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No more spying during vaccination drives: US

* CIA says ‘will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA acquired through such programmes’

WASHINGTON: The United States has said its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would not use immunisation campaigns anymore as cover for its intelligence operations.
According to The Washington Post, the White House assurance came in response to a letter from the deans of 12 US public health schools. A report in the newspaper, quoting White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, said Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, informed the public health schools last week that the CIA would no longer conduct such campaigns.
The intelligence agency had used a vaccination campaign in hunt for Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden through Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi three years ago.
The deans wrote to President Barack Obama in January 2013 to protest the precedent, the report said.
“This disguising of an intelligence-gathering effort as a humanitarian public health service has resulted in serious collateral consequences that affect the public health community,” the deans wrote, according to the Post.
The US Administration’s response Friday said that under CIA policy, established by CIA Director John Brennan in August 2013, ‘the agency will make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers’.
The letter also said the agency ‘will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programmes’.
A CIA spokesman said that Brennan ‘took seriously the concerns raised by the public health community’, the Post reported. 

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Aaj Kal