Monday, December 2, 2019

Cold War Embassy Games

As we consider events surrounding Gen. Donald D. Flickinger and await more FOIA responses, let's explore some circumstances that aspects of the story bring to mind. We know, for instance, the FBI documented that the general consulted with international business contacts who, on at least one occasion in 1969, included a group Flickinger apparently gave a ride in his rented car to visit the Soviet Embassy. 

Embassy Tunnel

Embassy of Russia, Washington, D.C.
History shows us a new embassy in Washington was built in the 1970's and 1980's for the Soviets, later referred to as the Russians. The FBI and NSA jointly executed a several hundred million dollar plan to construct a secret tunnel beneath the building for spying purposes. Basically, the tunnel was for eavesdropping.

The news broke in 2001 when Robert Hannsen, a 27-year FBI veteran, was charged with spying on behalf of Russia. His betrayal of revealing the existence of the tunnel was found to be among the losses. Hannsen was believed to have spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services from 1979-2001. The Department of Defense at the time described the case as possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history. 

The Moscow Signal

We might also consider that long before American diplomats in Cuba were feared to have been targeted by directed energy weapons, there was the "Moscow Signal" in 1965. As Sharon Weinberger reported, the term arose when the Soviets bombarded the American Embassy in Moscow with low-level microwaves. 

American intelligence officials became aware of the directed pulses, but rather than alert embassy workers, medical personnel were sent to draw blood under the guise of The Moscow Viral Study. It was the cover story of testing embassy staff for a virus while actually a top secret investigation into the effects of microwaves on humans was undertaken. Uncle Sam didn't want his embassy workers to move out of the line of microwave fire so he could document what happened to them. 

Project Pandora

Dr. Gottlieb: As I remember it, there was a current interest, running interest, all the time in what affects people's standing in the field of radio energy have, and it could have easily been that somewhere in many projects, someone was trying to see if you could hypnotize somebody easier if he was standing in a radio beam. That would seem like a reasonable piece of research to do...
Senator Schweiker: We did have some testimony yesterday that radar waves were used to wipe out memory in animal experiments.
Dr. Gottlieb: I can believe that, Senator. 
- CIA Senate Hearings on Human Drug Testing, 1977

The White House called on the State Department, CIA, and the Pentagon to secretly investigate the microwave assault. This directly resulted in DARPA Program Plan 562, now more widely known as Project Pandora, an exploration of the behavioral effects of microwaves.

Pandora included experiments on monkeys. Project personnel considered conducting human experimentation in addition to the shenanigans taking place in Moscow, but concerns were expressed by some of the scientists cleared to assess the project about repeating MKULTRA-like transgressions. Even with some advising caution, research methodologies and claimed results would be called into question for years. This seemed due to a project director, DARPA official Richard Cesaro, who was more interested in proceeding with microwave weapons development than understanding the underlying biology.  

Ironically, by the end of the 1960's, Weinberger explained, the IC concluded the Moscow Signal was not an attempt at behavior modification. The purpose of the pulsed radiation was to activate listening devices in embassy walls. As you might imagine, lawsuits against the U.S. government resulted when in the 1970's embassy staff were notified what had taken place. 

Project Pandora leads to the subject of non-lethal weapons research and offers us a clear overlap into UFO World. Writers such as Anne Keeler and Martin Cannon, among others, explored aspects of such secret research, including the reported symptoms of overexposure to electronic frequencies which should ring bells with those familiar with UFO lore: disorientation, retinal bleeding, sleep disturbances, memory loss, and burnt face (even at night), to name a few. 

Whatever we may think about the likelihood some covert intelligence operations have been misinterpreted as reported UFO and related phenomena, the work of Keeler and Cannon unquestionably represents an influential part of UFO and conspiracy history. We might also consider the powers that be have themselves to blame for fanning the flames of conspiracies when they duped unsuspecting embassy workers into non-consensual research in the first place and were, well, executing a conspiracy.

Page 456 of DOD Pandora file
Then, Nick Redfern blogged about browsing a 469-page Department of Defense file pertaining to Project Pandora. Imagine his surprise when he discovered, there on pages 449-456 of an official Pandora file, some of the infamous MJ-12 documents! 

MJ-12 docs are widely considered to be a hoax about supposed government crashed saucer retrieval. The pages in the file were clearly labeled, "This cannot be authenticated as an official document," and there are of course potential reasons MJ-12 docs may have found their way into a DOD Pandora file, such as possibly being submitted to or investigated by the Department. We still agree with Redfern it's interesting.

Oh, what wicked webs we weave...    

