White House vows CIA will not use vaccine programs for covert ops

Published: May 20, 2014
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008. PHOTO: REUTERS

The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: The White House promised on Monday that the CIA will not use immunisation programs for its operations following a complaint that the spy agency used such a campaign in its hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The deans of 12 public health schools had complained about a reported vaccination program conducted by Dr Shakil Afridi who used a hepatitis immunisation survey in Abbottabad where bin Laden was later killed in a secret US mission.

The CIA orchestrated the survey to try to obtain fluid containing DNA from relatives living near the bin Laden residence, the Washington Post reported. It said the effort failed and the surgeon, Afridi, was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said Obama homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco had assured the deans in a letter that CIA policy as of August 2013 makes clear “the CIA will make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers.”

“Similarly, the agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs. This policy applies worldwide, and to US persons and non-US persons alike,” she said.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Khan
    May 20, 2014 - 10:47AM

    Finally an admission of guilt by the White House, it’s fake polio campaign did immense damage to polio vaccination efforts in Pakistan.


  • GhareebAwam
    May 20, 2014 - 11:19AM

    The damage it had done it has done, Once trust goes never comes back.


  • hmm
    May 20, 2014 - 11:40AM

    The damage has already been done. Shakil Afridi should be punished for causing irreparable damage to polio program & for treason.


  • Timorlane
    May 20, 2014 - 11:48AM

    Wow what a timely decision.

    And they call shakeel afridi as their hero who is directly responsible for all the children that are going to be permanently disabled by polio


  • Blunt
    May 20, 2014 - 11:55AM

    If they had some shame left, CIA should apologize to people of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    May 20, 2014 - 12:15PM

    Only fools will cherish their faith in what white house states; It has no longer the moral compass without which one is paralysed.

    Rex Minor


  • ZR
    May 20, 2014 - 12:22PM

    And obviously we should not doubt their words…


  • replier
    May 20, 2014 - 12:45PM

    “We won’t do it again” wink wink

    Also hepatitis != polio.


  • Abdullah
    May 20, 2014 - 12:47PM

    It is indeed very sad to see how a super power used this kind of tactics and cover up. It has truly made a huge loss to poor and needy people. No morals and ethics in this dirty war led by “Champion of Democracy and Civilized world”.


  • Saim Baig
    May 20, 2014 - 12:47PM

    The damage has been done!!


  • A2Z
    May 20, 2014 - 1:03PM

    A moment of serious retrospection for those shameless Pakistani souls who were arguing that such campaign by US didn’t hurt the polio vaccination program in Pakistan. Shakil Afridi should be punished for this irreparable damage done to the Pakistani children.


  • Waleed Tariq
    May 20, 2014 - 1:37PM

    Programmes. Why ET loves to violate its own style guide?


  • Pacifica
    May 20, 2014 - 1:55PM

    First of all – read the story again – Dr. Afridi ran a fake hepatitis campaign, not polio.

    The stone age mullahs were against polio vaccinations long before anyone had heard of Dr. Afridi. They objected on the very “scientific” grounds that the polio vaccine would make men impotent. Once they objected to something, murdering people involved in something they objected against was just normal practice for these religious zealots.

    All you Taliban apologists (from the Pakistan foreign office down) trying to explain away the polio cases in your country as a justifiable reaction to American perfidy – look at your own poor innocent children being crippled for life by a preventable disease.

    At least for your own childrens’ sake stop parroting this nonsense about fake vaccination campaigns and get to work eradicating the scourge of polio from your land.


  • Khan
    May 20, 2014 - 4:41PM

    LoL……And world is happy….

    Any intelligence agency will do what is required to achieve their objective…there are no exceptions what so ever. CIA does not listen to White House only when a mission is handed over.

    There fore this is a lie. CIA had, has, is, was, were, will do it.


  • unbelievable
    May 20, 2014 - 4:45PM

    If the effort helped find OBL then the CIA should tell the deans of the “12 public health schools” to pound sand. This same technique has been used to help find drug cartel leaders in South America and you never heard complaints from those countries. Obtaining a DNA sample doesn’t harm the donor who actually actually receives a legitimate vaccine. In Afridi’s case he was dispensing hepatitis B vaccine – not polio. Pakistan’s polio issue is directly related to religious extremist combined with a inept govt – not the CIA or Afridi.


  • abc
    May 20, 2014 - 6:18PM

    “Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice shame on me”.


  • goldconsumer
    May 20, 2014 - 6:57PM

    You are really unbelievably stubborn when it comes to Pakistan! The rift against Polio vaccine in the tribal areas had been long there by some stupid ignorant myth of this causing infertility. But still, the reported cases of Polio were very few! This whole vaccine drive, be it Polio, hepatitis or whatever has tainted the general image of health workers in a region dominated by ignorance! You fing exceptionally high rise in Polio infected children after just one more mess the US left for us to handle. Its not just the Polio, but the whole initiative of lady health workers and prevention of pregnant related death is at stake now. US has rightly so, send these people to stone ages and I am surprised no one from the CIA is being prosecuted by the senate for using tax payer’s maoney to cripple children! The world in indeed so hypocrite for us Pakistanis!


  • Mushahid Hussain
    May 20, 2014 - 7:04PM

    I think the article itself specifies that it wasn’t a fake polio campaign but a fake hepatitis campaign.People weren’t taking polio drops in FATA long before that cause it was deemed a yahoodi saazish like the small pox vaccine which ‘supposedly’ caused female infertility.


  • Ali Tanoli
    May 20, 2014 - 7:22PM

    are u dope man CIA even itself admiting it and u saying it was not orange but banana ufff


  • ali ahmed
    May 20, 2014 - 7:41PM


  • Joan
    May 20, 2014 - 8:49PM

    Who can trust the USA anymore? The USA is a vile, warmongering and lying nation.


  • Joan
    May 20, 2014 - 8:55PM

    The good old USA has done a lot more damage to Pakistan and the World than any other country has done.


  • Aziz
    May 21, 2014 - 1:36AM

    The program has stopped now so we should feel very grateful and obliged to the US for yet another “favour” done to us.

    This was an illegal and immoral enterprise from the outset and against medical ethics. Why has the American Medical Association not spoken as yet against it?


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