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Our ever creative CIA seems to really enjoy making long-term enemies out of potential allies.

A Pakistani official on Thursday slammed the CIA’s fake vaccination drive in 2011 for fueling distrust of polio eradication campaigns and driving “attacks on polio workers” as the country grapples with an outbreak of this highly infectious disease that is spiraling into a global emergency.

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs took direct aim at the CIA’s false vaccination campaign, which was conducted as part of the hunt for Osama Bin Ladin and exposed by the Guardian in 2011.

Carefully step around the orange pool of "Sunshine Vaccine" for more dreadfulness >>

Pakistan on Thursday said the fake vaccination campaign conducted by United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ahead of the secret raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in 2011 was one of the major reasons behind the rising number of polio cases in the country.

Dr Shakil Afridi’s fake campaign has created doubts about vaccination drives among people,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters at her weekly news briefing on Thursday. “A fake campaign of vaccination was conducted in Pakistan in which the UN agencies were also used.”

Her remarks came in response to the recent international travel restrictions imposed on Pakistan by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the country’s failure to completely eradicate the polio virus.

And add to this a new skepticism towards health workers who actually DO want to help Pakistanis. Now kids are literally dying because of this unthinkably inhumane way of abusing trust in a way that will leave permanent wounds that just fester over time.
Revelations of the plot sparked skepticism and anger towards health workers legitimately attempting to administer vaccinations, causing them to be driven out of villages, banned by some Taliban factions, and attacked and killed at escalating rates. Local opposition to vaccination efforts remains a key barrier to broad administration of the vaccine.

Usman, a father of four living in a slum of Pakistan’s Bhains Colony, told FT Magazine that, because of the Abbottabad incident, he refused to vaccinate his son Musharaf. At the age of two, Musharaf became the first polio casualty of 2013. “If the incident in Abbottabad did not happen, and these rumors didn’t spread to us, we would have continued the vaccinations as we had been,” he said.

First polio casualty of 2013. Not the last.

Well, at least we got Bin Laden.

Maybe next time we won't have to do something so monstrously wrong in our quest for justice?

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Comment Preferences

  •  * edit: (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Choco8, JesseCW, poligirl, Cadillac64
    Musharaf because * the first
    * became

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Sat May 10, 2014 at 10:50:42 AM PDT

  •  Do you have any idea what happpened? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't think you do.

  •  CIA, Taliban, Republican Party (7+ / 0-)

    members like Michelle Bachmann, all willing to have kids be 'collateral damage' by using vaccination as a punching bag for their respective agendas.

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:00:50 AM PDT

  •  Unthinkably inhumane (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grrr, shigeru, Rich in PA, Sky Net

    That's how I would describe the afflicted boy's father, who apparently denied his son Musharaf a polio vaccination out of loyalty to a group of monstrous terrorists.

  •  It would be good if you could have added some (3+ / 0-)

    background on the purported CIA vaccination campaign for those of us who don't keep up on this. By calling it fake it leaves the impression that vaccinations weren't given, didn't use vaccines or something else dire. This is entirely different from collecting information as an adjunct to a legitimate vaccination effort.

    What was it? I'm even less trustful of radical Muslim propagandists than I am about the CIA!

    And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

    by shigeru on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:16:19 AM PDT

  •  CIA. (5+ / 0-)

    Completely Incompetent Asses.

    I'm not serious. Seriously.

    by IB JOHN on Sat May 10, 2014 at 11:33:06 AM PDT

  •  The unfortunate backlash (5+ / 0-)

    of using a phony hepatitis B vaccination program as cover for operations to find bin Laden has effected all the NGO programs for vital life saving vaccines, including MMR and DPT.

    Even worse was the US failed to protect the doctor, Shakil Afridi, who ran the cover program. He still stands accused of treason in Pakistan, even though his first conviction was over turned.

    •  Taliban opposition to vaccinations long preceded (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA, nocynicism, Sky Net

      the bin Laden operation.  

      Similar opposition to vaccination programs has existed for years among Islamic fundamentalists and anti-Western factions in many Muslim countries.  Look at a map of where polio persists.  

      Health workers have been killed and beaten in Nigeria as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan due to rumors that the polio vaccine is a Western plot to sterilize girls, that it is unclean under Islamic law, that it contains the AIDS virus. All this was happening before the bin Laden raid.

