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FTR#1190 The Oswald Institute of Virology, Part 9: Covid-19 and The American Deep State, Part 3

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FTR #1190 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

CORRECTION: Philip D. Zekikow’s last name was mis-pro­nounced. It is pro­nounced Zeli-KO.

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing analy­sis of the prop­a­ga­tion of the “Lab-Leak The­o­ry” of the ori­gin of Covid-19 in the con­text of what Mr. Emory calls “The Full-Court Press Against Chi­na,” this pro­gram high­lights how what the bril­liant Peter Dale Scott has termed “The Amer­i­can Deep State” is pro­ceed­ing with the insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of the anti-Chi­na effort, blam­ing that coun­try for the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, in par­tic­u­lar.

After not­ing that the (pri­mar­i­ly Pen­ta­gon and USAID-fund­ed) Eco­Health Alliance cut-out has used Defense Depart­ment mon­ey to research organ­isms that can be used as bio­log­i­cal-war­fare weapons, we dis­cuss Steve Ban­non and Peter Thiel’s anti-Chi­nese chau­vin­ism with regard to the Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Even as lib­er­al com­men­ta­tors lament the spread of anti-Asian racism, the gen­e­sis of the phe­nom­e­non is not hard to fath­om.

Next, we review the insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of the anti-Chi­na scare by Steve Ban­non, uti­liz­ing allies like the Falun Gong cult and Uighur jihadis, now main­stays of the Full-Court Press strat­e­gy.

Although Ban­non and com­pa­ny are now being dimin­ished as “crack­pots, xeno­phobes, extrem­ists” etc., the poli­cies they have ini­ti­at­ed are now being car­ried for­ward by the “respectable” Biden admin­is­tra­tion.

” . . . . Fear of Chi­na has spread across the gov­ern­ment, from the White House to Con­gress to fed­er­al agen­cies, where Beijing’s rise is unques­tion­ing­ly viewed as an eco­nom­ic and nation­al secu­ri­ty threat and the defin­ing chal­lenge of the 21st cen­tu­ry. . . .”

It is this con­ti­nu­ity, that illus­trates and embod­ies the func­tion­ing of the Deep State.

Return­ing to a very impor­tant (albeit heav­i­ly “spun”), mod­i­fied lim­it­ed hang­out arti­cle from Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle, we fur­ther devel­op the con­ti­nu­ity between the “extrem­ist” Trump admin­is­tra­tion and the “respectable” Biden admin­is­tra­tion.

Devel­oped by Trump nation­al secu­ri­ty aide Math­ew Pot­tinger and Mike Pompeo’s State Depart­ment, the Lab-Leak hypoth­e­sis was eclipsed by offi­cials wor­ried about expo­sure of the very Pen­ta­gon, USAID fund­ing of bat-borne coro­n­avirus research and gain-of-func­tion manip­u­la­tions at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy and else­where in Chi­na.

As it gains momen­tum under the “respectable” Biden admin­is­tra­tion, the sup­pres­sion of the Lab-Leak hypoth­e­sis is being spun as an attempt to avoid using that hypoth­e­sis as an extrem­ist, chau­vin­ist polit­i­cal cud­gel. (This is iron­ic, because that is pre­cise­ly what it is intend­ed to be!)

Key aspects of the Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle:

  1. Pom­peo State Depart­ment offi­cials pur­su­ing the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis were told to cov­er it up lest it shed light on U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of research at the “Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy!”: ” . . . . In one State Depart­ment meet­ing, offi­cials seek­ing to demand trans­paren­cy from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment say they were explic­it­ly told by col­leagues not to explore the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s gain-of-func­tion research, because it would bring unwel­come atten­tion to U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of it. . . . .In an inter­nal memo obtained by ‘Van­i­ty Fair’, Thomas DiNan­no, for­mer act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance, wrote that. . .  staff from two bureaus . . . ‘warned’ lead­ers with­in his bureau ‘not to pur­sue an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gin of COVID-19’ because it would ‘open a can of worms’ if it con­tin­ued.’ . . . . As the group probed the lab-leak sce­nario, among oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties, its mem­bers were repeat­ed­ly advised not to open a ‘Pandora’s box,’ said four for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cials inter­viewed by ‘Van­i­ty Fair’. . . .”
  2. The Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle paints Trump, Ban­non and com­pa­ny as loonies, where­as they were fun­da­men­tal to the begin­ning of the full-court press against Chi­na: “. . . . At times, it seemed the only oth­er peo­ple enter­tain­ing the lab-leak the­o­ry were crack­pots or polit­i­cal hacks hop­ing to wield COVID-19 as a cud­gel against Chi­na. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer polit­i­cal advis­er Steve Ban­non, for instance, joined forces with an exiled Chi­nese bil­lion­aire named Guo Wen­gui to fuel claims that Chi­na had devel­oped the dis­ease as a bioweapon and pur­pose­ful­ly unleashed it on the world. . . .”
  3. Matthew Pot­tinger, a Chi­na hawk in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, head­ed up a team to inves­ti­gate the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis. Note that the gain-of-func­tion milieu in the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment was a retard­ing fac­tor in the inquiry: ” . . . . By then, Matthew Pot­tinger had approved a COVID-19 ori­gins team, run by the NSC direc­torate that over­saw issues relat­ed to weapons of mass destruc­tion. A long­time Asia expert and for­mer jour­nal­ist, Pot­tinger pur­pose­ful­ly kept the team small . . . . In addi­tion, many lead­ing experts had either received or approved fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research. Their ‘con­flict­ed’ sta­tus, said Pot­tinger, ‘played a pro­found role in mud­dy­ing the waters and con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the shot at hav­ing an impar­tial inquiry.’  . . . .”
  4. Note that Lawrence Liv­er­more sci­en­tists were involved with the gen­e­sis of the “Chi­na did it” hypoth­e­sis, after alleged­ly being alert­ed by a for­eign source to look into their own files. ” . . . . An intel­li­gence ana­lyst work­ing with David Ash­er sift­ed through clas­si­fied chan­nels and turned up a report that out­lined why the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis was plau­si­ble. It had been writ­ten in May by researchers at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, which per­forms nation­al secu­ri­ty research for the Depart­ment of Ener­gy. But it appeared to have been buried with­in the clas­si­fied col­lec­tions sys­tem. . . .”
  5. Note, also, that Chris Ford, a Chi­na hawk, was work­ing to sup­press the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis: ” . . . . Their frus­tra­tion crest­ed in Decem­ber, when they final­ly briefed Chris Ford, act­ing under­sec­re­tary for Arms Con­trol and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty. He seemed so hos­tile to their probe that they viewed him as a blink­ered func­tionary bent on white­wash­ing China’s malfea­sance. But Ford, who had years of expe­ri­ence in nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, had long been a Chi­na hawk. . . .”
  6. Ford spins his obfus­ca­tion of the “Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy” link to the U.S. as not want­i­ng to rein­force right-wing crack­pots with­in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion: ” . . . . Ford told ‘Van­i­ty Fair’ that he saw his job as pro­tect­ing the integri­ty of any inquiry into COVID-19’s ori­gins that fell under his purview. Going with ‘stuff that makes us look like the crack­pot brigade’ would back­fire, he believed. There was anoth­er rea­son for his hos­til­i­ty. He’d already heard about the inves­ti­ga­tion from inter­a­gency col­leagues, rather than from the team itself, and the secre­cy left him with a ‘spidey sense’ that the process was a form of ‘creepy free­lanc­ing.’ He won­dered: Had some­one launched an unac­count­able inves­ti­ga­tion with the goal of achiev­ing a desired result? . . . .”
  7. The “Chi­na did it/Wuhan lab leak” hypoth­e­sis sur­vived from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and Mike Pom­peo’s State Depart­ment to the Biden admin­is­tra­tion: ” . . . .The state­ment with­stood ‘aggres­sive sus­pi­cion,’ as one for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial said, and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has not walked it back. ‘I was very pleased to see Pompeo’s state­ment come through,’ said Chris Ford, who per­son­al­ly signed off on a draft of the fact sheet before leav­ing the State Depart­ment. ‘I was so relieved that they were using real report­ing that had been vet­ted and cleared.’ . . . .”
  8. Avril Haines, whom we have cit­ed in this series as a key par­tic­i­pant in the Deep State shep­herd­ing of the “Lab-Leak Hypoth­e­sis,” looms large in the inquiry into the per­pet­u­a­tion of this pro­pa­gan­da meme: ” . . . . Inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment, mean­while, the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis had sur­vived the tran­si­tion from Trump to Biden. On April 15, Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that two ‘plau­si­ble the­o­ries’ were being weighed: a lab acci­dent or nat­ur­al emer­gence. . . .”

In what may be shap­ing up to be a dis­turb­ing reprise of Philip Zelikow’s role in the events sur­round­ing the 9/11 attacks and the result­ing inva­sion of Iraq, Zelikow is posi­tioned to pre­side over a com­mis­sion to “inves­ti­gate” the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, ” . . . . an exam­i­na­tion of the ori­gins of the virus—including the con­tentious ‘lab leak’ the­o­ry. . . .”

We note that:

  1.  The finan­cial back­ers of the project include: ” . . . . Schmidt Futures, found­ed by Mr. Schmidt and his wife Wendy; Stand Togeth­er, which is backed by the lib­er­tar­i­an-lean­ing phil­an­thropist Charles Koch; the Skoll Foun­da­tion, found­ed by the eBay pio­neer Jeff Skoll; and the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion. . . .”
  2. For­mer CIA and State Depart­ment chief under Trump Mike Pom­peo is a pro­tege of the Koch broth­ers.
  3. Zelikow’s 9/11 Com­mis­sion presided over sig­nif­i­cant over­sights and omis­sions” . . . . There is now evi­dence, much of it sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly sup­pressed by the 9/11 Com­mis­sion, that before 9/11, CIA offi­cers Richard Blee and Tom Wilshire inside the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit along with FBI agents such as Dina Cor­si, were pro­tect­ing from inves­ti­ga­tion and arrest two of the even­tu­al alleged hijack­ers on 9/11, Khalid al-Mid­har and Nawaf al-Hazmi—much as the FBI had pro­tect­ed Ali Mohamed from arrest in 1993. . . .”
  4. PNAC (The Project for a New Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry) called for Rebuild­ing Amer­i­ca’s Defens­es: ” . . . . ‘The process of trans­for­ma­tion,’ it report­ed, “even if it brings rev­o­lu­tion­ary change, is like­ly to be a long one absent some cat­a­stroph­ic and cat­alyz­ing event—like a new Pearl Har­bor.’ This was only one instance of a wide­ly accept­ed tru­ism: that it would take some­thing like a Pearl Har­bor to get Amer­i­ca to accept an aggres­sive war.  So the ques­tion to be asked is whether Cheney, Rums­feld, or any oth­ers whose projects depend­ed on ‘a new Pearl Har­bor’ were par­tic­i­pants in help­ing to cre­ate one. . . .”
  5. Zelikow helped draft the 2002 doc­u­ment that con­cretized the PNAC strate­gic goals: ” . . . . In 2002, the PNAC goals of unchal­lenged mil­i­tary dom­i­nance, plus the right to launch pre­emp­tive strikes any­where, were embod­ied in the new Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy of Sep­tem­ber 2002 (known as ‘NSS 2002’). (A key fig­ure in draft­ing this doc­u­ment was Philip Zelikow, who lat­er became the prin­ci­pal author of the 9/11 Com­mis­sion Report.) . . . .”
  6. PNAC’s paper fore­shad­owed what we feel under­lies the pan­dem­ic: ” . . . . In what is arguably the think tank’s most con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­ment, titled ‘Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es,’ there are a few pas­sages that open­ly dis­cuss the util­i­ty of bioweapons, includ­ing the fol­low­ing sen­tences: ‘…com­bat like­ly will take place in new dimen­sions: in space, ‘cyber-space,’ and per­haps the world of microbes…advanced forms of bio­log­i­cal war­fare that can ‘tar­get’ spe­cif­ic geno­types may trans­form bio­log­i­cal war­fare from the realm of ter­ror to a polit­i­cal­ly use­ful tool.’ . . .”
  7. There are indi­ca­tions that the anthrax attacks that occurred in the same time peri­od as the 9/11 attacks may well have been a provo­ca­tion aimed at jus­ti­fy­ing the inva­sion of Iraq and spurring the devel­op­ment off bio­log­i­cal weapons, as advo­cat­ed in the PNAC doc­u­ment. Ft. Det­rick insid­er Steven Hat­fill was a sus­pect in the attack, although he appears to have worn “oper­a­tional Teflon.” “. . . . Steven Hat­fill was now look­ing to me like a sus­pect, or at least, as the F.B.I. would denote him eight months lat­er, ‘a per­son of inter­est.’ When I lined up Hat­fil­l’s known move­ments with the post­mark loca­tions of report­ed bio­threats, those hoax anthrax attacks appeared to trail him like a vapor cloud. But in Feb­ru­ary 2002, short­ly after I advanced his can­di­da­cy to my con­tact at F.B.I. head­quar­ters, I was told that Mr. Hat­fill had a good ali­bi. A month lat­er, when I pressed the issue, I was told, ‘Look, Don, maybe you’re spend­ing too much time on this.’ Good peo­ple in the Depart­ment of Defense, C.I.A., and State Depart­ment, not to men­tion Bill Patrick, had vouched for Hat­fill. . . . In Decem­ber 2001, Dr. Bar­bara Hatch Rosen­berg, a not­ed bioweapons expert, deliv­ered a paper con­tend­ing that the per­pe­tra­tor of the anthrax crimes was an Amer­i­can micro­bi­ol­o­gist whose train­ing and pos­ses­sion of Ames-strain pow­der point­ed to a gov­ern­ment insid­er with expe­ri­ence in a U.S. mil­i­tary lab. . . . Hat­fill at the time was build­ing a mobile germ lab out of an old truck chas­sis, and after S.A.I.C. fired him he con­tin­ued work on it using his own mon­ey. When the F.B.I. want­ed to con­fis­cate the mobile lab to test it for anthrax spores, the army resist­ed, mov­ing the trail­er to Fort Bragg, North Car­oli­na, where it was used to train Spe­cial Forces in prepa­ra­tion for the war on Iraq. The class­es were taught by Steve Hat­fill and Bill Patrick. . . . Mean­while, friends of Fort Det­rick were leak­ing to the press new pieces of dis­in­for­ma­tion indi­cat­ing that the mailed anthrax prob­a­bly came from Iraq. The leaks includ­ed false alle­ga­tions that the Daschle anthrax includ­ed addi­tives dis­tinc­tive to the Iraqi arms pro­gram and that it had been dried using an atom­iz­er spray dry­er sold by Den­mark to Iraq. . . .
  8. Two key Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors were tar­get­ed by weapons-grade anthrax let­ters pri­or to chang­ing their oppo­si­tion to the Patri­ot Act: “. . . . We should not for­get that the Patri­ot Act was only passed after lethal weapons-grade anthrax let­ters were mailed to two cru­cial Demo­c­ra­t­ic Senators—Senators Daschle and Leahy—who had ini­tial­ly ques­tioned the bill. After the anthrax let­ters, how­ev­er, they with­drew their ini­tial oppo­si­tion. Someone—we still do not know who—must have planned those anthrax let­ters well in advance. We should not for­get, either, that some gov­ern­ment experts ini­tial­ly blamed those attacks on Iraq. . . .”
  9. The “Lab Leak The­o­ry” has been pro­mul­gat­ed by Michael R. Gor­don, who was instru­men­tal in advanc­ing the Sad­dam Hus­sein WMD con­nec­tion which helped lay the pro­pa­gan­da foun­da­tion for the Iraq War.

