STATE Department emails show interagency fighting over a Covid “lab leak” as officials warned the probe was a “Pandora’s Box”.
The emails sent between two top State Department officials in January this year highlight the extent of the disagreement within the government.
Two officials – Chris Ford and Thomas DiNanno – had a heated exchange in which Ford was demanding DiNanno’s team provide more evidence about the ‘lab leak’.
The emails had revealed how a top official had warned colleagues probing the theory that Covid-19 had originated in a Wuhan lab, as well as Fauci’s involvement, that they risked “embarrassing and discrediting” themselves.
The emails suggest a civil war waging within the State Department, as Donald Trump insistedhe had seen evidence that Covid-19 escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and the scientific community remained adamant that Trump’s theory was unlikely.
They have come to light amid a change of course, with growing suspicion the Covid virus may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
What was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory has gained traction to the extent that President Joe Biden has ordered US spies to investigate.
British intelligence has also reportedly recently assessed the theory and upgraded its likeliness from "remote" to "feasible".
According to reports from the Mail Online, Ford, a former Navy intelligence officer, had said the arguments presented so far were flimsy and unverified.
He accused DiNanno of being too quick to back the “lab leak” idea and of avoiding independent verification of his team’s work.
Ford then pressed his colleague repeatedly to group a team of outside experts to evaluate the findings, before they were presented to the world.
“We need to make sure what we say is solid and passes muster from real experts before we risk embarrassing and discrediting ourselves in public,” Ford said.
He claimed a presentation made to him in early January contained “not exactly confidence-inspiring” arguments – which he said would not stand up when put under scrutiny.
He also went on to accuse DiNanno’s team of spreading the unverified information.
Ford accused DiNanno of being obstructive, and claimed he did not have the scientific background to evaluate the claims.
“I do not have the scientific expertise necessary to critique the claims,” he wrote, in a January 6 email obtained by Fox News. “And nor do you.”
“Why are you guys briefing folks around the interagency on your claims in advance of any such vetting?” Ford asked.
In response, DiNanno, the former acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, wrote back asking Ford to be more specific about his doubts.
“I'd like to know what in those slides they find objectionable or where clarification is required and we'll happily clarify, source and amend as necessary,” DiNanno wrote.
DiNanno has said since that he was “warned” the “lab leak” theory was “Pandora’s Box”
State Department officials interviewed by Vanity Fair said they were advised not to open a “Pandora’s box” – an admonition DiNanno said “smelled like a cover up”.
Anthony Fauci is also facing a new wave of criticism, after it was revealed the US sent more than $200,000 to the Wuhan lab where some believe the coronavirus is to have been developed.
The nation's leading infectious disease expert has already come under fire after his newly publicly-released emails show the National Institutes of Health (NIH) did fund the Wuhan Institute of Virology – but now he's under pressure for misrepresenting the number of funds.
During a Senate hearing, Fauci asserted the United States had only given the lab $600,000 of taxpayers' money, a number now known to be a conservative estimate of the actual amount.
Fauci's released emails show that instead, the US sent $826,000 to the Wuhan lab, over $200,000 more than what Fauci had claimed on the Senate floor.
Now the doctor is facing new criticism given his downplaying of the funds.
"These new documents show that funding for the Wuhan Institute was greater than the public has been told," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
"That it has taken a year and a federal lawsuit to get this first disclosure on COVID and Wuhan is evidence of cover-up by Fauci's agency."
Earlier this week it was revealed that a Chinese lab at the centre of the Covid leak allegations repeatedly blocked access to the US diplomats who requested a visit, diplomatic cables reveal.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) on at least two occasions rebuffed overtures from the US Consul General for a visit just months before diplomats raised the alarm over safety at the virus lab.
US State Department correspondence obtained through freedom of information requests by US Right to Know (USRTK) – a public health research non-profit organisation – show the cloak of secrecy around the Chinese lab.
WIV is at the centre of a storm that Covid may have leaked from its facilities – spreading out from China and going on to kill 3.5million people worldwide.
The state department cables released by USRTK include one from December 2017 in which the US Consulate approached WIV for an "informal meeting over coffee" so they could arrange an official visit by the Consul General.
However, it was revealed just 24 hours before the meeting was due to go ahead – WIV abruptly cancelled the visit, citing an "official meeting".
It notes the Consulate had seen two previous requests to visit WIV also rejected by the lab – which was China's first biosecurity level 4 facility and specialised in bat coronviruses.
The cable was marked "SBU" – which mean sensitive but unclassified.
Months later it appears a visit of some kind did finally go ahead, after which US officials dramatically raised the alarm over safety fears at WIV.
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