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American Pravda: George Orwell's Virus Lab-Leak
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An Orwellian Reversal on the Origins of Covid

It’s been decades since I last read George Orwell’s 1984, but portions of that classic dystopian novel have become part of our common political culture.

There’s that famous scene in which an orator is giving a lengthy wartime speech at a political rally, praising the heroic ally of Eurasia and denouncing the arch-foe of Eastasia, but then is quietly handed a note partway through and completely reverses himself, vilifying the former and hailing the latter. “We have always been at war with Eurasia.”

Over the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed in real time this sort of stark and sudden reversal in long-held positions with regard to the origins of the global Covid epidemic, which has devastated much of the world. From early 2020 onward, the mainstream narrative had been that the virus was completely natural, and anyone who suggested that it might be the man-made product of a laboratory was denounced as a “conspiracy theorist,” closely akin to the QAnon activists endlessly ridiculed in the media. This official party-line was often harshly enforced by our leading social media monopolies, with Facebook summarily banning all posts suggesting otherwise.

But this situation has now entirely changed, and in recent days the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and our leading electronic media outlets have carried top stories treating that former heresy in a very respectful manner, and even suggesting that the weight of evidence might favor it. The Senate has voted in favor of immediately declassifying all our intelligence documents related to the origin of the virus, and massive political pressure upon President Joe Biden has forced him to order that a full intelligence review be produced and released within 90 days. It appears that an emerging elite consensus may soon favor theories that had previously been consigned to odd corners of the Internet.

The triggering event for this remarkable reversal in American elite sentiment was a closely reasoned and persuasive 11,000 word article by journalist Nicholas Wade. Although the author had spent more than four decades as a top science reporter at the New York Times and other leading outlets, his work was quietly released May 2nd on the Medium blogging site, lacking any endorsements or prestigious imprimatur, then republished on May 5th by the low-traffic website of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Despite such extremely inauspicious beginnings and the cautious and subdued tone of his text, the consequences were dramatic. Although nearly all the facts and evidence that Wade discussed had already been publicly available for most of the past year, his careful analysis and considerable journalistic credibility quickly transformed the intellectual landscape. He began his long article by explaining that from February 2020 onward a huge ideological bubble had been inflated by political propaganda masquerading as science, a bubble that was afterwards maintained through a combination of journalistic cowardice and incompetence. President Donald Trump had proclaimed that the virus was artificial, so our media therefore insisted that it must be natural, even if all the evidence seemed to suggest otherwise.

Wade’s careful presentation immediately punctured that bubble, and upended the public discussion of an epidemic that had killed millions around the world. By May 28th, the Wall Street Journal carried the headline “Facebook Ends Ban on Posts Asserting Covid-19 Was Man-Made,” so that in less than one month a self-published article had already changed what nearly three billion individuals around the world were allowed to read and write. This illustrates the totalitarian control of information on the Internet held by American’s huge Tech monopolies, which determine the limits of permitted discussion worldwide at the flip of a switch. Can there be any better example of the ridiculous, Stalinesque climate of intellectual censorship currently enforced by those corporate giants?

Although Wade’s article served as the crucial catalyst, something similar had almost happened in early January, when prestigious New York magazine published a 12,000 cover-story by prominent liberal public intellectual Nicholson Baker, which reached very similar conclusions and might have produced the same impact. But Baker’s article ran on January 4th, and two days later our DC Capitol was suddenly stormed by a mob of outraged Trumpists, ensuring that all other matters were quickly forgotten for the next couple of months:

  • The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
    For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if …?
    Nicholson Baker • New York Magazine • January 4, 2021 • 12,000 Words

I think a strong case may be made that the Covid epidemic has been the most important global event since World War II, and so sweeping and rapid a journalistic about-face seems almost unprecedented. Leading members of the Fourth Estate have fully recognized the magnitude of this reversal and the dire implications for their profession, registering their reactions, whether with delight or resigned embarrassment.

