Sunday, April 16, 2017

Questioning Alien Abduction Research Methodology

Dr. Ellen Tarr recently posted some thoughts on UFO-related survey results as conducted and presented by FREE (Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters). Tarr holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Immunology, is an Associate Professor at Midwestern University, and graciously offers analysis from time to time on such topics as Project Core and alleged Sasquatch DNA.

She interpreted survey results as reported by FREE to be unclear on details like numbers of respondents and exactly how FREE arrived at some of its figures. Tarr's pointed observations included "the myriad problems with the survey itself and the analysis," as well as "the lack of controlling which respondents answer follow-up questions." As she explained:
There are numerous cases within the survey where more people responded to follow-up questions about a specific type of experience than had claimed to have had the experience. For example, 211 respondents reported having sex with an ET and 236 gave answers regarding what type of ET they had sex with. The likelihood that many items include responses from people who did not have the experience calls many results into question. 
Tarr also noted survey results were represented by FREE as specifically including people who reported UFO-related contact experiences with a non-human intelligence, yet it is unclear if all who responded actually interpreted that to be the case. For instance, fewer people reported a craft or ship associated with their experiences than participated in the survey.

Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs at a 2004 Intruders Foundation seminar
Credit: Carol Rainey

Hopkins, Jacobs and Westrum

Such challenges with surveys and their interpretations have long plagued the UFO community. The design of a 1991 Roper Poll funded by Robert Bigelow and conducted by Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs and Ron Westrum was competently called into question by qualified professionals. The trio arrived at the stunning conclusion 3.7 million Americans had been abducted by aliens through a survey of less than 6,000 people who were never even asked. Instead, those surveyed were subjected to a series of questions of which Hopkins and Jacobs felt themselves qualified to interpret if the responses indicated abductions had occurred. To directly ask respondents if they'd ever been abducted, it was rather incredibly rationalized, would give false results because many people were unaware of their abductions until after hypnosis.

Of a total of 5,947 people interviewed, 119, or two percent, were identified as likely alien abductees. It was from there the conclusion was drawn that about two percent of the American population, which at the time equated to 3.7 million people, had been abducted by aliens.

Critical review was provided by parapsychologist Susan Blackmore and sociologist Ted Goertzel, among others. The work of the late psychologist Robyn M. Dawes and political scientist Matthew Mulford, the latter of which became an expert in research methodology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, showed how questions on the survey were poorly constructed in ways known to produce flawed results. Goertzel wrote:
This conclusion is also strongly supported by Dawes and Mulford's (1993) innovative study at the University of Oregon which demonstrated that the dual nature of Hopkins, Jacobs and Westrum's first item, which asked about waking up paralyzed and about sensing a strange person in the room in the same item, actually led to an increased recollection of unusual phenomena as compared to a properly constructed single-issue survey item. Textbooks on questionnaire writing universally warn against "double-barreled" questions of this sort because they are known to give bad results. Dawes and Mulford confirm this and further offer the explanation that the combination of the two issues in one item causes a conjunction effect in memory which increases the likelihood of false recollection.
While the Hopkins, Jacobs and Westrum scale is not a valid measure of UFO abduction, they have inadvertently constructed a useful measure of another phenomenon: the tendency to have false memories. 

The poll and its questionably interpreted conclusions continue to be cited in UFO circles in spite of its flawed construction. The problematic aspects of its methodologies are typically not addressed when claims are made of some 4 million Americans being abducted by aliens. The objectivity of Budd Hopkins was further questioned due to such circumstances as his claims surrounding alleged alien symbols purported to have been seen by abductees while aboard alien craft. His questionable interpretations and desire to "stack the deck," as he put it, were documented in the 13-minute video clip below shot by Carol Rainey.


  

Standards of Evidence

An important point, in my opinion, is that Dr. Tarr and other qualified experts demonstrate a willingness to address the UFO phenomenon and offer review of research produced by ufology. The scientific community is often criticized for dismissing the topic out of hand, and the complaint may be justified at times, but there are clearly exceptions.

Furthermore, it should be noted that such critical review is part and parcel of the path to establishing fact-based evidence. The critiques of qualified professionals should be embraced and addressed, not discarded with aversion. It is when standards of evidence are recognized, and professional research protocols are collectively respected and implemented, that the UFO community will mature and begin to gain the credibility it has long claimed to seek.

-----------------------------------------------------

Please join me this summer in Roswell at a conference themed 70 Years Later: Modern Challenges to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. I'll be discussing exploitation in ufology, the intersection of the UFO and intelligence communities, and related topics.

Monday, March 6, 2017

FOIA Rundown

In the post below I'll summarize the contents and status of some of my requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I'll also share some links I hope you'll find useful.

Joint Security Control

I submitted a rather lengthy and detailed request on Joint Security Control (JSC) records from 1946-47 pertaining to deception operations, among other items. The request was filed Sep. 6, 2016, to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which quickly issued a negative response Sep. 27. An appeal is currently pending. 

At his blog Anachronism, James Carrion made a series of posts in August and September of 2016 in which he explored the JSC and its implementation of deception operations during the 1946-47 time frame. The era was of course a boom for what became high profile UFO cases.

James called on researchers to join his attempts to further understand details of circumstances surrounding the JSC. I deemed it a worthy request, given the existence of declassified documents establishing that the U.S. intelligence community explored the topic of UFOs as a psychological propaganda and warfare tool. 

