It’s time to open up the classified pandemic files, says U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
With revelations the U.S. Department of Energy now believes a lab leak was the likely cause of the COVID-19 outbreak, Gallagher is calling on the Biden administration to declassify the intelligence surrounding the origins of the deadly coronavirus.
Gallagher, who also chairs the House’s Committee on China, said scientists and others with dissenting viewpoints that have been labeled as “conspiracy theorists” by the administration and much of the mainstream media are owed answers.
“As evidence clearly mounts in favor of the lab-leak hypothesis, the American people deserve complete transparency from the federal government on the origins of COVID-19. That means this administration must declassify all the relevant intelligence – protecting for sources and methods – surrounding the pandemic’s origins, and provide information as to who was advising the members of the Intelligence Community who have dismissed or downplayed the concept of a lab leak,” the congressman said Monday in a statement.
“We must also take concrete steps to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their lack of transparency surrounding COVID-19 by passing my bill to impose sanctions and other restrictions on CCP-affiliated scientists until the Party allows a transparent, international investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported over the weekend that the Energy Department has concluded the virus leaked from a lab in China, at least at a “low confidence” assessment. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also has concluded with “moderate confidence” what the world has come to know as COVID-19 accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese lab that experimented with coronaviruses, according to The New York Times.
Interestingly, the virus originated in and around Wuhan in early December 2019, quickly and fatally spreading worldwide.
Other U.S. intelligence officials remain divided over whether the virus, which has to date claimed 6..87 million lives worldwide, 1.115 million of those in the United States, originated in a lab or occurred naturally. Those in the latter camp have been skewered by many in the former accusing lab leak theorists of pushing a “disinformation campaign” and failing to “follow the science.”
News outlets have long reported the government scientist line, that the first cases of COVID-19 most likely originated in an open air market in Wuhan. At any event, they say it occurred naturally. A dubious joint study by China and the World Health Organization in 2021 effectively ruled out the “theory” that the coronavirus was born out of a lab leak, but China has been criticized for its lack of access.
An extremely influential report published in the scientific Journal Nature Medicine in mid-March 2020 — as COVID-19 was first hitting the United States — insisted the virus “is not a aboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated construct.” Such a scenario is not plausible, the analysis asserted.
Francis Collins, who at the time served as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who up until recently led he National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, seemed to stand by the research and the researchers.
But the scientists had misgivings about their own theory, according to records recently published by The Intercept and The Nation.
The publications reported in January:
Unredacted records obtained by The Nation and The Intercept offer detailed insights into those confidential deliberations. The documents show that in the early days of the pandemic, Fauci and Collins took part in a series of email exchanges and telephone calls in which several leading virologists expressed concern that SARS-CoV-2 looked potentially “engineered.” The participants also contemplated the possibility that laboratory activities had inadvertently led to the creation and release of the virus.
The conversations convey a sense of anxious urgency and included speculation about the specific types of laboratory techniques that might have caused the virus’s emergence. After roughly a week of debate and data collection, one of the key figures involved in the deliberations characterized the focus of the group’s work as follows: “to disprove any type of lab theory.” Several of the scientists on the calls and emails then went on to write and publish “Proximal Origin.” It became one of the best-read papers in the history of science.
Nearly three years later, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan says “there is not a definitive answer” to where the COVID-19 pandemic originated.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is looking to re-introduce a bill demanding the U.S. government turn over what it has learned about the COVID outbreak.
“The American people deserve the full truth about #covid origins. No more whitewash. I will again introduce legislation to make the US government’s intelligence reports on covid open to the people,” he tweeted.
“In order to prevent the next pandemic, we have to know how this one began,” the congressman said. “The administration must move with a sense of urgency and use every tool at its disposal to ensure we understand the origins of COVID-19.”
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Mike Gallagher” by Congressman Mike Gallagher. Background Photo “Wuhan Institute of Virology” by Ureem2805. CC BY-SA 4.0.