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Gen. Flickinger & the FBI: Obtaining & Sorting Puzzle Pieces

FBI files on Donald D. Flickinger linked in this post may be viewed at either Keep&Share or Google Drive

J. Edgar Hoover Building, which serves as
FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Another file pertaining to the late Gen. Donald D. Flickinger was obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act. The six-page file contains FBI airtel communications concerning an investigation in 1969 of unidentified individuals entering the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. Flickinger was found to be an associate of the group and was already known by the FBI to be involved in related business activities. Following the general's resistance to an FBI interview, the Bureau apparently chose not to pursue the matter further.

Meanwhile, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) indicated material responsive to an FOIA request on Flickinger may potentially be included in three yet to be processed and released files. The subjects of the files are three different men, according to NARA, and each file contains a substantial amount of information compiled during the course of investigations spanning many years of the Cold War.

Our attention first turned to Gen. Flickinger in August when Keith Basterfield reported how he came to suspect Flickinger may have been the person Dr. Kit Green described as a significant UFO contact during an interview. Green, a controversial UFO researcher and former CIA officer, claimed the person he declined to name discussed UFO-related issues with him at length.

Dr. Christopher "Kit" Green
We began submitting FOIA requests on the matter and sought comment from Green, resulting in a September blog post at The UFO Trail. The post explores information contained in two files received from the FBI pertaining to Flickinger. The post also has a statement given by Green, who would neither confirm nor deny if Flickinger might be what Basterfield referred to as Green's UFO mentor. 

The files provided earlier this year by the Bureau paint pictures of Cold War spy games and fears of espionage. The FBI interviewed Flickinger in 1964 about his knowledge of a foreign woman and her relationship with Dr. W. Randolph "Randy" Lovelace, a scientist, business associate and friend of Flickinger who figures rather prominently in UFO-related conspiracy narratives. The woman, Jeannine Cusson, a hostess at an upscale DC restaurant, was of concern to the Bureau due to being "in an ideal position for her to meet and spot highly placed individuals connected with U.S. and foreign intelligence services." We will likely explore this more in the future, as we await final responses on additional FOIA requests.

Flickinger was identified by the FBI in 1969 as a biomedical research consultant. He was described as working with the Air Force, Department of Defense, NASA, other agencies and universities. We now know the general, who was a medical doctor, also acted as a medical adviser for the CIA for over ten years. 

A woman employed at an outfit called Courtesy Inc. informed the Bureau that Flickinger was a customer. He maintained a temporary office and answering service with the company, which provided secretarial services to businessmen on an as needed basis. Quite interestingly, the FBI contact at Courtesy Inc., Sharon Ash, was a former employee of the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO). 

From two different files:







It was in 1969 that the FBI was informed of an event in which a car transported unidentified subjects (Unsubs) to the Soviet Embassy. The vehicle was soon found to have been rented by Flickinger. An FBI Special Agent concocted a false reason to question the general about the event, should it please the Bureau:






We requested files from the FBI pertaining to the investigation of the rental car and unidentified embassy visitors. The Bureau provided a six-page file in response.

The file contains FBI communications pertaining to the investigation, culminating in documentation that Sharon Ash provided information indicating Flickinger rented office space for a business conference with clients from outside DC on the date in question. Somewhat curiously, it seems the Bureau concluded there was no reason to further pursue the investigation and in spite of the fact the general was uncooperative:




Three specific FBI files potentially containing information pertaining to Gen. Flickinger were sought from NARA. The Administration indicated the records to be a 2500-page file consisting of info compiled during an investigation conducted from 1956-1968, subject Velentin Nikolaevich Elista; a 3000-page file with info compiled as part of an investigation from 1948-1966, subject Lt. Col. Mikhail Nikolaevich Kostyuk; and an 800-page file containing info from an investigation spanning 1950-1973, subject Lt. Col. Alexei Nikolaevich Chizhov. The files are not yet processed through the FOIA. 

A recent email response from NARA:




We might reasonably surmise some unstated dynamics developed between the FBI and Gen. Flickinger over the course of investigations conducted by the Bureau. We won't speculate at length, but conflicts between intelligence agencies - and counterespionage efforts on behalf of agencies in addition to the FBI - might be easily interpreted as increasingly likely. One possibility is the general played valuable roles in such operations during his career.

When intelligence professionals are involved in the UFO fray, it seems a safe bet we will find espionage and counterespionage operations not too far removed. It could be competently argued that much of ufology has long served as a small part of a much larger topic: counterespionage.

