Greg Myre

A CIA investigation has not found evidence that a foreign country was responsible for mysterious ailments suffered by hundreds of U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials in multiple countries in recent years.

Most of the illnesses appear related to previously undiagnosed medical conditions or stress, according to an interim report by the spy agency.

However, the CIA emphasized that it is still investigating around two dozen cases that cannot be explained, and which were first reported by officials at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, in 2016.

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Top U.S. and Russian diplomats said they had constructive talks Monday in Geneva, but they did not achieve a breakthrough in their attempt to defuse tensions regarding the Russian troop buildup on the Ukraine-Russia border.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov emerged from the nearly eight hours of talks and declared, "There are no plans or intentions to attack Ukraine." He went on to say, "There is no reason to fear some kind of escalatory scenario."

But the Russian troops remain in place, and Ukraine and its supporters describe them as a serious threat.

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At the start of this year, people knew that President Biden had promised to end the war in Afghanistan. They did not know how it would conclude.

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Let's start with the laugh.

Desmond Tutu will always be remembered as the South African Anglican cleric who won the Nobel Peace Prize, helped bring down apartheid and served as the moral beacon of a troubled nation for decades. The towering figure has died at age 90.

On Christmas Day 1991, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sat down at a table deep inside the Kremlin and prepared to deliver a monumental speech. Associated Press reporter Alan Cooperman was among the few journalists allowed in.

"We were ushered down into some kind of underground chamber where they had a formal television studio with those big, Soviet-era tripods and huge cameras." Cooperman recalled. "We sat there for a while and then Gorbachev came in."

When Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999, he immediately called on the Russian military.

It's not exactly classified information — former President Donald Trump and the intelligence community didn't get along. But in an updated book, Getting To Know The President, the story is told from the inside.

It's pretty rare for U.S. spies to gather at a conference and talk openly about the most pressing national security threats.

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The U.S. government wants to know why some U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are getting sick. It's called Havana syndrome, after the illnesses turned up in Havana. Many say they've suffered debilitating migraines, dizziness and memory loss.

Some history may be relevant. Years before the first Havana cases were reported, the U.S. government documented microwave radiation being directed at a U.S. embassy and at officials abroad. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre has the backstory.

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In 1996, Michael Beck and a colleague at the National Security Agency were sent to a "hostile country" on a brief assignment. After being detained at the airport for about an hour, they were allowed to go, but they knew they were being closely watched.

A few days into the assignment, Beck woke up at his hotel feeling terrible.

"It was extreme fatigue and weakness. I was a bowl of jelly and couldn't get moving," said Beck. He was suspicious of the cause, but the symptoms went away.

In many parts of the U.S., China remains a huge business opportunity despite recent friction. That's the country where Apple makes its phones and Nike stitches its shoes. U.S. farmers sell soybeans to China and Wall Street investors trade Chinese stocks.

Yet inside the Washington Beltway, China is a security threat. Full stop. It's one of the few things Democrats, Republicans and most everyone else in the capital agree on.

"An adversarial, predatory Chinese leadership poses our biggest geo-political test," CIA Director William Burns said in congressional testimony.

Consider these recent steps by President Biden and his team: selling nuclear submarines to Australia, outlining their approach to trade with China and hosting a White House gathering with key U.S. partners in Asia.

The CIA has removed its station chief in Vienna, in part because of his handling of cases involving what's known as "Havana syndrome," according to current and former government officials.

A growing number of U.S. intelligence officials in Vienna have reported symptoms in recent months consistent with Havana syndrome, which include dizziness, migraines and memory loss.

As President George W. Bush flew back to Washington on Air Force One on Sept. 11, he was accompanied by Michael Morell, the CIA officer who briefed the president daily.

Morell was in touch with CIA headquarters, which gave him heart-stopping intelligence that he had to urgently deliver to the president.

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