Experts Question Study of Attacks on US Diplomats in Cuba

The US embassy in Havana. Photo:


HAVANA TIMES – A dozen neurologists and other brain scientists have questioned an investigation supported by the US government to consider that 26 of its diplomats suffered an attack of unknown origin and claim that it contains errors, reported dpa news.

The “Journal of the American Medical Association” (JAMA), a prestigious publication of the American medical community, today published four different letters from experts that question the investigation that, commissioned by the US government, was made by a team from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Government of Donald Trump assures that since November 2016, a total of 26 diplomats who worked in Cuba and relatives suffered health disorders due to attacks of unknown origin that caused them hearing loss, dizziness, buzzing, headaches, fatigue, cognitive problems and sleep difficulties, among other symptoms.

The US administration does not accuse Cuba of the attacks but does blame its government for not protecting US diplomats as required by the Vienna Convention. In response, the State Department withdrew the majority of its embassy staff in Havana and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington as a measure of reciprocity.

The critical scientists who sent their letters to JAMA point out, among other things, that the University of Pennsylvania team’s research misinterpreted test results, dismissed psychological explanations for the symptoms, and overlooked common disorders that could have caused discomfort in the affected.

“More research is needed,” said Gerard J. Gianoli, of the Ear and Balance Institute in Louisiana, and two other experts, who say the results point more to damage to the inner ear than to a concussion.

The results of the study of the team of the University of Pennsylvania “reflect an incorrect interpretation of the results of objective cognitive tests,” says Robert Shura, a clinical neuropsychologist in North Carolina, and two other experts.

In its travel alert on Cuba, the State Department has linked the article about that investigation published in February in the JAMA, which concludes that the diplomats had similar injuries to concussions caused by an extended damage to the brain networks.

Although the origin of these types of health problems remains unknown, the United States continues to classify them as “attacks”. Initially it spoke of “acoustic attacks”, but the State Department later said that it considered other possibilities, such as a “viral” attack.

28 thoughts on “Experts Question Study of Attacks on US Diplomats in Cuba

  • I presume that you are using the Royal “we”.

  • You are most welcome Mr MacD.
    And it would seem that we have finally confirmed that the facts which I allude to are beyond any dispute.

  • Thank you for your final sentence which my observations upon your comments have confirmed

  • Mr MacD, The matter of so called ‘sonic attacks’ comes up regularly. I have previously commented and speculated at great length in response to articles on this theme.
    There are no known ‘facts’ on this. Just comment and speculation.
    But allow me to point out that in your very first comment on this latest article you briefly mentioned ‘sonic attacks’ before moving swiftly onto President Obama’s visit, Cuba’s supposed need to ‘reciprocate’, the embargo etc…
    We have since been exchanging views on these issues raised by yourself.

    In these exchanges I have alluded to the following facts:
    Pretty much all countries in the world have normal relations with Cuba (apart from the USA). This normality does not specifically require Cuba to do what you describe as ‘reciprocate’.
    Representatives of well over 90% of the human race vote repeatedly against the embargo.
    USA’s attitude toward Cuba has, for the past 60 odd years, been heavily influenced by the crucial importance of the 29 Floridian Electoral College votes.

    Now Mr MacD, you can have an opinion on these facts; you can express our viewpoint on these facts but what you cannot do is dispute that they are facts.
    I shall not use the word ‘bigoted’, but to dispute that these are facts would be ‘unreasonable’. Or it would simply display of a lack of knowledge on the subject.

    Now we may have differing viewpoints, but surely you are a reasonable and knowledgeable man Mr MacD?

  • I observe no facts to back up your your opinions. Was your “rational argument” supported by facts related in any way to the sonic attacks? If so do explain! I only quoted the dictionary to illustrate that my use of the word bigoted was accurate and because you clearly were confused by its use when you wrote: “It’s unfortunate that you choose to introduce such words as ‘bigoted’.”
    Perhaps you mentally related it to ‘bigot’ which has a very different meaning. I do not consider you to be a bigot – ie: a superstitious religious hypocrite

  • I provide a rational argument backed up by facts Mr MacD. You counter with rhetoric.

    So we’ve firmly established that your views are out of step with the world at large and now you’ve had a look in the dictionary for a definition of the word bigoted…..

    ‘obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions’

    Now you’ve had a look good in the dictionary, how about taking a good look in the mirror?

  • So Nick, where are your comments upon the subject of the article: “the actual issues”?

    obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions
    Oxford English Dictionary

    If one cares to examine the differences between you and I Nick, I tend to relate fact and comment upon it, whereas you tend to criticize the views of others without substantiation of fact. You rush to criticize others with your ‘balanced’ views, whilst avoiding providing contradictory fact.

