Monday, May 28, 2012


300x100 - NOOK Tablet™ 8GBHaving an interest in birds since the age of 6, I plead that we leave our avian friends out of the complex issues involved in international espionage... please? Birds have become so much a part of my life that it makes me mad as a wet hen when they're wrongly accused of things. A recent AFIO WIN article ruffled my feathers- the Turkish Intelligence Services accused the European Bee-Eater bird of being a 007 spy.

How much crow can one eat? Being a bird lover, I was initially upset, but I eventually thought the incident amounted to mere chicken feed. I make frequent contacts with various professional ornithologists, including one who is retired from his senior researcher position at the Smithsonian Institution. I visit them often in NW Pennsylvania, and observe them attach GPS geo-locators on purple martins and other bird species, to track their migratory patterns. The purple martins annually migrate to Brazil and back and many have geo-locator attached to them.

Thank goodness purple martins don't fly over Turkey, less they be shot out of the sky with anti-aircraft fire! How chicken-livered can one be? Is Israel's Mossad training them to fly into jet aircraft engines?

Actually, I was quite amused at this bird-brained espionage claim leveled at Israel for creating a spy bird out of the  European Bee-Eater. A little bird told me [AFIO's WIN] that Turkish authorities believe the dead bird found by a Turkish farmer in a field may have been conducting covert surveillance for Israel. I guess they thought it was getting a "bird's eye" view of their country. Yes, a European Bee-Eater was discovered by the Turkish farmer wearing a band on its leg with the word "Israel" written on it. This "crazy as a loon" claim is ironic, for my ornithology buddies in NW Pa. also tag their GPS geo-locators with identification tags.

Turkish Intel wears an albatross around its neck, for it is far from being as wise as an owl when connecting the espionage dots. It was duck soup to them...just look at the evidence! The bird had "unusually large nostrils," leading to their speculation that it was implanted with a surveillance device and sent to Turkey on an aerial espionage mission. The bird's remains were handed over to the Turkish Agriculture Ministry, which then turned them over to Ankara's security services. What a wild goose chase!

News of the feathered arrest spread to Israel, where the Society of Protection of Nature was eventually alerted. The group confirmed that the bird was banded about four years ago for research purposes.

Turkish authorities apparently count their chickens before they hatch in such "chicken and egg" situations. They should be professionals and analyze incoming-intelligence with methodical expertise...not like bird b,rains! "They can rest's not a spy", said Yoav Pearlman of the Israeli Birdwatching Center to Ynet News on Tuesday. The bizarre development follows a series of weird espionage allegations leveled at Israel by Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in recent years
... birds of a feather, do indeed, flock together. Can't the IC take them under their wings and teach them the intelligence analysis they quit winging it all the time?!

Saudi Arabia appeared as silly as a goose when it announced in January 2011 that it "detained" a bird wearing an Israeli identification band. The bird was carrying a GPS transmitter from Tel Aviv University. OSINT News would like to thank Saudi Arabia for aiding Israeli ornithologists in their scientific quest to better understand the migratory patterns of our avian friends. At least the Tel Aviv University researchers gained some tracking information on the migratory habits of the particular species they were studying, even though it was labeled a "Zionist espionage plot". What a conclusion based on evidence as scarce as hen's teeth...was Saudi Arabian intelligence trying to kill two birds with one stone?

Even Iran laid an egg when they accused Israel of enlisting pigeons to spy on their nuclear sites. Were these 007 pigeons conducting some sort of “coo”? Will all the pigeons perching and relieving themselves atop the hundreds of statues of Iranian leaders be shot for "defacing and disrespecting" the mullahs? I hope these allegations are only a swan song.

The chickens are coming home to roost! Turkey's intelligence service used Israel's ornithology research project to feather its own nest. I'm proud as a peacock that this incident upsets the global birding community. Their anger won't disappear like water off a duck's back.
Geolocators are placed on all kinds of endangered bird species in many countries. 

So, it's time to talk turkey...I plead for you all to get your ducks in a row and keep our avian friends clear of international espionage issues. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, so let's all learn from Turkey's intel egg-in-the-face mistake and not foul our own nests by clipping the wings off the world's ornithology research.

Well, I must go. I am driving to NW Pa. to help researchers study purple martins. It's a good 4-hour drive, even as the crow flies, so I must be off. I feel as free as a bird and as happy as a lark when I visit them.
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Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). A portion (10%) of this site's ad revenues is donated to the AFIO. The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. We're always looking for different perspectives regarding the Intelligence Community- got a thought, article or comment you'd like to submit? Contact us on the Secure Contact Form

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