Along with JSC records of 1946-47 deception operations, my Sep. 6 FOIA submission also included similar such files of the Plans and Operations Division of the War Department. NARA Archivist Mr. R.E. Cookson wrote in part in his Sep. 27 response:
[Y]our request consists of topics rather than describing specific documents, and therefore is not reasonably specific enough for us to be in a position to easily locate documents responsive to your request. A preliminary search of the finding aids that are available to us reveals that your request could contain information in any one of 4 record groups. 
I appealed the response, citing the existence of documents already establishing the purposes in creating the JSC included the design and implementation of deception operations. That being the case, I requested further consideration be given to how a researcher might otherwise learn about such established operations than request their files. The appeal was submitted in October and I am awaiting a response.

Here's how you can help: Submit FOIA requests on the JSC.

For example, the May, 1947, revised JSC charter could be cited. As James Carrion wrote:
In May of 1947, JSC received a revised charter, one that authorized it to continue its deception mission not just under wartime conditions but also during times of peace. JSC was tasked with preventing important military information from falling into the hands of the enemy, to control classified information through proper security classification, to correlate, maintain and disseminate all of the information furnished to JSC by the War and Navy Department Bureau of Public Relations, and finally the very important mission of cover and deception planning and implementation.
Several additional docs establishing JSC involvement in deception operations may be found in posts by James. I encourage you to cite such documents, and request files on the specific operations referenced therein.

Requests of this nature might best be submitted to the National Archives and Records Administration due to the age of the records. You may file via email at specialaccess_foia@nara.gov and learn more here. For those unfamiliar with the process, a sample FOIA letter is provided at the bottom of the page linked.

Whatever the JSC operations may have involved, I see no good reasons researchers should avert from further study. Even those who suspect the government intentionally covered up an ET presence and/or UFO-related data should seek supporting evidence in files of the JSC, a high level unit specifically tasked with controlling and classifying important information.

I encourage you to submit requests and seek answers. Let us know how it goes!

Jeffrey Alan Lash

As many readers are aware, I've submitted a number of information requests to various agencies about the Jeffrey Alan Lash case. The latest correspondence comes from an exchange with the CIA. On Feb. 21, Acting Information and Privacy Coordinator Allison Fong wrote in part:
After conducting a search reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents, we did not locate any responsive records that would reveal an openly acknowledged CIA affiliation with the subject.
To the extent that your request also seeks records that would reveal a classified association between the CIA and the subject, if any exist, we can neither confirm nor deny having such records... If a classified association between the subject and this organization were to exist, records revealing such a relationship would be properly classified and require continued safeguards against unauthorized disclosure. You may consider this finding a denial of this portion of your request... 
I think that's a reasonable ruling, all things considered. Much more so than the response to the original FOIA request in which CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator Michael Lavergne indicated it could be difficult for him to identify files on who I was asking about. 

Of all the agencies, I'm probably most disappointed in the LAPD lack of transparency in its investigation of the case. I find it particularly concerning when we can't count on police departments to help clarify actuality. The Loveland (Colorado) Police Department, for example, was very helpful in 2014 when I requested files on Stan Romanek's claims of being assaulted. In relatively short order I was provided records indicating detectives strongly suspected Romanek staged the scene of the alleged assault. 

The last line out at this point on Lash is to the FBI. The Bureau is yet to rule on my appeal of its initial response of having no files on Jeffrey Alan Lash.

Gulf Breeze Six

I've so far filed a total of six FOIA requests on the Gulf Breeze Six, four in February and two more in March. Two were sent to the NSA and Army Office of the Inspector General. I requested a Mandatory Declassification Review of the file referenced by Philip Coppens. The late writer and researcher explained how 1400 of the file's 1600 pages were originally withheld, so I'm hoping more of it will now be declassified and released. 

Requests were also submitted to the CIA and FBI in the hopes relevant records will be declassified. Both agencies were reported by newspapers to have been involved in the detention and interrogation of the six. I invited consideration the group became public figures, as such status may in some cases result in making more information available. All of the requests included supporting materials.

The FBI is the only agency to respond as of yet. It declined to release any records, suggesting more evidence of public notoriety was required. I replied, offering copies of web pages that establish Vance Davis (of the GB6) wrote a book about the ordeal, spoke publicly at conferences, conducted written and live interviews, and that the saga was widely covered by the media, among other citations provided. I'm awaiting a ruling on the appeal.

The final two FOIA requests were inspired by a discussion at Above Top Secret and submitted to the NSA and Army IG. I requested copies of the original mysterious message and accompanying photos sent to the Army and media outlets as reported in a story published in the Aug. 16, 1990, edition of the Gulf Breeze Sentinel and titled, Did mysterious note influence release of Gulf Breeze Six?