Recommended further reading:

FBI Had Interest in Flickinger Contacts 

UFOs as Espionage Tools

NSA Releases 1978 Memo on MUFON Conference

Crashed Saucer Misinformation 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Recording of Controversial Phone Message for Martin Cannon Publicly Available

Former UFO researcher Martin Cannon once published a recording of a disconcerting message reportedly left on his answering machine by the wife of Col. John Alexander. Cannon long asserted the message was left for him by Victoria Lacas Alexander and played it for listeners during the second hour of a 2009 interview conducted by Don Ecker (hear it approximately 30 minutes into the segment). 

"Martin, as an ex-friend I need to warn you John and Hal are really pissed and they're turning it over to Gordon to handle. Watch out," the message states. The apparent caller was interpreted by Cannon and others to be referring to John Alexander, Hal Puthoff and Gordon Novel in the message reportedly recorded in 1993.


Once upon a time in UFO World: Col. John Alexander, Gordon Novel and
Victoria Lacas Alexander


Cannon explained to Ecker that he was familiar with the voice of Lacas Alexander and identified the recording to be her. Ecker concurred that he too believed the message was the voice of Lacas Alexander.

A reader of The UFO Trail brought the 2009 interview to our attention after recently commenting on a 2012 blog post referencing Alexander, Cannon, and the message. Author and researcher George P. Hansen previously explored the circumstances in 2008, stating Cannon called and played him the tape on May 30, 1993, the same day the message was recorded. Hansen added he suggested Cannon alert a number of people in the media, and that Cannon also notified the FBI. While researchers have long known of the reported event, there is much less awareness of the public availability of the recording as pointed out by the blog reader. 

Martin Cannon is best known to the UFO crowd for The Controllers: A New Hypothesis of Alien Abduction, a 1990 work which outlined the possibility some reports of alien abduction may have resulted from misinterpretations of Manchurian Candidate-type covert research projects conducted by the intelligence community on unwitting subjects. However, Cannon later backtracked on the thesis and withdrew from what he at times suggested was an often disorderly and caustic UFO genre. 

The obvious implication is Cannon was being threatened in the phone message, but the specific motives and intentions of the architects of the situation are not entirely clear. Neither is it clear exactly what Alexander and Puthoff were reportedly angry about, and we are left to speculate just what Novel handling it was supposed to entail. 

In addition to the second hour of the interview linked above, the first hour to the show with Don Ecker and Martin Cannon is available for playing. The opening to the show is accessible as well.

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Related:

John Alexander, Contradictions and Unanswered Questions

Influence of the Intelligence Community in Ufology

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

NARA Further Declassifies 1949 FBI Memo on 'Unconventional Warfare' Meetings

A 1949 FBI memo pertaining to biological warfare and referencing covert experiments involving human research subjects was further declassified this week by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The action followed a request submitted by this writer that the six-page document receive a Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR).  

The memo is dated May 31, 1949, Subject: Biological Warfare, and is sent from Assistant Director D.M. Ladd to Director J. Edgar Hoover. It contains a summary of the minutes of what was the fifth in a series of meetings of an advisory committee made up of academics and representatives of intelligence agencies, including the CIA. The committee was described as expressing considerable interest in research of what historians now know as the Artichoke treatment, a term coined by CIA officers in reference to interrogation techniques which arose out of the Agency's behavior modification project of the same name. The operation produced the infamous Project MKULTRA.

The memo in its previously released form is located on pages 207-212 of an approximately 360-page file obtained by John Greenewald of The Black Vault. The 360 pages are part of a much larger FBI master file, number 100-HQ-93216, which NARA stated contains some 8500 pages. The file is believed to pertain to bacteriological warfare and related investigations conducted by the Bureau. Both the FBI and NARA recently indicated through correspondence that the large master file has not been previously released or processed pursuant to the FOIA.

Archivist James R. Mathis of the NARA Special Access and FOIA Staff explained about the six-page memo in a Nov. 4, 2019 email, "I have completed a line-by-line review of this document and released information to the greatest extent possible. The file has been redacted to protect the identities of confidential sources per 5 USC 552 (b)(7)(D); and information exempt from disclosure by statute per 5 USC 552 (b)(3).  The relevant statute in support of this (b)(3) withholding is 50 USC 3507, protecting CIA information. A summary of the results of this review is provided below:

"100-HQ-93216 Serial 200X: 6 total pages; 4 pages released in full; 2 pages released in redacted form."

