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The Spies Who Predicted COVID-19

Despite US President Donald Trump's claims, a pandemic has long been among the top threats listed by America's intelligence community. But even the country's best analysts could not foresee that it would happen under a leader willing to sacrifice so many lives on the altar of his ego.

ATLANTA – Intelligence agencies are used to making headlines when they fail to do their job. But after months of US President Donald Trump ignoring their warnings about COVID-19, and after years of his administration discounting their alerts about the danger of a pandemic more generally, it is time that intelligence professionals receive the credit they deserve.

It should come as no surprise that Trump repeatedly dismissed intelligence about the threat of the coronavirus throughout January and February. Trump has long made clear that he has no patience for those who don’t pander to his views. When intelligence leaders contradicted him on several issues in their annual briefing to Congress last year, he told them to “go back to school.”

This year, the bill for Trump’s war on intelligence is coming due in the form of lost lives and overwhelmed health-care systems. US intelligence agencies had sounded the alarm and even provided the enemy’s battleplan, detailing precisely how a novel coronavirus pandemic would unfold. Still, the wannabe wartime president did nothing. Res ipsa loquitur – the negligence speaks for itself.