May 19, 2014 4:15 pm

CIA promises not to use vaccination programs as spy cover

A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, May 19, 2014.

K.M. Chaudary/AP Photo

WASHINGTON – A top White House official is promising that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs as cover for spying operations. It used the ruse hunting for Osama bin Laden.

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Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama‘s top counterterrorism adviser, wrote to the deans of 13 public health schools last week, saying that 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.

READ MORE: WHO declares spread of polio an international public health emergency

A Pakistani doctor provided polio vaccinations in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad as cover for his CIA-backed effort to obtain DNA samples from children at a compound where bin Laden was killed during a 2011 raid.

The health school deans later publicly criticized the CIA’s use of the vaccination program.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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