Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Oh, Disclosure, I Hear You Calling

    The following post is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the 2021 book, Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC. It seems currently relevant - if not evergreen - to the UFO topic. You may find the book on Amazon.

Keep up with author Jack Brewer's activities at Expanding Frontiers Research, a nonprofit organization he co-founded with Erica Lukes, where they and a growing team of outstanding volunteers conduct FOIA-related research, maintain a blog, produce a YouTube video show, and plan exciting future projects.


    The 1940s rang in the modern UFO era. Many researchers went on to sincerely believe they had legitimate shots at pulling the UFO sword from the stone.

The late Leonard Stringfield
“The greatest story involving Earth and Space may soon be told,” proclaimed an October 1, 1954, newsletter distributed by CRIFO. That organization was “Civilian Research, Interplanetary Flying Objects,” directed by Leonard Stringfield.

The assertion was based on an interview Stringfield conducted with Lt. Col. John O'Mara, described as a “Deputy Commander, Intelligence,” in the United States Air Force. The colonel apparently kindly “confirmed the existence of 'flying saucers,'” leading Stringfield to declare the “truth may be bared soon.”

Spoiler: It wasn't.

Stringfield further reported the Air Force planned to cooperate with the public about saucers, and that the public would be taken into confidence. This was believed to be “stimulated by recent events.” Ain't it always?

Stringfield continued, “Flying saucers 'do exist' the Colonel told me, and he added, in effect, past contradictions were unfortunate.”

Stringfield described Col. O'Mara as “wonderfully cooperative,” and the officer even gave a thumbs up to the CRIFO newsletter. Asked about the publication, the colonel indicated it was slanted in the right direction.

The CRIFO newsletter was shared with me in an email from writer and researcher James Carrion. He found the comparisons interesting to much more recent drums of Disclosure, as beaten by such outlets as the New York Times. I indeed share the perspective, as we can note many similarities to the ongoing story of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) and those promoting the narrative. Comparisons include: recent events were supposedly a tipping point; in-the-know intelligence community insiders were believed to be aiding the process; the government acknowledged the existence of UFOs; praise was bestowed upon the writer embracing the narrative; and, of course, the ultimate confirmation was to come any day. 

Members of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, or NICAP, once believed they, too, were on the verge of something big. In approximately 1958 literature from the young organization was distributed with a message from its director, Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe.

“Because of new developments, we expect a break in official [UFO] secrecy in 1959,” it was explained (see p4). The general story line came to be a 
recurring theme for NICAP and its investigators, many of whom worked diligently in their attempts to facilitate Disclosure. It was believed an ample amount of public pressure strategically applied to the right agencies and offices would cause a bean spill. The struggle, progress and setbacks of Disclosure were often publicly reported by the group. As a matter of fact, a tug of war with Uncle Sam pretty much came to define NICAP.

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    “We're close to it,” Maj. Keyhoe declared in 1966 about discovering what flying saucers were. He made the statement towards the end of his appearance on the then-popular nationally televised show, To Tell the Truth.

In 1978, optimism among UFO investigators persisted. Phoenix-based Ground Saucer Watch (GSW) Director William H. Spaulding suggested during a funding appeal published in the organization's April bulletin that UFO answers were obtainable.

He wrote, “Now is the time all of us must ask ourselves if we really want to solve the UFO mystery. If you answer yes, then we must ask every member to donate five, ten, twenty dollars to help defer the expensive legal fees.”

Spaulding was alluding to legal action directed at targets such as the CIA to obtain what were believed to be revealing UFO documents. In that same bulletin, GSW Director of Research W. Todd Zechel expressed his confidence in cracking the case.

Zechel told readers, “In order to continue this fight and put enough pressure on government agencies to force them to start telling the truth regarding UFOs, we need substantial donations from each and every member. Moreover, we need help from the general public. After all, these efforts will benefit all of mankind, in that the evidence we obtain will once and for all allow us to determine the origin and nature of UFOs. I'll get you the truth: you get me the funds.”

In Spaulding and Zechel's defense, they and their colleagues actually did, in fact, successfully obtain a substantial amount of government documents pertaining to UFOs. The material just never conclusively established their ultimate suspicions and beliefs about Uncle Sam and saucers.

Too bad for Ground Saucer Watch they didn't think of raising funds by throwing a hat in the public securities ring. That's what happened in 2017 at To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science (TTSA).

