By PAUL BOIS Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has hit back at Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for calling her “treasonous” for her suggestion that Russia, Ukraine, and NATO allies work to negotiate a ceasefire around U.S.-funded biological research facilities in Ukraine to prevent outbreaks of deadly pathogens.
Gabbard generated criticism from Democrats and some Republicans when she posted a video of herself warning that between 35 to 40 U.S.-funded facilities in Ukraine are conducting research into “deadly pathogens” that could spark a pandemic or loss of life if Russia and NATO do not work to contain them amid the ongoing crossfire.
“Like COVID, these pathogens know no borders,” Gabbard said. “If they are inadvertently or purposely breached or compromised, they will quickly spread all throughout Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world, causing untold suffering and death.”
“These labs need to be shut down immediately and the pathogens that they hold need to be destroyed,” she added.
Gabbard was subsequently accused of parroting Russian propaganda by inadvertently accusing the United States of creating bioweapons in Ukraine by Sen. Mitt Romney — a charge pushed by the Kremlin following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the neighboring country.
“Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda. Her treasonous lies may well cost lives,” the senator said.
Romney was not alone in his condemnation of Gabbard and was joined by Jon Cooper, former National Finance Chair of Draft Biden 2016, who said, “Who’s the bigger TRAITOR—Tucker Carlson or Tulsi Gabbard?”
“Tulsi Gabbard is a traitor & a Russian agent who belongs in military prison,” said screenwriter and Forbes contributor Mark Hughes.
In response, Gabbard posted a lengthy video on Monday defending her statement, charging that U.S.-funded research facilities in Ukraine are “undeniable facts.”
“Senator Romney, you’ve called me a treasonous liar simply for stating the fact that there are over 25 US-funded bio labs in Ukraine, which, if breached, would release and spread deadly pathogens across the United States and the world. They must be secured so that we can prevent any new pandemics from occurring,” she said.
Gabbard then called on Romney to provide evidence of her treason or “do the honorable thing” and apologize
Gabbard cited recent comments from U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who confirmed in a congressional hearing last Tuesday that Ukraine was home to “biological research facilities” and that the State Department was “quite concerned” Russia could take them into their possession.
“Ukraine has biological research facilities which, in fact, we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of,” Nuland said told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “So we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.”
If a biological attack occurred in Ukraine, Nuland said she had “no doubt” the Russians would be behind it. Gabbard also cited a Pentagon fact sheet from March 11 that featured “numerous statements that both, directly and indirectly, confirmed the existence of these bio labs.”
“The United States through BTRP has invested approximately $200 million in Ukraine since 2005, supporting 46 Ukraine and laboratories, health facilities and diagnostic sites,” she said.
Gabbard then played a clip of CBS national security correspondent David Martin saying that experts are concerned about the laboratories in Ukraine falling into Russian hands.
“The concern is that the Russians will seize used one of these biomedical research facilities that Ukraine has where they do research on deadly pathogens like botulism anthrax,” said Martin. “Seize one of those facilities, weaponize the pathogen and then blame it on Ukraine and the US because the US has been providing support for some of the research being done in those facilities.”
.@MittRomney and others say that I’m treasonous because I called for a ceasefire around the 25+ biolabs in Ukraine to prevent the breach of such facilities & escape of pathogens, and prevent more pandemics. Romney should resign. pic.twitter.com/nNhmM74xo1
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 14, 2022
As noted by Newsweek, Gabbard did not accuse the United States of manufacturing biological weapons in Ukraine.
“While the World Health Organization recently advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens being housed in their labs to prevent an outbreak if they are attacked, there is no evidence that the U.S. is funding work on bio weapons,” noted Newsweek.
“The U.S and Ukraine have been working together since 2005 to research deadly pathogens as part of the Pentagon’s Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP),” added the outlet. “The partnership between the U.S. Defense Department and the Ukraine Ministry of Health is part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR), which began in 1991 with the aim of reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction following the fall of the Soviet Union.”
Gabbard served in a field medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard from 2004 to 2005 while deployed to Iraq and served as an Army Military Police platoon leader while stationed in Kuwait from 2008 to 2009. She left the Hawaii Army National Guard to join the Army Reserves in 2020 where she was eventually promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
During the Vietnam War years, Romney received a deferment on the basis of his work as a Mormon missionary in France. His lack of service became a campaign issue during his 2008 presidential campaign. When asked at that time why his five sons had also never served in the military, Romney said they were serving their country by helping him get elected. “One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I’d be a great president,” he said.