from October 15, 2004
After the terrorists caught on to the fact that the CIA can crack the codes of their e-mail messages, they have gone silent—or, more precisely, they have developed alternative methods of communication, including, presumably, whispering to each other in their secret cell groups.
This gives our now-silent chatterers a decided advantage. They continue their attacks, secure in the knowledge that we don’t know who they are and what they are saying and planning.
How, we at MJTT are asking, can this situation be righted?
At a recent brainstorming session on this matter, one of my colleagues remarked, in an offhand manner, that she had recently been reading about the intelligence of parrots. Far from being merely mimes, she reported, African Grays are able not only to speak but to think. In fact, one study showed that this species of parrot has an average I.Q. of 85.
Hmm, I thought. Would it be possible to use these delightful creatures as spies, replacing the humans whose feet have been on the wrong ground?
While my brilliant colleagues were bantering on and on over the subject of I.Q.s—those of the average parrot compared to those of their own children—I slipped out of the meeting and took a walk in the cactus garden that graces the grounds surrounding the Hôtel Adobe.
Despite the slight chill in the October air, my brain was teeming. Working at full throttle, it quickly saw the connection between parrots and locating the terrorist cells. Why not, I asked myself, train parrots to speak Arabic, implant miniscule locating and listening devices under their feathers, send them to the Middle East, put them up for sale at bazaars, and wait for the inevitable: a terrorist purchases a pet parrot, becomes attached to it, and takes it to his cell group meetings—or, perhaps, even confides in it regarding the dastardly plan of attack.
Not only does the listening device provide valuable information, I thought, but our intelligence agency learns the whereabouts of the damnable cells!
QED, I concluded in what I must admit was a congratulatory tone.
One must, however, be careful in employing this intelligence-gathering method. The parrot trainer must have Arabic as his or her primary language; planting a parrot mole who speaks with a Brooklyn accent would alert the enemy to this ploy. One must also be patient. How long does it take to train a pre-lingual parrot to speak Arabic? For that matter, how many pro-Western Arabs are proficient in animal-human communication?
But these barriers to the plan are surmountable; the principle is sound. And not only sound, but superior to the current practice.