Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Intelligence Community Influence Is a Ufology Staple

Historian Aaron J. Gulyas is doing a podcast, The Saucer Life, and I recommend checking it out. Gulyas is a longtime researcher, writer, and presenter in the UFO community. He does good work and his podcast is entertaining, as well as full of intriguing, well sourced tidbits. The Nov. 26 episode, Encounter 206: And then the feds showed up..., addressed the type of circumstances often explored here at The UFO Trail.

The show focused on a chain of events involving the 1954 Detroit Flying Saucer Club. Gulyas cited declassified FBI documents he located at The Black Vault which indicate members of the Saucer Club became concerned about the potentially anti-American and subversive activities of other attendees. A concerned citizen contacted the FBI, touching off an investigation, a series of covert interactions surrounding FBI agents and club members, and, as Gulyas put it, an example of why government interest in flying saucers was really never about the saucers in some cases.

Points I find interesting about the saga include similarities between mid 20th century fear of communist aggression and current day Islamophobia. For instance, activities at least one Detroit Flying Saucer Club member felt warranted reporting to the FBI included the expression of anti-nuclear war sentiments and the promotion of peace. Not exactly treason, but apparently disturbing enough for a self-described patriotic American to call the feds.

Also of interest was a central figure, Laura Mundo, who conducted a campaign to promote the film The Day the Earth Stood Still. We might reasonably assume her support of predominant themes in the movie - namely, aliens, universal peace and disarmament - primarily fueled her interest in the film, pending substantial reasons to suspect otherwise.

It's an intriguing side plot that the CIA in all likelihood substantially influenced the production of The Day the Earth Stood Still. As writer/researcher Robbie Graham pointed out, verified propaganda specialists were employed on the set as a production chief and a script writer, among other significant circumstances (see Graham's book Silver Screen Saucers and paper The CIA, the Movie Mogul, and 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'). 

This presents any number of interesting scenarios, including Mundo becoming indirectly influenced by intelligence agencies conducting projects using the UFO topic as a tool. She was neither the first nor the last to be ensnared in the cloak and dagger activities of such agencies, seemingly at least sometimes unaware of the actions and objectives of one another. The Saucer Life might lead us to revisit some related circumstances.

Intelligence and UFO Communities

As we have previously explored, investigation of espionage has been much more relevant to the UFO community than its disproportionately low amount of attention suggests. Espionage and counterespionage operations have significantly shaped UFO-related beliefs, inadvertently or otherwise, of any number of community members, some of them more directly and noticeably than others. This is often without so much as a smattering of discussion. What's more, the involvement of intelligence personnel in ufology is not only nothing new, but a staple. If we were to make a Venn diagram of the intelligence and UFO communities - particularly ufology's high profile members - the much larger circle of the former would significantly overlap the latter.

The birth of the modern era of UFOs was fathered by the intelligence community. The ghost rockets, Kenneth Arnold story, Roswell saga and more are saturated with IC involvement and verifiable instances of under the table activities. 

The contactee movement, which, as Gulyas reports, included Laura Mundo's support of George Adamski, was itself saturated with intel implications as well. To omit the involvement of the IC in an exploration of the contactee era would render an incomplete assessment. As a matter of fact, many ufology circumstances from the times involved intelligence agencies, as Gulyas is exploring at The Saucer Life. The cases are many and frequent. 

The USAF Office of Special Investigations became a regular player in the UFO genre, and the FBI always was. Career CIA and NSA personnel substantially contributed to the evolving fantastic story lines and subplots, ranging from sitting on boards of directors of UFO organizations to making sensational yet unsubstantiated claims themselves. The list goes on.

The covertly CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel suggested to the Agency in 1953 that UFO "organizations should be watched because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. The apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind."

View the full transcript of the Jan. 30, 1954 CIA cable
via the State Department
Far from above such subversive actions itself, the CIA recommended in 1954 to operatives in Guatemala to consider fabricating a story about flying saucers. The objective was to distract public attention from Agency sponsorship of a coup in the Central American nation.

It began that way in ufology in the mid 20th century, and it really hasn't changed a whole lot since. "Disclosure activists" are indeed continuing to hang their hopes on the cryptic statements of intelligence personnel, arguably reading between the lines exactly what they desire to find. What's more, the much discussed Tom DeLonge identifies himself as willing and able to sort IC fact from fiction and inform us of what he "knows" about the alien presence. Actual substance is disappointingly - and quite noticeably - absent from his disclosures.

I can understand when UFO enthusiasts aren't interested in the intelligence community. I really can. I realize many people want to hear about unexplained phenomena. It's interesting, and very few of us ever picked up our first UFO book or attended our first conference to learn about the significance of espionage in the UFO community. There are indeed any number of intriguing UFO cases with well presented research surrounding them. It's reasonable to find them of interest.

It is nonetheless equally true that the mid 20th century to present era of UFOs includes substantial activity of the intelligence community. The reasons are many, and the objectives, whatever they all may be, are different from one situation to the next. The fallout is relevant. Whether we choose to find it more interesting to stock our bookshelves with reports of unusual phenomena, or the social circumstances surrounding them, may at times be considered comparable to viewing an optical illusion, the kind in which we see either a vase or two faces opposite one another, depending on perspective. It might sometimes be worth remembering that the entire disorienting illusion was created by an artist in the first place. 


Further reading:  

Saturday, November 18, 2017

FOIA Appeal Update

I recently received an email about the status of an FOIA appeal after I asked for an update. The original FOIA request was submitted to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in 2016. It was about circumstances surrounding Joint Security Control (JSC) and its activities in 1946 and 1947. 

