UFOs, DISINFORMATION AND DECEPTION
Many ufologists claim that the US and UK governments are doing secret research into UFOs while telling their citizens that they do not exist. If this is true, an understanding of deception and disinformation techniques may make us less vulnerable to being fooled. For obvious reasons few governments publish much information about such techniques. However, deception is frequently used during wars, so by studying some historical examples we might learn about what is happening today. Because official disinformation is not the only source of confusion about UFOs, this article will also discuss other sources
Deception is to create a misleading impression in your target audience by your actions. It is something that you do to mislead whoever may be observing you, either on a small or large scale. Deception might be directed at the intelligence services of a country that you are at war with, or at your own citizens during peacetime. Most intelligence services see little difference between war and peace time, and unfortunately if you wish to fool the international community you generally have to mislead your own citizens as well. Deception techniques take advantage of the fact that people tend to think that information they had to ferret out is more likely to be true than if it were handed to them on a platter.
An example of deception was revealed in an article in the Sunday Times entitled “Germ war reports exposed as hoax” (1998). The report tells how released Russian intelligence files had revealed that in 1952 the North Koreans had deliberately infected a couple of their own citizens with plague bacilli, and then used tissue samples from their bodies to convince the world that the Americans were using germ warfare in the Korean conflict. The United States had unsuccessfully denied the claims because, as the article says, “Historians had questioned whether the Koreans and Chinese could have mobilized thousands of people and faked evidence from scores of doctors, scientists and officials. But the new papers show they did exactly that.” This illustrates that some governments will occasionally go to inordinate lengths to mislead.
Disinformation is the release or leaking of misleading information. I think it was Churchill who claimed that to keep something secret sometimes one needed “To surround the truth with a tissue of lies.” By releasing three parts disinformation to one part truth you can confuse and mislead your target audience. This is especially important with the UFO phenomenon because, unlike technical secrets, which can be kept locked up, UFOs appear in public so a completely different technique is needed to keep them secret.
UFOs were probably first noticed by Western governments soon after WW II. It is not within the scope of this article to discuss why the authorities decided to keep them secret, but once that decision had been made, the best way to do it was obvious. If they could not make UFOs disappear physically, the solution was to make them disappear psychologically using perception management or what the military calls psy-ops (psychological operations). Regardless of what many people were seeing, they simply decided to define UFOs out of existence, and ridicule the minority who did claim to see them. I believe that it will eventually be shown that the UFO cover-up has been the most successful deception campaign in human history. Ironically, it continues to be so effective that those in authority may be concerned that the public will refuse to accept the truth even if concrete evidence is presented to them. In other words, the continued UFO secrecy may partly be a result of the effectiveness of the earlier secrecy.
Some might challenge the suggestion that a UFO deception campaign could succeed to the extent that many ufologists claim. However there have been several historical precedents that demonstrate how to keep a secret under difficult circumstances. Michael Lindeman (1999) gives us the example of the US government concealing the fact that German U-boats were attacking merchant ships off the eastern American coast during the early years of WW II. “Today few Americans have even the slightest notion that between December, 1941 and September, 1942, 292 vessels were torpedoed and hundreds of merchant seaman lost, most within sight of American beaches”. Wreckage and bodies that washed up on the shore were impounded by the military, newspapers were persuaded not to publish stories about it, and “those who were in the government information loop on this policy were strongly informed that any breach of security would be considered treason, a crime punishable by execution”. Not surprisingly the information was not made public. There is every reason to suspect that a similar policy exists today about UFOs. The question we need to ask is, when is it going to end?
There are a few interesting books about deception that I would recommend. None of them mention UFOs, but they give numerous historical examples which reveal the imagination, cunning, ruthlessness and audacity that exponents of deception and disinformation employ. The first is The Deception Planners: My Secret War (1980) by Dennis Wheatley who was a famous best-selling author at the outbreak of WW II. He describes how he became a deception planner in the offices of the British War Cabinet, and reveals how important such planners were to the war effort. They had access to all War Cabinet documents and came up with some amazing ideas to mislead the Germans into sending troops to places where they would do the least harm. Wheatley clearly sets out the basic guidelines of deception and illustrates them with examples. It does not take much imagination to see that those rules could easily be used today in misleading the public and other governments about what the USA really knows about UFOs. This is an important point. For example, Stanton Friedman claims that by spreading convincing cold war rumours that they had mastered UFO technology, the USA might have deterred other governments from using that same technology to attack them (Lindeman, 1991, p.26).
A more recent book on deception is The Art of Military Deception (1997) by Mark Lloyd which gives an historical overview of the subject from ancient times to the present. Some of his examples should be of interest to ufologists. During WW II the British set up propaganda radio stations that, while actually based in England, pretended to be German stations transmitting from Europe. One of them was specifically aimed at German U-boat crews. It played the latest German dance music, had request programs and, “contained dedications for genuine birthdays and anniversaries gleaned from censored mail passing between German navy prisoners of war and their families”. Among the music, news stories and highly detailed reports of bomb damage in Germany was, “slipped subversive information, morale-sapping innuendo and highly accurate details of the situation on the home front”. As Lloyd points out, “The effect on U-boat crews, cramped, in constant danger and thousands of miles from home in the mid-Atlantic, can well be imagined”. As this example reveals, rather than simply disseminating false information, a deception source may aim to become a trusted organ of influence with the purpose of gently guiding their target audience’s views in a desired direction. To do this they do have to publish some accurate information. Conspiracy theorists generally assume that the US government monitors UFO researchers, and may at times wish to divert their attention away from areas of higher national security significance towards less threatening topics. One way of doing this would be for them to have secretly funded a public UFO research organisation or magazine whose covert intention would have been to centralize the attention of ufologists, keep them distracted and amused with low level, narrowly focussed ‘scientific’ information, while actually discussing very little of genuine relevance. In other words, ufologists perhaps need to pay attention not to what some of today’s UFO magazines are getting excited about, but rather what it is that they consistently do not discuss. We also need to realise that there is every chance that a few leading ufologists are not as dedicated to revealing the truth as they might appear. We need to distinguish however between what we could call double-agent ufologists and those who publish misleading information in order to help sell their books or promote themselves, although pretending to be the latter would be ideal cover for those who were actually the former.
Another book that reveals the high level of secrecy and planning that goes into covert deception activities is Op JB: The Last Great Secret of the Second World War (1996) by Christopher Creighton, which describes how British Intelligence secretly smuggled Martin Bormann, Hitler’s private secretary and executor, out of the ruins of Berlin at the end of the war and gave him a new identity in England, despite the worldwide manhunt for him. This was done in exchange for Bormann giving them access to the vast fortune that the Germans had looted from across Europe. The book also reveals the absolute ruthlessness used to keep vital information secret. For example, Creighton claims that, as an undercover British agent, he was required to blow up a Dutch submarine and all its crew just to prevent them from revealing that British and US Intelligence had been forewarned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. This suggests that, as a last resort, people might be killed (‘terminated with extreme prejudice’) to protect important enough UFO information, provided that it could be done in a deniable fashion.
A final recommendation is the book By Way of Deception: The Making & Unmaking of a Mossad Officer (1990) by Victor Ostrovsky & Claire Hoy. Once again UFOs are not mentioned, but I believe that anyone that is serious about ufology needs to read a few such books to learn, firstly just how little they previously knew about deception, and secondly how imaginative, ruthless, cynical, well-trained and well-funded the professionals who work in such fields really are. Unfortunately, and with no disrespect intended, this means that, in comparison to those managing the UFO cover-up, the average ufologist is an absolute amateur, and we need to realise that if the authorities really want to mislead us, there is probably very little we can do about it.
Let us look at a few examples of possible UFO deception.
In his book Above Top Secret (1989) Timothy Good describes a 1962 incident where some US navy aviators, who were temporarily at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, entered a hanger looking for sports equipment to use during their daily fitness workout. Once inside they were stunned to find a flying saucer-shaped object about four metres wide suspended by two engine test stands. It was roped off and surrounded by eight guards. They were promptly told to leave “by an air police sentry with a sub-machine gun”, and later the senior pilot was reprimanded by his general for breaking security.
I do not know if this scenario was actually an example of deception, but we could ask what purpose the incident might have served if it was? By ‘accidentally’ allowing the pilots to see the craft surrounded with armed guards, and then accentuating the importance of the situation with a security reprimand from their general, the whole incident probably became indelibly etched in their minds. Timothy Good writes that, once outside, the pilots “had reassured each other that the good old US had developed, or had all along, flying saucers in service”, and the story then found its way into his best-selling UFO book for anyone to read. So much for secrecy! Perhaps the whole episode was carefully designed to reassure US servicemen, and later the public, that the Pentagon had the UFO situation under control, even if it didn’t.
Even if various government are involved in UFO deception, their motives and methods may vary considerably. The apparent abduction of Franck Fontaine at Cergy-Pontoise on the outskirts of Paris in November 1979 is a good example. The story is quite complex and is described in several UFO books.
Franck and a couple of his friends were loading their car with clothes to sell on their stall in a market about sixty kilometres away. They had got up before dawn and, while the others brought the clothes down from their flat, Franck remained in the car to stop it stalling. They then saw a brilliantly shining UFO and several smaller lights near the car and, after some confusion, Franck was found to be missing. The incident was reported to the police and received nation-wide publicity. One week later Franck reappeared near where he had disappeared and was amazed to discover that he had been missing for so long.
Most books that mention it leave the case open, however in Jacques Vallee’s book Revelations: Alien Contact and Human Deception (1991) we get quite a different story.
Vallee quotes an unnamed official from French Air Force headquarters who, in November 1980, admitted that the Cergy-Pontoise abduction had actually been carried out by the French government in order to observe the reactions and behaviour of the police, media, scientific investigators and the public. The abduction had been authorized by a member of the French cabinet and no more than fifteen people knew what had happened. Franck Fontaine had been grabbed, kept drugged in a secure place for a week and then returned to where he had been abducted without knowing what had really happened to him.
Vallee advises that, to eliminate such official deception in future, abductees should be promptly checked for syringe marks and given blood and urine tests to check for any knockout drugs. If Vallee’s report is true, we have the ironic situation of a leading Western government trying to fool the public into thinking that UFO abductions do exist, rather that their usual denials. The question that ufologists may need to ask themselves now, is whether other countries carry out similar fake abductions to assess public reactions, and if so, how often do they do it?
In 1997, Sydney engineer and inventor Ted Roach published a small book entitled The Physics of A Flying Saucer. Roach believes that the propulsion of UFOs involves discoveries about a unified field theory and the nature of time. He describes how he had submitted several patent applications to the Australian Industrial Property Organisation (AIPO) for, “ten inventions for machines in gravitational, electric and magnetic fields” and claims that, “The pending patent comprised the physics of flying saucers and other applications using the Unified Field Theory and six dimensions of space time”.
Most people would probably have never heard of the Australian Safeguards Office, however it is well known to many ufologists and ‘free energy’ researchers, that patent applications in most Western countries can result in a new invention being confiscated by the authorities and an information blackout being placed on the subject. This generally only happens if the Safeguards Office believes that the invention has genuine national security implications, otherwise there is no point in classifying it.
So what are we to conclude from Roach’s case? If Roach is telling the truth, can we assume that he was allowed to proceed with his patent application because someone decided that his invention wouldn’t work, or was of no relevance? As Roach points out, if UFOs don’t exist why should anyone be interested in his invention? Are we to conclude therefore that the Australian Department of Defence and the Australian Safeguards Office do know that UFOs exist? Or should we be cautious and suspect that someone behind the scenes saw Roach’s patent application as an ideal opportunity to muddy the waters a bit more by pretending to be interested in his inventions, confiscating them for a few months, and then handing them back knowing that he would probably write about the incident in a book? I do not know the answer to these questions, but it may be possible that, if UFOs do exist, the authorities do not want any information about their propulsion systems to be made public for reasons of national security, and so are obliged to intercept patent applications such as Roach’s, just in case they are on the right track.
There are numerous examples where misleading UFO-related information appears not to have been generated by disinformation experts. Plenty of magazines and Internet sites publish suspect UFO information. An example of a misleading UFO-related photograph can be found in the February 1996 edition of Encounters magazine. The cover photo, described as a ‘World Exclusive’, showed two jet fighters accompanying a black triangular craft that is being refuelled in midair. The photo seems to have been taken towards a bright yellow sunset so that all four craft are just black silhouettes. The article inside (p.68) claims that the photo was taken from the ground by a man on holiday in Cornwall, and reveals that the military has been concealing their connection with such craft. However, an article in the March/April 1996 edition of UFO Magazineby Bill Rose claimed that the details in the Encounters story were completely fictitious, and that the arial refuelling photo is actually a, “simulation photograph of an Aurora Project aircraft” created by him to illustrate a sighting of such a craft being refuelled by a KC-135 tanker over the North Sea in 1989.
