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Lawmakers and media misrepresented a bill requiring the declassification of documents related to the origins of COVID-19, according to several experts who warned that contrary to what the public was told, the legislation limits the types of documents the government must declassify — raising questions about the bill’s real intent.
According to the sponsors of the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 — which sailed through the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives and is awaiting President Biden’s signature — the bill requires the government to declassify all documents pertaining to COVID-19.
But experts interviewed by The Defender said the bill requires the declassification only of documents related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the “lab leak theory.”
They suggested the limitations may be intended to reduce the culpability of U.S. and private actors in the potential leak of — or development of — COVID-19, by placing full blame on China and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Bill’s backers made ‘false claims’
Independent journalist Sam Husseini said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), the Senate’s co-sponsor of the COVID-19 Origin Act, made “claims about the bill which are false.”
Hawley, on March 1, tweeted:
Tonight the Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed my bill to declassify all the intelligence the government has on #covid origins. Let the people see the truth!
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 2, 2023
Speaking to Fox News March 2, Hawley made similar claims, saying, “My bill … will declassify all of the information the federal government has on COVID origins.”
Hawley later followed up his statements with a letter addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, informing him of the bill’s passage. This prompted a response from the Chinese government, according to The Gateway Pundit.
China has been so worked up about this COVID origins bill, Communist officials wrote to my office earlier this week and demanded I drop it. I thought I’d update President Xi on today’s passage 👇 pic.twitter.com/uuzGiIebEl
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 10, 2023
Another of the bill’s Senate co-sponsors, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), said in a statement:
“The American people deserve transparency, free from censorship or spin. It’s time to declassify everything we know about COVID’s origins and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, now.”
Braun also tweeted:
The Senate just unanimously passed @HawleyMO’s & my bill to declassify every piece of information about the COVID lab leak.
The House needs to pass this bill to let the American people see the facts!
President Biden can’t ignore this: time to let Americans decide for ourselves.
— Senator Mike Braun (@SenatorBraun) March 2, 2023
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told the House:
“The American public deserves answers to every aspect of COVID-19 pandemic including how this virus was created, and specifically whether it was a natural occurrence or was the result of a lab related event.”
Statements like these led media outlets, including The Defender, to report that if passed, the will would trigger the release of all documents — not just those related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Bill ‘dubiously named’
On his blog, Husseini said the COVID-19 Origin Act is “dubiously named” and instructs Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines only to:
“Declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), including (A) activities performed by the Wuhan Institute of Virology with or on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army [of China].”
“This means that information not related to the Wuhan Institute of Virology is not being requested and would almost certainly therefore remain classified,” Husseini wrote.
The bill also states:
“There is reason to believe the COVID-19 pandemic may have originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology …
“… the Director of National Intelligence should declassify and make available to the public as much information as possible about the origin of COVID-19 so the United States and like-minded countries can —
“(A) identify the origin of COVID-19 as expeditiously as possible, and
“(B) use that information to take all appropriate measures to prevent a similar pandemic from occurring again.”
The bill requires Haines to turn over the declassified evidence “no later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act” and to submit to Congress an unclassified report containing all the documents requested in the bill, with “only such redactions as the Director determines necessary to protect sources and methods.”
Husseini noted that parts of the bill are unusually specific, focusing “on one strain of alleged evidence” by calling for Haines to turn over classified documents pertaining to “researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who fell ill in autumn 2019.”
“Now, that could be very important,” Husseini wrote. “But why is this legislation limiting disclosures?”
A ‘classic Nixonian limited hangout’?
Husseini suggested some members of Congress may not have been fully aware that the bill they were voting for does not appear to, in fact, fully declassify all documents related to the origins of COVID-19.
“I have no idea if members of Congress have actually read the legislation and realize how limited it is,” wrote Husseini, who, in another post, called Hawley’s public rhetoric regarding the bill “false and misleading.”
Husseini told The Defender the bill may be acting as a “limited hangout” with the purpose of acknowledging the “lab leak theory” on the one hand, but via legislation that “makes us accept half of the truth.”
Francis Boyle, J.D., Ph.D., professor of international law at the University of Illinois, told The Defender, “I’m afraid this [bill] is going to be a classic Nixonian limited hangout” that “does not call for the declassification of all those sources [that] should be declassified and/or released.”
Boyle said any information that is declassified “is going to be helpful,” but that the bill’s provision allowing redactions raises concern.