The memo reiterates to Hoover that then-Lt. Col. Edwin F. Black set up an Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Defense to study various methods of unconventional warfare. Ladd then informs Hoover the May 14, 1949 meeting of the Committee was held in the New York apartment of Dr. Alfred L. Loomis. Representatives from the CIA, Johns Hopkins and Yale were in attendance:




Meeting minutes provided by Black reference information presented by "Dr. Willard Machle, Chief, Scientific Branch, CIA, and Mr. G. C. Backster, Jr., Scientific Branch, CIA". Security implications concerning a research subject were among topics considered. Also discussed were the potential of such techniques as isolating the subconscious mind and enhancing hypnosis through the use of drugs. Possibilities of instilling false information into the conscious mind were explained, along with what was termed "eradication of information from the conscious memory". The destruction of personality and character traits were discussed, among other techniques the CIA men apparently reported were attempting to be developed. 

According to the memo, Dr. Machle stated the Committee was the first group outside the CIA informed of the research. The CIA deferred seeking cooperation from other government agencies, such as the FBI or Army Counter Intelligence Corps, Machle further stated, until "positive control of the experimental subjects had been validated." The CIA Chief explained he "expected to obtain such validation in the near future," and expressed a desire to receive Committee support "for a program of vigorous exploration of these techniques":




More may be learned about the evolution of CIA behavior modification projects from such sources as The Search for the Manchurian Candidate by John Marks. Morse Allen, inaugural Artichoke director circa 1952, was credited with being the Agency's first behavioral research czar. Allen was also credited with creating the term, "terminal experiments". As implied, it referred to research that surpassed and disregarded ethical and legal limitations.

An "A" session might include administration of drugs, hypnosis, physical and psychological torture, and combinations thereof. Extreme isolation and sensory deprivation were in the toolbox, as well. Attempts were made to force captives to reveal certain information and/or facilitate indoctrination of various political allegiances. 

Dr. Jeffrey Kaye and the late writer/researcher Hank Albarelli, Jr. explored the issues in their 2010 article, Cries From the Past: Torture's Ugly Echoes. Readers may recognize Albarelli as author of A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments

In his 2010 article with Kaye, Albarelli expressed reasons for believing Artichoke was a substantially under-reported project with much wider reach and consequences than even typically assumed. The researchers cited documents released through the FOIA to report some 257 missions were carried out between 1954 and 1961, with locations including the U.S., Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines. 

"Nearly all of these assignments would fall under today's definition of 'enhanced interrogations'," they wrote.

Albarelli and Kaye wrote further:

A February 6, 1954 team report, delivered to CIA headquarters by "Diplomatic Courier," provides partial insight into one seemingly unique Artichoke field assignment in Europe. The report states: "These two subjects [foreign agents] are disposal problems, one because of his lack of ability to carry out a mission and the other because he cannot get along with the chief agent of the project. Both have extensive information concerning (other) assets and thus are security risks wherever they are disposed of. Anything that can be done in the Artichoke field to lessen the security risk will be helpful since the men must be disposed of even at maximum security risk. The urgency of consideration of this case is due to the fact that one of the men is already somewhat stir crazy and has tried to escape twice."
Another field report reads: "Subject was given a sedative suppository to increase his resistance to pain, this in order to intensify his ordeal midway through the planned session." Another reads in part: "This A [Artichoke] session involved four subjects all of whom present serious disposal problems after results are produced."


In his book A Terrible Mistake, Albarelli explored the 1951 case of mass madness seizing Pont-Saint Esprit, a village in France. Many feel the implications to covert behavior modification and weapons development projects are striking.

The researcher also explained how he was contacted several times over the course of his work by people, at least one of whom seemed to indeed know particulars of Fort Detrick, a site central to the topic. Interestingly, Albarelli described (A Terrible Mistake, p700) how the individuals would dangle the UFO topic, including the crashed saucer meme in particular, as a theory for a cause of the death of Frank Olson. 

Albarelli suggested he came to suspect the interactions may have been to divert his attention from covert and unethical experimentation involving powerful and dangerous substances related to Olson's death. The UFO topic may have also potentially served to minimize the amount of credible attention his book might receive from the professional research community and public at large if he suggested Olson's death was part of an orchestrated UFO cover-up.

The 360 pages obtained by John Greenewald provide an intriguing preview of what may await researchers in the rest of the unreleased 8500 pages of file 100-HQ-93216. FBI investigations and memos pertaining to the evolution of unconventional warfare, as well as how such information may have been of value to Hoover and his staff, should widely interest researchers of many varieties. 