Will the “Zelikow Pan­dem­ic Com­mis­sion’s” treat­ment of the Lab-Leak The­o­ry func­tion in such a way as to pave the way for U.S. war with Chi­na, by focus­ing blame for the pan­dem­ic on what Mr. Emory has called “The Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy”?

1a. We begin with a reminder–the Eco­Health Alliance projects have focused on Pen­ta­gon research on poten­tial bio­log­i­cal war­fare pathogens.

“To the Bat Cave: In Search of Covid’s Ori­gins, Sci­en­tists Reignite Polar­iz­ing Debate on Wuhan ‘Lab Leak’” by Arthur Allen; KHN; 05/19/2021

. . . . The more than $50 mil­lion Eco­Health Alliance had received in U.S. fund­ing since 2007 includes con­tracts and grants from two NIH insti­tutes, the Nation­al Sci­ence Foun­da­tion and the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, as well as Pen­ta­gon funds to look for organ­isms that could be fash­ioned into bioter­ror weapons. . . .

1b. There has been much com­men­tary about anti-Asian racism in the U.S. fol­low­ing numer­ous, some­times lethal attacks on Asian-Amer­i­cans in the wake of the pan­dem­ic.

Aside from the full-court press against Chi­na that we have cov­ered extensively–including and espe­cial­ly the dis­turb­ing evi­dence that the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic was delib­er­ate­ly engi­neered by the U.S.–this should come as no sur­prise.

Peter Thiel–lynchpin of pow­er in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, the top dog in Palan­tir (the alpha preda­tor of the elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance milieu), a key play­er in Facebook–has dis­sem­i­nat­ed anti-Chi­nese vit­ri­ol about the “yel­low per­il” in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

He has been joined in that effort by Steve Ban­non, a coor­di­na­tor of anti-Chi­na activ­i­ty in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

” . . . . The bil­lion­aire investor Peter Thiel has accused Google of “trea­son” and called for a law enforce­ment inves­ti­ga­tion of the search engine’s par­ent com­pa­ny. He spec­u­lat­ed that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has invad­ed its employ­ee ranks. A Ger­man immi­grant via South Africa, Thiel is not alone; his remarks echo the repeat­ed asser­tions of the rab­ble rouser Steve Ban­non that there are too many Asian CEOs in Sil­i­con Val­ley. These claims, com­bined with sim­i­lar charges of wrong­do­ing against stu­dents and pro­fes­sors of Chi­nese ori­gin on cam­pus­es across the coun­try, are as omi­nous as they are lurid. While Thiel presents no evi­dence, Ban­non dis­plays ample prej­u­dice. They are inspir­ing para­noia about every­one of Chi­nese her­itage. . . .”

“Peter Thiel and Steve Ban­non fuel a new Yel­low Per­il over Google and Chi­na” by Frank H Wu; The Guardian; 07/17/2019

The bil­lion­aire investor Peter Thiel has accused Google of “trea­son” and called for a law enforce­ment inves­ti­ga­tion of the search engine’s par­ent com­pa­ny. He spec­u­lat­ed that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has invad­ed its employ­ee ranks. A Ger­man immi­grant via South Africa, Thiel is not alone; his remarks echo the repeat­ed asser­tions of the rab­ble rouser Steve Ban­non that there are too many Asian CEOs in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

These claims, com­bined with sim­i­lar charges of wrong­do­ing against stu­dents and pro­fes­sors of Chi­nese ori­gin on cam­pus­es across the coun­try, are as omi­nous as they are lurid. While Thiel presents no evi­dence, Ban­non dis­plays ample prej­u­dice. They are inspir­ing para­noia about every­one of Chi­nese her­itage.

At a Sun­day appear­ance which opened the Nation­al Con­ser­vatism Con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton DC fol­lowed by an appear­ance with the Fox TV host Tuck­er Carl­son, Thiel, the founder of the Pay­Pal finan­cial ser­vice, relied on rhetor­i­cal ques­tions. He asked Google who was work­ing on arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, whether “senior man­age­ment con­sid­ers itself to have been thor­ough­ly infil­trat­ed” and if the Chi­nese would steal the infor­ma­tion any­way.

Google answered by reit­er­at­ing that “we do not work with the Chi­nese mil­i­tary”.

Thiel left Sil­i­con Val­ley last year in protest over its lib­er­al­ism. He is also behind Palan­tir, the secre­tive sur­veil­lance firm, and has been a sup­port­er of tar­iffs. Google had been report­ed to be devel­op­ing a Chi­na-com­pat­i­ble search engine code­named Drag­on­fly. They stopped due to employ­ee objec­tions.

The open hos­til­i­ty to Chi­nese peo­ple, as dis­tinct from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, vio­lates norms inte­gral to Amer­i­ca itself. On the face of these utter­ances is the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a com­mu­ni­ty, named by ances­try, as a prob­lem. Last year, the FBI direc­tor, Christo­pher Wray, char­ac­ter­ized it as a “whole of soci­ety” threat to Amer­i­can val­ues.

Guilt by asso­ci­a­tion is not what the Amer­i­can dream has promised to those who have sac­ri­ficed every­thing for that prover­bial oppor­tu­ni­ty. What­ev­er the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment may be up to, their poli­cies should not com­pro­mise the sta­tus of Chi­nese peo­ple, almost all of whom are ordi­nary folks, not spies, “sleep­ers”, agents of influ­ence or oth­er­wise con­spir­a­tors.

Although in this new Yel­low Per­il, a spe­cif­ic eth­nic­i­ty is tar­get­ed as a group, no line is drawn between cit­i­zens and for­eign­ers. The orig­i­nal Yel­low Per­il was the notion, pro­mot­ed by Germany’s Kaiser Wil­helm II in the late 19th cen­tu­ry and by the Amer­i­can author Jack Lon­don, that Asians might con­tend against Euro­peans and white Amer­i­cans in a con­test of racial supe­ri­or­i­ty. Pro­pa­gan­dists such as Lothrop Stod­dard wrote titles that would sum­ma­rize the the­sis: The Ris­ing Tide of Col­or Against White World Suprema­cy was a 1920 best­seller.

Nowa­days as ear­li­er, the peo­ple who fear an Asian takeover of Sil­i­con Val­ley do not both­er to add that Asians who become Amer­i­cans are accept­able. They can­not dis­tin­guish by look­ing at a line­up of ran­dom Asians, whether the one is a vis­it­ing schol­ar “fresh off the boat” in that pejo­ra­tive phrase being reap­pro­pri­at­ed, the oth­er a sixth-gen­er­a­tion Cal­i­forn­ian “banana” (yel­low on the out­side, white on the inside, in anoth­er deroga­to­ry term). If they did clar­i­fy that they meant no dis­par­age­ment of those whose fam­i­lies came before their own, at least they would be pure nativists rather than also racists.

The con­fu­sion of Asians over­seas and “Asian Amer­i­cans” (a con­cept coined dur­ing the social jus­tice move­ments cir­ca 1968) has been a recur­ring theme through­out his­to­ry. Dem­a­gogues suc­ceed­ed in per­suad­ing Con­gress to pass the Chi­nese Exclu­sion Act of 1882. They argued the “Ori­en­tals” would out­com­pete Occi­den­tal rivals but remain loy­al to a for­eign empire. The pro­hi­bi­tion was then expand­ed to an Asi­at­ic Barred Zone intend­ed to main­tain eth­nic pro­por­tions favor­ing white Anglo-Sax­on Protes­tants in the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion (even Catholics, Jews and Euro­peans too south­ern and east­ern were to be lim­it­ed albeit not as strict­ly). Japan­ese Amer­i­cans were locked up dur­ing the sec­ond world war no mat­ter that they were bona fide Unit­ed States cit­i­zens two gen­er­a­tions removed from Tokyo and base­ball-play­ing Chris­tians.

Civ­il rights and nation­al inter­est are com­pat­i­ble. For those who fear Chi­nese will help Chi­na in achiev­ing glob­al dom­i­nance, there is a rem­e­dy: turn those Chi­nese into Chi­nese Amer­i­cans who will con­tribute to the Unit­ed States, or who will embrace a con­cep­tion of belong­ing that is cos­mopoli­tan instead of nation­al­is­tic. There could be no greater gift for Shen­zhen and Shang­hai, the per­ceived usurpers of west­ern cen­ters of tech­nol­o­gy and finance, respec­tive­ly, than to dri­ve out Chi­nese who oth­er­wise would be stake­hold­ers on this side of the Pacif­ic Ocean.

Google relies on Chi­nese, Chi­nese immi­grants and Chi­nese Amer­i­can engi­neers, along­side numer­ous Indi­ans and oth­er Asians, as do oth­er tech­nol­o­gy firms. Only a few of those experts are pro­mot­ed to exec­u­tives.

So it is true that there are many Chi­nese, Indi­ans, oth­er Asians and entre­pre­neurs from the world over who are attract­ed to these shores. That is to be cel­e­brat­ed. If they were to leave, how­ev­er vol­un­tary their depar­ture, that would ruin the econ­o­my. Thiel and Ban­non expose the real con­flict: between those who val­ue democ­ra­cy and diver­si­ty and those who do not.

1c.  Steve Bannon–one of the lumi­nar­ies of the “Alt-Right” and a for­mer key Trump aide, was cen­tral­ly involved in the anti-Chi­na effort. This sug­gests that the pres­ence of Pepe the Frog’s image in the Hong Kong protests might have some­thing to do with the “Alt-Right” after all.

Note Ban­non and com­pa­ny’s net­work­ing with the Falun Gong cult and “Chi­nese Mus­lim Free­dom Fighters”–read “Uighurs.”

The Ban­non-led anti-Chi­na effort has now become U.S. doc­trine: ” . . . . Fear of Chi­na has spread across the gov­ern­ment, from the White House to Con­gress to fed­er­al agen­cies, where Beijing’s rise is unques­tion­ing­ly viewed as an eco­nom­ic and nation­al secu­ri­ty threat and the defin­ing chal­lenge of the 21st cen­tu­ry. . . .”

“A New Red Scare Is Reshap­ing Wash­ing­ton” by Ana Swan­son; The New York Times; 7/20/2019.

In a ball­room across from the Capi­tol build­ing, an unlike­ly group of mil­i­tary hawks, pop­ulist cru­saders, Chi­nese Mus­lim free­dom fight­ers [Uighurs–D.E.] and fol­low­ers of the Falun Gong has been meet­ing to warn any­one who will lis­ten that Chi­na pos­es an exis­ten­tial threat to the Unit­ed States that will not end until the Com­mu­nist Par­ty is over­thrown.

If the warn­ings sound straight out of the Cold War, they are. The Com­mit­tee on the Present Dan­ger, a long-defunct group that cam­paigned against the dan­gers of the Sovi­et Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recent­ly been revived with the help of Stephen K. Ban­non, the president’s for­mer chief strate­gist, to warn against the dan­gers of Chi­na.

Once dis­missed as xeno­phobes and fringe ele­ments, the group’s mem­bers are find­ing their views increas­ing­ly embraced in Pres­i­dent Trump’s Wash­ing­ton, where skep­ti­cism and mis­trust of Chi­na have tak­en hold. Fear of Chi­na has spread across the gov­ern­ment, from the White House to Con­gress to fed­er­al agen­cies, where Beijing’s rise is unques­tion­ing­ly viewed as an eco­nom­ic and nation­al secu­ri­ty threat and the defin­ing chal­lenge of the 21st cen­tu­ry.

“These are two sys­tems that are incom­pat­i­ble,” Mr. Ban­non said of the Unit­ed States and Chi­na. “One side is going to win, and one side is going to lose.” . . . .

2. Next, we review parts of a Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle fea­tured in FTR#‘s 1188 and 1189.

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est is how Ban­non and Trump are now mar­gin­al­ized and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly scape­goat­ed as “bomb-throw­ers.” The Lab-Leak meme was gen­er­at­ed by Pom­peo’s State Depart­ment and Trump Nation­al Secu­ri­ty aide Matthew Pot­tinger and has been car­ried over by the Deep State into the Biden admin­is­tra­tion.

Now, it is con­sid­ered “respectable.”

