While Cuba’s notoriously brutal and murderous dictatorship has no shortage of supporters here in the U.S., the truth always thwarts their efforts to paint the communist regime in a positive light. In Senate hearings yesterday on the attacks perpetrated on U.S. diplomats stationed in Cuba, testimony from officials brought to light those inconvenient truths that never fail to expose the Castro dictatorship for the rogue and criminal regime it is and has always been.
State Department knew of diplomats suffering brain trauma in Havana in February 2017; evacuated 40 over the next two months
Some inconvenient facts for the Castro lobby.
Three State Department officials testified this morning before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the subject of the 2016-2017 attacks on U.S. diplomats and dependents stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba that seriously impacted 24 of them. The three officials who testified are: Senior Bureau Official Francisco L. Palmieri Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Assistant Director Todd J. Brown of the International Programs Directorate, Bureau of Diplomatic Security; and Dr. Charles Rosenfarb, Medical Director for the Bureau of Medical Services. The objective of the hearing announced at the outset by Senator Marco Rubio was to “establish the facts of what has occurred and conduct oversight on the conduct and activities of the United States Department of State.” Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Palmieri provided a general timeline:
In late 2016 , some members of our diplomatic community serving at U.S. Embassy Havana complained about hearing strange noises and a variety of unexplained physical symptoms . As the Department investigated, we began to see signs suggesting that these events – initially in diplomatic residences , and later, at hotels – may have begun as early as November 2016.
As soon as we identified a pattern connecting these unusual events with certain health symptoms, U.S. officials approached the Cuban government in mid-February to demand it meet its obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect our personnel. The Cubans denied involvement , offered their cooperation , and opened their own investigation. Since then we have engaged the Cubans more than 20 times, from the working level to the highest level of the Cuban government, both here in Washington and in Havana.
In addition to our diplomatic efforts, we prioritized the medical care of our personnel. State Department and private medical experts examined more than 80 post employees and their families, both in the United States and in Havana. Dr. Rosenfarb will provide you with additional details.
Disturbing new information that emerged out of the hearing. Senator Rubio [R] of Florida asked Senior Bureau Official Francisco L. Palmieri why the Accountability Review Board had not been set up within 60 -120 days of May 1, [2017 ]with the report that U.S. officials were suffering serious injuries in Havana, as required by law. Back in October of 2017 five House members asked for a timeline of the attacks and asked if the State Department had convened an ARB in response. Today the answer was given and it was a “no.” Palmieri responded that the Secretary of State had decided to convene the Accountability Review Board (ARB) and would shortly notify Congress. Rubio pressed further and asked why the law had not been followed. Palmieri said that the Secretary had not been done because they did not know who the perpetrator was. Early on the opinion of security professionals, according to Assistant Director Todd J. Brown, was that this was harassment carried out by the Cuban government. Senator Rubio pointed out that the law did not require identifying the perpetrator and that the ARB would seek to identify the parties responsible.
Ranking member, Senator Robert Menendez [D] of New Jersey asked when the Chargé d’affaires was informed of the attacks and Senior Bureau Official Francisco L. Palmieri responded that he had been informed of the attacks in late December of 2016. According to Todd J. Brown it was December 30, 2016 when it was brought to the attention of the regional security officer and noted in a report to Washington. Senator Menendez asked when they became aware that brain trauma was involved and Dr. Charles Rosenfarb responded that the first patient was medically evacuated on February 6, 2017 and over the next two months evacuated 40 people.
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