Coinciding with a company launch and call for investors, TTSA front man Tom DeLonge took up the 'breakthroughs are imminent' torch, stating, “We believe there are discoveries within our reach that will revolutionize the human experience, but they can only be accomplished through the unrestricted support of breakthrough research and innovation.”

“Imagine having 25th century technology this century,” added longtime ufology staple and TTSA co-founder Dr. Hal Puthoff. He explained that a team of passionately curious minds was assembled to reveal and decode “information that can challenge the limits of traditional theory” pertaining to studying Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Puthoff further asserted they were bringing transformative science and engineering out of the shadows.

Those 2017 remarks by DeLonge and Puthoff do not appear to be aging too awfully much better than those from their overly optimistic and perhaps at times self-important 20th century predecessors, but maybe I don't know revolutionized human experience and transformative science when I see it. I do, however, still have my money in my pocket. As of this writing, it appears much of that team of passionately curious minds sought greener pastures and the future of TTSA is very much in doubt.

Prior to the TTSA creative fundraising, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) cut right to the chase and seemed to accept funds provided to Robert Bigelow by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The controversial philanthropist and UFO World main character facilitated the arrangement as part of apparent Pentagon UFO programs. I say “apparent” because a great deal of the projects remain unconfirmed for the time being. Key MUFON personnel typically claim no knowledge of the source of the funds or involvement with what we now know to have been the agency originally managing the reported UFO projects, the DIA. It is also unclear if the DIA fully endorsed enrolling the services of MUFON, particularly if the feds were already in possession of so much information ripe for Disclosure, but we'll just keep moving.

Writers like Leslie Kean and George Knapp managed to position themselves in the midst of the Disclosure dust devil on several occasions, even if their coverage may be disingenuous, in error, or more than a little responsible for perpetuating the whirlwind itself. The two, along with numerous Disclosure beat reporters who followed suit, tend to promote rather credulous stories and flawed lines of reasoning in the form of what some came to consider access journalism. Such examples include Knapp's devotion to the Bob Lazar story, unquestioning portrayal of Skinwalker Ranch, and uncritical acceptance of TTSA statements and narratives while consistently showcasing the personalities involved.

Knapp's defense of the dubious Lazar case is particularly vulnerable to criticism, considering the duo's claim they were each aware of a location where Lazar stashed some purportedly alien-engineered Element 115, yet they steadfastly refused to produce it. Researchers aptly noted the irony of supposed Disclosure activists who, we are to believe, choose not to grace the world with the very smoking gun they demand from the powers that be.

Kean's objectivity and apparent confirmation bias were called into question when she perpetuated claims of a government cover-up of the JAL 1628 UFO case. The claims were directly contradicted by testimonies of two firsthand witnesses to the alleged cover-up. They attended a meeting in which the purported cover-up directive was allegedly issued, yet they said no such statements were made. Moreover, the two indicated info was actually distributed for analysis. Kean omitted the circumstances from her account of the case - even after researchers brought them to her attention - while reportedly simultaneously obstructing communication between the researchers and her contact who claimed the cover-up was in place.

Kean also made yet to be verified assertions about the AATIP, as well as fantastic claims about Chilean alleged UFOs that proved unsupported. The work of such writers as Kean and Knapp is held in high regard by many UFO enthusiasts, while others seriously question their chronic uncritical and incomplete reporting that often omits rather obvious discrepancies. Criticism may be most justified in the way the two present themselves as journalists, while titles such as UFO promoters seem much more accurate.

Yet another noteworthy UFO Disclosure activist, or at least he seems to like to think so, is Dr. Steven Greer. The former medical doctor undertook rather extreme theatrics and questionable lines of research, ostensibly designed to facilitate wider knowledge of UFOs and their occupants. Greer's activities reportedly include bringing an entourage of armed bodyguards to a scheduled speaking engagement at the 2013 Contact in the Desert event in Joshua Tree, California. He is also known for exaggerating the significance of his interactions with public officials and charging substantial fees for workshops purported to facilitate contact with extraterrestrials, among other eyebrow-raising activities.

