Tuesday, January 24, 2017


National Security Agency, Fort Meade, MD
Documents declassified by the NSA paint an intriguing picture of interest and activities in the UFO community. Please follow along as we cross reference files that explore UFO-related deception and establish the existence of a report on a UFO symposium authored by an NSA assignee in attendance. I'll also explain my efforts to learn more via the Freedom of Information Act. 

"Surprise or Deceptive Data"

The January, 1997, Volume 43 of The Skeptics UFO Newsletter is available at The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website. Its author, the late Philip J. Klass, described a batch of docs released by the NSA due to various efforts, including a lawsuit launched by Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS). I point out the work of Klass because not only did he discuss the docs we're going to explore, but primarily because he speculated about the possible author of some of the NSA material. Klass suspected Tom Deuley, a long time MUFON director and former NSA employee, was "almost certainly" involved in compiling a portion of the information held by the NSA. I bring this up not to be overly conspiratorial, but because I find the chain of events interesting, and I suspect some of you will agree. To try to be clear, please allow me to emphasize it is not news that Deuley was employed by the NSA or that he discussed the UFO community with his employer, but it warrants mention in relation to the following material.

A declassified doc available on the NSA site is a draft titled, UFO's and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data. Its author is not disclosed, as is standard policy, and it is undated. However, we know it was obviously composed prior to the info release as described by Klass because he discussed it in the 1997 newsletter, and it is referenced in another NSA doc from the same era. More on that shortly, but let's consider the draft a bit.

"The implications of the UFO phenomena go far beyond the particular phenomena itself," the 7-page doc begins. It goes on to explain that "surprise attack is such a basic ingredient of military success" because "it is able to rely on a most dependable human blind spot: The inability of most men to objectively process and evaluate highly unusual data and to react to the data in a meaningful way."

The author then cites celebrated ufologist Dr. Jacques Vallee while establishing the human response to observations of unusual phenomena "is predictable and graphically depictable." The assault of a person's psychological structure is considered, with the emotional impact of the strangeness of a UFO sighting compared to witnessing a brutal murder, and identified as "the same."

Conditions attributed to trauma are reviewed, including amnesia, and a chart with a "strangeness index" (see right) estimates the likelihood a person will discuss experiences with others in proportion to the perceived extent of peculiarity. It suggests the stranger the incident, the less people the witness will tell, which could also easily be interpreted as the more traumatized and mentally paralyzed they stand to become.

The first of two redacted sections is apparently an example of how human response to perceived unusual phenomena can be detrimental, particularly from a military perspective, as the author concludes, "It is apparent that we cannot allow such a human flaw to leave us blinded to unusual or surprising material. The example indicates that some people 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."

It might be interesting to know more about the details of that redacted example. The second redacted section is the author's recommendations to solve the challenge.

Seeking more information about the two redacted sections brings us to another document you've probably heard about or seen around. It's an affidavit of NSA man Eugene F. Yeates in the case of Citizens Against Unidentified Flying Objects Secrecy v. National Security Agency - and there are two affidavits, one public, the other originally classified but later released. Nothing's ever simple in UFO Land.

Fork in the Road 

Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, once said about UFOs, "Well, it turns out that the government does have something to hide, but it has nothing to do with extraterrestrials." He may very well be right, and he's certainly correct in at least most cases, yet many of us, Mr. Aftergood included, might find the circumstances quite interesting.

CAUS sued the NSA in the early 1980's to release its UFO files. This resulted in a chain of events which included the affidavit of Eugene F. Yeates. The long and short of his statements suggest the reasons the NSA desired to selectively withhold information had nothing to do with the UFO community's popular suspicions and collective definition of UFOs. The concerns, Yeates stated, were about national security involving matters of communications intelligence (COMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT). 

