". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


CIA Team Investigating COVID Origin Bribed to Reject Lab Leak Conclusion, Whistleblower Alleges

September 13, 2023

A high-ranking CIA officer has told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that members of the agency’s COVID Discovery Team who believed the evidence pointed to a lab leak “were given a significant monetary incentive to change their position.”

The whistleblower told the committees that, “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,” according to a public letter the committees sent Tuesday to Central Intelligence Agency Director Villiam 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.”

In response to public pressure, on May 26, 2021, President Biden directed the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a three-month investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three months later, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) reported the intelligence community was unlikely to reach a conclusion. The National Intelligence Council and four agencies believed a zoonotic (animal-origin) explanation was most likely, while only one agency favored the lab leak theory. Meanwhile three agencies “remain[ed] unable to coalesce around either explanation.”

Although the DNI did not identify the agencies, the CIA belonged to this final group, reported The Wall Street Journal. The agency which found the lab leak theory was more likely was the FBI, according to CNN.

In February 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported an update to the DNI’s declassified summary, indicating that the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) evaluation had changed from being officially undecided to also favoring the lab leak theory. The DOE analysis was conducted by an intelligence arm at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory called “Z Division” that specialized in foreign “Weapons of Mass Destruction” assessments. According to this development, four agencies found a zoonotic explanation most likely, two found a lab leak explanation most likely, and two (including the CIA) had not come to a conclusion.

In April 2023, Senate Republicans released a 301-page report into COVID’s origin that concluded “one or two” lab leaks were the most likely origin. “We won’t be able to prove this in a criminal trial. But I do think there’s enough evidence, if this was a civil case, that we would convince a jury,” said Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.). The Senate report cannot be compared to evidence gathered by the U.S. Intelligence Community because the DNI’s office has only declassified a summary of their conclusions, not the data themselves.

In March 2023, Congress unanimously passed the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, directing the DNI to “declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” within 90 days. Among other details, Congress ordered the DNI to declassify such information as “researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology [WIV] who fell ill in autumn 2019,” including the researcher’s name, role, symptoms, and date of illness.

The DNI responded to Congress’ direction with a 10-page document which “outlines the IC’s understanding of the WIV, its capabilities, and the actions of its personnel.”

“This is not sufficient, and this is going to set up a battle between the Congress and Director of National Intelligence [DNI],” responded House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio). “We passed a law saying, ‘declassify the information you have about the COVID and Wuhan lab’s activities.’ What they did is basically … a paper on what they believe about the intelligence they’ve looked at.”

The committees’ latest letter to the CIA attempts to obtain at least some of that information through Congressional subpoena power. The committees requested the CIA to turn over documents regarding the COVID Discovery Team’s establishment, internal and external communication, intra-agency communications, and pay history. They gave the CIA two weeks, or until September 26, to comply.

The committees directed a second letter to Andrew Makridis, then-Chief Operating Officer for the CIA, asking him to “participate in a voluntary transcribed interview.”

The letter identified the whistleblower as “a multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer,” making him or her “a seemingly credible source.” Federal law allows whistleblowers within federal agencies to report misconduct anonymously to protect them from retaliation.

CIA Spokeswoman Tammy Kupperman Thorp denied the whistleblower’s allegations. “At CIA we are committed to the highest standards of analytic rigor, integrity, and objectivity,” she said. “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.”

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.