Greer's general shtick is that the visiting ETs are friendly, but Uncle Sam wants to paint them as hostile and keep a lid on it because ET has a source of free energy. Letting the free energy cat out of the bag would loosen the government stranglehold on many industries, Greer suggests. His outspoken activism on UFO truth, he would lead us to believe, resulted in several thwarted attempts on his life by the powers that be, thus the dramatic scene at Joshua Tree.

Contents of a May 2013 promotional MUFON email

Greer may be most infamous for his extraordinary claims which proved incorrect surrounding the Atacama skeleton, and the ethical issues which arose with his and Dr. Garry Nolan's handling of the specimen. Nolan, an honored Stanford professor and researcher who obtained degrees in genetics, had a brief affiliation with To The Stars. He was also widely and confidently suspected to be a not so anonymously portrayed, starry eyed character in a Dr. Diana Walsh Pasulka nonfiction (sort of) book, American Cosmic.

The situation was questioned by your author, as was Nolan and Walsh Pasulka's lack of willingness to directly address their alleged involvement in reports of “security personnel” monitoring and editing her statements made on podcasts. Suffice it to say neither of the two had much to say about any of it, but I guess that's Disclosure for you. Transparency often seems to only be a good thing if it's applied to the actions of others. The sincerity of Walsh Pasulka's seemingly halfhearted effort to conceal the identities of primary characters in American Cosmic was questioned throughout segments of the UFO genre, as were the 
underlying motives.

Back to Greer. He shoveled the coal pretty hard on the Atacama skeleton story, which he sold as pertaining to extraterrestrials. This was depicted in his 2013 crowdsource-funded film, Sirius, which was billed as blowing the lid off the UFO mystery. Cash contributors voiced disappointment when they had to pay to view the movie and indicated they felt double billed. Some then found the contents of the movie lacking and falling well short of its advertised lid-blowing significance. The disappointment didn't get any less bitter when Greer announced yet another film which needed funding and would, once and for all, reveal the shocking truth. It of course didn't, then he did it again. Some might think tax forms show the purpose of his persistence in the face of chronic futility.

In 2014 I reviewed tax information submitted to the Internal Revenue Service by the Greer-operated nonprofit corporation, Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), which seemed to serve as the hub for his ventures. I discovered Greer reported taking no salary from CSETI, but during the 2012 tax year, CSETI reported paying some $177,000 for consultation fees to the Greer-owned Crossing Point Inc.

The amount CSETI paid the prior year, 2011, to Crossing Point was $180,360. In 2010 over $214,000 was paid from CSETI to Crossing Point. During the three-year period reviewed, Greer's Crossing Point was paid nearly 70% of the $833,083 combined CSETI reported total income, according to 990 forms filed to the IRS.

The 2012 CSETI Form 990EZ indicated the organization surrendered its nonprofit status effective January 1, 2013. The move may have been related to bringing in so much more unrelated business income than public support that its nonprofit charity status was possibly jeopardized as defined by IRS. Surrendering the nonprofit status would then be an advisable move on Dr. Greer's part, and not bad work if you can get it.

Stephen Bassett crashed the Disclosure party and formed the Paradigm Research Group, a lobbying initiative, or something to that effect, to end the “truth embargo.” To the best of my knowledge, the Group officially and functionally consists of no one other than himself. His efforts include such projects as the 2008 Million Fax on Washington, in which he attempted to inspire followers to inundate the incoming Obama administration with faxes, emails, and phone calls demanding the release of UFO files.

Bassett probably made his loudest noise with the 2013 Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. Six former members of Congress were paid $20,000 apiece to sit in a mock hearing in which they spent a few days listening to dozens of people of varying levels of credibility, notoriety, and infamy provide testimony on UFOs. The above mentioned Steven Greer was among the presenters, and evening activities included a screening of his film, Sirius.

Richard Dolan was also among the presenters at the Citizen Hearing and is known for what his followers seem to believe is his fight to pry the UFO truth from the government. At the Hearing he rather shamelessly trotted out a filmed interview of an aged man, referred to as “Anonymous.” The man allegedly worked for the CIA and observed many astounding ET-related sights during his employment at Area 51. The statements, dubbed a deathbed testimony, were heavily implied to be motivated by the man's desire to tell the world what he knew and avoid taking the stories to his looming grave.