  1. Pom­peo State Depart­ment offi­cials pur­su­ing the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis were told to cov­er it up lest it shed light on U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of research at the “Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy!”: ” . . . . In one State Depart­ment meet­ing, offi­cials seek­ing to demand trans­paren­cy from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment say they were explic­it­ly told by col­leagues not to explore the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s gain-of-func­tion research, because it would bring unwel­come atten­tion to U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of it. . . . .In an inter­nal memo obtained by ‘Van­i­ty Fair’, Thomas DiNan­no, for­mer act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance, wrote that. . .  staff from two bureaus . . . ‘warned’ lead­ers with­in his bureau ‘not to pur­sue an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gin of COVID-19’ because it would ‘open a can of worms’ if it con­tin­ued.’ . . . . As the group probed the lab-leak sce­nario, among oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties, its mem­bers were repeat­ed­ly advised not to open a ‘Pandora’s box,’ said four for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cials inter­viewed by ‘Van­i­ty Fair’. . . .”
  2. The Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle paints Trump, Ban­non and com­pa­ny as loonies, where­as they were fun­da­men­tal to the begin­ning of the full-court press against Chi­na: “. . . . At times, it seemed the only oth­er peo­ple enter­tain­ing the lab-leak the­o­ry were crack­pots or polit­i­cal hacks hop­ing to wield COVID-19 as a cud­gel against Chi­na. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer polit­i­cal advis­er Steve Ban­non, for instance, joined forces with an exiled Chi­nese bil­lion­aire named Guo Wen­gui to fuel claims that Chi­na had devel­oped the dis­ease as a bioweapon and pur­pose­ful­ly unleashed it on the world. . . .”
  3. Matthew Pot­tinger, a Chi­na hawk in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, head­ed up a team to inves­ti­gate the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis. Note that the gain-of-func­tion milieu in the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment was a retard­ing fac­tor in the inquiry: ” . . . . By then, Matthew Pot­tinger had approved a COVID-19 ori­gins team, run by the NSC direc­torate that over­saw issues relat­ed to weapons of mass destruc­tion. A long­time Asia expert and for­mer jour­nal­ist, Pot­tinger pur­pose­ful­ly kept the team small . . . . In addi­tion, many lead­ing experts had either received or approved fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research. Their ‘con­flict­ed’ sta­tus, said Pot­tinger, ‘played a pro­found role in mud­dy­ing the waters and con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the shot at hav­ing an impar­tial inquiry.’  . . . .”
  4. Note that Lawrence Liv­er­more sci­en­tists were involved with the gen­e­sis of the “Chi­na did it” hypoth­e­sis, after alleged­ly being alert­ed by a for­eign source to look into their own files. ” . . . . An intel­li­gence ana­lyst work­ing with David Ash­er sift­ed through clas­si­fied chan­nels and turned up a report that out­lined why the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis was plau­si­ble. It had been writ­ten in May by researchers at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, which per­forms nation­al secu­ri­ty research for the Depart­ment of Ener­gy. But it appeared to have been buried with­in the clas­si­fied col­lec­tions sys­tem. . . .”
  5. Note, also, that Chris Ford, a Chi­na hawk, was work­ing to sup­press the Wuhan lab leak hypoth­e­sis: ” . . . . Their frus­tra­tion crest­ed in Decem­ber, when they final­ly briefed Chris Ford, act­ing under­sec­re­tary for Arms Con­trol and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty. He seemed so hos­tile to their probe that they viewed him as a blink­ered func­tionary bent on white­wash­ing China’s malfea­sance. But Ford, who had years of expe­ri­ence in nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, had long been a Chi­na hawk. . . .”
  6. Ford spins his obfus­ca­tion of the “Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy” link to the U.S. as not want­i­ng to rein­force right-wing crack­pots with­in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion: ” . . . . Ford told ‘Van­i­ty Fair’ that he saw his job as pro­tect­ing the integri­ty of any inquiry into COVID-19’s ori­gins that fell under his purview. Going with ‘stuff that makes us look like the crack­pot brigade’ would back­fire, he believed. There was anoth­er rea­son for his hos­til­i­ty. He’d already heard about the inves­ti­ga­tion from inter­a­gency col­leagues, rather than from the team itself, and the secre­cy left him with a ‘spidey sense’ that the process was a form of ‘creepy free­lanc­ing.’ He won­dered: Had some­one launched an unac­count­able inves­ti­ga­tion with the goal of achiev­ing a desired result? . . . .”
  7. The “Chi­na did it/Wuhan lab leak” hypoth­e­sis sur­vived from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and Mike Pom­peo’s State Depart­ment to the Biden admin­is­tra­tion: ” . . . .The state­ment with­stood ‘aggres­sive sus­pi­cion,’ as one for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial said, and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has not walked it back. ‘I was very pleased to see Pompeo’s state­ment come through,’ said Chris Ford, who per­son­al­ly signed off on a draft of the fact sheet before leav­ing the State Depart­ment. ‘I was so relieved that they were using real report­ing that had been vet­ted and cleared.’ . . . .”
  8. Avril Haines, whom we have cit­ed in this series as a key par­tic­i­pant in the Deep State shep­herd­ing of the “Lab-Leak Hypoth­e­sis,” looms large in the inquiry into the per­pet­u­a­tion of this pro­pa­gan­da meme: ” . . . . Inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment, mean­while, the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis had sur­vived the tran­si­tion from Trump to Biden. On April 15, Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that two ‘plau­si­ble the­o­ries’ were being weighed: a lab acci­dent or nat­ur­al emer­gence. . . .”
  9. The arti­cle con­cludes with the inter­est­ing use of the term “cut-out” to describe the Eco­Health Alliance. The term gen­er­al­ly refers to an intel­li­gence-com­mu­ni­ty front orga­ni­za­tion. Is the author hint­ing at more? Did her edi­tor take infor­ma­tion out? Note, again, the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Trump and com­pa­ny as extremists/crackpots: ” . . . . The Unit­ed States deserves a healthy share of blame as well. Thanks to their unprece­dent­ed track record of men­dac­i­ty and race-bait­ing, Trump and his allies had less than zero cred­i­bil­i­ty. And the prac­tice of fund­ing risky research via cutouts like Eco­Health Alliance enmeshed lead­ing virol­o­gists in con­flicts of inter­est at the exact moment their exper­tise was most des­per­ate­ly need­ed. . . .”

“The Lab-Leak The­o­ry: Inside the Fight to Uncov­er Covid-19’s Ori­gins” by Kather­ine Eban; Van­i­ty Fair; 6/3/2021.

. . . . At times, it seemed the only oth­er peo­ple enter­tain­ing the lab-leak the­o­ry were crack­pots or polit­i­cal hacks hop­ing to wield COVID-19 as a cud­gel against Chi­na. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer polit­i­cal advis­er Steve Ban­non, for instance, joined forces with an exiled Chi­nese bil­lion­aire named Guo Wen­gui to fuel claims that Chi­na had devel­oped the dis­ease as a bioweapon and pur­pose­ful­ly unleashed it on the world. As proof, they parad­ed a Hong Kong sci­en­tist around right-wing media out­lets until her man­i­fest lack of exper­tise doomed the cha­rade. . . .

. . . . On Feb­ru­ary 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respect­ed and influ­en­tial med­ical jour­nals in the world, pub­lished a state­ment that round­ly reject­ed the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis, effec­tive­ly cast­ing it as a xeno­pho­bic cousin to cli­mate change denial­ism and anti-vaxxism. Signed by 27 sci­en­tists, the state­ment expressed “sol­i­dar­i­ty with all sci­en­tists and health pro­fes­sion­als in Chi­na” and assert­ed: “We stand togeth­er to strong­ly con­demn con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sug­gest­ing that COVID-19 does not have a nat­ur­al ori­gin.”

The Lancet state­ment effec­tive­ly end­ed the debate over COVID-19’s ori­gins before it began. To Gilles Dema­neuf, fol­low­ing along from the side­lines, it was as if it had been “nailed to the church doors,” estab­lish­ing the nat­ur­al ori­gin the­o­ry as ortho­doxy. “Every­one had to fol­low it. Every­one was intim­i­dat­ed. That set the tone.” . . . . 

. . . . It soon emerged, based on emails obtained by a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion group called U.S. Right to Know, that Daszak had not only signed but orga­nized the influ­en­tial Lancet state­ment, with the inten­tion of con­ceal­ing his role and cre­at­ing the impres­sion of sci­en­tif­ic una­nim­i­ty.

Under the sub­ject line, “No need for you to sign the “State­ment” Ralph!!,” he wrote to two sci­en­tists, includ­ing UNC’s Dr. Ralph Bar­ic, who had col­lab­o­rat­ed with Shi Zhengli on the gain-of-func­tion study that cre­at­ed a coro­n­avirus capa­ble of infect­ing human cells: “you, me and him should not sign this state­ment, so it has some dis­tance from us and there­fore doesn’t work in a coun­ter­pro­duc­tive way.” Daszak added, “We’ll then put it out in a way that doesn’t link it back to our col­lab­o­ra­tion so we max­i­mize an inde­pen­dent voice.”

Bar­ic agreed, writ­ing back, “Oth­er­wise it looks self-serv­ing and we lose impact.” . . . .

. . . . A months long Van­i­ty Fair inves­ti­ga­tion, inter­views with more than 40 peo­ple, and a review of hun­dreds of pages of U.S. gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments, includ­ing inter­nal mem­os, meet­ing min­utes, and email cor­re­spon­dence, found that con­flicts of inter­est, stem­ming in part from large gov­ern­ment grants sup­port­ing con­tro­ver­sial virol­o­gy research, ham­pered the U.S. inves­ti­ga­tion into COVID-19’s ori­gin at every step.In one State Depart­ment meet­ing, offi­cials seek­ing to demand trans­paren­cy from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment say they were explic­it­ly told by col­leagues not to explore the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s gain-of-func­tion research, because it would bring unwel­come atten­tion to U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing of it.

In an inter­nal memo obtained by Van­i­ty Fair, Thomas DiNan­no, for­mer act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance, wrote that staff from two bureaus, his own and the Bureau of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty and Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, “warned” lead­ers with­in his bureau “not to pur­sue an inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gin of COVID-19” because it would “‘open a can of worms’ if it con­tin­ued.” . . . . 

. . . . But for most of the past year, the lab-leak sce­nario was treat­ed not sim­ply as unlike­ly or even inac­cu­rate but as moral­ly out-of-bounds. In late March, for­mer Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol direc­tor Robert Red­field received death threats from fel­low sci­en­tists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had orig­i­nat­ed in a lab. . . . 

. . . . In the words of David Fei­th, for­mer deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of state in the East Asia bureau, “The sto­ry of why parts of the U.S. gov­ern­ment were not as curi­ous as many of us think they should have been is a huge­ly impor­tant one.” . . . .

. . . . By then, Matthew Pot­tinger had approved a COVID-19 ori­gins team, run by the NSC direc­torate that over­saw issues relat­ed to weapons of mass destruc­tion. A long­time Asia expert and for­mer jour­nal­ist, Pot­tinger pur­pose­ful­ly kept the team small, because there were so many peo­ple with­in the gov­ern­ment “whol­ly dis­count­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab leak, who were pre­dis­posed that it was impos­si­ble,” said Pot­tinger. In addi­tion, many lead­ing experts had either received or approved fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research. Their “con­flict­ed” sta­tus, said Pot­tinger, “played a pro­found role in mud­dy­ing the waters and con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the shot at hav­ing an impar­tial inquiry.”  . . . . 

. . . . Believ­ing they had uncov­ered impor­tant evi­dence in favor of the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis, the NSC inves­ti­ga­tors began reach­ing out to oth­er agen­cies. That’s when the ham­mer came down. “We were dis­missed,” said Antho­ny Rug­giero, the NSC’s senior direc­tor for coun­ter­pro­lif­er­a­tion and biode­fense. “The response was very neg­a­tive.” . . . .

. . . . By the sum­mer of 2020, Gilles Dema­neuf was spend­ing up to four hours a day research­ing the ori­gins of COVID-19, join­ing Zoom meet­ings before dawn with Euro­pean col­lab­o­ra­tors and not sleep­ing much. He began to receive anony­mous calls and notice strange activ­i­ty on his com­put­er, which he attrib­uted to Chi­nese gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. “We are being mon­i­tored for sure,” he says. He moved his work to the encrypt­ed plat­forms Sig­nal and Pro­ton­Mail. . . .

. . . . As offi­cials at the meet­ing dis­cussed what they could share with the pub­lic, they were advised by Christo­pher Park, the direc­tor of the State Department’s Bio­log­i­cal Pol­i­cy Staff in the Bureau of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty and Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, not to say any­thing that would point to the U.S. government’s own role in gain-of-func­tion research, accord­ing to doc­u­men­ta­tion of the meet­ing obtained by Van­i­ty Fair.

Only two oth­er labs in the world, in Galve­ston, Texas and Chapel Hill, North Car­oli­na, were doing sim­i­lar research. “It’s not a dozen cities,” Dr. Richard Ebright said. “It’s three places.” 

Some of the atten­dees were “absolute­ly floored,” said an offi­cial famil­iar with the pro­ceed­ings. That some­one in the U.S. gov­ern­ment could “make an argu­ment that is so naked­ly against trans­paren­cy, in light of the unfold­ing cat­a­stro­phe, was…shocking and dis­turb­ing.”

Park, who in 2017 had been involved in lift­ing a U.S. gov­ern­ment mora­to­ri­um on fund­ing for gain-of-func­tion research, was not the only offi­cial to warn the State Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tors against dig­ging in sen­si­tive places. As the group probed the lab-leak sce­nario, among oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties, its mem­bers were repeat­ed­ly advised not to open a “Pandora’s box,” said four for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cials inter­viewed by Van­i­ty Fair. The admo­ni­tions “smelled like a cov­er-up,” said Thomas DiNan­no, “and I wasn’t going to be part of it.” . . . . 

. . . . In the first year of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, the mora­to­ri­um was lift­ed and replaced with a review sys­tem called the HHS P3CO Frame­work (for Poten­tial Pan­dem­ic Pathogen Care and Over­sight). It put the onus for ensur­ing the safe­ty of any such research on the fed­er­al depart­ment or agency fund­ing it. This left the review process shroud­ed in secre­cy. “The names of review­ers are not released, and the details of the exper­i­ments to be con­sid­ered are large­ly secret,” said the Har­vard epi­demi­ol­o­gist Dr. Marc Lip­sitch, whose advo­ca­cy against gain-of-func­tion research helped prompt the mora­to­ri­um. (An NIH spokesper­son told Van­i­ty Fair that “infor­ma­tion about indi­vid­ual unfund­ed appli­ca­tions is not pub­lic to pre­serve con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and pro­tect sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, pre­lim­i­nary data, and intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty.”)

Inside the NIH, which fund­ed such research, the P3CO frame­work was large­ly met with shrugs and eye rolls, said a long­time agency offi­cial: “If you ban gain-of-func­tion research, you ban all of virol­o­gy.” He added, “Ever since the mora­to­ri­um, everyone’s gone wink-wink and just done gain-of-func­tion research any­way.” . . . .

. . . . By the sum­mer of 2020, the State Department’s COVID-19 ori­gins inves­ti­ga­tion had gone cold. Offi­cials in the Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion, and Com­pli­ance went back to their nor­mal work: sur­veilling the world for bio­log­i­cal threats. “We weren’t look­ing for Wuhan,” said Thomas DiNan­no. That fall, the State Depart­ment team got a tip from a for­eign source: Key infor­ma­tion was like­ly sit­ting in the U.S. intel­li­gence community’s own files, unan­a­lyzed. In Novem­ber, that lead turned up clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion that was “absolute­ly arrest­ing and shock­ing,” said a for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial. Three researchers at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy, all con­nect­ed with gain-of-func­tion research on coro­n­avirus­es, had fall­en ill in Novem­ber 2019 and appeared to have vis­it­ed the hos­pi­tal with symp­toms sim­i­lar to COVID-19, three gov­ern­ment offi­cials told Van­i­ty Fair.

While it is not clear what had sick­ened them, “these were not the jan­i­tors,” said the for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial. “They were active researchers. The dates were among the absolute most arrest­ing part of the pic­ture, because they are smack where they would be if this was the ori­gin.” The reac­tion inside the State Depart­ment was, “Holy shit,” one for­mer senior offi­cial recalled. “We should prob­a­bly tell our boss­es.” The inves­ti­ga­tion roared back to life.

An intel­li­gence ana­lyst work­ing with David Ash­er sift­ed through clas­si­fied chan­nels and turned up a report that out­lined why the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis was plau­si­ble. It had been writ­ten in May by researchers at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, which per­forms nation­al secu­ri­ty research for the Depart­ment of Ener­gy. But it appeared to have been buried with­in the clas­si­fied col­lec­tions sys­tem.

Now the offi­cials were begin­ning to sus­pect that some­one was actu­al­ly hid­ing mate­ri­als sup­port­ive of a lab-leak expla­na­tion. “Why did my con­trac­tor have to pore through doc­u­ments?” DiNan­no won­dered. Their sus­pi­cion inten­si­fied when Depart­ment of Ener­gy offi­cials over­see­ing the Lawrence Liv­er­more lab unsuc­cess­ful­ly tried to block the State Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tors from talk­ing to the report’s authors.

Their frus­tra­tion crest­ed in Decem­ber, when they final­ly briefed Chris Ford, act­ing under­sec­re­tary for Arms Con­trol and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty. He seemed so hos­tile to their probe that they viewed him as a blink­ered func­tionary bent on white­wash­ing China’s malfea­sance. But Ford, who had years of expe­ri­ence in nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, had long been a Chi­na hawk. Ford told Van­i­ty Fair that he saw his job as pro­tect­ing the integri­ty of any inquiry into COVID-19’s ori­gins that fell under his purview. Going with “stuff that makes us look like the crack­pot brigade” would back­fire, he believed.