"We have identified and gathered all the responsive documents for your case," Deputy FOIA Officer/Archivist Jodi L. Foor of NARA wrote in a Nov. 13, 2017 email. 

It's not entirely clear if Foor is suggesting that documents previously not provided by NARA were indeed located, making the appeal valid, or if the FOIA officer is referring to some other kinds of material. I guess we'll have to wait and see, and we're unfortunately going to be waiting a while. 

"We are estimating that we will be able to start working your case within 10 to 12 months," Foor added. "We do apologize for the delay but assure you that we will complete your case as soon as possible."

Update on NARA FOIA appeal received Nov. 13, 2017

The work of James Carrion peaked my interest in JSC and its potential significance to UFO history. He documented how JSC was initially founded during WWII as a high level deception planning unit. It subsequently received a revised charter in May of 1947 to classify and protect important information, and to plan and implement deception operations during times of peace (as well as war), among other responsibilities. 

In related news, Carrion recently published two more posts on the topic at his blog, Anachronism. He explores direct links between members of JSC and mid 20th century UFO reports.

It was such circumstances that first motivated my Sep. 6, 2016, FOIA request to NARA. See images below, in which I asked for copies of files on JSC deception operations and related items. 

The request was initially met with a less than helpful response. NARA Archivist Mr. R.E. Cookson suggested I order an already declassified JSC file. He added, "The remainder of your 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 in Oct., 2016, seeking further review of the FOIA request. I pointed out that some specific items were indeed requested. I also asked consideration be given to the fact the very declassified documents Archivist Cookson referenced, as well as others readily available for presentation (as cited by Carrion, for example), established that the creation and responsibilities of JSC included the execution of deception operations. I subsequently requested deeper consideration be given to how a researcher might otherwise learn about such established operations than request their files and the documentation contained therein. 

Main body of FOIA request originally filed to NARA Sep. 6, 2016

For those less aware than others of some of the plot lines, potential significance involves JSC directly interacting with the FBI pertaining to UFO investigations during that now fateful summer of 1947. Specifically, Col. Carl E. Goldbranson of JSC and FBI Special Agent S.W. Reynolds. I recommend giving the links a read. For further background, I quote the following several paragraphs from James Carrion's 2004 paper, New Avenues for UFO Research:

[Begin quote]

...Report on Flying Disks, dated July 25, 1947 from HQ, Air Defense Command, Mitchel Field to the Commanding General, Army Air Forces concluded that: 

(a) This "flying saucer" situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomenon. Something is really flying around. 
(b) Lack of topside inquiries, when compared to the prompt and demanding inquiries that have originated topside upon former events, give more than ordinary weight to the possibility that this is a domestic project, about which the President, etc. know. 

This same point of view was echoed by a FBI Memo dated August 19, 1947 from E.G. Fitch to D.M. Ladd, Subject: Flying Disks where: 
Special Agent (S.W. Reynolds) of the Liaison Section, while discussing the above captioned phenomena with Lieutenant Colonel (K.C. Garrett) of the Air Forces Intelligence, expressed the possibility that flying disks were in fact, a very highly classified experiment of the Army or Navy. Mr. (Reynolds) was very much surprised when Colonel (Garrett) stated it was his personal opinion that such was a probability, but confidentially stated that a Mr. (X) who is a scientist attached to the Air Forces Intelligence, was of the same opinion. 
Colonel (Garrett) stated that he based his assumption on the following: He pointed out that when flying objects were seen over Sweden, the "high brass" of the War Department exerted tremendous pressure on the Air Forces Intelligence to conduct research and collect information in an effort to identify these sightings. Colonel (Garrett) stated that, in contrast to this, we have reported sightings of unknown objects over the United States, and the "high brass" appeared to be totally unconcerned. He indicated this led him to believe that they knew enough about these objects to express no concern. Colonel (Garrett) pointed out further that the objects in question have been seen by many individuals who are what he terms "trained observers," such as airplane pilots. He indicated also that several of the individuals are reliable members of the community. He stated that it his conclusion that these individuals saw something. He stated the above has led him to the conclusion that there were objects seen which somebody in the Government knows all about. 

It is intriguing that both Air Force Intelligence and Air Defense Command personnel were puzzled by the obvious lack of concern from upper echelons and were convinced that someone at a higher level was in the "know". Neither questioned the reality of the sightings. If UFOs were indeed being used for counter-espionage purposes, it makes sense that higher authorities would not be alarmed over these UFOs violating U.S. airspace. 

This brings up another interesting question - could some of the objects witnessed in late June and early July 1947 have been staged in support of a deception/counter-intelligence operation? A FBI memo dated July 30, 1947 alludes to this possibility: 

FLYING DISCS – The Bureau, at the request of the Army Air Forces Intelligence, has agreed to cooperate in the investigations of flying discs. The Air Force have confidentially advised that it is possible to release three or more discs in odd numbers, attached together by a wire, from an airplane in high altitudes and that these discs would obtain tremendous speed in their descent and would descend to the earth in an arc. The Army Air Forces Intelligence has also indicated some concern that the reported sightings might have been made by subversive individuals for the purpose of creating a mass hysteria.

[End quote]
*      *      *      *

I find these specific lines of research interesting, regardless of what varieties of circumstances might possibly be found in any number of other UFO reports from different eras. Furthermore, I want to know more about JSC, its interactions with intelligence agencies, and its deception operations whatever it all proves to involve. It's historically significant from any number of perspectives. Let's hope NARA will help with that.