Trouble was, as I covered in 2013, Linda Moulton Howe had long since interviewed “Anonymous.” His completely unverified story was no less than 15 years old at the time it was implied to be urgent and showcased by Dolan and Bassett at the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. In preparation for my above referenced 2013 article on the situation, I offered both Dolan and Bassett an opportunity to comment and explain what they would say to people who might question the tactic. Neither responded.

Mummy of a two year old boy promoted as an ET

Doubt was further cast on Dolan's judgment and motives when he participated in the Roswell Slides fiasco, a chain of events involving slides which depicted what was actually a mummified Native American child but were promoted as images of an ET. Dolan spoke at the dubious beWITNESS event, a public rollout of the slides sponsored by Jaime Maussan, at which time Dolan called the slides “compelling.” He also vouched for the research skills of the questionable crew promoting the story, who at absolute best utterly failed to pursue the most profoundly obvious of explanations. Many wondered how Dolan, who claims to be qualified to penetrate and analyze complex issues related to UFOs and national security, could sincerely be so inept.

Shortly after the beWITNESS purported big reveal of the slides, the truth came shining through and the story was completely dismantled due to the quality work of the Roswell Slides Research Group. Within hours of the event, a team of volunteer researchers was well on its way to competently analyzing the slides, high resolution images of which the promoters had previously withheld and supposedly been unable to accurately interpret for years. As stated, the slides were conclusively shown to depict a deceased Native American child. Dolan's stock continued to dip with other instances of seemingly unquestioning acceptance of fantastic stories that should test the patience of even the most credulous UFO fan.

He more recently vigorously fanned the flames of an ill conceived tale with extremely loose connections between dots, all ultimately designed to prove what, in UFO circles, is known as the Core Story (saucer crashes, alien bodies and all that). A word to the wise: if an argument relies heavily on speculation, it doesn't prove a point.

The incarnation in question of this version of the Core Story involves hearsay and alleged statements attributed to the purportedly in-the-know Adm. Thomas R. Wilson, and was referred to by Dolan as the “UFO leak of the century.” The story was of course amplified by George Knapp, since it included reference to Eric Davis and others of Skinwalker and TTSA notoriety. For those particularly interested, writer Billy Cox reported how Wilson repeatedly denied any validity to the rumors, among other problematic aspects of this shaggy dog story.

It is rather fascinating how the UFO Disclosure concept stays propped up so sturdily. Back on January 8, 1999, Art Bell hosted “UFO Disclosure '99” on Coast to Coast AM. Stephen Bassett was an integral part of the show, and other guests included Steven Greer, Richard Hoagland, and Joe Firmage.

It should be noted that so many of these UFO activists somehow manage to endlessly sell urgency. Many have been personally ringing an alarm of imminent Disclosure for decades.

The highest hurdle for Bassett to clear indeed became the fact the deadlines of his recurring insinuations and outright predictions came and went, unfulfilled. And he made a lot of insinuations and predictions.

Similar can be said of history's many UFO personalities who donned the Disclosure cape to promise all-telling government revelations to an eagerly awaiting UFO World. It may get tough to perpetually conjure Disclosure urgency, but it is obviously quite possible. New generations and followers continue to find it an irresistible draw while taking roles as both movement leaders and supporters. For some there may be a lack of awareness of the history of futility, while the dedication of others may be grounded in stubbornness, wishful thinking, questionable motives, or any number of such circumstances. The UFO-intoxicated masses just keep coming, and there is always a supplier to meet the demand, if not create it.

Let's dial the clock back from the current headspinning pace and return to the early days of the modern UFO steeplechase. Though absent internet and podcasts, the pioneers were not without urgency and drama. Far from it.

Our group of focus formed in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s. Mystery and curiosity surrounded the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena from its very inception. Many challenges would plague the organization, but public interest in its affairs was usually not among them. This was apparently due in part to the public's fascination with flying saucers, an occurrence which was driven by several factors, most certainly including media attention.

After considerable investigation I have become thoroughly convinced many NICAP members were sincere and effective researchers, even if unaware of their biases at times. Whatever games may have been afoot, there were indeed people in NICAP genuinely interested in a UFO mystery, for better or worse. They believed their work was important and they considered themselves to be pioneers of a sort. In some manners of speaking, perhaps they were. In other instances, motives are more in question, as is research accuracy at times.

NICAP experienced highs, lows, success and failure, reportedly amassing some 14,000 members at one point. For some context, the Mutual UFO Network currently claims on its website to have about 4,000 worldwide members.