“Who knows what Avril Haines is going to knock out of this report,” he said.
Husseini noted that the bill also makes no provisions for providing information that several groups, including U.S. Right to Know and some media organizations, have requested — but not yet received — via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submissions. Husseini said this information “is not classified but is being withheld.”
Husseini cited Gary Ruskin, executive director and co-founder of U.S. Right to Know, who said:
“Much of the federal government’s information related to the origins of Covid-19 is not classified, or likely not classified. We just haven’t been able to access much of it yet via FOIA/FOIA litigation.
“The NIH’s [National Institutes of Health] conduct in stonewalling FOIAs is especially outrageous. It’s time for the Biden administration to tell NIH to comply with the FOIA.”
At a March 9 U.S. Department of State press conference, Ned Price, the agency’s spokesperson, appeared to stonewall Husseini when he asked why the government hasn’t responded to U.S. Right to Know’s FOIA requests related to government funding of bioweapons agents’ discovery research, including the funding of such research in China.
“We can respond in writing on a question that specific,” Price replied. When further pressed by Husseini, Price said, “I would ask that you be respectful of your colleagues.”
An attempt to blame the virus exclusively on China?
There has been a flurry of news reports in recent weeks originating from various branches of the U.S. government indicating broader acceptance of the “lab leak theory.”
The U.S. Department of Energy said it now believes COVID-19 most likely emerged from the Wuhan lab — a position subsequently adopted publicly by FBI Director Christopher Wray.
On March 8, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic heard the testimony of experts who also accepted the “lab leak theory.”
“All this — the recent hearings, the Hawley legislation, the WSJ piece — seem part of a coordinated effort on the part of the ‘intelligence community’ to own the pandemic story and use it for their purposes,” Husseini wrote.
Boyle shared similar concerns with The Defender:
“I am concerned that this [bill] is only going to get a part of the truth. Certainly not the full truth of what really happened here with COVID-19, which we need to get at.
“My concern is that all that’s going to get out of this report … will implicate the Wuhan BSL4 [biosafety level 4 lab] in COVID-19. Well, that’s fine with me. But what about the American involvement here?
“And this was funded by Tony Fauci and Francis Collins at NIAID [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] and NIH. Those should be in this legislation too, if we really wanted to get to the bottom of what happened here.”
Boyle and Husseini told The Defender there are numerous government and private entities whose classified documents should be declassified.
Boyle said these include the University of North Carolina, the National Center for Toxicological Research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, the U.S. Agency for International Development, EcoHealth Alliance and the Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick.
Husseini noted that state governments and private institutions also are likely to possess important information that the COVID-19 Origin Act does not cover. These include Scripps Research, Tulane University and the Wellcome Trust.”
The Wellcome Trust is headed by Jeremy Farrar, now chief scientist for the World Health Organization. “Farrar played a central role in disseminating the propaganda line that COVID could not have lab origins in early 2020,” Husseini said.
U.S. Right to Know sued the University of North Carolina, which is publicly owned, after it failed to respond to the watchdog group’s FOIA requests.
Husseini said the COVID-19 Origin Act “doesn’t even instruct the DNI [Director of National Intelligence] to declassify what it knows about other Chinese government institutions like the Chinese CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”
Husseini told The Defender:
“Since [Fauci] retired, the system has seemingly skillfully tried to put the deranged stance of the last three years into the rearview mirror hoping people will forget the massive propaganda.”
Boyle told The Defender that “from this legislation, it does appear they’re trying to pin it all on China.”
Husseini, noting that “China may well have major culpability,” said this is not the same as full or exclusive culpability, which is what the U.S. government may now be attempting to establish.
Husseini wrote that “a general anti-China agenda, has taken primacy and is part of a dynamic which ‘ultimately lets’ U.S. institutions and ‘U.S. biowarfare off the hook.’”
He told The Defender:
“There are two pillars of the U.S. establishment here — one wants to polarize at some level with China and the other wants to ensure the U.S. government continues its discovery of bioweapons agents.
“For the establishment to be maintained, both those strains need to be maintained.”
According to Husseini, this may explain why the bill passed both houses with seemingly little debate. It passed the Senate with “unanimous consent,” and subsequently passed the House in a unanimous vote.
Husseini noted that Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a member of the House Rules Committee, even put forth a rule “to ensure passage of Hawley’s bill.”
