15 Agencies Briefed on Risky Wuhan Project, None Spoke Out: Rand Paul

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
April 10, 2024US News
15 Agencies Briefed on Risky Wuhan Project, None Spoke Out: Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) questions Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FBI Director Christopher Wray during a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington on Oct. 31, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Newly obtained documents show 15 different agencies received pitches for a project that involved enhancing coronaviruses, but none of the agencies alerted Congress, according to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Scientist Peter Daszak pitched the project to the the U.S. Army, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and a dozen other agencies at a 2018 event held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), according to the documents.

Speakers at the 2018 event included officials with the CDC and DARPA, including Jim Gimlett, who ultimately rejected the proposal, according to a webpage for the event.

DARPA receiving a proposal for the project, from Mr. Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance nonprofit, was previously revealed by a whistleblower, but the involvement of the other agencies was not known before.

“What we didn’t know was that that proposal wasn’t just at DARPA, it was presented to 15 different agencies,” Dr. Paul told The Epoch Times.

The proposal, dubbed DEFUSE, outlined experiments that would make coronaviruses more virulent by inserting a furin cleavage site, which is present in COVID-19.

After the COVID-19 sequence was disclosed in January 2020, showing the virus contained a furin cleavage site, the agencies should have raised alarms, according to Dr. Paul.

“None of these agencies, nobody that was at the briefing, has ever informed anyone of the danger that this was coming from the Chinese lab because they were asking for money to do something very similar,” he said.

Dr. Paul is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power on April 10 acknowledged that her agency participated in the event.

“U.S. government agencies, often on good days, show up for one another, go to each other’s meetings,” she told Dr. Paul. “This is not something that USAID ever considered funding or was ever engaged on in some substantive way.”

She said she would consider making the USAID representative who heard the proposal available to the senator for an interview.

Most of the U.S. agencies that were briefed did not respond to requests for comment.

The 15 agencies are:

  • NIH
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Navy
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Army
  • Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
  • U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture
  • Military Operational Medicine Research Program
  • Defense Health Agency

Spokespersons for the Army and the CDC said the agencies received letters from Dr. Paul about the matter and would be responding to him. They did not deny that officials were at the 2018 event.

“Documents we pried free from the NIH show that as far back as 2016, Fauci’s NIAID conspired with EcoHealth to violate the U.S. gain-of-function funding ban and bankroll dangerous animal experiments at the Wuhan lab to supercharge bat coronaviruses and intentionally make them more contagious and deadly to humans. Now, thanks to Senator Paul’s dogged determination, we’re learning that at least as far back as 2018 bureaucrats at over a dozen other government agencies also knew that Fauci’s Rocky Mountain Lab, EcoHealth, the Wuhan animal lab, and Ralph Baric were cooking up COVID and didn’t say a word to this day,” Justin Goodman, senior vice president at government watchdog White Coat Waste Project, told The Epoch Times via email.

“COVID is a public health and national security nightmare that was caused by reckless taxpayer-funded animal experimenters who need to be reined in before they prompt another pandemic,” Mr. Goodman added.

Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said on X, formerly Twitter, that any people who knew about the EcoHealth proposal “but who did not speak up when it became clear such a novel coronavirus was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic has significant accounting to do.”

EcoHealth said this week that the DEFUSE proposal was only submitted to DARPA. “The list of EcoHealth Alliance partners shared at a January 2018 ‘Proposer’s Day’ event includes people and organizations who were not ultimately involved in drafting the DEFUSE proposal, which was submitted months later. Furthermore, the presence of a federal agency at the Proposer’s Day event does not mean that they had detailed information on the DEFUSE proposal, which had not yet been drafted,” the group said.

Dr. Paul said any statements from EcoHealth need to be “taken with a grain of salt” considering its role in funneling money to the lab in Wuhan.

The documents also show that a scientist named Vincent Munster, an employee of the Rocky Mountain Lab, run by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—headed at the time by Dr. Anthony Fauci—was listed as a partner for the project, Dr. Paul said. A query to Mr. Munster returned a message saying he would be traveling to the Congo until April 20.

Tonie Rocke of the U.S. Geological Survey was listed on a leaked copy of the proposal, but not Mr. Munster or the NIAID. Other partners listed on the leaked copy included scientists with the Duke-NUS Medical School, the University of North Carolina, and the Palo Alto Research Center.

More on Experiments

Dr. Paul’s announcement comes after members of Congress said Mr. Daszak would be appearing before several committees on May 1 to answer questions.

Members said they want to question Mr. Daszak on why he told them the experiments in the proposal would take place in America while saying privately some would happen in China, according to documents made public in late 2023.

“If we win this contract, I do not propose that all of this work will necessarily be conducted by Ralph, but I do want to stress the U.S. side of this proposal so that DARPA are comfortable with our team,” Mr. Daszak wrote in one comment unearthed by the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know. “Once we get the funds, we can then allocate who does what exact work, and I believe that a lot of these assays can be done in Wuhan as well.”

Those remarks appear to be “materially inconsistent” with Mr. Daszak’s earlier claims, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, and other members said.

The documents revealing the private remarks “undermine your credibility as well as every factual assertion you made during your transcribed interview,” they told Mr. Daszak.

EcoHealth said without providing details that the members made inaccurate allegations.

Mr. Daszak “looks forward to answering the committee’s questions, clarifying the areas of misunderstanding, and informing them about the vital research that EcoHealth Alliance conducts globally,” it said.

From The Epoch Times

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