]Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 10, 2022 in Washington. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
The Epoch Times
By Samantha Flom
A group of Republican senators is calling on Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to turn over the materials that informed her office’s latest assessment on the origins of COVID-19.
In a March 6 letter (pdf), the senators—led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Md.)—asked that Haines provide the “memoranda; emails; interim and final assessments provided by each IC [intelligence community]; and any other information” that her office considered in developing its assessment by March 20.
Other senators who signed their names to the letter include Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
“Congress should be able to review the independent evaluations without filters, ambiguity or interpretations of the intelligence,” the lawmakers wrote. “There is clear bipartisan support in Congress to make these assessments available immediately in full as evident by the unanimous March 1, 2023 Senate passage of the COVID-19 Origin Act to declassify information related to the origin of COVID-19.”
The Senate voted last week to declassify all information on the origins of COVID-19 following the wide circulation of a Wall Street Journal report that the Department of Energy had concluded the pandemic likely originated from a laboratory leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China—a conclusion that the FBI has also reached.
Yet the White House asserted on Feb. 28 that there is “no consensus” in the U.S. government on the origins of the pandemic, echoing the inconclusive messaging of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) previous assessment (pdf).
According to the Monday letter, the senators received a classified update from ODNI after the Wall Street Journal report was published, building upon the declassified assessment (pdf) the office had previously released.
Despite that update, however, the senators questioned the credentials of the ODNI staff members who had published the prior assessment, charging that the office had not been transparent with Congress or the American public “by standardizing agency conclusions and thereby ignoring the breadth of scientific and other expertise in each agency.”
“The COVID-19 origins investigation has been obfuscated by the Chinese Communist government’s lack of cooperation,” they noted. “We and the American public expect better behavior from our own government.”
In addition to the requested materials from the intelligence community, the lawmakers also asked for a detailed briefing on ODNI’s process for developing its final report, including how records from agencies outside of the intelligence community—like the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—were obtained and used in the analysis.
“It is time for the Administration to declassify the assessments, make the information available to the public, and start rebuilding the public’s trust through transparency,” the senators contended.