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Loss of Chinese agents undercuts U.S. COVID origin probe

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American intelligence agencies remain unable to pinpoint the source of the COVID-19 pandemic without Beijing government help — a sign spy services continue to suffer from the wholesale loss of Chinese informants more than a decade ago.

A declassified updated assessment on COVID-19 origins, ordered by President Biden shortly after he took office, confirms that the 17 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community remain divided on whether the virus began in a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan or emerged naturally from an animal host such as a bat.

“China‘s cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19,” the 18-page report released Saturday concluded.

Analysts gauge all judgments in the report as having low to medium levels of reliability. China has angrily denied the virus leaked accidentally or on purpose from the lab and has blocked the U.S. and international efforts to get more on-the-ground data on the early days of the deadly global pandemic.

However, despite the lack of solid conclusions about the virus origin, the unidentified intelligence analysts who produced the assessment appeared convinced the virus was not engineered as a biological weapon or that senior Chinese leaders knew about the virus before the outbreak began.

The sole unitary agreement among the group of spy agencies, including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency, is that the virus “most likely” emerged from natural exposure to an infected animal or a “laboratory associated incident.”

Mr. Biden ordered the report in May. The agencies spent three months producing the assessment under the direction of the National Intelligence Council, an analysis unit in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The information was current as of August, but the results also reflect the lasting damage of an earlier U.S. intelligence setback.

ACCORDING TO PEOPLE FAMILIAR WITH THE STILL-CLASSIFIED CASES, the CIA suffered one of its most serious failures beginning in 2010 when the agency lost almost all its recruited agents inside China. As many as 27 conscripted Chinese agents were either imprisoned or executed, including at least one execution that took place in a public courtyard of an intelligence building as other Chinese intelligence officers stood by.

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Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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