Sam Husseini on Lab Leak Biden and Trump

On April 24, 2020, Salon published an article by journalist Sam Husseini under the headline –  Did this virus come from a lab? 

Sam Husseini (Artist: Nicholson Baker)

It is a question that has been hotly debated since.

“There has been no scientific finding that the novel coronavirus was bioengineered, but its origins are not entirely clear,” Husseini wrote in Salon at the time. “Deadly pathogens discovered in the wild are sometimes studied in labs – and sometimes made more dangerous. That possibility, and other plausible scenarios, have been incorrectly dismissed in remarks by some scientists and government officials, and in the coverage of most major media outlets.”

“Regardless of the source of this pandemic, there is considerable documentation that a global biological arms race going on outside of public view could produce even more deadly pandemics in the future.”

“While much of the media and political establishment have minimized the threat from such lab work, some hawks on the American right like Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), have singled out Chinese biodefense researchers as uniquely dangerous.” 

Until recently, the lab leak theory was dismissed as a right wing Trump driven conspiracy theory.

But with Trump out of office, lab leak is now gaining popularity.

In early 2020, was there anyone raising the possibility that this leaked from a lab in Wuhan?

“The first person I heard that from was law professor Francis Boyle, who wrote the implementing legislation on the bioweapons convention,” Husseini told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last month. “He contends that this dangerous lab work, euphemistically called gain of function research, violates U.S. law and international law and that people doing it should be prosecuted.”

“I had an email from him on January 25, 2020 saying that someone should check to see if there are some labs in the area in China where this was originating. And then the next day, I got another email saying – bingo, there are labs in Wuhan.”

“Even in the mainstream reporting, there were scientists, like Richard Ebright from Rutgers, who was willing to speak publicly about this. He was saying it’s quite possible it came from a lab. He would tweet that out – it could have come from nature, it could have come from a lab. And there would be stories in the Washington Post that only used half of his statement and made it appear as if he was discounting the possibility of a lab leak.” 

“You had a loud crowd organized by Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, who had a clear conflict of interest. But you also had scientists who had been warning about the possibility of a lab leak, but completely fell silent. They had written papers warning about this possibility. But suddenly they were completely mute. They are finally starting to speak out now.”

“There were two main pillars of the propaganda campaign. One was a letter in The Lancet in February 2020. U.S. Right to Know has since documented how Peter Daszak spearheaded the letter. It was portrayed as a statement of solidarity with the front line workers in Wuhan. But the clincher was that it dismissed lab origin as a conspiracy theory.”

“Before even before U.S. Right to Know got the documents through the Freedom of Information Act, if you looked at the list of signers and did a little bit of searching, it was clear that it was based upon his funding circles and that many of the signers had a direct connection to EcoHealth Alliance or its funding sources if you just scraped the surface.” 

“People revere science as an objective pursuit of truth. The reality is that it is a funded mechanism by corporate or government military interests.”

“The other pillar was a Nature article, which appeared in March. As soon as it came out, Meryl Nass did a couple of postings saying – this is a completely disingenuous article. It is purporting to say that the virus could not have come out of a lab.” 

“But they are only looking for very overt signs of genetic engineering and ignoring other ways this could have been created in a lab. Or it could have been collected in nature and released in the lab. That is still lab origin.”

“I passed her thoughts to Richard Ebright. He completely backed her up. And he said it could have been a serial passage. That’s where you take a virus, pass it through an animal like a ferret, which has a respiratory system similar to that of humans, and then it becomes more easily transmissible. NIH funded scientists in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin did that in 2001 with the avian flu, potentially the most dangerous virus to date. And it caused some alarm at the time.”

Wasn’t there a moratorium on gain of function research?

“There wasn’t quite a moratorium,” Husseini said. “But there was a funding pause. This was in 2014. It was attributed to a disclosure of lab leaks that were documented in a series of articles in USA Today. It was also interesting when the Ebola outbreak took place in West Africa. It was the same day that Ron Klain became Ebola Czar.” 

Did the pause in funding significantly hamper the research?

“No, because they made exceptions. And one of the exceptions was for the work being done by Wuhan Institute of Virology with scientists at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University. They were doing work to make coronaviruses more easily transmissible in human beings. They got the exemption from the NIH.”

“In 2017, Fauci announced that they were going to lift this pause of funding on gain of function research. And they had an alleged structure to oversee such funding. And that has been incredibly lax, if you talk to scientists like Richard Ebright.”

You had very few people placing some plausibility on a lab leak theory. You had Ebright, Boyle and Nass. Any others who were raising the red flag?

“You had the people at the Organic Consumers Association. Yuri Deigin, a biotech entrepreneur, David Relman at Stanford, Karl Sirotkin and Dan Sirotkin and Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson.” 

What was the mainstream attention to the lab leak theory early on?

“It was largely dismissive of the lab leak theory in the beginning. But then it dramatically escalated when Trump in April 2020 said he thought it might come from a lab. The mainstream media then completely rejected the idea.”

After Trump said it came from a lab, it became impossible for any liberal person to say it might have come from a lab?

“It became more difficult. I tried to get something in some progressive outlets and I couldn’t get anywhere. I tried The Nation and The Intercept.” 

The vast majority of the media, including so called independent media, labeled this theory a Trump crazed conspiracy theory. When did that begin to change?

“Senator Tom Cotton and Fox News and associated right wing news outlets were talking about it fairly early on. And that was before Trump said it. Josh Rogin at the Washington Post started writing about it. He was probably the most prominent mainstream journalist pursuing this – outside of right wing media.”

Nicholson Baker wrote a long article in January 2021 titled The Lab-Leak Hypothesis. For decades, scientists have been hot-wiring viruses in hopes of preventing a pandemic, not causing one. But what if …?

“It was really important. But it didn’t get a ton of pick up because it happened the day before the January 6 events at the Capitol.” 

“The lab leak theory has taken off lately for highly dubious reasons. You had a Wall Street Journal article that took anonymous intelligence agency information saying that the U.S. government has information that workers in Wuhan were getting Covid like symptoms before the outbreak – that was in November 2019. The information could be true, it could be false.”

“People are making all kinds of leaps they shouldn’t be making. Lab origin does not necessarily mean lab leak. And lab leak doesn’t necessarily mean lab leak from the lab in Wuhan. The anthrax attacks were designed to make you think that they came from somebody they didn’t come from. The anthrax attacks came with letters that said – Death to America, Death to Israel, Praise to Allah. They were obviously contrived to make you think that they came from evil Arabs and Muslims.” 

Three million people have died as a result of this virus. If it was a reckless leak from a lab, what are the implications for accountability and law enforcement?

“I don’t know the answer to that question but you would think that there is a case for negligence on the part of the labs that are doing this work. And that implicates the labs themselves as well as the funders of the labs.” 

“The USAID is a funder of this lab work. And they are now a player in trying to figure out what to do about this. The trail comes back to USAID through its Predict program. They were a major funder of this dangerous lab work and major funder of EcoHealth Alliance.”

Are there any books being written about this?

“Not that I know of, but I am considering writing a book about this. It’s a matter of time and resources.”

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Sam Husseini, see page 35 Corporate Crime Reporter 24(13), June 14, 2021, print edition only.]

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