Officials who suffered 'Havana Syndrome' symptoms at White House discuss experiences for first time 

Officials who suffered ‘Havana Syndrome’ symptoms at White House discuss experiences for first time 

Former high-ranking government officials who served under the Trump administration have revealed for the first time the Havana Syndrome symptoms they suffered while working at the White House. 

Olivia Troye, a former Department of Homeland Security and counterterrorism advisor, shared her claims of being overcome with vertigo while working on White House grounds.

‘It was like this piercing feeling on the side of my head,’ she told 60 Minutes on Sunday. ‘I got vertigo. I was unsteady, I felt nauseous, I was somewhat disoriented and I remember thinking, don’t fall down the stairs. You’ve got to find your ground and steady yourself.’ 

Others, including former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Myles Taylor, also recounted being hit by odd noises, vertigo and painful aches that they now attribute to Havana Syndrome.

The syndrome is an unexplained illness long believed to be caused inadvertently by surveillance equipment or a mysterious sonic weapon.  

Olivia Troye, who served as former vice president Mike Pence's Homeland Security and counterterrorism advisor, said she experienced Havana Syndrome symptoms four times while working at the White House

Olivia Troye, who served as former vice president Mike Pence’s Homeland Security and counterterrorism advisor, said she experienced Havana Syndrome symptoms four times while working at the White House

She said it happened for the first time while she was was descending the stairs outside the The Eisenhower Executive Office, next to the West Wing, during the summer of 2019. She's pictured with Pence in this undated photo

She said it happened for the first time while she was was descending the stairs outside the The Eisenhower Executive Office, next to the West Wing, during the summer of 2019. She’s pictured with Pence in this undated photo

Troye, 45, said she believes she was initially afflicted in summertime 2019, when she was descending the stairs outside the The Eisenhower Executive Office, next to the West Wing. 

Troye said she experienced the same sensation again near the same set of stairs, and three times near the White House Ellipse throughout 2019 and 2020. 

‘It was like a paralyzing panic attack. I’ve never felt anything like that,’ she told 60 Minute’s Scott Pelley. ‘I thought to myself, do I have a brain tumor? Am I having a stroke?’

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said he knows of others who’ve also experienced the syndrome, including one senior official who suffered symptoms near the West Wing in November 2020.

‘They had disorientation, ringing in their ears and just a general inability to function.’ Bolton told 60 Minutes.

The victim in that case shared a note with the outlet, saying they were still on the mend.

‘I’m still recovering and suffering from other symptoms, and have been diagnosed with two other medical conditions that are believed to be the result of the attack as I had no prior history with them,’ the letter said. 

Symptoms of Havana Syndrome include loud noise, ear pain, intense head pressure or vibration, dizziness, visual problems, and cognitive difficulties

Symptoms of Havana Syndrome include loud noise, ear pain, intense head pressure or vibration, dizziness, visual problems, and cognitive difficulties

Another suspected sufferer said in a note that they continued to suffer from headaches and other symptoms more than a year later

Another suspected sufferer said in a note that they continued to suffer from headaches and other symptoms more than a year later

Olivia Troye, homeland security advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, speaks with 60 Minutes for the first time about the summer of 2019 when she says a “piercing feeling on the side of [her] head” developed while leaving White House grounds. https://t.co/LRhn4YEW8j pic.twitter.com/jyH1Od7tj2

— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 21, 2022

What is ‘Havana Syndrome’? The mysterious illness that started in the US embassy in Cuba and causes memory and hearing loss  

The problem has been labeled the ‘Havana Syndrome,’ because the first cases affected personnel in 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. 

At least 200 cases across the government are now under investigation. 

People who are believed to have been affected have reported headaches, dizziness and symptoms consistent with concussions, with some requiring months of medical treatment. Some have reported hearing a loud noise before the sudden onset of symptoms. 

Countries its been reported in: Cuba, United States, China, Russia, Vietnam, Austria, Germany, Serbia, United Kingdom, Georgia, Poland, Taiwan, Australia, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan 

Symptoms include:

-hearing loss

-severe headaches

-memory issues 

-dizziness 

-brain injury  

Taylor, 35, recalled an odd experience he had in April 2018, shortly after being named the Department of Homeland Security’s chief of staff.

While sleeping at his apartment on Capitol Hill, he said he awoke to a ‘really strange’ sound.  

‘It was sort of a chirping, somewhere between what you would think was a cricket or a digital sound,’ he told 60 Minutes. ‘I didn’t know what it was but it was enough to wake me up.’