Did you notice that fork in the road? Some people always chase aliens, and if there aren't any around, they're not interested. Others always debunk aliens, and if they're convinced they've established there aren't any around, they're not interested anymore either. If, however, you're interested in how the intelligence and UFO communities bump into each other in dark alleys, then thanks for sticking with me and we're well on our way.

There is a public Yeates affidavit and a formerly classified, now available affidavit. The NSA hosts a copy of the public doc, and The Black Vault provides a copy of the declassified doc.

The formerly classified affidavit contains statements from Yeates on the "Blind Spot" document explored above, including comments on the two sections remaining redacted. Yeates explained:

This document was discussed in paragraph 20b of my public affidavit. It is entitled UFO's and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data. In this document, the author discusses what he considers to be a serious shortcoming in the Agency's COMINT interception and reporting procedures -- the inability to respond correctly to surprising information or deliberately deceptive data. He uses the UFO phenomena to illustrate his belief that the inability of the U.S. intelligence community to process this type of unusual data adversely affects U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities. Deletions in this document were made as follows:
(2) Paragraph three of this document uses a signals intelligence operation against [redacted] to illustrate the author's point. This paragraph contains information about SIGINT activities that is currently and properly classified... The material in this paragraph also concerns the organization and operational activities and functions of NSA directed against [redacted]...
(3) Paragraph four of the memorandum states the conclusions and recommendations of the author. While it talks of the ability of the Agency employees to deal with unusual phenomena it is not responsive to the plaintiff's request regarding UFO or UFO phenomena. In any event, as I stated in my public affidavit (paragraph 20b), the subject matter of that paragraph is exempt from disclosure because it contains the employee's specific recommendations for addressing the problem of responding to surprise material... One specific recommendation suggests an operational approach to solving the problem which reveals NSA activities and is, therefore, exempt from disclosure...

That sounds pretty interesting and potentially relevant to me. I'd like to know more.

The formerly classified Yeates affidavit went on to address a document withheld, once again on the grounds it had nothing to do with actual UFO phenomena, but was instead an "account by a person assigned to NSA of his attendance at a UFO symposium":
In processing the plaintiff's FOIA request, a total of two hundred and thirty-nine documents were located in NSA files. Seventy-nine of these documents originated with other government agencies and have been referred by NSA to those agencies for their direct response to the plaintiff. One document, which I addressed in paragraph 20c of my public affidavit, was erroneously treated as part of the subject matter of plaintiff's FOIA request. 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.
The same circumstances described by Yeates, yet this time as he stated in the public affidavit:
The third non-COMINT document is a memorandum for the record by an NSA assignee that was originally withheld in its entirety... In my review today I have ascertained, however, that this memorandum is neither in whole nor in part responsive to the plaintiff's request. It does not deal with UFOs or the UFO phenomena. Rather, it is a document voluntarily prepared by the assignee to report an incident that occurred during his attendance at a UFO symposium. It is the assignee's personal account of his activities and does not include reference to any UFO sighting or phenomena.

It is apparently the statements about the UFO symposium that led Philip Klass to be most confident Yeates was referring to Tom Deuley, at least in that particular instance. As Klass explained in his 1997 newsletter, Deuley spoke publicly of discussing his attendance at a UFO conference with his employer, the NSA. Regardless, I identify a number of things of potential interest about the documents. I therefore filed a couple of FOIA requests.

In the first, I requested that the declassified draft, UFO's and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data, once again be reviewed with consideration given to releasing the two currently redacted paragraphs. If possible, it might be interesting to know more about the operations, examples and recommendations contained therein and offered by the author. 

The second FOIA request was to review the feasibility of now releasing the previously withheld report on the UFO symposium. It could be interesting to read, whether or not composed by Deuley, and it is of potential historic value. I've got a few more requests pending to other agencies on different cases and will be sure and pass along any relevant info as it develops. 

