When Did The U.S. Know About the COVID-19 Outbreak in China?

Having worked for three years at the level of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at what now is called the National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC), I can tell you with near certainty that in early January (and arguably in December), when the medical intelligence analysts sent out their warnings, the commanders of the Unified and Specified Commands worldwide (under the Secretary of Defense) got the message and pulled out their contingency plans for facing a pandemic. These commanders cannot afford to wait because the military forces must be protected. Anything less is dereliction of duty. This quiet planning would have taken place irrespective of the actions at the White House.

The National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) is directly charged with providing intelligence on biological threats such as COVID-19, and certainly would have distributed indications of a pandemic to the military and also to civilian agencies such as Health and Human Services, the Office of the Surgeon General, Treasury Department, Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department and State Department, all of which would have received this information (certainly highly classified) and would have started contingency planning quietly.

Any department requiring information about pandemics would have routine distribution of intelligence reports on topics affecting their agencies. All these agencies would annually review their needs for intelligence information, usually by creating a subject matter list and keywords such as virus, pandemic, infection, disease, etc. Reporting that contained these keywords or topics would automatically be distributed to the requesting agencies through proper, secure channels into special offices created to receive such information. That could be just the office of the individual agency head or a larger research organization such as the Bureau of Intelligence and Research office within the State Department.

Similarly, all 24-hour watch centers would receive information on a possible pandemic. Such watch centers include the White House, the NSC, the FBI, the CIA, NSA, Army, Navy, Air Force, etc. Their China/Asia desks would have been set to collect information on biological threats of any sort. Highly classified morning summaries from various intelligence reports received during the night would be placed on the desks of senior managers daily in dozens of agencies and offices throughout the government. Daily threat summaries are sent throughout the world by various intelligence agencies. I wrote and edited hundreds of these summaries while in the Office of Counter-Terrorism at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Moreover, the daily morning briefings to the Joint Chiefs of Staff by DIA, to which I contributed on dozens of occasions, would have highlighted a pandemic threat even in its earliest stages.

Any problems in the chain of dissemination or action would have stemmed from improper planning, lack of planning, or suppression of planning, by political hacks in positions of authority at the highest levels of these agencies. Excerpt: “Various intelligence agencies had been including information about the coronavirus in briefing materials since early January, according to the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to confirm details about the alert.” This quote, from an article in the Star Advertiser, serves as confirmation to me that U.S. intelligence had knowledge of the virus breakout most likely in December, at which time they would have begun preparations of assessments for the National Command Authority.

The above points to a massive failure at the White House to take early action to combat what is now called the COVID-19 threat. We know who hit that OK button.

[Note: I have purposely avoided discussion here of the origins of COVID -19 be it from a “wet market” in Wuhan vs a deliberate or accidental escape from a nearby biologic laboratory as some have begun to argue. In either case, the threat to the U.S. public, and our reaction to it, would have been essentially the same.]

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Steve Harris

Apr 18, 2020

[Edit: I don’t intend my comments to sound like direct criticism to Dick on his article. I always appreciate the time and effort that the authors put into this site. What I’m trying to convey in my comments is that hindsight is always 20/20. Even with the number of infections and death we know about today, the broader public is getting very anxious and ready to get back to work (right or wrong).  It’s easy to say we should have closed the country and ordered a national quaratine in February or even earlier, but with what we (the public) knew at the time, I’m not sure how well that would have been received….]

You never answered the question presented in the title.  What information did those reports, you reference, contain? SARS-CoV-2 was novel (i.e. we knew nothing about it). Even today, there are many things we don’t know about the virus and perhaps never will know.

We should presume that they knew more about the “novel coronavirus” than the POTUS or the US military. 

On Jan 14th, the WHO tweeted, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China”.

On Jan 23rd, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the following comments: “Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.” and, “We know that this virus can cause severe disease, and that it can kill, although for most people it causes milder symptoms.” and “At this time, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. There is still a lot we don’t know. We don’t know the source of this virus, we don’t understand how easily it spreads, and we don’t fully understand its clinical features or severity.”

On Feb 4th (4 days after the US enacted a partial ban on travel from China), Tedros made the following statement at a WHO briefing, “We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit.”

The first American confirmed fatality was Feb 29th. On March 13th a National Emergency was declared. 

