U.S. investigators are struggling to determine the mysterious illness that struck two White House officials late last year. Photo / AP
U.S. investigators are struggling to determine the mysterious illness that struck two White House officials – including one who passed through a front door to the property – late last year.
The episodes affected two National Security Council officials in November 2020 according to CNN: one the day after the presidential election and the other several weeks later. The cases were compatible with Havana Syndrome, a mysterious illness that has affected more than 100 US diplomats, spies and troops around the world and involves an “inexplicable constellation of sensory experiences and physical symptoms.”
The first incident occurred when the National Security Council (NSC) official attempted to pass through an unmanned door near the Ellipse, just south of the White House, a source with direct knowledge of the incident. The grievor suffered from mild symptoms over the next week, including headaches and insomnia.
The second official was also beaten near an entrance to the White House grounds, two sources familiar with the matter told the network, and suffered more severe symptoms which led to them seeking treatment.
A third alleged “attack” occurred in 2019 in Virginia, when a White House official was walking his dog – raising concerns that “the wave of episodes observed for the first time only among Americans Abroad are now performing in increasing numbers on American soil and possibly even at the President’s front door.
What is Havana Syndrome?
Like something out of a spy thriller, a US State Department report last December concluded that the “most plausible mechanism” for the mysterious Havana Syndrome systems was “direct pulsed radio frequency energy” – a type of radiation which also emanates from microwaves.
Previously affected government personnel, including CIA operatives stationed overseas in Cuba and China, said they woke up in the middle of the night feeling “severe pain”, including pressure intense, piercing sound in one ear with “directional strokes”, imbalance and nausea.
Victims also suffered from headaches, memory and hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping for years – some even being forced to use wheelchairs or wear weighted vests to correct their balance.
And although the State Department report does not indicate that a particular country was behind the attacks, Russia has previously been accused of using a secret “microwave weapon” to target CIA agents. .
Senior CIA official Marc Polymeropoulous told GQ in October he felt “like I was going to both throw up and pass out at the same time” when he was awakened in his bedroom. hotel in Moscow at the end of 2017.
According to the New York Times, there have been more than 130 cases worldwide since 2016, with at least one episode overseas in the past two weeks.
Biden administration ramps up efforts to determine cause
Facing pressure from other politicians and victims, US President Joe Biden and his administration are redoubling their efforts to “identify the cause of these incidents, determine attribution, increase collection efforts and prevent” what the community Intelligence now considers “abnormal health incidents,” a spokesperson for the office of the director of national intelligence told CNN in a statement.
Some US politicians have also expressed concern over the way business is being handled by the CIA, accusing the agency of not taking proper care of its victims.
“I am appalled that many of these people who were injured in the line of duty had to fight to get adequate medical care, to have their injuries even recognized and acknowledged and to receive financial compensation,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said.
Committee chairman Mark Warner said an investigation into the syndrome needed to be “better coordinated”.
“I think there’s a level of seriousness given to it now that frankly wasn’t there before. [CIA] Director Bill Burns has come and made it a priority, ”the Virginia Democrat said.
An official with first-hand knowledge of the incidents told the network it had “taken a while for some people to take it very seriously” – noting that during the Trump administration, those who reported experiences with La syndrome Havana were not always believed.
“I don’t think that as a government, in general, we moved quickly enough,” former Marine and Arizona Democrat Ruben Gallego told The New York Times.
“We really need to understand where this is coming from, what the targeting methods are and what we can do to stop them.”