White House vows CIA will not use vaccine programs for covert ops

WASHINGTON Mon May 19, 2014 10:22pm EDT

The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing

The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

U.S. Secret Service provide security for President Barack Obama in Pensacola, Florida, June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

Protecting the President

The Secret Service detail surrounding President Obama.  Slideshow 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House promised on Monday that the CIA will not use immunization programs for its operations following a complaint that the spy agency used such a campaign in its hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The deans of 12 public health schools had complained about a reported vaccination program conducted by a Pakistani doctor, who used a hepatitis immunization survey in the Pakistani city where bin Laden was later killed in a secret U.S. mission.

The CIA orchestrated the survey to try to obtain fluid containing DNA from relatives living near the bin Laden residence, the Washington Post reported. It said the effort failed and the surgeon, Shakil Afridi, was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said Obama homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco had assured the deans in a letter that CIA policy as of August 2013 makes clear "the CIA will make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers."

"Similarly, the agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs. This policy applies worldwide, and to U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons alike," she said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Ken Wills)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (5)
4825 wrote:
If you like your plan you can keep your plan.

May 20, 2014 7:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheNewWorld wrote:
Please excuse me if I don’t believe anything they say.

May 20, 2014 10:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Acetracy wrote:
Little consolation to the hundreds of new polio victims who missed being vaccinated. More and more, Obama and his cabinet act, sound and feel like Bush III.

May 20, 2014 10:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.