Rubio disputes Flake's account that diplomats weren't attacked in Havana

Rubio disputes Flake's account that diplomats weren't attacked in Havana

Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told the news outlet over the weekend he is skeptical that the attacks even occurred after speaking with Cuban authorities.

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

Cuban officials have dismissed as "science fiction" the notion that some kind of sonic weapon was used. "We shouldn't be using that word".

Initially, in December of 2016, State Department security thought the attacks were just noises meant to annoy staff, State Department security official Todd Brown said at the hearing.

Todd Brown, Deputy Director of Diplomatic Security, said during the hearing that, apart from the possibility of acoustic attacks, other possibilities are being considered, and he cited among them a "viral" attack, that is, someone deliberately infecting the USA diplomats with a virus.

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).

Republican Senator Marco Rubio also rejected Flake's statements.

The U.S. official said he had a plan of action to address the alleged attacks and will make it public during the congressional meeting held in Washington Tuesday. Officials told Congress there are many theories that haven't been ruled out — including the possibility of a virus deployed intentionally to infect the workers.

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Palmieri insisted that it is hard to believe that the attacks occurred without the knowledge of the government of Raul Castro and recalled that both President Trump and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, have assured that the Cuban government "has responsibility in them".

Starting in November 2016, United States government employees began to experience unusual symptoms, often late at night and sometimes accompanied by sounds similar to insects chirping or metal grinding, U.S. officials told CNN.

A total of 24 US diplomats and family members have been treated since December 2016 for symptoms that some said followed high-pitched sounds, changes in atmospheric pressure or other unusual phenomena in their homes in Havana or in two hotels where they stayed.

"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.

On Tuesday, DOS officials testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere during a hearing titled, "Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Response and Oversight".

Palmieri replied that Tillerson has made a decision to convene an Accountability Review Board and that a congressional notification will be sent shortly. The first reported cases came in the fall of 2016, though the most recent incident was in August.

"Why wasn't it set up according to law?" he asked Palmieri and Todd Brown, the State Department's diplomatic security assistant director for worldwide programs. "He also emphasized that we will not release information that helps the perpetrator determine the effectiveness of any attacks". Cuban scientists last month declared that a "collective psychogenic disorder", or mass hysteria, explains the injuries, according to Science magazine.