As Gordon Miller explained in a 1994 published email:
From the Gulf Breeze SENTINEL, August 16, 1990.
Brief article entitle [sic] "Did mysterious note influence release of Gulf Breeze Six?"
In full:
An interesting piece of the puzzle of the six army deserters who
showed up in Gulf Breeze, were arrested by the FBI, were taken to Fort Benning and Fort Knox, and then were released with General Discharges, has here-to-for not been shared with the general public.
That puzzle piece came in the form of of an unsigned typewritten
note presumbably [sic] sent to the US Army and all the major TV networks and wire services demanding the release of "The Gulf Breeze Six."
The note was accompanied by two photographs [Ed. note: of circular objects in the air that some people might refer to as "UFOs", which I cannot repreoduce. (sic)] and threatened the release of "500+ photos and plans you want back... unless they are released.."
The note ended "Answer code AUGSBB3CM"
Mark Curtis at WEAR Channel 3 first shared this intriguing note with
The Sentinel two days before the announcement that the Gulf Breeze Six were discharged from the Army and released.
The photos shown here [Ed. note: Well...*there* anyway.] are courtesy of Les Sinclair at WALA TV 10 and appear to be the same ones sent to WEAR.
The article concludes with an apparent photocopy of the note in question which reads, in its entirety:
ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, UPI
U.S. Army:
Free the Gulf Breeze Six.
We have the missing plans, the box of 500+ photos and the plans you want back.
Here is proof with close-ups cut out.
Next we send the closeups and then everything unless they are released.
Answer code AUGSBB3CM
You may submit FOIA requests online to the NSA. Requests to the Army IG may be submitted via email, and you can learn more at the website

Let us know how your FOIA efforts go, if you bear any results, and related thoughts. Happy hunting!  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

NSA Interest in the Paranormal

A declassified NSA draft titled Parapsychology: The COMSEC Threat and SIGINT Capability recently caught my attention when an excerpt was shared by researcher Michael Best. COMSEC stands for communications security, while SIGINT refers to signals intelligence. The six-page document, apparently composed in approximately 1981 and approved for release in 2011, may be viewed in full on the CIA website.

The unnamed author of the draft wrote that dealing with such issues as the manipulation of personnel behavior by psychic means could not be avoided within the work force, including at the NSA. The author continued that psychic warfare was inevitable and that "practitioners" within the Agency were already "functioning." 

Whatever we are to make of such declassified documents, their very existence may offer us some insight into an era in which the intelligence and UFO communities alike pushed the envelope edges. Let's take a look at some topics previously explored on The UFO Trail and how they might relate to one another. We might consider how such cases as the Gulf Breeze Six may possibly have been more a result of a fringe-friendly NSA and intelligence culture than it was the bizarre, isolated incident it's often thought to have been. Reviewing such circumstances might help us more clearly understand the evolution of belief systems surrounding UFOs, as well as assist us in ultimately forming more relevant questions.


Parapsychology: The COMSEC Threat and SIGINT Capability, p 3


In January I did a post, NSA UFO Docs. One of the declassified files explored was an NSA draft titled, UFOs and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data. The draft could be interpreted a number of different ways, but in this context I'd like to consider how it was composed by an NSA employee at least seeming to be quite convinced of the "strange nature of the [UFO] phenomena," and its potential for rendering witnesses psychologically devastated. We could reasonably conclude the draft, which was written sometime between approximately 1958 and 1979, was lacking meaningful citations and scientific merit while containing perspectives typically found in the UFO community, for whatever reasons. 

Also explored was a doc that has come to be known as the Yeates affidavit. Dated 1980, it contains the testimony of NSA man Eugene F. Yeates about various UFO files, including one he described as an account of an NSA assignee about their attendance at a UFO symposium. On a side note, I filed an FOIA request to the NSA for the report and am currently awaiting a response.

Tom Deuley
The late Philip J. Klass speculated the author of the report was Tom Deuley, a retired career Navy man, former NSA employee, and longtime member of the MUFON Board of Directors. It was "almost certainly" Deuley, Klass wrote, noting that Deuley spoke publicly of meeting with NSA administrative officials about his plans to attend a MUFON conference in Dayton, Ohio, shortly after he was assigned to the Agency in 1978. Whether or not Klass was correct, I believe the point is well made the NSA culture was UFO and paranormal tolerant, if not friendly, as Deuley was indeed an NSA assignee and MUFON director. 

It is a reasonable statement that the intelligence community, in general, attempted to better understand, manipulate, and weaponize subject matter surrounding reported UFO and psychic phenomena. That is the case in contradiction to the more widely held public perspective that the IC debunked the related claims. Intelligence agencies were actually deeply enmeshed with the topics, whatever the combinations of purposes may have included.

The career of Maj. Gen. Albert N. Stubblebine III spanned from a 1952 graduation from West Point to his 1984 retirement as the Commanding General of the Army Intelligence and Service Command (INSCOM). A member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, Stubblebine was credited with completely redesigning the intel structure of the entire U.S. Army.

Bert Stubblebine
Stubblebine's more recent ventures include operating the Natural Solutions Foundation, a nonprofit corporation co-founded with his wife, Rima Laibow, MD. Dr. Laibow is a former advocate for alleged alien abductees and the use of hypnosis as a memory enhancer. At Natural Solutions Foundation, the couple are, by any definition, promoters of extreme conspiracy theories, including those surrounding chemtrails and vaccinations, which, the two say, are part of the "big plan" to turn children into autistic worker drones. 

Mind control operations are also involved, according to the couple. Laibow asserts as a "fact" that "Natural Solutions Foundation is so effective in our opposition to the Powers That Be that a serious attempt was apparently made on my life..." 

Before conducting an all out campaign against the PTB, Maj. Gen. Stubblebine of course was the PTB. He was also credited with inventing Remote Viewing along with his explorations of such topics as neurolinguistic programming and psychic spoon bending. "Stub" and his longtime colleagues, which include Col. John Alexander, are as much parts of UFO and paranormal lore as Travis Walton and Whitley Strieber.

