Evidence shopping in the U.S. intelligence bazaar
John Gong
U.S. President Donald Trump. /Xinhua

U.S. President Donald Trump. /Xinhua

Editor's note: John Gong is a professor at the University of International Business and Economics and a research fellow at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies at UIBE. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

To real professionals, intelligence work is nothing short of the secret and sacred science of painstakingly gathering, perusing and analyzing evidence before reaching important conclusions. It demands a great deal of rigor and attention to details throughout the process.

But thanks to U.S. President Trump's and his national security council's change of preferences, intelligence work in the United States has sunk to the level of those boisterous bazaars, where cheap counterfeit and knockout goodies are peddled everywhere. And then President Trump could stroll in at ease and shop the things he likes at will.

This is no more evident than Trump's current obsession with pursuing the Wuhan lab leak story, upon which he can then further substantiate the China cover-up theory and demand national compensation to the United States as a result.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have reported that Trump was fuming in the White House in recent days about this issue as his falling approval rating in polls is starting to seriously dim his reelection chance.

Reportedly, his Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger is pressuring intelligence officials to gather evidence that could support Trump's coronavirus origin theory.

But the problem is that his Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which functions as the oversight body over sixteen intelligence agencies in the U.S., is not going to budge in the absence of real fodder.

A screenshot of The New York Times report

A screenshot of The New York Times report

The Office issued a statement on April 30 that "The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified."

Not deterred by the disappointment maybe, President Trump then started to purvey the possibility of the alternative accidental leakage thesis. No, he is not just purveying its possibility. He has already reached that conclusion – when pressed on Thursday by a journalist on whether he has any hard evidence, he said yes but refused to tell where exactly was the evidence.

By just looking at the video clip of that short exchange, I don't hesitate to conclude that the lying king is lying again, amid his tens of thousands of lies so far. When Trump needs facts that don't exist, he demands his aides to come up with alternative facts. When Trump needs numbers that don't add up, he demands his aides to make up numbers – otherwise you are sued!

I am not kidding, folks. Josh Dawsey at Washington Post reported on April 30 that Trump did indeed threaten to sue his campaign manager Brad Parscale when Parscale presented unfavorable results of two recent polls during a conference call a few days ago, one of which was actually conducted by the Republican National Committee. It goes on to report that several days later Parscale came back with polling numbers that were more positive for Trump, and the President seemed in a far better mood.

Now, compared with President Trump's amateurish brute-force approach of fabricating numbers, his major foreign policy aide Matthew Pottinger is a real intelligence professional. And his approach to meeting his boss' demand is probably more subtle, but equally mind-boggling. Pottinger had a personal grudge against the Chinese government when he was a Wall Street Journal reporter in China.

Ever since his appointment, I have always suspected whether America's China policy would be hijacked by a man with a personal vendetta.

Pottinger's reportedly "pressuring of intelligence officers" to come up with the fodder his boss desperately hungers for reflects an intention to politicize intelligence information. That is a dangerous path to go down when it comes to trying to find out about the coronavirus' origin.

So here we have a case where the boss and his aide have scant respect for science – of differing degrees, to be fair. Plus President Trump's track record of audacity to twist, spin and even fabricate things anyway he wants – it is then safe to conclude that such is pretty much the nature of the investigation Trump orders.

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