Friday, September 22, 2017

NSA Releases 1978 Memo on MUFON Conference

The National Security Agency recently released the majority of a 1978 memo prepared by an assignee about his attendance at a UFO conference. The document was obtained following a Jan. 24, 2017, request for a Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR). The five-page memo contains the subject line, "Information request solicitation," and advises the NSA on such matters as likely fraudulent CIA letters showcased at the conference, activities of some specific researchers in attendance, relationships with the researchers, and potential problems that might arise through such relationships. The NSA Sep. 12, 2017, response to the MDR request and the partially redacted document may be viewed and downloaded at the link above. 

The Memo

The NSA continues to withhold the name of the assignee who composed the memo, as well as identities of additional NSA personnel referenced, but the late writer and researcher Philip Klass confidently speculated the author to be Tom Deuley. Klass was probably correct, as we will explore later in this post.

The Aug. 29, 1978, message begins by providing its recipient with some context. The author explained how he informed proper NSA personnel of his interest in UFOs and his intention to attend the 1978 MUFON Symposium. He then described events which occurred at the conference and involved researchers Leonard Stringfield, Robert Barry and Todd Zechel. 

Stringfield did a presentation, during which he introduced Barry, who shared two letters he allegedly received from the CIA (Further research revealed Stringfield's presentation was on crashed flying saucers, so we might reasonably assume Barry's letters were related to the topic). The memo author/NSA assignee indicated he suspected the letters to be fraudulent, and proceeded to interact with the researchers in order to investigate the authenticity of the docs. He went on to explain he contacted CIA personnel who verified the letters to be frauds, and that the CIA wrote Barry and informed him that was the case. 

The memo author described his suspicions of the origin of the purported CIA letters, as well as his concerns about the activities of researchers involved, including Todd Zechel (who founded Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, or CAUS):

This leads us to the bulk of the body of the memo, and the purpose of its subject line, "Information request solicitation." The memo author describes a nearly hour long telephone conversation with Zechel in which the NSA man clearly developed a sense of responsibility to inform the Agency of its contents. The author explained Zechel was requesting he "watch out for UFO related information within NSA" and "that I pass on what I could." The NSA assignee added he had "to some degree" checked on Zechel's character "with some people who have worked with him more closely." 

"There is some thought," he continued, "that he would be capable of being behind the CIA letter fraud and that he is apt to go to most any length to collect information or to bend facts to fit his needs."

The author further wrote, "I personally have some fear that now that he has made contact with me, he may, either privately, or worse, publicly attempt to make it look as if I am an inside NSA contact for him. Or, on the other hand, he may elude to having such a contact for years, then when he feels it appropriate or when cornered, hope to produce me as that contact."

The memo concludes with mentioning "a chance of building a productive working relationship" with Zechel, whatever that's supposed to mean, and committing, "Any further contact or requests for information will be reported.":


The trail of the 1978 memo can be followed back to the Yeates affidavit. The sworn statements of NSA man Eugene F. Yeates were recorded in the early 1980's when CAUS sued the NSA for its UFO files. 

Yeates stated some 239 documents responsive to the FOIA request submitted by CAUS were located in NSA files. One of the docs, he noted however, should not be considered relevant to UFOs: the 1978 memo. As Yeates explained in the affidavit, "It is an account by a person assigned to NSA of his attendance at a UFO symposium and it cannot fairly be said to be a record of the kind sought by the plaintiff."

In other words, it didn't really have anything to do with UFOs. Yeates' statements further suggested the NSA was reluctant to fully release the rest of its files for similar reasons: the info therein had less to do with the plaintiff's UFO-related interests than matters of national security, particularly communications intelligence (COMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT).  

Philip Klass explored the topic in his Jan., 1997 newsletter. Klass obtained some 156 formerly Top Secret COMINT "UFO documents" spanning the years 1958 to 1979 and previously withheld from CAUS by the NSA. While the docs were "heavily censored," Klass concurred they primarily revealed matters of national security, such as NSA eavesdropping on Russian military sites and similar circumstances.

Klass further wrote that he strongly suspected the author of the then-withheld memo by the assignee at the UFO conference (referenced in the Yeates affidavit) to be Tom Deuley, a former NSA man and longtime MUFON board member. Klass continued that Deuley explained in a 1987 paper he was assigned to the Agency in mid-1978, just prior to attending the MUFON annual conference held that year in Dayton, Ohio. Deuley reportedly also wrote, "Before making that trip I felt it was necessary to let NSA know that I had an interest in UFOs. I took the matter up with my immediate supervisor, suggesting that the fact be put on the record."

It can be reasonably surmised that Klass was likely correct about the identity of the memo author, as both the date, 1978, and location, Dayton, of the conference are corroborated in the now largely released document. The sponsor of the event, the Mutual UFO Network, is also corroborated, as is the description by the memo author that he was then-recently assigned to the NSA and desired to keep his employer properly informed of his activities. 


In my opinion, the declassified memo represents important yet largely under reported aspects of the UFO community: the significance of espionage and counterespionage operations, investigations (unrelated to UFOs but overlapping with the UFO community) conducted by the intelligence community, and the effects the circumstances have on the genre as a whole. This appears to have particularly been the case in the 20th century, when standard methods of operation seem to have included fabricating tales of crashed flying saucers and circulating unsubstantiated reports of aliens via fraudulent documents. The dynamics are reflected in the 1978 memo, whatever may have been the actual agendas of the parties involved.

Paul Bennewitz
The time of the memo, 1978, was just a few short years before Richard Doty gaslighted Paul Bennewitz and shared unverified extraordinary documents with Linda Moulton Howe. The Bennewitz Affair contained entirely unsubstantiated rumors that nonetheless continue to be recycled and continuously accepted throughout UFO circles. 