Bill Rose’s UFO Magazine articles are very informative and well-referenced. He appears to be a mine of information on modern military aircraft and it seems reasonable to believe his account of the photo’s origins. So here we have a simulated B&W photo, created with good intentions to illustrate a genuine sighting report, which ends up being superimposed onto a colour photo of a sunset on the cover of a rival UFO magazine to illustrate a fictitious conspiracy theory article about the air force. Ironically, Bill Rose’s article also suggests that the original triangular craft sighting helps prove that the US or British air force have secretly developed such a craft. It would be hard to invent a more confusing scenario that does so little to enhance the credibility of UFO research.
The UFO literature increasingly contains revelations by people who claim to have had something to do with UFOs or aliens while working for their governments. Examples are Bob Lazar (1991); Nick Pope (1996, 1997); Col. Philip Corso’s book The Day After Roswell (1997); Dan Sherman’s Above Black: Project Preserve Destiny (1997); Michael Wolf’s The Catchers of Heaven (1996); and Ingo Swann’s Penetration (1998). Dr Steven Greer who runs the Centre for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (www.cseti.org/) claims to have numerous US government insiders prepared to testify before an official UFO inquiry, if given permission to break their security oaths. Some insider leaks may be because these people are no longer worried about breaking their security oaths because they are old and sick, while others may have been persuaded to take part in one last disinformation project.
So, how much insider information should we believe? It is a standard security practice to compartmentalise highly classified research, meaning that top secret information is only given to those with a need to know. Christopher Creighton claims that, of the dozens of people involved in smuggling Martin Bormann out of Germany, only three or four actually knew who he was. The rest were only told he was someone important. This suggests that few insiders would be able to leak the full picture about government UFO research, even if they wanted to.
An example of an insider not being given the full picture is Michael Wolf who claims to have been the head of a friendly US team profiling the various alien groups visiting earth, while another branch of the military (which he says he wasn’t supposed to know about) was using futuristic energy-beam weapons to attempt to shoot them down. This duplicitous state of affairs, simultaneously friendly and hostile, sounds so ridiculous that one is tempted to believe that it might be true. However, a good disinformation planner would obviously attempt to create plausible scenarios.
Some leading ufologists warn us to be extremely suspicious of insiders offering convincing UFO information. Such a scenario might be a deception set-up in which the ufologist, if sufficiently naïve, publishes the information using his or her credibility (‘Trust me, I’m a ufologist!’), only to have it convincingly refuted some time later. Not only does this sabotage his or her credibility, and that of ufology in general, but it also helps persuade others that might in future be leaked genuine inside information, not to believe it, or to abandon the field all together out of sheer frustration.
Disinformation or Education?
In this vein we need to ask ourselves whether the Majestic 12 documents (which supposedly describes a top secret UFO briefing given to President-elect Eisenhower in 1952) or the Alien Autopsy film are genuine? (A copy of the MJ12 documents can be found in the appendix of Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret.) Could a sophisticated disinformation game be being played here? Those in charge of the UFO cover-up, assuming that someone is in charge of it, probably have contingency plans ready in case, for example, a UFO landed in the middle the Olympic Games, or a football grand final. They would hopefully also know that one day they must reveal at least part of the truth about UFOs, so they might be preparing us for such a revelation by feeding us genuine UFO information in a semi-fictitious but entertaining form. It has even been suggested that popular films such as Men In Black are part of that educational program.
Following on from the ‘Are we being educated?’ question, what are we to make of the US space agency NASA and a majority of its astronauts acting as if UFOs do not exist? How could NASA not know about UFOs? Is their behaviour just a public deception? Although a civilian agency, NASA is still subject to national security restrictions, regardless of how much its employees might dislike it.
In his book Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis (1995), NASA rocket scientist Paul Hill points out that, while he worked there, NASA’s policy was that, regardless of the evidence, UFOs do not exist. He was not happy with this situation, but could do nothing about it. Unlike the military, scientists tend to see scientific discoveries as transcending national boundaries. So we could have some sympathy for those NASA scientists who might dearly wish to make what they know about UFOs public, but are perhaps reluctantly obliged either to keep silent or make misleading statements about them. However, even if not actively engaged in spreading disinformation, such silence does contribute to misleading the public.
That brings us to the various Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) projects, which are now funded largely by private enterprise. How is it possible for millions of dollars and hours of valuable radio telescope time, which includes Australia’s Parkes radio telescope, to be spent listening for alien radio messages while some of those very aliens appear to be flying over our heads. An article in Flying Saucer Review by Jorge Martin reports that numerous UFOs, including some very large ones, have been seen near the radio astronomy observatory at Arecibo in Puerto Rico, which is involved in SETI.
There are not many researchers employed by SETI (computers do most of the listening) so is it possible that they too have been misinformed about UFOs? In an end-of-the-millennium article in Scientific American (Dec, 1999) entitled “Is There Life Elsewhere in the Universe?” SETI scientists Jill Tarter and Christopher Chyba write that, “Despite tabloid reports of aliens and artefacts everywhere, scientific exploration so far has revealed no good evidence for any such things”. It is hard to know whether such comments are the product of ignorance or deception. It is clearly untrue that UFO information comes only from tabloids, and Tarter and Chyba neglect to mention which ‘scientific exploration’ it was that ‘revealed no good evidence’ for UFOs. Had they been more honest, they might have admitted that there was plenty of good scientific evidence for the existence of UFOs, but that they were either unwilling or not permitted to mention it.
Could SETI have a covert purpose apart from listening for aliens? As Terence McKenna writes, “To search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture-bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant.” Even if we did pick up an alien message from a planet that was, let’s say, twenty-five light-years away, what are we then going to do? It would be a very tedious conversation if we answered it, and then had to wait another fifty years (twenty-five years there and twenty-five back) for their reply.
Many ufologists had hoped that (FOI Freedom of Information) legislation would provide access to numerous revealing UFO related documents. However this has not generally proved to be the case. For a start, all FOI legislation has exemption clauses preventing the release of documents that might jeopardise national security, and the bureaucrats are not silly enough to give the game away by saying “Sorry we cannot release those documents on the grounds of national security”. Instead they adopt more frustrating tactics. They may take ages to answer your letter, or deny having the documents, or ask exorbitant fees for copying them (Fawcett & Greenwood, 1984). Some of the documents that have been released suggest that the US and British governments do take UFOs seriously. Nevertheless FOI documents provide an ideal deception opportunity, and so we should be cautious in interpreting them. An Internet site that contains a large number of UFO-related US government documents is The Black Vault (www.blackvault.com/).
It has been claimed that when the US government started to research UFOs in the late forties they set in place a security system the likes of which had never been seen before. That system has no doubt been redesigned numerous times since then, but would still appear to be working effectively. Col. Corso (1997) claims that some UFO debris was handed over to trusted defence contractors to reverse-engineer. Even if this is not true, it is still possible that a significant proportion of UFO research has been conducted by private enterprise where the paperwork is protected by commercial secrecy and beyond the reach of FOI legislation. In Ingo Swann’s book Penetration (1998) he claims to have worked briefly for a US organisation which was so secretive that it left no paper-trail at all. It would obviously be impossible to obtain documents from an organisation that does not have any.
Another category of deception is the sensitive subject of self-deception. There are some people with strongly held religious views who are convinced that UFOs and abductions are the work of the devil, designed to fool humanity into straying from the path of righteousness. Such people seldom consider that it may be they who are misled, and their dogmatism does not compensate for their lack of concrete evidence, or disregard for the basic principles of science. It is bad enough that our governments appear to be deceiving us about UFOs without various religious groups adding more confusion to the subject.
As an example, consider the following information that was e-mailed from Alex Ruxton to about fifty UFO ufologists and research groups worldwide in January 2000. Ruxton claims that there are “200 million reptilian devils that are now in a state of hibernation underneath the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico! They are scheduled to resurface very soon. They already have their battle plans prepared. The majority of their troops will be sent to invade the leading industrialized nations. We do not have much time left…. If you think that I am kidding then please find the hole in my story.”
Ruxton’s evidence comes largely from the Book of Revelation, and his website describes his theory in detail. Unfortunately, there are so many holes in his story that most people would probably not even bother replying. However, to be fair, we should acknowledge that much of the information supposedly provided by aliens to abductees over the last few decades is fairly garbled. Are aliens also trying to mislead us, or are our technical and cultural differences so great that we would be incapable of understanding them whatever they told us?
Thankfully, some students of religion are more rational. Timothy Paul Prevett claims to have completed an honours thesis in 1998 at Regents Theological College on the ‘Demonic Eschatological Hypothesis’ (DEH) which claims that “ETs are a demonic deception heralding the approach of the return of Christ”. After reviewing the available literature, Prevett concludes that UFOs, “should be seriously and calmly investigated by the full power of science” because, “the DEH is unsatisfying and theologically questionable. There are too many possibilities, and little ground for dogmatism”.
To justify the belief that we are being deceived about UFOs, it helps to believe that a well-funded, well-informed, top secret UFO research project does exist. However, the assumption that an ubiquitous, all-powerful, unknowable, superior authority, has the disturbing matter of UFOs under control could itself be seen as a type of reassuring religious belief. We therefore need to be careful that we are not deceiving ourselves into believing that ‘the authorities’ know more than we do about UFOs, because deep down we are frightened that they really know very little. Could they be using UFO disinformation to reassure us while they desperately try to work out what to do? After all, a military mentality is probably the least appropriate mind-set to research a phenomenon that appears to be a combination of nuts-and-bolts, paranormal and spiritual ingredients. Or have we also been mislead about that?
To illustrate that UFO disinformation does occasionally have its lighter side, a short article in the MUFON UFO Journal (‘509th’, 1999) describes how that magazine had been sent a shoulder patch supposedly now used by the 509th Bomb Wing whose members were formerly stationed at Roswell (and recovered the July 1947 crash debris), but who now fly B-2 stealth planes from Whiteman Air Force Base. The circular patch displays the Latin phrase ‘Gustatus Similis Pullus’, which means ‘tastes like chicken’? and shows an alien’s head above a delta-winged craft. So, do the 509th really eat aliens for breakfast? The MUFON UFO Journal editor contacted Whiteman AFB and was told that, although ‘pretty funny’, the hoax patch did not belong to the 509th.
This article has only been able to address a small proportion of the questionable information about UFOs available to the public, but it is nevertheless obvious that we have to be careful about what we choose to believe, because there are those out there who seem determined to mislead us for one reason or another, while others may actually be trying to educate us. Unfortunately, the situation is likely to get even more confusing as some new air force planes appear to be modelled on genuine UFOs, and rumours exist that the US government may one day stage a fake alien attack in order perhaps to justify the subsequent militarisation of space (Hayakawa). Helmut Lammer even believes that US military involvement in some abductions may be related to mind control research on their own citizens. It is claimed that the second most popular type of Internet sites are UFO related ones. Unfortunately, this means that an ever increasing number of people are available to be misinformed. Let us hope that one day soon someone in authority, human or alien, has the decency and courage to begin telling us what is really going on about UFOs.
CSETI. Available at: http://www.cseti.org/
Lightning flashed over Corona, New Mexico, and thunder rattled the thin windowpanes of the small shack where ranch foreman Mac Brazel slept. Brazel was used to summer thunderstorms, but he was suddenly brought wide awake by a loud explosion that set the dishes in the kitchen sink dancing. Sonofabitch, he thought to himself before sinking back to sleep, the sheep will be scattered halfway between hell and high water come dawn.
In the morning, Brazel rode out on horseback, accompanied by seven-year-old Timothy Proctor, to survey the damaged. Accoring to published accounts, Brazel and young Proctor stumbled across something unearthly--a field of tattered debris two to three hundred yards wide stretching some three-quarters of a mile in length. No rocket scientist, Brazel still realized he had something strange on his hands--so strange that he decided to haul several pieces of it into Roswell, some 75 miles distant, a day or two later.
For all its lightness, the debris in Brazel's pickup bed seemed remarkably durable. Sheriff George Wilcox reportedly took one look at it and called the military Army Air Field, then home to the world's only atomic-bomb wing. Two officers from the base eventually arrived and agreed to accompany Barzel back to the debris field.
As a consequence of their investigation, a press release unique in the history of the American military appeared on the front page of the Roswell Daily Record for July 8, 1947. Authored by public-information officer Lt. Walter Haut and approved by base commander Col. William Blanchard, it admitted that the many rumors regarding UFOs "became a reality yesterday when the intelligence officer of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff's office of Chaves County."