There was anoth­er rea­son for his hos­til­i­ty. He’d already heard about the inves­ti­ga­tion from inter­a­gency col­leagues, rather than from the team itself, and the secre­cy left him with a “spidey sense” that the process was a form of “creepy free­lanc­ing.” He won­dered: Had some­one launched an unac­count­able inves­ti­ga­tion with the goal of achiev­ing a desired result?

He was not the only one with con­cerns. As one senior gov­ern­ment offi­cial with knowl­edge of the State Department’s inves­ti­ga­tion said, “They were writ­ing this for cer­tain cus­tomers in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. We asked for the report­ing behind the state­ments that were made. It took for­ev­er. Then you’d read the report, it would have this ref­er­ence to a tweet and a date. It was not some­thing you could go back and find.”

After lis­ten­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tors’ find­ings, a tech­ni­cal expert in one of the State Department’s bioweapons offices “thought they were bonkers,” Ford recalled.

The State Depart­ment team, for its part, believed that Ford was the one try­ing to impose a pre­con­ceived con­clu­sion: that COVID-19 had a nat­ur­al ori­gin. A week lat­er, one of them attend­ed the meet­ing where Christo­pher Park, who worked under Ford, advised those present not to draw atten­tion to U.S. fund­ing of gain-of-func­tion research. . . .

. . . . The state­ment with­stood “aggres­sive sus­pi­cion,” as one for­mer State Depart­ment offi­cial said, and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has not walked it back. “I was very pleased to see Pompeo’s state­ment come through,” said Chris Ford, who per­son­al­ly signed off on a draft of the fact sheet before leav­ing the State Depart­ment. “I was so relieved that they were using real report­ing that had been vet­ted and cleared.” . . . .

Inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment, mean­while, the lab-leak hypoth­e­sis had sur­vived the tran­si­tion from Trump to Biden. On April 15, Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Avril Haines told the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that two “plau­si­ble the­o­ries” were being weighed: a lab acci­dent or nat­ur­al emer­gence. . . .

. . . . Chi­na obvi­ous­ly bears respon­si­bil­i­ty for stonewalling inves­ti­ga­tors. Whether it did so out of sheer author­i­tar­i­an habit or because it had a lab leak to hide is, and may always be, unknown.

The Unit­ed States deserves a healthy share of blame as well. Thanks to their unprece­dent­ed track record of men­dac­i­ty and race-bait­ing, Trump and his allies had less than zero cred­i­bil­i­ty. And the prac­tice of fund­ing risky research via cutouts like Eco­Health Alliance enmeshed lead­ing virol­o­gists in con­flicts of inter­est at the exact moment their exper­tise was most des­per­ate­ly need­ed.

3a. In what may be shap­ing up to be a dis­turb­ing reprise of Philip Zelikow’s role in the events sur­round­ing the 9/11 attacks and the result­ing inva­sion of Iraq, Zelikow is posi­tioned to pre­side over a com­mis­sion to “inves­ti­gate” the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, ” . . . . an exam­i­na­tion of the ori­gins of the virus—including the con­tentious ‘lab leak’ the­o­ry. . . .”

We note that:

  1.  The finan­cial back­ers of the project include: ” . . . . Schmidt Futures, found­ed by Mr. Schmidt and his wife Wendy; Stand Togeth­er, which is backed by the lib­er­tar­i­an-lean­ing phil­an­thropist Charles Koch; the Skoll Foun­da­tion, found­ed by the eBay pio­neer Jeff Skoll; and the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion. . . .”
  2. For­mer CIA and State Depart­ment chief under Trump Mike Pom­peo is a pro­tege of the Koch broth­ers.
  3. Zelikow’s 9/11 Com­mis­sion presided over sig­nif­i­cant over­sights and omis­sions: ” . . . . There is now evi­dence, much of it sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly sup­pressed by the 9/11 Com­mis­sion, that before 9/11, CIA offi­cers Richard Blee and Tom Wilshire inside the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit along with FBI agents such as Dina Cor­si, were pro­tect­ing from inves­ti­ga­tion and arrest two of the even­tu­al alleged hijack­ers on 9/11, Khalid al-Mid­har and Nawaf al-Hazmi—much as the FBI had pro­tect­ed Ali Mohamed from arrest in 1993. . . .”
  4. PNAC (The Project for a New Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry) called for Rebuild­ing Amer­i­ca’s Defens­es: ” . . . . ‘The process of trans­for­ma­tion,’ it report­ed, “even if it brings rev­o­lu­tion­ary change, is like­ly to be a long one absent some cat­a­stroph­ic and cat­alyz­ing event—like a new Pearl Har­bor.’ This was only one instance of a wide­ly accept­ed tru­ism: that it would take some­thing like a Pearl Har­bor to get Amer­i­ca to accept an aggres­sive war.  So the ques­tion to be asked is whether Cheney, Rums­feld, or any oth­ers whose projects depend­ed on ‘a new Pearl Har­bor’ were par­tic­i­pants in help­ing to cre­ate one. . . .”
  5. Zelikow helped draft the 2002 doc­u­ment that con­cretized the PNAC strate­gic goals: ” . . . . In 2002, the PNAC goals of unchal­lenged mil­i­tary dom­i­nance, plus the right to launch pre­emp­tive strikes any­where, were embod­ied in the new Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy of Sep­tem­ber 2002 (known as ‘NSS 2002’). (A key fig­ure in draft­ing this doc­u­ment was Philip Zelikow, who lat­er became the prin­ci­pal author of the 9/11 Com­mis­sion Report.) . . . .”
  6. PNAC’s paper fore­shad­owed what we feel under­lies the pan­dem­ic: ” . . . . In what is arguably the think tank’s most con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­ment, titled ‘Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es,’ there are a few pas­sages that open­ly dis­cuss the util­i­ty of bioweapons, includ­ing the fol­low­ing sen­tences: ‘…com­bat like­ly will take place in new dimen­sions: in space, ‘cyber-space,’ and per­haps the world of microbes…advanced forms of bio­log­i­cal war­fare that can ‘tar­get’ spe­cif­ic geno­types may trans­form bio­log­i­cal war­fare from the realm of ter­ror to a polit­i­cal­ly use­ful tool.’ . . .”
  7. There are indi­ca­tions that the anthrax attacks that occurred in the same time peri­od as the 9/11 attacks may well have been a provo­ca­tion aimed at jus­ti­fy­ing the inva­sion of Iraq and spurring the devel­op­ment off bio­log­i­cal weapons, as advo­cat­ed in the PNAC doc­u­ment. Ft. Det­rick insid­er Steven Hat­fill was a sus­pect in the attack, although he appears to have worn “oper­a­tional Teflon.” “. . . . Steven Hat­fill was now look­ing to me like a sus­pect, or at least, as the F.B.I. would denote him eight months lat­er, ‘a per­son of inter­est.’ When I lined up Hat­fil­l’s known move­ments with the post­mark loca­tions of report­ed bio­threats, those hoax anthrax attacks appeared to trail him like a vapor cloud. But in Feb­ru­ary 2002, short­ly after I advanced his can­di­da­cy to my con­tact at F.B.I. head­quar­ters, I was told that Mr. Hat­fill had a good ali­bi. A month lat­er, when I pressed the issue, I was told, ‘Look, Don, maybe you’re spend­ing too much time on this.’ Good peo­ple in the Depart­ment of Defense, C.I.A., and State Depart­ment, not to men­tion Bill Patrick, had vouched for Hat­fill. . . . In Decem­ber 2001, Dr. Bar­bara Hatch Rosen­berg, a not­ed bioweapons expert, deliv­ered a paper con­tend­ing that the per­pe­tra­tor of the anthrax crimes was an Amer­i­can micro­bi­ol­o­gist whose train­ing and pos­ses­sion of Ames-strain pow­der point­ed to a gov­ern­ment insid­er with expe­ri­ence in a U.S. mil­i­tary lab. . . . Hat­fill at the time was build­ing a mobile germ lab out of an old truck chas­sis, and after S.A.I.C. fired him he con­tin­ued work on it using his own mon­ey. When the F.B.I. want­ed to con­fis­cate the mobile lab to test it for anthrax spores, the army resist­ed, mov­ing the trail­er to Fort Bragg, North Car­oli­na, where it was used to train Spe­cial Forces in prepa­ra­tion for the war on Iraq. The class­es were taught by Steve Hat­fill and Bill Patrick. . . . Mean­while, friends of Fort Det­rick were leak­ing to the press new pieces of dis­in­for­ma­tion indi­cat­ing that the mailed anthrax prob­a­bly came from Iraq. The leaks includ­ed false alle­ga­tions that the Daschle anthrax includ­ed addi­tives dis­tinc­tive to the Iraqi arms pro­gram and that it had been dried using an atom­iz­er spray dry­er sold by Den­mark to Iraq. . . .
  8. Two key Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors were tar­get­ed by weapons-grade anthrax let­ters pri­or to chang­ing their oppo­si­tion to the Patri­ot Act: “. . . . We should not for­get that the Patri­ot Act was only passed after lethal weapons-grade anthrax let­ters were mailed to two cru­cial Demo­c­ra­t­ic Senators—Senators Daschle and Leahy—who had ini­tial­ly ques­tioned the bill. After the anthrax let­ters, how­ev­er, they with­drew their ini­tial oppo­si­tion. Someone—we still do not know who—must have planned those anthrax let­ters well in advance. We should not for­get, either, that some gov­ern­ment experts ini­tial­ly blamed those attacks on Iraq. . . .”
  9. The “Lab Leak The­o­ry” has been pro­mul­gat­ed by Michael R. Gor­don, who was instru­men­tal in advanc­ing the Sad­dam Hus­sein WMD con­nec­tion which helped lay the pro­pa­gan­da foun­da­tion for the Iraq War.

Will the “Zelikow Pan­dem­ic Com­mis­sion’s” treat­ment of the Lab-Leak The­o­ry func­tion in such a way as to pave the way for U.S. war with Chi­na, by focus­ing blame for the pan­dem­ic on what Mr. Emory has called “The Oswald Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy”?

3b.   “Sept. 11 Inves­ti­ga­tor Lays Ground­work for Impar­tial Pan­dem­ic Inquiry” by Sheryl Gay Stol­berg; The New York Times; 6/17/2021; p. A19 [West­ern Print Edi­tion].

The lawyer who led the inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks has qui­et­ly laid a foun­da­tion for a non­par­ti­san com­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, with finan­cial back­ing from four foun­da­tions and a paid staff that has already inter­viewed more than 200 pub­lic health experts, busi­ness lead­ers, elect­ed offi­cials, vic­tims and their fam­i­lies.

The work, which has attract­ed scant pub­lic notice, grew out of a tele­phone call in Octo­ber from Eric Schmidt, the phil­an­thropist and for­mer chief exec­u­tive of Google, to Philip D. Zelikow, who was the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the com­mis­sion that inves­ti­gat­ed Sept. 11. . . .

. . . . In the mean­time, the Covid Com­mis­sion Plan­ning Group, direct­ed by Mr. Zelikow, is forg­ing ahead on a sep­a­rate track that might at some point, merge with a con­gres­sion­al­ly appoint­ed pan­el. It has finan­cial sup­port from Schmidt Futures, found­ed by Mr. Schmidt and his wife Wendy; Stand Togeth­er, which is backed by the lib­er­tar­i­an-lean­ing phil­an­thropist Charles Koch; the Skoll Foun­da­tion, found­ed by the eBay pio­neer Jeff Skoll; and the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion. . . .

. . . . With more than two dozen expert advis­ers from across the polit­i­cal spec­trum, includ­ing two for­mer Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion com­mis­sion­ers and a for­mer direc­tor of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, the group has made detailed notes of these ses­sions and draft­ed a blue­print for a wide-rang­ing inquiry that would include, but hard­ly be lim­it­ed to, an exam­i­na­tion of the ori­gins of the virus—including the con­tentious “lab leak” the­o­ry. . . .

. . . . Mr. Zelikow, a nation­al secu­ri­ty expert and for­mer diplo­mat, is now a his­to­ry pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia. His group oper­ates out of the university’s Miller Cen­ter for Pub­lic Affairs, in coop­er­a­tion with Johns Hop­kins University’s Cen­ter for Health Secu­ri­ty and Bloomberg School of Pub­lic Health. . . .

3c.   The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; Copy­right 2015 by Pete Dale Scott; ISBN 978–1‑4422–1424‑8; p. 75.

. . . . Morgenthau’s hypoth­e­sis that the CIA was pro­tect­ing Sau­di crim­i­nal assets received fur­ther cor­rob­o­ra­tion in the wake of 9/11. There is now evi­dence, much of it sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly sup­pressed by the 9/11 Com­mis­sion, that before 9/11, CIA offi­cers Richard Blee and Tom Wilshire inside the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit along with FBI agents such as Dina Cor­si, were pro­tect­ing from inves­ti­ga­tion and arrest two of the even­tu­al alleged hijack­ers on 9/11, Khalid al-Mid­har and Nawaf al-Hazmi—much as the FBI had pro­tect­ed Ali Mohamed from arrest in 1993. . . .

. . . . The 9/11 Com­mis­sion Report, over­rul­ing FBI reports, sim­ply denied that Sau­di embassy mon­ey had sup­port­ed the two hijack­ers. . . .

3d. The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empireand the Future of Amer­i­ca by Peter Dale Scott; Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Press [SC]; ISBN 978–0‑520–25871‑6; pp. 192–193.

. . . .Their ide­ol­o­gy was sum­ma­rized in a major posi­tion paper Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es, in Sep­tem­ber 2000. This doc­u­ment advo­cat­ed a glob­al Pax Amer­i­cana unre­strained by inter­na­tion­al law and spoke frankly of the need to retain for­ward-based troops in the Mid­dle East, even if Sad­dam Hus­sein were to dis­ap­pear. . . .

. . . . In oth­er words, Cheney and Rums­feld had by the sum­mer of 2001 set up both the goals and the imple­men­ta­tion agen­cies for a war in Iraq. The course was set, and it became abun­dant­ly clear in time that the admin­is­tra­tion was pre­pared to lie and dis­tort in order to main­tain it. But it was clear from polls tak­en both before and after the Iraq inva­sion that for the Amer­i­can peo­ple to sup­port this course of action, they had to believe they had been attacked. The Bush agen­da, in oth­er words, depend­ed on 9/11, or some­thing like it.

The PNAC study, Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es, had itself fore­seen the need for such a belief. “The process of trans­for­ma­tion,” it report­ed, “even if it brings rev­o­lu­tion­ary change, is like­ly to be a long one absent some cat­a­stroph­ic and cat­alyz­ing event—like a new Pearl Har­bor.” This was only one instance of a wide­ly accept­ed tru­ism: that it would take some­thing like a Pearl Har­bor to get Amer­i­ca to accept an aggres­sive war.  So the ques­tion to be asked is whether Cheney, Rums­feld, or any oth­ers whose projects depend­ed on “a new Pearl Har­bor” were par­tic­i­pants in help­ing to cre­ate one. . . .

. . . . In 2002, the PNAC goals of unchal­lenged mil­i­tary dom­i­nance, plus the right to launch pre­emp­tive strikes any­where, were embod­ied in the new Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy of Sep­tem­ber 2002 (known as “NSS 2002”). (A key fig­ure in draft­ing this doc­u­ment was Philip Zelikow, who lat­er became the prin­ci­pal author of the 9/11 Com­mis­sion Report.) . . . .

