I met a man the other day and after we accomplished the required ritual verbal ablutions validating our relative COVID-19 safety, he went on to tell me that he lost his robust, 74-year-old, daily golf-playing father last year to this terrible virus. It took one week for his dad to go from healthy to dead. His grief still draped him like a shawl.
These personal stories help jar us back to some semblance of reality, while the news and social media are focused on maneuvering sterile interpretations of statistics along political lines. Real people, loved people, were taken away from us when, otherwise, they still would be alive.
By now, most Americans personally know of someone killed by COVID-19. Over 600,000 U.S. deaths — so far — have been attributed to this virus. It is one statistic, above all, that merits perspective.
The 600,000 deaths are about half the total killed in all American wars. It is approximately the same loss suffered in the Civil War alone. This is a staggering number of dead, attributable to a single cause, in a very short amount of time.
If some nation, or terror group, was able to smuggle an improvised nuclear device into downtown Manhattan, detonate it and kill 600,000 people, what do you imagine our response would be? We launched a 20-year war over 3,000 deaths.
Our response probably would not be a presidential directive for a 90-day study by the intelligence community (IC) of the cause of the devastation. And we, as a people, likely would not be satisfied with a shoulder-shrugging conclusion that boiled down to “We’re not sure how this attack happened.”
We need to know how this killer virus happened. We need to know if there was some intentionality behind the virus’s creation and escape, or whether it was a complete accident of nature.
After a 90-day sprint study into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 by the IC, ordered by President BidenJoe BidenRand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment' Dems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Six big off-year elections you might be missing MORE, here’s the answer released on Aug. 27: We don’t know. As an intelligence product, it is a shameful embarrassment. Small wonder it was released on a Friday afternoon while the news media were fixated on Afghanistan. But it shouldn’t be swept under some White House rug.
You can read the Director of National Intelligence’s official unclassified “key takeaways” of the 90-day review here. It won’t take long; it’s only a page and a half, and it reflects what 90 days will yield — i.e., not much. The 600,000 dead were given short shrift.
The most key of the takeaways are two:
1) Some in the IC assess — with low confidence — that the SARS-CoV-2 virus “probably” was not genetically engineered. But others in the IC assess there is not enough evidence to definitively make that call. The report further points out that “elements” of the IC are divided on whether the virus had a laboratory or natural origin. Thanks for that decisive evaluation. The American people assess with high confidence that we have low confidence in almost anything the IC offers these days.
Perhaps most disheartening is that this low-confidence, timidly-worded IC assessment telegraphs to the world that the U.S. is flying blind in China right now, largely relying on open source press reports since our government apparently has limited human or signals intelligence on the ground informing its understanding.
2) China was thoroughly uncooperative and the IC would need more information from China in order to make any different assessment. In the understatement of the year, the IC assesses that China’s reluctance to cooperate reflects an “uncertainty about where an investigation could lead.”
Here is an inescapable, high-confidence assessment by law enforcement for centuries: Innocent parties want to cooperate at all costs to help prove their innocence. Guilty parties always deflect, obscure, and point fingers in other directions. It’s what we call “a clue.”
China does not want a thorough investigation and that fact alone should double the resolve of the U.S. to act on behalf of 600,000 departed American souls and millions more around the world to determine the truth of SARS-CoV-2.
That said, the deck is stacked in China’s favor right now. The political power structure in the U.S. is currently aligned on the left, which tilts more favorably to the socialist/collectivist mindset of the Chinese Communist Party. The Biden family presumably has built-in conflicts of interest because of past business dealings in China. Congress is busy driving socialist legislation rocketing American debt to an unsustainable level that threatens the reserve-currency status of the U.S. dollar — something China urgently wants to see happen.
The Big Tech power structure also is aligned favorably with China, since China represents a nearly existential market and profit center for many of our most powerful tech and social media companies. Message-shaping and outright censorship by kowtowing U.S. corporations are providing China with top cover it doesn’t deserve.
All of this gives China tremendous running room to manipulate outcomes in their favor. The newly released 90-day assessment by the IC is so pathetically inadequate that it only gives rise to suspicions that it was written to preserve a particular political/business paradigm. Americans can assess, with high confidence, that China is quite pleased with this report. Ignore their theatrical protestations.
COVID-19 was not a nuclear attack, but it nonetheless had devastating effects. We need and deserve to know if culpability attaches to any engineering or irresponsible handling of this deadly, mutating virus. It is hard to recall another issue that has been manipulated by so much provably false misinformation and disinformation.
Culpability, if it exists, demands accountability. Truth is worth honest pursuit. What we’ve been given so far does not appear to be an honest pursuit. We are in an accountability deficit in this country right now. If there is anything that should drive a righteous quest for accountability, 600,000 dead loved ones would seem to be it. What’s your confidence level?
Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He independently consults with private companies and public-safety agencies on strategic mission technologies.