CIA to stop exploiting vaccination programmes

In the first quarter of 2011 Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi began a hepatitis B vaccination programme in and around one of the poorer cities in Hazara in Northeastern Pakistan.

Abbottabad is similar to less fortunate Pakistani cities struggling with poverty and insufficient access to health services. Employed by the government and considered the top medic in the Khyber tribal area, Dr. Afridi’s vaccination programme was typical of such immunisation initiatives.

shakil afridi

Dr. Shakil Afridi

However what is now well known is that Dr. Afridi had been recruited by the CIA. Provided with only minimal information from CIA operative “Peter”, he was to use the vaccination programme as cover for gathering blood samples from an Abbottabad compound.

The CIA believed Osama bin Laden may be hiding in the compound and were after a DNA sample from children to compare with his late sister. Dr. Afridi had two female staff working with him on the programme. One was able to access the compound and gather blood samples. Afridi and his staff had no idea who the CIA were targetting.

Ultimately the scheme failed and did not lead to the success of the USA confirming this was bin Laden’s hideout.

What is known is that the CIA’s use of this and other vaccination programmes has had a lasting negative effect on their implementation and success. As a result the control of dangerous diseases including polio, has likely been set back years.

Already regarded with suspicion in developing Islamic nations, Western backed and funded vaccine programmes are subject to anti-vaccination propaganda. Conspiracies linking polio vaccination to deliberate Western plots to spread HIV/AIDS or cause sterility have circulated for years. The incorrect claim that the vaccine is “unclean” under Islamic law has been thankfully countered by the global Islamic Advisory Group on polio.

Pakistan’s polio vaccination programmes have suffered significantly from the plot involving Dr. Afridi. The Pakistani Taliban have placed a “ban” on polio vaccine programmes. 350,000 children have missed out on polio vaccination and access to other health care. A spike in polio infection has seen 66 children diagnosed to date this year compared to a total of 14 for the whole of 2013.

60 health workers have been killed over the past three years due to enforcement of this ban by violent militant groups. Infection has spread across the border to Afghanistan.

On May 5th this year the World Health Organisation announced polio had “re-emerged as a public health emergency”. Some critics have argued 30 years of work to control the virus “could unravel”. The WHO is calling for all children in affected countries to be vaccinated or revaccinated, whilst anyone travelling from these countries should also be revaccinated, and carry proof of this with them.

A few days ago the CIA announced an end to the exploitation of vaccination programmes.

Lisa Monaco, a senior counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to President Obama, wrote in a letter addressed to the leaders of several prominent public health schools that the CIA would not use immunisation programs – or workers – as a means to collect intelligence. Such programs have prompted attacks on medical workers in Pakistan.

“The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency directed in August 2013 that the agency make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers,” Monaco wrote in the letter, which was first obtained by Yahoo News.

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

Former CIA spy Micheal Scheuer, who was a senior adviser to the CIA’s bin Laden unit has criticised the decision. Speaking to the BBC he argued any tool that got the job done is justified.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: If it saves Americans it justifies the end. That’s what the agencies and business want.

BBC INTERVIEWER: Even though potentially thousands of people could die as a result of the spread now of polio?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, you know, stuff happens, Sir.

WILL OCKENDEN: He says the use of vaccination programs by the CIA paid off in the hunt for and execution of Osama bin Laden.

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Without a doubt. It led directly to the killing of Osama bin Laden. It was too late in the war to make much of a difference but as long as he was alive he was involved in planning attacks against the United States and Britain and some of our other allies. It was very much worth the cost.

You can catch the full ABC News audio below, or download the mp3 file here.

Leaving the CIA behind it’s worth noting that logistical problems associated with conflict in Syria and the inexplicable apathy of the Syrian government have seen the resurgence of polio, measles and meningitis. In April it was reported polio had spread from Syria to Iraq.

In Somalia Al Shabaab had banned 16 humanitarian agencies by late 2011. Consequently 300,000 children went unvaccinated for three years. This led to a 2013 outbreak in polio, including 194 cases of paralysis and a spread to Ethiopia and Kenya. Existing Aid programmes managed to control this spread within six months. Large scale measles infection has also proven a problem across the Horn of Africa.

Boku Harem has attacked health facilities responsible for vaccination programmes in Nigeria. Ten polio workers were killed in February of 2013.

According to an editorial just published in Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper, ten countries currently report that polio is in circulation.

The action of the CIA in Pakistan (and apparently elsewhere) has been monumentally reckless. The consequent scattering of polio vaccination reduction, alongside global conflict has led to a global emergency.

The lesson then for the developed world is clear. Now, more than ever, there is no excuse for parents to question the validity of any vaccination.

Particularly polio.