What specific, “early action to combat what is now called the COVID-19 theat” should have been done? When? Do you believe that the US Fed intentionally hid information from our state governors? Gov Inslee could have issued his “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders in Jan or Feb, but he didn’t. Why? Is he just as negligent? What about other governors? Is the POTUS the only one to blame? 

While I’ve read and heard lots of complaints and criticisms about local, state, and the federal government actions (or lack of actions) that were taken, but very little on what specific actions should (or should not) have occurred. 

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 19, 2020

Steve,

Don’t worry about criticizing my articles.  The purpose of this site is to have dialogues.

I meant my piece to be background to a polemic that has already been brought up all over the country.  Knowing how these organization operate provides a framework on which to judge actions taken months ago and even actions that are taking place now. 

The first line of my article answers the question posed in the title.  When? I have no date certain, but the point is that there is a process to understand here about the capabilities and the structure of the intelligence system. 

I have not seen the reporting that initially came from the intelligence agencies but I do know that if a threat topic is serious enough to be reported in early January, then the agencies knew that something significant was going on and had been working on an assessment that would be  useful to decision makers.  Such reporting informs agencies who then begin to assess their preparedness, mostly behind the scenes so as not so sow panic until a response.

As for the WHO, I am not giving much stock in their pronouncements. I am sure our NCMI has a much more effective information gathering capability. 

Early action would have been just as I described.  Immediate behind the scenes assessment of the state of our medical supplies and existing delivery systems.  Pulling off the shelf contingency plans for pandemics.  Preliminary coordination with the emergency management offices of the 50 states.  All of this was set up by the previous administration but apparently ignored to the point that supplies and plans no longer existent or outdated. I see no evidence that this preparation was contemplated even remotely by the national leadership. 

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Steve Harris

Apr 20, 2020

Thanks Dick, it would be very interesting to read those reports to know what was being disseminated.  I suspect that they [intelligence agencies] certainly realized that China wasn’t fully reporting what they knew at the time, which (at the very least) should have significantly raised the concerns.  

What’s truly frustrating is the total lack of accountability at all levels. The finger pointing by those supposed to be prepared is getting tiresome (especially from the top).  Our hospitals lacked sufficient PPE, our own local Dept of Emergency Management lacked a stockpile of any sort, WA State was underprepared, and so was the US Fed.  I can only hope that history doesn’t repeat itself…I’ll leave it to the experts to figure out how the government(s) Et. al rotate stocks of PPE to mitigate the typical 5 year shelf life of things like N95 masks (maybe rotate into existing supply chains for govt hospitals/clinics). 

It seems that current rules and procedures used by the FDA regarding development of lab tests needs to be revamped as they contributed to the current problem. Although the chatter now is that a shortage of basic testing supplies like swabs is the primary problem, not the ability of the lab to actually test the specimen?

I’m not sure everyone is ever going to agree about social distancing and stay-at home orders when it comes to flu-like illness.  With diseases like Ebola, one only has to read about the horrific symptoms to scare folks into confinement, but a disease with flu-like symptoms just doesn’t “scare” people enough.  Hell, we can’t even convince folks that vaccination against Polio, Hepatitis, Tetnus, etc is in the best interest of their kids (BTW, I’m not going to be drawn into an anti-vaccer discussion). 

One thing is for sure…governments should be well prepared to deal with the next pandemic when (not if) it comes along. Well…at least if it appears in the next 3-5 years (our memories seem to be short).

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 20, 2020

Steve,

Could not agree more.  Thanks for your thoughts on this.

 

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Doug Karlberg

Apr 20, 2020

One thing is sure, nobody in the world was truly prepared for this. Collectively all of us were unconcerned for years, even though there were people warning us of the possibility of a pandemic. I wish I had listened closer.

i suspect if Trump had locked down the country on January 15th and ordered everyone to shelter in place, he would have been pilloried by the world. If he had the information by then provided by intelligence agencies, then maybe he should have. He would have easily saved thousands of lives, but there was not a helluva lot of solid information at that time. The Chinese were actively withholding information and frankly, lying to the world.

Would the public have supported him if Trump had locked down the country on January 15th? I don’t think they would have. I think it would have been hard to convince the public until we could see the corpses.