As a leading critic of our media establishment, famed investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald Tweeted out his own harsh verdict:

His frequent ally Matt Taibbi made similar remarks:

When the Wall Street Journal came out with a story that a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report detailed how three Wuhan researchers became sick enough to be hospitalized in November of 2019, the toothpaste was fully out of the tube: there was no longer any way to say the “lab origin” hypothesis was too silly to be reported upon.

That’s not to say the “lab origin” theory is correct, at all. However, that’s irrelevant to issue at hand.

But even more noteworthy was the lengthy mea culpa issued by Donald G. McNeil, Jr., the forty-five year veteran of the New York Times who had spearheaded his newspaper’s Covid coverage from the very beginning. Soon after reading his former colleague’s analysis and carefully considering the voluminous evidence cited, McNeil entirely reversed his opinion on the origins of the virus, endorsing a theory that he and other mainstream journalists had spent more than a year dismissing as “far right” lunacy, which he admitted they had grouped together with “Pizzagate, the Plandemic, Kung Flu, Q-Anon, Stop the Steal, and the January 6 Capitol invasion.”

Was Covid Developed as a Bioweapon?

With belief in a natural origin for the virus swiftly ebbing, our elite consensus seems to be moving toward the position of Wade, Baker, and many others that the original outbreak probably resulted from an accidental lab-leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, known to have been experimenting in that general area of viral research. Recent disclosures by members of our intelligence community that support this theory have been promoted in front-page stories in the Wall Street Journal and other leading media outlets, while naturally inspiring an enormous amount of discussion on the Internet.

One important element of the debate is the growing public awareness that the Wuhan lab’s viral research had received much of its recent funding from our own National Institutes of Health, providing a major scope for angry American political recriminations. These facts have been well known for more than a year, but they obviously had little importance when the virus was assumed to be natural.

Even the most horrific biological accidents can happen, but given the demonstrable cowardice and incompetence of our leading media organs, we should hardly be surprised that certain rather obvious implications of this lab-leak hypothesis have received less attention than they deserve.

First, there is the important fact that the top researchers at the Wuhan lab have adamantly denied that the virus was developed there, a position strongly supported by China’s national government. So if we accept a lab-leak, then both the local Chinese researchers and the country’s top political leaders have been concealing the true facts of this massive global catastrophe from day one. Such a total lack of candor might not be entirely surprising, but it casts a dark shadow over all of China’s other claims.

Even more suspicious is the publication history of the Wuhan lab. Sympathetic American scientists who had doubted that the virus was artificial have emphasized that absolutely none of the numerous articles produced by those Chinese viral researchers had included any mention of experimental work with the virus that eventually became formally known as SARS-CoV-2, which surely would have required a considerable amount of time and effort to transform into its current, highly-dangerous form. This implies that any such viral development work was kept entirely secret, a fact that carries dark implications. The production of biological weapons has been banned by international treaties, so any such illegal virus project would necessarily have remained secret.

Early last year, we published the perspective of a retired forty-year veteran of American biodefense, who focused on the particular epidemiological characteristics of the virus, which was extremely contagious but had a low fatality rate of 1% or less. As I summarized his analysis:

One important point he made was that high lethality was often counter-productive in a bioweapon since debilitating or hospitalizing large numbers of individuals may impose far greater economic costs on a country than a biological agent which simply inflicts an equal number of deaths. In his words “a high communicability, low lethality disease is perfect for ruining an economy,” suggesting that the apparent characteristics of the coronavirus were close to optimal in this regard.

For obvious reasons the majority of our mainstream journalists have been very reluctant to connect these dots of the Wuhan lab-leak scenario which they are now increasingly endorsing, just as nearly all of them had earlier failed to recognize that the virus was probably artificial. Even Wade and Baker have completely avoided any suggestion that the virus accidentally released in Wuhan had been an illegal bioweapon.

But if we abandon this understandable reticence and merely list the central elements of the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis, the logical implications are quite obvious:

  1. The virus accidentally leaked from China’s most advanced bioresearch facility, whose top virologists have repeatedly been lying about both the leak itself and their creation of the virus, falsehoods strongly echoed by top Chinese governmental leaders.
  2. Since no mention of the virus development work had ever appeared in any published articles, the project had been kept entirely secret. Such total secrecy would be consistent with the creation of an illegal bioweapon.
  3. The virus seems to have the ideal characteristics of an anti-economy bioweapon, intended to devastate the society and economic life of a targetted country.

