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Americans are being attacked by a mystery weapon. And we know almost nothing about it.

MSNBC logo MSNBC 5/17/2021 Frank Figliuzzi
Photo illustration: A red wave passes over the aerial view of Washington D.C. © Anjali Nair Photo illustration: A red wave passes over the aerial view of Washington D.C.

Recent reporting has revealed that debilitating sonic frequency attacks against U.S. government personnel have not been limited to foreign locales — they’ve also happened here in the U.S., including twice in Washington against National Security Council officials.

Recent reporting also indicates that attacks against U.S. diplomats abroad started earlier, and occurred in more places, than previously known. The men and women suffering from excruciating symptoms — not to mention their families — who have dedicated their lives to government service deserve answers.

Reporting last week raised concerns that our government knows more than it has let on about how long these radio frequency attacks have been occurring.

But so far, our government’s public response to these sound-wave attacks has been little more than the sound of silence.

Until recently, we’ve known only that mysterious directed energy attacks began in 2016 in Havana and affected U.S. personnel assigned to Cuba and China. But reporting last week raised concerns that our government knows more than it has let on about how long these radio frequency attacks have been occurring, how many Americans have been affected, and in how many places.

According to a New York Times report, suspected attacks occurred as recently as this month and some have resulted in debilitating injuries. In a report released in December, the National Academy of Sciences said a microwave weapon probably caused the injuries. Some officials believe a microwave or directed-energy device is the most likely cause.

Perhaps most alarming is the revelation that “at least two episodes involving White House staff members, one in 2020 that affected a National Security Council official near the Ellipse south of the White House and another in 2019 involving a woman walking her dog in Northern Virginia.” The news brings the specter of foreign adversarial actions to within yards of the White House.

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We’ve also now learned that more personnel than previously disclosed have reported symptoms from attacks. As the Times reported, the government initially asserted that 60 U.S. employees and their dependents were among those attacked. But now, thanks to journalistic efforts, we know that as many as 130 Americans — including the 2-year old child of a military officer assigned abroad — have experienced symptoms.

The new numbers reflect the addition of cases coming from Europe and Asia not previously shared with the public. CIA officers assigned to foreign posts are among those who required treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and other facilities. CIA employees appear to have been the hardest hit by the attacks, but representatives of the Department of State, Department of Defense and other agencies are among the targeted, according to the Times.

A May 6 oped in The Washington Examiner lays out what may be the strongest case yet that these attacks may have started much earlier than 2016, and that the most likely suspect is Russia. That piece details the accounts of retired National Security Agency officer Mike Beck and his colleague Charles Gubete, believed to have been the targets of Russian radio frequency attacks while traveling in a “hostile country” in 1996. Both Beck and Gubete “suffered from early onset Parkinson’s disease. Gubete died in 2013.”

There appears to be no centralized task force across agencies that shares intelligence and answers to one senior leader.

According to the Examiner, Kemp Ensor, who was then the NSA’s director of counterintelligence, told other NSA officials in 2016 of evidence that Beck and Gubete were targeted by a microwave frequency weapon.

The CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department all have teams assessing the scope of these attacks and who is behind them. Yet there appears to be no centralized task force across agencies that shares intelligence and answers to one senior leader. As described in the New York Times report, “The Biden administration is trying to strike a careful balance between showing officials that they are taking the issue seriously and trying to keep panic from spreading, either inside the government or among the public. The National Security Council has begun an intelligence review, aimed at discovering whether additional unreported incidents fit the pattern, a spokeswoman said.”

On April 29, President Joe Biden’s new director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, briefed Congress on the attacks. But as CNBC reported, she was “light on details.”

It's long past time for the director of national intelligence to take the lead and establish a multiagency task force under her command to identify the full scope of targeted microwave frequency attacks against U.S. personnel and develop evidence against the responsible nation. Once that’s accomplished, the people and the government who launched these cowardly attacks must be held accountable. Our ailing public servants deserve to hear the sound of their own government supporting them.

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