Among the most notable aspects of the NICAP legacy is The UFO Evidence, brought to life by editor Richard Hall. The 1964 report consists of some 200,000 words of UFO investigations. It embodies what NICAP felt was its 750 most compelling cases from the more than 5,000 contained in its files. The UFO Evidence was provided to Congress and more than 10,000 copies were disseminated to scientific research organizations, government agencies, universities, military installations, and libraries (see p46). While the relevance of the material could certainly be debated, the report offered a tangible starting point for discussions and a realized achievement for investigators of its day.

So what happened between NICAP's inception, a 1960s heyday of public interest, soaring membership, reports of CIA infiltration, the org's decline, and its eventual 1980s demise? To better understand the rise and fall of NICAP, and events of cultural and social significance along the way, let's start by exploring the beginnings. That takes us to the U.S. capitol. The year was 1956.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

In with the New!

     I am looking forward to a bang up 2023 and I am excited about my ongoing projects. In 2022 I co-founded a nonprofit organization, Expanding Frontiers Research, which is dedicated to conducting and publishing original research. We also have interest in a few other activities with lots of potential for promising outcomes. I hope you've been looking around the website and checking it out.

The EFR blog, for instance, has posts on topics ranging from critical thinking to material obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. We also executed an investigation on PhenomeCon and financial incentives cast members of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch have in maintaining unverified paranormal claims. I am proud of the work done to obtain material through public records requests, interviews conducted, and subsequent information provided freely to the public. 

I am equally proud of co-founder Erica Lukes's substantial contributions, which include, among other things, her brand new show, Expanding Frontiers. Guests so far have included science journalist Sarah Scoles, journalist and activist Heidi Beedle, and next up is controversial and popular author Robert Guffey. You can follow along and access the shows on the EFR video page, which will also be hosting video content we produce in addition to the Expanding Frontiers show.  

Additional video content so far includes Barry Greenwood sharing his insights on archiving historic material. Barry is a member of the EFR Board of Directors and a longtime writer, researcher, and archivist.

You might also find of interest a video posted in which I discuss FOIA basics. It includes a few tips, as well as specific examples of FOIA hauls. The documents referenced in the video are provided for viewing and downloading on the same page.

If you find our work of value and you are in a position to do so, please consider making a tax-deductible donation through one of the secure donation buttons found on the EFR website. Your contributions support our FOIA work, archiving efforts, website maintenance, video production, and similar operating costs. Thank you.

I am very pleased with the progress and direction of Expanding Frontiers Research! We are excited about 2023. Stay tuned for lots more, and we hope to see you at expandingfrontiersresearch.org

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Investigation of Skinwalker Claims Leads to Uintah County Offices

    The beginning of the latest article at Expanding Frontiers Research, titled 'Uintah County Paid Tens of Thousands to PhenomeCon Speakers':

    Financial records obtained from Uintah County indicate it spent over $133,000 on the 2022 PhenomeCon while raising about $124,000 in revenue, compiling a reported debt of some $9,000 for sponsoring the paranormal-themed conference. The inaugural 2021 PhenomeCon likewise tallied over $74,000 in payouts while collecting about $59,000 in revenue, finishing some $15,000 in the hole. Expenses for the two conferences, confirmed to be sponsored by Uintah County, include tens of thousands of dollars in payments to dubious speakers and catered “VIP” meals in which unsupported rumors were spread of dangerous paranormal phenomena. Payouts also include workshops promoting such topics as Remote Viewing and payments for rental car reimbursements. During the 2022 PhenomeCon, payments issued for speaking engagements, consultation services, and appearances at events totaled over $60,000, while hotel chains were paid in excess of $10,000, according to the financial reports.

Expanding Frontiers Research (EFR) obtained the information through public records requests submitted to the Uintah County offices of the Clerk-Auditor and Travel and Tourism. The requests were submitted as part of a joint effort between this writer and EFR Director Erica Lukes, who contributed substantial research to this article.

Monday, October 3, 2022

UFO Trail Projects

    Lots of interesting projects have been coming to fruition around UFO Trail headquarters! If you haven't yet heard, I helped launch Expanding Frontiers Research (EFR), a Utah-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. We're dedicated to sharing information and resources that most effectively embody best research practices. We also envision expanding on the archive work already undertaken by Erica Lukes and Barry Greenwood. 