    If you re-read the first paragraph of my initial comment of August 15, you will note that I directly addressed the subject of sonic attacks. You totally failed to address the subject of the article, due to your enthusiasm to criticize my views without substantiation of fact and to demonstrate your prejudice against my opinions.

    Hence my comment that you are bigoted.

  • You have no rational counter argument, Mr MacD.
    All you have is repetitious rhetoric.
    You can pour forth on cold war issues, atomic bombs, ‘Marxist’ British politicians and suchlike but show a complete inability to address the actual issues.
    Due to your inability to provide rational counter argument or address the actual issues, you choose to describe my opinion, which is in line with the vast majority of global opinion on these issues, as ‘bigoted’.
    And that’s all you’ve got.

  • I used the word bigoted in its actual meaning Nick. That as you doubtless are aware is quite different from describing someone as a bigot. Your response demonstrates the accuracy of my observation.

  • It’s unfortunate that you choose to introduce words such as ‘bigoted’.
    A clear sign that you do not have any rational or logical argument.
    It is you that is totally out of step with the vast majority on this issue. It is you who is still residing in some old cold war era. And it is you who takes sides with a small minority in Miami who punch way above their weight in influencing US Policy (due to the arcane Electoral College system which was designed for the late 1700s).
    My comments reflect the rational viewpoint of the world at large on this issue.

    By your non-logic, If Mrs MacD were to hit you round the head each day with a frying pan, it would be because you deserve it?

  • Would you normalize relations with a dictator who said that he had an ambition to drop three atomic bombs on one of your largest cities and whose brother urged a first atomic strike upon your country?
    It is correct that I prefer capitalist freedom to communist dictatorship – if that makes me an “arch capitalist” whose views lean very much to the right – in your own mind which leans very much towards rationalizing the totalitarian practices of the left, then that is your bigoted opinion.

  • Mr MacD, I think you are in all probability, a sincere man. I think you sincerely hold arch capitalist views which lean very much toward the right.

    Let me try one more time to see if you can understand what is a really very straightforward point:
    It is the USA’s responsibility to normalise it’s abnormal relations with Cuba.
    The rest of the world has normal relations with Cuba. If the USA normalised relations then it would have this in common with the rest of the world.
    The USA’s abnormal relations with Cuba are widely held (throughout the world) to be due to the concern of US Presidential candidates that a group of Cuban emigres are powerful enough to deliver the 29 Florida Electoral College Votes each time a US Election comes around.

    Now I haven’t made these basic facts up Mr MacD. These facts are widely recognised throughout the world. If you don’t understand these facts, try reading them through a few times.
    If you do understand but disagree then that’s fine.
    If you do understand but think that Cuba ought to ‘reciprocate’ in some way, that’s also fine.
    It’s just differences of opinion.

    Let me put it this way Mr MacD:
    If Mrs MacD were to hit you round the head with a frying pan on a daily basis, the rest of the world would say that her behaviour was abnormal. If she then realised that the rest of the world was right and that her behaviour was indeed abnormal and decided to stop hitting you with a frying pan, I wouldn’t say that you would in any way be obliged to ‘reciprocate’.
    In fact I would simply say ‘Yer missus stopped beating you up with the old frying pan Mr MacD? Good stuff. Pleased to hear it my old mate’.

    As I have said many times without the slightest prevarication I don’t live in your ‘good vs evil’ fantasy world. But I shall no doubt get a taste of it in the next Star Wars movie.

    And please don’t suggest that I blame Mr P for the rise of trump or anything that the USA does or any policy it may have.
    It would not be at all appropriate for me to do that and it’s not really very appropriate of you to suggest that I’m doing that.

  • If Nick you mean that folks like Mr. P and Mr. McD regard communism as the “evil” and the alternative of freedom as the “good”, you are correct.
    How about you, are you as usual going to prevaricate or are you going to disagree?
    You choose to ignore the fact that Moses Patterson has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump in these pages and endeavor to foist some sort of responsibility upon him as an American.
    Just as sensible intelligent people in the US were concerned about the possibility of the narcissistic Trump becoming President, similarly in the UK many sensible intelligent people are concerned about the possibility of the Marxist Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. If that occurs, should we apportion blame upon you just because you are an English?
    As regards your snide comment about “back street stand-up comic routine” related to US democracy and moral equivalence – do you prefer that form of “democracy” practiced in the communist (socialist) dictatorships? With Corbyn lurking in the shadow of Big Ben, you may yet experience it! Then who will be having a giggle?

