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Chairman Pfluger Opens ‘Havana Syndrome’ Hearing: “It is Paramount That We Acknowledge the Gravity of the Situation”

May 8, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Today, House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement during a hearing to receive testimony from experts and former government officials regarding anomalous health incidents (AHIs), also known as ‘Havana Syndrome,’ the symptoms of which have been reportedly experienced by an increasing number of Americans that have been targeted abroad and in the homeland.


Watch Chairman Pfluger’s opening statement in a hearing entitled, “Silent Weapons: Examining Foreign Anomalous Health Incidents Targeting Americans in the Homeland and Abroad.”

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence. We are holding this important hearing to examine anomalous health incidents (AHI) and discuss the potential targeting of U.S. government officials and their families in the homeland and elsewhere.

Although this issue has recently gained significant media attention, the issues surrounding anomalous health incidents, or Havana Syndrome, are not new.

Dating back to 2014, a number of U.S. diplomatic, military, and intelligence officials and their families have reported major medical symptoms that have affected their auditory and sensory motor skills.

These issues became public in late 2016 after a group of Canadian diplomats and U.S. government employees and their families, assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba began experiencing similar symptoms.

After the reported incidents in Havana, government officials and their families began reporting similar symptoms in the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Australia, Taiwan, Colombia, and here in the United States.

Multiple agencies within the Intelligence Community (IC) have conducted assessments in an attempt to identify the factors that cause AHIs, or who, if anyone, is responsible for these incidents.

Unfortunately, none of these studies could conclusively identify the causes of these incidents. However, the State Department commissioned a study through the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine that found: “unusual presentation of acute, directional or location-specific early phase signs, symptoms and observations reported by DOS [Department of State] employees to be consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed radio frequency energy. Many of the chronic, nonspecific symptoms are also consistent with known radio frequency effects, such as dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive deficits, and memory loss.”

Since the National Academies findings, generally the IC has stood by their initial findings and maintains that the origins of these symptoms are still unknown and not likely to be derived from the actions of a foreign adversary.

Today, we hope to gain a better understanding of anomalous health incidents to address this pressing issue. It is paramount that we acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

We must work to ensure that those suffering these debilitating symptoms are properly cared for, and if foreign malign activity is the cause of these anomalous health incidents, then we must take steps to neutralize the threat actors responsible to include deterring their ability to operate with impunity in the homeland, targeting our intelligence professionals and diplomats but also putting the American public in harm’s way.

I look forward to hearing this distinguished panel today and working in a bipartisan fashion to understand the facts related to anomalous health incidents and find solutions to address these issues.