https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/house-intelligence-gop-demand-biden-instruct-top-spy-office-reveal-scientists-helped-covid-19-origins-report

House Intelligence Committee Republicans accused the Biden administration’s top intelligence office of “stonewalling” congressional overseers from learning about outside doctors and scientists whom U.S. spy agencies relied upon to put together a report assessing the origins of COVID-19.

Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the panel, was joined by nine fellow GOP members who said they had no confidence in the origins assessment because the Office of the Director of National Intelligence personnel who briefed them had declined to identify which scientists were consulted during the investigation, which did not provide a definitive conclusion on whether the virus was transmitted to humans naturally or through a lab leak in China.

“This is fundamental oversight of the IC’s work. We need this information to determine whether there was any selection bias in choosing the outside scientists to consult. We also need it to determine whether any of the scientists had conflicts of interest that should affect the weight given their analyses,” the Republicans wrote in a letter to Biden dated Friday.

Nunes, a California Republican, revealed the letter during an appearance on Sunday Morning Futures on Fox News.

“It looks like there needs to be an entire new report that needs to be written, because Republican members on the committee have basically had enough of this. It just looks like this is another attempt to obfuscate and protect China once again by the Biden administration,” he told host Maria Bartiromo.

The interview took place shortly after the Wall Street Journal reported that a panel of scientists investigating the origins of the COVID-19 virus had disbanded, citing concerns about its links to EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit group that had used U.S. funds for research on bat coronaviruses with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak, who dismissed  the lab leak hypothesis in March, recused himself from the investigation over the summer.

A letter  signed by 27 scientists, including Daszak, was published in Lancet in February 2020, dismissing the lab leak hypothesis as a conspiracy theory. Numerous outlets pointed to the letter and to Daszak, who had recruited scientists to sign the letter, to shut down the debate over COVID-19’s origins.

Dr. Anthony Fauci quietly worked behind the scenes to cast doubt on the lab leak hypothesis in 2020, and he and Daszak were in communication at the time, emails show.

Daszak was also a key member of the World Health Organization-China joint study team earlier this year. The WHO-China  report was widely considered a failure, partly due to the lack of access to key data and Chinese influence over the investigation.

The WHO-China study deemed the lab leak theory “extremely unlikely,” and meeting minutes with the Wuhan lab dismissed it as a “conspiracy theory.”

In July, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said  there was a “premature push” to dismiss the lab theory, but the Chinese government shot down  the suggestion of a second investigation.

In their new letter, the House Intelligence Republicans claimed ODNI staff did not respect the oversight role the panel has over the U.S. intelligence community.

“Shockingly, ODNI has repeatedly refused to tell the Committee which scientists the IC consulted. When pressed on the basis for this refusal during our hearing, ODNI staff acknowledged there is no law or regulation prohibiting them from revealing these names to us. Instead, they simply refused again in a hostile manner, claiming it is their ‘policy’ to do so,” the GOP group said.

After Biden called on the intelligence community to “redouble” its origins investigation in May and gave it a 90-day clock, an unclassified report was released by ODNI last month.

The assessment stated that one U.S. intelligence agency assesses with “moderate confidence” that COVID-19 most likely emerged from a Chinese government lab  in Wuhan, while four U.S. spy agencies and the National Intelligence Council believe with “low confidence” COVID-19 most likely has a natural origin. Other parts of the U.S. intelligence community remain on the fence.

The one unnamed spy agency leaning toward the Wuhan lab theory with “moderate confidence” assessed that “the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling” by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The four unnamed spy agencies, along with the NIC, with “low confidence” in the natural origin hypothesis assessed “the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus.”

The Republicans argued in their letter that the intelligence community failed to live up to Biden’s own words when he said on May 26, “I have asked the Intelligence Community to keep Congress fully apprised of its work,” and urged him to crack down.

“Outside doctors and scientists who were consulted for their technical analyses of COVID’s potential origins are not clandestine sources or spies. They are consultants and there is no basis for stonewalling the Committee about their identities … I respectfully ask that you rectify this situation by instructing the ODNI to cease stonewalling Congressional oversight and to immediately disclose to the Committee the full list of all outside doctors and scientists consulted in the investigation of COVID’s origins,” Nunes and his fellow Republicans wrote.

Nunes also stressed that what ODNI presented in the summer did not match what he demanded in the spring.

“In May, I wrote to you requesting that you initiate a whole-of-government effort to identify the origins of the virus. However, you opted for a much narrower review solely by the Intelligence Community,” Nunes and his fellow Republicans told Biden. “The Committee has reviewed the resulting IC report and received a briefing from Office of the Director of National Intelligence personnel. Based on the IC’s appalling lack of transparency and the ODNI staff’s hostile response to simple questions, we have little confidence in the DNI’s report.”

The Washington Examiner reached out to ODNI for comment.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...