CIA repents from spying through immunization drives.
The Counter-terrorism and homeland security advisor of President Obama – Lisa Monaco has written a letter to the Deans of 12 public health schools, stating that; “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”. She further added that: “Similarly, the Agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs. This CIA policy applies worldwide and to U.S. and non-U.S. persons alike.”
The letter referred to a clandestine operation, where a Pakistani doctor – Shakil Afridi was engaged by the CIA, to collect intelligence under the guise of an immunization effort in the city of Abbottabad, which lead to the location, identification and killing of Osama bin Laden.
The covert operation behind the fake immunization drive helped the CIA obtain DNA samples of Laden’s children living in the fugitive’s hideout compound in the Garrison town of Abbotabad in Pakistan.
This clever move of the CIA has triggered a bloody backlash from the Taliban, all over Pakistan, where Polio vaccination teams are now being targeted and killed more frequently. Even before Osama’s killing, the Taliban were already acting violently against the Western-backed vaccination campaigns. The extremists are using fake propaganda, saying that that polio vaccine is designed to secretly make the Muslim children infertile.
CIA’s espionage through immunization drives has also lead many Pakistani parents to avoid vaccination of their children against crippling and fatal ailments. This aversion to immunization has caused an alarming increase in the re-emergence of Polio in Pakistan, especially the remote mountainous areas (FATA) where the notorious Taliban have a stronghold.
The rising number of Polio cases being reported in Pakistan, and the threat of it’s international spread, had recently led the World Health Organization (WHO) to impose travel restrictions on Pakistani passengers. The WHO restrictions implemented since 1st of June 2014, made it mandatory for all Pakistani passengers, traveling abroad to get immunized and acquire a polio vaccination certificate.
Last year, several Deans of health schools had written to the US government not to misuse immunization drives for espionage. They wrote; “While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as an open society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those boundaries”.
The most recent decision has been personally taken by the CIA’s Director – John Brennan, because he “took seriously the concerns raised by the public health community,” stated the CIA spokesman – Todd Ebitz. “By publicizing this policy, our objective is to dispel one canard that militant groups have used as justification for cowardly attacks against vaccination providers,” Ebitz said by email.