Based upon these facts, the “Wuhan Lab-Leak Hypothesis” seems merely a euphemistic way of describing what is actually the “Chinese Bioweapon Lab-Leak Hypothesis.”

From the earliest days of the outbreak, anti-China publications and activists have regularly claimed that Covid was created in a laboratory, also describing it as an illegal Chinese bioweapon accidentally released into the world. Now that the former once-stigmatized assertion is becoming widely accepted, the latter possibility will inevitably become part of the public debate, regardless of any media attempts efforts to prevent this.

Once the virus began devastating large portions of Europe and America during the early months of 2020, the attacks upon China by President Trump and other top figures in his administration like Mike Pompeo became extremely harsh, and although the term “bioweapon” was only rarely uttered in public, it seemed implicit in many of their angry accusations and was probably widely discussed behind closed doors. For example, earlier this year David Asher, a former top Pompeo aide, publicly claimed that Covid was a Chinese bioweapon during a panel discussion organized by the neoconservative Hudson Institute.

The worldwide destruction inflicted by the virus has been enormous, both in human life and in social and economic damage. Taking into account both deaths and the concurrent lockdowns, America has clearly suffered its worst national calamity since the Great Depression. Many hundreds of thousands of our citizens have died, and according to the detailed analysis of the University of Washington public health researchers, our true total of virus deaths is already close to a million.

Other parts of the world have been even harder hit. India is currently the global epicenter of the outbreak, and most outside observers regard its official death tolls as severe undercounts. Last week, a major NYT survey of public health experts estimated that India’s actual fatalities have probably already exceeded 1.5 million and perhaps even passed 4 million.

If the carelessness of well-intentioned Chinese scientists has cost the world so many millions of lives and trillions of dollars, that situation would be bad enough. But if all this death and destruction was due to the accidental release of an illegal bioweapon which had been purposefully designed to destroy countries, the international consequences will surely be far more severe.

There are certain logical progressions that almost inevitably follow each other, so that once we have accepted A, we are forced to proceed to B, and then to C and D. Now that our elite media and political establishment seem ready to recognize the artificial nature of the virus, they will find it impossible to suppress the resulting debate on whether Covid was an illegal bioweapon. Indeed, I strongly suspect that many of those early figures who desperately—and often dishonestly—sought to establish the virus as natural and stifle any contrary possibility did so hoping to forestall exactly this situation. But as the Taibbi quote above emphasizes, by late May “the toothpaste was fully out of the tube.”

A Bioweapon Lab-Leak Scenario Without a Lab-Leak?

As discussed above, during the last two or three weeks we have witnessed the explosion of a massive propaganda bubble that had dominated our media narrative for more than a year, built around the assumption that Covid was a natural virus. That bubble had been maintained by the unwillingness of journalists to take notice of the obvious flaws in that theory and its total lack of any supporting evidence, while also completely ignoring important facts that pointed in an entirely different direction. As a consequence, that belief is being rapidly replaced by the contrary lab-leak hypothesis promoted by the Wade and Baker articles. But under these circumstances, we must be careful that we are not merely replacing one propaganda bubble with another.

Taken together, the Wade and Baker articles total some 23,000 words, and although they constitute the main case for the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis, they strangely seem almost devoid of any significant evidence for an actual lab-leak. Even worse, from April 2020 onward Trump and Pompeo had loudly declared that they possessed “enormous evidence” supporting their claims of a Wuhan lab-leak, yet no such evidence has ever appeared. Have we forgotten the story of the Iraqi WMD’s so quickly?

There is one partial exception to these bare shelves. Wade’s long article contains a brief mention that just before Pompeo left office, he had his State Department release a Fact Sheet which mentioned that the US “had reason to believe” that during Autumn 2019, several researchers at the Wuhan lab fell ill with flu-like symptoms, and a couple of months later a former top Pompeo aide publicly made that same claim in somewhat greater detail.