Haut's noon press release circled the planet, reprinted in papers as far abroad as Germany and England, where it was picked up by the prestigious London Times. UFOs were real! Media calls pour in to the Roswell Daily Record and the local radio station, which has first broken the news, demanding additional details.
Four hours later and some 600 miles to the east in Forth Worth, Texas, Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, commander of the Eighth Air Force, held a press conference to answer reporters' questions. Spread on the general's office floor were lumps of a blackened, rubberlike material and crumpled pieces of what looked like a flimsy tinfoil kite. Ramey posed for pictures, kneeling on his carpet with the material, as did Maj. Jesse Mercel, flown in from Roswell for the occasion. Alas, allowed the general, the Roswell incident was a simple case of mistaken identity; in reality, the so-called recovered flying disc was nothing more than a weather balloon with an attached radar reflector.
"Unfortunately, the media bought the Air Force cover-up hook, line, and sinker," asserts Staton Friedman, a nuclear physicist and coauthor with aviation writer Don Berliner of Crash at Corona, one of three books written about Roswell. "The weather-balloon story went in the next morning's paper, the phone calls dropped off dramatically, and any chance of an immediate follow-up was effectively squelched."
Ramey's impromptu press conference masks the beginning of what Friedman refers to as a "'Cosmic Watergate,' the ongoing cover-up of the government's knowledge about extraterrestrial UFOs and their terrestrial activities." By contrast, says Friedman, the original Watergate snafu and cover-up pales in significance. In fact, if Friedman and his cohorts within the UFO community are correct, military involvement in the recovery of a crashed flying saucer would rank as the most well-kept and explosive secret in world history.
Of course, not all students of the subject see it that way. "You have to put Roswell in a certain context," cautions Curtis Peebles, an aerospace historian whose treatment of UFOs as an evolving belief system in Watch the Skies! was just published by the Smithsonian Institute. "And the relevant context is the hole of government and its relationship to the governed. Americans have always been suspicious, if not actively contemptuous, of their government. On the other hand, forget what the government says and look at what it does. Is there any evidence in the historical record that the Air Force or government behaved as if it actually owned a flying saucer presumably thousands of years in advance of anything on either the Soviet or U.S. side? If there is, I didn't find it."
Regardless of its ultimate reality, however, Roswell symbolizes the difficulties and frustrations Friedman and fellow UFOlogists have encountered in prying loose what the government does or does not know about UFOs. Memories fade, documents get lost or misplaced, witnesses die, and others refuse to speak up, either out of fear of ridicule or, according to Friedman, because of secrecy oaths. Despite a trail that lay cold for more than 30 years, UFOlogists still consider Roswell one of the most convincing UFO cases on record. In 1978, for example, Friedman personally interviewed Maj. Jesse Marcel shortly before his death. "He still didn't know what the material was," says Friedman, "except that it was like nothing he had ever seen before and certainly wasn't from any weather balloon." According to what Marcel reportedly told Friedman, in fact, the featherlight material couldn't be dented by a sledgehammer or burned by a blowtorch.
Yet getting the Air Force itself to say anything about Roswell in particular or UFOs in general can be an exercise in futility. Officials are either bureaucratically vague or maddeningly abrupt. Maj. David Thurston, a Pentagon spokesperson for the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, could only refer inquiries to the Air Force Historical Research Center in Montgomery, Alabama where unit histories are kept on microfilm for public review. But a spokesperson there said they had no "invesstigative material" and suggested checking the National Archives for files from Project Blue Book, the Air Force's public UFO investigative agency from the late 1940s until closure in December of 1969.
Indeed, the dismissive nature with which U.S. officials treated Blue Book research seemed to indicate they were unimpressed; on that point, believers and skeptics alike agree. But according to Friedman and colleagues, that demeanor, and Blue Book itself, was a ruse. Instead, far from the eyes of Blue Book patsies, in top-secret meetings of upper-echelon intelligence officers from military and civilian agencies alike, UFOs--including real crashed saucers and the mangled bodies of aliens--were the subject of endless study and debate. What's more, claims Friedman, proof of this UFO reality can be found in the classified files of government vaults.
With all this documentation, Friedman might have had a field day. Unfortunately, researchers had no mechanism for forcing classified documents to the surface until 1966, when Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA was later amended in the last year of the Nixon administration (1974) to include the Privacy Act. Now individuals could view their own files, and some UFOlogists--Friedman included--were surprised to find that their personal UFO activities had resulted in government dossiers.
But that as it may, UFOlogists saw the FOIA as a means to end, and beginning in the 1970s, their requests and lawsuits started pouring in. Attorneys for the Connecticut-based Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) and other UFO activities eventually unleashed a flood tide of previously classified UFO documents.
In many cases, notes Barry Greenwood, director of research for CAUS and coauthor with Lawrence Fawcett of The Government UFO Cover-up, most agencies at first denied they had any such documents in their files. "A case in point is the CIA," says Greenwood, "which assured us that its interest and involvement in UFOs ended in 1953. After a lengthy lawsuit, the CIA ultimately released more than a thousand pages of documents. To date, we've acquired more than ten thousand documents pertaining to UFOs, the overwhelming majority of which were from the CIA , FBI, Air Force, and various other military agencies. It's safe to say there are probably that many more we haven't seen."
As might be expected, the UFO paper trail is a mixed bag. Many of the documents released are simple sighting reports logged well after the demise of Blue Book. Others are more tantalizing. A document released by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) revealed that several sensitive military bases scattered from Maine to Montana were temporarily put on alert status following a series of sightings in October and November of 1975. An Air Force Office of Special Intelligence document reported a landed light seen near Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the night of August 8, 1980.
Another warm and still-smoking gun, according to greenwood, is the so-called Bolender memo, named after its author, Brig. Gen. C. H. Bolender, then Air Force deputy director of development. Dated October 20, 1969, it expressly states that "reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national security ... are not part of the Blue Book system," Says Greenwood, "I take that to mean that Blue Book was little more than an exercise in public relations. The really significant reports went somewhere else. Where did they go? That's what we would like to know."
Of course there are objections to such a literal interpretation. "As I understand the context in which it was written, says Philip Klass, a former senior editor with Aviation Week and Space Technology and author of UFOs: The Public Deceived, "the Bolender memo tried to address the problem of what would happen with UFO reports of any sort following the closure of Project Blue Book. Bolender was simply saying that other channels for such reports, be they incoming Soviet missiles or whatever, already existed."
Greenwood counters that the original memo speaks for itself, adding that "the interesting thing is that sixteen referenced as missing from Air Force files."
Missing file are one problem. Files known to exist but kept under wraps, notes Greenwood, are another. To make his point, he cites a case involving the ultra secret National Security Agency, or NSA, an acronym often assumed by insiders to mean "Never Say Anything." Using cross references found in CIA and other intelligence-agency papers, CAUS attorneys filed for the release of all NSA documents pertaining to the UFO phenomenon. After initial denials, the NSA admitted to the existence of some 160 such documents but resisted their release on the grounds of national security.
Federal District Judge Gerhard Gessell upheld the NSA's request for suppression following a review (judge's chambers only) of the agency's classified 21-page in Camera petition. "Two years later," Greenwood says, "we finally got a copy of the NSA In Camera affidavit. Of 582 lines, 412 or approximately 75 percent, were completely blacked out. The government can't have it both ways. Either UFOs affect national security or they don't."
The NSA's blockage of the CAUS suit only highlights the shortcomings of the Freedom of Information Act, according to Friedman. (See the sidebar "Freedom Fighters Handbook," beginning on page 36.) "The American public operates under the illusion that the FOIA is some sort of magical key that will unlock all of the government's secret vaults," he says, "that all you have to do is ask. They also seem to think everything is in one one big computer file somewhere deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Secrecy thrives on compartmentalization."
In the recent years, UFOlogist have found an unsual ally in the person of Steven Aftergood, an electrical engineer who directs the Projection on Government and Secrecy of the Washington, DC-based Federation of American Scientists, where most members wouldn't ordinarily give UFOs the time of day. "Our problem," says Aftergood, "is with the government secrecy on a principle, because it widens the gap between citizens and government, making it that much more difficult to participate in the democratic process. It's also antithetical to peer review and cross-fertilization, two natural processes conductive to the growth of both science and technology. Bureaucratic secrecy is also prohibitively expensive."
Aftergood cities some daunting statistic in his favor. Despite campaign promises by a succession of Democratic and Republician presidential administrations to make government files more publicly assessible, more than 300 million documents compiled prior to 1960 in the National Archives alone still await declassification. Aftergood also points to a 1990 Department of Defense study, which estimated the cost of protecting industrial--not military--secrets at almost $14 billion a year. "That's a budget about the size of NASA's," he says, adding that "the numbers were ludicrous enough during the Cold War, but now that the Cold War is supposedly over, they're even more ludicrous."
Could the Air Force and other government agencies have their own hidden agenda for maintaining the reputed Cosmic Watergate? Yes, according to some pundits who say UFOs may be our own advanced super-top-secret aerial platforms, not extraterrestrial vehicles from on high. Something of the sort could be occurring at the supersecret Groom Lake test facility in Nevada, part of the immense Nellis Air Force Base gunnery range north of Las Vegas. Aviation buffs believe the Groom Lake runway, one of the world's longest, could be home in the much-rumored Aurora, reputed to be a hypersonic Mach-8 spy plane and a replacement for the recently retired SR-71 Blackbird.
In fact, the Air Force routinely denies the existence of Aurora. And with Blue Book a closed chapter, it no longer has to hold press conferences to answer reporters' questions about UFOs. From the government's perspective, the current confusion between terrestrial technology and extraterrestial UFOs could be a marriage of both coincidence and convenience. The Air Force doesn't seem to be taking chances. On September 30 of last year, it initiated procedures to seized another 3,900 acres adjoining Groom Lake, effectively sealing of two public viewing sites of a base it refused to admit exists.
By perpetuating such disinformation, if that is, in fact, what's happening, the Air Force might be using a page torn from the Soviet Union's Cold War playbook. James Oberg, a senior space engineer and author of Red Star in Orbit, a critical analysis of the Soviet space program, has long argued that Soviet officials remained publicly mum about widely reported Russian UFOs in the 1970s and 1980s because each reports masked military operations conducted at the super secret Plesetsk Cosmodrome. "Could a similar scenario occur in this country? It's conceivable," concedes Oberg. "On the other hand, should our own government take an interest in UFO reports, especially those that may reflect missile or space technology from around the world? Sure. I'd be dismayed if we didn't. But does it follow that alien-acquired technology recovered at Roswell is driving our own space technology program? I don't see any outstanding evidence for it."
Friedman's counterargument is not so much a technological as a political one. "Governments and nations demand allegiance in order to survive," he says. "They don't want us thinking in global terms, as a citizen of a planet as opposed to a particular political entity, because that would threaten their very existence. The impact on our collective social, economic, and religious structures of admitting that we have been contacted by another intelligent life form would be enormous if not literally catastrophic to the political powers that be."
Whatever its reason for holding large numbers of documents and an array of information close to the vest, there's no doubt that the U.S. government has been less than forthcoming on the topic of UFOs. Historically, the government's public attitude toward UFOs has run the gamut of human emotions, at times confused and dismissive, at others deliberately covert and coy. On one hand, it claims to have recovered a flying disc; on the other, a weather balloon. One night UFOs constitute a threat to the national security; the next they are merely part of a public hysteria based on religious feelings, fear of technology, mass hypnosis, or whatever the prevailing psychology of the era will bear. To sort through the layers of confusion spawned by the government's stance and to reveal informational chasms, whatever their cause, Omni is launching a series of six continuing articles. In the following months, we will take the long view, scanning through history to examine UFOs under wraps in the decades following Roswell.
Shortly before midnight of July 19, 1952, air-traffic controllers at Washington National Airport picked up a group of unidentified flying objects on their radar screens. Over the next three and a half hours, the targets would disappear and reappear on their scopes. They were visually corroborated by incoming flight crews. At 3:00 in the morning, the Air Defense Command dispatched two F-94 jet interceptors, which failed to make contact with the targets.
The following weekend, the same scenario virtually repeated itself. Unknown targets were picked up on radar and verified both by incoming pilots and ground observers. This time, the hurriedly jets did manage to make visual contact and establish a brief radar lock-on, and the general public joined in the hoopla as well. According to The UFO Controversy in America, by Temple University historian David Jacobs, "So many calls came into the Pentagon alone that its telephone circuits were completely tied up with UFO inquiries for the next few days." In several major newspapers, the 1952 UFO flap even bumped the Democratic National Convention off the front-page headlines.
