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Price of CIA’s bin Laden ‘Glory Killing’: 100,000 Polio Cases

In “Chomsky: The Boston Bombings Gave Americans a Taste of the Terrorism the U.S. Inflicts Abroad Every Day,” Mr. Chomsky quotes a Columbia University health scientist, Leslie Roberts, who estimated that the fake vaccination program used by the CIA in Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden may cause as many as 100,000 global cases of polio. Roberts told Scientific American:

"... people would say this disease, this crippled child is because the US was so crazy to get Osama bin Laden."

Have you heard this side of the “bin Laden manhunt”?

The creators/producers of Zero Dark Thirty weren't inclined to explore it. Neither was our government- and military-friendly corporate media amidst all that “capture of bin Laden” hype.

Chomsky sums up the results of the vaccination ruse:

1) the CIA operation violated fundamental principles as old as the Hippocratic oath.

2) it endangered health workers associated with a polio vaccination program in Pakistan, some of whom were consequently abducted and killed, prompting the UN to withdraw its anti-polio team.

3) The CIA ruse will lead to the deaths of unknown numbers of Pakistanis and others who have been deprived of protection from polio because they fear that foreign killers/spies may still be exploiting vaccination programs.

“How the CIA’s Fake Vaccination Campaign Endangers Us All -- The U.S. was wrong to use health workers to target Osama bin Laden” printed in Scientific American contributes more details of this horrifying scenario.

... In its zeal to identify bin Laden or his family, the CIA used a sham hepatitis B vaccination project to collect DNA in the neighborhood where he was hiding. The effort apparently failed, but the violation of trust threatens to set back global public health efforts by decades.

That particular area in Pakistan in which the sham operation was launched was politically unstable. It also was, according to Scientific American journalists, still haunted by a 10-year-old rumor once promoted by Nigerian religious leaders (and since repudiated) that western-distributed medicine was part of a plot to sterilize girls.

Then come along the “ends justify the means” bin Laden-obsessed CIA operatives.

As word of this craven CIA-vaccination-plot spread throughout Pakistan, legitimate vaccine workers, accused of being spies, were chased away from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Taliban commanders banned parts of Pakistan from vaccination teams because of the ruse.

Last December nine vaccine workers were murdered in Pakistan, causing the UN to withdraw its vaccination teams entirely.

Two months later 10 polio workers in Nigeria were gunned down, suggesting that distrust of and violence toward vaccinators is spreading thanks to the CIA campaign.

Unintended but "not that hard to predict" consequences, I am thinking.

According to Scientific American, this was just as the global polio campaign had entered what should have been its FINAL stages. So close to eradicating polio and then this, a profound ambush of regional distrust to its well-intentioned operations.

The number of polio cases had dropped from 350,000 in 1988 to ONLY 650 in 2011.

The disease spreads naturally in ONLY three countries now —Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria—DOWN FROM MORE THAN 125 COUNTRIES a quarter of a century ago.

According to the aforementioned Leslie F. Roberts of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the “disrupting or postponing vaccination efforts could fan a resurgence of polio around the world.” He further explains that such widespread distrust from the scam campaign in Pakistan “could conceivably postpone polio eradication for 20 years, leading to 100,000 cases that might otherwise not have occurred.”

Roberts stresses that physicians take a Hippocratic oath “to do no harm.” Humanitarian workers adhere to an international code of conduct to provide services independent of national political and military agendas, “on the basis of need alone.”

Roberts explains that the vaccine faux-program in Pakistan was started in a poor neighborhood in Abbottabad to exude an air of legitimacy but the fake program, after providing the first in a series of three hepatitis B shots, was abandoned there to move to a wealthier community where bin Laden was suspected to be dwelling. The CIA didn’t even have the courtesy and humanity to fully immunize the few Pakistanis they were using to set up their operation.

Such a large and callous breech of protocol on the local level for the involved recipients, along with the stunning larger ramifications of distrust and vengeance the CIA inspired. No wonder the ruse couldn’t begin to be used and glamorized in the CIA-propagandizing Zero Dark Thirty movie.

The bloodlust to “liquidate” such a profound enemy of the United States as bin Laden once again revealed a serious degree of amoral, "ends justifies the means" gratuitously and massively destructive CIA behavior.