Lyn Buchanan
Enter Sgt. Lyn Buchanan. It was in 1984, while stationed at the U.S. Intelligence Field Station in Augsburg, Germany, that Buchanan was recruited by Stubblebine into a Remote Viewing unit. He caught the attention of Stubblebine following what Buchanan described to me as a "psychokinetic" computer-related anomaly. According to Buchanan, Stubblebine was hoping to harness Buchanan's psychic potential to "destroy enemy computers - then later learn how to simply control the data and programming within them." Buchanan considers himself an alien abductee, as he explained to me in the linked interview. 

By the way, the first doc cited at the beginning of this post, Parapsychology: The COMSEC Threat and SIGINT Capability, references dynamics surrounding electronic psychic warfare as described by Buchanan. Topics mentioned in the doc include "Telekinetic Manipulation of Circuitry" and "Telepathic Manipulation of Operator to Induce False Message."

The activities of intelligence personnel Stubblebine, Alexander, and Buchanan were portrayed in Jon Ronson's The Men Who Stare at Goats. Below are some related remarks from a man identified by Ronson as a Special Forces soldier:


It was just six years after Sgt. Buchanan's computer incident at the Augsburg Field Station that the base served as a temporary home to the Gulf Breeze Six. It was there, from Stubblebine's former stomping grounds, that the crew of NSA intelligence analysts reportedly took up hypnosis and Ouija board sessions in attempts to communicate with mysterious entities and religious icons. The group then went AWOL in 1990 to travel to the home of a self-described psychic residing at a UFO hot spot, Gulf Breeze, Florida, hosting a MUFON symposium at the time. 

Perhaps such circumstances show us the evolution of woo pedaling in intel circles. Stargate, CIA psychic spies and many examples could be cited for consideration. 

Perhaps such incidents indicate something more, whatever it may be. A reasonable argument could be made that combinations of explanations apply to the IC long history of interest in fringe topics and communities. Any way we choose to look at it, one might question why the underlying issues do not receive more attention, and particularly sincere, objective consideration, from both the skeptical and pro-paranormal aspects of the UFO community. 

I'll close with a passage from The Greys Have Been Framed: Exploitation in the UFO Community, pp 223-224:
[I]n early 2015 the British army announced the formation of the 77th Brigade, a unit of 1500 troops The Guardian dubbed “Facebook warriors.” The soldiers are charged with carrying out unconventional, “non-lethal warfare” and executing psychological operations through the use of social media. Israeli and US armies engage heavily in such operations, with the Israel Defense Forces reporting activity conducted in six languages on 30 platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
It would be difficult for me to believe the UFO community did not serve in some capacity in the research and development of such psyops, or, at the least, I would doubt the community was exempt from effects of the evolution of such projects. As a matter of fact, in his hard hitting 2015 piece on how the US intelligence community drove to dominate the world through information control, Why Google made the NSA, investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed referenced ufology's favorite CIA consultant, Col. John Alexander. Specifically, the targeting of civilian populations for information war.
Addressing a 1989 US Navy brief authored by well-connected Pentagon official Richard O'Neill, Ahmed wrote, “That secret brief, which according to former senior US intelligence official John Alexander was read by the Pentagon’s top leadership, argued that information war must be targeted at: adversaries to convince them of their vulnerability; potential partners around the world so they accept 'the cause as just'; and finally, civilian populations and the political leadership so they believe that 'the cost' in blood and treasure is worth it.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

News of Note

Romanek Trial

A Feb. 17 pre-trial conference in the case of Stan Romaek was postponed to Feb. 24 when prosecutors, defense attorneys, Romanek and Judge Susan Blanco met privately. Romanek is a self-described alien abductee charged with possessing and distributing child pornography. The group discussed additional evidence presented by the prosecution, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald. Elizabeth McClintock, an attorney representing Romanek, stated the evidence could affect the defense team's previously endorsed alibi. An eight-day jury trial is scheduled for March 20 [Edit: The trial was delayed again to July 31]. Learn more at Relevant Web Links on Romanek Case, where I've been updating key links of what has now been a three-year saga since Romanek's arrest.

As Every Cop Is a Criminal

Lucien Greaves
Spokesperson Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple will be making a presentation titled, Mind-Control, The Process Church, Satanism, The FBI, & The Life of a Public Paranoid. It will cover research conducted by Greaves on the late FBI man Ted Gunderson and related conspiracy narratives of Satanic ritual abuse. You can read more about the event in a Facebook post. The presentation will be held Friday, March 3, 8-10pm EST at The Satanic Temple in Salem, MA, and will be posted to YouTube shortly thereafter.

The work of Greaves and his colleagues periodically overlaps into social issues found in ufology and related genres. Among their areas of interest are the consequences of failing to prioritize critical thinking, as well as damage induced through hypnosis irresponsibly administered on vulnerable populations. 

See, for instance, the infamous case of the Castlewood Treatment Center, in which lawsuits were settled alleging that patients who sought treatment for their eating disorders were rendered increasingly dependent on facilitators when hypnotically led to believe they were victims of Satanic ritual abuse. A solid argument can be made it's strikingly similar to alien abduction fear-mongering with an alternative perpetrator, devil worshipers, cultivated by an obvious common denominator, the hypnotist.

You'll likely find The Satanic Temple's activism intriguing if you're interested in debate surrounding such issues as separation of church and state, rights to worship and assemble, and freedom of expression. The organization is significantly active in pressing elected officials to uniformly recognize obligations to members of the public, regardless of religious preference. 

IUFOC

The International UFO Congress recently wrapped up in Arizona. Motherboard spoke with a retired neuroscientist in attendance. Not sure about all that, but keep an eye on Robert Sheaffer's Bad UFOs blog, where he traditionally posts a summary of the event and its speakers.     

