In a letter to Director Burns, Mike Turner, chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Brad Wenstrup, chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, stated that a senior CIA officer with several decades of service alleged a monetary payoff related to the COVID-19 origin analysis.
The allegations surprised the Democratic members of the committees, as neither the ranking Democratic member nor the staff of the Intelligence Committee had prior knowledge of them. “We weren’t informed about these claims before the letters were dispatched. We are seeking more details,” said a spokesperson for the Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Similarly, a spokesperson for the Select Subcommittee Democrats expressed their unawareness about the whistleblower and added, “Without more details from the Majority side, we can’t judge these claims.”
The whistleblower has reportedly indicated that seven skilled and experienced officers formed a “COVID discovery team.” Wenstrup and Turner’s letter mentions that after their analysis, all but one team member believed the virus likely originated from a lab. However, these members were allegedly financially incentivized to shift their stance.
The letter states, “Six out of the seven believed there was enough intelligence and scientific data to weakly deduce that the virus came from a Wuhan lab.” The most senior among them was the sole believer in the zoonotic origin. The whistleblower claims that most team members were monetarily influenced to alter their views.
In June, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that the CIA and another agency couldn’t conclusively determine the virus’s origin due to the challenging nature of the available data.
While the Department of Energy and the FBI somewhat believe that the virus might have originated from a lab incident, ODNI noted different reasons behind their conclusions. ODNI also emphasized that most agencies didn’t think the virus was engineered in a lab or that “gain-of-function” research led to its creation.
The exact origins of COVID-19 remain uncertain, as emphasized by various international health agencies and President Biden, especially with Beijing’s lack of cooperation in the investigations.
Wenstrup and Turner are seeking documents about the team’s establishment, their communications about the virus’s origins, and any financial records of bonuses or payments to the team members, all by September 26.
Furthermore, the duo requested a voluntary interview with former CIA chief operating officer Andrew Makridis on the same day, citing his significant involvement in the team’s formation and conclusions.
The spokesperson made no further comments for the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, and no hearings are planned for now.