US Intelligence Community Meddling in COVID-19-origins Tracing Echoes the Tactic of ‘Washing Powder’ Lie That Triggered Iraq War

By Zoey Zhang

Jun 12, 2021 05:17 PM

People tour the Nation Mall near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., the United States, on April 27, 2021. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled new guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans on Tuesday, including activities they can safely resume without wearing masks.(Photo: Xinhua)

At the end of May, US President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence community to "redouble" its efforts in the investigation of the origin of COVID-19 and report back to him in 90 days. 

In his statement, Biden called out China's name with no reservation about his true intentions, saying that the US will "keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China."

Coincidentally, former US president Donald Trump just reiterated his "lab-leak" conspiracy theory last week. He also demanded that China pay $10 trillion to "compensate" for the damage caused by the pandemic.

Ironically, while Biden's executive orders have continuously called to revoke Trumpism, his actions have been doubling down on Trump's legacy, for instance, by declaring the origins tracing of COVID-19 a thing of the CIA.

What the two administrations have done echoes the former president George W. Bush administration's "washing powder" lie, which was fabricated to legitimize the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

Ignoring the international community

In 2003, then executive chairman of UNMOVIC Dr Hans Blix reported to the UN Security Council by recalling the previous inspections in Iraq and stating that it was not certain that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). 

In the same month, Mohamed ElBaradei, then director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also submitted a report confirming that there was no evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons.

Though the two acknowledged international organizations had given clear conclusions, then US secretary of state Colin Powell still insisted in his remarks to the UN Security Council that Iraq possessed WMD. Powell alleged that Iraq had no willingness to cooperate and therefore would face "serious consequences." His vial of white powder presented as evidence at the UN was later teased as "washing powder" by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nevertheless, the US unilaterally launched a military invasion of Iraq without the authorization of the UN Security Council, starting the 7-year-long Iraq War. What followed was endless turmoil and chaos, as well as "mass destruction" of the country. 

Angelina Jolie, an American actress, summarized the destruction in her statement during her Mosul visit in 2018. "They have nothing, but they are free," she said. Such emotional words are touching, but they are hardly an apt description of the loss, pain and suffering the Iraqi people have endured and are still facing every day.

In January 2021, after a four-week field study in Wuhan, a joint expert team convened by the WHO reported that the laboratory incident hypothesis is "extremely unlikely." The experts also suggested that further study be conducted in other places and countries around the world.

Apparently, these are not the results the US government had expected. In frustration, the Biden administration gave an emergency assignment to the US intelligence community, in an attempt to overturn the WHO report.

But we must wonder, how can a group of CIA agents specialized in assassinations and espionage understand coronavirus better than the leading scientists do?

Presumed guilt

According to revelations from some media outlets, people on the Capitol Hill had been scheming a coup d'etat in Iraq even before the 9/11 attacks.

After 9/11, US officials including then vice president Dick Cheney made up the allegations that Iraq had a link with al Qaeda and possessed WMD just to start a war against Iraq. 

Meanwhile, Cheney and his accomplices continued to pressure the intelligence community to collect evidence in line with this fabricated narrative.

Now it's Biden's turn. Under his command, the US intelligence officials are also conducting a so-called investigation based on the presumption of guilt that "the virus originated in China and the Chinese laboratory is suspicious." It's not hard to see their hidden intention.

Distorting the narrative

Before the Iraq War broke out, the US intelligence community was tasked with advising policymakers what it knew about Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons program. But according to a report by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction to the White House in March 2005, these assessments were "all wrong.''

As the media revealed, Bush and Cheney had deliberately exaggerated Iraq's WMD threat, knowing well that the intelligence community did not know the exact situation. Even rumors denied by the intelligence community itself, such as "Iraqi dissidents said the country harbored biochemical weapons," were utilized as "evidence" to convict Iraq.

