US federal agencies are investigating two possible incidents, including one near the White House in November of last year. US officials experience sudden symptoms similar to the “Havana syndrome” symptoms suffered by American diplomats and spies abroad, first reported by Politico.
The White House is working closely with the CIA, state department, and Pentagon to assess the situation, said a White House spokesperson.
“The White House is working closely with departments and agencies to address unexplained health incidents and ensure the safety and security of Americans serving around the world. Given that we are still evaluating reported incidents and that we need to protect the privacy of individuals reporting incidents, we cannot provide or confirm specific details at this time.”
The incident, which took place near the Ellipse, the vast oval lawn on the south side of the White House, sickened one National Security Council official, according to several current and former US officials and sources familiar with the matter, reported the Nine News.
A White House official confirmed a similar incident while walking her dog in a Virginia suburb outside of Washington in a separate 2019 incident, reported by GQ Magazine last year.
That incident occurred when a White House staffer walked past a parked van, in Arlington, and a man got out and walked past her.
“Her dog started seizing up. Then she felt it too: a high-pitched ringing in her ears, an intense headache, and a tingling on the side of her face,” the report said.
Workers at the US and Canadian embassies in Havana, Cuba, began experiencing unexplained health issues in late 2016, ranging from hearing loss to memory issues and nausea. The symptoms later became known as “Havana syndrome.”
Sufferers reported hearing a loud clicking noise that continued on. Other symptoms followed, including ear pain and pressure, disorientation, and dizziness. Long-term symptoms included memory loss and anxiety.
Later reports suggested that the incidents could have been caused by using a microwave device by an unknown enemy to attack the workers. However, the government has not given a definitive conclusion.
According to a State Department-sponsored study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, the attacks were consistent with the use of guided microwave energy, which was reported by CNN in December last year.
“Overall, directed pulsed RF (radio frequency) energy, especially in those with the distinct early manifestations, appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered,” stated the report.
“The mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others, as if the U.S. government does not have its hands full already with naturally occurring threats,” it added.
Intelligence and defense officials have been unable to talk openly about the strange incidents. Some of those who have been affected have publicly argued that the CIA did not take the matter seriously enough, at least at first.
Chris Miller, elected as acting Defense Secretary at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, told CNN: “I knew CIA and Department of State were not taking this [expletive] seriously, and we wanted to shame them into it by establishing our task force.”
Miller began taking notice of reports of mysterious symptoms last December.
“When this officer came in and I knew his background and he explained in an extraordinarily detailed but more military style that I could understand, I was like this is actually for real,” Miller said. “This kid had been in combat a bunch and he knew.”
It was extremely difficult to track down and investigate alleged guided energy attacks.
“We have failed to take it seriously as a threat,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a member of the Armed Services Committee, told Politico in an interview.
The U.S. State Department reported in February that the investigation was still underway. According to defense officials who briefed legislators, China and Russia were among the suspects; however, they did not have enough information to prove it.
Pentagon officials told members of the House Armed Services Committee last week that they worried about the vulnerability of U.S. troops in the Middle East and elsewhere to such directed-energy attacks.
Under Trump’s administration, the attacks resulted in a significant reduction in personnel at the outpost in Havana. Similar, unexplained incidents were registered by personnel in Russia and China. While no one knows for sure what causes the symptoms, one State Department-sponsored study concluded that they are most likely caused by microwave energy attacks, according to Nine News.