COVID Report Raises Further Questions About Confidence in Virus Origins, and Intelligence Community

Share

Photo/Ng Han Guan.

Townhall

By Rebecca Downs

On Wednesday night, as Sarah covered, Fox News revealed a report from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee looking into the origins of the COVID-19 virus. The report was released by minority staff members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In a press call held Thursday afternoon, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, (R-OH), a doctor who is a member of the committee, declared that such a report is “just the beginning.”

A particularly memorable finding is that the virus may have origins through a Chinese bio weapons program. It becomes even more memorable in that Rep. Wenstrup mentioned during the call that a report from the intelligence community claims there is supposedly agreement that the virus was not developed as such a weapon.

The congressman is especially interested in knowing who came up to what he referred to as this “broad agreement,” and as to what level of confidence there was. The certainty of that level of confidence was not included in the report, though, nor was the basis for why the report indicated as much.

Wenstrup spoke further about this supposed “broad agreement” when taking a question from Townhall, confirming that there is an expectation to just take the report’s word for it, though he does hope to get to the bottom of that basis. “Where’s the accountability for who’s making those comments,” the congressman wondered. While he agreed that those putting out such a report should have to answer for it, he confirmed that they haven’t done so.

When asked during a follow-up about what such lofty and entitled expectations mean for trust in the intelligence community, the congressman acknowledged trust becomes a problem and “is greatly diminished.” This acknowledgment comes from both sides of the aisle, with Democratic members indicating as much as well, the congressman confirmed.

“The way you develop trust and confidence is through transparency,” Wenstrup offered. When it comes to entitlement, if anyone is entitled, it ought to be the members of this select committee. “There’s nothing they should be keeping from us,” the congressman insisted, a point he would make throughout the call, especially when it comes to fulfilling their duties. “It’s our job to ask these questions and have that type of understanding,” the congressman would say during the call as well. Findings about COVID origins are “something I think we’re entitled to understand” he said.

When it comes to that trust, the congressman also shared that they have a responsibility of oversight on the committee. “When we’re not getting our questions answered, there is a breakdown of trust,” something the committee hopes to dispel.

As to other theories for COVID origins, Wenstrup mentioned that, other than the article hypothesizing as much, he hasn’t seen evidence that the virus came from nature. One such theory propagated, to the point that those who dare to mention a lab leak or bio weapon have been ostracized, is that it originated at a wet market. While the congressman noted that the wet market could have been the first super spreader, that doesn’t mean that’s where the virus came from. While the origin of a virus usually can be found within the animal world, that was not the case when it comes to the animals that were tested for this virus.

Transparency, Wenstrup spoke to, is also crucial when it comes to America being prepared for any future viruses and pandemics. We can do that “by learning what is going on and what our adversaries are doing,” especially if it comes to China having a bio weapon and/or developing their own virus along with their own vaccine. This is a matter of national security as well.

The press call was billed to be about sharing bombshells, and the stunning lack of transparency from the intelligence community report was not the only revelation. For instance, China having its own vaccine is not merely a hypothetical, as they looked to have a vaccine patent so quickly after the virus was unleashed, something Wenstrup mentioned was not all too common and “you scratch your head over.”

A lack of transparency was, unfortunately, a theme and point of concern throughout the call. On the ever-pressing issue of gain-of-function and taxpayer funding of it through the grants involved, Wenstrup lamented that they “haven’t had the right people in front of us” to answer questions.

Other pressing issues and potentially damning revelations lie with China’s accountability. In answering a question from a reporter as to if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) appears to be emboldened by the lack of accountability, Wenstrup believes that they likely have, especially since it appears they can get away with it. A lack of accountability “would embolden anybody who is in this situation,” he offered. If China did in fact create the virus, Wenstrup pointed out, they would have something to lose on the world stage.

“If there was negligence, we certainly should hold someone accountable,” the congressman offered.

When it comes to the lack of accountability, and how the CCP is indeed feeling emboldened by this, the mainstream media deserves some of the blame too, in insisting on the theory that occurred in nature, for instance. Who can forget how ostracized Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) was for daring to suggest early on that the virus may have been manufactured in a lab? The New York Times in February 2020 declared it to be “a fringe theory,” for instance.

“If our own media is saying you can’t tell the other story, that’s a problem,” Wenstrup mentioned. Thus, China becomes further emboldened if “they feel America can’t do anything about this.”

There may even be issues for President Joe Biden, as brought up by a reporter on the call, especially when it comes to transparency issues and how the president has (or has not been) discussing COVID with Xi Jinping. Despite how much Biden has touted his relationship with the Chinese leader, the president appears to have failed to discuss the virus’ origins of the virus, as Katie highlighted at the time about the two leaders meeting last month.

While the congressman wished to stick to how he was looking “into the science of” the virus as a physician, there was an acknowledgment that transparency concerns with Biden “might be part of a bigger picture.”

Wenstrup also sought to emphasize that there is a bipartisan quest for truth on this. Even those who want to find out the origins of the virus without getting into the blame game yet, with Wenstrup mentioning being part of those group of people, there is nevertheless “a lot of evidence that raises eyebrows.”

The congressman told reporters he hopes for the classified report to ultimately be declassified.