      No doubt the Taliban and similar groups have exploited this opportunity to reignite suspicion and prevent children from getting protected from polio, making a bad situation even worse.

  •  Maybe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    But if not this, these people would find some other reason to distrust modern science/medicine/The West.

    As long as so many of their people dwell in the Dark Ages where religion is king, there will always be a convenient excuse.

  •  Pakistan's government can go eat shit. (0+ / 0-)

    They're the ones who don't do vaccination campaigns in the first place, thus providing an opening for the US to do one (which, after all, was real) as a cover for killing Bin Laden, who lived for years under the protection of that same Pakistani government.  There's plenty of blame to go around but it's all used up before the blame train gets to us.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Sat May 10, 2014 at 12:36:42 PM PDT

  •  One more article (5+ / 0-)
    In Pakistan, where polio has never been eliminated, the C.I.A.’s decision to send a vaccination team into the Bin Laden compound to gather information and DNA samples clearly hurt the national polio drive. The question is: How badly?

    After the ruse by Dr. Shakil Afridi was revealed by a British newspaper a year ago, angry villagers, especially in the lawless tribal areas on the Afghan border, chased off legitimate vaccinators, accusing them of being spies.

    And then, late last month, Taliban commanders in two districts banned polio vaccination teams, saying they could not operate until the United States ended its drone strikes. One cited Dr. Afridi, who is serving a 33-year sentence imposed by a tribal court, as an example of how the C.I.A. could use the campaign to cover espionage.

  •  Neither CIA or any spying agency (5+ / 0-)

    should be allowed anywhere near any kind of health program anywhere. Ever.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Sat May 10, 2014 at 12:56:54 PM PDT

  •  Letter from InterAction to CIA Director Petraeus (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, poligirl, DeadHead, ypochris
    The international humanitarian community - including the members of the InterAction alliance - work hard to maintain an identity that is independent from official U.S. action. In many countries, this independence is what allows us to reach those most in need. It also can increase a population's acceptance of foreign goodwill. Distrust of the U.S. government runs high in parts of Pakistan and NGOs must take great care to avoid overt association with the U.S. government. By doing so, they are able to reach populations that might otherwise be inaccessible. The CIA-led immunization campaign compromises the perception of U.S. NGOs as independent actors focused on a common good and casts suspicion on their humanitarian workers. The CIA's actions may also jeopardize the lives of humanitarian aid workers in Pakistan. Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in recent months of security incidents targeting aid workers, with five abductions of humanitarian workers in January of this year alone. Furthermore, international NGOs report increased surveillance by Pakistani intelligence entities and many fear that they will soon be faced with a much more restrictive and invasive bureaucratic framework governing their operations. I urge you and your counterparts in the U.S. government to avoid adopting tactics that erode the ability of humanitarian actors in Pakistan and the rest of the world to work on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable. It is imperative that independent, impartial humanitarian action be kept clearly distinct from intelligencegathering activities. Any blurring of the two risks causing setbacks in decades-long global health and humanitarian efforts and endangers the lives of those working to make those advances on the behalf of the global community. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and/or your staff to discuss these issues. Sincerely,

    Samuel A. Worthington President and CEO CC: Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development

  •  CIA's fake vac drive damaged polio battle (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, psychodrew, poligirl, DeadHead
    The news of Dr Afridi's role did not emerge until a Guardian article in July 2011, when it shook the immunisation world. Although Dr Afridi had pretended to provide a hepatitis B vaccination, not normally a door-to-door delivery, the news had a particularly strong impact on those working in polio eradication, where door-to-door vaccination is the norm. Anxieties and distrust about the polio vaccine and its western providers were rampant in some communities, and suspicions about CIA links with the polio vaccination campaigns, and rumours they were a front for the sterilising of Muslims, had been around for a decade after 9/11. After years of working to dispel myths about CIA links to the polio eradication efforts – from northern Nigeria to Pakistan and India, all of the work seemed fruitless.

    It is no coincidence that the remaining three countries in the world which have polio endemics are Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yes, there are geographical challenges and financial challenges. And, yes, finding Bin Laden has been a global security priority. But deep-seated suspicions about the motives of those who provide polio vaccines have persisted in some circles from Nigeria to Pakistan, and the CIA's choice of immunisation as a strategy to find Bin Laden has only given credence to the conspiracies.

