REPORT: US Launches Investigation Into Possible ‘Havana Syndrome’ Attack Outside The White House

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

The U.S. has launched an investigation into suspicious invisible attacks, including one near the White House, that have reportedly sickened national security and White House officials and that impacted Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents overseas in the past, according to CNN.

The attack outside the White House happened in November 2020 near the south side of the building, and sickened a National Security Council official, sources told CNN. In 2019, a White House official reported a similar attack while walking her dog in a Virginia suburb, according to the news outlet.

Officials reportedly investigated the incidents as possible “Havana syndrome” attacks, potentially caused by microwave energy, although there’s no consensus as to what the cause of the symptoms was, or if foreign actors, such as Russia or China, were behind them.

The possible attacks in November and in 2019 were similar to episodes that affected CIA officers and other U.S. officials serving in Cuba, Russia, and China. The syndrome’s name is derived from the mysterious symptoms U.S. personnel in Cuba experienced in 2016, according to CNN.

Symptoms included ear-popping, vertigo, severe headaches, nausea, and a “piercing directional noise,” all of which seemed to appear spontaneously, according to CNN. At least one CIA officer was reportedly diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury following an attack. (RELATED: ETZIONI: Taiwan Is Not Worth Risking A War With China)

The CIA, State Department, and Defense Department have all played a role in investigating the attacks, although the Pentagon sought to lead the probe toward the end of the Trump administration because its officials sensed that other agencies weren’t seriously addressing the complaints, CNN reported.

“I knew CIA and Department of State were not taking this shit seriously and we wanted to shame them into it by establishing our task force,” Chris Miller, who was acting defense secretary from Nov. 9 until Jan. 20, told CNN in April.

Miller said he interviewed a victim of the attack who had combat experience in December, which heightened his urgency about responding to the claims. Some cases reportedly involved children and dependents of U.S. personnel overseas, he said.

Pentagon leaders and the CIA set up task forces to address possible episodes of the attacks, and the State Department named a senior official to lead their response to the attacks.

Griffin Decker, who Miller tapped for the Pentagon’s response, had a new case of “Havana syndrome” reported to him “every couple of weeks,” Miller told CNN. However, officials are considering the possibility of false reporting and hypochondria. 

Officials haven’t completely ruled out the possibility that the symptoms were caused by naturally occurring phenomena, although a March report from the National Academy of Sciences found that “directed, pulled radiofrequency energy” would have been most likely to cause the symptoms, according to CNN.