NIH’s ‘vast, deep, and intentional’ efforts to obfuscate transparency should concern everyone

NIH’s ‘vast, deep, and intentional’ efforts to obfuscate transparency should concern everyone

  • June 3, 2024

Matthew Foldi, Washington Reporter 

What’s a little Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) evasion between friends? For Anthony Fauci’s inner circle, it seemed to be the name of the game, according to a series of recent explosive congressional hearings and revelations.

Doctor and Senior Advisor at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases David Morens and Fauci’s lesser-known former chief of staff, Greg Folkers, are at the center of the latest controversy. Both corresponded extensively to or about EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit that performed gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and its infamous president Peter Daszak, who is fresh off an incoming debarment from the Biden administration for both him personally and for the organization he helms. 

What seems to have prompted a flurry of letters from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic last week, to the directors of the NIH and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), was in part Morens’s e-mail traffic about what he called the NIH’s “foia lady,” who taught him “how to make emails disappear after i am FOIA’d but before the search starts, so i think we are all safe. Plus i deleted most of those earlier emails after sending them to gmail.”

Unsurprisingly, the Republicans on the COVID Select Committee wrote to NIH’s leadership requesting a briefing on “NIH’s document retention, transparency, FOIA, and personal e-mail policies.” The subcommittee noted that “previously uncovered evidence that Dr. Morens began using a Proton Mail account after his Gmail was probed by the Select Subcommittee.”

Government watchdogs have taken note of the recent congressional probes. Michael Chamberlain, the executive director of Protect the Public’s Trust, noted that “the irony is not lost on us that the Biden administration is holding up NIH as a model for scientific integrity as it develops principles that will govern future administrations. Yet, the contemptible actions that are being revealed are precisely the types of things that would be protected from oversight if these principles are adopted.”

Americans don’t need tin foil hats to heed Chamberlain’s concern about the “vast, deep, and intentional” corruption and obfuscation dominating the highest ranks of the nation’s so-called public health officials.

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