The Central Intelligence Agency offered to pay analysts to cover up its findings that COVID-19 most likely leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, new whistleblower testimony to Congress claims.
A senior CIA official told House committee chairs that his agency tried to pay off six analysts who had determined that SARS-CoV-2 likely came from a Wuhan lab if they changed their position, saying that Virus jumped from animals to humans, according to a report letter sent to CIA Director William Burns on Tuesday.
Special Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) requested all documents, communications and salary information from COVID Discovery by September 26 CIA team.
“According to the whistleblower, at the end of his review, six of the seven members of the team believed the evidence and science was sufficient to make a low-certainty assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” the House of Representatives wrote the panel chairs.
“The seventh member of the team, who also happened to be the oldest, was the only official who believed that COVID-19 arose from zoonotic disease.”
“The whistleblower further alleges that the other six members were given a significant financial incentive to change their position in order to ultimately result in a public finding of uncertainty,” they said, noting that the analysts were “experienced “Officials with significant scientific expertise” acted.
Wenstrup and Turner also requested documents and communications between the CIA and other federal agencies, including the State Department, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Energy.
In a separate letter, House committee chairs identified former CIA Chief Operating Officer Andrew Makridis as playing “a central role” in the COVID investigation and asked him to participate in a transcribed interview.
The CIA and Makridis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The FBI was the first US intelligence agency to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was most likely due to a laboratory leak. In February, the Energy Department also concluded that a laboratory leak was likely based on new findings.
The U.S. Secret Service declassified its 10-page report on the origins of COVID in June, which found that “biosafety concerns” and “genetic manipulation” had been identified at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but most of its “authorities are dismissing them.” “This was not the case with SARS-CoV-2.” genetically modified.”
Several scientists in the Wuhan lab also became ill in the fall of 2019 with symptoms “consistent with, but not diagnostic of, COVID-19,” the report said.
The CIA and another intelligence agency “remain unable to determine the exact origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, as both hypotheses rely on significant assumptions or face challenges with conflicting reports,” it said.
But some former US intelligence officials contradicted this assessment. In April, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Congress that the so-called “laboratory leak theory” was the “only” credible explanation for the pandemic, which has since killed nearly seven million people worldwide World Health Organization.
“My informed assessment as a person who has as much access to our government’s intelligence information as anyone else… was and is that a laboratory leak is the only explanation credibly supported by our intelligence community, science and common sense,” Ratcliffe told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in a hearing.
“If our information and evidence supporting a lab leak were placed alongside our information and evidence pointing to a natural origin or spillover theory, the lab leak page in the ledger would be long, compelling, even overwhelming – while the spillover Page to do so would be almost empty and tenuous,” added Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas who served as former President Donald Trump’s second and final national intelligence director.
As the former number three official at the CIA during the pandemic, Makridis coordinated his agency’s response to COVID before retiring in 2022.
Today he works as a senior advisor at Beacon Global Strategies.
The strategic consulting company too says on its website that he “worked in the Intelligence Directorate for more than a decade and then led the technical analysis of Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean strategic weapons and space capabilities.”