Today, knowing the fact that the US intelligence community lacks both the knowledge and sufficient information, the Biden administration still constructs its narrative based on a conspiracy that "the virus originated in China and it is either a natural origin or a lab accident." Not to mention its repeated efforts to amplify the "lab-leak theory." To strengthen this argument, the US government is even reported to be drawing inspiration from the dark web. (Dark web refers to a part of the internet that is intentionally hidden and requires a specific browser to be accessed).

Undoubtedly, the US government has no conclusive evidence to prove the "lab-leak" conspiracy.  Foreseeably, the final investigation report the US intelligence community is supposed to submit will be a hodgepodge of spurious "evidences."

Manipulating the people

Polls showed that in early 2003, the majority of Americans still preferred a diplomatic solution to the Iraq issue to confrontation. But as the US government kept on reiterating that Iraqi possessed WMD, 64 percent of Americans finally swung to military might on the eve of the war.

With respect to the tracing of the origins of COVID-19, the US again resorts to its "whole industry chain" to smear other countries - a strategy where disinformation is used by the so-called experts, hyped up by media outlets and regurgitated by politicians. All this is to make the "lab-leak" conspiracy into some form of a "scientific assertion" and "international consensus."

What's interesting is that this story rightly conforms to classic Hollywood narratives in movies like Resident Evil and 28 Days Later, which greatly appeal to the Western audience. 

Not long ago, an American journalist named Michael R. Gordon quoted a so-called previously undisclosed US intelligence report which hinted a far-fetched connection between the "three sick staff" of a Wuhan lab and the outbreak. 

Nineteen years ago, it was the same reporter who concocted disinformation by citing unsubstantiated sources about Iraq's "attempt to acquire nuclear weapons," which gave the Bush administration a handy excuse to declare war on Iraq. 

Another interesting fact: On the same day when Biden called for further probe into the origins of the coronavirus, Facebook updated its misinformation rules, announcing that it will no longer remove posts claiming the virus is "man-made." 

It seemingly is a commitment to mere political correctness. This, in fact, is the engine start of the "whole industry chain" to manipulate public opinion.

Ganging up allies

The UN Security Council, trying to propose a resolution allowing military interference against Iraq, joined the US in the invasion. 

Then British prime minister Tony Blair eventually apologized for "mistakes" made in the US-led military invasion of Iraq, but still argued that Britain had to stand with the US as an ally.  

Eighteen years later, the US has once again assembled 13 other countries, and released a statement expressing their "concern" over the WHO report. 

Unsurprisingly, Great Britain followed up quick, saying its intelligence community will cooperate fully with America's "investigation."

With all these copycat tricks by the US, is history going to repeat itself?

Among the many US political plots disclosed by the international community, the "washing powder" lie is the most infamous one. The infamous image of Collin Powell wielding that test tube is not just an eternal moment of shame for the history of the United States of America, but also for the history of mankind.

Is there any possibility that the "washing powder" lie could work again? In retrospect, even Saddam Hussein had never knelt down for mercy. Now that China has made great success fighting the pandemic and outperformed the West, it's hard to imagine that China would ever flinch when the US tries to make provocations.

If an investigation is really intended to better prepare the world for unexpected epidemics in the future, there is no doubt that all countries would welcome it without reservation. But the US interference in the WHO investigation undermines that possibility. 

In early 2020, COVID-19 cases in the US soared to tens of millions within weeks, was that a sudden outbreak or actually a failure to cover-up? In late 2019, why on earth did the US Army suddenly close the biological lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland? What are the 200-plus overseas bio-labs of the US set for? Will the White House invite WHO experts to conduct origin tracing in the US and its labs?

Faced with the ravaging pandemic, the US government failed to protect more than 600,000 lives in America by playing down the virus, should the US be held accountable?

It hasn't been long since the end of the Trump regime. But the Biden administration's latest political gamble is indeed marching in the same direction of the previous administration, at the risk of basic human conscience and justice. Such copycat tricks of the "washing powder" lie will bring nothing but shame and scandals.

The author is a current affairs observer. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn



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