We’ve Seen This Movie Before

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Lots of headlines this evening that FBI Director Christopher Wray says the FBI also believes COVID originated in a leak from a Chinese lab. As I’ve said in other posts, I don’t think we know one way or another. Not knowing has been twisted in a lot of reports into the lab leak conclusion being an established fact. But set that question aside for a second. In the exclusive interview which Wray gave to Fox News he actually said something far more dramatic. He claims that it was an accidental leak of a virus designed to kill Americans.

Here’s the quote, with emphasis added …

“The origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan. Let me step back for a second. The FBI has folks — agents, professionals, analysts, virologists, microbiologists, etc. — who focus specifically on the dangers of biological threats, which include things like novel viruses like Covid. And the concerns that they’re in the wrong hands — some bad guys, a hostile nation-state a terrorist or criminal — the threats that those could pose. So here you’re talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans and that’s precisely what that capability was designed for. I should add that our work related to this continues. And there are not a whole lot of details I can share that aren’t classified. I will just make the observation that the Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work that we’re doing.”

This comment has barely gotten any attention, which I find baffling. The focus has been on the FBI’s judgement that a lab leak is the most likely explanation for the emergence for COVID and that China is trying to thwart investigations into its origins (which is certainly true). But the import of this comment couldn’t be more clear: that this was a viral agent designed with a capacity to kill Americans.

One of the reasons that it’s hard to know just how COVID originated is that there don’t have to be signs of genomic engineering in the virus. Samples can be taken from the field, brought into a lab setting and then jump into the human population. In other words the lab leak theory is entirely compatible with little or no bio-engineering of the virus.

But Wray seems to be suggesting that that it was actually a bioweapon that the Chinese had developed and then lost control of. To date there is really no public evidence of this at all. And studies of the COVID virus itself seem to show no evidence of this kind of engineering. Without the evidence being contained in the genomic structure itself, determining just how it first infected humans becomes much more difficult.

As I said, all the information I’ve seen tells me we really don’t know how COVID originated. That lack of information, which China is itself largely responsible for, leads everyone to go with their favored assumption. But this is why a lot of people are so wary about this kind of speculation — because it quickly jumps from accidental lab leaks to the inadvertent release of a bioweapon designed to kill Americans.

Late Update: I’ve heard from some people who say that the highlighted portion is a reference not to the virus and how many Americans it killed — which is I think is the syntactically most logical read — but to the FBI tracking capacity. Perhaps that’s right. But at best it requires a clarification of what he meant. My interpretation still makes the most sense to me but I wanted to flag this other possible interpretation.

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