According to a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), officials were unable to determine whether the virus escaped from a lab or spread to humans via an infected animal.
However, the intelligence community ultimately concluded that if China did not fully cooperate, it would be unable to pinpoint the virus’s origin.
Klon Kitchen, a former ODNI intelligence officer, told Fox News that it is in China’s best interests to continue blocking access to the virus’s origin.
“China is highly incentivized and capable of denying us this information,” Kitchen said. “They’re incentivized to deny us this information because no matter what it is – whether it was a wet market or a biological facility as its origin – it’s embarrassing to the Chinese Communist Party.”
“It would indicate and illustrate a level of incompetence or lack of control, and that goes to the fundamental kind of interest of the party,” the senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute said.
Kitchen also stated that the intelligence community has suffered significant losses in intelligence-gathering capabilities when it comes to China as a result of a massive intelligence breach.
“Over the last decade, the United States has experienced a massive loss in our intelligence posture, in China,” the former intelligence officer explained. “The CIA had an individual working for it…who it was later discovered was spying for the Chinese and had resulted in the loss of a massive human intelligence network inside of China.”
David Asher, who led an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus for the State Department’s Office of the Secretary, believes the problem extends beyond the barriers that China has erected and believes the intelligence community’s investigation was deficient in nature.
“What the DNI did was not an all-source investigation, it was simply a deep dive into previously unanalyzed intelligence,” Asher, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, said.
“They failed to illuminate further the previously declassified information,” he told Fox News, referencing documents released by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Jan. 15, 2021.
Asher said the declassified information “indicated that workers at the Wuhan institute – who appeared to be working on coronavirus research under Dr. Shi – fell sick with what quite possibly was COVID-19.”
US intelligence rules out biological weapon origin of Covid-19
An unclassified summary of a report by the Intelligence Community was published last week.
It reveals that one element of the community assesses with “moderate confidence” that the first infection “most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
However, the report shows that due to a lack of clinical and epidemiological data on the first cases of COVID-19, U.S. intelligence agencies remain divided about the origins of the virus.
According to the summary, the National Intelligence Council and four elements of the Intelligence Community assessed with “low confidence” that the first infection resulted from natural exposure to an animal with the virus.
Most of the agencies believe with “low confidence” that the virus was also not the result of genetic engineering. However, two agencies judge that there is insufficient evidence either way.
The summary concludes:
“China’s cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19. Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States.”
In a statement, President Joe Biden said government officials in China had denied international investigators and the global public health community access to critical information about the pandemic’s origins.
“To this day, the [People’s Republic of China] continues to reject calls for transparency and [to] withhold information, even as the toll of this pandemic continues to rise,” the statement reads.
Responding on Twitter to the intelligence report, the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom, Zheng Zeguang, said:
“The United States ordered its intelligence agents instead of virologists to trace COVID-19 origins but still came up with nothing. It is time they stop the unwarranted and repetitive accusations against China.”