Schiff Storm

In a 2,180-word introduction to a new report from the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says, “In 2020, the Intelligence Community was not well positioned or prepared to provide early warning and unique insights on the pandemic,” and “as a whole did not pivot quickly enough to train its unique assets at this deadly problem set.” 

According to the California Democrat and departing committee chairman, intelligence committee reporting through January 2020, “was based on open source reporting, diplomatic reporting,” and this was “far less than helpful than it could have been if resources were quickly trained on harder-to-obtain information.” The report is streaked with redactions, but leak-prone Schiff gives the game away. 

“The first warning signs of an emerging novel disease,” he writes, “will almost always come from public health authorities and their unclassified reporting.” The foremost such authority is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which employs the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), so proud of its work ethic that it is symbolized by a worn-out shoe sole, and is supposed to prevent epidemics from arriving on American soil. 

The intrepid EIS “disease detectives” failed to prevent the arrival of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Reports of EIS performance are hard to find, but veterans of the secretive “service” provide clues. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier began her CDC career in 1995 as an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service with the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID). She rose through the ranks to become director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, (NCIRD). In the early days of the pandemic, Messonnier was the government’s primary messenger. 

In her January 17, 2020 telebriefing, Messonnier said an outbreak in Wuhan, China had “been identified as a being caused by a novel coronavirus.” In a January 24, 2020 briefing Messonnier said “we expect to find more cases of novel coronavirus in the United States associated with the ongoing and expanding outbreak in Wuhan, China.” 

The CDC had “a team” in China working with Chinese authorities for many years and “I think we should be clear to compliment the Chinese on the early recognition of the outbreak center in the Wuhan market and how rapidly they were able to identify it as a novel coronavirus.” 

In her January 29, 2020 briefing, Messonnier said the CDC would be part of a World Health Organization (WHO) “mission” in China. In her January 30, 2020 briefing, Messonnier referred to “this new virus” without explaining how it differed from others. 

In a briefing on February 5, 2020, reporters asked about individuals returning from Wuhan. Messonnier said that was “not something I’m at liberty to talk about today.” None of the reporters asked which official was laying down the rules. 

On February 12, 2020, Messonnier warned, “we should be prepared for this new virus to gain a foothold” in the United States and “at some point we are likely to see community spread in the U.S.” The CDC mouthpiece did not explain how the vaunted EIS had failed to stop its arrival. 

In her February 25, 2020 briefing, Messonnier told reporters, “It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.” 

On March 9, 2020, Messonnier warned of a “risk of getting very sick or dying from illness with this virus. This virus is capable of spreading easily and sustainably from person to person.” And “there’s essentially no immunity against this virus in the population because it’s a new virus.” What was new about it the EIS veteran did not explain, but her evasive tactics were predictable. 

In his masterful Inventing the AIDS Virus, UC Berkeley molecular biologist Peter Duesberg exposes the EIS as a “medical CIA,” focused on activism rather than research and serving as a “reservoir of trained personnel for any CDC-defined emergency.” As journalists or prominent physicians, EIS officers serve as “unrecognized advocates for the CDC viewpoint.” 

During the pandemic, the CDC was as much a failure as the IC, which Schiff faults for using “open source” reporting. As it happens, critical information was already available to the public and the media. 

Consider, for example, “China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu,” a January 2020 paper by Dany Shoham, a former senior analyst in military intelligence for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Dr. Shoham earned a Ph.D. in medical microbiology from Tel Aviv University and has published numerous articles on virology and on chemical and biological weapons. 

According to Shoham, the “main culprit” in the transfer of deadly pathogens to China is Xiangguo Qiu, an “outstanding Chinese scientist” who came to Canada for graduate studies in 1996 and came to head the Special Pathogens program at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg. Since 2006, Dr. Qiu has been “studying powerful viruses—Ebola most of all—at the NML.” The viruses that were “surreptitiously shipped from the NML to China included Machupo, Junin, Rift Valley Fever, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, and Hendra.

As Shoham discovered, Qiu “maintains a close bond with China and visits frequently, and many Chinese students from a notable range of Chinese scientific facilities have joined her at the NML over the past decade.” Of those facilities, four are believed to be involved in Chinese biological weapons development: the Institute of Military Veterinary, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Changchun; Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chengdu Military Region; the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing; and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“All four facilities collaborated with Qiu on her Ebola research,” Shoham explains, and Chinese interest in Ebola, Nipah, Marburg, and Rift Valley fever “might possibly be beyond scientific and medical needs.” Since only the Nipah virus is naturally found in China, “the interface between Qiu and China is a priori highly suspicious.”  

In 2017-2018 alone, Qiu made at least five trips to the WIV, and in August, 2017, the National Health Commission of China approved research activities involving the Ebola, Nipah, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses. The WIV was the same lab Dr. Anthony Fauci funded to perform gain-of-function research, which makes viruses more lethal and transmissible. In early 2020, Fauci opposed President Trump’s ban on travel from China. The rest is history.

The intelligence community failed to flag Qiu and the WIV as key players in the pandemic. Those same intelligence agencies, remember, failed to stop terrorists based in Afghanistan from pulling off the 9/11 attack. So it’s no surprise that U.S. intelligence agencies should prove a bust on a pandemic based on a “novel virus” from China. But there’s a catch. 

“The IC’s alarms to the White House and the former president were clear and unmistakable,” writes Schiff, “and yet, in public messaging and in preparation for the impending impact, COVID was downplayed and steps that could have been taken to save lives were ignored.” 

According to Schiff, changes need to be made, and “to President Biden and [Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines’] credit, and at the strenuous urging of this Committee, changes are being made—slowly, but surely.” So “Trump bad, Biden good,” is the true takeaway. For the real story on intelligence and the pandemic, investigators should focus on Epidemic Intelligence Service veteran Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

As her 2020 briefings confirm, Messonnier essentially acted as a press agent for China and the WHO, ignoring intelligence on the supply chain of deadly pathogens to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Hailed as a “true hero” by CDC boss Rochelle Walensky, Messonnier suddenly retired in May 2021. After a stint at the Skoll Foundation, Messonnier is now professor of public health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Another key witness would be Dr. Gary Kobinger, former colleague of Dr. Qiu at Canada’s NML and now director of the Galveston National Laboratory. The GNL is a creation of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), headed by Anthony Fauci since 1984. That was 16 years after he abandoned the practice of medicine for a career in bureaucracy.

Fauci’s bio shows no advanced degrees in molecular biology or biochemistry, yet the NIAID boss claims “I represent science,” and charges that his detractors are really criticizing science itself. The white coat supremacist never has to say he’s sorry.

Elon Musk’s recent tweet of “Prosecute Fauci,” drew a tremendous response. That should give the new Congress incentive to proceed. The people will be watching.

About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

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