AHI Program 3.23.23

Robert Skvarla, Jr. filed this request with the Defense Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.
Due April 20, 2023
Est. Completion None
Awaiting Response


From: Robert Skvarla, Jr.

Dear FOIA Officer:

You are receiving this correspondence as a request under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. subsection 552. I am requesting the following:

All Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) records for an Anomalous Health Incident (AHI) Program, referenced in a Statement of Work (SOW) published by the DIA's Virginia Contracting Activity (VACA) on sam.gov. You can find the SOW attached in PDF format; however, I am also including a link here for your convenience: https://sam.gov/opp/14da5e59d127411680b7823630aab90e/view#classification

The SOW, dated January 2023, identifies a contracting opportunity for a 26-person team to work with the DIA on the AHI Program, to include: 2 credentialed physician assistants; 2 credentialed registered nurses; 2 certified industrial hygienists; 2 credentialed psychologists; 2 credentialed epidemiologists; 2 credentialed physicians; 2 medical technicians; 2 AHI lead case managers; and 10 AHI case managers.

An earlier RFI on the same sam.gov listing is dated for October 2019 and includes a request for a smaller 10-person team to assist the Office of the Surgeon General on the AHI Program. My request includes all records generated by the DIA and VACA during preparation for or consultation on this earlier version of the program.

Anomalous health incidents, also known as Havana Syndrome, are events occurring between 2016 and the present day that have resulted in a condition, or a series of related conditions, afflicting intelligence agents and diplomats working for the governments of the United States and Canada. In 2016, the Associated Press reported on a number of such incidents that happened in Cuba that led to the United States pulling staff from its embassy in that country. Since that time, anomalous health incidents have continued to generate media attention in major new outlets, with stories focusing on their national security implications appearing in the New York Times and The New Yorker, among many other publications.

However, there is no consensus within the scientific community if anomalous health incidents exist; while the National Academy of Sciences found them to be legitimate in a 2020 study commissioned by the State Department, an earlier 2018 study published by the JASON advisory panel, also commissioned by the State Department, found the opposite, arguing that many of the alleged physical symptoms could be explained by "psychogenic effects," or mental stressors that manifest physical symptoms. This conclusion was supported in a 2020 book written by neurologist Robert Baloh and medical sociologist Robert Bartholomew, titled "Havana Syndrome: Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Real Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria".

As such, there is a considerable public interest in anomalous health incidents and concomitant to that, any government programs that may be investigating claims of anomalous health incidents. DIA records on the AHI Program will contribute greatly to the public's understanding of how government agencies determine who is and is not considered a victim. This is especially important in light of the fact that both Congress and the President approved compensation, in the range of $140,000 or $187,000 per person, to victims as part of the implementation of the HAVANA Act of 2021.

Finally, if it helps to expedite the processing of my request, please redact any personally identifiable information (PII) if records contain such information for victims who have not identified themselves publicly. I would state, however, that some victims have disclosed PIIs already by discussing the condition and their medical histories in public venues. These individuals would include, but are not limited to:

- Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer, formerly stationed in Moscow, Russia: https://www.gq.com/story/cia-investigation-and-russian-microwave-attacks

- Catherine Werner, an ex-State Department employee, formerly stationed in Guangzhou, China: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/evacuated-after-health-attacks-cuba-china-diplomats-face-new-ordeals-n920241

- Mark Lenzi, a current State Department employee, formerly stationed in Guangzhou, China: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/brain-trauma-suffered-by-u-s-diplomats-abroad-could-be-work-of-hostile-foreign-government-60-minutes-2019-09-01/

Redactions for these individuals would be appropriate only where needed to protect sensitive medical data, not identity, because they would be considered public figures by the very nature of their statements to the press, especially where individuals have repeatedly appeared in such a way as to make themselves a public face for victims, such as in the cases of Polymeropoulos and Lenzi.

I am asking you waive any fees associated with this request. I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. My bylines, which include Creem Magazine, Covert Action Magazine, and the Geopolitical Economy Report, can be found in both print and electronic publications. Please take note of the Office of Management and Budget guidelines published March 27, 1987 (52 FR 10012) that include electronic publications and other nontraditional publishers as representatives of the news media.

In the event that there are fees, I am willing to pay up to $100. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

This request is not being made for commercial purposes. All documents will be provided to the general public without charge.

I look forward to your response within 20 working days, as the statute requires. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.


Robert Skvarla, Jr.

From: Defense Intelligence Agency

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Greetings Mr. Skvarla Jr.,

Thank you for submitting your FOIA Request to the Defense Intelligence Agency. This email confirms the receipt of your request.

With Warm Regards,
DIA FOIA Service Center
(301) 394-6253

From: Robert Skvarla, Jr.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in regard to FOIA-00127-2023.

On March 23, 2023, I sent a request for: "All Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) records for an Anomalous Health Incident (AHI) Program, referenced in a Statement of Work (SOW) published by the DIA's Virginia Contracting Activity (VACA) on sam.gov. You can find the SOW attached in PDF format; however, I am also including a link here for your convenience: https://sam.gov/opp/14da5e59d127411680b7823630aab90e/view#classification".

On March 28, 2023, I received a response from the Defense Intelligence Agency stating that my request had been received and assigned FOIA tracking #FOIA-00127-2023. The response letter indicated that the DIA would need time beyond the traditional 20-day limit to fulfill the request.

As it is now March 19, 2024, a year from the date of your prior response, I am requesting an update on the status of this request. The National Institutes of Health recently published two studies finding no evidence of brain injury in victims of anomalous health incidents, aka Havana Syndrome. For verification, please see this article from the New York Times, published on March 18, 2024: https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/18/us/politics/havana-syndrome-brain-studies-nih.html

Given that new research indicates anomalous health incidents do not register the traditional markers of traumatic brain injuries, it is imperative the DIA provides the public with information on its Anomalous Health Incident Program. Any new information may help shed light on this condition affecting U.S. intelligence officers and diplomats.


Robert Skvarla, Jr.

From: Defense Intelligence Agency

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Greetings Mr. Skvarla,

Thank you for contacting our Agency.

The review status for FOIA requests are as follows:

1. Initial Processing
2. Records Search/Review
3. Record Processing
4. Quality Control Review
5. Additional Action Required
6. Delivery to the Requester

Your request is currently in stage 3. Unfortunately, we do not have a projected time on its completion. Please be assured that the DIA is actively working on your case, and is committed to processing your request as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience.

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