  • Below Professor Michael Toole, Deputy Director of Melbourne’s Burnet Institute discusses the problems facing some Islamic nations on ABC 24 (May 24th 2014).

Radical Islam Opposition To Polio Vaccination


Polio – Unconditional Surrender (1956)

From The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Unconditional Surrender looks more closely at the steps involved in making the polio vaccine.

The makers of this movie seek to educate how important the vaccine manufacture protocol, thus safety and efficacy, is. Following production comes testing and retesting. And cute bunnies. Then off to The National Institutes for Health complex where the protocol is examined. Samples from every batch end up in the labs of the NIH, tested for sterility, tissue culture, incubation tests, monkey tests… all designed to ensure safety and efficacy. Many are repeats of those done during manufacture.

In that wonderful victorious lilt of 1950’s narration viewers were held in confidence by such turns of phrase as “man’s enemy becomes his servant”. Of course, the unstated purpose was also to maintain confidence following The Cutter Incident named after Cutter Laboratories – the first lab to unwittingly dispense live virus vaccines instead of killed. This resulted in infections, and still later it became plain not only Cutter lab’s were struggling with Salk’s protocol.

It resulted in a suspension of only one fortnight. A good deal of Paul Offit’s book The Cutter Incident can be found at Google Books.

Unconditional Surrender


The Polio Crusade

For an American citizen, Meryl Dorey, president of The Australian Vaccination Network pays scant attention to her homelands recent history.

The tragedies caused by polio were fierce and unrelenting. ‘‘It was an atmosphere of grief, terror, and helpless rage,’’ remembered a nurse who worked on the medical wards at a Pittsburgh hospital. ‘‘It was horrible. I remember a high school boy weeping because he was completely paralyzed and couldn’t move a hand to kill himself. I remember paralyzed women in iron lungs giving birth to normal babies.’’ [….]

Four of the boys got polio that summer. One day no one could find our head counselor, Bill Lilly. He took what happened to those boys pretty hard. The police were called and, after they searched all around the lake, they found that Bill had hung himself from a tree – hung himself. We were all huddled around the beach when the police came to tell us. I’ll never forget it.’’ [Source]

As is plain in the video below by 1950 33,000 polio cases in which 50% affected children under 10 were reported. Whilst it was uncommon to catch, remote to be injured by, and extremely rare to die from polio, Americans feared it almost as much as the atomic bomb. As one who claims vaccination had no impact on polio at all – personal hygiene, public sanitation, clean water and mama’s apple pie eliminated vaccine preventable diseases – this video holds a surprise for Meryl Dorey.

In the post war years clean water and public sanitation meant less prevalence of a milder, wild type of polio virus. Previously maternal antibodies and/or exposure to this wild type from very young ages had equipped the young with sufficient immunity. Polio is taken in orally and water or vapour are it’s most common mode of infection. In a more prosperous America exposure was occurring later in life, particularly during summer months. The virus itself was more virulent and within a few seasons was also striking adults severely.

In a nutshell, as described by eloquently by Dr. Paul Offit, as sanitation improved exposure occurred later and cases rose. And so pfft! goes another well worn antivaccination lie, recently peddled by Viera Scheibner on Sunrise TV.

Of course today, anti-vaxxers carry the burning Stupid as a beacon to light their way and tend to blame almost any outbreak on vaccination. Indeed only a day or so before the video below aired, Meryl Dorey refers to this viral polio outbreak in China as “vaccine associated polio”, blaming the vaccine. Even worse, she linked to the same article as here, which kinda informs the reader by paragraph two. Even worse… well no, actually so incredibly stupid it hurts to comprehend, Dorey thinks the file picture is an account of it’s own as to what’s happening. I shag you not. She writes;

What type of vaccine do they use in China – is it oral or injected? The picture looks like someone getting oral in which case, that is most likely where the outbreak is coming from

That’s our girl! “Australia’s leading expert on vaccines” looked at the picture.

A member of her Facebook page decided to point this out. The brave Emma Hill was banned, her comment deleted to make room for vaccine blaming and business briskly resumed. Meryl hates suppression of dissent or impinging on free speech as she often opines. She just has a unique way of showing it.

Pre Ban Hammer

Post Ban Hammer

As Emma notes the outbreak is caused by WPV1 spreading from Pakistan. But in defence of Meryl, we’re now getting into facts and that just won’t do. So, back to 1950’s America.

This doco looks at the impact of increasingly devastating outbreaks, infantile paralysis, the quest for a vaccine under Jonas Salk and the development of government quality control following the Cutter Incident. As documented well, also by Dr. Paul Offit poor quality control led to live virus vaccines being distributed and consequent infection in some cases.  Program centres around Wytheville in the US.