Tom Cotton is proud of his paranoia

Why else would Tom Cotton include the full text of his letter to Joe Biden, warning him of his insane concerns about those dang Chinese, on his own website?

First, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) operates the world’s most invasive domestic surveillance system. Chinese authorities closely monitor internet traffic within the country and block or censor online information that the Party views as adverse to its grip on power. The CCP also continuously tracks persons in Chinese cities through a network of facial-recognition cameras and other advanced sensors. Further, members of the American delegation should expect their rooms in the Chinese Olympic Village to be bugged with audio or visual surveillance equipment and all their onshore electronic devices to be hacked by Chinese authorities.

Second, the CCP also considers DNA collection a vital intelligence-gathering objective. As the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center recently noted, “The PRC views bulk personal data, including health-care and genomic data, as a strategic commodity to be collected and used for its economic and national-security priorities.”[2] The CCP has reportedly conducted tests to develop biologically-enhanced soldiers and intends to use DNA data to catapult Chinese biotechnology companies to global market dominance.[3]

In 2022, thousands of world-class athletes will gather to compete in China. Their DNA will present an irresistible target for the CCP. Thus, we should expect that the Chinese government will attempt to collect genetic samples of Olympians at the Games, perhaps disguised as testing for illegal drugs or COVID-19.

Wait wait wait wait. None of this makes any sense.

  • US athletes are not privy to deep, important state secrets. They’re going to be talking about competitions and workout regimes and the weather and how much they miss good ol’ American cherry pie and their sweethearts back home, probably while trying to have sex with each other. Aside from personal privacy concerns, why is this a concern of the president?
  • We don’t have a way to translate DNA sequences into “super-soldiers”. There isn’t a sequence imbedded in the genome that turns you into an agile muscular mass murderer. If there were, we wouldn’t know what to do with it, but there isn’t. Genetics isn’t that simple.
  • Chinese people have DNA. They also have outstanding athletes. Why would they need to tap into American blood samples to find the pieces for their super-secret super-soldier recipe? I suspect this is the product of combining unthinking American exceptionalism with racist bigotry, nothing more.
  • It’s got footnotes, but most of them are links to opinion pieces in places like the WSJ and Bloomberg. His claim that Chinas is making biologically-enhanced super-soldiers comes from an op-ed by John Ratcliffe, Donald Trump’s director of intelligence (imagine having that on your résumé).

It all sounds like something Cotton pulled out of The Sun or some other gossipy tabloid.

You cannot trust Tom Cotton at all, though. Look at his website: it’s got red stars all over the place. A red star! That’s how you know he’s a closet Bolshevik.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    There are plenty of good reasons to have problems with the CCP (starting with their treatment of the Uighurs), but “stealing DNA from our athletes” is not one of them.
    Heck, if they ask us nicely for DNA samples from our athletes, I don’t see a problem with setting up an exchange of that information, providing the athletes give consent. That study might turn up something interesting.

  2. raven says

    Why would they need to tap into American blood samples to find the pieces for their super-secret super-soldier recipe?

    They could just buy the genes they need on the open market.
    We do live in a capitalist society and everything is for sale.

    As PZ notes, why American?
    There is nothing unique about our collective genome, almost all of which is nonnative.
    It’s a big world after all.
    They could use European, African, South American, New Guinea, etc. sources.

  3. raven says

    This is basically gibberish by someone who is nearly science illiterate.
    Strangely enough, Tom Cotton has a law degree from Harvard Law School.

    Notable graduates include former President Obama, but also Ted Cruz and Bishop EW Jackson.
    Harvard Law School has some explaining to do here.

  4. kome says

    A lot of what Tom is alleging there could be levied against private corporations.

    You want an invasive surveillance system? You can’t get better than one designed for users to eagerly use, like social media sites, search engines, and retail giants who all buy and sell user/customer data to one another.
    You want bugged rooms? “Alexa, set a reminder to bug the room before the athletes arrive.”
    You want DNA, health-care, and genomic data collection because it’s viewed as a strategic commodity? Private insurance companies are your best bet.

    I wonder how well Cotton would react if someone published an op-ed in, say, WaPo or NYT expressing his exact same concerns about the CCP but about Amazon and Anthem instead.

  5. stwriley says

    Well, obviously, they want to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Genetically enhanced super-soldiers.
    Yes, I watched Kurt Russell in that 1998 film. It was better than I expected.

  7. John Harshman says

    Well, the part about Chinese surveillance and control of their own citizens is true. The rest is wack.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    “Chinese people have DNA”.
    Except the reptilian ones that run the country. They obviously have an alternative genetic system.
    “Agile muscular mass murderers”. -But, but the Japanese have lots of those! I have watched tons of documentaries where they leap through the air, catch bullets between their palms and smash bricks with their bare hands.