Then last week, this tiny morsel resurfaced as the subject of an entire front-page WSJ story. According to intelligence from an unnamed third-party source of disputed reliability, three Wuhan lab researchers had fallen seriously ill during November 2019, around the time that the outbreak first began. Taibbi seemed to regard this tidbit as strong support for a lab-leak, and the story has been widely promoted on social media.

But this actual evidence seems almost invisibly thin. The journalists failed to mention that the Wuhan lab had over 1,000 staffers, and is it really so remarkable that three of these might have come down with serious flu-like symptoms at the height of flu season? Was this really the sum-total of the “enormous evidence” once claimed by Pompeo? Moreover, a sharp-eyed blogger noticed that the lead author of that WSJ article was none other than Michael R. Gordon, who had partnered with Judith Miller on her notoriously-fraudulent Iraqi WMD articles, an important detail that surely raises further doubts. And if we can credit the Chinese authorities, they say they later tested all Wuhan lab employees, none of whom had any signs of past infection.

It is true that there were also some American reports suggesting that the safety conditions at the Wuhan lab were insufficient, but relying upon such weak indications becomes a two-edged sword. Over the last year, pro-China propaganda-activists have widely promoted the completely unsubstantiated theory that the Covid virus had accidentally escaped from Ft. Detrick, America’s own premier biowarfare lab, heavily relying upon the fact that for eight months of 2019 major portions of the facility had been ordered shut down by the CDC for serious safety violations. There obviously exists far stronger circumstantial evidence of an American lab-leak than anything similar having happened in Wuhan.

So the major weakness in the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis is that there are no actual signs of any lab-leak in Wuhan.

The Case for an American Biowarfare Attack

Thus, we are left with the strong likelihood that Covid came from a laboratory along with a good possibility that it was designed as a bioweapon, yet we lack serious indications that any lab-leak occurred. So if the original Wuhan outbreak was due to the deployment of a powerful bioweapon but not one that had accidentally leaked from any lab, then surely China was the intended target, the victim rather than the perpetrator. Indeed, the PRC only avoided suffering devastation because it responded in such extremely prompt fashion and quickly imposed exceptionally strong public health controls. Some 700 million Chinese were confined to their homes for weeks, a lockdown probably more than a thousand times greater than anything previously seen in history.

Given our ongoing military and geopolitical confrontation with China, America seems the likely source of the attack. However, once the virus eventually reached our own country, President Trump’s completely lackadaisical response demonstrated that he himself had absolutely no idea that he was confronting the threat of a dangerous bioweapon, thereby proving his own personal innocence. The most likely suspects would be rogue elements of our national security establishment, probably some of the Deep State Neocons whom Trump had placed near the top of his administration.

This small handful of high-level plotters would have then drawn upon the resources of the American national security apparatus to actually carry out the operation. The virus and its dispersal devices might have been obtained from Ft. Detrick and CIA operatives or members of special forces would have been sent to Wuhan to release it. However, all these latter individuals would have believed that they were participating in a fully authorized covert military strike against America’s primary geopolitical adversary. In effect, what happened was a Dr. Strangelove-type scenario, but brought to real life.

Starting in April 2020, I began publishing a long series of articles and columns that presented the evidence for this biowarfare attack hypothesis. Three of the most substantial pieces are linked below, and I would suggest that those so interested read them, especially the most recent one.

In addition, we had earlier republished two very relevant articles, one by a retired forty year veteran of American biodefense and the other by investigative journalist Whitney Webb:

The following few paragraphs extracted my articles probably provide some of the most compelling evidence for my thesis:

But with the horrific consequences of our own later governmental inaction being obvious, elements within our intelligence agencies have sought to demonstrate that they were not the ones asleep at the switch. Earlier this month, an ABC News story cited four separate government sources to reveal that as far back as late November, a special medical intelligence unit within our Defense Intelligence Agency had produced a report warning that an out-of-control disease epidemic was occurring in the Wuhan area of China, and widely distributed that document throughout the top ranks of our government, warning that steps should be taken to protect US forces based in Asia. After the story aired, a Pentagon spokesman officially denied the existence of that November report, while various other top level government and intelligence officials refused to comment. But a few days later, Israeli television mentioned that in November American intelligence had indeed shared such a report on the Wuhan disease outbreak with its NATO and Israeli allies, thus seeming to independently confirm the complete accuracy of the original ABC News story and its several government sources.

