What the hell is wrong with these people?

We already know that the CIA’s use of a fake anti-vaccination program in Pakistan to try and find Osama bin Laden has caused the entire polio vaccination campaign in that country to become the target of the Taliban who have used that appalling strategy to portray all vaccination campaigns as potential CIA plots and even kill heath workers in those programs..

A new report says that USAID recruited young people from Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Peru and sent them undercover to Cuba to try and foment rebellion there. And one of their strategies? Setting up HIV prevention workshops.

The AP found USAID and its contractor, Creative Associates International, continued the program even as U.S. officials privately told their government contractors to consider suspending travel to Cuba after the arrest of contractor Alan Gross, who remains imprisoned after smuggling in sensitive technology.

In a statement late Sunday, USAID said the HIV workshop had a dual purpose: It “enabled support for Cuban civil society while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desire Cubans expressed for information and training about HIV prevention.”

Apart from further evidence of the absurd obsession the US has with overthrowing the Cuban government when it should be normalizing relations with them, the use of health programs as a means of espionage and covert activities is an abomination since it breeds suspicion about health care workers who do valuable work often in under very difficult conditions.

Furthermore, if these young people are caught as spies, the US government will then try and use that to portray the host country as persecuting innocent young tourists. Remember the three young Americans who were arrested by Iran after they crossed the border into that country? They were eventually released but who could blame the Iranians for not believing the US that these were innocent hikers who had lost their way since the US seems to use such people as spies?

Such actions by US spy agencies endanger the lives of genuine tourists and aid workers by inviting suspicions but this is not new. In Sri Lanka back in the 60s, we used to suspect that that the young foreigners arriving as part of aid programs could be agents of the US or British secret services. I suspect that in some cases, we would have been right.


  1. Chiroptera says

    What the hell is wrong with these people?

    Probably a rhetorical question, but a couple of answers anyway:

    (1) The elites who run this country (both running the government and also the large corporations) tend toward short term thinking. I don’t know whether it’s because of the way the system is set up to reward such thinking or it’s part of the pathology of the types of people who are able to make to positions of authority in our country, but short term success is rewarded far mor than long term consequences are punished.

    (2) A fervent belief in the overall importance of the mission of the organization, so important that any consequences outside the mission are insignificant. Combine this with the inability to consider long term consequences in (1).

  2. raven says

    What the hell is wrong with these people?

    I’d say they are dumb but even dumb people wouldn’t do something this pointless.

    1. If we just treated Cuba like any other country, IMO, they would evolve or collapse in a few years to something else.

    2. They aren’t doing well at all. Since the Soviets pulled out, their economy has been sinking to the bottom of the third world.

    3. The lure and influence of a Hi Tech superpower with a huge economy and 317 million people nearby would have to drag them up a long ways. If nothing else, US tourists looking for a Caribbean vacation in the winter would help them immensely.

  3. Chiroptera says

    Thanks, John.

    I should have also added:

    (3) I read somewhere that a recent study indicated that sociopaths (in the official clinical meaning of the term) are over-represented among the top corporate elite. Remember, these are also the same people who move into and out out of top level government service. Many of he mooks on the ground following their orders are very Manichaean in their thinking: the world is divided into absolute good vs absolute evil, and absolute good has the right, even the duty, to do anything and everything it takes to defeat absolute evil.

  4. doublereed says

    Yea, I think it’s pretty clear there’s no considerations about consequences to anything outside their narrow scope. Just look at how the surveillance state grew.

    It’s a “well that’s someone else’s problem” mentality. I mean they’re trying to do one thing and can barely do that. You’re going to ask them to think about who else this might affect? Their brains might just explode.

  5. doublereed says

    Speaking of which, did you hear that Keith Alexander is trying to get patents on things that I’m sure he came up with by himself.

    Seriously, how is that kind of thing not treason? He’s selling state secrets to the highest bidder.

  6. dean says

    “What the hell is wrong with these people?”

    I agree, the stupidity (fueled by arrogance?) is high, but if you look back at the things tried against Cuba over the years, it is hard to argue today’s approaches are any more foolish than what came before. For example, consider the idea (humorously referred to as “Elimination by Illumination”)


  7. dmcclean says

    “The AP found USAID and its contractor, Creative Associates International, …”

    This conjures images of some guy in a trench coat with a fake mustache on his glasses saying “Of course we’re not the CIA. We’re, ummmm, the CAI…. Yeah, that’s the ticket. We’re the CAI.”

  8. Pen says

    It’s almost like they wouldn’t care if vast numbers of innocent people died as a result of manufactured distrust towards healthcare services.

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