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Tags: covid | schiff | wuhan

House Intel Committee Dysfunction Risks Nation's Security

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U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., delivers remarks during a meeting of the House Select Committee, Capitol Hill - Dec. 19, 2022 - Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fred Fleitz By Monday, 19 December 2022 02:56 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Although separate reports, issued last week by the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Democratic and Republican staffs, on China’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic provided some useful information, the committee’s failure to issue a single bipartisan report is the latest sign of how dysfunctional and divided this committee is.

It has become so under the leadership of its chairman: Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

The competing reports underscore the importance that the next chairman, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, take aggressive steps to depoliticize the committee’s work and restore its ability to conduct robust and bipartisan oversight of the U.S. intelligence community.

The committee’s majority staff report found that U.S. intelligence agencies were ill-prepared to provide early warnings about the pandemic and faulted intelligence agencies for not intensifying intelligence collection directed at Chinese health officials, who were hiding data about the infectiousness and lethality of the coronavirus.

Concurrently, the majority report delved into politics by stating that intelligence agencies provided "clear and consistent warning about a potential pandemic" in January and February of 2020, which they asserted contradicted President Trump’s claims that intelligence agencies downplayed the threat from virus.

However, the majority staff conceded that they could not establish exactly what COVID-19 intelligence was provided to President Trump, because both the Trump and Biden administrations refused to provide the committee with copies of Presidential Daily Briefs.

The committee’s ranking staff report focused on an issue their majority party counterparts said they could not evaluate: the origins of COVID-19.

This report said there are strong indications that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, one specializing in studying bat coronaviruses and that the U.S. Intelligence Community downplayed the possibility that the virus was connected to China’s bioweapons program.

The ranking staff also criticized intelligence agencies for a lack of transparency — with the committee and the American people on the origins of the virus.

The majority staff claimed in their report they did not have "an independent source of intelligence" to challenge the intelligence community’s assessment that the virus was not developed as a biological weapon or its view that it's impossible to determine whether the pandemic was the result of a lab accident or natural transmission.

Both reports would have been more useful and convincing if they had been bipartisan.

Majority and minority reports are not ideal; they sidestep debate and reaching consensus.

Bipartisan reports also usually allow a full airing of competing positions by including minority views sections and additional views by committee members.

Bipartisan committee reports were the norm prior to 2017.

At that time, the committee’s traditional bipartisanship broke down because the committee members under then-ranking member Rep. Schiff weaponized the committee to promote false claims that the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia in 2016.

This problem worsened when Schiff became chairman in January of 2019.

He proceeded to use the committee to undermine the Trump administration and support two impeachment hearings.

Partisanship became so severe due to Schiff’s committee abuse that there was an attempt to "build a wall" in the committee office to separate majority and minority staff.

This writer expects incoming Chairman Turner to take quick action to restore the committee’s bipartisan intelligence oversight work.

This reportedly will include kicking Rep. Schiff off the committee, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., because of Swalwell's alleged personal, possibly romantic, relationship with a Chinese spy.

We are in a time when public confidence in America’s intelligence agencies is at an all-time low, and our country is facing growing security threats from adversaries — especially China.

This means it's crucial that the House and Senate intelligence committees conduct robust oversight of America's intelligence community, which had a budget of almost $90 billion in 2022. (See The Wall Street Journal: Dec. 4, 2022.)

Some of this oversight may prove divisive, such as a likely investigation of the 51 former intelligence officers who signed a fraudulent letter on the Hunter Biden laptop story just before the 2020 presidential election. 

There will always be partisan differences on national security and intelligence matters.

This writer hopes, beginning in January of 2023, House Intelligence Committee members will begin treating these differences as honest disagreements and cease using this crucial committee as a political weapon promoting partisan agendas.

Fred Fleitz is a Newsmax TV Contributor and vice-chair of the America First Policy Institute Center for American Security. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst, and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

We are in a time when public confidence in America’s intelligence agencies is at an all-time low, and our country is facing growing security threats from adversaries, especially China.
covid, schiff, wuhan
Monday, 19 December 2022 02:56 PM
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