U.S. to Open Formal Inquiry on Americans Sickened in Cuba


Brown's comments during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday came after the Associated Press reported that an unreleased FBI investigation into the Cuba attacks casts doubt on the possibility of a "sonic attack" against USA officials in Havana.

Cuban officials have dismissed as "science fiction" the notion that some kind of sonic weapon was used.

The US determined the attacks occurred in diplomatic residences of United States diplomats, as well as in Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri.

Josefina Vidal, the country's top diplomat for USA affairs, described Tuesday's hearing as an irresponsible effort to advance an anti-Cuban political agenda, arguing that "months of investigation have shown that there has been no attack of any sort".

"The hearing symptoms could be part of another attack", Brown said. Marco Rubio, saying its intent wasn't to gather facts but rather to politicize the mysterious episodes that damaged the health of 24 American diplomats who had been stationed in Havana.

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"If the Federal Bureau of Investigation has determined that is not the case ... that doesn't mean that an acoustic element couldn't be part of another style of attack here and I do know that other types of attacks are being considered in connection with this", Brown said, adding that a viral attack would include someone intentionally planting a virus that affects cognitive function.

"There are two things we know: People were hurt, and the Cuban government knows who did it, and won't say, for some reason", Rubio said.

An Accountability Review Board is an independent reviewer of security-related incidents set up by the State Department used in response to incidents like the 2012 attack on the US government facilities in Benghazi.

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.

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. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told the news outlet over the weekend he is skeptical that the attacks even occurred after speaking with Cuban authorities.

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His final tweet reads: It is impossible to conduct 24 separate & sophisticated attacks on U.S. Govt personnel in Havana without #CastroRegime knowing about it.

The administration of President Donald Trump, which has partly rolled back a detente with Cuba, responded past year by sharply drawing down US embassy staff in Havana and in October expelled 15 Cuban diplomats. Injuries and symptoms included concussions, hearing loss and dizziness.

On Tuesday, in a hearing for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, State Department officials said they would open a review board into their own handling of the issue but could offer frustrated lawmakers little in the way of answers.

Palmieri said that the State Department then began identifying "these unusual events" with certain health symptoms and approached the Cuban government in mid-February to demand it meet its obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect USA personnel in Havana.

"I do not think that is a healthy posture for it to take". He added that he will not reverse those actions until the Cuban government can guarantee the safety of Americans.

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Bush and Kasich were focusing on Trump's decision to rescind residency and work protections for about 200,000 Salvadorans invited in by the US after a 2001 quake in a "merciful act". -Cuban relations that were restored under President Barack Obama.