At that same point in time, the early 1980's, a young airman stationed in Nevada and holding a Top Secret clearance was slipped none other than a likely forged smoking gun doc. She had a preexisting relationship with MUFON and interest in UFOs. As explored in my book, The Greys Have Been Framed: Exploitation in the UFO Community, Simone Mendez was subjected to grueling interrogations before being cleared of potential espionage charges and any wrongdoing. It is reasonable to suspect she and others may have been provided such docs for the purpose of following their trails through the UFO community, somewhat like throwing a dye pack in a sinkhole and seeing where the dye emerges.  

Barry Greenwood of CAUS would later assist Mendez in obtaining documentation of her circumstances from the FBI and USAF Office of Special Investigations via the Freedom of Information Act. He also provided me with documents and information requested for inclusion in the chapter on the Mendez case contained in my book. 

Also noteworthy was the 1980's case of the late Vincente DePaula. He apparently held security clearance in his employment in the defense industry, working on satellite systems. DePaula, who had an interest in UFOs and traveled ufology social circles, was reportedly interrogated at length by the Defense Investigative Service about his ufology associates.

The activities of the intelligence community within ufology stand to substantially alter and subsequently form popularly held perspectives, and the activities often have nothing to do with unusual phenomena. The interests of intelligence agencies at least some of the time include circumstances as reported by Klass, protecting the sensitive details of such circumstances, and keeping a sharp eye on those who express unusually deep interests in them.

The UFO topic has in at least some instances been used as a vehicle to gain the trust of individuals holding security clearances in employment capacities. It is then used in attempts to extract information. It should be understood and taken into consideration that the accuracy of stories passed among such people is extremely suspect, even as they gain wider attention throughout the UFO community at large. What's more, the intent of such architects of deception, at least some of the time, is not to mislead the public, but such manipulation is simply a byproduct of other objectives. They just don't care what the public thinks about UFOs.

Bushman showing a highly questionable photo of an
alleged alien reportedly obtained from his network of contacts
As recently as 2014 a video surfaced of the late Boyd Bushman, a man claiming to have held Top Secret and Special Access clearance while employed at Lockheed Martin. He additionally expressed he was convinced of the existence of an alien presence. He also expressed his disdain for security regulations he interpreted to restrict the sharing of research. As explored in a May, 2017 blog post, Bushman indeed held such clearance - and a declassified 1999 FBI memo revealed his employer suspected shady individuals of trying to elicit classified information from him. It is reasonably clear his interest in UFOs served as an opportunity for developing such relationships, and the resulting unsubstantiated alien-related stories were repeated without question by a segment of the community.

In the end, a valid point can be made that it is not only the IC games that contribute to the deterioration of the genre and the topic, but the very presence of individuals who partake in such games. This goes much further than a simple warning of 'buyer beware'. The fact is the Mutual UFO Network has long been inundated with byproducts of the intelligence community, and many will recall it was Tom Deuley who served as front man for the ill fated Ambient Monitoring Project, an initiative which involved placing various data-gathering sensors and equipment in the homes of self-described alien abductees. The project was ultimately strongly criticized due to its lack of completion, lack of transparency, and general incompetence. Maybe the IC had nothing to do with the lack of adequate explanations for its failure, or the lack of resolution surrounding Skinwalker, or any number of similar circumstances, but if its members weren't so deeply involved in such cases while simultaneously harboring classified agendas, we wouldn't have to wonder.

Whatever the objectives may have been that were furthered by such events spanning from a 1947 press release in Roswell to the cultivation of the MJ-12 meme and all the way to the adventures of Tom Delonge - and virtually countless more cases potentially involving the IC along the way - their significance in shaping public perception should be recognized. The reasons may be as diverse as the dates and cases, but their relevance should be understood and incorporated into assessments.


Related posts:

NSA Fully Releases 'UFOs and the IC Blind Spot' Doc Following FOIA Request

Paper UFOs

Boyd Bushman, the FBI and Counterespionage


What Happened to the Ambient Monitoring Project?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NSA Fully Releases 'UFOs and the IC Blind Spot' Doc Following FOIA Request

National Security Agency headquarters, 
Fort Meade, MD
The NSA has released in full the document UFOs and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data, following an FOIA request to review redacted sections for further declassification. In a letter dated July 17, 2017, the Agency responded that the previously partially published document was processed as a Mandatory Declassification Review and subsequently released. The letter and accompanying file may be viewed and downloaded at the link above.

We first explored the doc, composed at some point prior to 1979 by an unnamed author, here at The UFO Trail in the January blog post, NSA UFO Docs. Two redacted sections of the seven-page file were noted. The first section provided an example of how human response to perceived unusual phenomena can be detrimental, particularly from a military perspective. Images below show previously redacted pages on the left, with the now fully disclosed pages on the right.


Offering an example of detrimental responses, the author explained how a USAF technician "was engaged in first level traffic analysis and intercept processing against Soviet Bloc countries," when one of the countries began to report an unusual radar track. It was described as "a high flying fast moving object with an erratic flight pattern." Although identified as occasionally moving against the wind, the Bloc "began reporting the object as a balloon." 

"The next Bloc nation picked up the object and continued the designation of balloon despite the erratic flight pattern, high speed, and against the wind maneuvers," the author continued.

It was further explained that the airman noted a variety of emotional reactions taking place among personnel within the American processing facility. Such reactions included "everyone was more edgy and silent than usual," as well as "aggressive and distracted responses" to requests for clarification of some of the data. 

The author concluded human flaws leave us blinded to unusual or surprising material. Some people, however, it was suggested, "are less affected by strange phenomena than others, though still frightened by it, they remain capable of reporting it with a fair degree of objectivity." 