You can view the EFR website and have a look around. Be sure and check out the blog as well, where I'm adding material, including the latest post, FBI Docs Offer Clues on NICAP President, Right-Wing Extremism. It explores declassified FBI material that offers further insight into Jack Acuff and his contacts. 

You might also be interested in a recent UFO Classified episode in which Erica graciously provided Emma Woods and me a venue to explore Emma's history. For those of you not entirely familiar, the case involved a number of unethical actions committed on the part of David Jacobs. We listened to actual recordings of audio clips made during long distance telephone hypnosis sessions conducted by Jacobs. Be advised the subject matter is mature and disturbing at times. It is brave of Emma to continue to address and speak out on the circumstances. The episode of UFO Classified is shown below.

Thanks for your continued interest in The UFO Trail and my projects! I look forward to lots more intriguing circumstances to explore.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

CIA Responds to FOIA Request on Jack Acuff

John "Jack" Acuff
     A Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the CIA on John L. "Jack" Acuff, Jr., the man instated as president of NICAP in 1970, received a September 9 response in which the spy network would neither confirm nor deny the existence of records that would reveal an unacknowledged or classified association with Acuff. Known as a "Glomar response," the Agency explained that the admission of the existence or nonexistence of such records is a fact that is exempt under the FOIA.

The Agency did, however, provide copies of two previously released documents that reference Acuff. The first is an intriguing, two-page, unattributed profile of NICAP as cited and explored in Wayward Sons. The second is a 24-page Robert J. Durant essay, Will the Real Scott Jones Please Stand Up?. The 1990s Durant work, widely known among researchers familiar with the latter 20th century saucers and spooks scene, apparently found its way into possession of the CIA for what may be a variety of possible reasons and came to be archived on its website.

Jack Acuff took charge of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena in the wake of the removal of Donald Keyhoe as director. Staffer Stuart Nixon was given Keyhoe's former position in what became known as the Acuff-Nixon era of the UFO organization. Speculation and accusations of hidden intelligence community agendas involving NICAP echoed throughout the UFO subculture and continue to be popularly accepted today among those familiar with the circumstances.

The two-page document carries the heading, "National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP)," and appears to possibly be a draft of a memo or report. The name of an author is not included and the specific purpose of the document is not clear, although it is apparent that NICAP structure and operating methods were the focus of the work. It places Nixon as director and Acuff on the Editorial Review Board, suggesting the date of the piece was the early 1970s. The two pages were apparently originally approved for release by the CIA in 2010.

The document goes on to break down the education and scientific backgrounds of select NICAP volunteers. "All investigators carry credentials identifying them as investigators for NICAP," the author informs the unknown intended audience.

From the document:

Will the Real Scott Jones Please Stand Up? takes readers through the shenanigans and misadventures of intelligence professional Cecil B. "Scott" Jones and a surrounding cast of dubious characters. Many of them have been explored on this blog, including Jones himself, who I interviewed by email in 2012.  

Acuff makes an appearance in the essay when author Durant quotes the work of Fawcett and Greenwood (Clear Intent). They explained how prior to serving as president of NICAP, Acuff "was the head of the Society of Photographic Scientists and Engineers (SPSE), a frequent target of Russian spying attempts and a group that had many members involved in Defense Department intelligence units, including the CIA."

Acuff was indeed but one NICAP officer of many with significant and direct ties to intelligence agencies. Stuart Nixon left NICAP in 1974, which was the same year Sen. Barry Goldwater joined the Board of Directors. Goldwater went on to chair both the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee.

In 1978, Acuff now-infamously sold the NICAP mailing list to a Toronto-based Nazi group. Twice. The purchaser, Ernst Zundel, aka Christoff Freidrich, was reportedly none too pleased because the list included 8,000 names of people who were physically dead (see pp1-3).  

The office of Goldwater was likewise not thrilled with the turn of events, at least due to the potential publicity problems, but relations between Acuff and the Senator apparently did not entirely go south. Although Acuff was replaced at president by Harry Cooper in 1978, he did not depart NICAP for good until 1982. This happened after he secured a four-digit cash settlement from the org for what at least one member reportedly described as holding its files ransom (see p14).

