Emails obtained by Fox News show infighting between two top State Department officials over pursuing an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
The report comes a day after former department officials told Vanity Fair they were warned not to pursue such a probe amid fears that it would bring attention to U.S. funding of research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology where the virus may have escaped and ''open a can of worms'' about said research.
In the emails obtained by Fox, Chris Ford, the former acting under secretary for Arms Control and International Security, pushes back against a probe launched into the virus’ origins by a panel of experts.
His letter is directed at Thomas DiNanno, a former acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, and David Asher, a contractor who established the panel.
Ford said he was "all for demanding more transparency" of China and "delighted to press their feet to the fire for the honesty and clarity they’ve so far refused to provide."
"As to making assertions beyond asking tough questions, however — and especially with insinuating or actually alleging sinister BW [bioweapon] work or the probability of laboratory origin — we need to make sure what we say is solid and passes muster from real experts before we risk embarrassing and discrediting ourselves in public," he wrote.
DiNanno in his response said his team briefed Ford and the panel of experts weeks before with slides from Asher’s findings.
"I’d like to know what in those slides they find objectionable or where clarification is required and we’ll happily clarify, source and amend as necessary,'' he replied.
Ford wrote back: "Asher has made me very uneasy by repeatedly arguing against having intelligence analysts involved in assessing his arguments" and that the claims need to be carefully evaluated.
"Let me be clear: the burden of proof is upon AVC [Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance] here — particularly since the entire IC [intelligence community], even after having reissued its analysis after months of accumulating additional information, still has a completely different position on the facts," he wrote. "Your bureau needs to shoulder that burden, or stand down."
"Please stop playing games and ducking responsibility," he added. "It is discreditable."
A spokesperson at the State Department told Fox that ''no-one prevented the disclosure of accurate, properly contextualized information'' and that ''no effort was made at any time to suppress or withhold information from senior policymakers or the public.''
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