Secy Tillerson to Investigate Health Attacks on Diplomats in Cuba

Rubio calls Cuba sonic attacks a “documented fact” after GOP colleague questions evidence | The Sacramento Bee

Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico noted that Canada, which reported at least one diplomat with similar injuries in 2016, has not withdrawn its staff from Havana, and did not kick out any Cuban diplomats, pressing officials on whether Tillerson's decision had benefited the U.S. or Cuba.

Only one thing is clear.

"We have at least 24 Americans and/or spouses and dependents who have been injured".

The issue has poisoned any attempt to move forward with the fragile detente achieved between the former Cold War foes, who re-opened their embassies and exchanged ambassadors in 2015 for the first time since 1961.

The State Department waited almost one year before standing up an independent investigative panel, known as an Accountability Review Board, to probe the unexplained attacks on US personnel working in Cuba and their family members.

The Senate is holding a hearing Tuesday on the mysterious "sonic attacks" that reportedly sickened us diplomats and other personnel in Cuba.

Initially, officials suspected the Americans had been targeted by some sort of acoustic weapon, although in public senior officials were more cautious, speaking of "health attacks".

The AP reported that Federal Bureau of Investigation officials have not found any evidence that suggests sound waves were used to attack the Americans. Sen. Relations have been strained since Trump took office, saying Obama made too many concessions and reversing parts of the rapprochement. Two more bouts were reported in August, but none since then.

The chairman of the Senate committee that summoned the officials, Senator Marco Rubio, did not hide his frustration.

Rubio calls Cuba sonic attacks a “documented fact” after GOP colleague questions evidence | The Sacramento Bee
In tweets, Rubio addresses 'sophisticated attack' in Havana

"Whatever happened to these officials is the result of some sophisticated technology that quite frankly is so sophisticated that we don't understand it", Rubio said.

The Department of State recalled much of its Cuban embassy staff last fall because of the incidents, which officials said could have been sonic attacks.

Cuba has repeatedly and adamantly denied involvement or knowledge of any attacks.

The U.S. then expelled two Cuban diplomats in May "to underscore the Cuban government's responsibility to protect" U.S. personnel, he said. The hearing was originally scheduled for last November, but it was postponed without a reason given.

Dr. Charles Rosenfarb, the director of the State Department's medical unit, said doctors tested the victims extensively and found the symptoms were consistent with "mild traumatic brain injury", and stressed that the tests "are not easily faked", though no cause has been confirmed or ruled out. Injuries and symptoms included concussions, hearing loss and dizziness. He said there had been an "acoustic element" associated with the sensations and feeling experienced by diplomats who fell ill.

He said several people had likened it to the uncomfortable sensation one feels when driving a auto down a highway with the windows slightly open.

Todd Brown, assistant director for the State Department's Diplomatic Security service, did not offer any evidence for why a virus might be to blame. There are 24 victims, and this is not simply a case of mass hysteria. Officials said investigators, working with top academic experts, considered every possible benign explanation, such as environmental toxins.

"There is a long history and pattern of Cuban harassment of diplomats in Havana", Palmieri said, declining to speculate on why or if Raul Castro's regime had chosen to escalate.

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