The so-called "Washington Wave" also resulted in at least two events that have been debated ever since. On July 29, in an attempt to quell public concern, the military held its largest press conference since the end of WWII. Press conference heads Maj. Gen. John Samford, director of Air Force Intelligence, and Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey, chief of the Air Defense Command, denied that any interceptors had been scrambled and attributed the radar returns to temperature inversions.
In addition, the Washington sightings led directly to the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel, so named after its chairman Dr. Harold P. Robertson, director of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group for the secretary of defense. The panel's basic mandate was outlined in a document later retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In that crucial document, a 1952 memorandum to the National Security Council (NSC), CIA director Walter Bedell Smith wrote that "a broader, coordinated effort should be initiated to develop a firm scientific understanding of the several phenomena which are apparently involved in these reports, and to assure ourselves that [they] will not hamper our present efforts in the Cold War or confuse our early warning system in case of an attack."
In line with this mandate, the panel that finally convened in Washington, DC, in mind January of 1953 consisted of some of the best scientific minds of the day. Members included a future Nobel Prize laureate in physics, Luis Alvarez, formerly of Berkeley; physicist Samuel Goudsmit of the Brookhaven National Laboratories; and astronomer Thornton Page of Johns Hopkins University, later with NASA.
Yet for all of its scientific expertise, the Panel's major recommendations fell mainly in the domain of public policy. After a review of the evidence, the Panel concluded that while UFOs themselves did not necessarily "constitute a direct threat to the national security . . . the continued emphasis on the reporting of these phenomena does [threaten] the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic."
Panel members recommended that "national-security agencies take steps immediately to strip the UFO phenomenon of its special status and eliminate the aura of mystery it has acquired." Perhaps a public-education program with the dual goals of "training and debunking" could be implemented? In this context, the Panel suggested that the mass media might be brought to bear on the problem, up to and including Walt Disney Productions!
More interestingly, the Panel also recommended that pro--UFO grassroots organizations be actively monitored "because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur." Mentioned by name were two organizations that had arisen in the wake of the Washington Wave: Civilian Saucer Intelligence of Los Angeles and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, both now defunct.
Is there evidence that such surveillance was conducted or that the Robertson Panel recommendations influenced government policies? "The paper trail is sketchy at best," says Dale Goudie, a Seattle advertising agent and information director for the Computerized UFO Network, or CUFON, an electronic bulletin board specializing in UFO documents retrieved under the FOIA. "What we know is that some agencies tend to keep some old UFO files while throwing out or mysteriously losing others. For example, we know the FBI kept a file on George Adamski, a famous UFO 'contactee' of the Fifties, perhaps because they thought he was a communist, and that the CIA had communicated with Maj. Donald Keyhoe, later one of the directors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena.
"When it comes to their own programs, however, the agencies are a bit more absent-minded." An example, says Goudie, is Project Aquarius. "The National Security Agency [NSA] admitted in a letter to Senator John Glenn that apparently there is or was an Air Force Project Aquarius that dealt with UFOs," Goudie states. "Their own Project Aquarius, they said, did not, but they refused to say what it did deal with. They did admit it was classified top secret and that the release of any documents would damage the national security. The Air Force denies the existence of their own Project Aquarius, and the NSA now says it was mistaken. They ought to get their stories straight."
"It's almost impossible to confirm that any individual action was directly dictated by the Robertson Panel," agrees physicist and UFOlogist Station Friedman, co-author of Crash at Corona, "but was the subject defused at every available opportunity per its recommendations? You bet!"
Friedman points specifically to a press release issued on October 25, 1955, by the Department of Defense, chaired by secretary of the Air Force Donald Quarles. The occasion was the release of Special Report 14, issued by Project Blue Book, the Air Force agency publicly charged with investigating UFOs. Quarles said there was no reason to believe that any UFO had ever overflown the United States and that the 3 percent of unknowns reported the previous year could probably be identified with more information.
As Friedman sees it, however, Special Report 14 was the best UFO study ever conducted. Interpreting the report for Omni, Friedman says it showed that "over 20 percent of all UFO sightings investigated between 1947 and 1952 were unknowns, and the better the quality of the sighting, the more likely it was to be an unknown. The press release failed to mention any of the 240 charts and tables in the original study," adds Friedman, "nor did it point out that the work had been done by the highly respected Battelle Memorial Institute under contract to the Department of Air Force. It's a classic case," Friedman says, "of the government having two hands and the left one not knowing what the right one is up to."
Whatever the truth about UFOs, however, the government tried mightily to conceal information suggesting mysterious origins afoot. For a population already shaky over nuclear arsenals, cold war, and communists under every bush, officials may have reckoned that the notion of visitors from beyond, even imaginary ones, might just have been too much to bear.
The Sixties were marked by upheaval: street riots outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, "free love," and psychedelic drugs. And according to pundits, a "Big Brother" government intent on suppressing the winds of change had extended its reach beyond the merely social or political to the realm of UFOs. The result of this saucer suppression? Angry congressional hearings and the closure of Project Blue Book, the Air Force agency responsible for investigating UFOs.
The Sixties' "Saucergate" was triggered on March 20, 1966, when a glowing, football-shaped UFO was reported hovering above a swampy area near the women's dormitory of a small college in Hillsdale, Michigan. Witnesses included 87 female students and the local civil-defense director. The following night in Dexter, 63 miles away, another UFO was spotted by five people, including two police officers.
The Michigan sightings provoked a national outcry; in short, the public wanted an explanation. Addressing the largest media gathering in the history of the Detroit Free Press Club, Project Blue Book spokesman J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer with Ohio State University, finally ventured an opinion. He said the sightings might be due to "swamp gas"--methane gas from rotting vegetation that had somehow spontaneously ignited. The explanation didn't wash, and both Hynek and the Air Force found themselves the brunt of immediate and almost universal ridicule. Newspapers had a field day as cartoonists, columnists, and editorial writers nationwide lampooned the Air Force suggestion.
In a letter to the House Armed Services Committee, then-Michigan congressman and House Republican minority leader (and later president) Gerald R. Ford called for congressional hearings on the subject, arguing that "the American public deserves a better explanation than that thus far given by the Air Force." The subcommittee subsequently held its hearing on April 5, 1966, but only three individuals, all with Air Force connections, were invited to testify: Hynek; then-Blue Book chief Hector Quintanilla; and Harold D. Brown, secretary of the Air Force. Brown told the committee, chaired by L. Mendel Rivers, that they had no evidence of an extraterrestrial origin of UFOs, nor was there any indication that UFOs constituted a threat to national security.
Under scrutiny, however, the Air Force eventually agreed to an outside review of Blue Book's files. Toward that end, the Air Force awarded $500,000 to the University of Colorado at Boulder. The major-domo of this extensive review was physicist Edward U. Condon, former director of the National Bureau of Standards. His second in command was the assistant dean of the graduate school, Robert Low.
Initially, critics of the government's UFO policy were happy to see the matter out of Air Force hands. But it didn't take long for their faith in the Condon effort to fade. If the Air Force had tried to gloss over the UFO issue, said retired Marine major Donald E. Keyhoe, director of the civilian National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), the Condon Commission was even worse.
The day after his appointment, for instance, Condon was quoted in the Denver Rocky Mountain News. He saw "no evidence," he said, for "advanced life on other planets." Moreover, he explained, the study would give the public a "better understanding of ordinary phenomena, which, if recognized at once, would reduce the number of UFO reports."
Low, Condon's chief administrator, seems to have prejudged the reality of UFOs, too. In a telling memo written to University administrators, Low noted that "the trick would be, I think, to describe the project so that to the public it would appear a totally objective study but to the scientific community would present the image of a group of non-believers trying their best to be objective but having an almost zero expectation of finding a saucer."
Condon soon fired the two senior staffers he blamed for leaking the memo to the press. Two weeks later, Mary Lou Armstrong, his own administrative assistant resigned, citing low morale within the project as a whole. "Low's attitude from the beginning," she wrote, "has been one of negativism. [He] showed little interest in keeping current on sightings, either by reading or talking with those who did." At one point, Low left for a month, ostensibly to represent the Condon Committee at the International Astronomical Union in Prague. Staff members suggested he use the opportunity to meet with veteran UFO researchers in England and France. Instead, Low went to Loch Ness, claiming that sea monsters and UFOs might share some similarities since neither existed. Even so, there is no record that he filed any written notes on his investigations.
The Condon Report was published in August of 1968 as the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. In all, 30 of the 91 cases analyzed remained unidentified. Examining the famous McMinnville, Oregon, UFO photos, for example, project investigators opined that this was "one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical, appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disc shaped, flew within sight of two witnesses." Of a radar/visual UFO sighting that occurred over Lakenheath, England, in August of 1965, the study concluded that "the probability that at least one genuine UFO was involved appeared to be fairly high."
Yet these suggestions that an unidentified phenomenon might indeed be afoot were buried in a bulky 1,500-page report. More readily accessible to the media was Condon's conclusion, published at the beginning of the study rather than at the end, as was standard scientific procedure. Essentially, Condon concluded, "further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby."
The Air Force seized the opportunity to withdraw from the minefield of UFOs, and on December 17, 1969, called a press conference to announce the closing of Project Blue Book. Citing the Condon report, acting secretary of the Air Force, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., told reporters that Blue Book's continuation could no longer "be justified on grounds of national security or in the interest of science."
Critics contend that Blue Book never mounted a thorough scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon to begin with, and that during its 22-year involvement with the issue, it had functioned as little more than a public-relations program. The charge, it turns out, was made by Hynek himself. In his last interview, granted this reporter shortly before his death from a brain tumor, Hynek avowed that while the Air Force always said it was interested in the study of UFOs, officials regularly "turned handsprings to keep a good case from getting to the attention of the media. Any case they solved," Hynek added, "they had no trouble talking about. It was really sad."
As the Sixties came to a close, the Air Force finally got what it wanted: It officially washed its hands of UFOs. Condon continued to deny the subject was "shrouded in secrecy." Overall, he said, the Air Force had done a commendable job.
Hynek agreed, though for reasons of his own. "The Air Force regarded UFOs as an intelligence matter, and it became increasingly more and more embarrassing to them," he said. "After all, we paid good tax dollars to have the Air Force guard our skies, and it would have been bad public relations for them to say, 'Yes, there's something up there, but we're helpless.' They just couldn't do that, so they took the very human action of protecting their own interests."
Todd Zechel knows how David felt the day he marched out to take on Goliath. Early in 1978, in otherwise out-of-the way Prairie due Sac, Wisconsin, Zechel help found Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, or CAUS. The group's mandate: to take on teh behemoth of the U.S. government, which had kept thousands of documents relevant to UFO researchers under lock and key for years.
In the past, getting to those documents had been virtually impossible. For the most part, they were buried within a paper labyrinth of agencies within agencies, each employing its own unique form of "bureauspeak" and filing. What was an "unidentified flying object" in one agency might be an "incident report" or "air space violation" in another. The reports might be in the form of a carbon copy, microfilm, or rapidly degrading thermal fax paper, barely legible in the original. Other files were lost or routinely destroyed on a regular basis.
Still, one had to start somewhere, and CAUS was determined to track down and make public as many of the existing documents as it could. In its quest for truth, the new group would put out a newsletter called Just Cause, and, with the help of UFO researcher Brad Sparks and attorney Peter Gersten, tread legal waters no UFO group had entered before. "We were full of fire," Zechel now recalls. "We had served the government notice; we weren't going to take their stonewalling anymore, and if necessary, we would haul them into court."
The euphoria was not misplaced. As the Seventies unfurled, most UFOlogists felt that all they needed in the battle against the governmental Goliath was one good slingshot. And now that slingshot, in the form of the newly enacted Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, was here.
Signed into law in 1966 by a Democratic Congress under President Lyndon Johnson, FOIA (affectionately called "foya" was created so the public could access all but the most high y classified government records. Nine categories of information were originally exempted from scrutiny, beginning with those affecting national security and foreign policy and then trickling down into fairly mundane materials like maps. UF0s, of course, weren't mentioned at;all.
Then, in the mid Seventies, the Nixon administration gave FOIA more muscle still. Time limits were imposed on agencies receiving FOIA requests. Affordable fees for the search and reproduction o' requested documents were established, and courts were empowered to decide whether or not specific documents fell within the act's guidelines.
In the real world outside the halls of Congress, however, the soldiers for CAUS found land mines strewn across the battlefield. The first CAUS celebre, Zechel states, occurred before the Wisconsin group was officially formed. It was 1977, and Zechel, Sparks, and Gersten made their stab at wielding the FOIA through the auspices of the nowdefunct Ground Saucer Watch, a UFO group based in Phoenix. In 1975, it turns out, the Phoenix group's director, Bill Spaulding, had written the CIA complaining it had withheld a vast quantity of information on UFOS.