When he got up and looked out his window, he said he spotted a white van, which then turned its brake lights on before speeding away. The next day, he said he felt ‘off’ and was tempted to take a sick day to rest.

Five weeks later, he said it happened again, leaving him feeling as if he were suffering from a concussion. 

‘The concussion symptoms you would have from getting knocked pretty hard,’ he said. 

 Another government official also came forward during the news special to share his family’s experience with Havana Symptom. 

Robyn Garfield, a US Commerce Department official, said he and his wife were attacked while living in China with their children in 2018.

He said his son and daughter also suffered symptoms, falling down ‘multiple times’ and leading to the family’s evacuation to a Philadelphia hospital to enroll in a treatment program. 

He said it happened again at the home they were staying at in the city, prompting the family to relocate again, where they were again hit. 

‘We woke up around 2 am with strange vibrations in our bodies and a sound,’ Garfield told 60 Minutes, adding he rushed to check on the children sleeping in another room. 

‘I saw an extremely eerie scene where both were thrashing in their beds asleep, both kicking and moving pretty aggressively.

Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Davis says he believes he experienced Havana Syndrome symptoms while staying on Capitol Hill in 2018

Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Davis says he believes he experienced Havana Syndrome symptoms while staying on Capitol Hill in 2018

Garfield added:  ‘I went over to my daughter and put my head next to her head, and heard a very distinct sound of water rushing.’

He moved his daughter out of the room and when he returned to fetch his son, said he heard the same noise next to the boy’s head. 

‘I said, we’re getting out of here,’ he said, adding the family is still working to improve their balance, eyesight and memory.

Garfield’s family has since been relocated elsewhere. 

Another government official said he was struck by the syndrome while working for a US federal agency at the Cuban embassy. 

He would not disclose details of his role, but said the situation began when a group of dogs began barking ‘in chorus.’ 

Then a large sound began ringing, he told 60 Minutes.

‘It felt like my head was starting to get crushed’ he said. ‘It was very jarring and painful and eventually I started blacking out.’

The experience forced him to retire from the position at age 36 after he lost vision from his left eye.

His doctors have said there is nothing wrong with the eye’s ability to function. 

‘It’s not the eye it’s the wiring,’ he said. ‘The eye function as itself is completely correct and appropriate, it’s the signal that comes out the back of the eye into the brain is where the problems are and no one knows how to fix that.’ 

He described the ordeal as ‘one of my worst nightmares.’ 

CIA director William Burns told 60 Minutes it has been difficult for investigators to find answers as to what is behind the symptoms. 

‘It’s a very complicated issue, you know, dealing with a whole range of incidents which have… different kinds of explanations for them as well,’ Burns said. ‘It’s a very charged issue emotionally as well. I understand that very clearly. And that’s what… makes me even more determined not only to ensure people get the care that they deserve but also that we get to the bottom of this.’

Scientists and government officials are not yet certain about who might have been behind the attacks, if the symptoms could have been caused inadvertently by surveillance equipment – or if the incidents were caused by a mysterious sonic weapon. 

Officials who suffered 'Havana Syndrome' symptoms at White House discuss experiences for first time  The sonic weapon the could cause Havana syndrome is said to be a smaller version of this 1990s Soviet microwave generator, which is kept at the University of New Mexico

The sonic weapon the could cause Havana syndrome is said to be a smaller version of this 1990s Soviet microwave generator, which is kept at the University of New Mexico

“It felt like my head was slowly starting to get crushed.”

One of the Americans first afflicted with purported “Havana Syndrome” in 2016 has decided to share his story for the first time. He still suffers from debilitating neurological symptoms. https://t.co/7KvSMPKtWT pic.twitter.com/9PaYJ3URIT

— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 21, 2022

Some doubt its existence, however, and call it ‘mass hysteria.’

The leading theory behind the cause of the suddenly surfaced syndrome starts with a device that scientists say Russia could have invented during the Cold War, which was later used to spy on US embassies by collecting data from laptops and cell phones.

However, experts now theorize that a hostile country – like Russia or China – may have turned this microwave technology into a weapon.

Both countries deny any involvement in any of the incidents relating to the mysterious syndrome. 

Back in September, Vice President Kamala Harris’ departure from Singapore during her Asia trip was delayed by more than three hours because of an ‘anomalous health incident in Hanoi,’ which was the next stop in her Asia trip.

That was a reference to Havana Syndrome.

A December report in the Washington Examiner speculated that former President George W. Bush could have also been a victim of Havana Syndrome when he fell ill at a G8 conference in Germany in 2007.

