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Repeated, specific, consistent warnings.

The Washington Post reported on the intelligence community’s efforts to warn about the COVID-19 pandemic in January and February of this year, but those warnings were only the most recent of 15 years of efforts to warn about the dangers of a global pandemic. The intelligence community began warning with increasing specificity and alarm about the possibility and dire consequences of a global pandemic over 15 years ago.

The place where the intelligence community has most consistently, and publicly, warned about the possibility of a global pandemic has been in its quadrennial Global Trends reports. Since 1997, the National Intelligence Council—the most senior body of intelligence analysis in the U.S. government—has tried to sketch a dim outline of the future as a roadmap for incoming presidential administrations. These reports are an “unclassified strategic assessment of how key trends and uncertainties might shape the world over the next 20 years to help senior US leaders think and plan for the longer term,” according to its website.