By Michael Senger: Brownstone Institute
From an early date, commentators have noted that the response to COVID had all the look and feel of a coup attempt. The masks, the slogans, the symbols, the lies, the sudden inversion of long-cherished norms and values, the mindless acceptance of information from nefarious sources like the World Health Organization and China. Something was seriously off, and it all seemed so obvious.
Thus, one overarching question always lingered over the response to COVID. How were officials able to implement such destructive, totalitarian policies across the Western world without intelligence authorities stepping in to stop them?
A detached review of the evidence leads to a chilling answer—though in hindsight, perhaps the only one that was ever really possible. Quite simply, the reason the Western intelligence community never stepped in to stop the illiberalism is that virtually all the most illiberal aspects of the response to COVID lead directly back to the Western intelligence community itself.
Reviewing the Evidence
The Western intelligence community was behind the birth of “social distancing” as public health policy via Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher—operatives with deep ties to the highest levels of the intelligence and biosecurity communities—through their work on biodefense policy during the Bush administration. In what may be the mother of all COVID coverups, Hatchett and Mecher’s story that “social distancing” was based on a 14-year-old’s science project, as told through the New York Times and celebrity author Michael Lewis, appears to be nothing but an elaborate cover story for the fact that the concept was lifted directly from China’s longstanding policy of “lockdown” during SARS in 2003.
The intelligence community either planned or was in attendance at nearly all the pandemic simulations that began being held on a semi-annual basis beginning with Dark Winter in 2001. Current Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines was personally present and sat directly beside China’s CDC Director at the Event 201 simulation of a coronavirus pandemic which took place just weeks before COVID was revealed.
Michael Callahan, the federal government’s chief virus intelligence expert, told National Geographic that he began tracking the novel coronavirus in November 2019, and he was the US government’s only confirmed contact in Wuhan during the initial lockdown in January 2020. Upon returning from Wuhan, Callahan’s testimony was key to throwing the federal government into a state of emergency and the widespread adoption of mechanical ventilators which proved to be deadly. The federal government’s first impressions of COVID thus came from the Western intelligence community via Callahan.
Ratcheting up Alarm
Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, one of America’s highest-ranking intelligence officials in 2020, arguably played the most important role of any individual in the initial months of the response to COVID, unilaterally ratcheting up alarm about COVID in the White House beginning in January 2020 and advocating mask mandates, quarantines, and shutdowns all based on his own sources in China, while breaching protocol on several occasions. Pottinger was also behind the appointment of White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx, and he selected Birx for this role as a “public health security advisor” as early as November 2019, the same time that Callahan began tracking the new coronavirus. Having been installed in the White House, Birx then went on to be the chief force orchestrating lockdowns across the United States.
The origin of the online videos of Wuhan residents falling to their deaths which went viral all over the world in early 2020 is disputed. The videos were carefully edited, suggesting a sophisticated state-sponsored disinformation campaign, and they directly contradicted the reality of what we now know was taking place in China at the time, suggesting the Chinese Communist Party either created or at least approved of them. However, the videos were generally released through Chinese dissident groups that claimed to be hawkish toward the CCP and thus also had the approval of the Western intelligence community. While some of these were most likely CCP-controlled opposition groups, regardless, the Western intelligence community greenlit the dissemination of these videos.
The propaganda story about Li Wenliang, the eye doctor who was supposedly punished for warning his friends about an incidence of pneumonia in Wuhan in December 2019, appears to have in fact been invented by the venerated CCP propaganda outlet Beijing Youth Daily weeks after the events supposedly occurred. However, just days after being invented by the CCP’s propaganda machine, this absurd tale about Li Wenliang was featured in many of the Western world’s most elite media outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC, Foreign Policy, the Financial Times, and countless others, and it continues to be touted as true in elite policy circles to this day. This story, too, thus had the approval of the Western intelligence community.
Prior to the lockdown of Lombardy, Italy, in February 2020, virtually no one in the world was publicly advocating or hoping that China’s lockdowns would come to be adopted as global policy. Yet in his book, Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza recalls that he was well aware that the concept of lockdown came from China and that the decision to adopt this policy in Lombardy was made based on information from Stefano Merler. A look at Merler’s work reveals that he spent 2020 stamping information from China as “science,” effectively running a propaganda laundering operation on behalf of the CCP. Yet Merler had also been praised by Bill Gates and was part of the Western biodefense network. In 2013, Merler had authored Containing the accidental laboratory escape of potential pandemic influenza viruses; it appears the Western biosecurity community deputized Merler for just this purpose in 2020. This decision for Italy to copy China’s lockdown policy thus appears to have been condoned by the Western intelligence community as well.