In a letter dated January 29, 1982 and shown below, Acuff notified Goldwater he was leaving the Board (see p21). Acuff thanked the Senator for the help he and his staff gave him. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Responsive Records on 'Coast to Coast' Relevant to Pending Law Enforcement Proceedings: FBI

     Material responsive to a FOIA request on Coast to Coast AM is located in an investigative file, an August 2 FBI response to the request stated. The Bureau added the responsive records are law enforcement records. 

"[T]here is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records," the Bureau continued in the response, "and release of the information could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. Therefore, your request is being administratively closed."

The FOIA request sought records cross-referencing or pertaining to Coast to Coast AM, a late-night fringe talk show that typically explores paranormal topics and conspiracy theories. The request was submitted at the suggestion of researcher, archivist, and host of UFO Classified, Erica Lukes.

From the FBI response:

Coast to Coast is no stranger to controversy, hosted from 1988-2000 by the late Art Bell. It was during Bell's time at the mic that such sagas as Heaven's Gate, Art's Parts, and the Area 51 Caller were broadcast to millions of listeners. 

C2C's George Noory
In more recent years, Coast to Coast host George Noory increasingly provided a platform to controversial rightwing figures and their talking points. His counterpart George Knapp uncritically promoted Skinwalker Ranch lore and defended sensational tales told by defense officials claiming knowledge of paranormal activity and nonhuman intelligences.

It should be noted the responsive records may be nothing more than mentions of Coast to Coast, such as references to guests appearing on the show, or similar asides. The significance of the records, acknowledged by the FBI to exist, cannot be established without examining the material.

In its August 2 FOIA response, the FBI cited Exemption (b)(7)(a) for withholding the responsive records. The exemption states records compiled for law enforcement purposes are exempt from disclosure under the FOIA, but only to the extent producing the records could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. 

An appeal was therefore submitted, requesting further review of the responsive records to ensure they are not part of a former investigation, or a once prospective investigation that is at this point not reasonably expected to proceed. Under such circumstances, as compared to an active investigation, the records may be subject to release. 

The appeal additionally presented for consideration that Coast to Coast AM attracts 2.75 million listeners per week across some 600 American radio stations plus international affiliates. The records therefore represent a potentially significant public interest. The appeal is in process as of this writing.

In other developments, the FBI executed a search warrant Monday at the Mar-A-Lago home of former President Donald Trump. The FBI reportedly spent the majority of the day at the location conducting a search related to the National Archives. National security analysts suspect the raid to be related to classified records Trump took with him from Washington to Florida after losing his 2020 re-election bid. More specifically, what he was doing with the information contained in those classified records may be more at issue than their unlawful removal. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Working the FOIA

    Earlier this year I submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for all records cross-referencing or pertaining to Ira Samuel Einhorn. The late Einhorn, dubbed the "Unicorn Killer," was convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend Holly Maddux. It is a tragic and somewhat complex saga that winds through the environmental activist community and an international trail of evading authorities.

The infamous Einhorn
Maddux disappeared in 1977 during a trip to gather her belongings from an apartment she and Einhorn previously shared in Philadelphia. A year and a half later her remains were found in a trunk in his closet. Einhorn fled to Europe and was assisted by supporters who he convinced of his innocence. He was not arrested until 1997 in France, and even then the extradition process proved complicated. 

Einhorn was eventually convicted in 2002, but not before taking the witness stand in his own defense and claiming the CIA killed Maddux. He asserted he was set up because he knew too much about the Agency's military paranormal research. The case resulted in researchers such as Mark Pilkington and Greg Bishop showing interest over the years. 

Einhorn died of reportedly natural causes in a Pennsylvania prison in 2020. For those wondering, he was called the Unicorn Killer because "Einhorn" apparently translates to "unicorn" in German.

So a few months ago some friends were discussing the case and I offered to submit a FOIA request to the FBI. The Bureau responded in May with 356 pages of records

However, the response indicated the Bureau was simply providing records which were previously offered in response to other requesters:

This means a thorough search was not actually conducted, but the request was filled by providing the material already offered in response to the same or similar requests. As once pointed out by John Greenewald, an effective means of having an additional search conducted is to promptly respond with a request for all records not included in the release.

