The embedded article on the weaponization of sound and allegations of acoustic attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Havana is from the Fall 2017 edition of the AFIO’s Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies. Written by Mr. Gene Poteat, a distinguished and decorated intelligence officer, it is well worth a read.
While Poteat is not scheduled to testify (he should be), this Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., Senators of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were expected to question several career State Department officials about the alleged targeting of U.S. government personnel in Cuba. (The hearing was postponed. Reason: Unknown).
Also this week, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was supposed to have published a study supposedly written by the University of Miami and University of Pennsylvania physicians who treated some of the injured Americans. As soon JAMA publishes the review, we’ll post a link to it on this site.
An electrical engineer and physicist, Poteat knows more than a thing or two about what hostile governments such as Cuba are capable and willing to do to adversaries, especially those with diverging ideological points of view. Among the Poteat’s many accomplishments, throughout the Cold War Poteat managed the CIA’s worldwide network of monitoring sites.
Poteat outlines another scenario that could be resulting in injuries to Americans stationed in Cuba; one that may involve an old adversary deploying a device that has been around for some time. Whether it is acoustic, microwave, or some other method or combination of devices or techniques, potential reform-minded Cubans need reminding that someone will be held to account. While the veteran CIA official does not explicitly say so, he does not rule out that there is a high probability that Russia was involved in whatever happened, or is happening, in Cuba.
Whether or not you support closer U.S. relations with Communist Cuba, getting to the bottom of what has happened to U.S. personnel stationed in Cuba, requires a satisfactory outcome beyond what I’ve read in the press. Just because these folks assume the risks of working in tough posts does not mean that Uncle Sam should, as some in this town would like, look away. Cuba must be held to account. This will take time, but it needs doing. No free pass.
Cuba is lying and will continue to lie about what they did or failed to do. As I wrote a few weeks ago on this blog, and have discussed in media interviews and with U.S. government officials since, I doubt we will ever know why Cuba did this or, possibly, why someone within the police state apparatus allowed it to happen. The best guess? Someone at that very top of the Communist Party was proving himself or attempting to consolidate power.
I think the succession is done; at least for now. Thanks in large part to the Obama administration, the dyed-in-the-wool progressives in Havana believe that they have won. And to a certain extent, they are right. Once diplomatic relations were re-established, there was little, if anything, that certain power centers in the Cuban system could do to stop it. However, it is a Pyrrhic win; one that could plunge Cuba to a horrid place once Raul Castro is out of the picture, if not sooner.
How will these competing interests react to a new U.S. approach to Cuba? How influential are they? Never forget that we are dealing with hardline socialists that would like nothing more than to continue forging ahead with Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, and other nations and groups, that undermine and harm America and American interests. As far as these recent attacks are concerned, Russia was likely involved.
The injuries to U.S. government personnel stationed in Cuba affords Trump administration officials in charge of advising the President on Latin America policy a unique opportunity to build upon the President Trump’s vision for Cuba and the Western Hemisphere. In the case of Cuba, U.S. law provides a useful roadmap that complements the president’s public policy statements on Cuba, Venezuela, and other hotspots in the region including Colombia.
For the first time since the Communist takeover of Cuba in 1959, the Cuban people will be led by someone other than Fidel Castro or Raul Castro. How will the populace respond to this? Does it matter? Are the Russians or the Chinese meddling in this process? Could it represent an opportunity for a new generation of generals or political leaders in Cuba to push out the Castro machine?
For these and many other reasons, U.S. policymakers should find a way to keep the embassy opened and, as soon as embassy security better assured, Post Havana should be fully staffed. However, if the Cubans keep punting and distracting, I could see diplomatic relations severed again.