Nemesis List: The CIA's Vaccine Ploy

War on polio is casualty in hunt for Osama bin Laden.
'Is this the line for injections of extracts from the animal prohibited by God?' (Photo: Stringer Pakistan/Reuters)
Jul 14, 2011
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

Subject: The grandiose schemes of short-sighted spooks.

Doing Business As: The United States Central Intelligence Agency.

Occupation: Protecting America in the Global War on Terror since September 12, 2001.

Crime: Heightening a climate of suspicion and fear—in the field of global inoculation.

Motive for Crime: To bring about the timely apprehension of Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 2001 suicide-airliner attacks on America.

CIA’s Fight for Freedom Tactic: CIA masterminds hired a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, to launch a hepatitis B vaccination drive in the northern Pakistani town of Abbottabad, kicking off the project in an impoverished neighborhood for that grimy patina of NGO authenticity.

Purpose of Tactic: America’s spymasters hoped that Afridi would gain access and extract DNA samples from residents at the compound where six-foot-six dialysis patient Osama bin Laden was holed up.

Success of Tactic: A nurse gained entry to the Bin Laden compound to administer vaccines. According to several sources, Shakil Afridi waited outside and told her to take in a handbag that was fitted with an electronic device. One source suggested the operation did not succeed.

Who Objected: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) described the ploy as a “grave manipulation of the medical act.”

Who Seconded That Objection: World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Hayatee Hasan said the WHO is “concerned about the effect of the report [of the CIA’s vaccine ploy] on children's immunity in the country.”

Who Seconded the Second Objection: Michael O'Brien, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said, “Anything that compromises the perception and impartiality of medical personnel undermines the activities of medical personnel in places where access to health care is badly needed and security conditions for health care workers are already difficult.”

Who Suffers: "Vulnerable communities—anywhere—needing access to essential health services will understandably question the true motivation of medical workers and humanitarian aid," said Unni Karunakara, MSF's international president.

It’s not as if Pakistan Is Hostile to Basic Healthcare: Pakistani Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammed has declared that vaccines are against Islam, claiming they are made with “extracts from bones and fat of an animal prohibited by God—the pig.”

Still, It’s not Like Pakistan Is Hostile to Foreign Aid Workers: Maulvi Faqir further warned the faithful: “Don't fall prey to these infidel NGOs and this U.S.-allied government and its army.”

At Least No One Is Physically Endangered: MSF, which has extensive experience serving suspicious, hostile populations, believes: “Deceptive use of medical care endangers those who provide legitimate and essential health services."

At Least Pakistan Has No Real Vaccine Needs: It is now virtually impossible to convince Pakistan’s public that its suspicion of American motives is a form of paranoia. It is now also much more difficult to convince Pakistan’s public, which has the world’s highest incidence of polio, to accept a polio vaccine. If polio ever makes a comeback in America, chances are the virus will have refreshed itself in Pakistan.

The CIA’s Altruism Defense: A senior CIA official insisted the fake campaign was, in the larger view, above all, “an actual vaccination campaign conducted by real medical professionals.”

Fact Check of Altruism Defense: The U.K.’s Guardian discovered that the CIA’s “real medical professionals” disregarded real medical procedure, failing to return after administering the vaccine’s initial dose to supply the required follow-up.

The CIA’s Creative Differences Defense: “People need to put this into some perspective,” said the senior CIA official, speaking under condition of anonymity. “If the United States hadn't shown this kind of creativity, people would be scratching their heads asking why it hadn't used all tools at its disposal to find Bin Laden.”

How Often the CIA Pulls These Stunts: That same senior CIA official, donning his not-for-attribution burqa, said, “It's not as if this kind of campaign is something the CIA runs every day.”

Translation of Above: The CIA pulls these kinds of stunts every day.

More Examples of CIA Creativity: The creative scheme to treat Cuban president Fidel Castro’s cigars with a substance that would cause temporary personality disorientation. The creative scheme to dust Castro’s shoes with a powder that would make his hair fall out. The creative scheme to outfit Castro in a diving suit dusted with a fungus that would cause tuberculosis. The creative scheme to place a beautiful and unique seashell rigged with explosives in a spot where Castro was known to dive. The creative scheme to stab Castro with a poison-filled syringe disguised as a fountain pen. Fidel Castro is currently dying of natural deterioration in Cuba.

Doctor Afridi’s Bitter Medicine: Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) arrested Dr. Shakil Afridi on charges of working for a foreign spy agency. Pakistan is resisting U.S. requests for the doctor’s release and resettlement in America.

Sources: The Guardian | Associated Press | Politico

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