Conservative think tank’s lawsuit alleges CIA obstructed the handover of COVID-19 records

In an exclusive feature on Daily Caller, it was revealed that the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project has sued the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 22 for refusing to hand over information relating to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) origins.

The conservative organization filed the lawsuit after the federal intelligence agency failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records connected to its team tasked with investigating the lab leak theory, which proposes that SARS-CoV-2 was created in and escaped from a laboratory and did not transmit to humans by animals as claimed.

“This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (‘FOIA’), 5 U.S.C. § 552, to compel production of CIA records relating to allegations that members of the CIA’s COVID Discovery Team, a group of employees tasked with analyzing the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, received monetary incentives to change their position on the origins of the virus,” the complaint included.

The FOIA requested records from creating the discovery team and all records shared among team members associated with COVID-19’s origins. “As of the date of this Complaint, CIA has failed to: (i) produce the requested records or demonstrate that the records are lawfully exempt from disclosure; (ii) notify Plaintiffs of the scope of any responsive records it intends to produce or withhold and the reasons for any withholdings; or (iii) inform Plaintiffs that they may appeal any adequately specific, adverse determination,” the lawsuit added.

Heritage also demanded records of any financial bonuses and communications between discovery team members and officials from numerous agencies across the federal government. The lawsuit likewise asked the court to compel the CIA to produce all non-exempt records under Heritage’s prior FOIA request and to cover Heritage’s costs incurred. “Under FOIA, CIA has twenty (20) business days to produce responsive documents or issue a determination communicating the scope of the documents it intends to produce and/or withhold, the reasons for any withholding, and notifying the requester that it may appeal any adverse determination,” the paper further indicated. “Twenty business days from October 25, 2023, is November 20, 2023.”

A whistleblower reached out to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic back in September alleging that the CIA rewarded six agents financially to change their position and come out against the possibility of the virus originating in a lab in Wuhan, China. At the time, spokesperson for the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs Tammy Kupperman Thorp told Newsweek: “At CIA we are committed to the highest standards of analytic rigor, integrity, and objectivity. We do not pay analysts to reach specific conclusions. We take these allegations extremely seriously and are looking into them. We will keep our Congressional oversight committees appropriately informed.”

Sens. Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Rick Scott and Ron Johnson then wrote a letter to CIA Director William Burns requesting information on the allegations. “According to the whistleblower, at the end of its review, six of the seven members of the Team believed the intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan,” the House panel chairmen wrote to Burns. Assessments from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Energy have concluded that the virus most likely came from a lab in Wuhan where bat coronaviruses were being researched.

Fauci to testify in January

Meanwhile, the COVID subcommittee published a report in July accusing former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci of facilitating a campaign to cast doubt on the lab leak theory. In March, new evidence came out indicating that Fauci was behind an influential paper designed to discredit lab leak proponents. The CIA also brought Fauci into its headquarters to “influence” its lab leak investigation without keeping records of Fauci’s entry, the subcommittee alleged in September.

The former White House chief medical advisor is set to testify before the committee in January 2024. The said deposition will examine his role in the public health response to the pandemic. (Related: Fauci’s former top deputy caught deleting correspondence on COVID-19 origins.)

John Ratcliffe, the former director of National Intelligence, has publicly stated his belief that the lab leak is the only credible explanation for the pandemic’s origins. The Heritage Foundation’s lawsuit serves to underscore the importance of transparency in this ongoing debate about the origins of a pandemic that has significantly impacted the entire globe, analysts pointed out.

Head over to for more stories related to COVID-19 origins.

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