Many folks long have suspected the CIA of doing ominous things through vaccines—such as poisoning populations in other parts of the world. While this isn’t exactly a “smallpox blankets” operation, it does raise moral questions about the nature of not just ours, but the world’s spy operations. Though some might say the means justifies the ends when it comes to fighting terrorism, every such incident could have serious implications for later. For example, can spy agencies and governments complain when insurgents or others start to attack medical personnel associated with such programs and justify their actions as attacking “enemy combatants” engaged in covert operations?
Of course, one might argue that there should be “rules of engagement” in any armed conflict. But, doesn’t the very concept of “armed conflict” imply killing and therefore a violation of Divine Law in the first place Given that, we guess it’s unreasonable that folks would conduct war in a “civil” way. Even so, when children are used—as in this case and the case of the Boko Haram kidnappings—we think adversaries have crossed the line of morality in the worst way.
CIA: No more vaccination campaigns in spy operations
Hosam Katan/Reuters – An activist health worker administers a polio vaccination to a child in Aleppo.
By Lena H. Sun
Three years after the CIA used an immunization survey as a cover in its hunt for Osama bin Laden, the White House has promised that the agency will never again use a vaccination campaign in its operations, an official said Monday.
Responding to a letter from the deans of 12 U.S. public health schools, Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, informed them last week that the CIA will no longer conduct such campaigns, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
The deans wrote to President Obama in January 2013 to protest the precedent set when the CIA used Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani surgeon, to seek information about bin Laden under the guise of conducting a hepatitis immunization survey in the northwest city where the al-Qaeda leader was later killed in a raid. The goal of the immunization survey was to obtain fluid containing DNA from relatives living near the bin Laden residence. The effort failed, and Afridi was convicted of treason in Pakistan. He has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.
“This disguising of an intelligence-gathering effort as a humanitarian public health service has resulted in serious collateral consequences that affect the public health community,” the deans wrote.