    •  Muslims clerics have damaged the polio battle, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sky Net

      as I noted, long before this episode.  The Taliban and similar extremists in other Muslim nations have been using people's health as a political tool for years.  

      Here is an article from 2007:

      What Led to the Nigerian Boycott of the Polio Vaccination Campaign?

      "In northern Nigeria in 2003, the political and religious leaders of Kano, Zamfara, and Kaduna states brought the immunization campaign to a halt by calling on parents not to allow their children to be immunized. These leaders argued that the vaccine could be contaminated with anti-fertility agents (estradiol hormone), HIV, and cancerous agents."
      Within two years Nigeria accounted for 80% of the world's polio burden and was the source of a wave of infection across the globe.
      "“the same virus travelled in 2005 to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia (probably by Muslim pilgrims returning from the Hajj or migrant workers)” [38]. As a result, over 1,500 children were paralyzed. These new cases are genetically linked to the polio virus endemic in northern Nigeria (Figure 3). New cases of polio genetically linked to the wild polio strain from Nigeria have also been recorded in countries as far as the Sudan and Botswana, which were also previously free of polio "
      Boko Haram continues to murder polio eradication workers in Nigeria, 5000 miles from Pakistan.  If we are going to assign responsibility to the CIA, can't we at least give a little credit to these terrorist organizations who do the dirty work?
  •  I can't even believe that there are apologists for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Choco8, DeadHead, radmul

    this behavior done in all of our names.

    "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward R. Murrow

    by temptxan on Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:45:01 PM PDT

  •  As always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Glenn Greenwald puts in altogether:

    "Americans of all types — Democrats and Republicans, even some Good Progressives — are just livid that a Pakistani tribal court (reportedly in consultation with Pakistani officials) has imposed a 33-year prison sentence on Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who secretly worked with the CIA to find Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Their fury tracks the standard American media narrative: by punishing Dr. Afridi for the “crime” of helping the U.S. find bin Laden, Pakistan has revealed that it sympathizes with Al Qaeda and is hostile to the U.S. (NPR headline: “33 Years In Prison For Pakistani Doctor Who Aided Hunt For Bin Laden”; NYT headline: “Prison Term for Helping C.I.A. Find Bin Laden”). Except that’s a woefully incomplete narrative: incomplete to the point of being quite misleading.

    What Dr. Afridi actually did was concoct a pretextual vaccination program, whereby Pakistani children would be injected with a single Hepatitis B vaccine, with the hope of gaining access to the Abbottabad house where the CIA believed bin Laden was located. The plan was that, under the ruse of vaccinating the children in that province, he would obtain DNA samples that could confirm the presence in the suspected house of the bin Laden family. But the vaccine program he was administering was fake: as Wired‘s public health reporter Maryn McKenna detailed, “since only one of three doses was delivered, the vaccination was effectively useless.” An on-the-ground Guardian investigation documented that ”while the vaccine doses themselves were genuine, the medical professionals involved were not following procedures. In an area called Nawa Sher, they did not return a month after the first dose to provide the required second batch. Instead, according to local officials and residents, the team moved on.”

    That means that numerous Pakistani children who thought they were being vaccinated against Hepatitis B were in fact left exposed to the virus. Worse, international health workers have long faced serious problems in many parts of the world — including remote Muslim areas — in convincing people that the vaccines they want to give to their children are genuine rather than Western plots to harm them. These suspicions have prevented the eradication of polio and the containment of other preventable diseases in many areas, including in parts of Pakistan. This faux CIA vaccination program will, for obvious and entirely foreseeable reasons, significantly exacerbate that problem.

    The WIRED article he references is well worth reading for background:
    There is no evidence the “vaccinations” produced DNA that helped identify bin Laden. The physician named in the article has been arrested by the Pakistani security forces. The CIA has understandably refused any comment. But the allegation that a vaccine program was not what it seemed — that it was not only suspect, but justifiably suspect — has been very widely reported.

    This is awful. It plays, so precisely that it might have been scripted, into the most paranoid conspiracy theories about vaccines: that they are pointless, poisonous, covert shields for nefarious government agendas meant to do children harm.

    That is not speculation. The polio campaign has already seen this happen, based on just those kind of suspicions — not in a single poor slum in New Delhi, but across much of sub-Saharan Africa.

    emphasis mine

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