UFOs: Reframing the Debate

"If you like your UFO literature to confirm what you already 'know,' this is not the book for you!" 

I'm proud to have submitted a chapter to the soon to be released book, UFOs: Reframing the Debate. Edited by Robbie Graham and with artwork by Red Pill Junkie, it's a collection of essays on alternative perspectives on UFOs and how we might more usefully study the phenomenon in the 21st century. I look forward to reading the work from my fellow contributors.

Roswell Conference

I'll be speaking this summer in Roswell, and it would be great to connect with readers and people I otherwise only e-know. The event is part of the 2017 festival and themed, "70 Years Later: Modern Challenges to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis". It will be June 29 to July 2, and I'll be giving two presentations. I'll be exploring at length such topics as exploitation in ufology and ways the UFO and intelligence communities overlap. 

Check out the website for speaker list, schedule and more related info.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Revisiting the Gulf Breeze Six

I recently made a decision to add inquiring about the Gulf Breeze Six to my ongoing FOIA requests. I initially emailed James Carrion to get his input on most effectively composing the requests. In his response, James mentioned he would take a look around for some material he might have on the case and send it along in the event I'd find it useful. He soon emailed copies of dozens of relevant newspaper clippings, messages posted on listservs, interviews, and similar documents I very much appreciate and find of historic value. With James' permission I am sharing a 117-page pdf file he provided. In the post below I'll explore the case, discuss some of the many interesting points in the material James offered, and describe the resulting FOIA requests filed.

The Gulf Breeze Six

"Disembodied Voice: I'm the Virgin Mary, how many personnel are currently occupying your NSA listening station in Germany?"
- Kandinsky, commenting on Gulf Breeze Six case, Above Top Secret 

A long time ago in a UFO community far, far away, some interesting things actually happened. It might be hard for some to imagine, but events went down in ufology other than self-described disclosure activists frantically building urgency around what chronically amounts to nothing and a podcaster persistently trying to extract cash from email lists like third world con men hacking Yahoo.

The 1980's gave ufology a series of eyebrow-raising evolving into jaw-dropping events, compliments of the intelligence community, that included Airman Simone Mendez and her run in with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and FBI; Paul Bennewitz and Linda Moulton Howe targeted for deception by OSI Special Agent Richard Doty; and in 1989, writer and researcher Bill Moore took the opportunity as keynote speaker at the annual MUFON symposium to declare he'd been collaborating with Doty and other members of the IC to distribute disinformation. 

While that was happening, the Florida community of Gulf Breeze gained global attention due to reported dramatic UFO sightings and, in particular, the controversial case of Ed Walters. As a result, Gulf Breeze was the site of the 1990 annual MUFON symposium, at which time - just a year since Moore cannonballed into the last gig - a crew of a half dozen AWOL intelligence analysts partial to using a Ouija board arrived at the home of a local psychic as the conference came to a close down the street. The group became known as the Gulf Breeze Six.




If you're not familiar with the saga of the Gulf Breeze Six, it's worth some time. The late Philip Coppens penned a pretty good summary of the case. It's complicated, but let's dive in:

Six Army intelligence analysts were serving in the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade at Augsburg, Germany, the largest NSA base in the world outside the States at the time. Each member of the group held a top secret security clearance. They began conducting meetings consisting of Ouija board sessions and explorations of non-ordinary states of consciousness, and they claimed to think they were communicating with spirits and religious icons, including the Virgin Mary, during the meetings. The six apparently perceived they were provided prophecies, and interpreted the predictions to be coming to pass, leading them to increasingly trust the means of communication and alleged entities.

Members of the group had lifelong interests in paranormal subject matter, including one, Spc. Vance A. Davis, who as a teenager took a course in "Silva Mind Control," and another, Spc. Kenneth G. Beason, who dabbled in hypnosis and reportedly was interested in UFOs. The six also included Sgt. Annette Eccleston, Pfc. Michael J. Hueckstaedt, Pfc. Kris P. Perlock, and Pfc. William N. Setterberg. They reportedly went over the proverbial wall in early July, 1990, after giving away some belongings and ceremoniously burning their records and books. 

Another key figure was a Gulf Breeze self-described psychic, Anna Foster, who Perlock met while in cryptology training in Pensacola prior to shipping off to Europe. Foster apparently also befriended Beason when he was stationed in Pensacola. All but Eccleston, the lone female of the six soldiers, were reportedly staying at Foster's apartment while Absent Without Official Leave. Eccleston was apprehended at a campsite at nearby Fort Pickens, for whatever reasons.
      
Former home of the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade
at the US Intelligence Field Station, Augsburg, Germany
The group's beliefs and motives for going AWOL were somewhat unclear, but were at least partially represented to include a desire to deliver information as provided by the mysterious entities to the U.S. president. I'm not sure if they expected Mr. President to be at Anna Foster's place, but anyway... They were also reportedly interested in speaking with an author of UFO books and related conspiracies, quite possibly Bill Cooper, and that would make a little more sense about going to Gulf Breeze before moving on to laying low in the western woods as they claimed was on the itinerary, or I guess it would make more sense. Sorta. Anyhow, it should not be completely surprising that some of the confusion was due to the content of statements originating from the Pentagon and spokespersons after the detention of the six, later retracted through official channels or denied altogether by the former soldiers. 

