Homeland Security Adds Birds To Terrorist Watch List
UPI, New York, January 16, 2009 – After the downing of flight 1549 in New York City yesterday, Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff stated today that “We have reason to believe that the Homeland is being targeted by various avian species, including most flocking species, as well as several rogue species, including crows and ravens. The sabotage of flight 1549 demonstrates that birds pose a credible threat to U.S. aviation, and our department is investigating secret terrorist training camps where birds are being taught the techniques of suicide dive bombing into jet engines.”
He went on to say “Thankfully, due to the brilliant flying of Captain Sullenberger a tragedy was averted, but this event should give us pause to reconsider the scope of those who would be our enemy.”
The announcement was immediately condemned by the Audubon Society, claiming in a press release that “…this characterization of avian species as terrorists reflects a pathological level of paranoia in the Bush administration, given that there is not a shred of evidence that birds are more likely than other species to specifically target aviation.”
However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) disagreed, with several past and present NTSB crash investigators confirming that birds have indeed been responsible for more crashes than any other species. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one current NTSB investigator noted that “…no other species has destroyed as many aircraft as birds. The claim of [the] Audubon [Society] is simply false.”
As to the motivation of the birds, retired Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst David Jones, in a startling admission, acknowledged that the agency has long speculated about the large number of aircraft targeted by birds, stating that analysis showed that incidents fell into two broad categories. “First, there are the flocking species, including Starlings, Geese, and so on, who target planes by anticipating the flight path, loosely positioning themselves in front of the plane to maximize the probability of destroying the engines. Then there are the snipers such as Ravens, highly intelligent birds who are large enough to individually bring down a plane by flying directly into the engine.”
According to Jones, CIA analysts have been studying the impacts of a wide variety of animal species on various military operations. The relatively high frequency of deliberate or ‘accidental’ sabotage are, in their view, “far above the statistically expected rate of occurrence, leading many to believe a coordinated guerrilla war has been going on for some time now.” Jones also mentioned reports from other agencies, including the National Security Agency, describing intensive efforts to decipher the oral languages of various problem species. “If you think about it, it makes sense. After all, we have translators for every human language so we can detect terrorist efforts to attack America, yet we have little idea what animals - including birds - are saying to one another.” In Jones’ view, we simply cannot dismiss the possibility of coordinated efforts to sabotage American interests while we lack this intelligence capability.
In the meantime, Federal Aviation Administration officials have called for new technologies to thwart potential terrorist birds in a manner consistent with Bush's preemptive war policy. While land-based sites such as airports have long implemented air cannons, ultrasonic sound generators, and the use of predator species to reduce the ability of birds to interfere with aviation, the recent incident has highlighted the need for air-based deterrents. Some proposed technologies include high-powered lasers, microwaves, and plasma beams to vaporize all birds in the flight path.
Charles Zaph, of Zaph Technologies has been advocating such technologies for the last decade, although until recently there has been little support in the commercial aviation sector. Zaph today said that “I think this event underscores the arguments we’ve been making for years, and we hope that our technologies will be more favorably received by security and safety advocates, in order to protect the Homeland.” He also stated that “We know these technologies work since they are already used by the U.S. military,” but Zaph added that since most of his company’s devices are classified, he could not comment further.
The Department of Defense declined to comment, but one senior defense official speaking off the record indicated that there was talk inside the department of eliminating birds altogether. “We’ve known about this problem for a long time, and frankly, we’re getting tired of losing valuable assets and personnel. It’s not like it would be the first species we’ve eliminated. And if it saves just a single human life, we think it would be worth it. Other than those environmental crazies, nobody cares if we get rid of a bunch of flying rats.”
Later in the day, while speaking to a group of aviation experts, Homeland Security head Chertoff stated that “Next to al Qaeda, we consider birds to be second on our list of terrorist groups who aim to disrupt our aviation activities, and we vow to take what action we deem necessary to maintain our non-negotiable way of life.”
President Bush, responding to criticism of the remarks made by his Homeland Security chief, was quoted later today as saying “Look, we’re taking those steps we believe, um, we must respond to these kinds of attacks with resolve. The Vice President and I agree that this uh, unrecognized threat must be dealt with harshly, without delay. I’ve asked the Justice Department to determine if eliminating birds is in violation of U.S. or international laws and I have already been assured … we have the legal authority to exterminate all birds, in the interest of National Security. I’ve also been advised that the Endangered Species Act does not apply to terrorists. I’ve said before, you’re either with us or against us, and what … It’s time we smoke these terrorists out of their holes, or nests, whatever.”
The President continued, saying “Consequently, I have issued Executive Order 16661, authorizing the Department of Defense to widely deploy biological weapons specifically targeting all bird species, and we expect… we’ll take care of this threat before Mr. Obama is sworn in on Tuesday.” Speaking to the possible impact on his legacy from such an action, the President said “I think history will judge I made the right decision, given … When the American public can again feel safe to fly without fear of terrorist birds looming about, um, I think they’ll thank me.”
Update 2:Initial responses to the President’s plan have been sparse, but a CSPAN call-in program indicates that a majority of the American public believes [paraphrasing]: “baaaaaa.” Coverage in the mainstream media has also been sparse, but notably, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News lashed-out against the government for not acting sooner, saying: “How many times do I have to say this? Are these people idiots? Look, it’s time we take these terrorists down, and I don’t mean just the birds, I mean the whole lot of them. They are a threat to our way of life, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around and watch our country be destroyed by these low-lifes”