Bin Laden execution has claimed more innocent victims

on 19 Comments

It looks like the Obama Administration’s proudest achievement in the international arena – the execution of Osama Bin Laden – has caused the death of nine UN health care workers and will continue to take a heavy toll in the health of ordinary Pakistanis and Afghans. According to the Associated Press, nine UN staff members who were administering polio vaccines in northern Pakistan have been killed since Monday by local militias opposed to the vaccination program, causing the UN to indefinitely suspend its operation.

Apparently, many Pakistanis believe that these health care workers are actually U.S. spies. Where would they get that crazy idea? Maybe it was this. While waterboarding and other torture did not contribute to the great victory over terrorism at Abbattabad, a phony vaccination program did. The CIA, in league with an integrity-challenged Pakistani doctor, implemented a bogus polio vaccine program, the real purpose of which was to collect DNA samples to determine the whereabouts of International Public Enemy Number 1. Not only was the entire health project set up under false pretenses, its vaccination of local children was entirely and deliberately ineffective. They were given the first dose of the vaccine but not the necessary followup doses.

True, sometimes a plan is undertaken with the best of intentions, and only later is it revealed that there were unintended and unforeseeable negative consequences. This was not one of those instances. In fact, the damage was quite foreseeable, even foreseen by commentators at the time, including Medecins Sans Frontieres. As Maryn McKenna , a journalist specializing in public health issues, warned 17 months ago:

This is awful. It plays, so precisely that it might have been scripted, into the most paranoid conspiracy theories about vaccines: that they are pointless, poisonous, covert shields for nefarious government agendas meant to do children harm. That is not speculation. The polio campaign has already seen this happen, based on just those kind of suspicions — not in a single poor slum in New Delhi, but across much of sub-Saharan Africa.

And now, nine heroic health care workers are dead, and unknown millions of people will be exposed to this crippling and sometimes deadly disease. The worldwide effort to eradicate polio has been dealt a massive blow. It will be impossible to assess the harm caused by this deranged scheme, just as the number of actual victims of Clinton’s 1998 bombing of the Sudan pharmaceutical plant will never be known.

Of course, the chances of a Congressional investigation of this fiasco are zero, and it is very unlikely that this tragic turn of events receives wide publicity in the US. Even then, it would be dismissed as another example of backward Muslims who are ungrateful for the benefits of Western medicine, harboring delusions that public health initiatives are actually designed to serve the purposes of a foreign superpower that is actively drone-bombing the local population. Perhaps Pam Geller’s next subway poster will feature this entirely predictable backlash as evidence of the medieval and savage mindset of Muslims.

On the bright side, now that we “got” Bin Laden, Americans can rest easier knowing that the risk of terrorism has been rendered remote, with terrorists hopelessly dispirited over the loss of their leader. And it’s not like we are doing anything to expand the pool of potential new terrorists, right?

About David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

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19 Responses

  1. doug
    December 20, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Blowback, as the late Chalmers Johnson described so well about the precedents.

  2. Dan Crowther
    December 20, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Great piece, David.

    • Mooser
      December 22, 2012, 1:35 pm

      Absolutely! Man, I thought I was pretty well insulated until I read this article, but it gave 110 volts AC right through the body.
      The State corruption is one thing, I expect that, but the medical corruption?
      Great work in putting it together.

  3. eljay
    December 20, 2012, 3:17 pm

    The real question is: Was the bogus vaccination program – and the resulting deaths of innocent health care workers – “worth it”? For anyone who loves freedom and hates terrrrrrrr, the answer can only and emphatically be “yes”.

  4. RFS
    December 20, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Pardon for the off-topic comment, but I’d like to know what has been made of the Mondoweiss-Salon partnership?

    • Mooser
      December 22, 2012, 1:37 pm

      “Pardon for the off-topic comment, but I’d like to know what has been made of the Mondoweiss-Salon partnership?”

      Well, I’m probably not supposed to tell you this, but some people have made a lot of it, and a lot of people didn’t make anything of it. I guess that’s the way it goes, huh? Why do you ask?

  5. DICKERSON3870
    December 20, 2012, 4:30 pm

    RE: “According to the Associated Press, nine UN staff members who were administering polio vaccines in northern Pakistan have been killed since Monday . . .” ~ David Samel

    TRUE BLUE (NITWIT) PATRIOTIC AMERICAN SEZ: Now, now. Let’s not get all excited over a little “collateral damage”! Good Americans (especially us White Europeans) should always look forward instead of “dwelling on the past”.

