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ICYMI: Congressman Brad Wenstrup Leads Panel Discussion at the American Enterprise Institute About AI and Biosecurity

  • BRW AEI Panel

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, led the latest installment of the House Intelligence Committee’s Beyond the SCIF series for the 118th Congress with his panel “A Conversation on AI and Biosecurity” in collaboration with the American Enterprise Institute. Click here to watch the full panel discussion


What Was Discussed

  • How policymakers can combat the threats posed by evolving technologies
  • The various steps Congress can take to secure the AI and biotechnology fields

“Dr. Wenstrup, both from his background and his work in Congress, has really fashioned leadership in this space for himself,” said Chairman Mike Turner.He is a surgeon himself, having served in the Army retiring as a Colonel; he is also the Chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic which he has led as Chair… to question the data and information that both the public and Congress have received and the work that the Intelligence Community has done to identify COVID-19 origins."

Understanding the origins of COVID-19 is “important because… we are facing unprecedented threats, both natural and man-made, and of course, the issue of grave concern to national security of the weaponization of pathogens," said Chairman Mike Turner.

Notable Quotes

“It has been important that we open ourselves up to the public...We are trying to engage subject matter experts as best as we can when we do this. So, we like opportunities like this where we can engage with the public as well. As legislators, we want to hear from experts and stakeholders and get feedback from those who are out there in the trenches every day. So, this is our opportunity.” – Congressman Brad Wenstrup

“We’re delighted at American Enterprise Institute to host this part of the series, ‘Beyond the SCIF,’ which is a very important effort undertaken by the House Intelligence Committee to engage with foreign policy and national security communities outside the SCIF on leading edge threats to the U.S. national and economic and health security. We’re thrilled to have Chairman Turner here with us, who will say a few things momentarily, and Congressman Brad Wenstrup, who’s really a leading figure in the biodefense and health world.” – Dan Blumenthal

“You always have to follow the money and one of the issues is: is the money available to put out there in the event of something that hits you that you weren't anticipating? Now it's very difficult to move money around from one account to another... and maybe we ought to be thinking about once we define an emergency, OMB gets the ability to move money from one agency to another quickly, because if you want to build up say a counter to a COVID you have to fund somebody to do it, or at least provide the seed money to do it, because you want them to turn around the counteracting drug very quickly and in large numbers and at scale.” – Dov Zakheim

“We have to look at how do we compete and that'll be really important. I'm going to put it out there that we shouldn't reward China's national champions. They don't act as normal companies, they support China's industrial policies, they skew, they create an unequal playing field, and they have those ties back to the CCP. So that is something that we shouldn't reward both with market access as well as allowing them to be part of the development cycle.” – Anna Puglisi

“When you think about an Ebola outbreak in Africa, that’s very different from even the SARS-1 outbreak, which China again also tried to hide and was shamed into saying that it was happening. And then the SARS-2, which is COVID-19, which they also hid...There’s a difference between cooperating countries and non-cooperating countries. And as a policy debate and an academic debate, we really haven’t had that conversation of how the U.S. will approach those different kinds of countries.” – Anthony Ruggiero

“I think that the first category ought to be thinking about the way in which we can keep a warm capacity. Just like at munitions commands, they have warm capacity that isn't always utilized but is ready at a moment's notice. We ought to think about that for the things we constructed for [Operation] Warp speed and for things like that."– Ken Staley

Panel Speakers

  • Congressman Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH), Discussion Moderator
  • Dan Blumenthal, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
  • Dov Zakheim, Commissioner, National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology
  • Anna Puglisi, Founder, Puglisi Ventures
  • Anthony Ruggiero, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Ken Staley, Senior Counselor, Palantir