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Spying on Virus: A Little-Known US Intel Outfit Has Most Important Mission Yet

The NCMI, as it is known, is an obscure patch of the U.S. spying community that is now in the midst of one of the most important missions in its history

In this file photo, a researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on February 28, 2020 in Nutley, New Jersey.
Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Last month, well before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, a little-known unit within the Defense Intelligence Agency had already predicted that the outbreak would reach pandemic proportions, NBC News reports.

The warning came from the National Center for Medical Intelligence, a senior defense official told NBC News. The NCMI, as it is known, is an obscure patch of the U.S. spying community that is now in the midst of one of the most important missions in its history. The warning was first reported by Newsweek.

The NCMI is the intelligence community's eyes and ears when it comes to global disease outbreaks. While the CIA also has a medical intelligence unit, current and former officials said, the NCMI, headquartered at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is the clearing ground for classified information and analysis related to the coronavirus outbreak.

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"The value that NCMI brings is that it has access to information streams that the World Health Organization does not have, nor does the Centers for Disease Control or anyone else," said Denis Kaufman, a retired senior officer who worked at the NCMI.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

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