AP Photo/Patrick Semansky.
By Rick Moran
In a rare show of bipartisan comity, the House voted unanimously to declassify intelligence on the origins of COVID-19. “The American public deserves answers to every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
That includes, he said, “how this virus was created and, specifically, whether it was a natural occurrence or was the result of a lab-related event.”It’s no longer only a public health question of trying to prevent the next pandemic, which was the rationale used in the early investigations of the virus’s origins. This is now a matter of national security. While there is near unanimous agreement in the scientific community that the virus was not created in a lab as a weapon, the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was a product of careless or out-of-control gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Virology Lab cannot be dismissed.
There is an effort to form a bipartisan select committee to investigate the origins of COVID-19 — something similar to the select committee on the 9/11 terror attack.
A broad and bipartisan group of senators is coalescing around legislation to create a high-level independent commission, modeled after the one that examined the Sept. 11 attacks, with broad powers to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and the response across the Trump and Biden administrations.
Under a plan proposed by the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Health Committee — Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina — a 12-member panel would have subpoena power to “get a full accounting of what went wrong during this pandemic,” Ms. Murray said in an interview, and make recommendations for the future.
While the House select committee is looking into COVID-19 origins and will do good work, it’s already degenerating into a partisan scrum. Democrats are already playing the race card, accusing a witness of racism unrelated to the investigation and demanding the GOP disavow “white supremacy.”
The bipartisan effort to declassify information is a necessary first step.
It offers a rare moment of bipartisanship despite the often heated rhetoric about the origins of the coronavirus and the questions about the response to the virus by U.S. health officials, including former top health adviser Anthony Fauci.
The legislation from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was already approved by the Senate.
If signed into law, the measure would require within 90 days the declassification of “any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus Disease.”
“I’m all for it,” declared Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), a medical doctor working with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and others on a similar bill. “As a doctor, if a patient dies and we don’t know why, we do an autopsy. In the military, when we have a major event, we go back and figure out what we did right and what we did wrong,” said Marshall.
And if we have a disease that killed a million people, we look very closely at where it came from and determine how we can prevent the next one.