Did CIA's Fake Vaccine Drive Undermine Global Health Efforts?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pakistani policemen stand guard outside the hideout house of slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 5, 2011 (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty)

Reports are emerging that the C.I.A. used a fake vaccination drive in Pakistan to gather intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, prior to the May 1 raid where the Al Qaida leader was killed. The fake vaccine drive has received criticism from members of the public health community, who say this type of strategy could undermine future efforts to combat diseases across the globe.

One of these critics is Christopher Albon. He runs the website Conflict Health, where writes about public health, international affairs and medical intelligence, and says that the C.I.A.'s actions are "irresponsible and utterly reprehensible."

Comments [4]

John from Enid, OK

I have a problem with it this operation offering a "fake" immunization. If the operation is to secure DNA of Bin Laden's children, fine. But give all those people a real immunization. Give them what they come to the clinic for and then catalog the donors DNA.

This may change in the future, but you give up your rights to property once it is deposited into a garbage pail in America. So why can't the CIA catalog the DNA gathered from used syringes?

Jul. 13 2011 04:42 PM

So if the Pakistanis don't like U.S. funded and supported vaccination campaigns, let's stop those vaccination campaigns. Let's stop all of them, and all of our worldwide healthcare expenditures, if they don't like us so much. We'll use the money to beef up airport and seaport security.

And one other question: Does anybody suppose, that if this program had been employed four or 5 years ago, and had been discovered at that time, that Celeste Headlee would be describing this as a "CIA plan"? Or a "Bush Administration plan"?

Finally, Celeste; I'm not sure that I'd say that we "caught" bin Laden. I'd say that we assasinated him.

Jul. 13 2011 10:35 AM
Katherine from Livonia

While I am not a huge fan of sneakiness, when well and responsibly executed, the results can be critical in saving lives and facilitating national security. This program was obviously not entirely competent, because what IDIOT decided to leak this information? The operation should have remained HIGHLY CLASSIFIED, for exactly the same reasons that the medical community objects to it (and they should be joined by the political community), in terms of earning and keeping the trust of the folks we are trying to bring into the 21st century, ideologically and physically.

Jul. 13 2011 09:36 AM

So we are to celebrate and cheer when Bin Laden was found but at the same time denounce and reject every crucial program that led to the successful mission? Are we to have the same infantile attitude toward national defense that we have toward the economy? Bin Laden is living near a Pakistani military base and Pakistan is distrustful of the US? Does this mean they will not accept the billions in aid we provide to them which is borrowed from China?

Jul. 13 2011 08:50 AM

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