CIA realizes they made a big boo-boo that is hurting children

Public health programs should not be used as cover for covert operations.


After bin Laden backlash, CIA promises: No more vaccination campaigns for spying – Yahoo News.

Amid a deadly backlash again vaccinations and a resurgence of polio in Pakistan, the White House has promised that the CIA will never again use an immunization campaign as a tool of spycraft.

“I wanted to inform you that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directed in August 2013 that the agency make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers,” President Obama’s top counterterrorism and homeland security advisor, Lisa Monaco, wrote to the deans of 12 public health schools.

The Central Intelligence Agency had enlisted a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, to collect intelligence under the guise of an immunization effort in the city of Abbottabad as part of planning for the high-risk May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound there.

The agency aimed to confirm intelligence that bin Laden was at the compound by comparing DNA obtained from children living there to a sample from the fugitive al-Qaida chief’s late sister, the Guardian newspaper reported in July 2011.

The article notes that the Taliban already suspected vaccinations were a means to sterilize Muslims. But the revelation that there WAS a plot energized the idea like nothing else could. Good going CIA!

Their statement now is meant to dispel one excuse used by the militants who still are interfering with vaccination plans. In a big way. Will this work? Um, they didn’t trust you to tell the truth then. Why now? The damage is done.

Volunteer administering polio drops killed in Pakistan

Polio vaccination workers killed in Pakistan (Updated: UN suspends program).

Police guard killed protecting polio workers in Pakistan.

Pakistani polio worker dead.

Bomb targets polio workers in Pakistan.

Anti-vax polio shootings continue in Pakistan.

Polio security team killed in Pakistan; Officials march on with immunization drive.

Polio workers’ vans hit with roadside bombs in Pakistan.

  17 comments for “CIA realizes they made a big boo-boo that is hurting children

  1. Jim Speiser
    May 20, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    What??? Oh, please. If it helped us get Bin Laden, case closed. Their little superstitions about evil plots to sterilize kids are NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY.

  2. Andrew
    May 20, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    (cringes and hopes that this won’t feed the troll)
    The resurgence of a crippling disease, that can then spread back to the US (especially in today’s vaccine denying landscape) kind of makes it a problem for us too. Plus there is that whole ‘humanity’ thing even if polio just stayed there. Just my 0.02.

  3. kompani101
    May 20, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    The CIA, why the world hates America.
    The NSA, why America is paranoid about the world.
    The FBI, why America is scared of Americans.

  4. May 20, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    I think it’s suitable to have mixed feelings about the use of a vaccination campaign to find bin Laden. In retrospect, having got our man, it seems prudent to foreswear that tactic, but I’m not ready to say that it wasn’t appropriate at the time, under the circumstances of finding someone seemingly unfindable by even extraordinary means.

    While it’s regrettable, perhaps very regrettable, that there has been a backlash against vaccinations or even just medical programs for the poor, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of home-schooled or vaccination-waived innocents here at the home front. And it appears that no amount of logic, persuasion, legislation — much less science — can persuade the parents of these children to protect their kids and the rest of the population from their folly. (As a side note, I’m wondering how many of the teens at “home-school proms” and like events are spreading infections.)

    So we can’t even persuade our own populace. I’m not convinced that one incident, a mission of last resort to find a monster, should be occasion for feeling guilty. I don’t know…maybe this is a common tactic…but it seems like the kind of tactic that can’t be worked over and over like a Nigerian money transfer scheme. My heart goes out to innocent children of Pakistan whose misguided parents apparently have no more sense than Jenny McCarthy. No one has been able to persuade Saudi drivers to use seat belts or put their children in protective seats (mothers prefer to hold the young’uns in their laps) but that’s never been a matter of national security. Maybe there’s only so much we can do. I’m glad we’ve made a policy about not continuing the pretend-vaccination charade. I’m not sorry we had to try it to get bin-Laden.

  5. Gary
    May 20, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    If we do something that directly leads to the death of innocents, it is ONLY our responsibility. And we have.

  6. Jim Speiser
    May 20, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    I wouldn’t call it “leading directly.” The proximate cause of the deaths is a false belief on the part of the Pakistanis. Under your proviso, Bill Maher should not be allowed on TV, because he (stupefyingly!) rails against vaccinations. How many people have foregone vaccinations for their children on his say-so? And how many kids have died? Is HBO directly responsible?

  7. kompani101
    May 21, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    The problem with using any humanitarian aid as a cover for ‘covert activities’ is that the word goes out to give anyone the right to refuse or stop aid to the most needy under the guise of ‘it may be being used as a cover for spying’. The result is that those in most need do not receive desperately needed help. Men, women and children die. Aid becomes a weapon for the oppressor against the oppressed. All this is caused by an organisation/government/country blinkered to its negative effect on the world whilst it pursues its own selfish agenda in foreign countries it is ignorant of.

  8. Gary
    May 21, 2014 at 7:25 AM

    Jim, if you do something that convinces someone to do something that knowingly puts them needlessly at risk of injury or death, that is “direct”. And yes, Bill Maher is responsible for any illnesses caused by giving out misinformation.

