Biden admin shut down Wuhan lab-leak inquiry: CNN

Biden admin shut down Wuhan lab-leak inquiry: CNN
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

They’re singing a different tune now, but we’ll get to that in a minute. CNN reported last night that Joe Biden and the White House shut down a State Department probe into the lab-leak theory of COVID-19 origin, supposedly over issues of evidentiary reliability. Now that scientists have rejected China’s claims that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had no connection to the pandemic outbreak, news of the abrupt closure of the probe has leaked:

The existence of the State Department inquiry and its termination this spring by the Biden administration — neither of which has been previously reported — comes to light amid renewed interest in whether the virus could have leaked out of a Wuhan lab with links to the Chinese military. The Biden administration is also facing scrutiny of its own efforts to determine if the Chinese government was responsible for the virus.

Those involved in the previously undisclosed inquiry, which was launched last fall by allies of then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, say it was an honest effort to probe what many initially dismissed: that China’s biological weapons program could have had a greater role in the pandemic’s origin in Wuhan, according to two additional sources. …

The decision to terminate the inquiry, which was run primarily out of the State Department’s arms control and verification bureau, was made after Biden officials were briefed on the team’s draft findings in February and March of this year, a State Department spokesperson said. Questions were raised about the legitimacy of the findings and the project was deemed to be an ineffective use of resources, explained a source familiar with the decision.

That timing is very curious. In February and early March, the Biden team had barely assembled itself, let alone acquired the longitudinal expertise to make these kinds of determinations. Biden himself was complaining — falsely — that he had come into office with no vaccines and no plans for distributing them, and that his team was working overtime to catch up. How would they have had the knowledge to determine that such a probe was “an ineffective use of resources”?

By the end of March, however, Tedros Ghebreyesus burned them. After a World Health Organization review dismissed the lab-leak hypothesis, Ghebreyesus unexpectedly denounced that conclusion and demanded further investigation into the WIV’s potential role in the COVID-19 outbreak. Ever since, health organizations and media outlets have conducted climb-downs on their repudiation of the potential of a lab leak and fact-checks that castigated advocates of that origin explanation as conspiracy-theory nutters.

That climb-down now includes the Biden administration. At WHO’s annual ministerial meeting yesterday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra demanded a thorough investigation into WIV and the lab-leak hypothesis:

The United States’ top health official called Tuesday for a swift follow-up investigation into the coronavirus’s origins amid renewed questions about whether the virus jumped from an animal host into humans in a naturally occurring event or escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told an annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organization that international experts should be given “the independence to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of the outbreak.”

Becerra’s remarks, which were prerecorded, signaled that the Biden administration would continue to press the WHO to expand its investigation to determine the virus’s origins.

“Continue”? It’s clear that Biden and his team didn’t want to press for any answers on the Wuhan lab, not until they were forced into it. If they wanted answers, they could have continued the probe that Pompeo launched, replacing investigators with people in which they had more confidence. Instead, they shut it down, probably because they didn’t want Donald Trump to get any credit for getting it right. Again.

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