It therefore appears that elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency were aware of the deadly viral outbreak in Wuhan more than a month before any officials in the Chinese government itself. Unless our intelligence agencies have pioneered the technology of precognition, I think this may have happened for the same reason that arsonists have the earliest knowledge of future fires.

According to these multiply-sourced mainstream media accounts, by “the second week of November” our Defense Intelligence Agency was already preparing a secret report warning of a “cataclysmic” disease outbreak taking place in Wuhan. Yet at that point, probably no more than a couple of dozen individuals had been infected in that city of 11 million, with few of those yet having any serious symptoms. The implications are rather obvious. Furthermore:

As the coronavirus gradually began to spread beyond China’s own borders, another development occurred that greatly multiplied my suspicions. Most of these early cases had occurred exactly where one might expect, among the East Asian countries bordering China. But by late February Iran had become the second epicenter of the global outbreak. Even more surprisingly, its political elites had been especially hard-hit, with a full 10% of the entire Iranian parliament soon infected and at least a dozen of its officials and politicians dying of the disease, including some who were quite senior. Indeed, Neocon activists on Twitter began gleefully noting that their hatred Iranian enemies were now dropping like flies.

Let us consider the implications of these facts. Across the entire world the only political elites that have yet suffered any significant human losses have been those of Iran, and they died at a very early stage, before significant outbreaks had even occurred almost anywhere else in the world outside China. Thus, we have America assassinating Iran’s top military commander on Jan. 2nd and then just a few weeks later large portions of the Iranian ruling elites became infected by a mysterious and deadly new virus, with many of them soon dying as a consequence. Could any rational individual possibly regard this as a mere coincidence?

On March 15, 2020 I had published a brief comment providing my simple analogy of what I thought had transpired. At that point, our country had only suffered a couple of dozen fatalities and had not yet had its first lockdown, but I would still stand by those same words today:

Suppose two neighbors are feuding, and one of them has a psychopathic teenage son, who sneaks out late at night and starts an arson fire next door to “teach them a lesson.”

But the victimized family smells smoke, wakes up, and using heroic effort puts the fire out with only fairly minor damage.

Meanwhile, the fire spreads back to the teenager’s own house, and since the family is too lazy and incompetent to bother doing anything, the house catches on fire and burns to the ground, killing several relatives and leaving everyone homeless.

Under such a scenario, wouldn’t it be more sensible for the attacked family to just quietly gloat a little and maybe offer condolences rather than to plot further vengeance?

Evidence Favors a Biowarfare Attack Rather Than a Random Lab-Leak

My past articles linked above make my case for an American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran) but run many thousands of words. So I am providing below a brief summary of those main points, especially focused upon why the biowarfare scenario seems far more likely that the competing lab-leak hypothesis:

(1) For three years, China had been locked in growing conflict with America over trade and geopolitics, and for three years in a row, China had been hit very hard by mysterious viruses. An Avian Flu virus severely damaged its poultry industry in 2018 and the following year a Swine Flu virus destroyed over 40% of its pig herds, China’s primary meat source. The third year, Covid-19 appeared. Certainly a suspicious pattern if the last were just a random lab-leak.

(2) The Covid-19 outbreak appeared at absolutely the worst time and place for China, the major transit hub of Wuhan, timed almost perfectly to reach high local levels of infection just as the travelers for the Lunar New Year holiday spread the disease to all other parts of the country, thereby producing an unstoppable epidemic. The timing of an accidental lab-leak would obviously be random.

(3) 300 American military servicemen had just visited Wuhan as part of the World Military Games, providing a perfect opportunity for releasing a viral bioweapon. Consider what Americans would think if 300 Chinese military officers had visited Chicago, and immediately afterwards a mysterious, deadly viral disease suddenly broke out in that city. It would be a strange coincidence if that the American military visit and an entirely unrelated accidental lab-leak had occurred at exactly the same time.

