It has become known as “Havana syndrome” because that’s where the attacks first started back in late 2016. At the time they were often described as “sonic attacks” because those who experienced them described a particular high-pitched buzzing sound which seemed directional. After many more such attacks including in Cuba and later also in China the U.S. became convinced that Russia was likely using some kind of directed energy weapon against U.S. spies.
Today, CNN reports that federal investigators are looking at two more recent incidents including one last year that happened near the White House last November.
Defense officials briefed lawmakers on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees on the matter earlier this month, including on the incident near the White House. That incident, which occurred near the Ellipse, the large oval lawn on the south side of the White House, sickened one National Security Council official, according to multiple current and former US officials and sources familiar with the matter.
In a separate 2019 episode, a White House official reported a similar attack while walking her dog in a Virginia suburb just outside Washington, GQ reported last year.
Those sickened reported similar symptoms to CIA and State Department personnel impacted overseas…
Rumors have long swirled around Washington about similar incidents within the United States. While the recent episodes around Washington appear similar to the previous apparent attacks affecting diplomats, CIA officers and other US personnel serving in Cuba, Russia and China, investigators have not determined whether the puzzling incidents at home are connected to those that have occurred abroad or who may be behind them, sources tell CNN.
As noted above, the incident in 2019 was reported by GQ in October of last year. The article pointed out that the occurrence had become so common that CIA employees simply referred to it as “getting hit.”
Shortly after Thanksgiving 2019, according to three sources familiar with the incident, a White House staffer was hit while walking her dog in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. According to a government source familiar with the incident, the staffer passed a parked van. 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.
According to the source, this had happened to the staffer before. In August 2019, she had accompanied John Bolton, who was then the national security adviser, on a trip to London. The staffer, whom GQ is not identifying out of concerns for her privacy, did not respond to requests for comment. According to the government source, she was in her hotel room when she suddenly felt a tingling in the side of her head that was facing the window. The intense pressure in her head was accompanied by a tinning in her ears. When she left the room, the symptoms stopped. She reported the incident to the Secret Service because it was uncannily similar to the symptoms described by American diplomats who had served in Cuba and China.
At the time that was the only reported instance of anyone “getting hit” inside the United States, but the incident near the Ellipse adds to the possibility that Russian spies are doing this here as well as abroad.
This report from NBC is four months old but gives a pretty good overview of the story. Notice the hint at the end of this story about the CIA using cell phone data to track Russians with expertise in this type of weapon. They apparently found those experts were often in the cities when these attacks occurred. Haven’t heard any more about that lead since.