place almost seven months after Blinken took office, then one can’t help but agree that Secretary Blinken is treating this “as an afterthought” as per former Senior CIA official Marc Polymeropoulos.
Another reason why we agree? Ambassador Spratlen who was appointed as Senior Advisor to the Havana Syndrome Task Force back in March is reportedly leaving after six months on the job. “The State Department says she’d reached her threshold of allowed labor hours under her status as a retiree.”
Well, dammit! So Foggy Bottom did not know that she’s going to max out on her allowed labor hours? Excuse me, did they think this job is going to be done after 950 hours on the job? (Also see Havana Syndrome Questions @StateDept Refuses to Answer). Note that State Department’s re-employed annuitant employees can work no more than 1,040 hours during their appointment year.
McClatchy says that Blinken “considers choosing her [Spratlen’s] replacement an important decision, a senior State Department official said.
“The secretary has been seized with this issue even before he became secretary,” the official said. “One of the meetings he proactively requested before the transition was on this issue.”
Oh holymoly guacamole, give it a rest PR people! This is an old, old tired trick, even an old dog would not pick up this stick!
Frankly, this is getting to be so exhausting! Look. The fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter if Secretary Blinken requested “proactively” a meeting on the Havana Syndrome issue BEFORE the transition.
In fact, the next State Department official to bring up Blinken’s request for a Havana Syndrome briefing before the transition should be promptly fired for persistently living in the past.
What matters is — what Blinken is doing about this issue NOW.
Top State Department official overseeing 'Havana Syndrome' response is out after 6 months, officials tell me and @BrendaBreslauer – https://t.co/D6ACNmAAJF
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) September 23, 2021
Exclusive from @JoshNBCNews and @BrendaBreslauer In his first meeting with State Department staffers affected by Havana Syndrome in Cuba and China, Secretary of State spent more than an hour offering reassurances and fielding questions.https://t.co/8boCpjuFVG
— NBC Investigations (@NBCInvestigates) September 21, 2021
Spratlen's departure was first reported tonight by @mawilner @McClatchyDC https://t.co/Hno1xyRiV0
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) September 22, 2021
@StateDept Designates Amb. Pamela Spratlen as Senior Advisor to the Havana Syndrome Task Force https://t.co/D06h4FgXNy
— Diplopundit (@Diplopundit) March 15, 2021