DIA Releases Heavily Redacted Documents on COVID-19 Origin: Raises More Questions than Answers

In a recent revelation through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), The Black Vault has procured documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) relating to investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 novel SARS-2 Coronavirus. But the excessive redactions and withheld information have only intensified the mystery around the pandemic’s inception.

The original FOIA request specifically sought “all reports, papers, memos, etc. from the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center during 2019, 2020 or 2021 evaluating the origin of the Covid-19 novel SARS-2 Coronavirus and/or whether the Covid-19 novel SARS-2 Coronavirus was created in a laboratory.” The DIA’s response: “A search of DIA’s systems of records located one document (32 pages) responsive to your request.”

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But the catch? Hefty redactions. Out of the 32 pages found responsive, 18 pages were “withheld in part” while a staggering 14 pages were “withheld in full.” The few visible headers include hints at what was being withheld like “China: Emergence of a Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan” and “Analysis of Alternatives: 2019-nCoV Outbreak Caused by Leak at WIV.” Yet, substantial portions of content, entire paragraphs, and even entire pages remain obscured from view.

In the DIA’s defense, they cite a litany of FOIA exemptions. Exemption 1, aligned with the criteria of Executive Order 13526, pertains to “information properly classified,” while Exemption 3 encompasses information “specifically exempted by a statute establishing particular criteria for withholding.” The statutes invoked, 10 U.S.C. § 424 and 50 U.S.C. § 3024(i), serve to protect the identity of DIA employees, the agency’s organizational structure, its functions, and “intelligence sources and methods.”

The looming question, then, is why? Why the necessity to shroud in secrecy information about a global pandemic’s origin – a matter of public health, concern, and knowledge?

While the DIA’s justifications, rooted in the protection of intelligence practices and personnel, are notable, the broader implications are evident. With global conversations on transparency, the nexus of defense intelligence and pandemic research remains as clouded as ever.


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DIA Releases Heavily Redacted Documents on COVID-19 Origin: Raises More Questions than Answers [20 Pages, 1.5MB]


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This post was published on September 15, 2023 12:40 pm

John Greenewald

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