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Republican lawmakers accidentally disclosed numerous messages revealing more about a conspiracy to cover up the likely origins of COVID-19 because of faulty image cropping.
The messages were released in a report on the origins of COVID-19 published this week by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. Congressional investigators probed the creation of a research paper published in March 2020 in the scientific journal Nature Medicine that concluded COVID-19 is “not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”
Messages sent by scientists who contributed to the paper revealed that the report’s conclusion was a product of politics and deception rather than honest scientific rigor, however.
The report was prepared using “Acrobat PDFMaker 23 for Word,” and it included cropped screenshots of emails and messages exchanged by scientists and researchers who worked on or were consulted about the paper, according to The Intercept. Before publishing the report, committee staff apparently failed to remove the cropped parts of the images from the file, unintentionally making the full images accessible to a couple internet sleuths who later posted the full images.
Let's go on an Easter egg hunt inside the pdf 🧵 https://t.co/ntVn2UpKPd
— Francisco de Asis (@franciscodeasis) July 11, 2023
Microsoft warns users of its Acrobat PDFMaker that cropped images are potentially viewable unless extra steps are taken to delete cropped parts of images.
“Cropped parts of the picture are not removed from the file, and can potentially be seen by others,” Microsoft notes, according to The Intercept. “If there is sensitive information in the area you’re cropping out make sure you delete the cropped areas.”
The committee has since pulled the original edition of the report and posted a different one. The original report, including the screenshots with the full images accessible, was preserved, however.
This genie isn't going back in the bottle. Here's the original version with the embedded text messages and emails (which can be seen using Acrobat edit).https://t.co/xPTrGv2nWQ
— Hans Mahncke (@HansMahncke) July 13, 2023
Some online have speculated about the cropped images and suggested some attempt at softening the blow to the scientists. The report released as intended is a harsh rebuke of the researchers’ actions and included damning messages showing the duplicitous work of researchers, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“The SSCP has released hundreds of pages of investigatory material and is committed to a transparent investigation into the origins of COVID-19. Messages related to the report are consistent with its conclusions and the facts of the investigation. Highlighting specific excerpts to emphasize statements and details is a common investigatory practice,” a spokesperson for the subcommittee, led by Ohio Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup, told The Daily Wire in a statement.
The messages revealed in the report show that while the March 2020 research paper concluded that COVID-19 could not have come from a lab, the scientists who worked on the report appeared to intentionally mislead people over the plausibility of the lab leak hypothesis. The researchers wanted to avoid even the appearance that a Chinese lab may be implicated in the release of COVID-19.
“Given the s*** show that would happen if anyone serious accused the Chinese of even accidental release, my feeling is we should say that given there is no evidence of a specifically engineered virus, we cannot possibly distinguish between natural evolution and escape so we are content with ascribing it to natural process,” Dr. Andrew Rambaut wrote in a February 2020 Slack message.
Dr. Kristian Andersen replied: “Yup, I totally agree that that’s a very reasonable conclusion. Although I hate when politics is injected into science – but its [sic] impossible not to, especially given the circumstances.”
Some U.S. investigators who were part of the team assigned to uncover the origins of COVID-19 believe that the virus is a result of Chinese military research into bioweapons, according to a report last month in the U.K.’s The Times.