Julian Borger, The White House has said it is investigating “unexplained health incidents” after a report that two US officials in the Washington area experienced sudden symptoms similar to the “Havana syndrome” symptoms suffered by American diplomats and spies abroad.
The wave of mysterious brain injuries, beginning in Cuba in 2016, are deemed by the National Academy of Scientists to be most likely the result of some form of directed energy device, and the CIA, state department and Pentagon have all launched investigations.
CNN reported on Thursday that two possible incidents on US soil are part of the investigation. One took place in November last year near the Ellipse, the large oval lawn on the south side of the White House, in which an official from the national security council suddenly fell sick.
The other was in 2019 and involved a White House official walking her dog in a Arlington suburb of Washington. That incident was reported in GQ magazine last year.
That account said the incident happened after the staffer went past a parked van 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.
Officials cautioned that the investigations into these and other incidents have not reached a conclusion.
“The health and wellbeing of American public servants is a paramount priority for the Biden administration. We take all reports of health incidents by our personnel extremely seriously,” a White House spokesperson said.
“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 symptoms of the Havana syndrome attacks include hearing strange sounds followed by dizziness, nausea, severe headaches and loss of memory which in some case can go on for years. There are dozens of victims, most of whom were stationed in Cuba and China with a handful of cases elsewhere.
Most of those affected, as well as many officials and experts, believed they were attacked by a foreign power with some form of microwave energy device. But they fought an uphill struggle, before the National Academy of Sciences study in December, convincing their employers that their brain injuries were the result of an attack while they were on assignment.
The CIA set up a taskforce in December, and the new CIA director, William Burns, has appointed a senior official to coordinate both care of those affected and to investigate the origins of the attacks.
While the inquiries are continuing, the administration has not confirmed whether the injuries suffered were the result of a weapon, the national security council senior director for the western hemisphere, Juan Gonzalez, referred to microwave attacks in Cuba, in an interview with CNN Spanish language service earlier this month.