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

Related:

Joseph Bryan III, the FBI and CIA

On the Trail of a $7k FBI File

Friday, November 1, 2019

Joseph Bryan III, the FBI and CIA



There are certain stories where researchers may start unearthing interesting nuggets at most any point on the timeline, and they'll soon find themselves immersed in ever expanding lists of people, organizations and circumstances. Many may seem worthy of further study. Pulling on a thread may take them into networks of individuals and actions which could have been accessed from any number of points of entry, and could continue to take research in lots of different directions. 

I eventually came to the conclusion that riding the UFO subject into the intelligence community is often a scenario whereby the topic of entry rapidly fades in brilliance when observed alongside the material to which it led. A shooting star into other vast lines of research. 

Many of those areas of research are specific fields of expertise for historians and scholars. Such scholars often have little interest in the subject of UFOs, and probably with good reason: it's not much more than a minor footnote as compared to wider and more consequential social issues within their fields of study.

This post, as with many here at The UFO Trail, could have been presented a lot of ways. It could have been framed as an exploration of government propaganda and misinformation. It could have been about how the actions and statements of TTSA personnel mirror those of spooks and UFO researchers of yesteryear. We could also have gone down the covert government operations rabbit hole, because behavior modification projects, organized efforts to sow dissension, and the manipulation of the press have more than cameo appearances in this Cold War saga.

Perhaps sometimes it's most accurate, however, if a researcher just presents what they're finding. Truth be told, sometimes we simply don't know what all we're looking at, or at the least we're unable to fully discern some subtleties and conclusively read between the lines of complex social situations. That might particularly be considered the case when a substantial amount of material seems to be obstructed, lost to time, or both. Yet in some instances, the gist of a chain of events nonetheless seems quite apparent.

With that, let's continue to explore the circles and activities of the late Joseph Bryan III, and, as we do so, bear in mind the words of experienced FOIA researcher JPat Brown, who wrote, "By just picking a random page from a random file, you’re doing your part to reclaim a history that has been hidden away, if not outright stolen."

Seeking Files on Joseph Bryan III

Readers may recall Mr. Bryan sat on the Board of Governors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), a civilian UFO research group, from 1957-1969, and again in 1971. Bryan had the unusual distinction of serving as an officer in three separate branches of service (Army, Air Force and Navy), and apparently worked with the CIA from the late 1940's until 1953. He was born into a wealthy newspaper family and became a rather widely published writer. Bryan was a psychological warfare specialist, a circumstance which was not known publicly during his time with NICAP. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, a former director of the CIA, was also a NICAP board member. 

A summary of our efforts to this point to obtain files on Bryan:

- Sep. 12, 2019, an FOIA request was submitted to the FBI for files pertaining to Joseph Bryan III.

- FBI responded by providing a 37-page file on Bryan, and in a letter dated Sep. 20, stated two more files potentially responsive to Bryan were transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The files were not previously processed under the FOIA, the FBI indicated, and identified the two files as 100-HQ-93216 and 62-HQ-116607.

- Sep. 25 an FOIA request was submitted to NARA, explaining the response from FBI and seeking the two files referenced by the Bureau.

- NARA soon responded that file 100-HQ-93216 was, according to an "initial assessment," confirmed to be related to Bryan. It was also described as an 8500-page document, creating substantial challenges and expenses for processing and producing, including several years wait and a $6,800 copying fee. The other file, 62-HQ-116607, NARA stated, remained in FBI custody.

- Some emails to other researchers revealed John Greenewald of The Black Vault obtained file 100-HQ-93216 in part (about 360 pages) in 2005. The file primarily pertains to bacteriological warfare.

- Following further correspondence with NARA, it was established that just two pages of the 8500 pertain to the subject of my original request, Joseph Bryan III. Oct. 28 NARA subsequently provided at no cost the two redacted pages, a 1953 FBI memo.

- After informing the FBI that NARA stated 62-HQ-116607 remained in FBI custody, FBI responded files potentially responsive to my request, but not specifically stating the file in question, were destroyed. I submitted an appeal.

- Additional FOIA requests on Bryan to other agencies remain pending.

Bryan and the FBI

The 37-page FBI file on Bryan, as explained in a previous post, largely chronicles the 1947 investigation of Bryan stemming from FBI attempts to groom him to frame a then-forthcoming article on the Bureau in a way that would please Director Hoover. After touring the FBI, meeting with Hoover, and being supplied material and sources for the story, Bryan informed the Bureau in early 1948 he would not be writing the piece. Bryan suggested a heavy workload was the reason.

