‘It’s an act of war’: Trump’s acting Pentagon chief urges Biden to tackle directed-energy attacks

Source: Politico | May 3, 2021 | Lara Seligman and Andrew Desiderio

“If this plays out and somebody is attacking Americans [even] with a nonlethal weapon … we owe it to our folks that are out there,” said Christopher Miller.

The suspected directed-energy attacks on U.S. government personnel worldwide are “an act of war,” said former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who launched an initiative to investigate the incidents during his time at the Pentagon last year and is urging the new administration to stay on the issue.

“If this plays out and somebody is attacking Americans [even] with a nonlethal weapon … we owe it to our folks that are out there,” Miller, who served as former President Donald Trump’s acting defense chief from November until January, told POLITICO. “We owe it to them to get to the bottom of this.”

Miller’s comments come as U.S. officials increasingly sound the alarm about the suspected attacks, which cause symptoms similar to those reported in recent years by American spies and diplomats in Cuba affected by the so-called “Havana syndrome.” Victims report lasting headaches, loss of hearing and balance, ringing and pressure in the ears, fatigue, and sometimes long-term brain damage.

POLITICO first reported that Pentagon officials last month briefed lawmakers on the “urgent” and growing threat to U.S. government personnel, including troops. The Senate Intelligence Committee has since vowed to “get to the bottom” of the issue.

The suspected attacks also include ongoing incidents involving military attaches at embassies around the world, a former official and a congressional source briefed on the incidents told POLITICO. Officials are focusing their investigations on suspected incidents near U.S. embassies in South America, the congressional source said.

This suspected attack, which has not been previously reported, joins a growing list of incidents. Others have allegedly occurred in the U.S., including in Miami, Alexandria, Va., and the Ellipse in Washington. Both sources asked not to be named in order to discuss the investigation.

Defense officials who briefed lawmakers last month said Russia was likely the source of the attacks, but did not have a smoking gun.

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Now, Miller said he is “gratified” to see that the Biden team is keeping it in focus. The CIA recently launched a task force of its own to look into the issue, and CIA Director William Burns told senators during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee that getting to the bottom of the Havana attacks was a top priority.

In a statement on Friday, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chair and vice chair of the Intelligence Committee, said they welcomed Burns’ “renewed focus” on the matter and said they will continue to investigate.

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