  6. pabelmont
    December 20, 2012, 7:19 pm

    Great piece. What was the point, really, of “getting” Bin Laden, when we’ve still gotta (I guess we’ve “gotta”) keep “getting” all those other “terrorists” with all those drones. I mean, if getting Bin Laden was all there was to it, well, then OK, I ‘spose. But geez Louise, we keep on keeping on, the killing continues, more children killed than at ANY Connecticut grammar school (NPR take note), and the ever-so-energetic-enemy-making continues.

    Now I do happen to have a solution to America’s need to expend all those drones and keep the M-I-C flush in profits: just dig a deep hole somewhere and every day dump a few drones in it and cover with dirt. No-one gets killed, profits continue, and you can claim all sorts of terrorists dead without actually killing wedding guests, et al., in Pakistan. Recommend it.

  7. ToivoS
    December 20, 2012, 9:48 pm

    This story is just too sad. We all know that small pox had been virtually eradicated. This was the result of an international vaccination program. Polio was also very close to being eradicated. There are today only two loci of infections — Northern Nigeria and areas in Northern Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan. Both of those areas are now showing increased incidence of polio. And the reason is that local wars have disrupted the vaccination programs. Whoever it was in the US government that approved of using medical personal working on this vaccination program as agents in the international war on terrorism should be arrested and charged with war crimes against humanity.

    When I first heard that our CIA had subverted a Pakistani doctor involved in polio vaccinations into an American agent I was utterly stunned. It was totally obvious when that story first broke after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, that the polio vaccination program would suffer. We (the whole world) were getting so close to eliminating that disease. But no. US intelligence agents had “higher” priorities. They killed him and Obama got re-elected. In exchange a terrible disease is yet loose on the world. If there is any justice in this world the US officials that approved of this program should be charged and sentenced for crimes against humanity. But of course we all know that when it comes to US officials committing crimes there is no justice in this world.

  8. Elliot
    December 20, 2012, 11:45 pm

    Thank you, David.

  9. George Smith
    December 21, 2012, 6:48 am

    The gist of David Samel’s story is certainly correct, but some details of the fake vaccination program are almost certainly wrong. According to a Guardian article ( a few months after the assassination, the subjects were vaccinated against hepatitis B, not polio. The hep B vaccine is administered with a syringe and needle; it would be pretty easy to collect DNA samples in the process. The polio vaccine used in endemic areas, probably including Pakistan, is administered orally; it would be harder, but certainly not impossible, to collect DNA samples in the process. The ordinary course of immunization with both vaccines is three doses, but only one was administered in the fake program.

    The nine UN workers were indeed working on a polio eradication effort, as Samel correctly writes. The guardian ( makes the connection with the fake hep B vaccination project, but the AP article in our newspaper (Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, MO) doesn’t.

    The “integrity challenged” Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, has had nothing but trouble ever since (

  10. Byzantium
    December 21, 2012, 7:37 am

    Thanks for this. When I saw this story on another site I too immediately thought that it was simply a case of Islamic fundamentalist tribal superstition at work, on par with honour killings and FGM. Who’d have thought all this background came into play? Makes one wonder what real history might lurk behind so many of the other “straightforward” headlines we read every day…

    • Mooser
      December 22, 2012, 1:43 pm

      “a case of Islamic fundamentalist tribal superstition at work”

      Yeah nobody over there can think straight, they’re all hysterical. And you would think their stress-free environment, and deep resources of information would enable them to make rational decisions. Oh well, some people just don’t want to think.

  11. Formerly T-Bear
    December 21, 2012, 8:35 am

    Both War crimes and Crimes against humanity need be written much broader, to include the above described medical fraud, and to include all who insist upon austerity as a means to rob the public treasury. There is no excuse for either, ignorance is no defense.

  12. Theo
    December 21, 2012, 12:17 pm

    When Ms. Albright says that the million iraqi deaths were OK with her to destroy Saddam Hussein, what are only nine lives worth to our leaders in Washington?
    Just a little colletoral damage.

    It is known that all intelligence services like to hide their agents in sport teams, as journalists or as members of charity organisations. No wonder that they are coming under fire.

  13. Izik
    December 22, 2012, 11:34 am

    Terrorists claimed the lives of 9 innocents, not Bin-Laden’s assassination.

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