June 21, 2024

Lab Leak Most Likely Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic, Energy Department Now Says

https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-origin-china-lab-leak-807b7b0a?mod=djemalertNEWS

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Energy Department has concluded that the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak, according to a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress.

The shift by the Energy Department, which previously was undecided on how the virus emerged, is noted in an update to a 2021 document by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’s office.

The new report highlights how different parts of the intelligence community have arrived at disparate judgments about the pandemic’s origin. The Energy Department now joins the Federal Bureau of Investigation in saying the virus likely spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory. Four other agencies, along with a national intelligence panel, still judge that it was likely the result of a natural transmission, and two are undecided.

The Energy Department’s conclusion is the result of new intelligence and is significant because the agency has considerable scientific expertise and oversees a network of U.S. national laboratories, some of which conduct advanced biological research.

The Energy Department made its judgment with “low confidence,” according to people who have read the classified report.

The FBI previously came to the conclusion that the pandemic was likely the result of a lab leak in 2021 with “moderate confidence” and still holds to this view.

The FBI employs a cadre of microbiologists, immunologists and other scientists and is supported by the National Bioforensic Analysis Center, which was established at Fort Detrick, Md., in 2004 to analyze anthrax and other possible biological threats.

U.S. officials declined to give details on the fresh intelligence and analysis that led the Energy Department to change its position. They added that while the Energy Department and the FBI each say an unintended lab leak is most likely, they arrived at those conclusions for different reasons.

The updated document underscores how intelligence officials are still putting together the pieces on how Covid-19 emerged. More than one million Americans have died in the pandemic that began more than three years ago.

The National Intelligence Council, which conducts long-term strategic analysis, and four agencies, which officials declined to identify, still assess with “low confidence” that the virus came about through natural transmission from an infected animal, according to the updated report.

The Central Intelligence Agency and another agency that officials wouldn’t name remain undecided between the lab-leak and natural-transmission theories, the people who have read the classified report said.

Despite the agencies’ differing analyses, the update reaffirmed an existing consensus between them that Covid-19 wasn’t the result of a Chinese biological-weapons program, the people who have read the classified report said.

A senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed that the intelligence community had conducted the update, whose existence hasn’t previously been reported. This official added that it was done in light of new intelligence, further study of academic literature and consultation with experts outside government.

The update, which is less than five pages, wasn’t requested by Congress. But lawmakers, particularly House and Senate Republicans, are pursuing their own investigations into the origins of the pandemic and are pressing the Biden administration and the intelligence community for more information.

Asked about the Energy Department’s assessment, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska) said Sunday on NBC that Congress needed to hold extensive hearings concerning the origins of the pandemic, adding that China has sought to intimidate other countries from questioning whether the virus emerged naturally. “This is a country that has no problem coming out and lying to the world,” he said.

The Covid-19 virus first circulated in Wuhan, China, no later than November 2019, according to the U.S. 2021 intelligence report. The pandemic’s origin has been the subject of vigorous debate among academics, intelligence experts and lawmakers.

The emergence of the pandemic heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, which U.S. officials alleged was withholding information about the outbreak. It also led to a spirited and at times partisan debate in the U.S. about its origin. At first, the dominant view was that the virus likely arose naturally when the virus leapt from an animal to a human, as had happened in the past. But as time elapsed and no animal host was found, there has been greater focus on coronavirus research in Wuhan and the potential for an accidental laboratory leak.

David Relman, a Stanford University microbiologist who has argued for a dispassionate investigation into the pandemic’s beginnings, welcomed word of the updated findings.

“Kudos to those who are willing to set aside their preconceptions and objectively re-examine what we know and don’t know about Covid origins,” said Dr. Relman, who has served on several federal scientific-advisory boards. “My plea is that we not accept an incomplete answer or give up because of political expediency.”

An Energy Department spokesman declined to discuss details of its assessment but wrote in a statement that the agency “continues to support the thorough, careful, and objective work of our intelligence professionals in investigating the origins of COVID-19, as the President directed.”

The FBI declined to comment.

China, which has placed limits on investigations by the World Health Organization, has disputed that the virus could have leaked from one of its labs and has suggested it emerged outside China.

The Chinese government didn’t respond to requests for comment about whether there has been any change in its views on the origins of Covid-19.

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| Media

COVID lab leak is a scandal of media and government censorship

The most alarming aspect was the censorship, not the science

COVID lab leak is a scandal of media and government censorship

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Energy Department has concluded that the COVID pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Energy Department has concluded that the COVID pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak.

