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Senate holds hearing on Cuba 'sonic attacks'

12 January 2018

Palmieri and two other State Department officials said that the case is still under investigation and it still hasn't been determined who or what caused the diplomats' health problems.

Starting in 2016, those two dozen United States diplomats and their spouses in Havana reported the injuries, with news accounts blaming "sonic attacks" and reporting concussion-like symptoms, such as nausea, vertigo, and loss of hearing in one ear, among diplomats.

"The Cuban interior ministry is saying that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has told them that they have no evidence of a sonic attack", said Flake, "even though that term is being used - attack - there's no evidence of it".

"From a security and investigative standpoint, we continue to work with Embassy Havana to aggressively counter, mitigate, and better understand who and what are causing injuries to our diplomatic staff".

Asked whether it was possible that the Cuban government would have been unaware of any attacks, he said: "I find it very hard to believe that".

The attacks, he said, appeared to occur in "clusters", and started reoccurring in late March 2017 and continued until late April and then seemed to stop.

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Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that he doubts 24 American diplomats in Cuba were attacked without the local government's knowledge.

Rubio countered Flake on Sunday in a series of tweets, saying the attacks are "documented fact".

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

Both the State Department officials and Rubio agreed that Cuba, with its powerful surveillance state, must have either been behind the attacks itself or at least know who was.

Rubio said in his mind, the Cuban government bears some responsibility. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told the news outlet over the weekend he is skeptical that the attacks even occurred after speaking with Cuban authorities.

While symptoms the diplomats and their family members experienced varied, Rubio also reported that in all 24 medically confirmed cases, victims have described some combination of the following: "sharp ear pain, tiresome headaches, ringing in one ear, vertigo, visual focusing issues, disorientation, nausea, and extreme fatigue".

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"It's a documented FACT that 24 USA government officials and spouses were victims of some sort of sophisticated attack with stationed in Havana", Rubio tweeted Sunday.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a supporter of rapprochement with Cuba, has claimed there's no evidence anyone was attacked and that the USA should reverse its decision to withdraw most of its diplomats from Havana.

Cuba has not questioned the health problems that the USA diplomats have suffered, but assures they were not the result of any attack.

Aside from the Cuban government itself, those responsible could be "either a third-party government that they cannot take on or elements in their government that they cannot reveal or else it would look like they are internally unstable", he said.

Bush and Kasich were focusing on Trump's decision to rescind residency and work protections for about 200,000 Salvadorans invited in by the USA after a 2001 natural disaster in a "merciful act".

"What we've said to the Cubans is [it's] a small island, you got a sophisticated security apparatus, you probably know who's doing it, you can stop it", Tillerson said in December. Cuba says the mysterious string of illnesses has been unjustly used to damage relations between the two countries - which were partially restored under President Barack Obama.

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Senate holds hearing on Cuba 'sonic attacks'