All of these decisions have almost unimaginable consequence. Shutting down the whole economy and throwing tens of millions out of work. Like having to amputate a child’s arm, to save their life.

Nope, not a decision I would like to make.

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Larry Horowitz

Apr 21, 2020

Apparently, as in war, the first casualty of a pandemic is truth.  I will likely be excommunicated from NWC for posting this, but Deroy Murdock published what appears to be an accurate timeline of COVID-19 events in the US on - OMG! - foxnews.com.

Jan. 6

  • Trump’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel notice on Wuhan, China, before any U.S. infection arose. 
  • The Republican-controlled Senate’s one vote ended debate (86-5) on Jovita Carranza’s nomination to head the Small Business Administration. 
  • Pelosi’s Democrat-controlled House was out of session. 

Jan. 17

  • Trump’s CDC began enhanced screening for COVID-19 symptoms at three U.S. airports, in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York’s JFK. U.S. infections: Zero. 
  • Prohibited from addressing anything but Trump’s House Democrat-triggered impeachment trial, the Senate convened for 34 seconds, from 1:59:55 p.m. to 2:00:29 p.m.  
  • The House met for three minutes — from 10:30 a.m. to 10:33 a.m.

Jan. 20

  • Trump’s CDC opened an emergency operations center after one U.S. COVID-19 patient was diagnosed.
  • The Senate was out of session. 
  • The House was out of session. 

Jan. 21

  • Trump’s CDC expanded COVID-19 checks to airports in Chicago and Atlanta.
  • The Senate rejected Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer’s 11 amendments related to Trump’s impeachment trial.
  • The House met for two minutes — from 10 a.m. to 10:02 a.m.

Jan. 29

  • President Trump chaired his Coronavirus Task Force and unveiled its members.  
  • The Senate impeachment trial continued. 
  • The House’s two recorded votes adopted the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act and an anti-fentanyl bill. 

Jan. 31

  • One day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” President Trump restricted travel from China. Former Vice President Joe Biden called this policy “hysterical xenophobia.” CDC began the first mandatory quarantines since the 1960s. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared “a public health emergency in the United States.” 
  • Via six recorded votes, the Senate decided not to call witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial. 
  • The House was out of session. 

Feb. 2

  • Trump’s CDC added Honolulu, Seattle and suburban Washington, D.C.‘s Dulles airports to those already screening travelers from China. 
  • The Senate was out of session this Sunday.  
  •  The House: Ditto. 

Feb. 4

  • Trump’s Food and Drug Administration allowed emergency use of CDC’s COVID-19 test in non-CDC labs. “My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from” COVID-19, Trump said in his State of the Union address. 
  • The Senate met but took no votes. 
  • The House met, took no votes, hosted the State of the Union, and then adjourned. 

Feb. 5

  • Trump’s then-acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary Azar briefed lawmakers on COVID-19. “Several House lawmakers of both major parties said the administration has the situation under control,” the Seattle Times reported. 
  • No surprise: The Senate acquitted Trump on two articles of impeachment, finally sinking Hate Trump, Inc.’s juggernaut that distracted Americans while COVID-19 slithered out of China. 
  • By voice vote, the House passed, among others, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the USPS Fairness Act, and renamed a Detroit facility the Aretha Franklin Post Office Building. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on “The Wuhan Coronavirus.” 

Feb. 9

  • Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force briefed the states’ chief executives at the National Governors Association Meeting. 
  • The Senate was out of session this Sunday. 
  • The House: Likewise.  

Feb. 11

  • Trump’s HHS expanded collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Research & Development division to produce a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • The Senate confirmed Andrew Lynn Brasher to the federal bench.  
  • The House passed the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act.

Feb. 18

  • Trump’s HHS offered expertise and funds to help Sanofi Pasteur develop a COVID-19 vaccine and treatments. 
  • The Senate was out of session.  
  • The House met at 10:30 a.m. and adjourned at 10:31 a.m. 

Feb. 26

  • Trump assigned Vice President Mike Pence to lead the administration’s COVID-19 response. 
  • The Senate was out of session.  
  • The House passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, the G.I. and Veterans Education Empowerment Act, and ordered a study of the 550-mile Chief Standing Bear Trail from Nebraska to Oklahoma.  