The conclusion is reportedly based on a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress. Many will be exploring why the scientific evidence of a lab leak was so slow to emerge from intelligence agencies.

However, for my part, the most alarming aspect was the censorship, not the science.

There will continue to be a debate over the origins of COVID-19, but now there will be an actual debate.

For years, the media and government allied to treat anyone raising a lab theory as one of three possibilities: conspiracy theorist or racists or racist conspiracy theorists.

CORONAVIRUS
A team of researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the EcoHealth Alliance have trapped bats in caves all over China to sample them for coronaviruses.

Academics joined this chorus in marginalizing anyone raising the theory. One study cited the theory as an example of “anti-Chinese racism” and “toxic white masculinity.”

As late as May 2021, the New York Times’ Science and Health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli was calling any mention of the lab theory as “racist.” 

She embodies the model of the new “advocacy journalism” at the Times. Reporters who remained wedded to the dated view of objective journalism were purged from the ranks of The Times long ago.

Mandavilli and others made clear that reporters covering the theory were COVID’s little Bull Connors. She tweeted wistfully “someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here.”

COVID LAB
The Biden Administration reportedly shutdown the State Department investigation into the possible lab origins of the virus.

However, one former New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade chastised his former colleagues for ignoring the obvious evidence supporting a lab theory as well as Chinese efforts to arrest scientists and destroy evidence that could establish the origin.

Others in academia quickly joined the bandwagon to assure the public that there is no scientific basis for their theory, leaving only racist or politics as the motivation behind the theory. In early 2020, with little available evidence, two op-eds in The Lancet in February and Nature Medicine went all-in on the denial front.

The Lancet op-ed stated, “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin.”

We were also supposed to forget about massive payments from the Chinese government to American universities and grants of some of these writers to both Chinese interests or even the specific Wuhan lab.

No reference to the lab theory was to be tolerated. When Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) merely mentioned the possibility in 2020, he was set upon by the usual flash media mob. The Washington Post ridiculed him of repeating a “debunked” coronavirus “conspiracy theory.”

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| National Security

Rick Scott suggests Biden is ‘compromised’ by Beijing and urges Americans to stop buying from China because it is funding their increasingly aggressive behavior

Rick Scott suggests Biden is ‘compromised’ by Beijing

Senator Rick Scott tore into Joe Biden for ‘pacifying’ China, alleging that the president could be ‘compromised’ by the communist nation trying to ‘defeat our way of life.’

  • Florida Sen. Rick Scott alleged Biden could be ‘compromised’ by China because he continues to ‘pacify’ the communist nation
  • Hunter Biden’s alleged business ties to China is putting even more spotlight on how the president handles Beijing
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine and wants to facilitate peace talks to help end the war

Rick Scott tore into Joe Biden for ‘pacifying’ China, alleging that the president could be ‘compromised’ by the communist nation trying to ‘defeat our way of life.’

The claims come amid increased aggression from China and worsening relations between Washington and Beijing as U.S. lawmakers continue to support Taiwan’s autonomy from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

China also recently called for a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine and wants to facilitate peace talks as the war between the two nations goes into its second year.

Scott, a GOP senator from Florida, says it’s time for the U.S. to take a stand against China – demanding that America stops buying from the CCP because it is helping fund thMore at:eir rise as a world superpower.

‘All that Biden does is pacify China,’ Scott alleged during an interview on Cats Roundtable Sunday morning with host John Catsimatidis. ‘I don’t know why he does this.’

‘I don’t know if he’s compromised,’ Scott added of the president. ‘I don’t know what it is, but this is a guy who won’t stand up to dictators around the world.’

Biden’s son Hunter has business ties to China, which is putting even more spotlight on how the president handles the increasingly aggressive Asian nation.

At the time when Biden was still vice president, Hunter was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to act as ‘consultant’ to help ‘open doors’ by introducing businessmen with links to Beijing to political leaders around the world, Republican Congressman James Comer claimed in a letter last week.

Comer, chairman of the House Oversight committee, is probing Hunter and Biden family ties to the CCP.

‘The government of China [and] the government of Russia have decided to be not our challengers, but our enemies,’ he explained.

Scott demanded: ‘We’ve got to stop ever buying anything, anything, anything made in Communist China or made in Russia.’

