After President Obama received a letter from the deans of 12 U.S. public-health universities stating that the CIA organized a “sham vaccination campaign” offering Pakistani citizens vaccines in order to spy on and locate Osama bin Laden, the White House finally issued a statement.
On May 16th, President Obama’s senior counter-terrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, wrote a letter to the deans stating that as of August 2013, the CIA officially stopped the practice of using vaccines as a cover for spying. Monaco said that the CIA also “will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired” through programs masquerading as humanitarian vaccine efforts, according to USA Today.
The new policy in effect for the CIA now applies worldwide to “U.S. and non-U.S. persons alike.” The deans assembled their plea, as published by the Washington Post, to President Obama after seven U.N. workers offering vaccines to children were murdered by Islamist militants because of the CIA’s phony vaccine campaign. In addition to UN workers being gunned down, the Pakistani government kicked out the charity Save the Children because of suspected involvement in the CIA spying efforts.
“While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as a society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those damages,” the deans wrote.
The New York Times reported that CIA Director John O. Brennan put the new policy into effect last August. “By publicizing this policy,” Ned Price, a CIA spokesman, told the NY Times, “our objective is to dispel one canard that militant groups have used as justification for cowardly attacks against vaccination providers.”
While trying to locate bin Laden, the United States’ CIA allegedly employed the help of a Pakistani doctor, USA Today wrote. The doctor, identified by USA Today as Sakil Afridi, was arrested for treason and told his interrogators that a Save the Children vaccine worker connected him with the CIA.
The charity denied the claims and other U.N. agencies also denied that they were involved in the CIA’s efforts. According to the deans, Save the Children never actually employed Afridi as he asserted, but a separate CIA program disguised as a vaccination effort contributed to Pakistani concerns about all vaccination efforts.
The CIA effort was an attempt to collect DNA from bin Laden’s family members. The spying efforts of the CIA’s vaccine sham reportedly failed, although some reports said the vaccine sham helped to locate bin Laden, and the Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011.
[Image of legitimate vaccine efforts after a 2006 earthquake in Pakistan taken by Airman 1st Class Barry Loo, U.S. Air Force]