A whistleblower has come forward to claim that CIA leadership attempted to discredit the Covid-19 “lab leak” theory by paying off investigators to change their conclusions to support the theory that the original coronavirus jumped from animals to humans, according to congressional leadership.
In a letter to CIA Director William Burns, Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) asked for all documents and other records pertaining to the spy agency’s initial response to the pandemic. In their letter, the two Republican leaders added that an informant with knowledge of the CIA’s response said six analysts were offered cash payments to change their positions.
“According to the whistleblower, at the end of its review, six of the seven members of the Team believed the intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” the House panel chairmen wrote.
“The seventh member of the Team, who also happened to be the most senior, was the lone officer to believe COVID-19 originated through zoonosis.”
“The whistleblower further contends that to come to the eventual public determination of uncertainty, the other six members were given a significant monetary incentive to change their position,” they said, noting that the analysts were “experienced officers with significant scientific expertise.”
As part of their investigation, Reps. Turner and Wenstrup have asked CIA Chief Operating Officer Andrew Makridis to sit for a transcribed interview, believing he played a significant role in the decision to turn experts’ opinions away from the lab leak theory.
The theory, which posits that Chinese researchers in a Wuhan lab were exploring gain-of-function research to enhance the dangerousness of Covid-19, lost control of the virus as it escaped into the environment either through transmission to an employee or some other means. Earlier this year, the U.S. government concluded with modest confidence that the original coronavirus most likely escaped from the Wuhan lab, though no concrete determination can be made due to China’s refusal to allow for an independent investigation.
The White House has sought to distance itself from the finding by refusing to answer about repercussions for China while Democrats warm to the idea that China was behind the research which ultimately may have caused the global pandemic.