What to expect from the upcoming U.S. intelligence report on COVID-19 origins

By Qing Ming (People's Daily Online) 16:56, August 24, 2021

Illustration/People's Daily Online

The highly anticipated report on COVID-19 origins is finally set to be dropped. Ordered three months ago by American president Joe Biden and compiled by America’s intelligence community, the report will arrive with the perfect timing—when the US military, guided by the thorough calculus of US intelligence, has completed a swift and successful withdrawal of its troops lingering in Afghanistan.

Well, this all depends on how you define “successful” and how you view America’s intelligence community, which frequently offers up one-of-a-kind intelligence reports from time to time.

If you are expecting a meticulous, watertight report that is in accordance with science and facts, you will probably find yourself disappointed. But if you are looking for a specious, preposterous, and Iraq-Has-Weapons-Of-Mass-Destruction-kind of piece, it’s definitely worth the wait.

In churning out gibberish and farcical accounts, the US intelligence community is rarely seen as reliable, and its output has certainly been stable in its quality. A brief review of its history will demonstrate how “trustworthy” the intel body has been. From the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 to the 9/11 Attacks, from the Fall of Saigon to the disgraceful fleeing of Kabul (not to mention the W.M.D. saga during the Iraq War)—the US intelligence community has carried the torch of amateurish intel gathering in its surefire attempt to further fan the flames of war and confrontation.

Taking a break from spying on American allies, the US intelligence community has been allocated with the significant task of tracking down the origins of COVID-19, capturing the spotlight and taking over the tasks of scientists.

Biden’s move to let intelligence personnel masquerade as scientists is appalling but unsurprising. After all, America is plagued with not only SARS‑CoV‑2 but also a blend of anti-science viruses, reducing them into a melting pot where masks are abandoned, vaccines rejected, and scientists taunted, where misinformation spreads as fast as the virus, and the voices of conspiracists and quacks speak louder than scientists and doctors.

What to expect? (Note: Spoiler alert)

On August 23, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, revealed that the findings of the 90-day intelligence probe into the origins of COVID-19 would be finished this Tuesday, but that it would take a few days before it is declassified and made public.

What you may ask is the fresh report all about? A similar report concocted by the Republican Party may offer a few clues.

Earlier this month, the GOP disseminated a so-called “detailed” report on the COVID-19 lab leak conspiracy, offering their version of the COVID-19 probe, weeks ahead of the deadline of the report ordered by Joe Biden. In the GOP report, farfetched concerns and farcical trifles were pieced together to form “circumstantial evidence” pointing to a “lab leak” in China, e.g., major renovations to air safety and waste treatment systems in research facilities, satellite imagery of Wuhan in September and October 2019 showing “a significant increase in hospital visits and internet searches for COVID-19 symptoms,” and the like. Come on… the world’s self-proclaimed most powerful intelligence community is better than this.

Apart from the aforementioned tricks, Biden’s intelligence squad might have mobilized some other cheap shots in vain. CNN reported on August 6 that American intelligence agencies had gained access to a catalog of virus-related information that contained genetic data from virus samples studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Hard as they tried, experts like Professor Jin Dongyan of Hong Kong University, believed that “no concrete conclusion can be reached in the analysis of indirect and circumstantial data. ” “The sequence cannot tell where SARS-CoV-2 comes from. It could even be counterproductive, just raising more questions,” said Jin.

During an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on August 23, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins reiterated that he believed the SARS‑CoV‑2 more likely has a natural origin, standing firmly along the long line of scientists who hold their belief against conspiracies and unscientific noises. “The vast evidence from other perspectives says no, this was a naturally occurring virus,” Collins said.

The reason why the US has been constantly belittling WHO’s February report on the origins of COVID-19 and later decided to create their own versions of the report is very easy to fathom: the report didn’t provide the conviction they wanted it to provide. Unless there is a guilty verdict, the US wouldn’t give up so easily. In scapegoating China for its calamitous mishandling of the coronavirus, the US is following the same pattern used in framing China on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and a whole spectrum of other issues: it created piles of anti-China documents packed with lies and disinformation and pressed for further investigations, all from a stance of moral supremacy.

Whatever its findings, the COVID-19 origin report ordered by Joe Biden will at least divert some of the public’s attention away from the recent developments in Afghanistan, which has dragged the president’s support levels to a new all-time low. But the report proceedings will undoubtedly do nothing to persuade American citizens to put on their masks or roll up their sleeves in the fight against the virus. More likely than not, the report will merely serve as a piece of wastepaper that bears no other value than inciting hatred. 

(Web editor: Meng Bin, Liang Jun)


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