Days after the lockdown of Lombardy, the WHO released a report gushing about China’s lockdown measures, telling the world, “China’s uncompromising and rigorous use of nonpharmaceutical measures to contain transmission of the COVID-19 virus in multiple settings provides vital lessons for the global response.” As Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward reported, “What China has demonstrated is, you have to do this.” Apparently the Western intelligence community either failed to notice or tacitly approved of this bizarre act of sycophancy to the CCP as well, rubber-stamping China’s lockdowns into global policy.
In March 2020, hundreds of thousands of social media bots began touting China’s lockdown policy on Twitter using nearly identical language. Given that these bots heaped praise on China while denigrating every other country in the world, including the United States, it’s long been quite clear that this was a CCP disinformation campaign. That said, these bots were permitted to perform their function and, incredibly, their pro-lockdown posts were not deleted from Twitter until well into 2021. Even as far back as 2014, millions of bot posts touted “lockdown”—specifically using the Chinese term instead of the Western term of “social distancing”—in response to Ebola in Sierra Leone, and those bot posts remain intact to this day. These massive disinformation campaigns were allowed to take place and the posts were able to stay up for years despite social media being tightly monitored by the Western intelligence community throughout this period.
As soon as lockdowns began, dissenting opinions were censored, with one prominent example being the censorship of Aaron Ginn for his original anti-lockdown article in March 2020. Worse yet, Twitter under its prior management gave prestigious “blue checks” to ridiculous users like nutritionist Eric Feigl-Ding, who sowed COVID hysteria on an almost daily basis from the earliest possible date.
Even top scientists on the political left who generally supported lockdowns were so troubled by Ding as to jointly call him out as a charlatan. Yet astonishingly, Twitter ignored these bipartisan calls to rein Ding in and instead featured him prominently in its exclusive “COVID-19 experts” section. In light of revelations in the Twitter Files and Missouri v. Biden, we now know that the Western intelligence community was steering these decisions on COVID by major social media platforms.
When the response to COVID began, the public health establishment, in accordance with its longstanding guidance, did not initially recommend masks. Weeks later, this guidance abruptly changed, and masks were mandated across the Western world. Both Pottinger and Birx pushed for masks inside the White House based on their own information and experience from China. Simultaneously, Zeynep Tufekci and Jeremy Howard launched a bewilderingly successful campaign to reverse the CDC’s longstanding mask guidance and push for mask mandates all across America—also based on information from China. The Western intelligence community, through Pottinger and Birx, and perhaps through Tufekci and Howard, thus instigated this shift in masking guidance.
The intelligence community was also heavily involved in the development and push for COVID vaccines, with Michael Callahan and others playing leading roles in “Operation Warp Speed.”
The Western intelligence community may also be behind some of the most prominent controlled opposition to the official response to COVID. Nearly every leading intelligence official in 2020 has endorsed the theory that COVID came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and Matt Pottinger was instrumental in the initial push for that theory. One of the most prominent public advocates of the “lab-leak theory,” Jamie Metzl, is a former member of the White House National Security Council. Some of the other most prominent public advocates of the lab-leak theory have either now or in the past been directly employed by Sandia National Laboratories; Sandia National Laboratories was instrumental in the birth of “social distancing” as public health policy during the Bush administration.
Most importantly, the Western intelligence community holds the keys to any serious investigation into any of these events. All over the world, across professions, citizens have been depending on the idea that if there was anything corrupt or rotten about the response to COVID, the Western intelligence community would step in. Of course, that won’t happen, because as the above record makes clear, they’re the ones who planned it.
The Missing Link
The view of the response to COVID as having been driven primarily by the Western intelligence community goes a long way to explaining several key mysteries.
It brings newfound significance to the catastrophe of 2010 to 2012 in which America’s entire spy network in China was systematically executed based on intelligence leaks from the CIA—this is considered one of the CIA’s worst failures in history.
To put the horror of this catastrophe into perspective, dozens of CCP officials had been selfless enough to place their trust in the United States, hoping that doing so might help bring positive change to their country. For this, some group in the CIA routed this information back to the CCP and had every one of these brave individuals murdered; the fate of their families is unknown. Apparently from such an early date, some elements in the CIA were already doing the bidding of the CCP to such a revolting degree, and were able to get away with it.
It explains why obvious communist assets like Lancet Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton, 40-year British Communist Party Member Susan Michie, the WHO’s Bruce Aylward, and others have been able to operate so openly and even advance their careers despite all the harm their policies have caused.
