Republican and Democratic lawmakers are demanding answers about who is responsible for what a growing consensus of experts believe are targeted attacks on U.S. diplomats and national security officials using pulse microwave energy that many now believe was used as a weapon to harm American citizens.
"In December of 2017, I made which now is kind of the fateful trip to Moscow," explained Marc Polymeropolous, a 26 year veteran of the CIA, who was forced to retire as the CIA’s official for clandestine operations in Europe after suffering a mysterious traumatic brain injury and debilitating side effects following a trip to Moscow in 2017.
"I woke up in the middle of the night with an incredible case of vertigo, of tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears. I was falling over. I was nauseated," Polymeropolous said in an interview with Fox News. "There was no mistake that something really, really terrifying happened that night in Moscow. I had been in Afghanistan. I spent time in Iraq. This was the most terrifying experience of my life."
The veteran CIA officer was staying at the Marriott Hotel near the US Embassy when he was attacked. His case resembles symptoms described by 40 US diplomats in Havana serving at the US Embassy and a dozen US diplomats serving in China who in 2016 began experiencing extreme vertigo and nausea, sometimes following a loud, piercing sound that experts now believe was the result of directed radiofrequency energy in the form of a microwave.
Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, the top Republican and Democrats heading the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a stern statement acknowledging for the first time US officials had been "attacked," suggesting the attacks are ongoing and "increasing." Now two cases are being investigated on U.S. soil, including one that allegedly took place last year near the ellipse outside the White House and another that targeted a National Security Council official.
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has pressed the State Department and intelligence community for years about the alleged attacks on US diplomats.
In a heated exchange with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, she referenced open source reporting of the incident outside the White House. "One of the incidents described here happened on the ellipse in late 2020. And that's very close to the White House," Senator Shaheen said to Haines.
David Relman of Stanford led the National Academy of Sciences study requested by the State Department which until recently remained classified. The report concluded these US diplomats had been targeted by a pulsed radiofrequency.
"A form of microwave energy that we don't typically see in the world around us. It's not the continuous wave energy that comes out of our cell phones or out of our microwaves. It's not that," Relman explained. "It is a high energy, very short delivery of this microwave energy. It's a form that isn't common in the world around us, but is used, for example, by militaries for radar."
The CIA’s Polymeropolous described the brain fog and loss of long-distance vision. "It became pretty clear that something pretty terrible happened."
At first, he says, when he raised the issue with doctors at the CIA, few believed him. He says he is now getting more support from the new director of CIA, William Burns, who promised to help at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the Annual Threat Assessment hearing: "I said in my confirmation hearing before the Senate that I would make this a very high priority to ensure that my colleagues get the care that they deserve and that we get to the bottom of what caused these incidents and who was responsible. And, I've tried very hard in the three weeks now that I've been at CIA to demonstrate that commitment. I've visited Walter Reed and NIH to thank the wonderful professionals there for the support they've provided."
After facing frustrating bureaucracy for 3 years, Polymeropolous is finally getting treated at Walter Reed’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence, which specializes in traumatic brain injuries.
"There's conventional wisdom that this is a portable weapon, a microwave weapon that we knew the Soviet Union and the Russians certainly developed and tested for a long time. And it's designed to incapacitate. I mean, it's pretty insidious because it also doesn't leave any kind of open scars or wounds," Polymeropolous said.
"It's a terror weapon that I think the Russians, in my view, have employed. And they've done so to very good effect because it's caused a great deal of worry and fear among the US diplomatic community.
The majority of senior US government officials, including the intelligence community, believe it's the Russians," he said.
Now lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want answers from the CIA, State Department, Pentagon and FBI about who is responsible for these attacks that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee says are ongoing and increasing.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently confirmed he had received a classified briefing but would not divulge any details. "There’s some confidential things that we are not going to be talking about and that’s one of them," he said. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also confirmed the briefing. "I’m very concerned about a number of attacks that have been reported publicly, the American people deserve to know more about anything what’s happening covertly that is hostile to our personnel, whether it’s in this country or abroad," he said.