Blowback from the CIA's Bin Laden Vaccination Ruse Gets Worse

A Pakistani commission will try the doctor who organized the scheme for treason

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If it wasn't clear before, it is now: the fake vaccination program that the CIA set up before the Osama bin Laden raid really went awry. Back in July, The Guardian reported that the intelligence agency had recruited a Pakistani doctor and health official named Shakil Afridi to organize an elaborate vaccine drive in Abbottabad in the hopes of obtaining bin Laden family DNA that it could compare to a sample from bin Laden's deceased sister in Boston, thus proving that the al Qaeda leader was hiding in the town. Not only did this plan not work--no bin Laden family DNA was obtained--as The New York Times noted at the time, the ruse aggravated the already strained relationship between the United States and Pakistan, hobbled polio immunization drives, and forced Save the Children to evacuate staffers from Pakistan out of fear that the country's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) would detain them over alleged links to Afridi.

On Thursday, the blowback continued. A Pakistani commission investigating the bin Laden raid announced on Thursday that Afridi will be tried for high treason, a charge that carries the death penalty. The announcement is likely to anger the U.S., which, according to the BBC, has argued that Afridi should be freed and allowed to live in the U.S. In June, Pakitan arrested five Pakistani informants who provided the C.I.A. with information prior to the bin Laden raid. There has been little news about their fates.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.