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Public Health Community Pushes Back To Reverse CIA Vaccination Policy, But Still Concerns

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The White House recently announced that it reversed the CIA policy which allowed the use of fake immunization drives to gather intelligence. Jill Ditmire speaks with Eric Meslin, the founding director of the IU Center for Bioethics, about the program and the recent reversal.

Meslin: “Early in 2007, the CIA paid a Pakistani physician named Shakil Afridi to be complicit in a plot to identify the relatives of Osama Bin Laden who might have been living in and around Pakistan. He did that by posing as a public health worker, to give vaccinations to people, taking blood pressure and sticking needles in people—all of it fake; not giving anyone vaccinations. Two things happened. First of all, none of that worked. They didn’t identify any of Bin Laden’s family. Secondly, more sadly, Dr. Afridi himself was arrested and put in jail as a traitor against the state of Pakistan, and was subjected to all kinds of professional and political sanctions. It became an enormous diplomatic blowup with the US congress trying to pass laws to get him taken out of prison and award him honoring citizenship, and apply economic sanctions."