UNDERGROUND FLAP. Tourist attractions turn terrorist trackers on the Tube.

15146933941They’re everywhere in London, fluttering in and around some of the world’s most recognisable landmarks.

In fact, they’re tourist attractions themselves. The city’s famous pigeons are part of the landscape.

They’re also – incredibly – the flapping front line of the war on terror. And they’re riding the Tube 24/7.

139561000THE SPOKANE WORD has obtained an exclusive interview with a serving member of the UK’s security service MI5 who has agreed to speak on condition of strict anonymity.

The whistleblower was instrumental in the planning and establishment of Operation FLY FOR FREEDOM.

We have assigned him the code name COOP.

8239765908TSW: Why are you speaking out? You’re risking your job.

COOP: The public has a right to know they’re under surveillance, around the clock, without their knowledge.

TSW: By pigeons.

COOP: By a select group of highly trained and specially bred pigeons, yes.

TSW: You must realise this sounds….

COOP: Crazy? Yes. But I assure you it’s deadly serious. Pigeons, if you’ll excuse me using the jargon, have form. They were first used to carry messages in wartime in southern Mesopotamia in 2500 BC. Then, Hannibal militarised them again in 53 BC to carry despatches during the Battle of Modena. And Julius Caesar activated pigeons to carry messages during the conquest of Gaul.

TSW: You used the phrase “deadly serious.” Deadly. Really?

COOP: Deadly.

TSW: So, what – exactly – are these pigeons doing in 2016 London?

COOP: They are surveilling high value targets, 24/7.

TSW: Including on the Underground?

COOP: Right there beside you on the Tube, yes.

TSW: And “high value targets” are….

COOP: Persons of interest to the various international security agencies.

TSW: Suspected terrorists.

COOP: Correct.

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TSW: And your birds follow them and – what? – report back?

COOP: They are equipped with micro-cameras attached to their legs. The video can be retrieved later when they “home.” Or if the target is hot they can beam the pictures back to MI5 in real time.

TSW: And has this yielded results?

COOP: I can’t say.

TSW: You can’t say because you don’t know? Or you can’t say because it’s, like, classified?

COOP: I can’t say.

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TSW: OK. Let’s say for a moment – and I presume because the operation is ongoing that this is true – that you’ve had some successes, why are you speaking out?

COOP: As I said before. Because innocent people are inadvertently being monitored, private and personal information is being collected, prosecutions are being considered, and so on and so forth, without the proper authority.

TSW: I don’t understand.

COOP: I’ll give you an example. Let’s say, 3 or 4 times a week, a particular married gentleman sits next to a certain married woman and they are seen to get off – so to speak – at a stop that isn’t their own, spend an hour at a private residence before travelling on to their respective jobs.

TSW: So they’re not married to each other? They’re having – what? – an affair?

COOP: Presumably. The point is, their sordid little dalliances are being monitored, logged and recorded because they happen to catch the same train as a legitimate person of interest.

TSW: But surely MI5 isn’t going to….

COOP: It’s just an example. But imagine if the “gentleman” holds a prominent position in the government. And just imagine the certain married woman is….

TSW: I see. I see. And presumably your pigeons might also be reporting on a whole range of other activities that aren’t illegal but might be potentially embarrassing.

COOP: Correct. Some illegal activities too. Just not ones we have authority to investigate.

TSW: So it’s the same as if you didn’t have a search warrant?

COOP: Correct.

TSW: And your hope is now that you’ve made this public – that the bird has flown, so to speak – that MI5 will be embarrassed into shutting down OPERATION FLY FOR FREEDOM.

COOP: Correct.

TSW: What about the legitimate targets? Terrorists. Isn’t it a win for them?

COOP: I can’t say.

TSW: You can’t say because you don’t know? Or you can’t say because it’s classified?

COOP: I can’t say.

TSW: But what about the pigeons that are actually just resting?  Isn’t it generally accepted that some birds are merely catching a ride, sparing their wings?

COOP: I can’t say.

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