  • So Mr P, it’s that ‘good vs evil’ tune again.
    The historical facts would overwhelmingly point to the USA not caring one damn about how countries are run, by whom they are run or how ‘democratic’ they are perceived to be. The fact of the matter is that the USA favours countries that do what it tells them to do regardless of any other factor.
    Regarding your reference to US democracy and moral equivalence……
    Really ?
    Are you practicing some new lines for some kind of back street stand-up comic routine ??
    And the moral equivalent to the current ‘democratic’ US regime is what exactly ???

  • Door:
    a hinged, sliding, or revolving barrier at the entrance to a building, room or vehicle, or in the framework of a cupboard.
    shut (a door, window or lid) forcefully and loudly ………move violently or loudly………criticize severely……..score points against or to gain a victory
    move into a position so that it blocks an opening………..she shut her lips tight……..she slammed the door shut………stop some activity
    So having quoted the Oxford English Dictionary definitions to help you comprehend Nick, I was describing how Barack Obama had during his vist to Cuba and as the culmination of negotiations that commenced some two years earlier, had opened the door to discussions about lifting the US embargo. That when doing so on March 21st he said that obviously (and as is normal in political negotiations) he said that there would need to be some reciprocation.
    In response, on March 28th, the Castro regime read on State TV a “letter” supposedly from Fidel Castro Ruz (El Comadante) entitled “The man Obama” which took almost exactly ten minutes to read, but the essence of which in addition to the customary abuse of all things American, flatly rejected the concept of negotiations with any reciprocation.
    The following day (March 29th) Bruno Rodriguez the Foreign Minister, gave a speech in which he stated flatly: “There will be no reciprocation.”
    Thus the Castro regime rejected opportunity to hold such negotiations or as I wrote: “Castro slammed the door shut” using the words in the sense of the extracts given above.
    One could in addition indulged in conjecture regarding why the Castro regime (ie: Raul Castro Ruz) was so eager to retain the US Embargo rather than entering into negotiations. In my view it was a desire to retain the Embargo as it has been used for so many years as an excuse for the regimes incompetence, the decline in standards of living (when did Cubans last get a pay rise) and the critical need to retain dictatorial power and control.
    I hope after that explanation Nick that you are able to at least understand – but inevitably disagree – with what I wrote. If not, then I am afraid I cannot help you further. But I do thank you for your compliment in saying that I am effective and persuasive – even if you also think that I lack sincerity.

  • I have followed this thread carefully and I largely agree with Carlyle Macduff. In your big country versus small country argument, you equate sovereignty with moral equivalency. That is, while I agree that Cuba is a sovereign actor, I do not agree that the Castro dictatorship is a moral equivalent to the democracy of the US. So, to the extent possible, short of war, the US has an obligation to “tell” Cuba how it should be governed. How we do so is determined by the degree of suffering being experienced by the Cuban people at the time. If your neighbor is beating his child in his front yard, you have an obligation as a moral actor to intervene immediately. But if your neighbor beats his child in the privacy of his home, does your obligation to intervene lessen? I say no. Only your strategy to effect intervention changes. The US is obliged to lead the effort to spread democracy and freedom, especially in our own hemisphere. Allowing Castro tyranny to continue unchecked would be an immoral act. The struggle between the US and Cuba is not simply a matter of a big country trying to force its will on a small country. If all else were equal, I would agree with you. But instead, the struggle is between good and evil. Right and wrong. What Obama tried to do was change strategy but the end result was to remain the same. Help Cuba to become free.

  • Mr MacD, You make several points in your comment.
    I won’t take each point in turn because that would require too much of a long drawn out ramble, but I would say that I do not entirely disagree with all of your comment. But are you seriously suggesting that the Good President Obama did not make any allusion in his famous speech as to how he/The USA thought Cuba should be better governed?
    I actually happen to think it was a brilliant speech of massive historic importance.
    It proved that the USA, with all its dodgy dealings with all manner of ‘different’ types of government, could finally come to its senses regarding Cuba.
    But what exactly do you mean by ‘Castro slammed the door shut’?
    What on earth does that mean?
    Or is it merely another example of your rhetoric?
    Thanks to President Obama relations were better than at any time since Cuba managed to find a way to stop being yet another US puppet.
    It was only when Putin exploited the weakening democratic process in the USA and put his boy trump on the White House Throne that US-Cuba relations started to falter once again.