The second redacted section was the author's recommendations to effectively address such challenges, which included training intelligence analysts "to be able to deal with unusual phenomena." It was also suggested:

Select a group of analysts and evaluators who have the natural capability to see unusual phenomena and be able to process it. Form these analysts into a special surprise alert team responsible directly to the JCS and the highest levels of the intelligence community and intensively train them further in the art of processing surprise material.

Further recommendations included providing intensive training to high level military officers responsible for strategic decisions. Such training included "the objective handling and analysis of surprise material."

The document offers some intriguing points for consideration. Among them is the author's interest in Air Force personnel reactions to surprise data. Also noteworthy, in my opinion, is the author's seemingly at times uncritical interpretations of reported UFO phenomena and ways to conduct investigation.

For instance, an event can be "so shockingly unusual," the author reports, it "is buried in the unconscious of the person where it is only accessible to hypnosis" or other carefully conducted modes of communication. Such views show how deeper, more accurate understandings of the unreliability of hypnosis as a memory retrieval tool have evolved in the scientific community and presumably among NSA assets. We periodically see similar outdated views reflected in IC Cold War era docs concerning other UFO and paranormal topics, as well. 

Related dynamics and NSA historic willingness to explore the fringe were considered in a March blog post titled, NSA Interest in the Paranormal. In a manner of speaking, the Gulf Breeze Six episode - whatever it may have ultimately involved - was not an anomaly as much a part of the natural progression of topics explored and activities regularly conducted by the Agency. That doesn't necessarily make it any less interesting, but should be clearly understood as the context is relevant: NSA and other agencies, such as DARPA and CIA, are as historically involved in exploring the fringe as debunking it, if not more so. That creates many potential options for the IC from one era and project to the next, as well as lines of research for those of us following along.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Paper UFOs

"[UFOs] were out of my reach of knowledge. I found the subject fascinating, as do a lot of people... That something is there, and that people see something, is unquestioned. I think, for me, it's best to leave it like that."
Did the CIA leave it like that?
"I assume not, no."
- Statements attributed to the late Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, former CIA Chief of Technical Services Staff, in 1997, as quoted by Hank Albarelli, Jr., A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments

In a recent blog post we explored a declassified NSA file containing a document that suggested a 1952 story of a crashed UFO was fabricated by the intelligence community. The saucer tale in question involved a disk supposedly recovered from the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

It might be noteworthy the story was apparently floated just five years after the Roswell Daily Record published an article about a retrieved flying saucer. The newspaper got the 1947 scoop compliments of a now infamous press release issued from the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force at Roswell Army Air Field. The press release didn't age well, to say the least, and exactly why that's the case continues to be the subject of intense study.

Guy Malone and Nick Redfern are among the many researchers who have taken deep dives into the topic, and suffice it to say their findings do not support extraterrestrial origins for the incident. Malone and Redfern recently made presentations at Roswell which will soon be available. Nick published his research in his new book, The Roswell UFO Conspiracy: Exposing a Shocking and Sinister Secret. I find their work on the topic interesting and worthy of consideration from several perspectives.

Further recommended is the work of James Carrion on the 1946-47 UFO scene. See Carrion's blog, Anachronism, where you may view relevant posts and download his book of the same name for free. 

Just two years after the Spitsbergen fiascothe CIA suggested to operatives in Guatemala via a 1954 telegram to consider fabricating a story about flying saucers as an option to distract public attention from Agency involvement in a coup. This was reported in a 2003 New York Times article somewhat amusingly titled, The C.I.A.'s Cover Has Been Blown? Just Make Up Something About U.F.O.'s. The original incidents notably took place during a time in history in which the Agency was up to its neck in the evolution of projects concerning behavior modification, or mind control. Operations such as Bluebird and Artichoke led to MKULTRA, formally run from 1953 to 1964.

During a recent discussion with Dr. Michael Heiser and his Peeranormal team, we considered several aspects of the UFO and intelligence communities. Among other items, we discussed how it stands to reason the IC would note the ways chains of events unfold, whether or not by design, and implement lessons learned at later dates as advantageous. 

Sidney Gottlieb and attorney, 1977
Declassified MKULTRA Subproject 84 documents, for example, describe a rigorous study of hypnosis which included long term investigation of trance phenomena. According to CIA personnel, this involved obtaining observational data compiled on attendees at Pentecostal churches. Such intelligence gathering should not be considered particularly out of the ordinary, and one could reasonably assume other communities of interest might receive similar scrutiny.

We may very well be witnessing the evolution of successfully engineered operations in the manners the UFO topic is exploited from one era to the next. Purposes and objectives would change from one instance to another, but a byproduct, if not an objective in some circumstances, should be clear: Researchers may become distracted from actuality while chasing entirely fabricated stories. Not only does this appear to apply with the general subject of UFOs and alleged aliens, but even in the more specific uses of memes of so-called crashed flying saucers, as may have arisen between the Roswell event of 1947 and the Spitsbergen story of 1952. In this post we will explore such circumstances. 

Please allow me to qualify and emphasize I am not suggesting there is necessarily nothing unusual of interest, or what we might term "paranormal," to be explored within the UFO subject. If there is, it's practically a different topic. I am suggesting the manners the overall subject has been manipulated and misrepresented by the IC, charlatans, and opportunists have deeply distorted public perception of the circumstances. I feel that needs to be more thoroughly understood than is currently the case. Incidents such as Roswell may very well have virtually nothing whatsoever to do with what any random member of the UFO community may have seen in the sky one distant yet memorable evening while traveling along a lonely highway. Unfortunately, incorrect information may be the primary influence in how people interpret those events.

