The State Department was looking at directed-energy weapons as a possible source of mysterious brain injuries affecting U.S. diplomats more than two years before revealing its suspicions to Congress, Politico reports.
As early as mid-2018, the State Department was doing its own medical tests to evaluate patients who experienced "directed energy exposure" on foreign soil, two victims’ disclosure forms provided to Politco show.
Both of their test results led to their immediate return to the United States, according to Politico.
One of the victims, State Department official Mark Lenzi, sustained traumatic brain injuries while on assignment in Guangzhou, China, in late 2017, the news outlet reported. He was evaluated in June 2018 and sent home days after a medical test.
Lenzi has accused the State Department of covering up the source of his and other diplomats’ ailments and withholding information from Congress. Lawmakers were not briefed on the department’s medical tests for directed-energy exposure until early 2021, the news outlet reported.
Lenzi claims leaders in the State Department have retaliated against him for speaking out about the issue and working with Congress as it investigates the matter, Politico reported.
The federal agency that handles whistleblower claims previously found "a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing" in the case of Lenzi and his claims of retaliation, according to an April 2020 Office of Special Counsel (OSC) memo. The retaliation probe is still underway.
A separate document shows that just last month, Lenzi’s administrative leave was revoked without explanation, the news outlet reported.
According to Politico, the documents shed new light on the government’s handling of the unexplained health incidents that have afflicted more than 200 American personnel — diplomats and intelligence officers alike — in foreign countries and on U.S. soil since 2016.
"The State Department has not treated this syndrome as seriously as it should. And that is very disturbing to me," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told Politico.
A State Department spokesperson declined to discuss the details of Lenzi’s case, but told Politico "the safety of our personnel is our highest priority," adding: "We take every report we receive extremely seriously, and we are doing everything we can to ensure affected individuals get the best care and treatment."
Lenzi told Politico the State Department’s handling of the issue has gotten worse under Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Lenzi was diagnosed with a brain injury on July 22, 2018. Since then, he says, the State Department has retaliated against him in a number of ways.
He expects the OSC investigation to be completed before the end of the year. At that point, by law, the results would be shared with the White House and Congress. If Lenzi’s allegations are substantiated, he would be considered a whistleblower under the statutory definition, and be entitled to protections under the law.
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