Bryan's association with the CIA is not overtly discussed in the file, and it is not clear at what point the FBI may have became aware of it. A somewhat interesting exchange seems to have taken place during Bryan's meeting with Hoover, and is described in an Oct. 20, 1947 memo (see p16) from Assistant to the Director Lewis B. Nichols to Associate Director Clyde A. Tolson.

Describing an interaction with Bryan, Nichols explained to Tolson, "Sometime during the conversation with the Director he told the Director he was still a Naval Officer. The Director replied, 'I know.' He asked me how the Director knew he was still a Naval Officer." 

Nichols goes on to describe how he tried to reconcile the situation with Bryan, and seems to be passing his ostensible explanation along in the event the issue should ever come back up, as pictured below, along with a handwritten response from Hoover.




The latest two-page FBI file obtained from NARA skips ahead to 1953. It is a memo from Tolson to Assistant Director D.M. Ladd, subject line, "'Brain Washing' movie".

The memo documents a June 11, 1953, meeting in the Attorney General's office. In attendance, among others, were Ladd, Hoover, and Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, who presented the CIA film, "Brain Washing," for viewing. It pertained to material we now know to have involved implications to such topics as the use of bacteriological warfare by the U.S. in Korea, damning confessions issued by American prisoners of war, and what was ultimately Manchurian Candidate-type subject matter. 

There is a single mention of Joseph Bryan III midway through the third paragraph of the memo, as Bryan is described as an associate of what seem to be certain people related to the film: 




The release of the two-page memo was accompanied by a letter dated Oct. 18, 2019, from Steve Hamilton of the NARA Special Access and FOIA Staff. Mr. Hamilton explained about the memo, "I have completed a line-by-line review of FBI file 100-HQ-93216-642 and released information to the greatest extent possible. The file has been redacted to protect names of CIA employees and former employees." 

As we proceed on this exploration of people and events from yesteryear, it might be an apt time to suggest keeping in mind such projects as MKULTRA and COINTELPRO. Many readers will be aware the former was an infamous CIA descent into behavior modification, with forerunners bearing such titles as Bluebird and Artichoke that started in the late 1940's. COINTELPRO was a decades-long covert FBI operation designed to surveil, infiltrate and disrupt organizations. We very well may have never heard of either of the projects or any of the related operations if it weren't for the work of activists.

Cold War Fever

If this is supposed to be covered up as a defensive feasibility study, it's pretty damn transparent.
- CIA officer commenting on MKULTRA to his boss as quoted by John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate 

Now, remember that the two-page memo, "'Brain Washing' movie", was lifted from a yet to be fully released 8500-page file on bacteriological warfare, as was the case with the 360-page file obtained by John Greenewald. Each of those pdf's came from the same FBI master file, the 8500 pages of 100-HQ-93216, the vast majority of which, the Bureau informed me, has not been processed pursuant to the FOIA.

We previously considered some of the records in the 360-page bacteriological warfare file, and how the documents carried implications to reported cattle mutilations. Also found in the pdf are FBI memos outlining an ongoing series of late 1940's meetings between representatives of various agencies and academics to discuss what is described, at least overtly, as the threat of bacteriological warfare. Among other points of potential interest is the ominous reference to a "National Academy of Sciences Committee on Truth Serum".

Longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
A blog reader apparently found the topic interesting, further browsed the file, and shared something we agree was intriguing. Pages 207-212 of the 360-page file contain a May 31, 1949 FBI memo from Ladd to the Director, Subject: Biological Warfare. 

The memo indicates the Bureau used a "liaison" to attend the ongoing meetings pertaining to bacteriological warfare and what were described as "unconventional methods of warfare". Minutes were obtained from what is described as an Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Defense, and "regular" members of the Committee were in attendance, which included representatives from the CIA, Johns Hopkins and Yale.

The minutes of the May 15, 1949 meeting, apparently conducted in an apartment, describe a CIA representative addressing security implications concerning a research subject and related issues:




Techniques of interest were covered. Topics included extraction of classified information through subconscious isolation and interrogation through regression; reproduction of the subconscious state and related possibilities of espionage and sabotage guidance; instilling of false information and eradication of information from the conscious mind; negative visual hallucinations and the surveillance possibilities involved; destruction and re-creation of personality and character traits:




It was further stated the Committee expressed considerable interest in isolating the subconscious, particularly in relation to using drugs to enhance hypnotic techniques:




Readers may find the memo reminiscent of the "work" of CIA-funded consultants such as Maitland Baldwin, Ewen Cameron, and a host of hypnotists including Martin Orne. Experiments also come to mind pertaining to early attempts to employ hypnosis to manipulate the morals of research subjects. Corresponding records are contained in the published MKULTRA Collection.