At the gathering of world leaders, both Bush and Laura Bush fell ill with symptoms of ‘nausea or dizziness,’ as the former first lady outlined in her 2010 memoir ‘Spoken from the Heart.’ Some aides traveling with them experienced hearing and balance problems.

The official conclusion at the time was a virus. Although there was speculation that the first couple could have been poisoned.

The Examiner report points to Russia as the culprit. Havana Syndrome is believed to be caused by microwave emissions and Moscow is known to have employed RF/MW capabilities since the Cold War. During the Cold War, the Soviets repeatedly irradiated the American embassy in Moscow with low-level microwaves – known as the ‘Moscow Signal’ – for unknown reasons.

In October, three Havana Syndrome sufferers came forward to share the agonizing symptoms of the disease, with two of them claiming it left them brain damaged and destroyed their promising diplomatic careers.

Tina Onefur, Kate Husband, and Husband’s partner Doug Ferguson were all working for the US State Department, stationed in Cuba’s capital, when they found themselves afflicted with the mysterious malady.

The syndrome first surfaced at the embassy in Havana in 2016 – months before Onefur, Husband, and Ferguson were diagnosed.

Tina Onefur said she was washing dishes one night in March 2017 at her home in Havana when she suddenly found herself overcome with pain

Tina Onefur said she was washing dishes one night in March 2017 at her home in Havana when she suddenly found herself overcome with pain

Doug Ferguson and partner Kate Husband, who were both afflicted with the syndrome, said they heard a piercing sound coming from the backyard of their Havana home in the months leading up to their diagnosis

Doug Ferguson and partner Kate Husband, who were both afflicted with the syndrome, said they heard a piercing sound coming from the backyard of their Havana home in the months leading up to their diagnosis

The three described their debilitating symptoms – which include hearing loss, severe headaches, memory issues, dizziness, grogginess and even brain damage – in detail during an interview with NBC News last year.

Onefur, sobbed as she spoke and recalling the fact she can now only work two hours a day from home due to doctor-diagnosed brain damage, and said she was washing dishes one night in March 2017 at her home in Havana when she suddenly found herself overcome with pain.

‘The kids were upstairs playing, and I was standing at the kitchen window, and all of a sudden I felt like I was being struck with something.’

When asked what the sensation felt like, Onefur said the pain was like nothing she had ever felt before in her life, and explained, ‘It was gripping – it was like I’d been seized by some invisible hand, and I couldn’t move.’

When asked by interviewer Andrea Mitchell how her health is today, Onefur, choking back tears revealed that her symptoms were still as strong and prevalent as ever, even after more than four years.

‘It’s not easy to talk about our health because it’s an invisible injury,’ Onefur said,

‘It’s four-and-a-half years of of excruciating headaches, it’s four-and-a-half years of stumbling losing my balance, four-and-a-half years of vision degradation,’ Onefur asserts of the illness, while breaking down in tears.

In a nearby neighborhood in Havana in the winter months of 2016, Kate Husband and Doug Ferguson were working in the US embassy by day, with their nights spent together at their shared home.

But nights for the couple – who both hail from Michigan – would often be strangely interrupted, by a high-pitched, piercing noise seemingly coming from their backyard.

‘It was persistent, kind of at the same level all the time,’ Husband said of the shrill sound, which they never managed to identify, adding it was ‘very, very loud’ and ‘nothing you can sit with.’

Ferguson, however, managed to capture the mysterious noise on his phone and played it back for Mitchell during the interview.

The sound on the recording – a high-frequency ringing that somewhat resembles a dog whistle – is strikingly similar to a sound previously released by AP in a 2017 covering the then just-surfaced syndrome.

When asked if any other people in her neighborhood had heard the same sounds and was afflicted with similar symptoms, Husband said they had.

After feeling a slew of symptoms in the coming months, the couple was later examined by neurologists at the University of Pennsylvania.

In early 2017, Ferguson was cleared to go back to work, but Husband was diagnosed with brain damage by doctors, and was subsequently sent to receive treatment.

Husband told Mitchell that during the diagnosis, a doctor told her, after analyzing scans of her brain, ‘it’s like you aged 20, 25 years all at once.’

She later retired from her work for the State Department on the grounds of a medical disability.

Husband further revealed during the interview that she still suffers from balance issues associated with the brain damage she suffered after the 2017 diagnosis – a sensation that would trigger violent bouts of nausea, and a fogginess that makes even the most basic tasks difficult.  

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.