Letter to CIA Protests Use of Vaccinations for Intelligence Collection

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March 16, 2012

On Feb. 21, 2012 a coalition of nearly 200 aid organizations sent a letter to the head of the CIA protesting its use of a vaccination campaign last year as cover for collecting intelligence information in Pakistan. "The CIA's use of the cover of humanitarian activity for this purpose casts doubt on the intentions and integrity of all humanitarian actors in Pakistan," said the letter from InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based humanitarian and international development non-governmental organizations (NGOs). U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the CIA had launched the fake vaccination campaign in an interview on Jan. 27, 2012.

Samuel Worthington, InterAction’s Executive Director, noted that since reports of the CIA campaign surfaced last year, “we have seen continued erosion of U.S. NGOs’ ability to deliver critical humanitarian programs in Pakistan and an uptick in targeted violence against humanitarian workers. I fear CIA’s activities in Pakistan and the perception that U.S. NGOs have ties with intelligence efforts may have contributed to these alarming developments.”
InterAction, which members includes International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, and Relief International, said, "The CIA-led immunization campaign compromises the perception of U.S. NGOs as independent actors focused on a common good, and … jeopardizes the lives of humanitarian aid workers.”