Market Research? 
According to a Technical Report prepared by the Air Force’s flying saucer study, Project Grudge, in August 1949: "Upon eliminating several additional incidents due to vagueness and duplication, there remain 228 incidents, which are considered in this report. Thirty of these could not be explained, because there was found to be insufficient evidence on which to base a conclusion." Arguably, however, the most important and intriguing entry in the document appears in the Recommendations section. It’s one that many UFO researchers have not appreciated the significance of. It states: "That Psychological Warfare Division and other governmental agencies interested in psychological warfare be informed of the results of this study."
- Nick Redfern, The Aztec UFO and Psy-Ops

The 1948 Aztec, NM, alleged saucer crash has been thoroughly discredited by multiple researchers. Among them are Nick Redfern and Robert Sheaffer. The tale largely grew out of the statements of Silas Mason Newton, an individual, as Sheaffer reported, the FBI identified as a con man - and who was convicted of fraud.

Karl T. Pflock
Redfern is among those who cite the intriguing claims of the late Karl T. Pflock, a former CIA officer and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense turned UFO researcher. Pflock claimed to have obtained knowledge in 1998 that Air Force intelligence was monitoring Newton back in the day, paid him a visit, and with complete understanding his crashed saucer story was entirely false, encouraged him to keep telling it.

Mark Pilkington offers further info of interest in his book, Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs. The author described a 1950 lecture at the University of Denver in which 90 science students were initially asked to attend a presentation on flying saucers. News of the event spread and the hall was filled by the time an anonymous speaker explained flying saucers were not only real, but some had been obtained by the U.S. Air Force. This included mention of one purportedly retrieved from Aztec. 

"In what sounds more like a market research experiment than an academic lecture," Pilkington wrote, attendees were asked after the presentation whether they believed the unnamed speaker. A reported 60 percent responded affirmatively, and some were later questioned by Air Force intelligence officers. Follow-up questionnaires were administered, and the ratio of believers still reached 50 percent, far above the national average at the time. As Pilkington explained, the then-anonymous lecturer at the University of Denver turned out to be Silas Newton.

Nothing Up Their Sleeves
"What do you mean, Admiral, on page 6 of your testimony when you mention projects using magician's art? How do magicians get into the spook business?"
- Senator Richard S. Schweiker to Adm. Stansfield Turner, Director of Central Intelligence, 1977 Senate Hearing on MKULTRA     

As sincere and thorough explorations of the topic of UFOs bleed into human rights issues, so do comprehensive examinations of human rights abuses lead researchers into the UFO genre. This is very apparent in the work of Hank Albarelli, Jr., A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments.

Magician and CIA man John Mulholland
Albarelli wrote how in 1956 and again in 1957, CIA Technical Services Staff chief and MKULTRA point man Sidney Gottlieb asked magician John Mulholland to examine and render an opinion on UFO sightings (A Terrible Mistake, p265). Agency consultant Mulholland previously composed a 71-page CIA manual in 1953 titled, Some Operational Applications of the Art of Deception. He also wrote the Agency manual, Recognition Signals, according to the CIA. Gottlieb specifically asked Mulholland to discreetly investigate the now famous 1955 UFO incident occurring at the Sutton family farm near Kelly, KY, among other cases. 

"Unfortunately," Albarelli explained, "there are no known documents that reveal Mulholland's investigation, findings or any report by him on the Kentucky incident."

Albarelli continued that, when asked about the case, Gottlieb stated he could not remember ever hearing anything about it. Some readers will recall Gottlieb's selectively poor memory as demonstrated during Congressional hearings of the 1970's. Gottlieb repeatedly claimed he was unable to recall details and often basic aspects of various MKULTRA subprojects, including personnel and what even took place within some of the projects. 

In 1957 more reported UFO events apparently attracted CIA interest. Among them were the November 2-3 sightings of Levelland, TX. According to Albarelli, magician Mulholland visited the area in the weeks following the incident.

"Clearly there is far more research to be accomplished to understand the full extent of Mulholland's work for the CIA," Albarelli concluded, "as well as the CIA's venture into the paranormal realm."

All Aboard

Former CIA director and NICAP
board member Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter
The same year, 1957, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) assembled a board of experienced CIA officers, or the CIA assembled a board of UFO enthusiasts, depending on how ya wanna look at it. According to the late researcher Richard Hall, the NICAP Board of Governors in 1957 consisted of 16 members and notably included Vice Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, USN (Ret.), a former director of the CIA; Maj. Dewey Fournet, Jr., USAFR, a "former Pentagon Monitor of Air Force UFO project"; and Col. Joseph Bryan III, USAF (Ret.), who was "later discovered to be a former naval officer and CIA employee, psychological warfare specialist."

Four years prior, a now publicly available report issued by the covertly CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel referenced a presentation given to the Panel by the above mentioned Maj. Dewey Fournet, Jr., destined to become a board member of NICAP. The Robertson Panel 1953 joint statements consisted of concerns about possible propaganda efforts conducted by hostile states, including Russia. It was particularly noted:
The Panel took cognizance of the existence of such groups as the "Civilian Flying Saucer Investigators" (Los Angeles) and the "Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (Wisconsin). It was believed that such organizations should be watched because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. The apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind.

As we transition back to 1957, please consider, as reported by Mark Pilkington in Mirage Men, a Dr. Olavo Fontes developed an interest in UFOs and joined the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization recommended to "be watched." Dr. Fontes indeed had a date with UFO destiny, and it revolved around events leading up to the case of Antonio Villas Boas. The work of such researchers as Pilkington and Redfern on the topic is definitely thought provocative and worth some time (see Redfern's Contactees and various blog contributions).

