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State Dept Investigator: US Govt Is Withholding Critical Information About The Lab Leak
“Our own state department told us, ‘Don’t get near this thing, it’ll blow up in your face.’”
“It’s a massive coverup spanning from China to DC.” This stunning claim, made in reference to our government’s wishy washy official stance on the origin of Covid-19, is not from a cable TV pundit or an internet rando. It is by David Asher, a bioweapons and East Asia specialist who led the US State Department’s Covid-19 origins investigation.
According to Asher, the notion that after three-and-a-half years there still is not a clear assessment of how the pandemic began, “is the biggest intelligence failure in American history.” Asher has plenty of points of comparison. A veteran investigator, he held senior roles in the US Government’s campaigns to disrupt North Korea’s WMD program, and counterterrorism efforts related to Iran and the Islamic State.
Through a series of interviews conducted over several weeks, Asher, who is now a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a think tank, shared a torrent of knowledge and views—about his experience infiltrating international terror networks, the inner workings of various intelligence agencies, and, most pressingly, his exasperation at the investigations into the origin of SARS-CoV-2.
THE DNI REPORT
“A large amount of information, classified, unclassified, and pertinent to the origin of Covid-19, remains inside in the United States government, undisseminated and unanalyzed,” Asher said in frustration. He was referring to the shortcomings of what was supposed to be an all-encompassing report on the pandemic’s origin, released in June, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The DNI is the head of all United States intelligence operations, and the report was derived from assessments by at least nine of the agencies that the DNI oversees. Mandated by a law issued from Congress and signed by President Biden in March, the much-anticipated report was seen as a chance to bring some clarity to the lab leak debate—one of the most divisive issues of the pandemic.
Yet perhaps nothing exemplifies the problem that Asher speaks of more than the DNI report.
Given the arcane science and extensive resources devoted to myriad investigations, many people had expected a comprehensive analysis. Instead, the DNI report was a dud. Clocking in at a shockingly meager 10 pages, five of which were taken up by a glossary and introductory pages, the document brought little new information. Citizens and politicians alike who had been following the origins debate closely were left angered and wondering whether, surely, there is more the intelligence community must know.
According to Asher, these people are right to be suspicious. His charge about Covid origins information remaining inside the government is an explosive allegation, given that the law required the DNI to “declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of COVID-19.”
More striking, still, of the limited information that was included in the DNI report, Asher said, some of it was “deliberately distorted or downplayed in a manner that reeks of coverup.”
“WE MAY NEVER KNOW”
In Asher’s view, there are a few main issues with the “we may never know” official line about the pandemic’s origin—a sort of bureaucratic shrug—that many intelligence agencies and the executive branch seem to have settled on.
First, an insufficient effort has been made to find out what still is unknown.
“We broke into North Korea,” Asher said. “We penetrated an underground facility. Do you know how difficult that is? It’s crazy.” Asher said the Wuhan Institute as an investigative target is “a cake walk” compared to North Korean and Iranian WMD programs. “If someone gave a small team of us access to $50 million to pay sources and encourage defections and to run operations against the Chinese we could penetrate any lab in China,” he said. “I have done so much harder things than this.” Asher said we could have solved this mystery, but “those in charge obviously don’t want to know.”
Second, there has been a purposeful burying of much of what is already known, and a refusal for those at the top to connect the dots between this copious evidence.
For example, some politicians share Asher’s view about the DNI report, among them Indiana Senator, Republican Mike Braun, who released a critical statement on June 26 that said, in part, “the COVID-19 Origin Act calls for a full declassification, not CliffsNotes.” And when I asked Asher directly about the report, he was very clear. “The DNI is deliberately noncompliant with the law,” he said. Yet most of the government has been mute on this point. And to make matters worse, similarly, much of the legacy media in its coverage of the DNI report did not question why it was so flagrantly deficient, and how its paucity of information was at odds with the law.
More broadly, earlier this week I published an exposé in The Free Press on Anthony Fauci’s obfuscations and evasions regarding the funding of dangerous virology research, and its connection to a potential lab leak in Wuhan and the triggering of the pandemic. As I reported, Fauci’s actions have not been unique. His former boss, Francis Collins, then head of the National Institutes of Health, along with a Fauci deputy named David Morens, among others, have partaken in an extensive campaign to confuse and conceal the NIH’s funding of gain-of-function research of concern on coronaviruses, including said research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Third, the differing intelligence reports that have been made public about potential links between the WIV and the origin of the pandemic have been framed in a manner of false equivalency.
The coverage of the DNI report in much of the media has been that its findings are inconclusive, and that the intelligence community was divided, with only two agencies—the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Energy—determining that a lab leak was the most likely cause of the pandemic. Yet what the media has failed to elucidate, said Justin Kinney, a quantitative biologist at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and a critic of gain-of-function research of concern, is that the FBI and DOE are the two agencies most equipped to make a determination.
In fact, the DNI report itself notes that the differing views of the agencies that were part of the DNI report largely stem from the differences in how they conduct their investigations. The CIA, for instance, likely prioritizes human intelligence gained from foreign assets. The Department of Treasury’s core competency obviously is related to financial matters, not the intricacies of virology. The DOE, by contrast, Kinney said, has a deep scientific expertise, and the FBI, of course, has an investigation focus, which is very different from simply intelligence gathering. David Asher agreed with Kinney’s observations.
Despite the lack of effort into a more effective investigation, Asher emphasized that much is already known. But a purposeful effort has been made to pretend that some form of perfect evidence, which will never exist, is necessary to draw as close to a firm conclusion as one reasonably can at this time. “With these types of investigations,” he said, “you often don’t find a smoking gun. But when the room is on fire—as it is now—there is smoke everywhere.”
The reason we don’t have a clearer answer on the pandemic’s origin—beyond the fact that there is much evidence already gathered that is not being analyzed or made public—Asher said, is because those in power want it that way. There are too many officials in too many government agencies who would be implicated in a lab leak, not to mention how it would complicate our relationship with China. “Our own state department told us ‘don’t get near this thing, it’ll blow up in your face,’” he told me.
“We may never know” is a policy preference of many people, Asher said. “It protects everyone. It’s a convenient obscurity.”
China’s internal coverup of COVID’s emergence—whether is was from a lab or nature—and the country’s unwillingness to share an early warning is beyond reproach, Asher said. Assuming the virus leaked out of a lab, there are massive geopolitical and global health implications. If we simply let this go, he said, Beijing can get away with with millions dead, sending much of the world economy into a tailspin, and costing us trillions to recover. Asher warned about the repercussions of our inaction. “What message does that send President Xi?”
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