"It wasn't an official FOIA request as such," Zechel says, but more like an accusatory letter. Surprisingly, the CIA responded."
Specifically, Spaulding had referenced the case of one Ralph Mayher. a marine photographer who claimed to have filmed a UFO over Miami Bay in July of 1952. Mayher went on to become a celebrated news cameraman with ABC news in Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, under the circumstances, he also signed on as consultant to one of the more prominent UFO organizations of the day-the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, or NICAP. Only years later did Mayher learn that, unbeknownst to him, his original film had been turned over to the CIA for analysis.
Looking into the matter, the CIA's response to Spaulding was expected: Its interest in UFOS was virtually nonexistent, the Agency declared, and had been ever since 1953, when a panel of scientists met in Washington to declare the phenomenon a public-relations problem, nothing more. But much to Spaulding's surprise, the spy agency also released two documents relating to the Mayher case. "The Agency had blacked out about 70 percent of the documents," Zechel states, "and also referred to three other related documents still in their possession." Zechel retained Gersten, who in 1977 filed a suit seeking full release of all five documents. The case wound up in federal district court as GSW vs. the CIA under the jurisdiction of Judge John Pratt. After protracted legal maneuverings, lawyers for both sides finally met with representatives of the attorney general's office in Washington in July of 1978. "At that meeting," according to Zechel, "I had threatened to have the CIA prosecuted for making false replies under the FOIA. Ultimately, the Agency agreed to search all of its files for UFO records and to stipulate which ones it would release and which it wouldn't. As the FOIA was structured at the time, the CIA was also obligated to account for any deletions on an item-by-item basis' " |
Despite the progress, Zechel can't help wishing that CAUS had been able to do more. "I felt we could inflame the public and marshal tremendous popular support," Zechel says, "but we never got beyond four or five hundred members. We were constantly hampered by a serious lack of funds and the usual personality conflicts."
As for Gersten, he expresses disappointment that not every known document was turned over to CAUS, especially those from the CIA and NSA, but concedes that "they were probably withheld for legitimate reasons. I suspect they were protecting their own intelligence sources and technology." Gersten performed all of his work for CAUS pro bono, but estimates that his fees would have come to nearly $70,000. "And that's in 1970 dollars," he says.
As the decade of the 1970s came to a close, Zechel left CAUS and has since founded the Associated Investigators Group. CAUS, meanwhile, continues under different officers and still puts out its publication, Just CAUSE on a regular basis.
"What's changed most is the FOIA itself," says Barry Greenwood, the newsletter's editor and current CAUS director of research. "The act was essentially gutted by Executive Order number 12356, signed by President Ronald Reagan. Among other changes wrought by Reagan's general secrecy order," according to Greenwood, "is the fact that agencies are no longer required to respond within a reasonable period of time. Searches, when they do them at all now, routinely take between six months and two years. The fees have gone up, too," Greenwood complains. "One agency cited us the enormous search fee of $250,000. It's very discouraging."
Pennsylvania researcher Robert Todd was also involved with CAUS early on, but his experiences have left him disillusioned with both David and Goliath. "The UFO community won't be satisfied until the government admits it's behind a vast cover-up," says Todd. Is there a lot of material still being withheld? Without a doubt. But does that prove the government is engaged in a massive conspiracy, or that it's merely a massive bureaucracy? I can't state this strongly enough: I don't believe there's a cover-up at all."
A spokesperson with the CIA's Freedom of information office in Washington, DC, refused a telephone request to talk to someone regarding the agency's Freedom of Information Act policy, explaining that all such inquiries would first have to be submitted in writing to John H. Wright, information and privacy coordinator. Following agency guidelines, Omni has submitted a written request for explanation of CIA policy as well as UFO documents, past and present. The request is still pending but remained unanswered at press time. Results of our inquiry will have to wait for a future edition of the magazine.
As far as the UFO community is concerned, the work of CAUS, Zechelstyle, remains undone. These days, says Todd, "getting any kind of document out of the government is a lengthy, time-consuming process. First, they consider the FOIA an annoyance; after all, they're understaffed and saddled with budget constraints. Second, the nature of any government is to control the flow of information."
(CNN) -- Nearly 50 years since an alleged UFO was sighted at Roswell, New Mexico, a new CNN/Time poll released Sunday shows that 80 percent of Americans think the government is hiding knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms.
While nearly three-quarters of the 1,024 adults questioned for the poll said they had never seen or known anyone who saw a UFO, 54 percent believe intelligent life exists outside Earth.
Sixty-four percent of the respondents said that aliens have contacted humans, half said they've abducted humans, and 37 percent said they have contacted the U.S. government. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
But only 9 percent said they believed there were any aliens near the Hale-Bopp comet, which recently passed close enough to Earth to be seen with the naked eye.
Some "ufologists" believed a spacecraft was hidden near the comet, and members of the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide, believing that they would be taken aboard the craft and returned "home."
What happened in Roswell?
As for the Roswell incident, nearly two-thirds of the respondents to the poll said they believed that a UFO crash-landed in a field outside the New Mexico town 50 years ago next month.
But countless statements -- some from military personnel -- appeared to contradict the Air Force's revised position. And several "witnesses" claimed to have seen bodies of dead aliens whisked away by the military.
Roswell today capitalizes on its fame as a UFO crash site -- whether or not it actually happened -- and is hosting a 50th anniversary celebration the first week of July.
Friend or foe?
Most people -- 91 percent -- told the pollsters that they had never had contact with aliens or known anyone who had. A similar number -- 93 percent -- said they had never been abducted or known anyone whisked away by beings from another planet.
But if they do meet someone from a galaxy far, far away, 44 percent said they expect to be treated as friends, while 26 percent think they'll be treated as enemies.
Thirty-nine percent don't expect aliens to appear very humanoid, although 35 percent said they probably look "somewhat" human.
Immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing in the spring of 1995, mainstream Americans suddenly became aware of a radical political subculture in their midst. With the arrest of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and the media coverage of their lives, attitudes, and associations, the public was abruptly introduced to the previously insular world of militias, antigovernment shortwave-radio broadcasts, and racist literature. A racist novel (written by Andrew Macdonald, also known as William Pierce), The Turner Diaries—unobtainable through conventional bookstores—became an object of intense interest once it became known that McVeigh had read and recommended it, and it was revealed that the novel contained an episode strikingly similar to the federal building bombing. An avalanche of television, magazine, and newspaper stories uncovered the existence of conspiracy believers obsessed with black helicopters and armed against what they believed to be an imminent invasion by forces of the New World Order.1
More than any other single event, the Oklahoma City bombing brought New World Order ideas to the public's attention. But New World Order ideas had begun to seep into broader segments of the American consciousness even earlier. Pat Robertson had published his book The New World Order in 1991. Robertson's version of the conspiracy (what might be termed "New World Order lite") is mild compared to that of such militia figures as Mark Koernke; nevertheless, his book is filled with ominous warnings: "The New Age religions, the beliefs of the Illuminati, and Illuminated Freemasonry all seem to move along parallel tracks with world communism and world finance. Their appeals vary somewhat, but essentially they are striving for the same very frightening vision." Robertson claims that an elite network of the superrich, operating through secret societies, is on the verge of taking undisputed control of the world. At the same time, references to the New World Order were also beginning to appear in the speeches of another conspicuous public figure, Pat Buchanan, who linked such concerns with threats to America's economic independence.2
Thus in the early 1990s New World Order conspiracy theories ceased to be beliefs that circulated only in an obscure political underground and began to penetrate some channels of mainstream discourse. In fact, however, the most dramatic New World Order penetration came not from Robertson, Buchanan, or coverage of the Oklahoma City bombers. Rather, it occurred earlier, in a segment of American culture that straddles the divide between "mainstream" and "deviant" and encompasses millions of people—the UFO community. Those who are interested in UFOs, believe in them, or claim to have been contacted or abducted by them form a subculture knitted together by lecture circuits, Web sites, magazines, and conventions. Depending on how it is defined, it is also a subculture of immense size.
UFOs and Public Opinion
The number of Americans who actually participate in the UFO subculture—by buying books, magazines, and videotapes; attending conferences; visiting Web sites; and engaging in similar activities—cannot be precisely estimated. But survey data make clear that those who do participate represent merely a fraction of a vast number of people interested in the subject. Whether they are open-minded or simply credulous, it remains the case that millions of Americans view UFOs with considerably less skepticism than do the government and the academy.
Within a few months of the first modern claim of a flying saucer sighting in June 1947, polls showed that 90 percent of the population had heard of them. By 1966, that figure had risen to 96 percent, and, more important, 46 percent of all Americans believed UFOs actually existed. More than a decade later—in 1978—30 percent of college graduates believed they existed. At that time, the number of Americans who believed UFOs were real reached its highest level, 57 percent. The number fell to 47 percent in 1990 but was still at 48 percent in a 1996 Gallup poll, nearly half a century after the first sighting.3
The Yankelovich polling organization interviewed 1,546 adults in mid-January 2000 for Life magazine. Forty-three percent of respondents believed UFOs were real as opposed to "the product of people's imaginations," and 30 percent thought intelligent beings from other planets had visited the earth. Six percent had seen a UFO, and 13 percent knew someone who had. Seven percent claimed to have "had an encounter with beings from another planet" or knew someone who had. 4
A 1997 Time-CNN poll (presumably commissioned in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the Roswell, New Mexico, UFO "crash" indicated that 17 percent of Americans believed in alien abduction. An even stranger result had appeared in a 1992 Roper survey, which suggested that 2 percent of Americans (roughly 3.7 million) believed they themselves had been abducted. While the Roper result is almost certainly inflated, a number even half as large would be extraordinary. 5
At the same time, attitudes about UFOs contain the seeds of conspiracist thinking, for public attitudes are clearly at variance with the official position that there is no credible evidence that UFOs exist. Indeed, in the 1996 Gallup survey when subjects were asked, "In your opinion, does the U.S. government know more about UFOs than they are telling us?" 71 percent answered yes. In the Yankelovich poll in 2000, 49 percent believed that the government was withholding information about UFOs.7
Thus an extremely large number of people hold beliefs that contradict official government positions and believe that government concealment explains the discrepancy. Belief in a government cover-up runs deep in the ufology community, especially among those who are professional or full-time UFO writers or investigators. Because government investigations have failed to satisfy believers, the existence of a cover-up appears logical to them. Even so, early ufologists did not generally advance a broader political agenda. While steadfastly maintaining that military and intelligence organizations were concealing the truth from the public, they did not extend that suspicion to embrace any larger ideology of conspiracy. In short, ufology's early political program did not extend beyond a general desire to see revealed what was believed to be concealed.
But by the late 1980s, elements of the UFO community began to link their interest in explaining flying saucers with a larger political vision. Receptivity to New World Order ideas in some UFO circles was facilitated by two legends peculiar to the ufology milieu: the "men in black" story and the tale of underground bases.
The legend of the Men in Black originated in the early and mid 1950s and quickly became a staple of UFO folklore. According to this legend, people whose experiences or research brought them too close to the truth were apt to be stalked, harassed, or even killed by small groups of men—usually two or three—in dark suits who did not identify themselves. Their ambiguous appearance has led to a number of explanations: to some, they are secret government operatives; to others, representatives of a conspiracy that controls the government; to still others, they are aliens whose appearance is close enough to that of humans to allow them to pass. In any case, their appearance and demeanor make them a potent symbol of mysterious but pervasive evil. 8
The underground-bases legend is part of a larger complex of beliefs about secret installations where (depending on the version) captured or crashed alien craft or aliens themselves may be kept. In the most dramatic versions, the aliens actually control parts of the installation, either by themselves or in concert with secret government agencies. The most famous base is Area 51, also known as Groom Lake and Dreamland, north of Las Vegas, Nevada; but the most elaborate tales involve labyrinthine subterranean caverns, tunnels, and chambers such as those allegedly near the town of Dulce, New Mexico. These stories have led to belief in a hidden world variously inhabited by alien beings or evil human forces, in which conspirators can both conceal their enterprises and seek safety when disasters overtake the earth's surface.9
UFOs and the New World Order
Gradually, parts of the UFO community began to adopt elements of the conspiracy theories described in the previous two chapters, and by the end of the 1980s virtually all of the radical right's ideas about the New World Order had found their way into UFO literature. Ufology's adoption of the New World Order was by no means universal, but those who have found it attractive have been able to create a version of New World Order theory with some distinct political advantages.
The most immediate advantage for New World Order ideas of being placed in a UFO context has been a reduction in stigma. Although UFO ideas have often been the target of ridicule, the enormous size of the UFO-accepting public has made it impossible to stigmatize UFO beliefs so completely that they are banned from public discussion. Far from it—UFO ideas have ready access to such avenues of distribution as cable television, mainstream bookstores, and magazine publishers. They fall into the realm of stigmatized knowledge, in that they are rejected by science, universities, and government, but the level of stigmatization has not been so great as to exclude them from popular culture.