  9. Paul de Boer
    May 21, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    It didn’t help catch Bin Laden. “It is also not known whether the CIA managed to obtain any Bin Laden DNA, although one source suggested the operation did not succeed.”

    I don’t agree that if it did, then it was justified. Was he a real threat at the time or likely to be before caught? No. They were inside the compound to get the DNA afterall. They pretty much knew where he was already. But, is vaccine rejection a threat? Yes.

  10. Nucular
    May 21, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    A *partly* false belief. And, hobby of mine though it is to try to challenge my own false beliefs, and help others challenge theirs, I don’t believe this is a ‘usual’ case of superstitious reasoning. The parallels drawn between distrust of US aid and medical programs, and the Western anti-vax movements, seem entirely inappropriate: there *was* skullduggery afoot, and I see no reason to think it rational to assume it was a one-off which won’t be repeated. If I was unfortunate enough to live in a country where international aid is needed, I would certainly think twice before having my children ‘treated’ by people claiming to be humanitarians. It reminds me of the Christian Aid workers a few years ago who, it turned out after much denial (including from myself), *were* using their aid remit to proselytise in non-Christian countries. A promise not to do it again is not enough. As well as the huge harm done by the CIA to future international aid, I’m apoplectic at the fact that they’ve made me admit that the monstrous Al Qaida on this occasion had a point. It’s more than a Jack Bauer act of desperation against a ticking bomb, this sort of action by Western nations is precisely what leads to extremism, distrust and alienation in developing countries in the first place.

  11. spookyparadigm
    May 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Dick Cheney went above and beyond for the Pakistani military since the 1980s, when he helped coverup their role in nuclear proliferation in order to sell them fighter jets

    as part of the larger use of Pakistan and what would become the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    After some of those very elements struck at the US in 2001, Cheney (either as the must powerful VP in American history, or arguably the power behind the throne) was instrumental in drumming up a case for attacking Iraq (never mind that his office handled the no-bid contracts that went to his former company Halliburton).

    It then turns out that members of Pakistan’s ISI knew where bin Laden was

    I doubt this will ever reach the level of agreed-upon by all textbook history. But honestly, I suspect the change of who was in charge after 2009, and how hard they were willing to press “allies,” was a lot more instrumental in bin Laden being uncovered and killed, than the horribly dangerous use of human relief programs for espionage purposes.

    Just because Truthers are ranting fools, doesn’t mean one should underestimate exactly how shady the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld were.

  12. Peebs
    May 21, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    I’ve been to war four times and always worn my Geneva Cross with pride. If an enemy was brought to me injured he would be put in line in accordance with the severity of his injuries.

    I would expect the same treatment should the situation be reversed. This is the mainstay of wearing that Red Cross and applying the rules of the Geneva Conventions of 1947.

    As far as I’m concerned the CIA committed a Crime according to those conventions and therefore lost any moral high ground regarding the treatment of the injured/captured.

    What they did was shameful and unforgivable.

    I usually pen fairly lighthearted comments here but what that agency did was disgraceful, against all the rules of war and whoever sanctioned it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Rant over, normal service will follow shortly!

  13. May 21, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Peebs: I don’t believe any children, or persons of any kind for that matter, were in harm’s way because of the charade of vaccinations in the hunt for bin-Laden. No injured enemies were being “brought forward,” no one was being captured. It was a ruse to gain intelligence about a person who had eluded capture for a decade…and not because no one wanted to find him.

    I can’t say what the Geneva Convention has to say about espionage ethics. I believe this is about whether a particular tactic or ruse is acceptable under certain circumstances. My sense of history is that nothing is done, no matter how beneficent, well meaning or ultimately good for mankind, without unintended consequences.

  14. kompani101
    May 22, 2014 at 4:43 AM

    I think some comments miss the point. The long term effects of America using ‘medicine’ for covert operations undermines many, many years work undertaken by the Red Cross, Red Crescent, UNHCR, WHO, Christian Aid and a myriad other similar organisations throughout the world. Many populations who need help from the developed world have, in the past, been at the hands of empire building/slavery/forced labour/wars forced on them by the developed world. For once I wish America would take off its blinkers and look at the world not just as ‘reds under the bed’ or an ‘oil resource’ or a ‘cash cow for the military machine’.
    I would wish that every American spent 1 year travelling the world, without a rifle or tank or blinkers, and see at first hand what this planet is all about and it’s not oil or war or politics but people with differing needs and dreams.
    America, switch off Fox News and travel the world.

  15. Terence Waites
    May 22, 2014 at 6:05 AM

    Spot on. Also the wilder Conspiracy Theories get an immediate edge of credibility when the CIA are careless like this. How are people to recognise Conspiracy nonsense and separate it from reality when the CIA can disregard any consequences in its pursuits? I suspect long-term or medium-term repercussions were quickly stuck into the irrelevant box and we see the result now. No action on the World stage ever happens in a vacuum. When will the first case of polio happen in the US? Fingers crossed.

  16. Frederick
    May 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    I’m afraid of Americans, I’m afraid of the world, I’m afraid i can’t help it. 🙂 That’s agreat song!

  17. kompani101
    May 22, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Gosh, even exceeded my own expectations.

Comments are closed.