Senate Intel vows to ‘get to the bottom’ of ‘Havana syndrome’ attacks
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders on Friday pledged to “get to the bottom” of the mysterious “Havana syndrome” attacks following reports of a recent episode near the White House.
According to a report from CNN, officials are investigating two suspected attacks on U.S. soil, one of which took place near the Ellipse, the grassy oval lawn just south of the White House, harming a National Security Council official.
The suspected attacks, which first occurred in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, have since surfaced in a number of countries, leaving a number of U.S. diplomats and analysts with neurological symptoms ranging from vertigo to insomnia.
“For nearly five years, we have been aware of reports of mysterious attacks on United States Government personnel in Havana, Cuba and around the world. This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing. The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to get to the bottom of this. We have already held fact finding hearings on these debilitating attacks, many of which result in medically confirmed cases of Traumatic Brain Injury, and will do more,” Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a joint statement.
Some 40 government officials have been hit by the attacks, which a government-funded report by the National Academy of Sciences determined were most likely caused by microwave radiation. The bulk of known cases have been State Department or CIA employees.
The lawmakers said they would seek “to better understand the technology behind the weapon responsible for these attacks.”
“We will focus on ensuring we protect our personnel and provide the medical and financial support the victims deserve. Ultimately we will identify those responsible for these attacks on American personnel and will hold them accountable,” they said.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said his panel “will continue to hold events and briefings on this subject and we will follow the evidence wherever it may lead and ensure anyone responsible is held to account.”
“The reported attacks that have afflicted our personnel in Havana and around the world are of grave concern. We have been working quietly and persistently behind closed doors on this critical issue since the first reports,” he said in a statement.
The CIA kicked off a task force to support agency individuals who may have been affected or face a similar attack in the future.
The State Department in March appointed a senior adviser to oversee its existing task force.
“If I’m confirmed as director of CIA, I will have no higher priority than taking care of people — of colleagues and their families,” CIA Director William Burns said during his confirmation hearing in February when asked about the attacks. “And I do commit to you that if I’m confirmed I will make it an extraordinarily high priority to get to the bottom of who’s responsible for the attacks that you just described, and to ensure that colleagues and their families get the care that they deserve including at the National Institutes of Health and Walter Reed.”
Updated at 5:14 p.m.