CIA to Stop Using Vaccines as Spy Cover

Health deans warned ruse could harm polio fight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2014 4:28 AM CDT
Updated May 20, 2014 6:33 AM CDT
CIA to Stop Using Vaccination Programs as Cover
A Pakistani health worker, left, visits families to inform them on polio vaccinations in Peshawar, Pakistan.    (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad, File)

A top White House official has pledged that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs as cover for spying operations—a ruse the agency used to target Osama bin Laden before the raid that killed him in 2011. Lisa Monaco, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, wrote to the deans of 13 prominent public health schools last week, saying the CIA has agreed it would no longer use vaccination programs or workers for intelligence purposes. The agency also agreed to not use genetic materials obtained through such programs.

The White House statement came three days after Pakistan acted to quell a growing polio crisis within its borders. The public health deans had warned last year that the CIA's use of a vaccination program had played a role in the shootings of several health workers in Pakistan and could hamper anti-polio efforts. "Public health programs should not be used as cover for covert operations," they said. (More CIA stories.)

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