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'Partners with the Chinese': Ex-DOD official says U.S is 'complicit' in COVID lab leak

The Pentagon knew the Wuhan Institute of Virology was not merely "a civilian operation, but that it was involved in Chinese biowarfare," said Stephen Bryen, founding director of the Defense Technology Security Administration.

Updated: June 12, 2021 - 10:48pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Stephen Bryen, the founding director of the Pentagon's Defense Technology Security Administration, believes it's time for the U.S. to confront its own culpability in the COVID-19 pandemic — starting with tough questions about the Defense Department's funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese lab now widely suspected as ground zero in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans.

Last month, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul grilled Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as U.S. funding that made its way to the WIV to support research on bat coronaviruses suspected of being exploited in gain of function experiments. Fauci categorically denied under oath any gain of function funding present or past by the National Institutes of Health, the NIAID's parent agency. 

"[I]t looks to me as if the U.S. is complicit, because we funded the research at the Chinese laboratory in Wuhan," Bryen told "Just the News AM" in a recent interview. "And we did it for many years."

Bryen cited not only NIH support for the WIV, but also funding from the Pentagon. "Believe it or not, the most money came from the Pentagon," he said. "And one wonders why we are doing this and what's going on here. But the fact of the matter is that we were partners with the Chinese."

Bryen, who was among an inner core of influential Cold War hawks in the Reagan-era DOD, believes the Pentagon understood full well that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was not merely "a civilian operation, but that it was involved in Chinese biowarfare and other activities." The lab has been previously documented as a part of China's biological warfare program.

"We had a very good idea of what the Chinese were doing," said Bryen, adding that elements of the U.S. intelligence community have been "warning strongly" about biowarfare for more than a decade "There have been special panels convened at the very highest level of the White House," he said. "What were we doing there?"

Answering his own question, Bryen submits that the U.S. was likely participating in this controversial research at the WIV in the expectation that it would yield valuable insight in dealing with potential future coronaviruses. He theorized that Chinese scientists were at the fore of this particular field, and American scientists, perhaps rightly, thought it important to understand and be a part of that research instead of passively observing from across the ocean.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 26, Fauci pled ignorance about the influence of China's ruling Chinese Communist Party over that nation's scientific community. "I don't have enough insight into the Communist Party in China to know the interactions between them and the scientists, sir," Fauci told Lousiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy.  

Bryen is highly skeptical of Fauci's claim of ignorance. "He's a grown-up," said Bryen. "He's a serious person. His agencies knew what they were doing."

Neither Fauci nor the NIH have responded to requests for comment on this article