US Congress passes bill to declassify COVID origins intelligence

The House of Representatives unanimously approved on Friday a bill to declassify US intelligence on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending the measure to President Joe Biden.

The 419-0 vote follows the bill's passage in the Senate on March 1. Sponsored by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, the bill requires the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify all intelligence related to the pandemic's origins.

It comes after several current and former officials and US agencies have come out in favor of the theory that the virus originated in a Chinese research lab in the city of Wuhan rather than as a result of natural phenomena.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Feb. 28 that the bureau "assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan," accusing Beijing of "working to undermine the investigation from the US and other members of the international community."

Just days prior to Wray's announcement, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a report that determined with 'low confidence' that a lab leak was responsible for COVID-19.

The underpinning intelligence, meanwhile, has remained classified, meaning Americans and interested parties worldwide have not been able to access it.

If signed into law by Biden the law would require Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify all materials in the intelligence community's possession "relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)" within 90 days.

Haines would only be allowed to redact information she "determines necessary to protect sources and methods."

Source: Anadolu Agency