More details have emerged on the measures of Karl Lauterbach’s Health Ministry to conceal internal details of the pandemic response from the German public.
To recap: On September 1st, the second session of the Brandenburg Corona Committee compelled former RKI (public health institute) Chief Lothar Wieler to testify on Covid measures and the vaccines, as part of a broader inquiry into the response by the state parliament of Brandenburg. Only in Brandenburg did the AfD have enough votes to call such an investigative body into existence; establishment parties blocked similar efforts in all other German states. Wieler and a fellow apparatchik from the Paul Ehrlich Institute (medicines regulator) ended up arguing that they have yet to evaluate the vast majority of adverse event reports, because there are too many of them.
The story of Wieler’s testimony included bizarre details about the prior restrictions the Health Ministry had placed on what he could talk about, and the extraordinary lengths they went to enforce them:
Lothar Wieler was accompanied by an employee of the Federal Ministry of Health, a certain Heiko Rottmann-Großner. … He testified that his task was to ensure that Wieler was complying with his leave to testify. As a civil servant, Wieler requires authorisation to provide information on matters that are subject to official secrecy. The authorisation regulates in detail the topics on which a witness in the civil service may not provide information.
According to media reports, Wieler’s authorisation was multiple pages long… [Rottmann-Großner] repeatedly gave hand signals to Wieler during the questioning, and occasionally he also passed notes to him. Committee members complained of this practice, and ultimately compelled [Rottmann-Großner] to sit two chairs further away from Wieler.
Lars Hünich (AfD) is a member of the Committee and was able to see [Wieler’s] testimonial authorisation. He told this newspaper: “It contained very strict conditions and a whole series of restrictions for Mr. Wieler. For example, he was forbidden to bring files with him. In addition, according to the document, he was only allowed to speak on matters that had to do with Brandenburg and fell within the investigative competence of the Brandenburg state parliament. The words “state investigative competence” were underlined and bolded.” (emphasis added, and below)
So far, these seem to be little more than blanket efforts to limit the utility of Wieler’s testimony. But then it gets stranger:
According to Hünich, another section of the authorisation dealt with the possible “violation of constitutional rights”. Hünich: “Here the word constitutional rights was bolded and underlined. As far as I can remember, it was about the constitutional rights of third parties that could possibly be harmed in the context of the hearing, regarding matters that exceeded the investigative committee’s mandate.
I submit that this is very, very odd. But the strangest bit is at the end:
Another point concerned information and remarks that were classified as secret. Hünich: “The word ‘secret’ was bolded and underlined.” Specifically, it was about information and facts that were classified as secret by the federal Government, among other things, “for the protection of the Federal Republic and to avert damage to the security of Germany or its international relations with foreign states”. These matters were to be discussed “only in non-public session under conditions of secrecy”. If an exchange on this should be “impossible under conditions of secrecy, he would not allowed to comment”, Hünich continues.
Moreover, if there were any doubts about the admissibility of statements according to the described restrictions, they were “not to be made”. Hünich: “He was further told that he would have to telephone the Ministry of Health about these matters, or perhaps contact the Federal Government to clarify them.”
I want to let this stand mostly without commentary, but I will add one point. In the meagre Covidian revelations we have so far seen in the Federal Republic, I can think of one other instance in which information was withheld to spare German relations with a foreign state. This was in the email releases surrounding the genesis of the so-called ‘panic paper’ in March 2020, which established the practical and theoretical groundwork for German lockdowns. In the documents, repeated mentions of “China” (and probably also “Wuhan”) were consistently blacked out, with the justification that this was necessary “to avert negative consequences for international relations”.