It’s the stuff of conspiracy theories, except its real. Testimony from a “senior-level CIA officer” to a US Congress Committee claims that the agency offered its own inquiry team a bribe to bury findings that Covid-19 was most likely leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
From the New York Post:
The Central Intelligence Agency offered to pay off analysts in order to bury their findings that COVID-19 most likely leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, new whistleblower testimony to Congress alleges.
A senior-level CIA officer told House committee leaders that his agency tried to pay off six analysts who found SARS-CoV-2 likely originated in a Wuhan lab if they changed their position and said the virus jumped from animals to humans, according to a letter sent Tuesday to CIA Director William Burns.
Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) requested all documents, communications and pay info from the CIA’s COVID Discovery Team by Sept. 26.
The whistleblower claims that at the end of the CIA 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 House panel chairmen wrote in the letter to Director Burns.
“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.”
“The whistleblower further contends that to come to the eventual public determination of uncertainty, the other six members were given a significant monetary incentive to change their position,” they said, noting that the analysts were “experienced officers with significant scientific expertise.”
New testimony from a highly credible whistleblower alleges @CIA rewarded six analysts with significant financial incentives to change their COVID-19 origins conclusion from a lab-leak to zoonosis. pic.twitter.com/KIemfi2Wgl
— Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic (@COVIDSelect) September 12, 2023
“A significant monetary incentive”. It’s like something from a film where shadowy figures in tight-fitting suits hand over bribes to keep the truth from the public. If the allegations are proven to be true, then it’s another blow to public trust in the authorities in regard to how they dealt with Covid-19.
More than three years have passed since a furore erupted when it was suggested that the Covid-19 virus, which led to almost 7 million deaths and unprecedented lockdowns and restrictions of human rights, may not have originated in a Chinese food market, but might have instead come from a Wuhan lab which had been studying – and perhaps manipulating – coronaviruses.
The BBC describes the ‘lab leak theory’ as:
[A] suspicion that the coronavirus may have escaped, accidentally or otherwise, from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus was first recorded.
Its supporters point to the presence of a major biological research facility in the city. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has been studying coronaviruses in bats for over a decade.
The institute is a 40-minute drive from the Huanan wet market where the first cluster of infections emerged.
When the theory first emerged it was met with an almost-hysterical reaction, most likely because then-US President Donald Trump reiterated the possibility of a lab-leak, and the bitterly partisan nature of U.S. and global politics meant it became an issue on which people took sides. When that happens, all-too frequently, the debate becomes more about silencing the other side rather than genuinely searching for the truth.
Thus both Democrats and Republicans fixated on the competing hypotheses, but the Democrats appeared to have the ability to flex muscle in the media and with Big Tech to rail against the lab leak theory.
Facebook took the step of banning posts which posited the lab leak theory, claiming it was “removing false claims about Covid-19″ – and anyone who repeatedly shared the allegation could have been banned from the social media site.
Some commentators, including a New York Times reporter. went as far as to describe discussions around the lab leak origins of Covid as ‘racist’. In addition, some of the most prestigious media outlets began to claim that the theory was “debunked” and others described it as a “dangerous conspiracy theory” and a “falsehood”.
The World Health Organisation at first insisted a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely” – but then later rowed back, acknowledging there had been a “premature push” to rule out a potential lab leak.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the international team that traveled to China had difficulty in accessing information and asked that Bejing be “transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic.”
The lab leak controversy is therefore about more than what actually happened in Wuhan, it’s a microcosm of how the establishment works to shut down a debate when it has decided that only one narrative should be heard.
But it was an issue that would not go quietly. In February of 2023, the New York Times reported:
New intelligence has prompted the Energy Department to conclude that an accidental laboratory leak in China most likely caused the coronavirus pandemic, though U.S. spy agencies remain divided over the origins of the virus, American officials said on Sunday.
The conclusion was a change from the department’s earlier position that it was undecided on how the virus emerged.
China has been characteristically insistent that there was no wrong-doing on its behalf, and dismissed any suggestions that the virus might have leaked from a lab.
But in May, a former top Chinese government scientist told BBC News that the possibility that Covid-19 leaked from a laboratory “should not be ruled out”,
The CIA has denied the whistleblower’s allegations with CIA Director of Public Affairs Tammy Kupperman Thorp telling Science magazine: “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.”
And so the controversy continues, but at this remove, it is evident that an inquiry should examine why and how the establishment closed ranks behind a push to silence and demonise those who proposed a theory that seems more likely to be true with each passing day.