WASHINGTON — 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.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.Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreakThe Trump administration declined a request to tour the facility and interview its leaders. Former officials and outside experts say the NCMI calls upon all sources of intelligence — from communications intercepts to satellite imagery to human source reporting — to seek answers that elude public health authorities, including whether foreign governments are lying about the extent and nature


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