Feb. 29

  • Trump’s FDA let LabCorp, Quest, and other diagnosticians develop COVID-19 tests and liberated states to engage some 2,000 such laboratories. The administration discouraged travel to parts of South Korea and Italy and restricted arrivals from Iran. 
  • The Senate was out of session this Saturday. 
  • The House: The same. 

March 3 

  • Trump thanked and invigorated staffers at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Md. 
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on “How the U.S. Is Responding to COVID-19.” 
  • By voice vote, the House condemned violence in the Central Africa Republic and passed the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act — to offer Pakistani women half of U.S. Agency for International Development’s Merit and Needs-Based Scholarships. 

March 6

  • Trump signed $8.3 billion in COVID-19 response funds approved by the House (415-2) on March 4 and the Senate (96-1) on March 5. 
  • The Senate was out of session. 
  • As was the House. 

March 13

  • Having restricted European arrivals two days earlier, Trump proclaimed a national emergency, unleashed $42 billion, forgave student-loan interest; deregulated telemedicine, interstate medical practice and the hiring of physicians at hospitals; and persuaded Costco, Walmart and other retailers to launch drive-thru COVID-19 tests. FDA let Roche and Thermo Fisher produce COVID-19 tests. 
  • The Senate was out of session. 
  • At 12:51 a.m. on March 14, the House passed (363-40) the $192 billion Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing paid sick leave, free COVID-19 tests, and more. 

As Mr. Murdock writes:

Could Trump have done more, sooner? Yes. By definition, every evening that he did not moonlight at the Vaccine Research Center, unpack test tubes and rinse Pyrex flasks was an evening he could have done more.

But while Trump did plenty to fight this plague early, Democrats largely toyed with impeachment and then dozed off once their magic wand failed to make him disappear.

The fact that COVID-19’s U.S. victims count in the tens of thousands and not millions — heartbreaking as those deaths are — confirms just how much the president’s efforts are succeeding.

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Larry Horowitz

Apr 21, 2020

I’d also like to add that, in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the primary goal was to flatten the curve and prevent our medical system from being overwhelmed.  I believe most would agree that, to a great extent, the primary goal was accomplished.  

But flattening the curve does not eliminate COVID-19.  Residents in the US and around the world will continue to be infected.  Our healthcare system has improved their methods of treatment resulting in lives saved.  As before, the vast majority who get infected now will recover and, hopefully, gain immunity.

Considering the potential devastation, IMHO the decisions made and the public response have saved thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives.  What’s most disappointing are the attempts to politicize the COVID-19 pandemic at a time we should recognize - and embrace - that we are all one. 

ONE HUMANITY.

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Larry Horowitz

Apr 21, 2020

For those who prefer to receive information visually, consider investing 5 minutes to watch Representative Dan Crenshaw debunk the current narrative.

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Tom Dohman

Apr 22, 2020

Anytime I see it mentioned that the U.S. was SCREENING for COVID-19 symptoms back in January (or perhaps even to this day), I feel the need to put such comments into a proper context.  Firsthand accounts of people going through customs at U.S. airports - including those earmarked for the COVID-19 SCREENS - remarked about the casual & almost cavalier procedures being employed.

Taking 15-30 seconds to review “symptoms” and conduct a thermal scan for temperature is not what any trained microbiologist or public health officer would call a screen - which implies that the screen would catch positive travelers (who would be detained?) whereas negative travelers (no symptoms or elevated temperature detected) would flow right through unimpeded.  As an analogy, I worked in the food manufacturing business wherein various screens might be deployed to catch & remove EVM (extraneous vegetable matter) from the flow of the food product.  The least effective screens - allowing the greatest flow and the lowest level of defect removal - were affectionately called “frogs & logs” screens - meaning that is about all that they might be expoected to remove.  The SCREENS deployed at U.S. airports beginning in January 2020 - IMHO - were equivalent to a “frogs & logs” screen.  They were not really capable of catching much of anything but rather were a feeble attempt to show the U.S. public that something was being done to “protect” us from the coronavirus entering the U.S.

