22 December 2012

Thank You CIA, for Preserving Polio

You see, the Taliban is targeting workers on the UN Polio eradication program, because they claim that they are CIA spies.

The problem here is that the CIA has, and has probably continued, to use vaccination programs as a part of the intelligence gathering process:
Back in 2000 I shared a train cabin from Amsterdam to Munich with an Afghan man who, when he learned I was a journalist, pleaded with me to communicate to the American public that the CIA had to stop destroying his country and rebuild it instead. "They have so much power," I recall him saying. I reacted with the tolerant and condescending attitude of the Western liberal. The real sources of Afghan misery, obviously, were tribal, political and religious rivalry, and while it was tempting for people with lower levels of political understanding to blame a foreign mastermind for their troubles, such conspiratorial thinking was actually part of the problem in the Mideast, as in Eastern Europe. Right?

Afghanistan and Pakistan are where liberalism goes to die. In the years since, it's become increasingly clear that my traveling companion was at least partially right: when trying to explain a social or political event in Afghanistan or Pakistan, it's entirely rational to assume that it stems from a plot by an intelligence agency, quite likely the CIA. The sickest confirmation of this point was the recent revelation that the CIA ran an operation to verify Osama bin Laden's location by gathering DNA samples through a false-flag hepatitis B vaccination programme. As James Fallows notes, American officials are defending this operation, not denying it.

This is despicable and stupid.
I would use the term evil, a term that I have increasingly applied to various actors in the United States state security apparatus, though one could also use the quote from (probably) Tallyrand, "It was worse than a crime; it was a mistake."


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