CIA's Use Of Vaccine Program To Hunt Bin Laden Hurt U.S. Health Diplomacy

“The incoming C.I.A. director, David Petraeus, ought to impose clear restrictions and prohibitions on medically oriented spy tactics so that the integrity and humanitarian purpose of U.S. health aid are affirmed and that current and future health aid operations will not be misused,” Jack Chow, a former U.S. global AIDS ambassador and assistant director-general of the WHO, writes in a New York Times opinion piece responding to reports that the U.S. used a vaccination campaign in Pakistan to help locate Osama bin Laden. Chow also recommends that Congress “investigate the Pakistan operation and determine whether agency leaders weighed broader policy sensitivities or the ethical implications of using a medical based tactic to gain intelligence.”

“However critical it was to target Bin Laden, the covert use of a legitimate health program threatens to make U.S. health and development aid an unintended casualty in the fight against terrorism. With millions of lives being supported with U.S. aid, it is vital that medical assistance to the needy continue without political hindrance and without cause for impugning American humanitarian motives,” he concludes (7/26).