3e. “Bats, Gene Edit­ing and Bioweapons: Recent DARPA Exper­i­ments Raise Con­cerns Amid Coro­n­avirus Out­break” by Whit­ney Webb; The Last Amer­i­can Vagabond; 1/30/2020.

PNAC advo­cat­ed research into the appli­ca­tion of genet­ic engi­neer­ing in order to cre­ate eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal war­fare weapons, as dis­cussed by the Project for a New Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry’s Rebuild­ing Amer­i­ca’s Defens­es. ” . . . . In what is arguably the think tank’s most con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­ment, titled ‘Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es,’ there are a few pas­sages that open­ly dis­cuss the util­i­ty of bioweapons, includ­ing the fol­low­ing sen­tences: ‘…com­bat like­ly will take place in new dimen­sions: in space, ‘cyber-space,’ and per­haps the world of microbes…advanced forms of bio­log­i­cal war­fare that can ‘tar­get’ spe­cif­ic geno­types may trans­form bio­log­i­cal war­fare from the realm of ter­ror to a polit­i­cal­ly use­ful tool.’ . . .”

3f. “The Mes­sage in the Anthrax” by Don Fos­ter; Van­i­ty Fair; Octo­ber 2003; pp. 188–200.

. . . . Steven Hat­fill was now look­ing to me like a sus­pect, or at least, as the F.B.I. would denote him eight months lat­er, ‘a per­son of inter­est.’ When I lined up Hat­fil­l’s known move­ments with the post­mark loca­tions of report­ed bio­threats, those hoax anthrax attacks appeared to trail him like a vapor cloud. But in Feb­ru­ary 2002, short­ly after I advanced his can­di­da­cy to my con­tact at F.B.I. head­quar­ters, I was told that Mr. Hat­fill had a good ali­bi. A month lat­er, when I pressed the issue, I was told, ‘Look, Don, maybe you’re spend­ing too much time on this.’ Good peo­ple in the Depart­ment of Defense, C.I.A., and State Depart­ment, not to men­tion Bill Patrick, had vouched for Hat­fill. . . . In Decem­ber 2001, Dr. Bar­bara Hatch Rosen­berg, a not­ed bioweapons expert, deliv­ered a paper con­tend­ing that the per­pe­tra­tor of the anthrax crimes was an Amer­i­can micro­bi­ol­o­gist whose train­ing and pos­ses­sion of Ames-strain pow­der point­ed to a gov­ern­ment insid­er with expe­ri­ence in a U.S. mil­i­tary lab. . . .Hat­fill at the time was build­ing a mobile germ lab out of an old truck chas­sis, and after S.A.I.C. fired him he con­tin­ued work on it using his own mon­ey. When the F.B.I. want­ed to con­fis­cate the mobile lab to test it for anthrax spores, the army resist­ed, mov­ing the trail­er to Fort Bragg, North Car­oli­na, where it was used to train Spe­cial Forces in prepa­ra­tion for the war on Iraq. The class­es were taught by Steve Hat­fill and Bill Patrick. . . .

3g. The Amer­i­can Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy by Peter Dale Scott; Row­man & Lit­tle­field [HC]; Copy­right 2015 by Pete Dale Scott; ISBN 978–1‑4422–1424‑8; p. 36.

. . . . We should not for­get that the Patri­ot Act was only passed after lethal weapons-grade anthrax let­ters were mailed to two cru­cial Demo­c­ra­t­ic Senators—Senators Daschle and Leahy—who had ini­tial­ly ques­tioned the bill. After the anthrax let­ters, how­ev­er, they with­drew their ini­tial oppo­si­tion. Someone—we still do not know who—must have planned those anthrax let­ters well in advance. We should not for­get, either, that some gov­ern­ment experts ini­tial­ly blamed those attacks on Iraq. . . .

 

Discussion

3 comments for “FTR#1190 The Oswald Institute of Virology, Part 9: Covid-19 and The American Deep State, Part 3”

  1. There’s an inter­est­ing new alle­ga­tion com­ing from David Ash­er, a senior fel­low at the right-wing Hud­son Insti­tute and the for­mer State Depart­ment advis­er who co-authored a fact sheet last Jan­u­ary on activ­i­ty inside the lab as described in Kather­ine Eban’s Van­i­ty Fair piece. Ash­er report­ed­ly told NBC News that he is “con­fi­dent” that the Chi­nese mil­i­tary was fund­ing a “secret pro­gram” that involved Shi Zhengli’s coro­n­avirus research at the WIV. Shi report­ed­ly worked with Ton Yigang, a mil­i­tary sci­en­tist, on coro­n­avirus research in 2018 and then with Zhou Yusen, anoth­er mil­i­tary sci­en­tist in Decem­ber 2019. It’s also report­ed that Zhou died in 2020, although the caus­es haven’t been con­firmed.

    What makes Ash­er so con­fi­dent this secret research was tak­ing place? He claims he was told this by sev­er­al for­eign researchers who worked at the WIV who saw some researchers there in mil­i­tary garb. So the mem­bers of this secret Chi­nese mil­i­tary biowar­fare research team appar­ent­ly did­n’t think it was impor­tant to not wear mil­i­tary cloth­ing dur­ing their secret research at a research facil­i­ty intend­ed for civil­ian use only. We aren’t told the iden­ti­ty of these for­eign researchers who alleged­ly saw this. We also aren’t told if Ash­er meant “for­eign researchers” as in non-Chi­nese researchers work­ing at the WIV (so for­eign to Chi­na) or Chi­nese researchers work­ing at the WIV (so for­eign to Ash­er). Does Ash­er have three Chi­nese researchers at the WIV as his sources?

    Either way, it’s quite a claim. Sort of. Let’s keep in mind that Shi’s research could arguably be char­ac­ter­ized as fund­ed by the US mil­i­tary through the Eco­Health Alliance col­lab­o­ra­tion. But let’s also keep in mind that this remark­able claim based on anony­mous sources we don’t know exist but are assured by Ash­er do exist. And that brings us to a sec­ond inter­est­ing recent arti­cle. It’s an inter­view by Bloomberg News of Danielle Ander­son, a bat-borne virus expert who worked at the WIV as late as Novem­ber 2019, so Ander­son would have been at the WIV right dur­ing the peri­od when an out­break from the WIV would pre­sum­ably have tak­en place under a WIV lab-leak sce­nario. And part of what makes this inter­view so inter­est­ing with respect to Ash­er’s claims is that Ander­son is described as the only for­eign researcher work­ing at the WIV. The only one. So if Ander­son was the lone for­eign researcher at the WIV, where exact­ly did Ash­er come up with sev­er­al anony­mous for­eign WIV researchers? Are Ash­er’s “for­eign researcher” sources actu­al­ly WIV Chi­nese researchers?

    Fox News

    Wuhan virol­o­gist who worked on bat coro­n­avirus­es tied to mil­i­tary sci­en­tists, report says

    For­mer State Depart­ment advis­er told net­work he is ‘con­fi­dent’ that the Chi­nese mil­i­tary was fund­ing a ‘secret pro­gram’

    Edmund DeMarche
    By Edmund DeMarche
    06/29/2021

    A top Chi­nese virol­o­gist has been tied to at least two Chi­nese mil­i­tary sci­en­tists who col­lab­o­rat­ed with her on coro­n­avirus research in the past, includ­ing one now list­ed as deceased, a report Tues­day said.

    In March, Dr. Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan-based virol­o­gist who has been accused of con­duct­ing risky exper­i­ments with bat coro­n­avirus­es, flat­ly denied alle­ga­tions that the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy con­duct­ed stud­ies with the mil­i­tary, an NBC News report said.

    But the net­work report­ed that it uncov­ered evi­dence link­ing Shi to mil­i­tary sci­en­tists. She col­lab­o­rat­ed with Ton Yigang, a mil­i­tary sci­en­tist, on coro­n­avirus research in 2018 and then with Zhou Yusen, anoth­er mil­i­tary sci­en­tist in Decem­ber 2019. Zhou who was list­ed as deceased in the foot­note of an arti­cle pub­lished in 2020, the report said. The report said it could not con­firm the cause of his death.

    David Ash­er, a for­mer State Depart­ment advis­er who co-authored a fact sheet last Jan­u­ary on activ­i­ty inside the lab, told NBC News that he is “con­fi­dent” that the Chi­nese mil­i­tary was fund­ing a “secret pro­gram” that involved coro­n­avirus­es.

    He defend­ed his the­o­ry by say­ing he received the infor­ma­tion from sev­er­al for­eign researchers inside the lab who saw some researchers there in mil­i­tary garb. The report point­ed out that the lab insists that that facil­i­ty is only used for civil­ian pur­pos­es. Ash­er and the WIV did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to emails from Fox News.

    Chi­na has called claims that the virus escaped the lab “absurd.”

    “Some peo­ple in the Unit­ed States have fab­ri­cat­ed and ped­dled absurd sto­ries claim­ing Wuhan lab leak, which Chi­na is grave­ly con­cerned about,” a Chi­nese offi­cial said ear­li­er this month. “Chi­na urges the Unit­ed States to respect facts and sci­ence, refrain from politi­ciz­ing COVID-19 ori­gin trac­ing and con­cen­trate on inter­na­tion­al anti-pan­dem­ic coop­er­a­tion.”

    The U.S. and oth­ers have accused Chi­na of fail­ing to pro­vide the raw data and access to sites that would allow a more thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion into where the virus sprung from and how it ini­tial­ly spread.

    ———-

    “Wuhan virol­o­gist who worked on bat coro­n­avirus­es tied to mil­i­tary sci­en­tists, report says” by Edmund DeMarche; Fox News; 06/29/2021

    But the net­work report­ed that it uncov­ered evi­dence link­ing Shi to mil­i­tary sci­en­tists. She col­lab­o­rat­ed with Ton Yigang, a mil­i­tary sci­en­tist, on coro­n­avirus research in 2018 and then with Zhou Yusen, anoth­er mil­i­tary sci­en­tist in Decem­ber 2019. Zhou who was list­ed as deceased in the foot­note of an arti­cle pub­lished in 2020, the report said. The report said it could not con­firm the cause of his death.”

    Did Shi’s lab work with these mil­i­tary sci­en­tists? That’s what we’re told by Ash­er, who claims he was him­self told this by sev­er­al for­eign researchers inside the lab who saw oth­er researchers there in mil­i­tary garb. Again, we don’t know if the “for­eign researchers” Ash­er was refer­ring to were Chi­nese researchers or non-Chi­nese researchers alleged­ly work­ing at the WIV:

    ...
    David Ash­er, a for­mer State Depart­ment advis­er who co-authored a fact sheet last Jan­u­ary on activ­i­ty inside the lab, told NBC News that he is “con­fi­dent” that the Chi­nese mil­i­tary was fund­ing a “secret pro­gram” that involved coro­n­avirus­es.

    He defend­ed his the­o­ry by say­ing he received the infor­ma­tion from sev­er­al for­eign researchers inside the lab who saw some researchers there in mil­i­tary garb. The report point­ed out that the lab insists that that facil­i­ty is only used for civil­ian pur­pos­es. Ash­er and the WIV did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to emails from Fox News.
    ...

    So we have to ask, did any­one else spot mil­i­tary researchers at the WIV? Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there aren’t many peo­ple avail­able to ask. Only one for­eign researcher, in fact. Danielle Ander­son, who is described as a bat-borne virus expert and the lone for­eign researcher who was work­ing at the WIV in the lead up to the out­break:

    Bloomberg

    The Last–And Only–Foreign Sci­en­tist in the Wuhan Lab Speaks Out

    Virol­o­gist Danielle Ander­son paints a very dif­fer­ent pic­ture of the Wuhan Insti­tute.

    By Michell Fay Cortez
    June 27, 2021, 5:00 PM EDT

    Danielle Ander­son was work­ing in what has become the world’s most noto­ri­ous lab­o­ra­to­ry just weeks before the first known cas­es of Covid-19 emerged in cen­tral Chi­na. Yet, the Aus­tralian virol­o­gist still won­ders what she missed.

    An expert in bat-borne virus­es, Ander­son is the only for­eign sci­en­tist to have under­tak­en research at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s BSL‑4 lab, the first in main­land Chi­na equipped to han­dle the planet’s dead­liest pathogens. Her most recent stint end­ed in Novem­ber 2019, giv­ing Ander­son an insider’s per­spec­tive on a place that’s become a flash­point in the search for what caused the worst pan­dem­ic in a cen­tu­ry.

    The emer­gence of the coro­n­avirus in the same city where insti­tute sci­en­tists, clad head-to-toe in pro­tec­tive gear, study that exact fam­i­ly of virus­es has stoked spec­u­la­tion that it might have leaked from the lab, pos­si­bly via an infect­ed staffer or a con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed object. China’s lack of trans­paren­cy since the ear­li­est days of the out­break fueled those sus­pi­cions, which have been seized on by the U.S. That’s turned the quest to uncov­er the ori­gins of the virus, crit­i­cal for pre­vent­ing future pan­demics, into a geopo­lit­i­cal mine­field.

    The work of the lab and the direc­tor of its emerg­ing infec­tious dis­eases sec­tion—Shi Zhengli, a long-time col­league of Anderson’s dubbed ‘Bat­woman’ for her work hunt­ing virus­es in caves—is now shroud­ed in con­tro­ver­sy. The U.S. has ques­tioned the lab’s safe­ty and alleged its sci­en­tists were engaged in con­tentious gain of func­tion research that manip­u­lat­ed virus­es in a man­ner that could have made them more dan­ger­ous.

    It’s a stark con­trast to the place Ander­son described in an inter­view with Bloomberg News, the first in which she’s shared details about work­ing at the lab.

    Half-truths and dis­tort­ed infor­ma­tion have obscured an accu­rate account­ing of the lab’s func­tions and activ­i­ties, which were more rou­tine than how they’ve been por­trayed in the media, she said.

    “It’s not that it was bor­ing, but it was a reg­u­lar lab that worked in the same way as any oth­er high-con­tain­ment lab,” Ander­son said. “What peo­ple are say­ing is just not how it is.”

    Now at Melbourne’s Peter Doher­ty Insti­tute for Infec­tion and Immu­ni­ty, Ander­son began col­lab­o­rat­ing with Wuhan researchers in 2016, when she was sci­en­tif­ic direc­tor of the biosafe­ty lab at Singapore’s Duke-NUS Med­ical School. Her research—which focus­es on why lethal virus­es like Ebo­la and Nipah cause no dis­ease in the bats in which they per­pet­u­al­ly circulate—complemented stud­ies under­way at the Chi­nese insti­tute, which offered fund­ing to encour­age inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tion.

    A ris­ing star in the virol­o­gy com­mu­ni­ty, Ander­son, 42, says her work on Ebo­la in Wuhan was the real­iza­tion of a life-long career goal. Her favorite movie is “Out­break,” the 1995 film in which dis­ease experts respond to a dan­ger­ous new virus—a job Ander­son said she want­ed to do. For her, that meant work­ing on Ebo­la in a high-con­tain­ment lab­o­ra­to­ry.