Last but not least, I do not consider myself experienced at wading through declassified docs, identifying the latest declassified version (sometimes a doc will be declassified and "more" declassified repeatedly over time) and similar relevant tricks to know of the FOIA trade. If you're aware of docs and material relevant to the above cases or other topics I write about, a heads up is always welcome.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Army Cold War Chemical Research Report

"I recommended, and my boss agreed, to destroy all of the individual records of the evaluations because things occurred during the interrogation situation, while they were under the drug, that could have been taken out of context later and used against them in an adverse manner, and so to protect the individuals who were involuntarily reacting to these situations, I destroyed the individual records involved."
- Testimony of Col. Lawrence W. Jackley 

A declassified 1976 Army Inspector General report, Use of Volunteers in Chemical Agent Research, was recently posted by governmentattic.org. The 264-page document chronicles some 25 years of Army chemical research, development, and testing on humans. Composed in the wake of 1970's Congressional inquiries and hearings, points of interest in the report include:

  • From 1950 to 1975 the Army studied approximately 34,500 chemical compounds, with 32 agents, including hallucinogens such as LSD, selected for clinical testing on volunteers. 
  • The scope of the operations included the Army Medical Research Laboratory, which in 1954 employed 32 college-educated officers, 130 enlisted scientific and professional personnel, and 117 civilian workers educated at Harvard, Stanford, Duke and other leading universities.
  • The Army supplied personnel for a secret Special Purpose Team which conducted field tests on global "nonvolunteers." Aspects of the operation took place on a strict needs to know basis and "was clear from the outset to the conclusion the project violated Department of Defense and Department of the Army policies and procedures for conduct of chemical/medical research." 
  • Although most American military test participants were termed "volunteers," the report concluded coercion occurred, with one psychiatrist at Fort McClellan, 1959-1961, stating servicemen who declined to submit to experiments were sent to him for evaluation as to why they chose not to take LSD.
  • While defending its integrity and competence, the Army nonetheless acknowledged records were lost or nonexistent in some cases, protocols were subject to wide interpretation, and the chain of command was not always sought to approve test conditions as required. Informed consent was clearly not obtained from all test subjects, and in some instances women and members of other demographics prohibited from screening were used anyway.
  • A soldier accused of removing classified documents was never charged after "prolonged interrogations" conducted by the Special Purpose Team included hypnosis and administration of LSD. A decision not to court martial was reached for reasons including the desire to uphold secrecy surrounding the activities of the team, "the soldier's recollections of the 'bizarre methods' employed" by the group, and the unanimous opinion of consulting psychiatrists the man had severe psychiatric disorders. He was issued a General Discharge in 1961. 
  • In 1958 tests conducted on members of the 7th Special Forces Group included monitoring the soldiers as they attempted to resist interrogation after having been clandestinely administered hallucinogens. The project officer, Col. Lawrence W. Jackley, testified in 1975 there was so much variance in reaction the exercise was useless. He and his boss made the decision to destroy all of the records, Jackley stated, because "things occurred" during interrogation and he wanted "to protect the individuals who were reacting involuntarily to these situations."

Historical Context

"An English calvaryman and his horse
ride through a gas attack wearing protective masks
and body cover, 1934," according to History in Pictures
A history of chemical testing is summarized in the report, touching on chemical warfare long predating the 1950-1975 era primarily explored. The Army offers explanations and justifications for its long term testing of chemical compounds for use on humans. Some of the dynamics and perspectives expressed will be recognized by those familiar with such Cold War operations. 

Particular emphasis is given to the importance of Russian advances in the field. Historians and researchers will correlate the reference with American justifications for behavior modification, or mind control, projects. Works such as The Search for the Manchurian Candidate by John Marks documented at length how U.S. officials blamed Russian research efforts for the need to conduct such operations as MKULTRA, justifiably or otherwise. Marks notably quoted a CIA officer, who wrote of the project in a memo to his boss, "If this is supposed to be covered up as a defensive feasibility study, it's pretty damn transparent."