  9. says

    As Raven pointed out, Cotton is another example of an elite-level education coexisting with a maximal level of stupidity. In some cases (I think Ted Cruz is an example), the stupidity is a cynical affectation calculated to appeal to a voting demographic. In Cotton’s case, I think the idiocy goes all the way down to the bone. He just had the discipline and retention skills necessary to check all of the boxes on the way to his Harvard law degree.

  10. JDG says

    Maybe’s I’m being uncharitable, but there’s some disturbing ubermensc talk going on there, because of COURSE the Chinese want those superior, white, american genes.

  11. mikey says

    As Marcus pointed out, the days of war fought hand-to-hand are long past, making the development of a ‘super soldier’ akin to developing a new, improved ramrod for cannons.

  12. chuckonpiggott says

    Cotton did not pull this out of a gossipy tabloid. He pulled it out of his butt.
    E W Jackson has a Harvard Law degree? Damn. I’m so glad we were spared that clown as our Lieutenant Governor.

  13. unclefrogy says

    I have given up trying to figure out what the ranters in the republican party think the relation to any verifiable reality is so tenuous it sounds like saturday morning cartoons and not words of wisdom from people who should be in the know , just lies and propaganda in over blown language fantasy through and through.
    uncle frogy

  14. jrkrideau says

    Ted Cotton is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. IIRC Tedd and 3 other senators sent Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif a letter warning that Obama’s executivie order on the JCPOA could be cancelled by another US president just as the orange buffoon did.

    The amusing thing was that Zarif has a BA, a couple of MAs and a Ph.D in areas such as international affairs and international law from various US universities. He, I imagine, knew much more about US presidential powers, etc. than Cotton.

    I can remember some political show from the UK laughing their heads off at Cotton.

    OTOH, isn’t it illegal for US senators to treat with foreign gov’ts? Ted is not too smart.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    The Chinese obviously need the DNA to create aryan-looking infiltration units aka pod people. Better than what Cyberdyne Systems can offer.
    I read the felon and televangelist Jim Bakker believes the apocalypse will be started by zombies. Quick, inform the Republican talent-spotters! Bakker even has TV experience, he is ideal for congress.
    wzrd 1 @ 14
    NOO, not the monotremes!
    Do you have any idea of how disgusting it will be to have sex with them? And the males have venomous spurs. Unless they are echidnas, who are even more spiky.

  16. chrislawson says

    Even at the height of the Red Scare, this level of delusional ranting would have got you sidelined by senior Republicans for being too damned embarrassing to the party.

  17. William George says

    Whenever someone starts using “Graduated from Harvard” or “Decorated veteran” as a way to glorify someone I can just point at Tom Cotton and say, “See this idjit? Means nothing.”

  18. publicola says

    Saw a great clip tonight, I think it was on Chris Hayes’ show, where Cotton got verbally bitch-slapped by a constituent at a town hall meeting. Check it out.

  19. publicola says

    Saw a great clip tonight, think it was on Chris Hayes’ show, where Cotton got verbally bitch-slapped by a constituent at a town hall meeting. Check it out.

  20. billmcd says

    Tom Cotton is an embarrassment to all Tom Cottons, living, dead, or fictional, and would not have lasted five minutes in the Battle of Bywater before getting conked upside the head with a rake or shovel and knocked out cold for not shutting his fool mouth.

  21. cvoinescu says

    Tom Cotton’s rant about DNA makes very little sense (and it smacks of jealous projection more than anything).

    However, it’s true that a Chinese company is dominant in human DNA sequencing, that most sequencing for medical and research purposes is outsourced to them (they’re the cheapest), and that they control a very important database of Icelandic DNA (having acquired deCODE Genetics). While the sequences are supposed to be kept private and not shared or used by the company doing the sequencing, we can safely presume that any important Chinese company does what it does with the knowledge and approval of the CCP, and at the behest of the CCP, because that’s just how Communist parties work. So yes, there is a worry, and that’s what the NCSC quote refers to. Tom Cotton’s interpretation of that is bullshit.

  22. Kagehi says

    This actually brought to mind the comment some place.. I don’t remember where, on there being known gene mutations that can increase muscle mass, and two or three other things, and that someone with “all of these traits at the same time”, which never seems to ever happen (and maybe even cross link with each other in lethal ways, for all anyone knows, given they don’t show up in single individuals), such a person could be described as “super human”.

    Then.. you just slap in a few genes for extra aggression, and you have yourself an uncontrollable killing machine, which won’t follow orders, and rips the head off the first person that tries to train them to be sold.. err, oh, wait, that wasn’t what you where trying to get out of this? Oops!