The CIA’s fake vaccination program in Pakistan reveals the moral bankruptcy of American spooks.

Posted: July 26, 2011 in US News, World News

Tom Scocca
July 26, 2011

This was one story from our open-ended war: Last year, in a remote area of Afghanistan, 10 medical aid workers were ambushed and killed by militants. The New York Times Magazine and Slate published moving remembrances of some of the victims: Karen Woo, a British doctor who wanted to make a documentary about the lives of people in remote areas of Afghanistan; Tom Little and Dan Terry, who had spent decades bringing health care and other aid to the country. President Obama awarded Little the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a posthumous ceremony earlier this year. After the killings, the Taliban reportedly added a final insult. The victims, they claimed, were not really medical personnel. They were spies “on a clandestine mission against mujahideen in the area.”

Only: How do we know this was a vicious insult? The question should be obscene and unthinkable. Yet this month, the Obama administration admitted that the Central Intelligence Agency had staged a fake vaccination campaign in Pakistan as American intelligence closed in on Osama Bin Laden. Health care workers were used on a clandestine mission—not in the paranoid imagination of America-hating fanatics but as part of the deliberate policy of the United States government.

As atrocities go, delivering inadequate vaccines under false pretenses isn’t obviously worse than, say, systematically kidnapping people and torturing them. But like the decision by Rupert Murdoch’s reporters, in the course of illegally eavesdropping on everyone, to hack into one particular vanished child’s voice mail, the single act is a metonym for the total moral collapse of the people and the system responsible for it. The CIA has now signed off on the murder of Tom Little and Dan Terry and on any future killings of doctors in overt or covert war zones. Now, there is no such thing as a noncombatant.

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