By contrast, the views of the radical right have been so excluded, through an unstated yet powerful pattern of self-censorship on the part of the mainstream. This voluntary silence has denied access to beliefs deemed racist, bigoted, completely unfounded, or likely to justify or promote violence. Tales of secret Illuminati conspiracies, imminent UN invasions, and Jewish, Masonic, or Jesuit plots, for example, have been informally banned from media, classrooms, and other mechanisms of knowledge distribution. Unlike beliefs about flying saucers, considered eccentric but socially harmless, many conspiracy ideas deemed both false and dangerous have been banished from the mainstream discourse.
The linkage of New World Order ideas with UFOs gave the former a bridge to the territory of semirespectable beliefs. Ufology became, as it were, the vehicle for the New World Order to reach audiences otherwise unavailable to it. To be sure, New World Order ideas occasionally reached mass audiences, as the cases of Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan have shown. In both cases, however, the conspiracies were presented in highly diluted versions; and in Robertson's case, even his weak version produced significant political problems.
The story of the New World Order—UFO connection is a story of ideas moving in two directions, not one. In the initial movement, New World Order beliefs became entwined with UFO beliefs. A second migration followed in the 1990s, in which New World Order ideas with their new UFO add-ons returned to the right-wing milieu in which they had first developed. In that milieu, the combination led to the development of two diametrically opposed syntheses. In one, exemplified by British writer and lecturer David Icke (discussed at length in chapter 6), the human conspirators feared by the radical right are actually doing the bidding of malevolent extraterrestrial forces whose ultimate aim is control of the earth. In the other, epitomized by the views of Milton William Cooper at the end of his life, there are in fact no aliens at all. The appearance of an alien assault on the earth is being manufactured by human conspirators to provide a pretext for the assumption of global dictatorial powers.
The first movement, when New World Order ideas left the hermetic world of the extreme right and began to seep into ufology, is the more significant of the two. As the preceding discussion suggests, there were factors in ufology that made this penetration seem logical, but it was not inevitable. It does not seem to have been consciously undertaken by conspiracists or done for opportunistic reasons, even though in the end it provided a large new audience. Rather, it began in a disorganized, piecemeal fashion, and it provides a case study in the migration of deviant ideas.
UFO Conspiracism: The First Phase
The development of New World Order conspiracy theories within ufology can best be understood as the product of two separate phases. The first—from roughly 1975 to 1980—introduced increasingly conspiratorial motifs into UFO speculation, but without any discernible links to the conspiracy ideas that were prevalent on the extreme right. There seem to have been two separate conspiracist tracks that developed independently of each other. This lack of connection between the two is all the more striking because the late 1970s were a period of substantial right-wing activity, with the growth of such movements as Christian Identity and the Posse Comitatus. The Posse was an antigovernment movement made up of local paramilitary groups active in the West and Midwest during the 1970s and 1980s. They believed the only legitimate governmental authority to be the county sheriff's posse, in the form of the armed adult males of a community. There is no evidence that ufologists were aware of, interested in, or sympathetic to those tendencies.
During this initial phase, some important themes emerged in the UFO literature that were eventually integrated into more elaborate conspiratorial structures. One of these concerned small devices allegedly implanted in the bodies of UFO abductees. Although such stories were not numerous, they implied the existence of a powerful technology for monitoring and controlling victims' behavior. Thomas Bullard's detailed analysis of 270 abduction stories (most of them dating between the 1940s and 1980) reveals only thirteen cases of reported implants—barely 5 percent. These were almost uniformly distributed among the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Despite their small numbers, however, the implant stories contained two points of potential connection with the independently developed New World Order conspiracy theories described earlier. First, they offered apparent confirmation of the mark of the beast associated with the Antichrist. Second, they also appeared to validate the mind-control fears of more secular conspiracists.10
About the same time, in 1976, a Toronto-based neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier, Ernst Zündel, published the first of several reports linking flying saucers with the Nazis. In the strangest version of this tale, Nazis, not aliens, had invented flying saucers and, with the regime's defeat, had fled to subterranean bases in Antarctica with their invention. The suggestion that flying saucers had been under development by the Third Reich and were spirited out of Germany appears to have emerged first among German nationalists in the 1950s. It was quickly assimilated into legends of Hitler's supposed escape to South America or the Antarctic. By 1960, comparable tales were circulating in English, though their full elaboration had to await the efforts of Zündel and other neo-Nazis a decade and a half later. While this scenario begged the question of how so technologically advanced a government could manage to lose the war, it was a story that turned out to have a long life for two reasons. First, it introduced the idea that a secret group of human beings might in some conspiratorial fashion develop such devices. Second, it established a link between UFOs and the much older occultic tradition of an "inner world" beneath the earth.11
In 1979, Linda Moulton Howe, a Denver filmmaker, began work on a documentary that alleged a mutilation-UFO connection. The film, A Strange Harvest, was broadcast in 1980. She later stated that "I am convinced that one or more alien intelligences are affecting this planet. I would like to know who they are, what they want and why the government is silent." Howe and others, influenced by her film and subsequent publications, began to speculate that aliens mutilated cattle in order to secure body parts or biological substances they needed for their own survival, and that the U.S. government was complicit in these efforts. The idea that aliens were engaged in some obscure effort to "harvest" or otherwise retrieve biological substances from the earth has turned out to be a fertile subject for speculation, which eventually came to include such suggestions as the breeding of alien-human hybrids. The ease with which stories of cattle mutilation were assimilated into the UFO literature was a paradigmatic case of fusing disparate forms of stigmatized knowledge. If cattle mutilations and alien spaceships could be connected, why not other stigmatized knowledge claims as well?13
Speculations about an alien harvest soon coalesced with aspects of the abduction stories. Nearly half of the abduction tales examined by Bullard featured invasive, often painful physical examinations. A number of accounts included examinations of reproductive organs, and about half a dozen individuals reported sexual intercourse with alien beings. Out of this body of narratives came suggestions that aliens were seeking either to harvest substances from human bodies or to create a race of alien-human hybrids. Because the "other" here was alien in every sense, it was easy to blur the distinction between procedures performed on cattle and those performed on human beings; in the more sinister interpretation, it suggested that human beings were being treated like breeding stock, presumably to compensate for some biological defect in the aliens.14
In 1977, UFO speculation took a different turn with the broadcast by Anglia TV in Great Britain of the strange purported documentary Alternative 3. Alternative 3 claimed to expose a secret plan, approved at the highest levels of the U.S. and Soviet governments, to launch a program of space colonization that would allow a select few to flee the earth before environmental calamities made the planet uninhabitable. The show strongly implied that a secret joint base already existed on the far side of the moon, that another existed or would shortly be established on Mars, and that the Martian surface, contrary to general belief, was hospitable to human life.15
Alternative 3 was clearly a hoax—and not only because it was broadcast on April Fool's Day. The interviews with supposed scientists, astronauts, and others were far too dramatically polished to have been spontaneous, and in any case the program's closing credits named the actors who took the roles of interviewees and correspondents. Though artfully produced, the show's counterfeit documentary style could scarcely have been expected to fool many. As an Anglia TV spokesman put it, "we felt viewers would be fairly sophisticated about it." They apparently were not; television and newspaper switchboards were swamped after the broadcast. Anglia found it prudent to sell off the book rights. The 1978 book version, by Leslie Watkins, continued the pretense of factuality. It also reached countries, including the United States, where the broadcast had not been aired. Whenever the book was unavailable, believers attributed its absence to the conspirators' attempts at suppression. This type of quasi-paranoid fear is a particularly strong tendency in the United States. And the story lent itself to conspiracist interpretations—who were the elite the secret space program was intended to save? Even those willing to acknowledge that Alternative 3 was trumped up insisted that its core argument might very well be true—another instance of the demolition of the fact-fiction boundary .16
Alternative 3 does not mention UFOs or aliens. Its role in the growth of conspiracy theory lay in a later permutation, according to which UFOs and the threat of an alien invasion of the earth are believed to have been invented by the shadowy elite in order to gather sufficient power and resources to complete the space-colonization enterprise. When the scenario of Alternative 3 came to be enfolded within ufological conspiracism, it suggested that UFO conspiracy theories could go in two different directions. The first insisted on the reality of a threat from outer space, with human conspirators involved as the aliens' lackeys or collaborators. The other direction, following the Alternative 3 suggestion, claimed that UFOs from outer space were a deception concocted by the conspirators for their own malevolent purposes, in order to deflect attention from the real evil.
UFO Conspiracism: The Second Phase
The first phase in the growth of UFO conspiracy theories extended through the late 1970s. It was characterized by a fragmentation of themes, whether of abductees' implants, cattle mutilations, or Nazi bases. The only product of the period that purported to offer an integral conspiracy theory was the fictional Alternative 3 broadcast, which had not mentioned UFOs at all. By contrast, the second phase, which began in the mid 1980s, was marked both by the broader scope of conspiracy allegations and by the convergence of UFO plots with the better-developed conspiracism of the extreme right.
The first full published statement of such a theory appeared in 1986, in George C. Andrews's book Extra-Terrestrials among Us. Although Andrews's conspiracy theory appears in bits and pieces strewn throughout the volume, it can be reconstructed roughly as follows. A race of evil extraterrestrials is using a "privileged elite caste" of humans to manipulate and control the masses. As far as the United States is concerned, the principal mechanism for political control is the CIA, a "government within the government," implementing a form of "corporate fascism." Andrews accuses the CIA of having assassinated John F. Kennedy, and he cites William Pabst's pamphlet claiming that a network of concentration camps is being readied for dissenters. He fears that martial law is about to be declared, bringing an end to American democracy. The explicit use of Pabst's work, warnings about the Rex 84, and repeated claims that the Constitution is in imminent danger make Andrews's political views almost indistinguishable from those associated with militias. Only his placement of extraterrestrials at the pinnacle of the conspiracies identifies him as a ufologist.17
The publication of Extra-Terrestrials among Us marked the beginning of a feverish period of UFO conspiracism, from 1986 to 1989. Much of the literature of this period was based on the concept of a secret governing apparatus, unknown and unaccountable, not unlike Andrews's notion of the CIA as a "government within the government." The idea of a hidden government received its most significant boost in 1987 with the publication of the so-called MJ-12 papers.
MJ-12—sometimes referred to as Magestic-12 or Majic-12—purports to be a document prepared for President Dwight Eisenhower, to which was attached a memo from President Harry Truman to his defence secretary, James Forrestal. Though made public in 1987, MJ-12 had a history that went back to 1984.
According to those involved, on December 11, 1984, Jaime Shandera, a film producer, received a package anonymously sent from Albuquerque, New Mexico, containing an undeveloped roll of film. He and UFO writer William Moore developed the film, which they said contained images of the MJ-12 documents. Although the documents were not made public until June 1987, when they were revealed at a UFO conference in Washington, D.C., UFO publications referred to them as early as 1985. Facsimile copies were reproduced in the British edition (and later the American edition) of Timothy Good's Above Top Secret, and have appeared elsewhere many times since.18
The MJ-12 documents take the form of a briefing paper for the newly elected president, informing him of the existence of a supersecret group of the same name, allegedly established during the Truman administration, that consists of a dozen high military and scientific figures. The documents describe crashes of UFOs and the recovery of their occupants' bodies, which established them as of indisputably extraterrestrial origin.
MJ-12 immediately polarized the UFO community into believers and skeptics. Among the skeptics was Jacques Vallee, who compared the incident to the activities of "Deep Throat" during the Watergate scandal. He suggested that the documents' sender was more likely interested in disinformation than in whistle-blowing, and implied that the documents were forged. Even more dismissive was Philip J. Klass, a longtime debunker of UFO hoaxes, who argued that the format and language of the documents pointed to forgery.19
In the years since the MJ-12 papers became widely known, they have taken on a life of their own. Additional, related documents periodically appear, some as recently as 1998. Just as with the Kennedy assassination, MJ-12 has generated a cottage industry of commentators, authenticators, and critics. More broadly, MJ-12 laid the foundation for elaborate conspiracy theories by suggesting that UFOs were of extraterrestrial origin, that the federal government was aware of them as early as the late 1940s, and that a secret bureaucracy had been created to study and control the situation. These claims allowed some ufologists to shift from observation of flying saucers to attempts to unravel alleged government machinations. The proliferation of MJ-12 documents and theories not only identified the enemy as a segment of the government, but—inasmuch as this "secret government" was supposed to have hidden all relevant information—allowed great latitude in what might be "revealed." It mattered little whether publicly available evidence confirmed a claim; its author could always respond, "The government knows it, but won't tell you."20
The first such revelation occurred on December 29, 1987, a few months after the release of the MJ-12 papers. It took the form of a statement by John Lear, estranged son of inventor William Lear. Building upon the original MJ-12 documents, Lear constructs a far more elaborate edifice of intrigue and dissimulation. The Lear statement narrates the purported history of the relationship between the MJ-12 group and the extraterrestrials from 1947 to 1987. Although Lear cites few sources and offers no documentation, his statement, like many conspiracy narratives, is striking in its specificity.
