As the World Health Organization prepares to release a report that likely will conclude the coronavirus had a natural origin, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending declassified U.S. intelligence that points to a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Chinese government blocked investigators from the U.S. and other nations in the early days of the outbreak, and it continues the cover-up, Pompeo contends.
“It is absolutely imperative when this report comes out we understand the basis for the data, because I fear that in the end, this report will not be remotely reflective of what actually transpired,” he told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
The report is scheduled to be released next week.
Pompeo said he doesn’t believe the investigators “had either the capacity or the access necessary to actually conduct a thorough investigation of how this Wuhan virus ultimately commenced.”
Congressional reports have blamed duplicity by the Chinese government and incompetence by the World Health Organization for the outbreak turing into a pandemic.
Under the Trump administration in mid-January, the Pompeo-led State Department issued a fact sheet contending Wuhan lab researchers “conducted experiments involving RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar).”
Based on information from the intelligence community, the State Department said the lab “has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research to engineer chimeric viruses.”
And the lab “has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military.”
In Feburary, the head of the WHO investigation, Peter Ben Embarek, issued a preliminary determination. He told reporters it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan. The team suspected the virus originated in animals before spreading to humans but didn’t know how.
However, a WHO adviser said at the time that the investigation by his agency actually was conducted by Chinese officials and was very short.
“And so, the WHO investigators were basically receiving reports from the Chinese officials,” Jamie Metzl told the Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham.
All the facts point to Wuhan lab
Pompeo told the Examiner it’s “absolutely critical that we get access to the people who conducted the investigation and ask them a series of questions.”
“Tell me what limits were placed on who could be selected. Tell me how the individuals were chosen,” Pompeo said. “Were there conflicts checks that were run?”
He also wants to know if there was anything in particular that the Chinese Communist Party didn’t want the investigators to review. Did they get access to the scientists who were in the laboratory in 2019 and the early part of 2020, and were they in a position to allow them to speak freely?
Pompeo said it’s also important to find out if the investigators got access to original data rather than “second-order information.”
The fact sheet said the U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the Wuhan lab became sick in autumn 2019 with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, before the first identified case of the outbreak.
The State Department said “that raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was ‘zero infection’ among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses.”
Pompeo said “every fact that I have seen would be consistent with a release from” the Wuhan lab.
“You’ll remember, if you go back to the beginning, people were throwing around language that said, ‘Well, this had to have been natural, it couldn’t have been manmade’ — it’s not really the right way to think about this problem set,” he told the Examiner.
He said there are three facts that support the lab-leak theory: “the fact that it is possible they were working on a virus similar to the one that we now are suffering from, second, that inadequate biosafety measures at the facility, and then third, the massive, intentional cover-up coming from the most senior levels of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Pompeo said he hopes the report will provide answers, but he’s “skeptical that the Chinese Communist Party will ever permit anyone to really understand what happened there.
“I think that suggests that the alternative hypotheses about wet markets and the like are much less likely than the world originally believed,” he said.
Pompeo criticize the Biden administration’s decision to rejoin the WHO.
“At the point of maximum impact, the moment that the WHO’s pandemic prevention efforts were most critical, that they had to be the most right as quickly as they could, they allowed the Chinese Communist Party to walk all over them and denied the world the access to the information that it needed in a timely fashion that could well have saved lives all across the world,” he said. “And for that, the leadership at the WHO has to be held accountable.”