Based upon newest autopsy test results from Santa Clara County (CA), it appears that the novel coronavirus may have already been circulating in West Coast communities much earlier than thought.  That means the virus was making inroads and possibly spreading in communities before the SCREENING - such as it is - was even implemented.  Crude COVID-19 screening is / was more of a PR smokescreen than an effective virus blocking tool.

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John Servais

Apr 23, 2020

Larry, you are a respected member of our group of writers and commenters, and we love you and appreciate your contributions. That said, as to the Fox News timeline, well, it shows a tin ear for events and is so absurd as to almost not need a reply. But that is Fox News, not you. Still, really? Are you trying to present Mr. Trump as the sparkling, alert, intelligent hero doing all the right things while others sit on their thumbs? Sorry. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. James Jones also told his followers how he had tried everything to protect them. So, here is an abbreviated reply. A different perspective, if you will.  

The timeline cherry picked incidents. We can do the same with a serial killer and show he was well meaning and mowed his lawn regularly.

Previous presidents have quickly stopped past pandemic threats. Gee, I wonder how. Luck? Here we are - shut down and getting worse. Other presidents respected the advice of their medical advisors and scientists, acted quickly, and avoided past potential pandemics: Ebola, SARS, bird flu, MERS, etc. This time, with this leader facing a similar challenge, we get months of denial and token actions, and are quickly overwhelmed by the corona virus. The facts speak. That cherry picking timeline is laughable.

Testing. With testing we could have kept our economy and society open and functioning. But there was, and still is, insufficient testing, even now, four months into this pandemic. Even this week Trump and his sycophants fought to exclude $25 billion in the next relief bill for developing testing kits - which is the key item we need. And still, the criminally wrong-direction leadership continues. In the future, a cherry-picked chronology can cite that he closed immigration today, and leave out that he fought against test kits. 

Including that Congress was not in session on some days in this chronology was a red herring. The president is supposed to be the leader in a crisis, while Congress supports. Please review past examples: all previous wars, Hurricane Katrina, 911, Pearl Harbor, etc. Sycophantic Republicans controlled the Senate and this president was unwilling to sign bi-partisan legislation.  

Trump disbanded the pandemic task force two years ago - the very group so valued by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, which played a key roll in stopping Ebola from becoming a pandemic in the U.S. Trump fired scientists in the CDC who said anything he did not like. Experts were removed from office. A calendar chronology could be filled with the names of experts who have been fired, including the very experts we need to guide us through the prevention of another pandemic threat. Or a recurrance of this one next winter.

Fox News forgot to include the dates in December when Trump ignored WHO alerts.  

Fox News forgot to include the dates Trump told the American public that it was all a hoax instigated by the Democrats.  

Fox News forgot to include the dates Trump said the fake news media was wrong with their coronavirus reports and warnings.

Basically, to put it in simple terms, Trump’s objective in dealing with this pandemic seems to be to cause chaos. He is making seemingly knee-jerk decisions that consistently make things worse, then in speeches to his supporters, attacking the very government he commands, thus leaving a record of being on both sides of everything. He thrives on chaos and has all his life. There is no limit to the bedlam; witness the dystopian world he has inflicted on us. It will get worse as he takes us to even more unthinkable situations. And Fox News is both his guide to action and his propaganda bureau. 

This will not end well. We may get our civilization, our country, our economy, and our democracy back. But we will go through hell to do so. That I know. History tells us.  

Here is a timeline of his statements on the corona virus - courtesy of CBS News.   

NPR timeline on his statements.  

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Larry Horowitz

Apr 23, 2020

John,

The purpose of Dick’s article can be summarized by his last paragraph:

The above points to a massive failure at the White House…

The purpose of my comments can be summarized by how I ended my second comment:

Considering the potential devastation, IMHO the decisions made and the public response have saved thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives.  What’s most disappointing are the attempts to politicize the COVID-19 pandemic at a time we should recognize - and embrace - that we are all one. ONE HUMANITY.

I stand by my comments.

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Michael Riordan

Apr 24, 2020

I appreciate John’s mention of the fact that the Trump administration (actually, it was NSC director John Bolton) had disbanded the global pandemic task force within the National Security Council in 2018, and cited that fact prominently in my Seattle Times op ed on the Covid-19 outbreak. There was therefore no central coordinating group within the White House, with the power of the presidency to direct actions among the many departments and agencies — CDC, DHS, FDA, to name a few — that would have had to respond quickly to the looming pandemic, given the information that was clearly circulating behind the scenes in January.