  • Obama Nick, did not in his speech at the Alicia Alonso Theatre suggest how Cuba should be governed. However he did for example say:
    “We stand on the side of those who want to be free.”
    and repeated some of the points that he first made in his speech to the joint UK Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall on 25th May, 2012 – with which you are doubtless familiar. (If not I can provide you with quotes).
    He was also careful not to advise Cuba regarding its economy – and it certainly desperately needs advice – but he did say:
    “The wealth of a nation comes not from what it consumes, but from what it produces.”
    That can scarcely be described as saying “how Cuba should be governed”.
    One can only define some parts of the US policy towards Cuba and in particular the embargo, by reading the US Cuba Democracy Act which introduced the embargo and its defined purposes. As you also know, I am opposed to the embargo because after 58 years it is a failed policy serving only as a much utilized tool for the Castro regime which in its propaganda to the (deliberately) ill informed Cuban population as the cause for all the incompetence and economic mismanagement of that regime.
    I would be the first to agree that there are many in the world who care not a fig about the plight of the people of Cuba, including for example the (Italian) foreign Minister of the EU – who at the time of restoring “normal relations” with Cuba represented the UK as a part of the EU.
    Antagonism towards “the cabal of powerful Cuban emigres in Miami” and Donald Trump, is no reason to deny the Cuban people support in seeking the freedom which you and I currently enjoy.
    I shall stick with my comment that that “Castro slammed the door shut.” How else can one describe the termination of any possibility of negotiation? It may be possible that by now both Raul Castro and Bruno Rodriguez realize that they had opportunity with Obama, which they certainly will not have with Donald Trump. But Nick, that was their decision!

  • There you go Mr MacD….
    By quoting yourself you demonstrate that you do indeed have a knowledge of the US/Cuba relationship.
    Good stuff. All the more reason for you to apply this knowledge and grasp the inherent basic logic of what I am saying.
    Whatever the rhetoric on both sides, President Obama took the initiative to move toward a normalisation of US attitude regarding Cuba. The Cuban Government reacted in exactly the way one would expect them to which was to roll out the red carpet and welcome the US President’s initiative to bring the USA in line with the rest of the world. Now obviously if, in his big speech, the US President suggests how Cuba should be governed or what type of system it should have, the Cuban Government reacted in the way that one would expect (and I paraphrase): ‘Don’t tell us how to do stuff. We thought that you coming down here was an attempt to end the long history of your country telling us how to do stuff.’
    What the hell else did you expect them to say??
    Regarding opening and closing doors……
    The world in general respected President for his endeavours and his recognition that the USA policy toward Cuba was a ridiculous anachronism and totally out of step with the rest of the world.
    It has always been led by a cabal of powerful Cuban emigres in Miami who could deliver Floridian Electoral College Votes – A case of the tail wagging the dog.
    The door that President Obama opened with a view to this normalisation of US foreign policy has been somewhat pushed back toward ‘closed’ by his successor (though not slammed shut).
    Indeed trump seems on a personal mission to reverse all the work carried out by his predecessor on a whole variety of issues.

  • Thanks Lynda – that’s it – deplorables!

  • As there is no ‘reply’ on Nick’s contribution of 5.33 p.m. on August 16, I have to respond here.
    You Nick say that “Reciprocation has nothing to do with it”. That Nick was the word used by both Barack Obama on March 21st, 2016 in Cuba, and the word used by Bruno Rodriguez on March 29th, 2016.
    Obama’s proposal of some non-defined reciprocation was key to opening negotiations, Castro declined! Obama having opened the door, Castro slammed it shut.
    As for my “having difficulty” in comprehending the relationship between the US and Cuba both past and present, I suggest you read my chapter on “The USA” commencing on page 102 of ‘Cuba Lifting the Veil’ or page 116 of the Spanish translation ‘Cuba Levantando el Velo’.
    One or two quotes:
    “US policies towards the Latin American countries have been a succession of political blunders of magnitude since the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823″
    The unexplained explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbour on February 15th 1998 was used by the US as cause to declare war on Spain which occurred on April 25th, 1898, however Spain anticipating US intentions had declared war on the US two days earlier. Adding the power of the US military to that of the Cuban revolutionaries who had been fighting for over two years, brought the conflict to an end and the of Paris was signed between Spain and the US on December 10, 1898. For Cuba whose people had rebelled against Spanish rule for many years the decision by the US not to include them in the Paris Treaty negotiations and to impose its own version a constitution was degrading and the further insistence of the incorporation of the Platt Amendment in the constitution humiliating being an infringement of Cuban sovereignty. Initially, the Cubans rejected the proposal of the Platt Amendment but eventually had to accept it by a vote of 16 to 11 with 4 abstentions.”
    “The Platt Amendment was not cancelled until 1934, but the US retained Guantanamo as a naval base and it is understandably a running sore for Cubans representing a foreign country within its borders and eventually after the Afghanistan invasion used for a purpose which the US was not prepared to accept within its own.”
    But you Nick in your endeavors to belittle choose to say that I have difficulty in grasping the relative positions of Cuba and the US? How little you know!

