Whistleblower claims CIA analysts were bribed to reject COVID-19 'lab leak' origin hypothesis

Infectious Diseases Research Social

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic of the U.S. House of Representatives, says that his subcommittee and the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have heard testimony from a whistleblower whom the subcommittee describes as a “multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer” that six CIA analysts were bribed to reject the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted from a research-related leak of a new coronavirus.

In a letter to the agency’s director William Burns that has been posted to the House’s website, Wenstrup and his colleagues on the subcommittee stated that, of the seven CIA officers assigned to the COVID Discovery Team tasked with determining the virus’s origin, “at the end of its review, six of the seven members of the Team believed the intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. The seventh member of the Team, who also happened to be the most senior, was the lone officer to believe COVID-19 originated through zoonosis.”

Zoonosis was the conclusion drawn by most intelligence agencies -- that the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus jumped from an infected animal host to humans; a market selling animals (including wildlife) in Wuhan, China, has been posited as a likely source. However, the U.S. Department of Energy and the FBI have thus far favored the “lab leak” hypothesis, although no agency has expressed high confidence in either theory of COVID-19’s origin.

The letter further stated that the whistleblower said that “to come to the eventual public determination of uncertainty, the other six members were given a significant monetary incentive to change their position.” The congressional panel requested “all documents and communications” pertaining to the CIA’s COVID Discovery Team in the letter. In addition, the subcommittee sent a letter to Andrew Makridis, the former chief operating officer of the CIA during the pandemic, requesting an interview with him by September 26.

In a statement in response to questions from the journal Science, the CIA’s Director of Public Affairs Tammy Kupperman Thorp wrote, “At CIA we are committed to the highest standards of analytic rigor, integrity, and objectivity. We do not pay analysts to reach specific conclusions. We take these allegations extremely seriously and are looking into them. We will keep our Congressional oversight committees appropriately informed.”

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