Two White House officials were struck by a mysterious illness late last year, including one who was passing through a gate onto the property, according to newly revealed details. Investigators are still trying to figure out who or what is behind these strange incidents.
According to multiple sources, the incidents affected two National Security Council officials in November 2020, one the day after the presidential election and one several weeks later. The cases are consistent with “Havana Syndrome,” an inexplicable constellation of sensory experiences and physical symptoms that has sickened more than 100 US diplomats, spies, and troops around the world.
The intelligence community is still unsure who is causing the bizarre array of nervous system symptoms, or whether they can be classified as “attacks.” Even the technology that could be causing such an inconsistent set of symptoms is debatable.
According to a source with direct knowledge of the incident, the first incident occurred after the 2020 election as the NSC official attempted to pass through an unstaffed gate near the Ellipse. After the encounter, that person experienced only minor symptoms such as headaches and sleeplessness, which subsided after a week.
The second official, whose case has not previously been reported, was shot weeks later near an entrance to the White House grounds, according to two sources familiar with the situation. According to the sources, the second official had more serious symptoms and needed immediate medical attention.
The twin incidents in downtown Washington, as well as a previous suspected case in northern Virginia in 2019, have raised concerns that a wave of incidents previously seen only among Americans abroad is now occurring in increasing numbers on US soil – and possibly even at the President’s front door.
This story is based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former officials familiar with the US response to these mysterious incidents.
For the past five years, investigators have struggled to explain the strange experiences reported by US diplomats and other government workers in Cuba, Russia, China, and elsewhere – incidents that have resulted in chronic headaches and brain injuries in some cases. Victims have reported experiencing vertigo, headaches, and head pressure, as well as a “piercing directional noise.” Some people reported being able to avoid the symptoms by simply moving to another room – and then re-enter them by returning to their original position.
According to a recent statement from Senate Intelligence Committee leaders, the number of suspected cases worldwide is increasing. According to the New York Times, there have been more than 130 cases worldwide in the last five years, with at least one episode occurring overseas in the last two weeks.
There have also been suspected cases in Europe, CNN previously reported, and additional suspected cases are being investigated in the United States, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Under pressure from lawmakers and victims, the Biden administration has significantly increased its efforts to “identify the cause of these incidents, determine attribution, increase collection efforts, and prevent” what the intelligence community now refers to as “anomalous health incidents,” according to a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
According to two sources familiar with the situation, CIA Director Bill Burns has begun to receive daily briefings on the subject, including some from victims of these strange encounters.