  • Mr MacD…..
    ‘Reciprocation’ has nothing to do with it.
    A big country mistreats a small country in a weirdly dumb way as the whole world looks on appalled. Then the big country decides to be less dumb and less appalling. Great. And not so complicated.
    But you seem to have such difficulty grasping it.

  • Firstly read the article Nick! Secondly re-read my comments. Thirdly, you are obviously uninformed about the prolonged negotiations which took place between Cuba (delegates included Alejandro Castro Espin) and the US in Canada for over two years preceding Obama’s visit.
    My comments are factual not imaginary. I witnessed the process which took place in Cuba between Raul Castro Ruz and Barack Obama over two and a half days. I saw and heard Barack Obama’s address in the Alicia Alonso Theatre – that televised address given live being one of the agreed conditions of his visit and with Raul Castro Ruz sitting on the balcony next to Miguel Diaz-Cane, who remained stony faced throughout.
    I did not “paint a picture” I recorded witnessed fact. I heard Fidel Castro’s so-called letter read in full on Cuban TV. I saw Bruno Rodriguez give his speech on March 29th.
    Your ramblings based upon your personal theories and opinions cannot erase the reality of that which I recorded.
    Of course you wish to denigrate and belittle what actually took place in support of your “balanced” view, but facts Nick remain so despite your protestations and fertile mind (maybe a consequence of your neighbours defecating).

  • Mr MacD, It would seem that you have either misread the facts or you are deliberately painting some kind of false picture.
    The vast majority of the countries in the world have perfectly normal relations with Cuba.
    After decades of taking an absurdist stance regarding Cuba, the USA (led by President Obama), started moving toward a more rational/normal approach.
    Cuba’s attitude toward the USA was not abnormal. It is the USA’s attitude towards Cuba that has been abnormal. President Obama (unusually for a US President – both an intelligent and honest man) tried to normalise this attitude.
    Regardless of one’s opinion of the Cuban Government, Cuba should have no obligation in return.
    Why should it?
    I could pick a great many faults with the Cuban Government but if the USA decides to start behaving in a normal manner, why on earth should they do anything ‘in return’.
    If your neighbour, under the full gaze of the rest of the world, persistently defecates in your garden and then one day is so embarrassed about this appalling behaviour that he decides to stop, then would you be obliged to do anything in return Mr MacD ?
    What you would probably do is applaud your neighbour for finally behaving in an appropriate way and say ‘Hey neighbour, what took you so long to see sense?’
    That’s what Cuba did.
    Surely any rational and balanced person would be able to appreciate this logic.

  • deplorables.

  • The enthusiasm of US citizens to find methods of attacking the President whom they elected, is understandable. But in their enthusiasm to utilize the “sonic attacks” they choose to ignore the similar experience of the staff of the Canadian Embassy and that Canada as a consequence, withdrew the family members of their staff. Think about when the attacks were occurred and during whose Presidency, rather than just using them as a method of berating Trump.
    The rejection of Barack Obama’s proposal to have discussions regarding the embargo, were rejected only seven days later (March 28th, 2016) supposedly by Fidel Castro (for which read the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba) and on March 29th, by Bruno Rodriguez the Foreign Minister who stated clearly, that regarding Barack Obama saying that in negotiations: “there will need to be some reciprocation”, that: “There will be no reciprocation.”
    Thus the value of the meetings between the US and Cuba in Government of Canada buildings (when the Canadian Government was conservative) which led to Obama’s visit, was negated by the regime of Raul Castro Ruz.
    It is in consequence false to indicate that “Obama and the Cubans worked on hard to happen” Obama certainly did so as a consequence of the meetings held in Canada, but it was “the Cubans” – ie: the Raul Castro regime – which rejected it.
    Trump in this matter is an irrelevance – and yes, I did listen to his speech in Miami to the Cuban exiles, when as usual his limited vocabulary was full of superlatives to describe the exiles, but in which there was nothing new. Just the usual blarney that goes down so well with his supporters. What was it that Hillary Clinton called them? Ah! Yes! “The undesirables”. 63 million of them.

  • Seriously, Gerard Gianoli has no credibility, he is under investigation for fraud, scam diagnosis and scam surgeries. Check the facts yourself with the St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court.

  • I hope this get picked up by major papers. This whole Sonic attack is a cover to send back relations that Obama and the Cubans worked on hard on to happen. Trump does not care or have any vision for Cuba unless it more Trump towers. And he needs all the votes he can get so he will fold to the Cubans right wing in Miami.

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