January 22, 2018

Cuba Knows Truth About Sonic Attacks, Rubio Says After Flake Dismissal

12 January 2018, 09:33 | Taylor George

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

Cuban-American lawmaker Senator Marco Rubio summoned State Department officials for an update on the probe into the mystery

A diplomatic security official, Todd Brown, says initially that's what US officials thought this was before coming to the conclusion that these were attacks.

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 us officials in Havana.

"The Cuban Interior Ministry is saying the Federal Bureau of Investigation has told them there is no evidence of a sonic attack, even though that term is being used, attack, there is no evidence of it", Flake told the AP.

The Cuban government has denied any role in the health assaults, instead claiming us diplomats mistook the sounds of insects for an acoustic attack.

"The hearing symptoms could be part of another attack", Brown said.

When asked by Rubio, one of the greatest critics of the thaw in relations with Cuba that was implemented by Democratic President Barack Obama, Brown said he cannot guarantee that U.S. diplomats can be safe in Cuba since it is not known what caused the symptoms.

State Department officials testified that it was "incomprehensible" Cuba's Communist government would not have been aware of what happened or who was responsible, though they stopped short of assigning direct blame to Havana.

The Trump administration is searching for answers after USA diplomats experienced unexplained health issues in Cuba.

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Also present at the hearing were the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Francisco Palmieri, and the medical director of the State Department, Charles Rosenfarb.

"From its very title 'Attacks on US diplomats in Cuba, ' it was evident that the true objective of this hearing, to which three high-ranking officials of the State Department were called, was not to establish the truth, but to impose by force and without any evidence an accusation that they have not been able to prove", said Josefina Vidal, who heads the Cuban Foreign Ministry's USA division. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told the news outlet over the weekend he is skeptical that the attacks even occurred after speaking with Cuban authorities. Those symptoms included hearing loss, dizziness and cognitive issues.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration expelled about 17 Cuban diplomats previous year "to underscore the Cuban government's responsibility to protect our personnel" and "to underscore to Cuba its obligation to stop the attacks", revealed Francisco Palmieri, a senior official at DOS's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, while testifying alongside Brown.

After the incidents, the United States recalled a number of non-essential diplomats and their families from Cuba and expelled 15 Cubans from the embassy in Washington.

The Trump administration has demanded answers from the Cuban government to no avail.

At the end of September 2017, the Department of State ordered the withdrawal of 60 percent of its personnel in Cuba and a little later the White House announced measures restricting individual trips to the island, approved during the government of president Barack Obama (2009-2017). Twenty-four U.S. government officials and spouses fell ill in Havana starting in 2016. "I think that lends credence to my argument, which is this is an attack that is so sophisticated against 24 Americans that it had to be conducted on behalf of a nation-state, whether it was rogue elements of the Cuban regime, the regime itself or a third-party country".

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". "People were hurt and the Cuban government knows who did it".

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