Dr. R. Shane Day, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), issued a statement on Wednesday countering ABC News’ claim that his agency laid out coronavirus concerns in a November intelligence report.
The report, released by ABC News Wednesday morning, claimed: “U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population, according to four sources briefed on the secret reporting.”
“Two officials familiar with the document’s contents” reportedly told ABC that those concerns “were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI).”
From the ABC News story:
The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia — forces that depend on the NCMI’s work. And it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.
‘Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,’ one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. ‘It was then briefed multiple times to’ the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House.
The sources told the news outlet that a “detailed explanation of the problem” appeared in President Donald Trump’s “Daily Brief of intelligence matters in early January.”
“The timeline of the intel side of this may be further back than we’re discussing,” a source reportedly told ABC. “But this was definitely being briefed beginning at the end of November as something the military needed to take a posture on.” (RELATED: FLASHBACK Jan. 14: WHO Tells Everyone Don’t Worry Because China Says Coronavirus Isn’t Contagious)
Day, however, disputed the entire story Wednesday afternoon with what Time’s W.J. Hennigan called a “rare, unrequested statement.”
JUST IN: Director of DIA’s National Center for Medical Intelligence issues rare, unrequested statement regarding COVID. pic.twitter.com/tCw0GRchJ6
— W.J. Hennigan (@wjhenn) April 9, 2020
“As a matter of practice the National Center for Medical Intelligence does not comment publicly on specific intelligence matters,” the statement read. “However, in the interest of transparency during this current public health crisis, we can confirm that media reporting about the existence/release of a National Center for Medical Intelligence Coronavirus-related product/assessment in November of 2019 is not correct. No such NCMI product exists.”