‘No American business should do any business – any business – in Communist China or Russia. None!’ he insisted. ‘Every time you buy a Chinese product, or you buy an app, or you use TikTok, the Chinese government makes money off that.’

‘The money always flows to the Chinese government,’ Scott explained. ‘What they are going to do with that money is they’re going to continue to build a military to defeat us and defeat our way of life.’

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| Foreign Affairs

Dems Cry ‘Racism’ After DCNF Bombshells Expose Rep. Judy Chu and Biden Appointee’s Ties To Alleged Chinese Intel

Daily Caller News Foundation revealed both Chu and Ng have apparent ties to alleged Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence front groups

Dems Cry ‘Racism’ After DCNF Bombshells Expose Rep. Judy Chu and Biden Appointee’s Ties To Alleged Chinese Intel

Several Democrats called a GOP lawmaker’s recent comments about Rep. Judy Chu “racist” and “xenophobic” in a series of tweets and press releases Thursday.

Several Democrats labeled a Republican lawmaker’s recent comments about California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu “racist” and “xenophobic” in a series of tweets and press releases Thursday.

Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, along with Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Daniel Goldman of New York attacked Texas Republican Rep. Lance Gooden after he questioned Chu’s “loyalty or competence” during an interview on Jesse Watters Primetime on Wednesday night. Gooden’s comments were in response to Chu’s defense of Dominic Ng, President Joe Biden’s appointee to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), following a series of reports from the Daily Caller News Foundation which revealed that both Chu and Ng have apparent ties to alleged Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence front groups. 

“Lance Gooden’s slanderous accusation of disloyalty against Rep. Chu is dangerous, unconscionable and xenophobic,” a press release from Jeffries office stated.

Gooden said that Jeffries was “playing the race card in a sick display of disloyalty to our nation,” in a press release response.

Schiff then alleged that “questioning Chu’s loyalty to the United States is xenophobic and racist” and characterized Gooden’s comments as “hate” and “anti-Asian bigotry” in a tweet.

Chu has served as the “honorary president” at the All America Chinese Youth Federation (AACYF) since 2012 and was appointed the “honorary chairwoman” of the Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China in 2019, the DCNF recently revealed. While AACYF’s leadership has apparently included at least five individuals who belong to alleged CCP intel fronts, Forums for Peaceful Reunification of China opposes Taiwan’s independence and was identified by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission as a front group serving a CCP “intelligence service” known as the United Front Work Department (UFWD).

Meanwhile, the DCNF also recently reported that Biden’s appointee to APEC, Dominic Ng, has served as “executive director” at both the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA) and the China Overseas Friendship Association (COFA), which have both been identified as CCP intel front groups.

In the wake of the DCNF’s revelations, Gooden and five Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the FBI on Feb. 15 urging Director Christopher Wray to investigate Ng’s alleged CCP ties, while a spokesperson for East West Bank told The Hill that Ng, in fact, admitted to having held an “honorary position” at an “executive-director level” at COEA.

Chu came to Ng’s defense on Feb. 17, labeling “suspicions” about Ng as “profiling.”

Chu has come under increased scrutiny since she voted against the formation of the House Select Committee on China on Jan. 10, which is charged with investigating the CCP’s malign influence efforts. While defending her vote, Chu alleged that the new committee might prompt anti-Asian violence, according to a statement released by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which Chu chairs.

Krishnamoorthi, who was recently appointed to serve as the ranking member on the committee, said that Gooden’s comments on Fox News “only feed the scapegoating and targeting of Chinese-Americans, further endangering them and all Asian Americans,” according to an announcement from Krishnamoorthi’s office.

However, Gooden has also received support from several Republican colleagues who co-signed the Feb. 15 letter to the FBI.

“It’s unfortunate that some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are choosing misdirection over getting to the bottom of Mr. Ng’s troubling associations with these shady CCP-linked groups,” Wisconsin Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany told the DCNF. “This is a matter of national security, and I hope the FBI takes these allegations seriously.”

“There is a well-documented history of Chinese intelligence operatives attempting to infiltrate the United States,” Alexandra Lavy, communications director for California Rep. Doug LaMalfa, told the DCNF. “Mr. Ng has involvement in at least one Chinese intelligence front group, and it is the job of all lawmakers to ensure Chinese Communist operatives do not jeopardize American institutions.”

“These Democrat lawmakers should be more concerned with safeguarding our national security than elevating their baseless smear tactics,” Lavy said.

CAPAC, Chu, Jeffries, Goldman, Krishnamoorthi, Schiff did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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