Royce, Engel Ask CDC, NIH to Investigate Sonic Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba

Months-long investigations by FBI, State have failed to provide answers

Reps. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) / Getty Images

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The top Republican and Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee called on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to investigate the cause and medical effects of the sonic attacks on at least 24 U.S. diplomats and other personnel in Cuba.

Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), who chairs the panel, and its ranking member, Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), on Tuesday asked the heads of the federal health agencies to take a leading role in probing the attack after a months-long FBI investigation has failed to provide definitive answers.

"We need to use all available resources to discover the medical cause and impact of what happened to our embassy personnel in Cuba," the members wrote.

"Your expertise is needed now more than ever in determining what precisely happened to U.S. personnel in Cuba," they added. "For the health and safety of Americans serving abroad—not only in Havana but around the world—we urge you to offer to take a leading role in investigating these incidents."

The State Department in August first disclosed that the attacks on U.S. personnel in Havana had occurred over at least the last year.

Several sources have told the Free Beacon that the first symptoms occurred months earlier, during the summer of 2016, leading to questions from GOP lawmakers about what the Obama administration knew and whether it tried to suppress information about the sonic attacks as it was formalizing aspects of its efforts to normalize relations with Havana.

U.S. government sources have told the Free Beacon and other media outlets that some type of sonic device had left some of the diplomats and others who experienced them with hearing loss, headaches, dizziness, sleeplessness, and other cognitive problems.

The Castro regime has denied any involvement or knowledge of the attacks and has allowed FBI agents into Havana to investigate. Several GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), have accused the Castro regime of lying about its knowledge of the attacks, arguing that the surveillance of Americans in Havana is so closely monitored there is no way the attacks occurred without the Cuban government's knowledge and likely consent.

Rubio had scheduled a Nov. 16 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to question several State Department officials about the attacks, but canceled it earlier that week. Administration officials have briefed members of Congress from key committees about the attacks but always in classified settings.

The Association of Retired Intelligence Officers (ARIO) in October published an article on the acoustic attacks in its fall journal. Eugene Poteat, a decorated longtime former CIA officer, electrical engineer, and physicist, suggested that another government is responsible for the attacks and carried them out.

While Poteat never mentioned Russia specifically, Moscow's involvement is logical, especially after an incident revealed last week by CBS News that a USAID officer based at the U.S. embassy in Uzbekistan experienced a similar sonic attack.

Poteat suggested in the article that a microwave weapon rather than a sonic weapon could have been used in the attacks on Americans.

"A microwave weapon can be miniaturized, be highly directed, and produce many of the medical problems seen in the Cuban attacks," he wrote.

"Microwave weaponization is well known by America's adversaries," he added. "Since the invention of radar, there have been extensive studies and research into the possible effects on humans exposed to radar's microwaves—and many of the symptoms are similar to those reportedly caused by a sonic weapon."

Poteat also recounted an incident in "the early days of the Cold War," which he said was "remarkably similar" to the Havana attacks in which "Russians flooded the American embassy with microwaves, from 1953 to 1976, leaving analysts to puzzle over the purpose of the attacks and the effects, if any, on personnel."

"While the microwaves were of relatively low level and thus not considered a serious or imminent danger at the time, it's hard to understand why the U.S. put up with it for so long and failed to demand it be stopped since it was deliberately targeted against the embassy," he wrote.

The attacks in Cuba are far more debilitating to the health of U.S. personnel—what Poteat argues is a "serious affront disabling some diplomats for life."

"Whatever is harming our U.S. diplomats in Havana has eluded our best doctors, scientists and intelligence analysts scouring for answers," he wrote.

In mid-November, the Journal of American Medical Association was expected to publish a study written by University of Miami and University of Pennsylvania physicians who treated some of the injured Americans, but the study has been delayed for unknown reasons, according to two sources.

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree   Email Susan | Full Bio | RSS
Susan Crabtree is a senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. She is a veteran Washington reporter who has covered the White House and Congress over the past two decades. She has written for the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, the Hill newspaper, Roll Call, and Congressional Quarterly.

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