While the acts and implications may not be news, one might nonetheless wonder what the other 8100+ pages of 100-HQ-93216 hold. The above material seems to provide a fascinating, albeit dark, glimpse into the rise of MKULTRA from an FBI perspective. Such records, more of which may well exist within the unreleased trove of FBI investigations surrounding bacteriological warfare, would seem potentially quite valuable to historians. 

Furthermore, the possibility is raised that individuals involved in unethical and sometimes illegal FBI and CIA operations collaborated to some extent. We simply do not know what we would learn from file 100-HQ-93216 in its entirety until given an opportunity to find out, and what we've seen so far would suggest a deeper look would be worthwhile.  

A strong argument can be made the file should be fully processed pursuant to the FOIA and released. Researchers should not be denied opportunities to comb through it, particularly as compared to just leaving the thousands of pages of Cold War era FBI material to sit dormant behind a wall of bureaucracy. 

So, where does that leave us with Joseph Bryan III? What do currently available FOIA files and authenticated documents tell us about the man and his social circles? How directly does any of it involve covert intelligence operations? To begin forming answers to such questions, we must cross reference more files and sources.

Bryan and the CIA

As I digested the two files I obtained from the FBI on Bryan, some of the material was increasingly perplexing to me. In the recently obtained two-page 1953 memo referenced above, the one about the brainwashing film, why was Bryan's name mentioned without further explanation? That certainly seemed to imply a familiarity with Bryan between the sender and recipient of the memo, a familiarity that would not have existed without mention much more recently than Bryan's visit to the FBI years earlier. I continue to wonder what other files might exist - or have been destroyed - that could further clarify the situation.

Similarly, it was perplexing that I simply did not understand what some of the documents were doing in the 37-page file. Take, for instance, an April 17, 1953 memo from M.A. Jones to Assistant to the Director Nichols (pp27-30). The subject of the memo is Lewis Steenrod Thompson, a.k.a. "Pinky" Thompson. The document contains no mention of Joseph Bryan, other than where his name was handwritten under the subject line. Why?

The name notation, along with a synopsis of the memo, may be viewed below:




Even given my limited understanding of the situation, a few things stood out to me about this memo. For one thing, the FBI believed Mr. Thompson to be wealthy, as was the case with Mr. Bryan. This in itself may not be significant, but it indeed appears segments of the intelligence community seemed to prefer dealing in certain capacities with what agencies may have considered well off, cultured individuals. I also noticed Thompson was a Princeton man, something else he shared with Bryan, which I recalled reading in bios pertaining to Bryan.

I happened to be aware DCI Dulles officially gave MKULTRA the green light in 1953, though the project would not become known to the public until 1975. A quick check of a point of reference indicated Dulles approved Project MKULTRA April 13, 1953, just four days prior to the memo. 

How relevant any of that may be, I didn't know, but I found it interesting. Nonetheless, I seemed to have a jumble of inferences, players, and circumstances. Cross referencing an FBI file on NICAP with the 37-page FBI file on Bryan brought a few things into a bit more clear focus, such as meanings behind some material concerning a Robert A. Winston contained in the Bryan file. In short, by the mid 1950's information pertaining to Hoover's sexual interests were at issue. This of course resulted in a number of consequences to those discussing and condemning Hoover, as well as the FBI itself. For further referencing and info, see an FBI file on Winston.

CIA headquarters, Langley, VA
Whether or not we may be interested in clashes between agencies, agents and officers, tracking such stories may provide us with a list of relevant players. As I continued to read about these people and their mid 20th century exploits, it was becoming increasingly apparent that Pinky Thompson was an intelligence asset himself. 

What began as seeking files on a NICAP board member eventually led me to learning about a CIA department called the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) which acted as a covert operation wing of the Agency, circa 1950 onward. The OPC apparently conducted extensive operations throughout Europe, and, as of this writing, I do not know exactly what CIA interests were promoted and actions were carried out. 

I did discover, however, that Pinky Thompson, who was investigated by the FBI and a memo to that effect was placed in the file of Joseph Bryan, was involved. From The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War: Calling the Tune?, p229:

However, as the numerous intelligence connections of its officers strongly suggest, ACUE [American Committee on United Europe] was in fact an OPC/CIA front operation much like the NCFE [National Committee for a Free Europe]... According to Braden's later recollection, the first payment arrived in the form of a bag containing $75,000 dumped on his desk by CIA officer Pinky Thompson with the words, "This is for you." 