Husseini said Biden, who hasn’t yet said if he will sign the bill, has a few options he may be considering, telling The Defender:
“I see no sign of actual opposition from the Biden administration and I suspect this is all being done in coordination with the director of National Intelligence, as were the reports in the Wall Street Journal that drove this narrative.
“It’s possible Biden wants to appear reluctant on this and I suppose Biden could veto it and get an override so he could pose as being conciliatory to the Chinese or the like.”
Husseini said that “with the collapse of the completely fictional Daszak narrative in the late Spring and Summer of 2021 … a backup narrative has been put forward, especially through the Wall Street Journal,” whose report on the Department of Energy pivoting toward the “lab leak theory” was co-written by Michael Gordon, “who with Judy Miller perpetrated the Iraq weapons of mass destruction fraud on the U.S. public.”
He also blamed wide swaths of the independent media, particularly left-leaning outlets, for going along with establishment efforts to discredit the theory that COVID-19 emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Much of ‘the Left’ has basically done everything to kill lab origin — and effectively made it a right-wing issue,” Husseini said.
According to Husseini, those who long promoted the Chinese response to COVID-19 and who now are supporting the push to frame China, are pushing for a world “that combines the worst aspects of the U.S. — corrupt corporate capitalism — with the worst aspects of Chinese society: explicit authoritarianism.”
“The pandemic, it can hardly be ignored, helped isolate people from one another, helped restrict borders, was an excuse for massive civil liberties restrictions — all things useful to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda,” said Husseini. “This is another reason that intentional release should be seriously examined.”
Lab leak or lab origin?
Husseini said he prefers the term “lab origin theory” over “lab leak theory.”
“I see no good reason to make assumptions,” Husseini said. “‘Leak’ assumes a mistake. It could have been a mistake, but why presume it?”
Boyle adopted a similar view, although he noted that the language of the COVID-19 Origin Act does not mention either term.
“It does not refer to a lab leak,” he said. “It doesn’t say ‘leak’ at all. It says ‘originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’ Obviously, there could be different interpretations of why it originated there. I still believe it was a leak, but this does leave open why it might have originated there.”
Boyle reiterated his longstanding belief that “COVID-19 is an offensive biological warfare weapon with gain-of-function properties” and called for the halting of gain-of-function research.
According to Boyle, who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, Congress’ reluctance to declassify documents that may implicate U.S. government entities in the origins of COVID-19 is reflective of the massive amounts of federal money spent on biological weapons research.
“They’re not doing that because the U.S. government agencies and scientists involved in the development of COVID-19 [have received] massive sums of money,” Boyle said. “We’ve been devoted to developing offensive biological warfare programs since after Sept. 11, 2001 … I’ve been speaking out about this publicly for years.”
Husseini told The Defender:
“Biowarfare is a deniable weapon, which makes disclosure of documents key. Another reason why the Hawley bill limiting disclosure may well signal a massive coverup in plain sight.”
In a pair of tweets Sunday, British Member of Parliament Andrew Bridgen said he received information from U.S. government sources indicating that the U.S. Department of Defense and the Fort Detrick research facility “were responsible for both the virus and the vaccines” and that “criminal proceedings” may follow.
I can confirm that during my visit to Washington DC last Christmas/ New Year I was informed that the US DoD were responsible for both the virus and the vaccines. Fort Detrick was named. Also a facility in Canada. (1/2)
— Andrew Bridgen (@ABridgen) March 12, 2023
Bridgen did not clarify which sources provided him with this information or who might face such criminal proceedings.At the March 8 Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic hearing, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield said COVID-19 was “engineered” and blamed gain-of-function research for “the greatest pandemic our world has seen.”
However, Redfield stopped short of explicitly calling for a full ban on such activities, calling instead for a moratorium.
Boyle told The Defender “all this gain-of-function so-called ‘research’ has to be terminated immediately with legislation by Congress … The only way to protect ourselves is to terminate it immediately. No moratorium.”
“There was a moratorium” during the Barack Obama presidency, said Boyle, “and Fauci undermined the moratorium by outsourcing the work through the EcoHealth Alliance to the Wuhan BSL4 [laboratory]. So, a moratorium is worthless. We have to terminate all gain-of-function research everywhere. It has to be prohibited, to be made criminal.”
The Defender reached out to the offices of Hawley and Braun, Turner and Bridgen for comment, but did not receive a response as of press time.