Also adding to the confusion were statements by members of the Gulf Breeze Six, which at times seemed to be unclear if not lacking logic. What's more, some of their acquaintances were quoted in the media as saddling them with remarks and beliefs they later denied. Ideologies attributed to the group included a forthcoming Rapture, alien spaceships frequenting Gulf Breeze, a UFO cover-up conducted by the government, a plot to thwart the Antichrist, significant malevolent forces operating covertly within the U.S. government, and similar mindsets arguably being found with increasing frequency among members of the UFO community and related genres. Some of the beliefs were later defended by Vance Davis and his peers, while some were dismissed as rumors. 

Any way we look at it, the six were a pretty paranormal-friendly bunch, or at least claimed to be, and landed in Gulf Breeze about the same time a MUFON convention wrapped up on July 8. The six were apparently in Tennessee a few days earlier, where they bought a van and drove it to Florida, arriving July 9, according to Gulf Breeze police, but I strongly suspect that date was established from statements obtained. If not, it would be reasonable to question how police actually knew when the entourage hit town. At any rate, Hueckstaedt soon crossed paths with local law enforcement when he was pulled over in the van for driving with faulty taillights, and the entire group was eventually detained July 13-14. The six were transferred to the custody of intelligence agencies and taken to Fort Benning, GA, and Fort Knox, KY, for interrogation. 

They were soon issued general discharges and released with minimal consequences. Three of the six, Beason, Eccleston, and Hueckstaedt, returned to Gulf Breeze, remarkably arriving back in town within three weeks of first having been taken into custody. Beason said he returned to the area because of friendships he developed, according to an August 4, 1990, newspaper article titled, Three discharged soldiers return to Gulf Breeze, friends


Article explaining Beason, Eccleston, and Hueckstaedt returned to Gulf Breeze following their discharges,
found on page 67 of pdf file provided by James Carrion


Drilling Down

The above summary leaves many of us with more questions than answers. A sticking point, for instance, has long been understanding how the six navigated international airports without being detained. A partial explanation might include information contained in a July 19, 1990, New York Times article (see p 98 of the pdf file):

The Pentagon said that two of the soldiers went on authorized leave from their unit, the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade at Augsburg, West Germany, about two weeks ago, and never returned. At the same time, two other soldiers from the unit vanished, and officials suspected that two more who were on leave would not return.
Military authorities issued a worldwide alert for the six soldiers on July 9.
July, 1990
That might account for how they managed to get stateside, combined with circumstances reported in an article from the Northwest Florida Daily News (p 64 of the pdf), which suggested the group used forged leave papers. Before the worldwide alert was issued Monday the 9th, Beason and Hueckstaedt could feasibly have made it to Tennessee by Friday, July 6, as reported was the case by the Pensacola News Journal (p 91 of pdf). The two reportedly planned to soon meet the other four (p 69 of pdf, Marin Independent Journal, U.S. soldiers go AWOL to find 'Jesus in a spaceship'). Some, however, including Davis (as cited by Coppens), would later speculate intelligence officials knew of the group's plan all along and were monitoring the journey.  

A piece in the July 19, 1990, edition of the Pensacola News Journal (pp 90-91 of pdf, 6 soldiers here to kill Antichrist) indicated Robert Hall, an Army spokesman, stated authorities didn't know how the six got to the United States. The author of the article also obtained comments from Stan Johnson, a contact of Beason's in Tennessee, who apparently picked up Beason and Hueckstaedt at the Knoxville airport on July 6 and helped them buy the van. 

"He did mention... about going to Pensacola for a UFO convention," Johnson was interestingly quoted as recalling about Beason. 

Oh, and the European Stars and Stripes was quoted in the same article (pp 90-91) as reporting the crew of six went to Gulf Breeze to kill the Antichrist, but we'll come back to that in a minute. First, the article indicated the MUFON conference was held in Pensacola July 6-8, and reported MUFON officials "could not say whether Beason or Hueckstaedt attended any of the symposium sessions," but get this: Anna Foster, the psychic who opened her home to the group, apparently did.

In what appears to be the next day's edition of the same paper, the July 20, 1990, Pensacola News Journal, a story was published titled, Soldiers were to expose UFO scam, sister says (pp 92-93 of pdf). The article highlights Beason's sister and her husband, Carolyn and Charles Reed, explaining how Beason "said they were going to expose a government cover-up of reports that aliens have visited Earth," although the couple did not seem to take him particularly seriously. The article continued, "The Reeds said Beason also told them that Foster had introduced him to a UFO group that believed the government was covering up alien visits to Earth."

"If anybody should be arrested, it should be that lady," Charles Reed told the News Journal about Anna Foster, for what it may or may not be worth. 

The article interestingly concluded:
The Mutual UFO Network held a symposium on UFOs two weeks ago July 6-8, but the group did not endorse any position on a government cover-up, said Don Ware, a Fort Walton Beach representative of the group.
Although Ware said Foster had attended the symposium, Foster refused comment again Tuesday night.

The Stand

Among the more dramatic of the many dramatic story lines to emerge from the saga involved the Antichrist. The previously referenced July 19 article published in the News Journal (pp 90-91 of pdf) reported members of the six were being held at Fort Benning, and that Maj. Joe Padilla, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said he didn't know why they left Germany or anything about their religious beliefs. Gulf Breeze Police Chief Jerry Brown was similarly asked for comment. The article explained:
When he was told of the Stars and Stripes report Wednesday, Brown said, "I don't believe that. Who is the Antichrist?"
If the cult had talked about destroying the Antichrist, that person should have a name, he said. 
  