The "horrible truth" to which MJ-12 was allegedly privy was so frightening that it drove at least one member—Secretary of Defence Forrestal—to suicide, his death disguised as the result of mental illness. According to Lear, the U.S. government began to hold meetings with the aliens on April 30, 1964, and by 1971 had negotiated a "deal." Its terms called for transfer of the aliens' technology to the government, in exchange for which the government would acquiesce in cattle mutilations and in the temporary abduction of American citizens. The abductees would be implanted with tracking and control devices, given posthypnotic suggestions, sometimes used as guinea pigs in genetic engineering and cross-breeding programs, and occasionally killed.21
Lear's text alleged that the "EBEs" (extraterrestrial biological entities) have a "genetic disorder" that has caused their digestive system to atrophy. They can survive only by ingesting biological substances obtained from cows or humans, or by creating an alien-human cross-bred race. This need led to the construction, under government auspices, of gigantic laboratories, not only to receive the aliens' technology but also to allow them to conduct biological experiments. These laboratories included Groom Lake, Nevada (better known in the ufology literature as Area 51 or Dreamland), and several in New Mexico, notably near the small town of Dulce. There, Lear claims, a joint CIA-alien laboratory provides facilities for unspeakable experiments on abducted subjects. Indeed, the aliens' behavior was so repugnant that in 1979 a subterranean battle supposedly took place between them and U.S. military personnel, in which sixty-six U.S. troops were killed.22
The battle at Dulce was the beginning of a crisis for MJ-12, which gradually became aware of the "Grand Deception"—namely, the failure of the aliens to live up to their agreement. Their technology turned out to be only partially usable, they were abducting far more Americans than they had agreed to, and they were mistreating them. Faced with this situation, MJ-12 supposedly decided it was foolhardy to attempt immediate resistance and instead opted to develop weapons that might permit effective resistance at some later time. This weapons development program was the Strategic Defense Initiative, disguised as a Cold War project.23
The Lear statement is brief—only seven printed pages—but dizzying in its claims. It elevates MJ-12 to a conspiratorial position nowhere hinted at in the original papers themselves. It implies a web of subsidiary conspiracies—to silence the news media and the academic community, and to mislead the UFO community as well. According to Lear, ufologist William Moore, the figure most identified with the MJ-12 papers, was probably himself a disinformation agent in the hire of MJ-12. The statement ends with a litany of rhetorical questions—a common device in conspiracy literature—all implying that the aliens' ultimate aim is the conquest of the earth, and that the conspirators in government, centered in MJ-12, are powerless to prevent it.24
Although Lear did not employ the term New World Order, he managed to bring together a number of elements compatible with New World Order theory, including mind-control implants, a government within the government, and the kidnapping of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Lear's claim of having been a CIA pilot only added to the sense that this was an insider's view, notwithstanding the paucity of evidence.25
If Lear had been alone in his bizarre allegations, they would have disappeared from view. But they were quickly taken up and amplified by a figure who was to prove central to the convergence of UFO and militia positions: Milton William Cooper, the most famous of UFO conspiracists. Cooper also had a military background, having served in the air force and later the navy, from which he was discharged in 1975. Between his discharge and his ufology debut, he apparently received some training and experience in photography as well as working at administrative jobs in vocational colleges. Best known in ufology circles for his bitter conflicts with rivals and critics, his conspiracist reputation rests primarily on a 1991 book, Behold a Pale Horse. While it may not be, as Cooper's Web site biography claims, "the best selling underground book of all time," it is widely available and, apparently, widely read in ufology, conspiracy, and antigovernment circles.26
The Cooper Narrative
Cooper presented his own MJ-12 account in a series of related documents released between December 1988 and the end of 1989. Coming as they did immediately after both the MJ-12 release and the Lear statement, Cooper's claims caused a sensation in ufology circles. In a series of Internet postings and in an appearance at the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) symposium in Las Vegas in July 1989, Cooper claimed to have seen an astonishing array of secret UFO documents during his naval career. His earliest accounts, from December 1988 and January 1989, closely parallel the MJ-12 papers and the Lear statement, yet they mention neither Moore nor Lear. Instead, Cooper claimed independent knowledge, asserting that in 1972, while in the navy, he was shown sets of documents and photographs dealing with UFOs, their extraterrestrial passengers, and relations between the extraterrestrials and the federal government.27
The earliest statement of Cooper's views—"Top Secret/Majic"—was, according to Linda Moulton Howe, posted on the CompuServe and Paranet networks on December 18, 1988. It purports to summarize the material Cooper says he saw sixteen years previously. While the substance is closely related to the MJ-12 and Lear materials, the structure of Cooper's statement is quite different. It is neither a set of primary documents nor a narrative. Most of it consists of brief sections, often no more than a paragraph, each of which describes or defines a name or term Cooper said he encountered in the original navy material. Many are names of projects or operations allegedly initiated by the government to deal with extraterrestrials, giving the entire statement a decidedly bureaucratic tinge.28
Several details of Cooper's account are noteworthy, either in the manner in which they distance themselves from Moore and Lear or by suggesting new political implications. The latter are particularly important, because in the 1990s Cooper emerged as the most conspicuous link between UFO conspiracists and militia circles.
The Cooper variations, while small, increased the congruence between UFO conspiracies and the tales of plots circulating on the extreme right, though there is no explicit evidence that Cooper was familiar with right-wing literature at the time. In his version, the MJ-12 group is a relatively small part of a much larger government enterprise directed at understanding the aliens, dealing with them, and keeping knowledge from reaching the general public. Not surprisingly, the CIA is described as central to the enterprise, a claim also made in Andrews's 1986 description of the conspiracy. Black helicopters make an appearance as well, allegedly accompanying test flights of recovered alien craft over the Nevada desert. Although Andrews had not mentioned black helicopters specifically, he did report transformations in which saucers turned into helicopters and vice versa.29
Cooper did not mention the Trilateral Commission, but he introduced motifs that were to make its future inclusion appear natural. He referred to teams called Delta that, he claimed, provide security for all projects related to the aliens and whose members in fact are the legendary men in black. Later on, others more explicitly identified this group with the well-known Delta Force counter-terrorism organization. Cooper's references to Delta are closely related to his lengthy discussion of what he called "a trilateral insignia" allegedly found on alien spacecraft. He claimed that the Delta security guards wear red badges with a black triangle, similar to the "alien flag" of a triangle divided by parallel lines. His linking of the terms delta, trilateral, and men in black offered the possibility of conspiracy in which U.S. military forces, aliens, and the Trilateral Commission collude.30
Like Lear, Cooper alleged that the aliens came to Earth not out of mere curiosity but because some biological flaw made them dependent on substances, including blood, that could be obtained from human and animal bodies. According to Cooper, they might have evolved from plants, because they use chlorophyll to convert food into energy and excrete waste products through the skin. How this mechanism related to the need for human and animal blood was not explained.31
In early 1989, Cooper issued a revised version of this document. It has since been frequently posted on the Internet. Not all versions, however, are identical. As is often the case with Internet documents, there is no way to determine definitively if changes have been made since the date the document bears.32
Notwithstanding these difficulties, the later Cooper document is interesting in its own right. In the first place, Cooper attributed the differences between this and the earlier version to his having undergone "hypnotic regression in order to make the information as accurate as possible." He did not indicate who performed the hypnosis, when, or under what conditions. The second version also contains a much-elaborated description of the MJ-12 group itself. It allegedly consists of the twelve senior members of a thirty-two-member secret society called the Jason Society, which was "commissioned" by President Eisenhower to "find the truth of the alien question."33
Identifying a complete and accurate text of the second Cooper document is difficult. Howe's published version contains elisions. An Internet version is considerably longer and places material in a somewhat different order. It is also more overtly political, with references to the Kennedy assassination, the Rockefeller family, black helicopters, and the trilateral insignia; and it charges that the activities described violate the Constitution, as well as "the human rights of every citizen of the world." This longer text may well have been written as early as the printed one (i.e., January 10, 1989), but the technology of the Internet makes the date impossible to verify.34
Cooper's claims in the second document regarding abductee implants and concentration camps were equally sweeping. One in every forty Americans has allegedly been implanted, which would amount to several million individuals. The concentration camps are part of a plan in which, under the pretext of a terrorist nuclear threat, martial law would be declared and the media nationalized.35
Cooper's next text, dated May 23, 1989, was an Internet document made public at a UFO symposium in Las Vegas on July 2 of that year. It subsequently formed part of a chapter in
Up to this point, Cooper had suggested little in the way of political action beyond recommending that Congress be informed. Sometime in 1989, however, he associated himself with an anonymous document labeled "Petition to Indict." In his undated accompanying letter, Cooper spoke of "Many other signatures . . . on the original copy," presumably in addition to his own. He begged Congress to act on the petition, but "not to trust any other government agency with these matters because this conspiracy runs deep within the government."37
The "Petition to Indict," which runs somewhat more than four typed pages, appears in some places to be addressed simply to "the government," at others more specifically to Congress. It charges that "the government" entered into "a secret treaty with an Alien Nation" in violation of the Constitution. In addition to repeating many of the points already made by Lear and Cooper, it charges that the resources to fund secret, alien-related projects came from CIA involvement in the international drug trade.38
The petition is also significant for its lengthy references to the involvement of then-president George H.W. Bush. Calling Bush "the most powerful and dangerous criminal in the history of the world," the petition charges that Bush's involvement in the international drug trade went back to his days in the oil business and continued throughout his tenure as CIA director. Bush's associations with Skull and Bones and the Trilateral Commission have made him a favorite target of conspiracy theorists.39
Because the petition asks full disclosure of government plots by May 30, 1989, it can reasonably be dated to early that year, that is to say, roughly contemporaneous with the revised version of the Cooper document. The petition is vague about what might happen if no government action is taken on its charges. But it warns that failure to act will make every member of the House and Senate "accessories to the conspiracy and the crimes outlined in this document," and the signatories "swear on the Constitution" to bring "all guilty parties . . . to justice." How they might do this is not specified.40
The "Petition to Indict" bears some similarities to the "Constructive Notices" sent in 1986 to a judge and to Internal Revenue Service personnel in Nevada. The "Constructive Notices" were purported indictments issued by the Committee of the States, an entity created by Christian Identity preacher and tax protestor William Potter Gale. The "Constructive Notices" threatened the lives of the recipients, and in October 1987, Gale and his associates were tried and convicted of interfering in the administration of the tax laws. In retrospect, it can be seen that the Committee of the States affair anticipated such developments as so-called common-law courts among antigovernment groups in the 1990s. There is no direct evidence that Cooper or the anonymous drafter or drafters of the "Petition to Indict" were familiar with Gale's activities. Nonetheless, like the Committee of the States and many subsequent examples of right-wing shadow legal institutions, the petition implies the authority to bring malefactors to justice if formal legal institutions do not.41
By the late 1990s, Cooper had moved away from the ufology community, where he had first appeared a decade earlier, to the subculture of militias and other antigovernment groups. His Web site circulated conspiracist versions of the Oklahoma City bombing, and he spoke in the name of a shadowy organization called the Second Continental Army of the Republic (Militia), about which little is known. As Gale had, Cooper also took on the Internal Revenue Service.42
