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Senate holds hearing on Cuba 'sonic attacks'

Senate holds hearing on Cuba 'sonic attacks'

Medical tests showing concussion-like symptoms, ranging from recurring headaches to lost hearing and balance, "suggest this is not an episode of mass hysteria", State Department chief medical officer Charles Rosenfarb said at the hearing.

Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) also said they had learned the State Department officials initially rebuffed the first diplomats who complained of the mysterious symptoms, and didn't tell incoming US diplomats to Cuba of the potential medical threat that accompanied taking the assignment.

While Tillerson claimed that he is not convinced the attacks are over, the Bureau says they have uncovered no evidence proving sound waves from the sonic attacks could have caused damage to the American diplomats' health.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who publicly cast doubt on the "sonic attack" theory over the weekend, was present at the hearing but left for an immigration meeting at the White House before it was his time to question officials.

Josefina Vidal, the country's top diplomat for US 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 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. Securing the USA border and figuring out how to normalize the status of "the 10 million to 15 million undocumented immigrants" already here - "who, let's be honest, will not and should not be forcibly removed" - are the two biggest challenges, they add, and "when prioritizing the immigration problems we face, the case of 200,000 Salvadorans who accepted our invitation to live and work here legally would not even make a Top 10 list".

The Trump administration is searching for answers after US diplomats experienced unexplained health issues in Cuba. The State Department officials said they could not address or speculate on such matters in a public hearing.

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




Flake, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member and a longtime leading advocate of normalizing ties with Cuba, met Friday with high-ranking Cuban officials including Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and officials from the Interior Ministry, which oversees domestic security and works with foreign law-enforcement agencies. The effects ranged from hearing loss to cognitive issues to difficulty sleeping. The Cuban government in general has a very tight lid on anything and everything that happens in that country.

The State Department withdrew most personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Havana last fall and expelled 17 Cuban diplomats from Washington. Twenty-four United States government officials and spouses fell ill in Havana starting in 2016.

The United States is to review how the State Department has responded to alleged attacks on the health of 24 diplomats and family members in Havana, officials said Tuesday.

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"I still believe that the Cuban government, someone within the Cuban government can bring this to an end", Tillerson said.

"The method that was used to attack them is not yet clear".

Cuba has decried the reductions as an unjustified blow to U.S.

Brown said the State Department's conclusion has been that these were hostile acts toward American diplomats, "a form of harassment attributable to the government". -Cuban relations that were restored under President Barack Obama.