According to a Georgia MUFON State Section Director, who described a Fort Benning doctor as his source, at least some of the Gulf Breeze Six claimed to believe the Antichrist indeed had a name, and it was Ed Walters. In an August 4, 1990, letter to MUFON International Director Walt Andrus, the Section Director wrote (p 77 of pdf):
In regards to your request that I try to meet with the soldiers here at Fort Benning, Georgia who were involved in the recent "End of the World" deal at Gulf Breeze, Florida, the following negative report is submitted.
I was unable to meet with the soldiers who were being held in the stockade and my fraternity brother, who is a doctor at the base hospital, couldn't get me in to see the two men who were on the psychiatric ward. All I could get from the doctor was relatively the same as that which was out on the media wires. The soldiers had originally met while stationed together in Germany and they believed that the UFOs are works of the 'devil.' They also supposedly claim that Ed Walters is the anti-Christ and that is why the UFO activity has been so heavy in the Florida panhandle. I'm sorry I wasn't able to get anything better on this but the people at the Provost Marshall's office weren't very receptive to the idea of a UFO investigator. 

How Bizarre, How Bizarre

Other points of interest include Vance Davis describing his mastery of "self-hypnosis through active imagination" as taught in "Silva Mind Control courses that were held in Alex Merklinger's school in New York." Davis purported to interact with entities through such techniques (p 5 of pdf).

Davis stated GB6 colleague Kenneth Beason was practicing hypnosis techniques in an interview published in the January/February, 1995, edition of a Northern California MUFON periodical titled, Case Briefs: Explorations and Review. The item was reprinted with the permission of The Phoenix Newsletter. A passage I find interesting is pictured right and described below.

"Did you receive information from sources other than the Ouija Board?" the interviewer asked.

Vance Davis replied, "The UFO documents came from a woman (with Ashtar Command) in Germany. (That was the Cooper Report, and other documents.) We didn't really get anything from work, (but) we started seeing things differently. The first thing that really got us moving, and they didn't put this in the statements, (was) the Iran earthquake that year (1990), because we were told about it thirty days before it occurred. We were also doing hypnosis."

"Was Beason hypnotizing you?"

"Yeah. It was a relaxed state; like Edgar Cayce used to do. We were doing a lot of parapsychology research. A whole lot of it. We did Tarot cards, and all that kind of stuff. We were trying to disprove all of this stuff, until the Ouija Board happened and some hypnosis stuff."

In his book, Unbroken Promises: A True Story of Courage and Belief, Davis further described the group's sessions, as well as the woman in Germany (p 29 of pdf):
This third session ended up giving us the name of a woman in Munich that would have some information for us on the alien and UFO situation. The woman's name was Gabriel. We did, indeed, find that woman in Munich and she gave us some information and documents that were interesting, to say the least. That paperwork was taken by the officer that arrested Mike [Hueckstaedt] in Pensacola. We never saw it again.

The sessions included perceived interactions with Biblical icons Mark and Mother Mary, the latter of which curiously seemed to have arrived via the Ouija board to answer questions for Annette Eccleston, who "grew up a Catholic, but was no longer a practicing Catholic." (p 30 of pdf) Much more can be learned about the sessions and how the group members were influenced in the pdf file. Oddly enough, such activity in the vicinity of the base and interest in the subject matter may very well not have been limited to the wayward six. There may have been others involved.

Beason's sister and brother-in-law, the Reeds, told the Pensacola News Journal the man claimed to believe the Rapture was imminent and his group of twelve, not six, was prepping. The News Journal reported, "He also told the couple that before the second coming of Christ the group - which Beason said numbers 12 - would emerge and try to convert people to believe in Christ, the Reeds said." (p 92 of pdf)

For what it's worth, the Northwest Florida Daily News piled on, citing Stars and Stripes as reporting there were indeed more interested parties (p 79 of pdf):
A member of their unit told the newspaper Stars and Stripes the six were out to find and destroy Antichrist, the figure the Bible says will challenge Christ. He spoke on the condition his name would not be disclosed. 
Padilla, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, Wednesday retracted an earlier statement that the six were members of a group known as "The End of the World."
But Stars and Stripes quoted the soldier from the Augsburg unit as saying the cult has additional members in the area.
"There are others who are upset they didn't get invited" to go along on the search for the Antichrist, the newspaper quoted the soldier as saying. 

The cherry on top the bizarro milkshake may have been delivered in the form of "an unsigned typewritten note presumably sent to the US Army and all the major TV networks and wire services demanding the release of 'The Gulf Breeze Six,'" as reported August 16, 1990, in the Gulf Breeze Sentinel (read the transcript). The message in question was also reported by Jacques Vallee via Revelations, among other sources, and related discussion may be viewed on page one of the pdf file provided by James Carrion and referenced throughout this blog post.

The Sentinel article stated, "Mark Curtis at WEAR Channel 3 first shared this intriguing note with The Sentinel two days before the announcement that the Gulf Breeze Six were discharged from the Army and released."

The message contained in the note, which was reported to have been typed in all caps and accompanied by images, stated in full:
ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, UPI
U.S. Army:
Free the Gulf Breeze Six.
We have the missing plans, the box of 500+ photos and the plans you want back.
Here is proof with close-ups cut out.
Next we send the closeups and then everything unless they are released.
Answer code AUGSBB3CM  

Possibilities 

I suppose reasonable conclusions about the chain of events would have to include what many might argue is most obvious: The Gulf Breeze Six were young, impressionable, and open-minded to a fault. That might be an explanation, pending further information allowing more conspiratorial conclusions be drawn. Maybe the rest is just history, or at least what's known about it. Such happens. A lot, around ufology. 

