Our Jimmy Quinn has a heck of a scoop, reporting that Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are issuing a report that concludes, “the preponderance of evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019.” “Preponderance of evidence” is a legal term indicating that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the claim is true.
One wonders if House Republicans wanted to get their assessment of the available evidence out in front of the public in time to be either confirmed or contradicted by the Biden administration’s upcoming updated analysis.
Back on May 26, President Biden asked the intelligence community to redouble its efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring them closer to a definitive conclusion about the origin of COVID-19, and to report back to him in 90 days. Ninety days from May 26 is Tuesday, August 24.
If the intelligence community’s review comes to a similar conclusion — a lab leak is more likely than not the cause of the pandemic — then the current friction in the U.S.–China relationship will look like small potatoes, and the reaction from Beijing is likely to be apoplectic.
If the intelligence community’s review comes to the opposite conclusion — a lab leak is less likely the cause of the pandemic than that someone in China, outside of a lab, came in contact with an infectious animal — then you can expect the lab-leak theory to instantly become a partisan football.
There’s also a third scenario, and one that some may believe Avril Haines, the U.S. director of national intelligence, hinted at in June. The intelligence community could conclude that it simply can’t rule out either possibility or determine with any confidence that one scenario is more likely than the other. Or the intelligence community could ask for more time to complete other avenues of investigation. Either of those options would be politically safer, but also enormously disappointing. It might also get people asking why the U.S. spends $85 billion on an intelligence community that cannot answer the most pressing questions before America’s policy-makers and the world.