The Villas Boas incident occurred on a farm in Brazil the evening of October 16, 1957. As many readers are certainly aware, the farmer was plowing with a tractor when a dramatic story unfolded of a flying object, strange beings, and what he claimed to interpret as him having sex with a creature resembling a human female.

Antonio Villas Boas
If we are to give the late Villas Boas the benefit of the doubt and hypothetically accept his claims as sincere, at least as he recalled the events, a number of intriguing aspects of the story arguably suggest a more nefarious, earth-bound explanation than one from the heavens above. Those aspects include:

- Villas Boas and his brother reportedly witnessed an unusual light flying about the sky two nights prior to the now famous encounter.

- Villas Boas became physically ill for weeks following the event, reportedly including symptoms of nausea, eye irritation, and lesions.

- Unethical experimentation was conclusively conducted by the intelligence community during the era, and included testing the effects of both drugs and radiation on involuntary human research subjects.

- The young man reportedly found the battery wires unscrewed on his tractor after the encounter, seemingly lengthening the amount of time it would take him to reach others. 

And then there was the Rich Reynolds story. Pilkington, Redfern and others wrote about how UFO blogger Reynolds explained that Bosco Nedelcovic told him in 1978 that the Villas Boas event was perpetrated by the CIA. The now deceased Nedelcovic was apparently employed by the Agency in Latin America during the time in question. The CIA, according to statements attributed to Nedelcovic, staged UFO events all over the world, and he essentially claimed to be present with a psy ops team during the Villas Boas incident. 
The gist of the story involved an alleged psychological warfare operation consisting of a helicopter, a qualified crew, and powerful drugs administered via aerosol and/or airborne delivery systems. 

While we would be wise in exercising caution before fully accepting such stories without conclusive verification, the point is still valid that it's intriguing that Nedelcovic's apparent claim, as related by Reynolds, was ever made at all; such events as the Villas Boas incident tend to draw a host of people and statements that stir the pot. That's the case whether it's done intentionally by the intelligence community, individuals acting alone for what might be a variety of reasons, or other demographics - which brings us back to Olavo Fontes, a medical doctor. 

In what Pilkington referred to in Mirage Men as "Maury Island, Brazilian Style," Dr. Fontes read a newspaper column in September of 1957 about a fragment of material allegedly from a UFO. Strikingly similar to the Maury Island case of 1947, a witness claimed to have seen a "flying disc" while fishing and subsequently retrieved some associated metallic material from the water. Fontes seemed to find the circumstances fascinating, as he made arrangements to have the material tested at the National Department of Mineral Production in Brazil's Agricultural Ministry. Samples were also sent to the U.S. Air Force through the American Embassy. Nothing conclusively significant came of the tests. The samples were mostly magnesium, but the case reportedly brought significant public attention to Dr. Fontes and his investigation.

In early 1958 Fontes met Antonio Villas Boas. Just a matter of days afterward, in February of the same year, according to Pilkington, Fontes was visited by two Brazilian Naval Ministry intelligence officers. They reportedly claimed to want to discuss the samples of alleged flying saucer material. 

The intelligence officers proceeded to warn Fontes to stay out of matters that did not concern him, and went as far as to rather incredibly explain that the world's governments were aware of the extraterrestrial presence - and they wanted to keep a lid on it. Some of the information could not even be shared with the Brazilian president, they reportedly stated.

The retrieval of crashed saucers was apparently discussed, including the mention of one from Scandinavia. In his accompanying footnotes, Pilkington particularly considered the possibility the reference by the officers to a saucer retrieval from Scandinavia could have been related to the Spitsbergen misinformation story. I would agree that is a potentially interesting correlation, all circumstances considered. Was it a case of the Spitsbergen story being applicably implemented as an appropriate tool for the job at hand?

Regardless, Dr. Fontes indeed descended into the UFO community, gained some notoriety, mingled with government agencies, and was subsequently approached by intelligence officers who relayed supposedly classified information under the remarkable guise of keeping it quiet. Pilkington wrote:
Fontes was left puzzled but unbowed by the visit. He may even have asked the same questions that we should: why, if the UFO matter was so secret that even the president couldn’t be told, had so many of the Navy men's revelations already been printed in popular books and magazines? And why were they telling Fontes, who immediately shared the information with Coral and Jim Lorenzen, APRO’s directors, confirming similar rumours that they had heard form other sources? Was it because somebody wanted Fontes and APRO to believe these tales, and to share them, in the same way that Silas Newton had been encouraged to keep spreading his crashed saucer stories back in 1950?

A Terrible Mistake

Author Hank Albarelli, Jr. extensively explored the case of Frank Olson and Cold War unethical chemical experimentation conducted on human beings in his book, A Terrible Mistake. Olson, a bacteriologist and biological warfare scientist, worked in a chemical division of Camp Detrick, delving deeply into such experimentation. He died a controversial death in 1953, nine days after he was covertly dosed with LSD by Sidney Gottlieb.

Frank Olson
Albarelli became convinced Olson was murdered by the CIA. Reasons include Olson's possible involvement in the infamous 1951 Pont-Saint-Esprit incident. Albarelli quite interestingly documented Olson and other Camp Detrick scientists were in France at the time of the tragedy (A Terrible Mistake, p357), among other items of note. A summary of Albarelli's work may be read in his 2010 blog post, CIA: What Really Happened in the Quiet French Village of Pont-Saint-Esprit.  

A Terrible Mistake contains a substantial amount of intriguing information, and some of it is of potential significance to UFO researchers. The famous Pascagoula alleged encounter is referenced, among other UFO cases, and numerous formerly classified projects which may be relevant are addressed.