Cooper became convinced that he had been targeted by "The Illuminati Socialist President of the United States of America, William Jefferson Clinton" as well as "by the bogus and unconstitutional Internal Revenue Service." His conflict with the latter resulted in an arrest warrant issued in July 1998. As of fall 2000, it still had not been executed, which resulted in Cooper's being named a "major fugitive" by the U.S. Marshals Service. The government's reluctance to arrest Cooper was apparently a reflection of his conflict-laden rhetoric: "We are formed as the Constitutional and Lawful unorganized Militia of the State of Arizona and the united [sic] States of America. . . . By invading the Sovereign jurisdiction of the State of Arizona to attack the Citizens of the State of Arizona the United States has declared war upon the Citizens of the Several States of the Union. . . . We have drawn our line in the sand." The warrant was never served, because Cooper was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies in November 2001 as a result of an incident unrelated to his tax problems. This bizarre conclusion to a strange life is described more fully in chapter 10.43
Cooper was not the only figure in the UFO subculture who was elaborating politically charged conspiracy theories by the end of the 1980s. The year 1989 marked the beginning of the activities of John Grace, also known as Val Germann and Val (or Valdamar) Valerian. Grace was an air force enlisted man stationed at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, where he apparently came into contact with Lear. About 1988, Grace-Valerian founded the Nevada Aerial Research Group in Las Vegas, but soon relocated it to Yelm, Washington, under the name Leading Edge Research Group. He has been an extraordinarily prolific writer and publisher, claiming to have issued tens of thousands of pages. His central works are the massive, ongoing series of Matrix volumes, of which at least six have appeared, and the serial publication The Leading Edge.44
It is impossible to summarize Valerian's system. Indeed, it may well be one of the most complex superconspiracy theories ever constructed. Scarcely any major organization or institution escapes inclusion. One diagrammatic representation requires six pages to lay out the connections among elements of the plot, including the Gestapo, the Mafia, and the Wobblies (IWW). Valerian ranges not only across the usual UFO and conspiracist terrain but across politics, religion, science, and history. He clearly regards his system not merely as an explanation of flying saucers or contemporary politics but as a synoptic vision of all knowledge.45
Cooper edged gradually toward more ambitious conspiratorial schemes, but even at his most sweeping he never sought to cover areas such as the sciences (about which, in fact, he claimed ignorance). Valerian, by contrast, takes conspiracism to its logical conclusion by suggesting that all true knowledge has been deliberately hidden, and that attempts to reveal it in one area will inevitably reveal the entire structure, if only one digs widely and deeply enough. Anything that is available and obvious is false, while what is hidden has to be true; its hiddenness can have occurred only because those who truly know do not wish it to be revealed. As Valerian puts it, "As a result of the suppression and compartmentalization of information, cultures have been fragmented into several distinct groups and mind sets which both co-exist and oppose each other." He clearly believes that he has discovered the suppressed synthesis.46
Leading Edge's location, Yelm, Washington, is also the home of J.Z. Knight, a channeler who claims to be the medium transmitting the words of a 35,000-year-old warrior named Ramtha. The Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Yelm was founded in 1988 or 1989, about the time Valerian arrived. There appear to be no direct links between Valerian's organization and Knight's, but they do share common themes. Ramtha asserts that the UFOs carry aliens who are "your higher brothers." Valerian, like Knight, employs the entity terminology standard in channeling circles, and he includes favorable material about Ramtha in the Matrix volumes. There are some differences: for instance, like many conspiracy-minded ufologists, Valerian believes that there are many alien races, some of which are malevolent. For their part, Knight and Ramtha identify evil with a conspiracy of international bankers who include the Rothschilds and the Federal Reserve. The Ramtha School's book service sells works by Cooper, David Icke, and Jim Keith, and the Ramtha newsletter has published lengthy interviews with Mark Phillips and Cathy O'Brien, with their tales of CIA mind-controlled sex slaves. Notwithstanding the lack of formal connections, Valerian and Knight clearly seem to tap into the same cultic milieu.47
By the early 1990s, therefore, at least some of the ufology literature had gone through several transformations. It had become intensely politicized. It insisted that powerful elements in the U.S. government were in continuing collaboration with an evil, alien race. And it claimed that in order to protect this information, the secret government was prepared to destroy American liberties. From 1986 to about 1990, the activities of Andrews, Lear, Cooper, and Valerian created a conspiracist form of UFO speculation, which Jerome Clark refers to as ufology's "dark side."48
Much of this material was either strikingly similar to or compatible with the conspiracy ideas simultaneously circulating in the militia and militant antigovernment subculture. The mythology of concentration camps, secret government security forces, wholesale violation of the Constitution, and control of the state by a hidden elite are themes prominent in both domains. Yet any link between them in the 1980s appears circumstantial. The UFO conspiracists were especially active in the West, where the extreme right was particularly evident; even so, no evidence exists at this time of direct contact between them.
UFO Conspiracy Theories
1. Andrew Macdonald (pseudonym of William L. Pierce), The Turner Diaries, 2d ed. (Washington, D.C.: National Alliance, 1980). Typical of the news coverage is Mark Potok and Katy Kelly, "Militia Movement's Draw: A Shared Anger, Fear," USA Today, May 16, 1995
2. Pat Robertson, The New World Order (Dallas: Word, 1991). "Buchanan Promises 'Millennial Struggle' against World Government," CNN, January 6, 2000; http://www.cnn.com (January 7, 2000).
3. Phil Patton, "Indeed They Have Landed. Look Around," The New York Times, June 15, 1997, section H, 38. Jodi Dean, Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998), p. 36. Amy Harmon, "For U.F.O. Buffs, 50 Years of Hazy History," The New York Times, June 14, 1997, section A, 1. "Gallup UFO Poll: Some Want to Believe, Some Don't," http://www.parascope.com/articles/0597/gallup.htm (July 2, 1997).
4. Cynthia Fox, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Life," Life (March 2000)
5. Dean, Aliens in America
6. Brenda Denzler, The Lure of the Edge: Scientific Passions, Religious Beliefs, and the Pursuit of UFOs (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)
7. "Gallup UFO Poll." Fox, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Life".
8. "Men in Black," in The UFO Encyclopedia, ed. John Spencer (New York: Avon, 1993). Jerome Clark, The UFO Files (Lincolnwood, Ill.: Publications International, 1996). Peter Rojcewicz, "The 'Men in Black' Experience and Tradition: Analogues with the Traditional Devil Hypothesis," Journal of American Folklore 100 (April—June 1987). The first book on the subject, which initially appeared in 1956, was by Gray Barker: They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers, repr. (Lilburn, Ga.: IllumiNet, 1997).
9. The literature on each is very large; but the nature of the material can be gleaned from the following. On Area 51: David Darlington, Area 51: The Dreamland Chronicles (New York: Henry Holt, 1997); and Phil Patton, Travels in Dreamland: The Secret History of Area 51 (London: Millennium, 1997). On Dulce: Branton, The Dulce Wars: Underground Alien Bases & the Battle for Planet Earth (New Brunswick, N.J.: Inner Light/Global Communications, 1999); and Commander X, Underground Alien Bases (n.p.: Abelard Productions, 1990).
10. "Abduction Phenomenon," in The UFO Encyclopedia, ed. Jerome Clark, vol. 1 (Detroit: Apogee, 1990). Thomas E. Bullard, UFO Abductions: The Measure of a Mystery (n.p.: Fund for UFO Research, 1987), vol. 1.
11. "Hollow Earth and UFOs," in The UFO Encyclopedia, ed. Jerome Clark, vol. 2 (Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1992). Commander X, "Legions of Doom," UFO Universe, Conspiracies & Cover-ups, Special Issue 1 (1998). The Nazi-UFO stories have been most fully reconstructed by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke in Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity (New York: New York University Press, 2002), chap. 8.
12. "Animal Mutilations and UFOs," in The UFO Encyclopedia, ed. Jerome Clark, vol. 3 (Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1996). George E. Onet, "Animal Mutilations: What We Know," National Institute for Discovery Science, http://www.nidsci.org/articles/animal1.html (September 13, 2000). Idem, "Animal Mutilations: What We Don't Know," National Institute for Discovery Science, http://www.nidsci.org/articles/animal2.html (September 13, 2000).
13. "Animal Mutilations and UFOs"
14. "Linda Moulton Howe: The 'Alien Harvest' and Beyond," transcript of a conversation in UFOs and the Alien Presence: Six Viewpoints, ed. Michael Lindemann (Newberg, Ore.: Wild Flower, 1991). Linda Moulton Howe, An Alien Harvest: Further Evidence Linking Animal Mutilations and Human Abductions to Alien Life Forms (Huntingdon Valley, Penn.: Linda Moulton Howe Productions, 1989). On Howe, see Idaho Statesman (Boise), June 5, 1998, 1d. Bullard, UFO Abductions.
15. Alternative 3 (videotape; Beverly Hills, Calif.: Underground Video, 1996); originally broadcast on Science Report, Anglia Television (U.K.), April 1, 1977.
16. Alternative 3. Leslie Watkins, Alternative 3 (London: Sphere, 1978). Jim Keith, Casebook on Alternative 3: UFOs, Secret Societies and World Control (Lilburn, Ga.: IllumiNet, 1994). Idem, Mind Control and UFOs: Casebook on Alternative 3 (Lilburn, Ga.: IllumiNet, 1999). Bob Rickard, "Hoax: Alternative," Fortean Times 64 (August—September 1992)
17. George C. Andrews, Extra-Terrestrials among Us, repr. (St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn, 1993 [orig. 1986]). William R. Pabst, "Concentration Camp Plans for U.S. Citizens," see, e.g., http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/2012/camps.txt (January 25, 1999).
18. Patton, Travels in Dreamland. Stanton T. Friedman, Top Secret/Majic (New York: Marlowe, 1997). Howe, An Alien Harvest. The texts appear in Timothy Good, Above Top Secret: The Worldwide U.F.O. Cover-up (New York: William Morrow, 1988). The MJ-12 documents also appear in Friedman, Top Secret/Majic, and Howe, An Alien Harvest. Robert Alan Goldberg provides another description of the affair in Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001).
19. Jacques Vallee, Revelations: Alien Contact and Human Deception (New York: Ballantine, 1991). "Skeptics Attack," http://www.parascope.com/ds/0996/maj2.htm (July 1, 1997).
20. For example, "Declassified Documents Confirm Recovery of Alien Craft and Bodies!" Nexus 6 (February—March 1999)
21. "Statement Released By: John Lear, December 29, 1987," William F. Hamilton III, Alien Magic (Glendale, Calif.: Uforces, 1989).
25. A brief biographical statement precedes the text of Lear's statement.
26. Donna Kossy, Kooks (Portland, Ore.: Feral House, 1994), pp. 191—192. "William Cooper: A Short Biography," http://williamcooper.com/william.htm (August 29, 2000). Milton William Cooper, Behold a Pale Horse (Sedona, Ariz.: Light Technology, 1991).
27. Don Ecker, "Dead Man Talking," Fortean Times 155 (March 2002): 38.
28. The December 18 statement is reproduced in Howe, An Alien Harvest
29. Howe, An Alien Harvest. Andrews, Extra-Terrestrials among Us
30. Howe, An Alien Harvest, pp. 185, 190—191. Milton William Cooper, "The Cooper Document: The Absolute True Information Regarding the Alien Presence on Earth" (1989), posted October 29, 1997, http://server.wizards.net/mac/handy/incoming/cooperdoc.html (November 6, 1997)
31. Howe, An Alien Harvest
32. There are some discrepancies in dates for Cooper material between Hamilton, Alien Magic, and Howe, An Alien Harvest
33. Howe, An Alien Harvest
34. Cooper, "The Cooper Document."
35. Howe, An Alien Harvest
36. Cooper, Behold a Pale Horse
37. Letter from Milton William Cooper, published in Hamilton, Alien Magic, unpaginated section.
38. "Petition to Indict," published in Hamilton, Alien Magic, unpaginated section.
41. For a detailed, though partisan, treatment of Gale, see Cheri Seymour, Committee of the States: Inside the Radical Right (Mariposa, Calif.: Camden Place Communications, 1991). Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, rev. ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997)
42. Milton William Cooper, "The Plot Thickens," http://harvest-trust.org/plot.htm (June 30, 1998). Idem, "In Search of . . . Mail Digest, May 11, 1997," http://in-search-of.com/frames/WWWBoard/messages/1050.html (November 11, 1997).
43. For Cooper's quotation, see "Cooper Family Targeted by Feds," http://www.williamcooper.com/targeted.htm (August 29, 2000). "USMS Major Fugitive Cases," http://www.usdoj.gov/marshals/wanted/major-cases/cases.html#A (August 30, 2000).
44. "Unofficial Link Page for John Grace," http://www.ufomind.com/people/g/grace/ (September 16, 1998). "Animal Mutilations and UFOs," p. 34. Valdamar Valerian, Matrix II: The Abduction and Manipulation of Humans Using Advanced Technology, 3d ed. (Yelm, Wash.: Leading Edge Research Group, 1990—1991). Idem, Matrix III: The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological and Electromagnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness (Yelm, Wash.: Leading Edge Research Group, 1992).
45. Valerian, Matrix III, vol. 1
46. Valerian, Matrix II, p. v.
47. J. Gordon Melton, Finding Enlightenment: Ramtha, School of Ancient Wisdom (Hillsboro, Ore.: Beyond Words, 1998), pp. 70—71. Idem, "Ramtha's School of Enlightenment," in The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions, ed. James R. Lewis, 2d ed. (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2002), pp. 596—600.
48. "Animal Mutilations and UFOs"