CIA sued for COVID origin records amid claim agency findings swayed by ‘monetary incentives’

The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project has sued the CIA for access to documents related to its investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

The project filed the suit Friday after the CIA refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, according to a new report.

“This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (‘FOIA’), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to compel production of CIA records relating to allegations that members of the CIA’s COVID Discovery Team, a group of employees tasked with analyzing the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, received monetary incentives to change their position on the origins of the virus,” the lawsuit reads.

The project reportedly began seeking these records after a whistleblower testified to Congress in September that the CIA had offered to pay their analysts to change their story about COVID’s controversial origins.

According to a press release from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and Permanent Select Committee, the CIA “offered six analysts significant monetary incentives to change their position on COVID-19’s origin.”

“The whistleblower, who presents as a highly credible senior-level CIA officer, alleges that of the seven members assigned to the CIA team tasked with analyzing COVID-19 origins, six officers concluded that the virus likely originated from a lab in Wuhan, China,” the press release reads.

“The CIA, then however, allegedly offered financial incentives to six of the experts involved in the investigation to change their conclusion in favor of a zoonotic origin,” it continues.

After the whistleblower testified, Republican Sens. Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Rick Scott, and Ron Johnson penned a letter to CIA Director William Burns demanding more information on the allegations.

“This is one of the biggest cover-ups in our nation’s history, and we deserve answers,” Sen. Paul told Fox News at the time.

“Department of Energy scientists concluded COVID-19 came from a lab. FBI scientists concluded COVID-19 came from a lab. We’ve been told six of seven CIA scientists also concluded COVID-19 came from a lab but were paid to change their minds,” he added.

What he’d said about the Department of Energy and the FBI was correct.

“[T]he U.S. Energy Department has recently updated its assessment of how the novel coronavirus behind the pandemic emerged: While the department previously said it was undecided on the matter, it now calls the lab-leak theory the most likely explanation,” Fortune magazine reported in February of this year.

“FBI director Christopher A. Wray said Tuesday that covid-19 ‘most likely’ originated from a lab incident in Wuhan, China, his first public comments on the agency’s position on the origins of the coronavirus,” The Washington Post reported that same month.

Dovetailing back to the original story, the Oversight Project’s first FOIA request “sought records from the creation of the discovery team and all records shared among team members associated with COVID-19’s origins,” according to The Daily Caller.

“In addition, the conservative group demanded records of any financial bonuses and communications between discovery team members and officials from numerous agencies across the federal government,” TDC further notes.

The lawsuit filed Friday asks the court to force the CIA to produce all the records that were requested in the project’s original FOIA request.

As previously reported, most proponents of the lab leak theory suspect the virus leaked specifically from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The reason why is that the first cases of COVID seemingly emerged in a nearby wet market. Proponents believe the virus escaped the lab and then infected the wet market and over time wound up spreading to the entire world.

Proponents are buoyed in their theory by evidence showing that U.S. health agencies granted the Wuhan lab money to study bat viruses.

That being said, proponents of the theory have faced massive backlash, mockery, and censorship from the establishment left and their allies in big tech and big media.

For a long time, for example, Facebook censored all lab-leak theory discussions on behalf of the establishment. That finally changed in May of 2021, when the social media platform reversed the policy.

The reversal prompted praise but also criticism from those who accused the platform of having censored the lab-leak theory on behalf of the government, namely the Biden administration.

“The shift is better late than never, but note the apparent implication: While a political or scientific claim is disfavored by government authorities, Facebook will limit its reach. When government reduces its hostility toward an idea, so will Facebook,” the Journal’s editorial board wrote at the time.

“In 2019 a wiser Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, said ‘I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy.’ If he’d stuck to that spirit instead of bending to pressure, he’d have avoided this embarrassment, and the more like it that are sure to come,” the board added.

Vivek Saxena


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