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Pompeo's Dangerous Proposal: Create an Army of Lawyers to Hunt for Covid Origin

Let's discuss practical implications of former Sec of State Mike Pompeo's suggestion to hold China accountable for Covid.
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Let Lawyers Hunt for Covid’s Origin

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Let Lawyers Hunt for Covid’s Origin

Will we ever know where Covid-19 came from? Not if the last word comes from the U.S. intelligence community, which reported to the White House this week that China’s fault is plausible but unprovable. Beijing has refused to cooperate with inquiries, which it has characterized as “origin tracing terrorism.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry even denounced the equivocal intelligence report: “If they want to baselessly accuse China, so they better be prepared to accept the counterattack from China.”

For the rest of the world, getting to the bottom of the question is essential to assigning blame and preventing pandemics. Fortunately, we have an institution dedicated to getting to the bottom of thorny factual disputes: the U.S. judicial system. Our judiciary is respected globally for its impartiality and scrupulous adherence to due process. Civil discovery gives litigants the tools to compel production of evidence, backed by the threat of sanctions or even default judgment, so Beijing would be unable to stonewall. With so many losses caused by the pandemic, U.S. litigants have a powerful incentive to bring cases, prosecute them aggressively, and test liability through adversarial presentation. Several such cases have already been filed.

But those suits and others like them face a high hurdle: the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The FSIA is the reason at least eight lawsuits were dismissed or withdrawn on grounds that foreign states are generally shielded from litigation in U.S. courts. Yet that immunity isn’t a constitutional mandate, only a matter of congressional discretion. Congress can legislate exceptions, and has done so.

Lawmakers should enact a new FSIA exception denying sovereign immunity to nations that fail to inform, or deliberately misinform, the global community of the nature and scope of a local epidemic that becomes a global pandemic.

Questions Abound

  1. What practical use could it do?
  2. How would US hold China accountable?
  3. And what if the result was negative?

For starters, lawyers don't make judgments and we do not know what medical experts would say.

Regardless, it is absurd to believe China would honor a subpoena request by the US any more than the US would honor a subpoena by China. 

But let's assume conviction in the absence of subpoenaed data because China would not bother to show up. 

What then? How precisely would the US hold China accountable? 

Are we to presume China would not retaliate?

Let's Make it Totally Fair!

Let's make it completely fair by rescinding FSIA across the board, not just when it benefits the US.

What about Bush's and Powell's lies about weapons of mass destruction that lead to a treasonous invasion of Iraq.

Let's hold Obama, Bush, Trump, Cheney, Hillary and countless US officials responsible for actions that destroyed Libya, Syria, and Iraq in undeclared wars. 

What about US sanctions on Venezuela and Iran that punished innocent civilians?

Dare I suggest Pompeo is nothing but a blowhard hypocrite?

US Intelligence Comments

  1.  Four IC elements and the National Intelligence Council assess with low confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus—a virus that probably would be more than 99 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2. These analysts give weight to China’s officials’ lack of foreknowledge, the numerous vectors for natural exposure, and other factors. '
  2. One IC element assesses with moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. These analysts give weight to the inherently risky nature of work on coronaviruses. 
  3. Analysts at three IC elements remain unable to coalesce around either explanation without additional information, with some analysts favoring natural origin, others a laboratory origin, and some seeing the hypotheses as equally likely. 
  4. Variations in analytic views largely stem from differences in how agencies weigh intelligence reporting and scientific publications, and intelligence and scientific gaps.  

None of the US intelligence agencies believe China created a biological weapon, and only one out of eight believes it came from a China lab. 

Eight out of eight believe it was either an accident or natural. 

Source: US Unclassified Covid Report

Addendum Questions

A reader asked:

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  1. What is the message value to China (and other nations/rogue states) of doing nothing, if in fact, they are guilty as hell?
  2. What is the message value to the 'intelligence' services of accepting whatever they say, if in fact, they are highly politicized?

What is the message of "presumption of guilt" when the intelligence community and allies disagree?

What is the message of insisting the US court system is the place to handle all national disputes in which the US and US alone gets to decide via Congress what is disputed?

What is the international fairness in which there is no place to hold the US accountable for anything but every means of the US to hold anyone and everyone else to US sanctions and witch hunts? 

US presidents have so abused the sanction system that I welcome and openly root for ways the EU and others can escape the Swift payment system that allows the US to set sanction policy for the world.

Question 2 is spot on. Everything is politicized. 

Practically Speaking

What would knowing the origin of the virus change, on a practical basis?

What would we or anyone else do differently if we discover:

1. The virus originated in a lab

2. Occurred naturally

3. Unknown

Regarding unknown, it is not even clear China knows. For example a worker at the lab may have been infected from the outside.

Regardless, How does the answer change anything? If if doesn't, who cares other blame games and curiosity?

Whether it's 1, 2, or 3, the risks of working with viruses in a lab are certainly better understood. And it's not just China. The US is involved in gain of function research as well.

Unless China knows for sure, there is no way to find out conclusively, and we only create a mess in making the charge. US domestic politics should not drive this.

Assume for a second China actually believes it occurred naturally or is uncertain itself. People whose minds are made up would never accept that. 

At this point, if China doesn't know, given the passage of time, no one will ever conclusively know.

Pompeo's Interest

Pompeo is not interested at all in the truth. He is interested in making a case out of China with the outcome predetermined, and in a manner that is more than a bit dangerous and hypocritical. 

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