Of course there seemingly has been no acknowledgment -- no responsibility taking -- let alone regret expressed on the part of the “deciders” of the bin Laden manhunt. No interruption of their glory-basking in the capture and assassination of bin Laden.

I'm thinking this is a rather heavy-duty p.s. situation!

A letter has been sent to President Barack Obama from the deans of a dozen prominent schools of public health Scientific American reveals. It asks that henceforth Obama “should direct all U.S. military and intelligence agencies to refrain from using a medical or humanitarian cover to achieve their objectives.”

Incidentally, going back to Chomsky’s take on the bin Laden manhunt, he cites another grave scenario into a nuclear-armed Pakistan.

The US Navy SEALs were under orders to fight their way out if necessary. Pakistan has a well-trained army, committed to defending the state. Had the invaders been confronted, Washington would not have left them to their fate. Rather, the full force of the US killing machine might have been used to extricate them, quite possibly leading to nuclear war.

There is a long and highly instructive history showing the willingness of state authorities to risk the fate of their populations, sometimes severely, for the sake of their policy objectives, not least the most powerful state in the world. We ignore it at our peril.

But that is more frustrating fodder for another blog.

The polio crisis seems more than enough for this one!

[cross-posted on open salon]

Average: 5 (1 vote)


goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

Really?? We're blaming the CIA for the failure of tribal societies to get their kids to a polio clinic? This is AFGHANISTAN we're talking about. You know, the place where women die in childbirth because they're not allowed to be seen or touched by males who are non-family members? The Swat valley in Pakistan was taken over by these fanatics and thought it was OK to shoot a girl in the head for speaking up for the education of girls.
If you want to blame the US for fomenting distrust, start with the drone program. We are guilty of that and should never be forgiven. But there were plenty of legitimate aid workers who were assassinated in Afghanistan for just doing their jobs because anytime there's a reason to distrust anyone, it falls on the representatives of the west who want to make them safer, more educated, more healthy, less backward.
Heck, I recently heard some sex researcher on Fresh Air talk about the *increase* of FGM in Egypt because women show their nationality and solidarity against the west by cutting off their clitorises. No, it makes no fucking sense. But it is very typical of the backlash and has bloody little to do with the CIA.
Let's start putting the blame for the ignorance, neglect and cruelty towards women and children where it belongs, with the male tribal elders and their stupid traditions.

ek hornbeck's picture
Submitted by ek hornbeck on

[Apocalypse now]

I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see.

We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it... I never want to forget.

And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God... the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that.

If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us.

Leon Panetta burned the Doctor who fingered Bin Ladin and condemned untold thosands to Polio which is easily avoided.

My Grandmother had Polio anf limped through life bone on bone in excruciating agony.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

thanks for that incredible comment. at first reading I thought it was your experience.

Panetta "burned" the doctor who fingered bin Laden. You mean ordered him killed? I want to delve even deeper into this story.

The Scientific American article was relentless in going on with more and more tragic ripples of that fake operation.

That polio was close to being removed from the globe and now won't be at least soon is heartbreaking.

I am so sorry about your grandmother!

thanks for commenting! Nice to see you again!

Submitted by lambert on

... but the reason you thought that it was the commenter's own experience is that there wasn't a link at the beginning of the quote -- so I added it to be clear.

* * *

Nothing personal to ek here, this is merely the occasion of my remarks--

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Corrente has a back catalog going years; it is an archive. In an archive, it's critical that people be able to distinguish between what is quoted from elsewhere, and the poster's own voice. Supporting this is basic. It is not optional. It must be consistent across all posts.

The format for a long quote is:

1. LINK using HTML A tag. (If you're on a stupid phone that makes that hard, put the URL but first and not last.)


because that gives the reader advance notice that a quote is coming (with the link) and visually sets off the quote with an indent.

The format for a long quote is not:

1. Unindented text followed by a URL

2. Bold and/or italic text with no indent from the blockquote.

3. Indented text with no link.

I'll go in a few more times and fix this up, but I need to see some recognition, as demonstrated by behavior, that people read and understand this. I am very happy to have posters, especially new posters, but I also need to maintain a basic baseline of consistent formatting for the sake of the integrity of the blog.