SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Senate holds hearing on Cuba 'sonic attacks'

The health incidents that sickened US diplomats in Cuba and further set back US-Cuban relations will be the subject o...

Posted: Jan 9, 2018 12:18 PM
Updated: Jan 9, 2018 12:18 PM

The health incidents that sickened US diplomats in Cuba and further set back US-Cuban relations will be the subject of a Senate hearing on Tuesday. However, it's not expected to resolve the mystery of what some have alleged were "sonic attacks" amid a public disagreement between two Republican members of the committee holding the hearing over whether the diplomats were victims of "attacks."

"There are some people with symptoms happening that are unexplained," Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, told CNN on Friday during a trip to the island. "The Cubans bristle at the word 'attack.' I think they are justified at doing so. The FBI has said there is no evidence of an attack. We shouldn't be using that word."

US officials tell CNN they are still mystified by the incidents

In late 2016, US government workers began having strange symptoms

Flake, a backer of improved US-Cuban relations and a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which is holding the hearing, said he had received classified briefings that backed up Cuba's denials of involvement in the incidents.

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

"It is impossible to conduct 24 separate & sophisticated attacks on U.S. Govt personnel in #Havana without the #CastroRegime knowing about it," Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, shot back to Flake on Twitter. "Any U.S. official briefed on matter knows full well that while method of attack still in question, that attacks & injuries occurred isn't."

US officials tell CNN they are still mystified by the incidents that led the US to withdraw most of its personnel from the embassy in Havana and issue a travel warning for people thinking of visiting the communist-run island.

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 US diplomats and their family members and the State Department's response.

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

The diplomats found that if they left the rooms they were in, the symptoms and sounds immediately stopped, suggesting to them that they were being targeted by an incredibly precise device, possibly a sonic weapon.

Diplomats have been treated for concussion-like symptoms, including hearing loss, dizziness, balance problems, visual complaints, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping, US officials said.

Canadian diplomats and family members reported similar ailments.

While Cuban officials have vigorously denied any involvement in the incidents, President Donald Trump said in 2017 that the Cubans were "responsible" for the diplomats falling ill.

FBI agents have traveled to Havana to investigate the incidents but so far have not determined what caused the mystery illnesses.

On Monday, a State Department spokesperson told CNN that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided whether to form an Accountability Review Board to look into the security incidents and would announce that decision shortly, pending congressional notification.

The Accountability Review Board is an internal State Department mechanism to review security incidents involving diplomatic personnel. The most well-known recent review board followed the deadly attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

The Miami Herald was first to reveal the Cuba development, also reporting Monday that the State Department had delayed the publication of a medical article on the diplomats' affliction, citing national security concerns.

"As Secretary Tillerson has stated, we will not share information that violates individuals' privacy or reveals their medical conditions," the State Department told CNN. "He also emphasized that we will not release information that helps the perpetrator determine the effectiveness of any attacks."

Tillerson had told reporters at a news conference last month that the US is "convinced these were targeted attacks."

While Tillerson has not accused the Cuban government of being behind the incidents, he said he holds the government responsible for allowing them to continue.

"What we've said to the Cubans is [it's] a small island, you got a sophisticated security apparatus, you probably know who's doing it, you can stop it," Tillerson said in December. "It's as simple as that."

As the investigation into the incidents continues, the US Embassy in Havana is no longer issuing visas to Cubans and has reduced the services it provides to Americans visiting the island.

When news of the incidents first emerged, the US expelled two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington. That action was followed by the expulsion of 15 Cuban diplomats in October.

"We understand the Cubans don't like the actions we've taken," Tillerson said at the news conference last month. "We don't like our diplomats being targeted."

"This is an important year in Cuba. There is a transition going on in terms of leadership," Flake told CNN. "We ought to be here in full force, but go to the US Embassy and there's just a skeletal staff."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 452268

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin938131490
Ramsey40370746
Dakota33353349
Anoka31193366
Washington20363231
Stearns17995189
St. Louis13857245
Scott1209197
Wright11723106
Olmsted1068375
Sherburne825766
Carver700138
Clay655582
Rice618070
Kandiyohi556572
Blue Earth545933
Crow Wing487778
Otter Tail460967
Chisago456436
Benton422287
Winona393048
Douglas377266
Nobles373946
Mower370829
Goodhue352661
Polk330559
McLeod326747
Beltrami314048
Morrison313545
Lyon304138
Becker288039
Itasca286443
Isanti284242
Carlton282543
Steele278110
Pine269214
Freeborn251523
Todd232630
Nicollet227537
Brown216934
Mille Lacs214945
Le Sueur212816
Cass209424
Meeker200933
Waseca191916
Wabasha17343
Martin171426
Roseau166217
Hubbard150138
Redwood140827
Houston139714
Renville137940
Dodge13714
Chippewa132032
Cottonwood128418
Fillmore12576
Wadena120517
Rock111212
Aitkin109233
Sibley10917
Faribault108316
Watonwan10688
Pennington100716
Kanabec98818
Pipestone95923
Yellow Medicine94216
Murray9056
Jackson87110
Swift84318
Pope7435
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66015
Lac qui Parle65716
Wilkin6309
Koochiching60210
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4663
Unassigned43768
Grant4358
Norman4248
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3194
Traverse2583
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309989

Reported Deaths: 4424
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46587464
Linn17979279
Scott15787171
Black Hawk14037243
Woodbury13093181
Johnson1224652
Dubuque11535159
Pottawattamie9111115
Dallas905972
Story877838
Webster471577
Cerro Gordo471472
Sioux459157
Clinton456167
Warren456139
Marshall429862
Buena Vista396130
Muscatine394978
Des Moines390043
Plymouth352470
Wapello348498
Jasper330159
Lee322632
Marion308152
Jones274250
Henry266131
Carroll258034
Bremer249348
Crawford233524
Boone222017
Washington222033
Benton212250
Mahaska197237
Jackson194331
Tama189959
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware175236
Clay171421
Wright166424
Fayette165024
Hamilton162030
Buchanan161624
Winneshiek159720
Harrison157962
Hardin156730
Cedar155419
Clayton153649
Butler150824
Page146315
Floyd140836
Cherokee139927
Mills138417
Lyon137333
Poweshiek134524
Hancock131424
Allamakee130230
Iowa127422
Calhoun12339
Madison123210
Grundy122128
Jefferson122025
Winnebago121529
Mitchell116637
Louisa115730
Cass114743
Chickasaw113512
Appanoose112040
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union110723
Humboldt106419
Shelby104727
Guthrie104024
Franklin103218
Unassigned10050
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88024
Keokuk86126
Howard85019
Monroe81919
Clarke8087
Pocahontas78111
Ida75830
Davis70021
Greene6977
Adair69520
Monona67118
Lucas66410
Osceola64611
Worth6154
Taylor5989
Fremont5246
Van Buren50115
Decatur4954
Ringgold44811
Audubon4208
Wayne41821
Adams2983
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
16° wxIcon
Hi: 20° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: 3°
Mason City
Cloudy
17° wxIcon
Hi: 18° Lo: 4°
Feels Like: 4°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
18° wxIcon
Hi: 18° Lo: 0°
Feels Like: 3°
Austin
Cloudy
18° wxIcon
Hi: 19° Lo: 0°
Feels Like: 6°
Charles City
Cloudy
18° wxIcon
Hi: 18° Lo: 3°
Feels Like: 4°
Snow will continue into Sunday morning
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events