    Anderson’s career has tak­en her all over the world. After obtain­ing an under­grad­u­ate degree from Deakin Uni­ver­si­ty in Gee­long, Aus­tralia, she worked as a lab tech­ni­cian at the Dana-Far­ber Can­cer Insti­tute in Boston, then returned to Aus­tralia to com­plete a PhD under the super­vi­sion of emi­nent virol­o­gists John Macken­zie and Lin­fa Wang. She did post-doc­tor­al work in Mon­tre­al, before mov­ing to Sin­ga­pore and work­ing again with Wang, who described Ander­son as “very com­mit­ted and ded­i­cat­ed,” and sim­i­lar in per­son­al­i­ty to Shi.

    “They’re both very blunt with such high moral stan­dards,” Wang said by phone from Sin­ga­pore, where he’s the direc­tor of the emerg­ing infec­tious dis­eases pro­gram at the Duke-NUS Med­ical School. “I’m very proud of what Danielle’s been able to do.”

    On the Ground

    Ander­son was on the ground in Wuhan when experts believe the virus, now known as SARS-CoV­‑2, was begin­ning to spread. Dai­ly vis­its for a peri­od in late 2019 put her in close prox­im­i­ty to many oth­ers work­ing at the 65-year-old research cen­ter. She was part of a group that gath­ered each morn­ing at the Chi­nese Acad­e­my of Sci­ences to catch a bus that shut­tled them to the insti­tute about 20 miles away.

    As the sole for­eign­er, Ander­son stood out, and she said the oth­er researchers there looked out for her.

    “We went to din­ners togeth­er, lunch­es, we saw each oth­er out­side of the lab,” she said.

    From her first vis­it before it for­mal­ly opened in 2018, Ander­son was impressed with the institute’s max­i­mum bio­con­tain­ment lab. The con­crete, bunker-style build­ing has the high­est biosafe­ty des­ig­na­tion, and requires air, water and waste to be fil­tered and ster­il­ized before it leaves the facil­i­ty. There were strict pro­to­cols and require­ments aimed at con­tain­ing the pathogens being stud­ied, Ander­son said, and researchers under­went 45 hours of train­ing to be cer­ti­fied to work inde­pen­dent­ly in the lab.

    The induc­tion process required sci­en­tists to demon­strate their knowl­edge of con­tain­ment pro­ce­dures and their com­pe­ten­cy in wear­ing air-pres­sured suits. “It’s very, very exten­sive,” Ander­son said.

    Enter­ing and exit­ing the facil­i­ty was a care­ful­ly chore­o­graphed endeav­or, she said. Depar­tures were made espe­cial­ly intri­cate by a require­ment to take both a chem­i­cal show­er and a per­son­al shower—the tim­ings of which were pre­cise­ly planned.

    Spe­cial Dis­in­fec­tants

    These rules are manda­to­ry across BSL‑4 labs, though Ander­son not­ed dif­fer­ences com­pared with sim­i­lar facil­i­ties in Europe, Sin­ga­pore and Aus­tralia in which she’s worked. The Wuhan lab uses a bespoke method to make and mon­i­tor its dis­in­fec­tants dai­ly, a sys­tem Ander­son was inspired to intro­duce in her own lab. She was con­nect­ed via a head­set to col­leagues in the lab’s com­mand cen­ter to enable con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion and safe­ty vigilance—steps designed to ensure noth­ing went awry.

    How­ev­er, the Trump administration’s focus in 2020 on the idea the virus escaped from the Wuhan facil­i­ty sug­gest­ed that some­thing went seri­ous­ly wrong at the insti­tute, the only one to spe­cial­ize in virol­o­gy, viral pathol­o­gy and virus tech­nol­o­gy of the some 20 bio­log­i­cal and bio­med­ical research insti­tutes of the Chi­nese Acad­e­my of Sci­ences.

    Virol­o­gists and infec­tious dis­ease experts ini­tial­ly dis­missed the the­o­ry, not­ing that virus­es jump from ani­mals to humans with reg­u­lar­i­ty. There was no clear evi­dence from with­in SARS-CoV‑2’s genome that it had been arti­fi­cial­ly manip­u­lat­ed, or that the lab har­bored prog­en­i­tor strains of the pan­dem­ic virus. Polit­i­cal observers sug­gest­ed the alle­ga­tions had a strate­gic basis and were designed to put pres­sure on Bei­jing.

    And yet, China’s actions raised ques­tions. The gov­ern­ment refused to allow inter­na­tion­al sci­en­tists into Wuhan in ear­ly 2020 when the out­break was mush­room­ing, includ­ing experts from the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, who were already in the region.

    Bei­jing stonewalled on allow­ing World Health Orga­ni­za­tion experts into Wuhan for more than a year, and then pro­vid­ed only lim­it­ed access. The WHO team’s final report, writ­ten with and vet­ted by Chi­nese researchers, played down the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab leak. Instead, it said the virus prob­a­bly spread via a bat through anoth­er ani­mal, and gave some cre­dence to a favored Chi­nese the­o­ry that it could have been trans­ferred via frozen food.

    Nev­er Sick

    China’s obfus­ca­tion led out­side researchers to recon­sid­er their stance. Last month, 18 sci­en­tists writ­ing in the jour­nal Sci­ence called for an inves­ti­ga­tion into Covid-19’s ori­gins that would give bal­anced con­sid­er­a­tion to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab acci­dent. Even the direc­tor-gen­er­al of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghe­breye­sus, said the lab the­o­ry hadn’t been stud­ied exten­sive­ly enough.

    But it’s U.S. Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s con­sid­er­a­tion of the idea—previously dis­missed by many as a Trump­ist con­spir­a­cy theory—that has giv­en it new­found legit­i­ma­cy. Biden called on America’s intel­li­gence agen­cies last month to redou­ble their efforts in root­ing out the gen­e­sis of Covid-19 after an ear­li­er report, dis­closed by the Wall Street Jour­nal, claimed three researchers from the lab were hos­pi­tal­ized with flu-like symp­toms in Novem­ber 2019.

    Ander­son said no one she knew at the Wuhan insti­tute was ill toward the end of 2019. More­over, there is a pro­ce­dure for report­ing symp­toms that cor­re­spond with the pathogens han­dled in high-risk con­tain­ment labs.

    “If peo­ple were sick, I assume that I would have been sick—and I wasn’t,” she said. “I was test­ed for coro­n­avirus in Sin­ga­pore before I was vac­ci­nat­ed, and had nev­er had it.”

    Not only that, many of Anderson’s col­lab­o­ra­tors in Wuhan came to Sin­ga­pore at the end of Decem­ber for a gath­er­ing on Nipah virus. There was no word of any ill­ness sweep­ing the lab­o­ra­to­ry, she said.

    “There was no chat­ter,” Ander­son said. “Sci­en­tists are gos­sipy and excit­ed. There was noth­ing strange from my point of view going on at that point that would make you think some­thing is going on here.”

    The names of the sci­en­tists report­ed to have been hos­pi­tal­ized haven’t been dis­closed. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and Shi Zhengli, the lab’s now-famous bat-virus researcher, have repeat­ed­ly denied that any­one from the facil­i­ty con­tract­ed Covid-19. Anderson’s work at the facil­i­ty, and her fund­ing, end­ed after the pan­dem­ic emerged and she focused on the nov­el coro­n­avirus.

    ‘I’m Not Naive’

    It’s not that it’s impos­si­ble the virus spilled from there. Ander­son, bet­ter than most peo­ple, under­stands how a pathogen can escape from a lab­o­ra­to­ry. SARS, an ear­li­er coro­n­avirus that emerged in Asia in 2002 and killed more than 700 peo­ple, sub­se­quent­ly made its way out of secure facil­i­ties a hand­ful of times, she said.

    If pre­sent­ed with evi­dence that such an acci­dent spawned Covid-19, Ander­son “could fore­see how things could maybe hap­pen,” she said. “I’m not naive enough to say I absolute­ly write this off.”

    And yet, she still believes it most like­ly came from a nat­ur­al source. Since it took researchers almost a decade to pin down where in nature the SARS pathogen emerged, Ander­son says she’s not sur­prised they haven’t found the “smok­ing gun” bat respon­si­ble for the lat­est out­break yet.

    The Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy is large enough that Ander­son said she didn’t know what every­one was work­ing on at the end of 2019. She is aware of pub­lished research from the lab that involved test­ing viral com­po­nents for their propen­si­ty to infect human cells. Ander­son is con­vinced no virus was made inten­tion­al­ly to infect peo­ple and delib­er­ate­ly released—one of the more dis­turb­ing the­o­ries to have emerged about the pandemic’s ori­gins.

    Gain of Func­tion

    Ander­son did con­cede that it would be the­o­ret­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble for a sci­en­tist in the lab to be work­ing on a gain of func­tion tech­nique to unknow­ing­ly infect them­selves and to then unin­ten­tion­al­ly infect oth­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty. But there’s no evi­dence that occurred and Ander­son rat­ed its like­li­hood as exceed­ing­ly slim.

    Get­ting autho­riza­tion to cre­ate a virus in this way typ­i­cal­ly requires many lay­ers of approval, and there are sci­en­tif­ic best prac­tices that put strict lim­its on this kind of work. For exam­ple, a mora­to­ri­um was placed on research that could be done on the 1918 Span­ish Flu virus after sci­en­tists iso­lat­ed it decades lat­er.

    Even if such a gain of func­tion effort got clear­ance, it’s hard to achieve, Ander­son said. The tech­nique is called reverse genet­ics.

    “It’s exceed­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to actu­al­ly make it work when you want it to work,” she said.

    Anderson’s lab in Sin­ga­pore was one of the first to iso­late SARS-CoV­‑2 from a Covid patient out­side Chi­na and then to grow the virus. It was com­pli­cat­ed and chal­leng­ing, even for a team used to work­ing with coro­n­avirus­es that knew its bio­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, includ­ing which pro­tein recep­tor it tar­gets. These key facets wouldn’t be known by any­one try­ing to craft a new virus, she said. Even then, the mate­r­i­al that researchers study—the virus’s basic build­ing blocks and genet­ic fingerprint—aren’t ini­tial­ly infec­tious, so they would need to cul­ture sig­nif­i­cant amounts to infect peo­ple.

    Despite this, Ander­son does think an inves­ti­ga­tion is need­ed to nail down the virus’s ori­gin once and for all. She’s dumb­found­ed by the por­tray­al of the lab by some media out­side Chi­na, and the tox­ic attacks on sci­en­tists that have ensued.

    One of a dozen experts appoint­ed to an inter­na­tion­al task­force in Novem­ber to study the ori­gins of the virus, Ander­son hasn’t sought pub­lic atten­tion, espe­cial­ly since being tar­get­ed by U.S. extrem­ists in ear­ly 2020 after she exposed false infor­ma­tion about the pan­dem­ic post­ed online. The vit­ri­ol that ensued prompt­ed her to file a police report. The threats of vio­lence many coro­n­avirus sci­en­tists have expe­ri­enced over the past 18 months have made them hes­i­tant to speak out because of the risk that their words will be mis­con­strued.

    ...

    ————

    “The Last–And Only–Foreign Sci­en­tist in the Wuhan Lab Speaks Out” by Michell Fay Cortez; Bloomberg; 06/27/2021

    An expert in bat-borne virus­es, Ander­son is the only for­eign sci­en­tist to have under­tak­en research at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virology’s BSL‑4 lab, the first in main­land Chi­na equipped to han­dle the planet’s dead­liest pathogens. Her most recent stint end­ed in Novem­ber 2019, giv­ing Ander­son an insider’s per­spec­tive on a place that’s become a flash­point in the search for what caused the worst pan­dem­ic in a cen­tu­ry.”

    If any­one had been in a posi­tion to observe dan­ger­ous coro­n­avirus research tak­ing place at the WIV in the lead up to the out­break, Danielle Ander­son would have been that per­son. It’s notable that she was appoint­ed to the Lancet’s inter­na­tion­al task­force to study the orig­i­nals of the out­break. Recall how Peter Daszak was recent­ly forced to recuse him­self from that com­mis­sion. So Ander­son­’s expe­ri­ences at the WIV are pre­sum­ably being incor­po­rat­ed into the Lancet’s inves­ti­ga­tion. And what she describes is a stark con­trast to what depic­tion we’ve heard else­where of a slop­py dan­ger­ous facil­i­ty con­duct­ing dan­ger­ous research under dan­ger­ous con­di­tions. In fact, when com­par­ing the WIV to oth­er BSL‑4 facil­i­ties she’s worked at, Ander­son was so impressed the method of dai­ly dis­in­fec­tions that it inspired her to imple­ment a sim­i­lar sys­tem into her own lab:

    ...
    The work of the lab and the direc­tor of its emerg­ing infec­tious dis­eases sec­tion—Shi Zhengli, a long-time col­league of Anderson’s dubbed ‘Bat­woman’ for her work hunt­ing virus­es in caves—is now shroud­ed in con­tro­ver­sy. The U.S. has ques­tioned the lab’s safe­ty and alleged its sci­en­tists were engaged in con­tentious gain of func­tion research that manip­u­lat­ed virus­es in a man­ner that could have made them more dan­ger­ous.

    It’s a stark con­trast to the place Ander­son described in an inter­view with Bloomberg News, the first in which she’s shared details about work­ing at the lab.

    Half-truths and dis­tort­ed infor­ma­tion have obscured an accu­rate account­ing of the lab’s func­tions and activ­i­ties, which were more rou­tine than how they’ve been por­trayed in the media, she said.

    “It’s not that it was bor­ing, but it was a reg­u­lar lab that worked in the same way as any oth­er high-con­tain­ment lab,” Ander­son said. “What peo­ple are say­ing is just not how it is.”

    ...

    These rules are manda­to­ry across BSL‑4 labs, though Ander­son not­ed dif­fer­ences com­pared with sim­i­lar facil­i­ties in Europe, Sin­ga­pore and Aus­tralia in which she’s worked. The Wuhan lab uses a bespoke method to make and mon­i­tor its dis­in­fec­tants dai­ly, a sys­tem Ander­son was inspired to intro­duce in her own lab. She was con­nect­ed via a head­set to col­leagues in the lab’s com­mand cen­ter to enable con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion and safe­ty vigilance—steps designed to ensure noth­ing went awry.

    ...

    One of a dozen experts appoint­ed to an inter­na­tion­al task­force in Novem­ber to study the ori­gins of the virus, Ander­son hasn’t sought pub­lic atten­tion, espe­cial­ly since being tar­get­ed by U.S. extrem­ists in ear­ly 2020 after she exposed false infor­ma­tion about the pan­dem­ic post­ed online. The vit­ri­ol that ensued prompt­ed her to file a police report. The threats of vio­lence many coro­n­avirus sci­en­tists have expe­ri­enced over the past 18 months have made them hes­i­tant to speak out because of the risk that their words will be mis­con­strued.
    ...

