The number of U.S. government personnel targeted by a mysterious illness in Cuba last year is greater than the Trump administration has publicly acknowledged, according to multiple U.S. officials who told the Washington Free Beacon the Obama administration may have misled Congress about the full scope and nature of the attack.
U.S. officials disclosed earlier this month that six Americans were struck by a mystery illness believed to be caused by a covert sonic device in what many think was a clandestine operation targeting U.S. personnel stationed in the communist country.
The number of Americans impacted is greater than previously disclosed, according to multiple U.S. officials who told the Free Beacon that those suffering from symptoms of sonic damage appears to be more than 10.
“It’s definitely in the double digits,” one source told the Free Beacon.
The mysterious incident has roiled the relationship between the United States and Cuba and has raised more questions than answers in Congress, where lawmakers are finding their inquiries about the situation stymied.
Congress is scheduled to receive a brief on the matter Thursday afternoon and is seeking to have outstanding questions addressed, sources said.
In addition to the greater number of U.S. persons harmed by the sonic device, it is believed that some Americans stationed in Havana began experiencing symptoms months earlier than the State Department has publicly admitted, sources said.
While U.S. officials have publicly claimed the symptoms—which include severe hearing loss—began around December 2016, multiple sources told the Free Beacon some reported illness earlier. This raises new questions about the Obama administration’s handling of the incidents and whether they informed the required members of Congress about it in a timely manner, the sources said.
The symptoms associated with the sonic attack worsen with prolonged exposure, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly when the problems began and how many incidents may have occurred.
U.S. officials further confirmed to the Free Beacon that other Western diplomats suffered similar illnesses, prompting speculation the covert operation was not limited to targeting the United States. This includes Canadian diplomats and potentially others.
Many key lawmakers are concerned that the Obama administration delayed notifying Congress and may have downplayed the impact of the incidents in order to try to protect President Obama’s détente with Cuba.
The executive branch and the intelligence community are required to inform the so-called Gang of Eight—the top Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate and the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees—about developments with serious foreign policy or covert ramifications. full story