The ghost of weapons for mass deception
Daryl Guppy
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2019. /VCG

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2019. /VCG

Editor's note: Daryl Guppy is an international financial technical analysis expert. He has provided weekly Shanghai Index analysis for Chinese mainland media for more than a decade. Guppy appears regularly on CNBC Asia and is known as "The Chart Man." He is a national board member of the Australia China Business Council. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 

In 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell solemnly told the UN Security Council, "Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

In subsequent interviews, most recently in the New York Times in 2020, he acknowledged this "was a great intelligence failure on our part."

The Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) campaign was deployed in 2003. It deceived British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard and others. The campaign is more accurately described as Weapons of Mass Deception.

Now 18 years later, President Joe Biden has tasked the same intelligence services to investigate whether the novel coronavirus "emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident."

Given the propensity of security services to find threats everywhere – this is their raison d'etre – the results are pretty much a foregone conclusion. But that doesn't mean they are accurate as subsequent reports on the Weapons of Mass Deception have shown.

This is potentially another Weapons of Mass Deception campaign fueled by grotesque conspiracy theories that dominate the U.S. social media environment.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported allegations that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care. In the midst of a miserable winter, workers taking sick leave is not an unusual event but this report has renewed interest in the lab origin theory.

The article cited a U.S. intelligence report as the source and noted that one person said the information came from an "international partner," who described it as potentially significant but needing further corroboration. While the lab leak theory has been dismissed as unlikely, reports about the hospitalization of Wuhan lab researchers in November 2019 have given it new traction.

A screenshot of one article from The Wall Street Journal

A screenshot of one article from The Wall Street Journal

The Biden investigation is based on the newly discovered fact that some workers reported sick with seasonal flu. This "intelligence" is neither surprising nor compelling. This in itself suggests the proposed review is just another plank added to the platform of anti-China activity and policy in the United States.

This does not mean it can be ignored or dismissed. This is America after all. The China lab conspiracy has the dangerous potential to become a foundation of national policy and like the 2003 WMD story, a component of international policy.

Eighteen years ago, this misinformation campaign of what we now know to have been a farrago of lies resulted in billions of dollars of misdirected expenditure and thousands of unnecessary deaths. Unfortunately, it appears that many Western political leaders have failed to learn the lessons of what happens when you unleash the secretive security services and expect them to deliver balanced, accurate and factually based reporting rather than reports which support their threat-driven assumptions.

What are the measures to counter these campaigns of misinformation? First is the refusal to suspend disbelief. This requires a close re-examination of how Western leaders were duped by false intelligence reports in 2013 and the way several intelligence services colluded to create these.

Second is the appointment of truly independent scientific investigators to examine the facts and to report these independently and objectively. In 2013, UN weapons inspectors' reports were rejected by Colin Powell and his political masters. Respecting the independent authority of the UN is imperative and this requires the support of all its players.

The third task falls to liberal democracies with their inbuilt mechanism of skepticism. They must embrace the critical analysis of any results from this Biden investigation. This may come from organizations like WikiLeaks and this should be welcomed rather than condemned. The world cannot afford a repeat of the uncritical acceptance of intelligence-driven reports. Success requires a critical media, business leadership and the political strength to stand up to what will be a carefully crafted narrative.

Fourth is a genuine commitment to scientific openness from all players. Cover-ups or data manipulation from any sources only plays into the narrative of deception and conspiracy and hinders the measures needed to prevent any similar outbreaks like COVID-19.

Based on past performance, it is an unfortunate conclusion that an investigation of the nature proposed by President Biden is more likely to obscure the truth rather than reveal it. Further investigation in the interest of global health and a common threat is welcome, but it must be independent and undertaken by the global scientific community. The world needs answers it can trust.

However, the ghost of Powell haunts the veracity of any report generated by the Biden intelligence services investigation.

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