Author Hugh Wilford goes on to explain the operation became more sophisticated, and describes the scale of funding as "massive." Wilford continued:


Only about 'one-third of the total disbursements' were recorded on the ACUE's books, however, and these were disguised as gifts from 'fictitious donors' or 'company-sponsored foundations and trusts'. The remaining two-thirds were 'transacted covertly'. In short, Blumgart's memo suggests that the CIA was passing nearly a million dollars a year via the ACUE to the European unity campaign in the mid-1950's.

Further establishing Thompson's role as a CIA officer, we find a 1950 entry from the calendar of then-DCI Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith. A phone call conducted with Thompson and his interest in leadership of the NCFE, described above as a CIA front organization, was recorded (p79): 





Then came the proverbial money card, at least to this point. Joseph Bryan III apparently ran the Political and Psychological Warfare subdivision of the OPC, which employed Thompson. Bryan recruited Thompson and Princeton alumni, among others, to work in the CIA's OPC. From American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond, p46, by the notable E. Howard Hunt and Greg Aunapu:




Pinky worked for Joseph. Interestingly, it seems Howard Hunt did as well.

Flying Saucers Again 

We're left to wonder, at least for now, how much Hoover and the FBI knew about the activities of Joseph Bryan, Pinky Thompson and other CIA officers. We're also left to wonder what the Bureau wanted to know. As previously suggested, one might reasonably surmise additional files contain yet more clues and stories waiting to be added to the collage of information.

Joseph Bryan III
It would seem Mr. Bryan was indeed a well connected man. He turns up in the company of figures with substantial influence within the Cold War intelligence community. While it feels a lot of info might yet be obstructed, it nonetheless seems Bryan was given significant responsibilities, particularly pertaining to propaganda and psychological warfare. 

Taking all of this into consideration, it feels as if we are then somewhat expected to believe that Bryan, former DCI Hillenkoetter, and various career military officers decided it would be a good idea to sit on the board of a UFO research organization, NICAP. Maybe they found UFOs fascinating. Maybe they thought it was fun. Maybe a lot of things.

It's possible a man specializing in psych warfare wanted to learn more about UFOs, completely independent of his employment history, and he thought one of the best ways to do so would be to join and help run an outfit like NICAP. That's certainly the case for some former officers and intel professionals, I suppose. I won't launch into a lot of speculation, but I will say it doesn't seem likely, given the connections and experience of men such as Bryan. 

An underlying point here deserves emphasizing: If assumptions formed in the early years of the modern UFO phenomenon are wrong, then much of everything that was built upon those flawed fundamentals is extremely questionable. 

This stands to be much more significant than a single randomly botched UFO investigation or a relatively harmless incorrect conclusion. If a correct direction of study was thrown off course by a few degrees 70 years ago, it is wildly off target by now. That is the case whether the loss of direction was due to innocent mistakes, covert exploitation, charlatans, or combinations of such factors. 

Last but not least, Project 1947, a website stating it is dedicated to documenting the origins of the modern UFO phenomenon, posted a transcript of a 1966 newspaper article containing a statement attributed to Joseph Bryan III. Flying Saucers Again: Do You Believe in Them? seems to have originally run in the Washington, D.C.-based Sunday Star and was written by a retired Air Force colonel. 

More than a bit similar to articles we are currently seeing about TTSA and UAP, the piece could easily be expected to have aroused interest in UFOs and describes Mr. Bryan as "one of the most highly qualified members" of the NICAP board. The lead up and Bryan's statement:




The article is accompanied by a photo, reportedly taken in 1957, of a B-57 bomber. A saucer-like object is in the photo and it is noted by the author to not have been noticed until after the negative was developed:




Quite interestingly, a photocopy of the 1966 newspaper article is on file at the CIA website. I also find it interesting that the original clipping clearly states the photos were provided for publication by NICAP. 

As I consider Bryan's emphatically pro-ET comment and the photo material provided by NICAP, I keep thinking about the statement above from Howard Hunt on Bryan's CIA/OPC team:

The staff was soon joined by artist-illustrator Hugh Troy, who then formed another small coterie of political cartoonists and polemicists who would generate a large amount of material that found its way into newspapers around the world.


Sure, I guess there's no rule that says UFO Disclosure can't be led by guys in the business of propaganda and information warfare. I suppose it's possible. They sure haven't gotten very far with it since the early NICAP days, though, and it sure seems as if intel pros at the top of their agencies, of all people, should know the history of disclosure efforts of their predecessors if they cared. 

It just doesn't seem propaganda specialists would be the most likely group to want to grab the UFO bull by the horns. Neither does it seem the most likely scenario for what we're looking at here.