As alarm spread over mysterious attacks on U.S. diplomatic staffers in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, the Trump administration’s response was plagued by “a lack of senior leadership, ineffective communication, and systemic disorganization,” a newly declassified review found. The report by the Accountability Review Board was especially critical of the State Department’s actions under then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is said to have broken protocols after the so-called “Havana syndrome” crisis began in November 2016. “Normal Department reporting channels and methods were routinely disregarded in the response to the Cuba incidents,” the report said, leading to a “lack of coherence in the response.”
The “single most significant deficiency” was the failure of anyone at the senior level to take charge of the situation, a development that was compounded by the high number of vacant posts in the department at that time, according to the report. While authorities still have not determined who or what was behind the sonic attacks—which left some staffers with traumatic brain injuries and cognitive deficits—the Biden administration is taking over the investigation.