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Senator Rand Paul Probes State Dep't Funding for Coronavirus Research: 'The American Public Needs to Know'
Susan Jones : Mar 24, 2023 CNS News
"Most of this is unclassified. And so we just had a unanimous vote in the Senate and in the House and ...Biden just signed a bill saying he's going to declassify stuff. But if you declassify it and you still hide it from the American people, that's a problem ... You won't help us investigate this. You refuse and ... it is reminiscent of the countries we criticize for lack of transparency. And yet you sit there and say you're still going to continue to refuse." -Senator Rand Paul to SOS Antony Blinken
[CNSNews.com] While some Americans complain about China's lack of transparency on the origins of COVID, the same criticism can be applied to the US lack of transparency, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. (Screengrab image)
The witness, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, told Paul the State Department "cannot directly provide" unredacted records pertaining to coronavirus research that was funded by the State Department.
Paul said he asked for those records "on September 12th and November 7th of last year," but the State Department has so far refused to comply:
"My question is, what's the State Department hiding?" Paul asked. "Why won't you give these records to the American people?"
Blinken said, "My understanding is that our teams have been working to find an accommodation."
"There's a difference between can and may," Paul said. "You won't do it, but you can do it."
Blinken said he hopes to "find a way forward that answers your concerns so that you get the information that you're looking for. My understanding is that our teams have been working on that, and I commit to continue to do that so we can get you the—"
"We're talking about unclassified material," Paul interrupted.
"Most of this is unclassified. And so we just had a unanimous vote in the Senate and in the House and ...Biden just signed a bill saying he's going to declassify stuff. But if you declassify it and you still hide it from the American people, that's a problem.
"I mean, we spend all of this time lambasting authoritarians for lack of transparency, we have these silly networks on TV that are aligned with the Democrat Party saying democracy is under attack. Well, do you think transparency has something to do with democracy? You're refusing to give records on research, money that went for research.
"We want to read the research grant proposals. We want to read what the people in Wuhan sent back to the State Department saying they did. Which viruses did they create? Because the thing is, is it sounds all great—we're going to identify all the viruses of the world; but part of what they do is they take a virus they found 200 feet down in a cave and they mix it with another virus to create a virus that doesn't exist in nature because they say that's how we're going to further identify it.
"There's a big debate that should be had whether that's safe, to take a virus from 100 feet down a bat cave 12 hours south of Wuhan and take it to a city of 10 million.
"And yet you won't help us investigate this. You refuse and it makes—it is reminiscent of the countries we criticize for lack of transparency. And yet you sit there and say you're still going to continue to refuse."
Blinken responded that debates on gain-of-function research are "very important," but he lacks the expertise to know "whether the risk outweighs the reward." He also said the program involving USAID "was not engaged in gain of function work."
"That's a debate," Paul said. "And that's your opinion. We'd like to see the records. Fauci says there was no gain of function in Wuhan, and nobody believes him anymore."
Paul said he doesn't want to "debate" Blinken: "I only want to have the records."
'We don't want to hear your spin'
"I believe that we can find a way to get you the information that you're looking—" Blinken started to say.
"All right," Paul interrupted. "But the last—the last response we have from you is no. So, the American public needs to know. I've asked many, many times. I've asked you in person. This is a second time in person. I've talked to two assistant secretaries of State, and the writing we get back from you is 'no'. Not maybe. Not, we'll work with you. It's no. So, that's where we are now."
"It's not no, just to be clear," Blinken said. "We did reach back out to your team just as recently as this week to offer to provide all of that information in briefing form, which is to say—"
"Which means you get to read it and interpret it and spin it, and we get to hear your spin," Paul said.
"We don't want to hear your spin. We want to look at the doc—we're talking about grants—we're not—we're talking about grant proposals. You ask us—you act as if we're talking about the secrets of the Manhattan Project.
"We're talking about grant proposals, and we're talking about grant updates where someone [has] to write in and say, 'Oh, we did this experiment and this experiment, we got this result.' That's what we're talking about. Same thing from NIH, same thing from HHS. Everybody's hiding it, and it's not even really something to protect the Biden administration.
"Most of this stuff happened in the previous administration, but I don't get it. Why circle the wagons? Maybe there's nothing to see here, but then it makes the whole world think you're hiding something if you won't give it to us. So just give it to us.
"It's a bunch of bureaucratic paper that we're looking to sift through to see if there are any clues, because one of the biggest clues we have that they did this is they asked DARPA, and we only know this through a whistleblower, they asked DARPA for money to take a coronavirus and put a Furin cleavage site in it to make it more infectious.
"And lo and behold, that's what COVID-19 is. It looks just like what they said they wanted to create with our money, and we turned them down, but that doesn't mean they didn't do the research. We're looking for research like that, that they were performing. We're looking for something that may be in their notes that hasn't been public—that hasn't been sifted through.
"But what we feel is that people at the State Department and at NIH and HHS are conflicted. Why? Because if you funded research that somehow is linked to the pandemic or a leakage of that, that doesn't look so good for the people who [lent] it. So we see this as a circling of the wagons and a conflict of interest that maybe there are people within the State Department who funded research who are worried that it might be linked to the pandemic.
"But we can't just accept your spin on it because people—there may be self-interested people who funded the program. We're just asking to look at the data. But so far it has been no. We've had a few phone calls, but we don't want your spin on it. We want to look at the documents ourselves."
Blinken repeated, "I believe we can provide the information you're looking for. We have long-standing practices and procedures in terms of actually providing documents and cables with this committee that we're not prepared to change."
Paul said the only worthwhile records he's seen so far were leaked to him or declassified during the Trump administration. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here
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