(4) The characteristics of Covid-19, including high communicability and low lethality, are absolutely ideal in an anti-economy bioweapon. It seems odd that a random lab-leak would release a virus so perfectly designed to severely damage the Chinese economy.

(5) From almost the very moment that the outbreak began, anti-China bloggers in America and the US-funded Radio Free Asia network had launched a powerful international propaganda offensive against China, claiming that the outbreak in Wuhan was due to the leak of an illegal bioweapon from the Wuhan lab. This may have merely been an exceptionally prompt but opportunistic response of our propaganda organs, but they seemed remarkably quick to take full advantage of an entirely unexpected and mysterious development, which they immediately identified as being due to a lab-leak.

(6) By “the second week of November” our Defense Intelligence Agency had already begun preparing a secret report warning of a “cataclysmic” disease outbreak in Wuhan although according to the standard timeline at that point probably only a couple of dozen people had started experiencing any symptoms of illness in a city of 11 million. How did they discover what was happening in Wuhan so much sooner than the Chinese government or anyone else?

(7) Almost immediately afterwards, the ruling political elites in Iran became severely infected, with many of them dying. Why did the accidental Wuhan lab-leak jump to the Iran’s political elites so quickly, before it had reached almost anywhere else in the world.

Outline of the Hypothetical Biowarfare Attack Scenario

Given the conclusions suggested above, I also think it would be useful for me to provide my own summary of a plausible scenario for the Covid outbreak. Although I had already presented this outline in a September 2020 article, I see no need for any revisions. Obviously, this reconstruction is quite speculative, but I think it best fits all the available evidence, while individual elements may be modified, dropped, or replaced without necessarily compromising the overall hypothesis.

(1) Rogue elements within our large national security apparatus probably affiliated with the Deep State Neocons decided to inflict severe damage upon the huge Chinese economy using biowarfare. The plan was to infect the key transport hub of Wuhan with Covid-19 so that the disease would invisibly spread throughout the entire country during the annual Lunar New Year travels, and they used the cover of the Wuhan International Military Games to slip a couple of operatives into the city to release the virus. My guess is that only a relatively small number of individuals were involved in this plot.

(2) The biological agent they released was designed primarily as an anti-economy rather than an anti-personnel weapon. Although Covid-19 has rather low fatality rates, it is extremely contagious, has a long pre-symptomatic infectious period, and can even spread by asymptomatic carriers, making it ideally suited for that purpose. Thus, once it established itself throughout most of China, it would be extremely difficult to eradicate and the resulting efforts to control it would inflict enormous damage upon China’s economy and society.

(3) As a secondary operation, they decided to target Iran’s political elites, possibly deploying a somewhat more deadly variant of the virus. Since political elites generally tend to be elderly, they would anyway suffer far greater fatalities.

(4) The deadly SARS and MERS outbreaks in East Asia and the Near East had never significantly spread back to America (or Europe), so the plotters wrongly assumed that the same would be the case with Covid-19. Anyway, since international organizations always ranked the US and Europe as having the best and most effective public health systems for combating any disease epidemic, they believed that any possible blowback damage would be very minor.

(5) Only a small number of individuals were directly involved in this plot, and soon after the disease was successfully released in Wuhan, they decided to further safeguard America’s own interests by alerting the appropriate units with the Defense Intelligence Agency, probably by fabricating some sort of supposed “intelligence leak.” Basically, they arranged for the DIA to hear that Wuhan was apparently suffering a “cataclysmic” disease outbreak, thereby leading the DIA to prepare and distribute a secret report warning our own forces and allies to take appropriate precautions.

(6) Unfortunately for these plans, the Chinese government reacted with astonishing determination and effectiveness, and soon stamped out the disease. Meanwhile, the lackadaisical and incompetent American government largely ignored the problem, only reacting after the massive outbreak in Northern Italy had gotten media attention. Since the CDC had botched production of a testing kit, we had no means of recognizing that the disease was already spreading in our country, and the result was massive damage to America’s economy and society. In effect, America suffered exactly the fate that had originally been intended for its Chinese rival.

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