I realize this sounds crazy. A FOIA request gets submitted for all records on XYZ, the agency responds, then the requester asks for all the records not included in all the XYZ records. Like, no, really, all the records. But this technique results in additional documents a rather surprising amount of the time. While it is indeed a little crazy, it makes a bit more sense when understood from the perspective the initial response was pretty much nothing more than giving the requester what was already provided to previous requesters.

In this specific instance, FBI notified me July 19 of an additional 4,473 pages of potentially responsive records not included in the initial response to my request:

A large number of additional documents does not always prove to be as interesting as it initially seems. For instance, sometimes 356 pages of XYZ may be stored in a much larger folder containing thousands of pages pertaining to similar cases as XYZ, perhaps from the same era or general topic. Nonetheless, one might indeed prefer to be made aware of such records and browse the material for them self. 

The quoted cost of a reproduction of the roughly 4,500 pages is $130 which may be delivered in pdf in nine monthly increments of about 500 pages each. I will probably order the material and post it as I periodically receive it.

In related FOIA news, I received 47 pages of previously released FBI records on George Hunter White in April. White was a Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent who parlayed his career underperformance into becoming a member of the MKULTRA crew. He ran houses of ill repute for the CIA where hookers dosed unsuspecting Johns in the name of national security and science. 

According to John Marks, the overindulging White once had a fender bender in the neighborhood of a CIA-sponsored brothel, resulting in the Agency paying cash for damages to the other driver in an effort to protect the cover of Operation Climax. He reportedly once used a gun to shoot his initials in the ceiling of a New Orleans hotel room. He's also the guy that released hallucinogenic chemicals on a New York subway for the Agency you may have heard about. Real charmer, this guy. 

In response to my request for all records not included in the initial response, FBI replied July 20 that additional responsive records were transferred to the National Archives:

I will post from my Twitter account as I learn more about the number of pages involved and as I obtain the files. NARA will advise of the circumstances in response to a request for the material.

As I discussed in WAYWARD SONS: NICAP and the IC, the FBI may offer insights into CIA personnel and activities that are not always accessible through the Agency. Director Hoover had his nose in virtually everything, and FBI files may reflect espionage investigations, background checks for security clearance, and any number of circumstances which provide more material than released by CIA.

Along those lines, readers of WAYWARD SONS will recall the significance of the Office of Policy Coordination, a 1948-1952 front for the CIA and State Department. From the book:


    In 1949 the OPC had a total of 302 personnel. By 1952 it had 2,812 with an additional 3,142 overseas contract personnel. The 1949 OPC budget was $4.7 million. Just three years later, in 1952, it was $82 million. By the time of its merge with the Office of Special Operations, OPC activities included worldwide covert missions conducted out of some 47 overseas stations. 

The previously cited 1973 CIA intelligence study and its assertion the Clandestine Services stepped up the pace thereafter could certainly be interpreted as significant, if not outright mind boggling. The study references a CIA-composed history of the OPC made up of five volumes, consisting of 722 pages plus three appendices and eleven attachments (To the best of my knowledge, the five-volume OPC history has not yet been released, although a partially redacted version of its introduction is contained in the referenced 1973 CIA Studies in Intelligence).

The OPC originally operated on the watch of Director of Central Intelligence Roscoe Hillenkoetter. Col. Joseph Bryan III was recruited and ran a psy warfare subdivision consisting of such notable characters as E. Howard Hunt. Both Hillenkoetter and Bryan were destined to play influential roles on the board of directors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena.

Curiously, Hillenkoetter's CIA successor, DCI Walter Bedell Smith, expressed interest in the use of the UFO topic as a psy warfare tool. He wanted to know "what use could be made of the UFO phenomenon in connection with US psychological warfare efforts," according to the CIA itself. In 1950, DCI Smith took complete control of the Office of Policy Coordination from the State Department. Surrounding circumstances and the cast of characters are explored at length in WAYWARD SONS.

On July 21 the FBI responded to a 2021 FOIA request on the Office of Policy Coordination. All responsive material was withheld in full:

The cited exemptions involve privacy and security issues. I am in the process of appealing the FBI determination to withhold the material, most, if not all, of which is now over 70 years old.

I recommend those interested in studying the FOIA process (and particularly obtaining related resources) follow Beth Bourdon, a fulltime attorney and parttime FOIA activist. She maintains a Patreon which has proven valuable in furthering my understandings of FOIA appeals as well as related steps of effectively navigating the entire process.