Another perspective was offered by Coppens. Reasonable and interesting, I'd say:
"Logic" – which does not really come into this story, but somehow needs to be applied to keep a reasonable level of sanity, I would suggest – suggests that something else was going; that this group was singled out and became the victim of an experiment, which their pre-joining interests made them predisposed towards, and which "someone" carefully remoulded to see to test out a hypothesis. If this is true, then the scenario was successful, and when the test was concluded, they were rounded up, brought in… and allowed to tell their story, so that the public disclosure of their story would serve part of the exercise as well.

There are researchers, including George P. Hansen, who suspect individuals who become ensnared in the twilight where the IC meets ufology may land on the radar of intelligence agencies because of their interests in UFOs and paranormal subject matter, not in spite of it. From Hansen's The Trickster and the Paranormal, page 232: 
[Richard] Doty was apparently involved with the dubious Ellsworth UFO case before he entered AFOSI. Why then was he made a Special Agent? Given the sensitive nature of that agency's work, an extensive background check must have been done, and his caper at Ellsworth must have come to light. It is plausible that Doty was recruited by AFOSI precisely because of that. His personal interest in UFOs may have been useful to AFOSI, and his unreliability could have been an asset because he could be easily discredited if he was caught in something that might embarrass the agency.
The plausibility of this scenario is strengthened by the case of Simone Mendez. Her story appeared in Just Cause in 1991, after documentation supporting her report became available via the FOIA. It leaves many questions unanswered, but it implicates the AFOSI.

Liner Notes

Related matters of interest include:

- Former MUFON Eastern Regional Director Donald Ware, who the Pensacola News Journal attributed with stating Anna Foster attended the MUFON 1990 International UFO Symposium, in 1992 guided Leah Haley on a now infamous hike across Eglin Air Force Base. They were in search of an alien spacecraft suspected to be downed by the U.S. military with Haley aboard. The unsubstantiated tale resulted from hypnosis sessions conducted on Haley by John Carpenter, another former MUFON director, who became entangled in the Carpenter Affair. In 1993 Ware was removed from the board in what then-International Director Walt Andrus called an unprecedented election in the July, 1993, MUFON UFO Journal. In his "Director's Message," Andrus explained to Journal readers:
This action stemmed from continued advisory statements by members of the Executive Committee to Don that he refrain from mailing books to Board members and Eastern Regional State Directors espousing "channeling" philosophies and techniques over a two year period.
As a result of Mr. Ware's fascination with channeling as a means of communicating with aliens or entities, he invited Dr. Norma Milanovich, a professed channeler, to attend the closed MUFON "Face-to-Face" meeting in Albuquerque, NM in July 1992 and allowed her to read her channeled answers to the questions posed for discussion by the participants. Much to the shock and dismay of MUFON officers attending, Dr. Milanovich read the answers from a computer print-out which she claims was obtained from "Master Kuthumi" during a 33-minute period the previous night.  
Ware went on to direct the International UFO Congress from 1993-2010.

- The former home of the Gulf Breeze Six and the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade, the US Intelligence Field Station of Augsburg, was the old stomping grounds of Maj. Gen. Bert Stubblebine and Sgt. Lyn Buchanan as portrayed in Jon Ronson's The Men Who Stare at Goats. A few years before the Gulf Breeze Six arrived, career intelligence officer Stubblebine was deeply involved in unconventional avenues of research. He was credited with creating Remote Viewing and went on to become what could reasonably be described as an irrational conspiracy theorist. Buchanan, who worked with Stubblebine and was involved in the Remote Viewing initiative, considers himself an alien abductee, as explored in an interview he generously provided me.

- Rima Laibow, MD, was a speaker at the MUFON 1990 International UFO Symposium in Pensacola. Her pro-hypnosis platform and promotion of alleged alien abduction were viewed favorably by MUFON, as was the case with her fellow speaker, Budd Hopkins. Dr. Laibow went on to marry Maj. Gen. Stubblebine.    

- In 1991 the 701st MI Brigade was awarded the prestigious Director of the National Security Agency's Travis Trophy. The award was granted for having made the nation's most significant contribution in signals intelligence.

- In 1989 Anna Foster published her book, Song of my soul

FOIA

I recently submitted four FOIA requests on the Gulf Breeze Six. One was to the NSA, asking they conduct a Mandatory Declassification Review, or MDR, of the file referenced by Coppens. He stated 1400 of its 1600 pages were withheld, so perhaps more of that will be released. I also requested NSA provide records pertaining to investigations of the individuals and their activities, as suggested in newspaper clippings. 

I similarly requested the Army conduct an MDR of the file referenced by Coppens, as well as related records on the group. Newspaper clippings, establishing the existence of such Army investigations of the six, were offered in support.

The CIA and FBI were also queried, with files requested on interactions with and investigations of the Gulf Breeze Six. Offered in support was a July 19, 1990, article (p 81 of pdf) which stated, "Gulf Breeze Police Chief Jerry Brown said that no arrests were made, and [the six] were turned over to the CIA and FBI before going to Fort Benning." Also cited was a July 17, 1990, clipping (pp 86-87) which attributed Police Chief Brown with stating the FBI, CIA and NSA called the Gulf Breeze Police Department following the soldiers' detention.