Albarelli reported in his 2009 book that over the course of a decade he was contacted by various people sharing theories that Frank Olson was killed due to his knowledge of UFOs and aliens. The government did not want the knowledge revealed, it was suggested to the writer. Albarelli explained at least one such story included particular mention of UFO crash sites.

"One person, who seemed quite knowledgeable about Camp Detrick," Albarelli wrote (A Terrible Mistake, p700), "claimed that 'definitive evidence proving alien contact with Earth' had been removed from UFO crash or landing sites by the government. This evidence was allegedly transported for study to Camp Detrick and other military installations. That several of the key CIA and Army participants in Olson's death were involved in the government's UFO research in the 1950's is certainly interesting."

Had he not become convinced Olson's death involved other reasons, Albarelli continued, "some of these theories may have been much more provocative." The dynamics become complicated and the stories may very well contain varying shades of truth and fiction. However, the fact remains Albarelli was questionably encouraged to aim his lines of research in the direction of likely nonexistent crashed saucers, as has apparently now befallen researchers for decades. The fact also remains, as Albarelli observed, select Agency personnel have indeed perpetually been active in projects consisting of - at best - unclear objectives while the individuals simultaneously maintain influence in the UFO community. The implications are both intriguing and concerning.

21st Century Paper UFOs

As suggested by Albarelli, promoting stories of crashed UFOs is by no means limited to distant yesteryear. That is the case whether or not the promoters are affiliated with the IC, and the dynamics remain relevant to both the UFO community and our culture at large from any number of perspectives.

In 2013 I published an article, Casselberry July 4 Case: Anatomy of a UFO Rumor. It explored an alleged 2004 crash in the Orlando suburb of Casselberry. The story received significant attention in the Central Florida UFO community. Everybody, it seemed, knew somebody - or knew somebody that knew somebody - who was a key witness to the event.

Closer scrutiny, however, revealed that not only was there no compelling reason to think anything of unusual origin fell to earth, but there was no evidence any airborne craft was involved at all. Quite the opposite, actually.

Image of Texas meteor misrepresented as Florida UFO
In the aftermath of the alleged event that 2004 summer, several dramatic reports were filed to UFO organizations, containing completely unsubstantiated claims of a crash site secured by government agencies. Residents were allegedly falling ill. One report went as far as including a photo, represented as an alien spacecraft crashing to earth in Casselberry, which proved to actually have been a shot taken in Texas of a meteor. The extent the story was cultivated was rather extraordinary in itself. 

Further complicating matters, I interacted with a number of Central Florida residents who I feel were completely sincere about their perceptions surrounding the event. Many locals indeed believe something extremely unusual took place, and some of them seem to believe other residents witnessed much more than they, but attempts to locate and interview such other residents were repeatedly unsuccessful. I was unable to find any individuals who claimed to have seen a flying object or observe activity allegedly taking place around a crash site, although reports containing such claims were easy to find on UFO websites. Notably, such reports consistently omitted a physical address or detailed description of an alleged crash site. Photos of the site and its alleged accompanying government agents were also noticeably absent. Nonetheless, the unsubstantiated claims seemed to significantly increase the certainty among UFO enthusiasts that their suspicions of an orchestrated cover-up were justified.

The story grew at least in part out of a jarring sound, possibly a rather enormous thunder clap following a flash of lightning. The approximately 25-second long rumble was captured on video by YouTube user chetty mo.

FOIA requests filed to multiple agencies offered no info to corroborate the beliefs of UFO enthusiasts or the sensational claims posted at UFO websites. The Casselberry Police Department provided a copy of a report filed the evening in question. It substantiates a loud noise occurred which set off alarms and prompted calls from concerned residents, but in no way validates a UFO crash story. 

The weather service, airports and similar sources revealed nothing of interest, and went as far as clarifying nothing out of the ordinary was detected by radar in the skies over Casselberry that night. There was simply no verifiable reason to suspect anything particularly extraordinary occurred, outside the manners the story influenced public perception and resulting beliefs. 

Two years after the Casselberry event, in 2006, the "Great Lakes Dive Company," or GLDC, joined the steeplechase. The GLDC created a stir in the UFO community when it claimed to have found a USAF F-89C Scorpion that disappeared in 1953 over Lake Superior while pursuing a UFO. GLDC doubled down, adding that a mystery object was resting a couple hundred feet or so from the aircraft at the bottom of the lake. James Carrion and Frank Warren were among researchers who went about investigating the remarkable claims. 

Carrion wrote how efforts to authenticate the existence of GLDC suggested its alleged spokesperson, Adam Jimenez, was less than forthright. Attempts to find public records on the company - or people who knew anything about it - also hit dead ends, as did efforts to validate alleged sonar images offered as evidence of the claims.

Continuing investigation revealed suspicious aspects of the GLDC website. Also revealed was an alleged Associated Press article posted at UFO UpDates List that was in all likelihood never composed by the AP at all. In the end, the nonexistent Great Lakes Dive Company receded back into a ufology void from whence it came, and "Adam Jimenez" ceased responding to emails or phone calls.

What I think all of this means to the average and sincere member of the UFO community is the extreme importance of forming beliefs wisely. The UFO topic has clearly been manipulated by a variety of demographics for a number of purposes from the 1940's forward. The opportunities continue to appear ripe for the picking, including use of the saucer crash meme. To fail to understand this is to fail to have a working knowledge of how lines of research and resulting UFO-related beliefs have often been built upon faulty premises in the first place. The antidote to ignorance is knowledge, and dedication to truth and accuracy must surely be on the path to unmasking mysteries of the universe, shedding light on exploitation perpetrated upon the UFO community, and more clearly understanding ways it all overlaps.