MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The U.S. is investigating what caused American diplomats in Cuba to experience mysterious symptoms.
Sources told CBS News that lawmakers were caught off guard by news of the illnesses, which included hearing loss. Members of the House and Senate are now requesting congressional briefings into what happened.
“Our Americans were not safe, they were not secure, obviously because something has happened to them,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
The State Department won’t confirm what caused the ailments experienced by diplomats but said the safety of U.S. personnel is paramount.
In Cuban state TV, the government denied any involvement and called the removal of Cuban envoys from the U.S., “unjustified and baseless.”
The ongoing investigation is pointing to high-tech sonic technology that can’t be heard by humans but is clearly harmful.
Investigators believe the device was placed in or around the homes of U.S. embassy workers in Havana.
More than a dozen staffers at the U.S. embassy in Havana reported various symptoms from headaches, to sleeplessness, to permanent hearing loss.
Security officials swept the home of one Canadian diplomat who experienced adverse health effects.
Everyone in that home – including Cuban employees – was hospitalized.
“This also impacted family members of the diplomats, and I think that’s even more disturbing,” said Former Chief of Mission in Cuba John Caulfield.
Caulfield was chief of mission in Cuba during the Obama administration. Diplomats were recorded and filmed but never harmed.
“This occurred at a time when relations had improved, and so it would be inconsistent with all other behavior I saw from Cuban government, to take action to harm diplomats,” said Caulfield.
Intelligence experts say what most likely happened was that this was an intelligence gathering operation gone bad possibly by the Cubans or it could have been the Russians or this could have been purposeful harassment of U.S. diplomats abroad.
The State Department and the FBI continue to investigate.