President Biden recently tasked the U.S. Intelligence Community to “redouble” its efforts to identify the origin of the COVID-19 virus. The community already has been focused on this for eighteen months. Its conclusions so far: It is either manmade and escaped from a lab or it developed naturally and jumped from an animal species to humans. One can only wonder how many hours of research and analysis led to narrowing it down to these two options. Yes, you can sense a bit of sarcasm.
Significant and very legitimate questions have been raised about the Intelligence Community, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes for Health, and the World Health Organization and whether they shaded their research and analysis for political reasons. In 2020, these organizations strongly discounted the theory that this could have been manmade and escaped from a lab. They ridiculed President Trump and Senator Tom Cotton for even raising this possibility. Shame on them as they, and their enablers in the media, now rapidly backtrack as the lab leak theory becomes more likely. The change in assessments is not because of some new information being discovered, it is primarily the reevaluation of information that was already available and dropping of the political pretense.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was thanked by the head of an organization that took U.S. taxpayer money and funded Chinese coronavirus research, is now backing away from his pushback on the lab leak theory. Our “trusted” federal scientific and intelligence organizations that are tasked with keeping us safe and providing professional analysis are also hedging their initial takes, which may have been influenced by politics and anti-Trump bias. The failures here may be on par with those that missed the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the run up to 9/11 and that many of us trusted regarding the “slam dunk” case on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program.
So how did this massive failure occur? Some say it is the pressure China exerts in international organizations and the research centers it is funding and taking money from in the United States. The WHO seems unquestionably in the pockets of China. In recent days, the WHO refused Taiwan’s participation in a major conference and at the same time voted to put Syria and Belarus on its governing board.
Some say, “The Swamp,” as Washington, D.C. is often called, would do anything and everything to damage President Trump. The Intelligence Community and the FBI already have been clearly implicated in these types of behavior. Why would Dr. Fauci, the CDC, or NIH be any different?
Beyond the possibility that these organizations are just political, we need to fully explore who authorized the U.S. taxpayer-backed grant funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We also need to know exactly how much taxpayer money was sent there and to other Chinese research organizations. We know as a fact the EcoHealth Alliance awarded grants to the Wuhan lab from 2014 to 2019 that were financed by the NIH. As Paul Harvey might ask, what is the rest of the story?
As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I sometimes tasked “Red Teams” to explore outside-of-the-box scenarios and to explore unconventional thinking. It is time for a “Red Team” to be designated to explore alternative theories—were key and organizations and individuals in the West, including but not exclusively the WHO, WHO Director-General Tedros, the CDC, NIH, Dr. Fauci and others blinded by pressure from the Chinese, politics, or frightened by the possibility that U.S. taxpayer money funded the coronavirus research that ultimately led to the deadly COVID-19 leak from the Wuhan lab.
It should also seek answers to why the U.S. is funding research in China, a country controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and dedicated to the destruction of America.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the lives of families and individuals around the world, along with the global economy, and it has left nearly 3.7 million people dead. No stone should go unturned in our drive to the truth, no matter how ugly the truth may be. It was Dr. Fauci himself who wrote that the “benefits” from the “gain of function” research at question in the Wuhan lab “outweigh the risk” of an accidental pandemic breaking out. Though Dr. Fauci may have been wrong in his assessment, the whole world will benefit from knowing the truth of the origins of COVID-19.
A “Red Team” can help answer the who may have known what and when questions. Congress should run a parallel investigation along the same lines, even if it means what is discovered is not something we are comfortable with.
• Peter Hoekstra was U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Trump administration. He served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 2nd Congressional District of Michigan and served as chairman and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is currently chairman of the Center for Security Policy Board of Advisors.