The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has once again been caught using humanitarian work as a cover for US intelligence operations. According to the Associated Press, USAID used work on HIV AIDs as a cover to send in agents to recruit young Cubans to overthrow their government.
USAID often serves as a CIA front and was integral into providing support to what would become Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1980s. USAID was recently involved in setting up fake hepatitis clinics for the CIA in Pakistan which, upon discovery, led to Pakistanis refusing to take vaccinations for polio.
The White House subsequently promised to never use health clinics as cover for intelligence operations again. Or was that promise limited to Pakistan?
According to internal documents obtained by the AP and interviews in six countries, USAID’s young operatives posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world: An HIV-prevention workshop one called the “perfect excuse” to recruit political activists, according to a report by Murillo’s group. For all the risks, some travelers were paid as little as $5.41 an hour.
The travelers program was launched during a time when newly inaugurated President Barack Obama spoke about a “new beginning” with Cuba after decades of mistrust, raising questions about whether the White House had a coherent policy toward the island nation.
Well perhaps this should not count as a broken promise, it technically occurred before the Obama Administration claimed it would stop jeopardizing humanitarian work by using health organizations as fronts for intelligence operations. Though it is unknown if this intelligence operation has ended yet.
USAID was also recently caught setting up an operation to troll Cuba on Twitter. Though less harmful than compromising the integrity of AIDs outreach work, it was also embarrassing for the Obama Administration and America generally.
It is time for the US to either do actual humanitarian work or drop the pretense. If the US government actually wants to help bolster international public health a good faith effort would be removing and replacing USAID which clearly forgot or disregarded what its legally mandated mission is.