US State Department to investigate 'sonic attacks' in Cuba

Sergio Conner
January 13, 2018

Havana, Jan 10 (Prensa Latina) Cuba slammed as irresponsible statements made by Deputy Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Francisco Palmieri, regarding alleged health incidents suffered by Washington diplomats in Havana.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on Tuesday called the USA response inadequate, but centered his attacks on Cuba.

In statements to reporters, the also member of the Foreign Relations Commission of the upper house, asserted US authorities do not have any evidence that the diplomats had been victims of attacks with an unknown weapon. On Saturday, Arizona Republican Sen.

Sen. Flake, R-Ariz., disputed calling it an "attack".

The diplomats described concussion-like symptoms, including hearing loss, dizziness, balance problems, visual complaints, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping, US officials said. For most, the symptoms occurred around May 2017. "Various descriptions were given: "a high-pitched beam of sound"; an "incapacitating sound"; a "baffling sensation" akin to driving with the windows partially open in a auto; or just an intense pressure in one ear", Rosenfarb told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on Tuesday. They ranged from the use of an electromagnetic weapon to a sonic device targeting personnel with sound waves that were either super-loud or inaudible. 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. It had previously issued a warning advising Americans not to travel to the island. Three diplomatic families left Cuba as a result, the official said.

Cuban officials denied any involvement in harming USA personnel and have called the sonic attack allegations "science fiction".

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Palmieri said the attacks originally were classified as "harassment".

US media reported past year that USA authorities were investigating the possibility the diplomats and their families had been targeted by some kind of "sonic attack".

The State Department has confirmed 24 cases of workers in Havana being affected by the purported "attacks".

A senior US official told senators at a Senate hearing Tuesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will open a high-level investigation into unexplained "sonic attacks" that physically affected diplomats at the embassy in Cuba a year ago.

"I think there's viral, there's ultrasound, there is a range of things that technical experts are looking at", Todd Brown, diplomatic security assistant director at the State Department, said during the hearing.

"That would not be ruled out", Brown said, "it could be a possibility". But top State Department officials testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week said they were sure it was an attack of some kind.

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