It may help explain why the intelligence community has been gradually cultivating more and more previously independent media outlets, and how an entire apparatus for censoring the legal speech of Western citizens was able to be set up and operated without the public’s knowledge.
It explains why the propaganda and illiberalism of the official response to COVID has always seemed so transparent, with media outlets across the world suddenly bombarding their own people with coordinated terror messaging featuring lines such as “Flatten the curve,” “We’re all in this together,” “Just stay home,” “Follow the science,” and “Two weeks to slow the spread” without anyone stepping in to stop it, and why the narrative of elite institutions has generally drifted so far from public opinion.
It explains why some leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson who weren’t initially keen on lockdowns have always seemed so confused; it seems the information they were being fed by the intelligence community on COVID may have been deliberately misleading.
It explains why the facts coming from the Western intelligence community keep changing, with several officials initially telling reporters that they first learned about the virus in November 2019—in line with Callahan’s testimony—but then changing their story to insist that no one knew about the virus until December 20, 2019.
It explains why the “resistance” to the official response to COVID always seemed like such a hodgepodge, with a loose-knit network of rather ordinary individuals able to have such an unusually large impact on the public conversation, uncovering damning facts that were going unreported by major media outlets, and why even some very high-level officials like Supreme Court Justices have had to turn to grassroots sources like Brownstone Institute for information on what actually happened.
An Unwitting Coup
Upon reviewing the evidence, it’s hauntingly clear that the illiberalism of the response to COVID largely emanated from the Western intelligence community. But in part owing to the secrecy of the agencies involved, it’s difficult to determine who exactly within the intelligence community might have orchestrated all this and why.
One important lead is Richard Hatchett, the father of “social distancing,” who spun a book-length cover story about how the concept came from a 14-year-old girl’s science project. Another is Michael Callahan, whose testimony from Wuhan threw the federal government into a state of emergency. Callahan reported to Robert Kadlec, another official with longstanding ties to the biosecurity community.
Another clear lead is former Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger. Given that Pottinger is central to virtually every official narrative of the initial months of the response to COVID, it’s inexcusable that he’s still never been called to testify about his role.
But so far, the trail ends there. Pottinger reported to National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and there’s nothing suspicious about either of those men. Another possible lead is Avril Haines, currently Director of National Intelligence, who sat alongside China’s CDC Director George Gao at Event 201—but Haines wasn’t in any position of power when COVID first appeared during the Trump administration in 2020. Perhaps a more likely scenario is that the leaders of our intelligence agencies were overly trusting of their subordinates, and could thus have been rolled by some corrupt mid-level agents.
Further, there’s a degree of truth to the critical notion that, by virtue of their secrecy and their longstanding ethos of realpolitik, the Western intelligence community may have a somewhat totalitarian culture all on their own, notwithstanding the influence of the CCP. This longstanding culture of justifying the use of force and propaganda abroad may have blinded Western intelligence leaders to the illiberalism of the policies their agencies were deploying in response to COVID; thus, what we witnessed during COVID may have been the result of the CIA and its counterparts turning their awesome powers of manipulation against their own people, however unwittingly.
Still, the amount of planning and the reliance on information from China during the response to COVID is too uncanny for there not to have been a significant degree of CCP influence involved. While there’s plenty of corruption to go around in public health, the media, and other branches of government at both the state and federal level, no genuine inquiry into what took place can be possible without the intelligence community looking straight in the mirror.
The response to COVID was one of the greatest peacetime policy catastrophes in history, shredding America’s international credibility, robbing children of years of their youth and education, killing millions, throwing hundreds of millions into poverty, costing billions of life years, and transferring trillions in wealth from workers to billionaires, all for nothing. That this illiberalism emanated directly from the Western intelligence community explains how a catastrophe of such magnitude was able to take place.
Most of all, that the Western intelligence community drove the illiberalism of the response to COVID explains why the corruption and inhumanity of that response have always seemed so obvious, with the most valuable information on the events in question often coming from leading officials’ own books and interviews, despite how much harm they caused. They’re able to operate with such impunity because they know that the only agencies that can hold them accountable are the ones behind the whole spectacle. The propaganda is obvious, and it’s meant to be.
Given the scale of the tragedy and the gravity of the potential crimes, there’s a widespread sentiment that any investigation into the response to COVID should be handled by the proper authorities. On this point, Xi Jinping, a firm believer in the importance of law and order, couldn’t agree more.
Michael P Senger is an attorney and author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World. He has been researching the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on the world’s response to COVID-19 since March 2020 and previously authored China’s Global Lockdown Propaganda Campaign and The Masked Ball of Cowardice in Tablet Magazine. You can follow his work on Substack.