We now know that in their zeal to defeat President Trump’s reelection, the mainstream media ignored evidence that the coronavirus pandemic likely originated from a leak from a Wuhan Institute of Virology lab.
The Biden campaign used this slanted media coverage to lambast Trump for his handling of the pandemic. It distracted Americans from what Trump did right about this national crisis, such as banning travel from China in early February 2020 and “Operation Warp Speed” which developed effective vaccines against the virus in record time.
With the election long over, some mainstream reporters — including from CNN and The Wall Street Journal — have begun to acknowledge compelling evidence that the virus originated from a Wuhan biolab, was released by accident, and that Beijing engaged in a massive coverup to hide these facts and shift the blame.
These reports suggest Trump was right about the virus originating in a Wuhan lab and that Chinese government negligence allowed it to become a deadly pandemic. This is problematic for Biden, who called Trump xenophobic for using terms like “Wuhan virus.” It also undermines Biden’s less confrontational China policy which prioritizes cooperation on climate change.
Biden responded to the new press reports on the virus origins by asking the U.S. intelligence community to do a 90-day intelligence review to get an authoritative assessment of this issue.
This request was a farce for several reasons.
First of all, the president said he ordered the 90-day review because of new intelligence that researchers at a Wuhan biolab were sick with a coronavirus-like illness in November 2019. In fact, this was not new information since a State Department fact sheet released on January 15, 2021 said the same thing.
More importantly, there is every reason to believe that American intelligence agencies slanted their assessments of the virus to avoid helping Trump politically just as the mainstream media did.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe revealed similar politicization of China analysis last January when he released a report by the Intelligence Community Ombudsman for Politicization which found intelligence analysts deliberately ignored and downplayed intelligence indicating Chinese meddling in the 2020 election and promoted intelligence suggesting Russian election interference.
The reason, according to the report, was animus toward President Trump from intelligence analysts and their determination not to produce any analysis that could help Trump politically.
This is why in May 2021, when many media outlets, foreign governments and experts had concluded the virus probably originated and leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, U.S. intelligence analysts were split, with a minority assessing with low to medium confidence that the source was either an animal or the Wuhan lab, and a majority claiming there was no way to know the source.
President Biden does not actually expect our intelligence agencies to produce anything new on the coronavirus origins. He wants political cover from another vague and inconclusive analysis that he can use to justify his soft China policy. This includes not putting serious pressure on Beijing to cooperate with an investigation of the virus origins.
This is the latest serious misuse of America’s intelligence agencies which were created after World War II to provide U.S. presidents with intelligence to make sound national security policies.
They were not created for Congress and the Executive Branch to use to adjudicate, advocate for, or justify foreign policy issues by claiming intelligence assessments are unassailable and infallible because U.S. intelligence agencies are above the partisan politics of Washington. No serious person in Washington believes this.
Nevertheless, presidents and members of Congress have increasingly tried to use U.S. intelligence agencies to bless their foreign policy positions and gain political advantage on issues such as climate change, Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea, Russia, China and other issues. This has been a growing problem at the annual worldwide threat briefings when intelligence officials give unclassified testimony on global threats.
President Trump wisely suspended these briefings in 2019 because they had become a political circus after Democrats used them to press intelligence officials to say several of Trump’s national security initiatives would fail. The Biden administration resumed these briefings in April.
The determination of the likely origins of the novel coronavirus should be made by President Biden with input from a variety of sources and experts. U.S. intelligence agencies should contribute to this determination in private, but not make it itself because these agencies have neither the expertise nor the trust of the American people issue be the final word on this issue.
For our intelligence agencies to produce the highest quality and trustworthy intelligence for U.S. presidents, it is time to stop dragging our intelligence agencies into political disputes.
Fred Fleitz is President of the Center for Security Policy. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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