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Foreign Policy Analysis
Assistant Director Brown, Diplomatic Security Testifies on Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba

Assistant Director Brown, Diplomatic Security Testifies on Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba

Good morning Chairman Rubio, and other distinguished
members of the Committee. Thank you for your invitation to appear today
to discuss the health attacks involving U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families in
Havana. Along with my colleagues, I share your concerns
regarding the safety and security of our personnel in Cuba, and welcome any discussion that may
lead to a better understanding of this issue and stronger safeguards for our employees. From a security and investigative standpoint,
we continue to work with Embassy Havana to aggressively counter, mitigate, and better
understand who and what are causing injuries to our diplomatic staff. Unfortunately, this remains a perplexing case. Our Regional Security Officer at Embassy Havana
first became aware of potential health attacks involving Embassy personnel in late December
2016. In the early stages of trying to understand
what may have been occurring, Post leadership and supporting offices in Washington believed
it was likely a form of harassment by forces hostile to the United States and our presence
in Cuba. As more incidents were reported in early 2017
and greater awareness of the seriousness of symptoms became known, our level of concern
and mitigation efforts rose exponentially. After senior level meetings with Cuban officials
in February outlining Cuba’s responsibility to protect diplomats under the Vienna Convention,
the Regional Security Officer received confirmation from Cuban counterparts that the Cuban government
was conducting its own investigation into this matter. Senior U.S. officials on Embassy Havana’s
Emergency Action Committee met frequently as part of our ongoing attempt to better understand
the nature of the apparent attack and protect staff. Among other things, the Embassy deployed recording
devices in staff residences in an effort to better identify or capture the possible source
behind the threat, as many victims had associated the attacks with an acoustic event. After further investigative attempts and expert
analysis failed to identify the cause or perpetrator, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened
a case in early May. An FBI team has since visited Havana several
times and met with Cuban officials. The FBI’s investigation has interviewed
victims and conducted surveys of the residences and hotel rooms. However, the investigation remains ongoing
and we would refer all specific questions concerning the investigation to the FBI. Thank you. I will be glad to answer any questions you
may have.

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