Gordon Corera on Operation Columba - The Untold Story of the WWII Secret Pigeon Service in Europe

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Interview of Friday, 1 December 2023. Gordon Corera, BBC National Security Correspondent, Author and Journalist, on his book "Operation Columba - The Secret Pigeon Service: The Untold Story of World War II Resistance in Europe."
The fascinating, untold story of how British intelligence secretly used homing pigeons as part of a clandestine espionage operation to gather information, communicate, and coordinate with members of the Resistance to defeat the Nazis in occupied Europe during World War II.
Interviewer/host is AFIO President James Hughes, a former senior CIA Operations Officer and Former NSA Associate Deputy Director of Operations.
The interview runs 21 minutes and includes several Q&As.
"Operation Columba - The Secret Pigeon Service" is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Columba-Secret-Pigeon-Service/dp/0062667076

Key Moments:
00:49 - Intro of BBC Correspondent, author, Gordon Corera
01:24 - How popular was pigeon breeding and racing in the UK and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s?
02:27 - Who proposed this concept at the beginning of WWII? Did it meet much opposition?
06:01 - What was Leopold Vindictive? And what was their role?
08:52 - Did the rivalry between MI6 and British SOE cause problems? How did it affect this operation?
11:50 - Tell more about Father Jozef Raskin
13:43 - Did the other side use pigeons? Were there countermeasures used by each side?
16:00 - How successful was this operation overall? Can you provide examples of intelligence it produced?
18:04 - What was the fate of the members of Leopold Vindictive?

BIOS: GORDON CORERA is a journalist and writer on intelligence and security issues. Since 2004 he has been a security correspondent for the BBC, where he covers terrorism, cyber security, the work of intelligence agencies and other national security issues. He has reported from across the United States, Asia, Africa and the Middle East and presented a number of programmes focusing on intelligence agencies including MI6, MI5, GCHQ, the CIA, the NSA and Mossad. He is the author of Secret Pigeon Service: Operation Columba, Resistance and the Struggle to Liberate Europe, Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies (entitled Cyberspies in the US), MI6: Life and Death in the British Secret Service (also entitled The Art of Betrayal), and Shopping for Bombs. He was educated at Oxford and Harvard universities, and lives in London.

JAMES R. HUGHES currently serves as the 17th President of AFIO. His service began January 2015. He had a career of US Government service spanning 37 years in numerous foreign countries with a particular focus in the Middle East. He started in U.S. Military Intelligence in the late 1960s and then joined the CIA’s Clandestine Service. He served overseas as a Chief of Station several times, and at CIA Headquarters in a number of senior management positions, including as Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, in the Directorate of Operations [today’s National Clandestine Service]. He was also named the Associate Deputy Director of Operations (ADDO) at the National Security Agency, 1998-99. Following his retirement from the government in 2005, he joined EDS in Herndon, VA, as the Client Industry Executive for the U.S. Intelligence Community. After the HP acquisition of EDS, he continued to serve in a similar capacity until his retirement in 2012. His parents were missionaries in Turkey in the 1950s, where Jim spent his formative years. He is fluent in Arabic.

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