    Now, regard­ing the reports of the three sick researchers who went to the hos­pi­tal in Novem­ber of 2019 with symp­toms con­sis­tent with the coro­n­avirus, note how Ander­son was in the posi­tion to have dai­ly inter­ac­tions with exact­ly the kinds of researchers who would be the most like­ly peo­ple to get sick from a virus in a lab. Her col­lab­o­ra­tors at the WIV even all met in Sin­ga­pore in Decem­ber with no sign of an out­break. And, again, Ander­son worked on bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es at the WIV and she is aware of the pub­lished research out of the WIV involv­ing test­ing virus­es for their abil­i­ty to infect human cells. So if the three WIV researchers who went to the hos­pi­tal in Novem­ber 2019 were bat-borne virus researchers, Ander­son prob­a­bly would have heard about it:

    ...
    But it’s U.S. Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s con­sid­er­a­tion of the idea—previously dis­missed by many as a Trump­ist con­spir­a­cy theory—that has giv­en it new­found legit­i­ma­cy. Biden called on America’s intel­li­gence agen­cies last month to redou­ble their efforts in root­ing out the gen­e­sis of Covid-19 after an ear­li­er report, dis­closed by the Wall Street Jour­nal, claimed three researchers from the lab were hos­pi­tal­ized with flu-like symp­toms in Novem­ber 2019.

    Ander­son said no one she knew at the Wuhan insti­tute was ill toward the end of 2019. More­over, there is a pro­ce­dure for report­ing symp­toms that cor­re­spond with the pathogens han­dled in high-risk con­tain­ment labs.

    “If peo­ple were sick, I assume that I would have been sick—and I wasn’t,” she said. “I was test­ed for coro­n­avirus in Sin­ga­pore before I was vac­ci­nat­ed, and had nev­er had it.”

    Not only that, many of Anderson’s col­lab­o­ra­tors in Wuhan came to Sin­ga­pore at the end of Decem­ber for a gath­er­ing on Nipah virus. There was no word of any ill­ness sweep­ing the lab­o­ra­to­ry, she said.

    ...

    The Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy is large enough that Ander­son said she didn’t know what every­one was work­ing on at the end of 2019. She is aware of pub­lished research from the lab that involved test­ing viral com­po­nents for their propen­si­ty to infect human cells. Ander­son is con­vinced no virus was made inten­tion­al­ly to infect peo­ple and delib­er­ate­ly released—one of the more dis­turb­ing the­o­ries to have emerged about the pandemic’s ori­gins.
    ...

    Also note how Ander­son has been vis­it­ing the WIV’s max­i­mum bio­con­tain­ment lab since before it for­mal­ly opened in 2018. So this is some­one pre­sum­ably quite famil­iar with the facil­i­ty’s safe­ty mea­sures:

    ...
    Ander­son was on the ground in Wuhan when experts believe the virus, now known as SARS-CoV­‑2, was begin­ning to spread. Dai­ly vis­its for a peri­od in late 2019 put her in close prox­im­i­ty to many oth­ers work­ing at the 65-year-old research cen­ter. She was part of a group that gath­ered each morn­ing at the Chi­nese Acad­e­my of Sci­ences to catch a bus that shut­tled them to the insti­tute about 20 miles away.

    As the sole for­eign­er, Ander­son stood out, and she said the oth­er researchers there looked out for her.

    “We went to din­ners togeth­er, lunch­es, we saw each oth­er out­side of the lab,” she said.

    From her first vis­it before it for­mal­ly opened in 2018, Ander­son was impressed with the institute’s max­i­mum bio­con­tain­ment lab. The con­crete, bunker-style build­ing has the high­est biosafe­ty des­ig­na­tion, and requires air, water and waste to be fil­tered and ster­il­ized before it leaves the facil­i­ty. There were strict pro­to­cols and require­ments aimed at con­tain­ing the pathogens being stud­ied, Ander­son said, and researchers under­went 45 hours of train­ing to be cer­ti­fied to work inde­pen­dent­ly in the lab.

    The induc­tion process required sci­en­tists to demon­strate their knowl­edge of con­tain­ment pro­ce­dures and their com­pe­ten­cy in wear­ing air-pres­sured suits. “It’s very, very exten­sive,” Ander­son said.

    Enter­ing and exit­ing the facil­i­ty was a care­ful­ly chore­o­graphed endeav­or, she said. Depar­tures were made espe­cial­ly intri­cate by a require­ment to take both a chem­i­cal show­er and a per­son­al shower—the tim­ings of which were pre­cise­ly planned.
    ...

    Now, we should point out that when Ander­son dis­miss­es the capa­bil­i­ties of peo­ple to design virus­es that can infect humans, some of what she’s say­ing does­n’t quite make sense. Like when she argues that gain-of-func­tion research is exceed­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to use to cre­ate a new virus because key facets of how SARS-CoV­‑2 func­tions would­n’t be known by researchers. The whole point of gain-of-func­tion research is to learn about these key facets of how virus­es func­tion on a mech­a­nis­tic lev­el. So if you’re going to design a virus you would obvi­ous­ly be work­ing from that exist­ing and grow­ing knowl­edge base. A knowl­edge base that grows with every pub­li­ca­tion on new gain-of-func­tion research. So that part of Ander­son­’s sto­ry sounds some­what self-defen­sive:

    ...
    Get­ting autho­riza­tion to cre­ate a virus in this way typ­i­cal­ly requires many lay­ers of approval, and there are sci­en­tif­ic best prac­tices that put strict lim­its on this kind of work. For exam­ple, a mora­to­ri­um was placed on research that could be done on the 1918 Span­ish Flu virus after sci­en­tists iso­lat­ed it decades lat­er.

    Even if such a gain of func­tion effort got clear­ance, it’s hard to achieve, Ander­son said. The tech­nique is called reverse genet­ics.

    “It’s exceed­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to actu­al­ly make it work when you want it to work,” she said.

    Anderson’s lab in Sin­ga­pore was one of the first to iso­late SARS-CoV­‑2 from a Covid patient out­side Chi­na and then to grow the virus. It was com­pli­cat­ed and chal­leng­ing, even for a team used to work­ing with coro­n­avirus­es that knew its bio­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, includ­ing which pro­tein recep­tor it tar­gets. These key facets wouldn’t be known by any­one try­ing to craft a new virus, she said.. Even then, the mate­r­i­al that researchers study—the virus’s basic build­ing blocks and genet­ic fingerprint—aren’t ini­tial­ly infec­tious, so they would need to cul­ture sig­nif­i­cant amounts to infect peo­ple.
    ...

    Final­ly, note anoth­er key fact about the WIV: it’s the only known insti­tute in Chi­na that spe­cial­izes in spe­cial­ize in virol­o­gy, viral pathol­o­gy and virus tech­nol­o­gy. So if the virus did spill out of a lab in Chi­na, it almost cer­tain­ly would have had to have been the WIV, mak­ing the claims of secret mil­i­tary involve­ment in the research there all the more tan­ta­liz­ing to those who want to pin the blame for the pan­dem­ic on Chi­na:

    ...
    How­ev­er, the Trump administration’s focus in 2020 on the idea the virus escaped from the Wuhan facil­i­ty sug­gest­ed that some­thing went seri­ous­ly wrong at the insti­tute, the only one to spe­cial­ize in virol­o­gy, viral pathol­o­gy and virus tech­nol­o­gy of the some 20 bio­log­i­cal and bio­med­ical research insti­tutes of the Chi­nese Acad­e­my of Sci­ences.
    ...

    So we’ll see if David Ash­er ever ends up pro­vid­ing more infor­ma­tion on the three for­eign researchers who alleged­ly worked at the WIV and wit­nessed peo­ple in mil­i­tary garb engaged in dan­ger­ous research. Danielle Ander­son, the only known for­eign researcher to work at the WIV, clear­ly isn’t one of them. So either Ash­er is mak­ing up these sources, or maybe there were for­eign­ers secret­ly work­ing at the WIV which seems utter­ly implau­si­ble. Spies among the domes­tic research staff? We don’t know, but it’s a sce­nario that’s start­ing to sound much more plau­si­ble. And would be quite a twist, all things con­sid­ered.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 30, 2021, 3:35 pm
  2. @Pterrafractyl–

    In regard to Hud­son’s claim:

    Don’t for­get this:

    USAID’s PREDICT project trained many of the sci­en­tists at the WIV.  From the stand­point of covert oper­a­tions, this would afford the oppor­tu­ni­ty to place one or more oper­a­tives inside that appar­ent­ly tar­get­ed insti­tu­tion: [USAID is a State Depart­ment sub­sidiary that is one of the largest fun­ders of  the Eco­Health Alliance and a fre­quent cov­er for CIA activ­i­ty.] ” . . . . . . . . Many of the sci­en­tists at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy have been trained by the U.S. government’s PREDICT project. . . .”

    Keep up the great work!

    Posted by Dave Emory | June 30, 2021, 6:57 pm
  3. Relat­ing to the claims of for­mer State Depart­ment ana­lyst David Ash­er about secret gain-of-func­tion research on bat borne coro­n­avirus­es car­ried out by the Chi­nese mil­i­tary with Shi Zhengli’s lab at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV), here’s a sto­ry from back in May that appears to be one the first report pub­licly dis­cussing these alle­ga­tions. Notably, this ‘exclu­sive’ report was pub­lished by the Sin­clair Broad­cast­ing Group, a media giant that’s now arguably even more com­mit­ted to ped­dling right-wing nar­ra­tives that even Fox News.

    The arti­cle dis­cuss­es a report issued for the US gov­ern­ment on May 27 2020 by the intel­li­gence unit at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry that con­clud­ed the coro­n­avirus may have emerged from a Chi­nese lab. The report was labeled “Top Secret” and its exis­tence was pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed. Sin­clair got the scoop.

    And part of what makes this arti­cle so inter­est­ing is that it’s paired with com­men­tary from unnamed experts who keep empha­siz­ing that while this secret gain-of-func­tion research could be char­ac­ter­ized as defen­sive in nature, there is sim­ply no way to dis­en­tan­gle the dual-use nature of this kind of research. It’s implic­it­ly defen­sive and offen­sive in nature. It’s a fun fact about this kind of research is obvi­ous­ly a high­ly sen­si­tive top­ic for the US ongo­ing inter­na­tion­al pres­sure cam­paign against Chi­na because the goal isn’t to ban dual-use research. The goal is a ban dual-use research for Chi­na. Some­how the the mes­sage needs to be con­veyed to the pub­lic that Chi­na engaged in very dan­ger­ous bio­log­i­cal war­fare research with­out acknowl­edg­ing that much of this research was spon­sored by the US via the Eco­Health Alliance and that sim­i­lar research takes place in bio­log­i­cal research facil­i­ties across the West. It’s a pro­pa­gan­dis­tic conun­drum that can real­ly only be over­come with more obfus­ca­tion and mis­di­rec­tion, enough to ensure the pub­lic nev­er real­ly under­stands the top­ic:

    Sin­clair Broad­cast­ing Group

    EXCLUSIVE: Clas­si­fied study found COVID-19 could have orig­i­nat­ed in Chi­nese lab

    by JAMES ROSEN, The Nation­al Desk
    Mon­day, May 3rd 2021

    WASHINGTON (SBG) — A clas­si­fied study of the ori­gin of SARS-CoV­‑2 con­duct­ed a year ago by sci­en­tists at the Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, the Depart­ment of Energy’s pre­mier biode­fense research insti­tu­tion, con­clud­ed the nov­el coro­n­avirus at the heart of the cur­rent pan­dem­ic may have orig­i­nat­ed in a lab­o­ra­to­ry in Chi­na, Sin­clair has learned.

    Researchers at Livermore’s “Z Divi­sion,” the lab’s intel­li­gence unit, issued the report May 27, 2020, clas­si­fied “Top Secret.” Its exis­tence is pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed. The Z Divi­sion report assessed that both the lab-ori­gin the­o­ry and the zoonot­ic the­o­ry were plau­si­ble and war­rant­ed fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion. Sin­clair has not reviewed the report but con­firmed its con­tents through inter­views with mul­ti­ple sources who read it or were briefed on its con­tents.

    In an email to Sin­clair, a Liv­er­more spokesper­son con­firmed the exis­tence of the report but declined to pro­vide addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion. “Because the report you are refer­ring to is clas­si­fied,” wrote Lyn­da Seaver, direc­tor of pub­lic affairs, “it would be inap­pro­pri­ate for our lab to dis­cuss this.”

    Avril Haines, the new direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence, tes­ti­fied that the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty is active­ly inves­ti­gat­ing both the­o­ries. “We just don’t know exact­ly where, when, and how the coro­n­avirus was trans­mit­ted ini­tial­ly,” Haines told the House intel­li­gence com­mit­tee on April 15.

    “We have two plau­si­ble the­o­ries that we are work­ing on that com­po­nents with­in the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty have essen­tial­ly coa­lesced around. One of them is that it was a lab­o­ra­to­ry acci­dent, and the oth­er is that it emerged nat­u­ral­ly from human con­tact with infect­ed ani­mals.”

    Haines added that Chi­nese lead­ers “have not been forth­com­ing through this process,” and that U.S. analy­sis “is not based on an assump­tion that what they say is true.”

    If the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has not been able to dis­count either the­o­ry, nor have the med­ical or sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ties pro­duced any con­sen­sus as to which the­o­ry is cor­rect.

    The zoonot­ic the­o­ry, advanced by Chi­na and the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion, holds that an ani­mal, most like­ly a bat, infect­ed the first human with COVID-19, or infect­ed an inter­me­di­ate host, such as anoth­er ani­mal, that sub­se­quent­ly infect­ed the first human. This the­o­ry has focused on the “wet” mar­kets of Wuhan, the crowd­ed bazaar of fish, meats, and frozen foods where rough­ly one-third of the first 174 known cas­es of COVID-19 had links.

    Researchers believe coro­n­avirus­es, first iden­ti­fied in the 1960s, have prob­a­bly afflict­ed humans for cen­turies, albeit with milder symp­toms than those asso­ci­at­ed with more recent strains. Dead­lier coro­n­avirus out­breaks occurred in 2002–2003 (SARS) and 2012 (MERS). The coro­n­avirus in the cur­rent pan­dem­ic, COVID-19, is for­mal­ly known as SARS-CoV­‑2.

    The lab-ori­gin the­o­ry is pred­i­cat­ed on the fact that the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV) – locat­ed, like the wet mar­kets, in the cen­tral Chi­nese city that was the epi­cen­ter of the out­break – has long been at the fore­front of China’s research on bat coro­n­avirus­es.

    Accord­ing to a “fact sheet” released by the State Depart­ment on Jan­u­ary 15, WIV per­son­nel work close­ly with the Chi­nese mil­i­tary and have con­duct­ed exper­i­ments involv­ing RaTG13, the bat coro­n­avirus with the clos­est sam­ple to SARS-CoV­‑2 (96.2 per­cent). The lab has also pub­lished find­ings from “gain-of-func­tion” research, which is aimed at increas­ing the trans­mis­si­bil­i­ty of virus­es among humans.

    This area of sci­en­tif­ic activ­i­ty, experts told Sin­clair, car­ries a “dual-use”: It sup­ports the devel­op­ment of new vac­cines and ther­a­peu­tics but can also be used in covert bio­log­i­cal- and chem­i­cal-weapons pro­grams, which Chi­na is sus­pect­ed of main­tain­ing. The State Depart­ment fact sheet said Chi­na is work­ing “to engi­neer chimeric virus­es.” In its 2021 report, issued this month, the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion and Com­pli­ance (AVC) said the “dual-use appli­ca­tions” of China’s sci­en­tif­ic research “raise con­cerns about its com­pli­ance with Arti­cle I” of the Bio­log­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion enact­ed in 1975, to which Chi­na is a sig­na­to­ry. That arti­cle pro­hibits mem­ber states from pur­su­ing bio­log­i­cal weapons.

