U.S. still at a loss to explain Cuba 'attacks' on envoys

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

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

Francisco Palmieri, the State Department's acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that Tillerson will convene an Accountability Review Board to evaluate cases involving diplomatic personnel or facilities.

Several of the 24 USA diplomats and spouses reported hearing loud, mysterious sounds followed by hearing loss and ear-ringing, leading some us officials to describe the incidents as "sonic attacks".

Rubio and State Department officials also addressed an Associated Press report that a new non-public Federal Bureau of Investigation report produced no evidence to back the initial US government theory that a sonic device caused the symptoms.

"First of all, no matter what, there is no way you can conduct sophisticated attacks targeting American government officials in Havana without the Cuban government at least knowing about it", Rubio said. Officials said the attacks appeared to occur consistently between November 2016 and March 2017, becoming sporadic that April and appearing to stop altogether around May. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said today, a few days after Sen.

Critics of the Cuban government said they must know more than they are letting on about what happened.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson believes the United States would "intentionally" be putting its people at risk by sending diplomats back to Cuba following a series of alleged "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.

A man works outside of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, September 29, 2017. Those symptoms included hearing loss, dizziness and cognitive issues.

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 US personnel in Havana.

Rubio, a Cuban-American and dogged critic of the Cuban government, will lead the Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing, which will look into the unexplained illnesses that befell USA diplomats and their family members and the State Department's response.

"The Cubans bristle at the word 'attack.' I think they are justified at doing so", Flake told CNN on Friday.

Lawmakers also asked whether rogue elements of the Cuban government or security services or a third party such as Russian Federation might have been involved.

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". The illnesses spurred the USA to withdraw most of its diplomats from Havana, and also led to the expulsion of many Cuban diplomats from Washington.

"People were hurt and the Cubans know who was responsible", Rubio said.

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.

With so many unanswered questions, the Cuba mystery has become a new front in the decades-old political battle between proponents and opponents of closer ties between the US and Cuba, two countries estranged for a half-century until relations were restored under President Barack Obama in 2015.

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