The House unanimously passed legislation Tuesday to provide financial support to victims of suspected directed energy attacks, which have targeted U.S. officials around the globe, including on American soil.
The bill, known as the Helping Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act of 2021 — the attacks cause what’s known as Havana syndrome — passed unanimously in the Senate in June and now proceeds to the White House for President Biden’s expected signature.
The attacks which began targeting U.S. Embassy staff in Cuba in 2016, can cause debilitating symptoms including vertigo and headaches that can last years. Many suspect the attacks are from a microwave or directed energy weapon.
Some estimate that more than 200 officials have been targeted in the attacks, which have targeted officials from the State Department, the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Since the initial diagnoses in 2016, the number of U.S. officials around the globe reporting symptoms, including on U.S. soil, has continued to swell.
In May, reports revealed information about two U.S. officials struck by Havana syndrome near the White House.
In August, a “possible anomalous health incident” which some believed to be a Havana syndrome case reported by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi briefly delayed Vice President Kamala D. Harris’ trip to Vietnam.
Earlier this month, a CIA officer reported symptoms while traveling in India at the same time CIA Director William Burns was in the country.
The State Department, CIA, and Pentagon have all started investigations into the suspected attacks, and the National Security Council is leading a broad inquiry into the attacks across government agencies.
No official determination has been made as to the cause or who may be behind it, but some lawmakers have said they suspect the attacks have been by Russia.
In the lead-up to President Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin this summer, Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, called on Mr. Biden to press Mr. Putin on the attacks.
“I hope that when President Biden meets with President Putin, that he will ask President Putin about these attacks, that he will grill him about them to see if the Russians are responsible,” said Ms. Collins, a member of the Senate intelligence committee and a sponsor of the Havana Act.
Marc Polymeropoulos, a senior CIA case officer who retired in 2019 after battling debilitating symptoms stemming from a suspected directed energy attack while in his hotel room during a routine trip to Moscow in 2017, told The Times in June that he has little doubt Russia is behind the attacks.
Rep. Adam Schiff, House intelligence committee chairman and another bill sponsor, called the legislation an important step in assisting victims of the attacks as the U.S. government continues to determine who is responsible.
“There is no higher priority than protecting our people. None,” the California Democrat said Tuesday on Twitter. “As we examine the cause of the illness known as Havana Syndrome, we must ensure those impacted get the care they deserve.”
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