Possible 'Havana Syndrome' Attack Hit Near White House

Federal agencies investigating at least 2 incidents in the US
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2021 8:00 AM CDT
Steps From White House, a Possible 'Havana Syndrome' Attack
Marine One lands on the Ellipse near the White House on April 18, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Last year, GQ reported that strange, apparent attacks like those that sickened diplomats in Cuba had taken place inside the US. A month later, one such incident occurred just outside the White House. A National Security Council official was sickened near the Ellipse, the oval lawn on the White House's south side, in November, CNN reports. That followed a 2019 incident involving a White House official walking just outside Washington. She reported a headache, ringing in her ears, and a tingling on her face. As GQ reported, the official had experienced a similar sensation months earlier while accompanying John Bolton, then the national security adviser, on a trip to London. Lawmakers on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees were briefed this month on the incidents, said to resemble "Havana Syndrome" cases among US personnel in Russia, China, and Cuba.

The National Academies of Science studied the symptoms of up to 40 diplomats who served in China and Cuba before concluding they were consistent with "directed, pulsed radio frequency energy," per NBC News. "Studies published in the open literature ... by Western and Soviet sources provide circumstantial support for this possible mechanism," reads the report issued in December. Briefers, who also described apparent attacks on US troops in the Middle East, told lawmakers that the technology likely originated in Russia or China, per Politico. However, one former US official tells CNN that a naturally occurring phenomenon has not been ruled out. While the wide array of locales and symptoms—including dizziness, visual disturbances, and brain damage—make cases difficult to investigate, the CIA, State Department and Defense Department are on the case. (Read more White House stories.)

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