NCMI / DIA: No warning on a coronavirus pandemic in November 2019 assessment

The National Center for Medical Intelligence issued a rare public denial of a report by ABC News, which alleged that “concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report” by the NCMI, which is part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” according to an unnamed source who told ABC the reports were then “briefed multiple times,” to the DIA, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, and the White House.


‘NO SUCH PRODUCT’ EXISTS: The ABC News report, which alleged that 2019 intelligence depicted an “American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home,” sent Pentagon officials scrambling to find the report in question. “NCMI and the Defense Intelligence Agency spent considerable time over the last 24 hours examining every possible product that could have been identified as related to this topic and have found no such product,” said a defense official last night.

That, in turn, prompted Col. R. Shane Day, a medical doctor and director of the DIA’s National Center for Medical Intelligence, to issue a rare public statement. “As a matter of practice, the National Center for Medical Intelligence does not comment publicly on specific intelligence matters,” Day said. “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.”

ESPER WOULD HAVE KNOWN: Defense Secretary Mark Esper was questioned about the purported November intelligence assessment by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on last Sunday’s episode of This Week.

“Did the Pentagon receive an intelligence assessment on COVID in China last November from the National Center for Medical Intelligence of DIA?” Stephanopoulos asked. “Oh, I can’t recall, George,” said Esper, who didn’t seem to know what Stephanopoulos was referring to. “But,” he said, “we have many people who watch this closely.”

“This assessment was done in November, and it was briefed to the NSC in early December to assess the impact on military readiness, which, of course, would make it important to you, and the possible spread in the United States,” pressed Stephanopoulos. “So, you would have known if there was briefed to the National Security Council in December, wouldn’t you?” “Yes,” Esper agreed, adding, “I’m not aware of that.”

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