Dick, I wonder if you could comment on this, what is essentially a knowledgable outsider’s speculation, given your insider’s knowledge of how classified information circulates within military and administration circles. I believe this is where the real breakdown occurred. 

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 24, 2020

Michael,

The info circulates much as I described in my article, however, it does not take much to turn off the faucet, for high level appointees to stop or redirect incoming messages.  This happened when I was working counter-terrorism at the Pentagon.  My office had special delivery of a highly compartmented reporting system on terrorism issues.  It had a code name which I have forgotten and these messages delivered daily by the NSA rep in the Pentagon.  You had to be “read on” to the program to view the messages. One day the messages stopped coming and when I checked with the NSA rep,  whom I knew well,  I was told that the msgs would only now be delivered to certain high-level DoD designees with the absurd rationale that the information could be better distributed! (This was the time of Reagan, hijackings and hostages in Lebanon.).  Eventually we were able to reverse the absurd rule for our office. 

We were also told to discontinue our briefings to the wife of Hizbollah captive LTC Rich Higgins.  She would come to the office from time to time for an update on his whereabouts.  Since she was on the JCS staff, she had the clearances to see the raw info.  The SecDef (Frank Carlucci) found out about it and ordered that only he could meet and brief her on the incoming intelligence.  An absurd idea since she saw the reporting in the course of her daily work.

Distribution of the intelligence on the Chinese virus outbreak could easily have been choked or redirected at the level of the NSC with the involvement of the Director of National Intelligence who was at that time “acting DNI” Joseph Macguire who resigned weeks later on Feb 20th. 

(Anecdote: One day I was called to bring such terrorism related messages to Gen Norman Schwartzkopf who was visiting the SecDef.  HIs aide-de-camp showed me into Gen Schwartzkopf’s office and closed the door since the aide did not have the clearance.  Alone with him, I gave the book to the general and asked if he had any questions. All I remember is that we agreed that that day’s take was thin gruel.) 

 

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Steve Harris

Apr 24, 2020

If we could completely remove any policital bias (I’m not sure we can), is it fair to compare Ebola and SARS to the COVID-19 situation in the US (and world) today?  It appears (from the CDC Website) that very similar early actions were taken with all three viruses (i.e. mainly just travel restrictions from outbreak area(s)). Worldwide, the 2003 SARS outbreak infected 8096 persons (8 in the US). The ‘14-‘16 Ebola outbreak infected 28,600 persons worldwide (4 infected in US). So far, SARS-CoV-2 has infected at least 2.7 million people worldwide and killed 195,000. 

Let’s not forgot that even the most extreme measures taken in other countries (e.g. lliterally locking people inside their homes and apartments) was completely successful in preventing the spread of this virus. You can’t fairly judge an individual country’s prepardness or response by the number of confirmed infections as that number is dependent on the number of tests being given. You can’t even compare the number of deaths being reported as those can easily be over or under estimated (intentionally or unintentionally). 

One thing is for sure:  We certainly could have done better as a nation and hope we’ve learned from our collective mistakes and can do better in the future.  As a first responder, I’m very thankful and encouraged by the incredible outpouring of support I’ve seen in our community (and others) and remain optomistic that we WILL learn from our mistakes be better prepared in the future. 

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 26, 2020

Steve,

And we all thank you for putting your life on the line as a first responder. 

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 26, 2020

Readers,

I have had several questions regarding the National Security Council and the so-called pandemic response team within and whether or not having kept this “team” in place would have made a difference.  To that i can only say that the NSC is organized an re-organized as different administrations come in… or out.  These remakes reflect the mindsets of the new administrations with regard to perceived threats.  In an adminstration such as this, the major threats are perceived as terrorism, “illegal aliens”, China (today but maybe not tomorrow), N. Korea (today but maybe not tomorrow), Iran, Cuba, etc.  So if this is the mindset you will be blindsided by other, more existential threats such as climate change and possible pandemics. 

An article in Counterpuch in late March outlines the response problem very well.  Trump’s State of Denial, Not the Deep State, Kept Us Unprepared for ...

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