    The “dual use” of gain-of-func­tion research has in turn divid­ed pro­po­nents of the lab-ori­gin the­o­ry into two main camps. Both believe SARS-CoV­‑2 acci­den­tal­ly “leaked” from WIV per­son­nel, but one camp attrib­ut­es the acci­dent to legit­i­mate med­ical research, the oth­er to pro­hib­it­ed bio­log­i­cal-weapons research.

    Ana­lysts said the State Department’s claim of a close work­ing rela­tion­ship between WIV and the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA), the Chi­nese mil­i­tary, was well found­ed. “Any sort of insti­tu­tion that works on mat­ters that could be con­strued as relat­ing to nation­al secu­ri­ty – which the Wuhan Lab would absolute­ly fall under that cat­e­go­ry – we should expect stan­dard oper­at­ing prac­tice is that they would have a close rela­tion­ship with the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty and with the PLA,” said Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Justin Jacobs, a Chi­na schol­ar.

    That WIV could poten­tial­ly suf­fer a seri­ous lab acci­dent was not far from the minds of the State Depart­ment vis­i­tors there who, in 2018, report­ed­ly cabled back to Wash­ing­ton that they had observed WIV per­son­nel prac­tic­ing lax safe­ty pro­to­cols.

    Asked about the Z Divi­sion report, Rep. Michael McCaul (R‑TX), rank­ing mem­ber on the House for­eign affairs com­mit­tee, declined to com­ment on clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al but empha­sized the need for fur­ther study. “From what I have seen and read, you absolute­ly can­not dis­miss the notion that the WIV lab is a poten­tial source of the virus,” McCaul said in a state­ment to Sin­clair. “And if you lis­ten to the lead­ers in the pre­vi­ous and cur­rent admin­is­tra­tions, they have said exact­ly the same thing.”

    In its own report on the ori­gin of SARS-CoV­‑2, issued March 30, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion team – which was denied access by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to key sites and data and was com­pelled to seek for­mal Chi­nese con­cur­rence in its find­ings – des­ig­nat­ed the indi­rect-zoonot­ic the­o­ry (bat-ani­mal-human) as “very like­ly,” even as the team con­ced­ed it could not iden­ti­fy an inter­me­di­ate host. By con­trast, the joint WHO-Chi­nese report termed the lab-ori­gin the­o­ry “extreme­ly unlike­ly.”

    The dis­clo­sure that top sci­en­tists at Lawrence Liv­er­more reached an oppo­site con­clu­sion in the spring of 2020, by which point some 104,000 Amer­i­cans had died – about 18 per­cent of the present total – is fuel­ing calls for a new probe. “This is why it’s cru­cial the WHO con­duct an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion – not one that is taint­ed by the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s malign influ­ence,” said McCaul.

    U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken said in March that Wash­ing­ton har­bored “real con­cerns about the method­ol­o­gy and the process that went into the [WHO] report, includ­ing the fact that the gov­ern­ment in Bei­jing appar­ent­ly helped to write it.”

    The Z Divi­sion report received only lim­it­ed dis­tri­b­u­tion at the time of its issuance, sources said, prompt­ing some senior U.S. offi­cials in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to make inquiries into why it had not been brought to their atten­tion last May. Senior offi­cials at the Ener­gy and State Depart­ments were said to have inter­vened to quash efforts by low­er-lev­el U.S. offi­cials who, intrigued by the Z Divi­sion report, con­tact­ed the Liv­er­more sci­en­tists who wrote it to seek addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion. Seaver, the LLNL spokesper­son, did not respond to that alle­ga­tion.

    One indi­vid­ual said to have been inti­mate­ly involved in the prepa­ra­tion of the Z Divi­sion report is Dr. David J. Rakestraw, a senior sci­ence advis­er who for­mer­ly ran LLNL’s biode­fense pro­grams and has been coor­di­nat­ing the lab’s tech­ni­cal response to COVID-19.

    “We’ve been putting a large amount of focus for the last six years on using the com­pu­ta­tion­al resources at LLNL to try to accel­er­ate the timescales for devel­op­ing a response to an emerg­ing bio­log­i­cal threat,” Rakestraw said in a Liv­er­more press release ear­ly in the pan­dem­ic. “That effort has put us in a posi­tion where we have tools now that are applic­a­ble to help­ing with the cur­rent response.”

    In an inter­view with a fel­low sci­en­tist uploaded to YouTube in May 2020 – two weeks before the Z Divi­sion final­ized its report – Rakestraw referred to COVID-19 as “a nat­ur­al occur­rence.” How­ev­er, he oblique­ly framed the out­break in the con­text of Chi­nese gain-of-func­tion research.

    “The thing that I’ve worked on prob­a­bly the hard­est,” Rakestraw told Caleb Che­ung, a direc­tor at Quest Sci­ence Cen­ter, an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion also locat­ed in Liv­er­more, Cal­i­for­nia, is “being able to respond rapid­ly to bio­log­i­cal threats as they appeared. And we were focused on both the poten­tial for nat­ur­al occur­rences, like the most recent COVID-19, but also on the poten­tial for adver­saries to use advances in biotech­nol­o­gy to cre­ate nov­el threats that we wouldn’t have vac­cines for.”

    Con­tact­ed by Sin­clair, Rakestraw did not respond to mes­sages left with his wife and on his home voice mail.

    The slow dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Z Divi­sion report across the senior ech­e­lons of the U.S. inter­a­gency – the doc­u­ment qui­et­ly cir­cu­lat­ed to the White House Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, the State Depart­ment, and oth­er agen­cies – led a hand­ful of Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials to seek access to report­ing by oth­er intel­li­gence agen­cies on the sub­ject.

    Its exis­tence unknown to most Amer­i­cans – even to some inside the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty – Z Divi­sion was cre­at­ed in 1965 to study Sovi­et nuclear weapons pro­grams. Accord­ing to The U.S. Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty (2008 ed.), authored by the late Jef­frey T. Richel­son, an intel­li­gence his­to­ri­an and senior fel­low at George Wash­ing­ton University’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Archive, the divi­sion expand­ed its focus to include bio­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal weapons pro­grams. A 2006 job ad for the unit sought a bio­med­ical sci­en­tist “with a back­ground in virol­o­gy, micro­bi­ol­o­gy, immunol­o­gy, epi­demi­ol­o­gy­or oth­er areas of sci­ence and med­i­cine rel­e­vant to Bio­log­i­cal Weapons issues.”

    ...

    ———–

    “EXCLUSIVE: Clas­si­fied study found COVID-19 could have orig­i­nat­ed in Chi­nese lab” by JAMES ROSEN; Sin­clair Broad­cast­ing Group; 05/03/2021

    Researchers at Livermore’s “Z Divi­sion,” the lab’s intel­li­gence unit, issued the report May 27, 2020, clas­si­fied “Top Secret.” Its exis­tence is pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed. The Z Divi­sion report assessed that both the lab-ori­gin the­o­ry and the zoonot­ic the­o­ry were plau­si­ble and war­rant­ed fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion. Sin­clair has not reviewed the report but con­firmed its con­tents through inter­views with mul­ti­ple sources who read it or were briefed on its con­tents.”

    So we now know that the there was a top secret report cir­cu­lat­ing DC rais­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab leak. But it was report­ed­ly squashed by senior offi­cials at the Ener­gy And State Depart­ment, prompt­ing some Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials to seek oth­er intel­li­gence source on the top­ic. If would be inter­est­ing to know if the senior Ener­gy and State Depart­ment offi­cials who squashed the Z Divi­sion report were also involved with seek­ing out those alter­na­tive intel­li­gence assess­ments:

    ...
    The Z Divi­sion report received only lim­it­ed dis­tri­b­u­tion at the time of its issuance, sources said, prompt­ing some senior U.S. offi­cials in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to make inquiries into why it had not been brought to their atten­tion last May. Senior offi­cials at the Ener­gy and State Depart­ments were said to have inter­vened to quash efforts by low­er-lev­el U.S. offi­cials who, intrigued by the Z Divi­sion report, con­tact­ed the Liv­er­more sci­en­tists who wrote it to seek addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion. Seaver, the LLNL spokesper­son, did not respond to that alle­ga­tion.

    ...

    The slow dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Z Divi­sion report across the senior ech­e­lons of the U.S. inter­a­gency – the doc­u­ment qui­et­ly cir­cu­lat­ed to the White House Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, the State Depart­ment, and oth­er agen­cies – led a hand­ful of Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials to seek access to report­ing by oth­er intel­li­gence agen­cies on the sub­ject.
    ...

    Anoth­er ques­tion is how much of a role did this Z Divi­sion assess­ment play in the Jan­u­ary 15, 20221 State Depart­ment report led by David Ash­er that talked about secret mil­i­tary gain-of-func­tion research on RaTG13 at the WIV. Recall how, as we’ve seen, there did indeed appear to be gain-of-func­tion research con­duct­ed by Shi Zhengli’s lab on the RaTG13 virus. But did not appear to be done in secret. It’s one of the inter­est­ing things to watch as this sto­ry plays out: how the claims of secret gain-of-func­tion research square with the non-secret gain-of-func­tion research that’s demon­stra­bly pub­licly avail­able:

    ...
    Accord­ing to a “fact sheet” released by the State Depart­ment on Jan­u­ary 15, WIV per­son­nel work close­ly with the Chi­nese mil­i­tary and have con­duct­ed exper­i­ments involv­ing RaTG13, the bat coro­n­avirus with the clos­est sam­ple to SARS-CoV­‑2 (96.2 per­cent). The lab has also pub­lished find­ings from “gain-of-func­tion” research, which is aimed at increas­ing the trans­mis­si­bil­i­ty of virus­es among humans.

    This area of sci­en­tif­ic activ­i­ty, experts told Sin­clair, car­ries a “dual-use”: It sup­ports the devel­op­ment of new vac­cines and ther­a­peu­tics but can also be used in covert bio­log­i­cal- and chem­i­cal-weapons pro­grams, which Chi­na is sus­pect­ed of main­tain­ing. The State Depart­ment fact sheet said Chi­na is work­ing “to engi­neer chimeric virus­es.” In its 2021 report, issued this month, the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion and Com­pli­ance (AVC) said the “dual-use appli­ca­tions” of China’s sci­en­tif­ic research “raise con­cerns about its com­pli­ance with Arti­cle I” of the Bio­log­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion enact­ed in 1975, to which Chi­na is a sig­na­to­ry. That arti­cle pro­hibits mem­ber states from pur­su­ing bio­log­i­cal weapons.

    The “dual use” of gain-of-func­tion research has in turn divid­ed pro­po­nents of the lab-ori­gin the­o­ry into two main camps. Both believe SARS-CoV­‑2 acci­den­tal­ly “leaked” from WIV per­son­nel, but one camp attrib­ut­es the acci­dent to legit­i­mate med­ical research, the oth­er to pro­hib­it­ed bio­log­i­cal-weapons research.

    Ana­lysts said the State Department’s claim of a close work­ing rela­tion­ship between WIV and the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA), the Chi­nese mil­i­tary, was well found­ed. “Any sort of insti­tu­tion that works on mat­ters that could be con­strued as relat­ing to nation­al secu­ri­ty – which the Wuhan Lab would absolute­ly fall under that cat­e­go­ry – we should expect stan­dard oper­at­ing prac­tice is that they would have a close rela­tion­ship with the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty and with the PLA,” said Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Justin Jacobs, a Chi­na schol­ar.
    ...

    Also note the obvi­ous poten­tial for dual-use research being con­duct­ed by the same LLNL team that issued the Z Divi­sion report: accord­ing to Dr. David J. Rakestraw, “We’ve been putting a large amount of focus for the last six years on using the com­pu­ta­tion­al resources at LLNL to try to accel­er­ate the timescales for devel­op­ing a response to an emerg­ing bio­log­i­cal threat.” Now, that’s the kind of state­ment that could mean A LOT of dif­fer­ent things. Com­pu­ta­tion­al resources could be used to accel­er­ate the timescale for devel­op­ing a response to an emerg­ing bio­log­i­cal threat in all sorts of dif­fer­ent ways. They could be used in a bio­sur­veil­lance aspect try­ing to iden­ti­fy emerg­ing threats. Was that what Rade­straw was refer­ring to? Or might he have been ref­er­enc­ing some sort of com­pu­ta­tion­al method for under­stand­ing the struc­ture and func­tion of nov­el virus­es for the pur­pose of rapid­ly design­ing new vac­cines for them? We have no idea of that’s what Rakestraw was refer­ring to but com­pu­ta­tion­al virol­o­gy is a thing. A thing with obvi­ous dual-use capa­bil­i­ties. It’s why one of the inter­est­ing ques­tions here is just how much dual use research has been tak­ing place at the var­i­ous agen­cies that are cur­rent­ly rais­ing alarms about Chi­nese dual-use research:

    ...
    One indi­vid­ual said to have been inti­mate­ly involved in the prepa­ra­tion of the Z Divi­sion report is Dr. David J. Rakestraw, a senior sci­ence advis­er who for­mer­ly ran LLNL’s biode­fense pro­grams and has been coor­di­nat­ing the lab’s tech­ni­cal response to COVID-19.

    We’ve been putting a large amount of focus for the last six years on using the com­pu­ta­tion­al resources at LLNL to try to accel­er­ate the timescales for devel­op­ing a response to an emerg­ing bio­log­i­cal threat,” Rakestraw said in a Liv­er­more press release ear­ly in the pan­dem­ic. “That effort has put us in a posi­tion where we have tools now that are applic­a­ble to help­ing with the cur­rent response.”

    In an inter­view with a fel­low sci­en­tist uploaded to YouTube in May 2020 – two weeks before the Z Divi­sion final­ized its report – Rakestraw referred to COVID-19 as “a nat­ur­al occur­rence.” How­ev­er, he oblique­ly framed the out­break in the con­text of Chi­nese gain-of-func­tion research.

    “The thing that I’ve worked on prob­a­bly the hard­est,” Rakestraw told Caleb Che­ung, a direc­tor at Quest Sci­ence Cen­ter, an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion also locat­ed in Liv­er­more, Cal­i­for­nia, is “being able to respond rapid­ly to bio­log­i­cal threats as they appeared. And we were focused on both the poten­tial for nat­ur­al occur­rences, like the most recent COVID-19, but also on the poten­tial for adver­saries to use advances in biotech­nol­o­gy to cre­ate nov­el threats that we wouldn’t have vac­cines for.”
    ...

    It’s a real chal­lenge: How can the US and its allies make the case that Chi­na needs to be glob­al­ly pun­ished for devel­op­ing and releas­ing the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus and sanc­tioned from future gain-of-func­tion dual use research with­out simul­ta­ne­ous­ly putting a crimp on all of the dual-use research tak­ing place in the West? That’s the chal­lenge at hand. A chal­lenge that’s pri­mar­i­ly pro­pa­gan­dis­tic in nature. The chal­lenge of actu­al­ly bal­anc­ing legit­i­mate biode­fense needs and valid appli­ca­tion of dual use activ­i­ties with inher­ent risks that come with these activ­i­ties is clear­ly way beyond human­i­ty’s pay grade at this point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 3, 2021, 4:27 pm

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