DNI: Here's your useless two-page report on the origins of the pandemic

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

On Friday night, our Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, submitted the unclassified version of her agency’s report on the investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Nobody who has been paying any attention was expecting much and most assumed it was going to be fairly useless. But just how bad was it? For starters, it was one and a half pages long. That was a pretty good indication that they didn’t exactly crack the code and reach some incredible scientific or intelligence breakthrough. But as Jim Geraghty points out in today’s Morning Jolt, it was actually worse than that. The few possibilities they offered were already long known to the public, but some other, juicer material that has been available for some time now was entirely left out of it.

Late Friday, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines released a page-and-a-half summary of the intelligence community’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19, offering almost nothing new to what was publicly known about the start of the pandemic. The summary offered less information than most lengthy magazine pieces, offering the obvious and unhelpful conclusion that “all agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and laboratory-associated incident.”

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the released two-page intelligence report is that it simply doesn’t mention or address several key points that have appeared in the news in the past few months, attributed to sources within the U.S. intelligence community.

So what we’re left with is a report generated from the highest levels of the United States intelligence community that ignores publicly available information that was attributed to the United States intelligence community. What sort of information? Jim offers several examples.

First, there is a Wall Street Journal report that came out way back in May. That was when we learned that at least three doctors working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill at the same time in November of 2019. Their symptoms were consistent with COVID, but other diseases couldn’t be ruled out.

That was amplified when Josh Rogin was talking to Bari Weiss on her podcast last week. We learned that those Wuhan researchers had lost their sense of smell and developed “ground-glass” opacities in their lungs. That doesn’t happen with the flu. In fact, COVID is one of the only things known to cause those symptoms.

Then there was John Ratcliffe’s interview on Fox earlier this month. (He used to hold the same job as Avril Haines.) They had been searching for the source also and never found a single case of that virus jumping from an animal to a person, while the lab was known to have been working on similar medical technology.

All of this information was available to the office of the DNI. How did none of it make it into the report? Perhaps it’s in the classified version, but why withhold that from the public if that’s the case? Doesn’t sound like a matter of national security to me. Is the administration deliberately trying to avoid suggesting anything that could implicate China? And if so, why?

Honestly, if that’s all we can expect out of the DNI’s office at this point, why bother going through the motions of having an investigation to begin with? This investigation is looking even more useless than the one the World Health Organization has been running. Something smells fishy here, but we’re curiously not hearing a peep out of any administration officials wishing to leak more out to the press. I wonder why that might be.