Interestingly, the Army IG took the justification a bit further than simply blaming states hostile to U.S. interests, and suggested the Army was placed in a no-win situation by the American press: The media, the IG argued, covered and repeatedly emphasized the Russian threat of chemical warfare to such an extent the Army was criticized for not taking strong enough defensive action and later criticized for action it took. It's actually a rather well presented point - and would carry even greater weight - were it not for the things we now know can be read between the lines of the IG report, talented as its authors may have been. 


It should be emphasized, as was the case in the report, the material covered is not intended to address ventures by the CIA such as MKULTRA, Department of Defense operations such as Project 112, or other biological and chemical weapons testing involving humans outside the direct responsibility of the Army. The subject matter nonetheless overlaps. The report acknowledges it was a massive undertaking to attempt to effectively summarize the 25 years of circumstances, and clarifies it was simply not possible to obtain documentation where records were missing or admittedly destroyed. The IG stated license was taken at times to attempt to fill in the gaps. 

The report documents assembly of a Special Purpose Team, the existence and activities of which correlate with research published by Hank P. Albarelli, Jr. and Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, and considered in my book, The Greys Have Been Framed. The team conducted missions into the 1960's consisting of field experimentation later denounced by the IG, including plans to subject Vietnamese prisoners of war to chemical experiments. The report states no evidence was obtained to indicate the mission was carried out. Nonetheless, plenty of documentation is provided of related activities undertaken by the group and its questionable, yet unnamed, personnel and their international assignments. For several reasons I'm not entirely confident evidence of the Vietnamese mission would have surfaced even if it existed.

"The opinion of witnesses [which were Special Purpose Team members] as to why the project was aborted varied," the report states. "In fact, no two offered the same reason..."

Concerning another project executed by the Special Purpose Team, the report explained, "Arrangements were made with the intelligence staff members [redacted] to provide orientals of various nationalities for use in LSD experiments."

Research conducted on U.S. servicemen included a scheme to assemble, drug, and interrogate subjects at a cocktail party-like event. Those familiar with related declassified material will recognize the correlation to a plan hatched by CIA behavioral research czar Morse Allen, who envisioned snatching an unsuspecting individual from a social event and programming them via drugs and hypnosis to conduct an assassination. A few variations of the objective of Allen's proposal existed, including prioritizing the implementation itself, as compared to whether or not the kill was actually carried out (see The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, page 138).

Sid Gottlieb and attorney, circa 1977
Quickly coming to mind might also be MKULTRA Project Director Sidney Gottlieb's ill conceived act of covertly drugging members of the Army Chemical Corps Special Operations Division during a 1953 working retreat. Among the targeted were scientist Frank Olson, who died the next week following a now infamous fall from a Manhattan hotel room window. There was no mention of the circumstances in the IG report, although aspects of the chemical divisions were of course referenced repeatedly.

It is noteworthy The Black Vault obtained and posted an FBI file on Sidney Gottlieb. It indicates in 1975 the Bureau wanted to interview the CIA man concerning the destruction of records. It appears after exchanges between the FBI and Gottlieb's attorney the interview never took place. I find the FBI file of historical significance, including its copy of a 1975 WaPo article referencing such CIA records destruction.

Experiments on the 7th Special Forces Group covered in the Army IG file included dosing the soldiers with LSD while they were assigned guard duty and instructed to deny entry to an area by anyone not having a special pass. "Penetration of the guard post was accomplished easily," the report stated.

Research in question took place in some circumstances in direct violation of clear orders to refrain from conducting involuntary testing. The chain of command was persistently ignored, be it by design, due to drug-induced dysfunction or combinations thereof. We see templates of the same schemes arising again and again over the years and from one operation and declassified document to another. Sensory deprivation, interrogation techniques, airborne compounds rendering military units disoriented, and similar themes come up repeatedly. In my opinion, this suggests a majority of researchers were unaware of the classified activities of other departments, while better informed agency directors and key personnel attempted to tweak concepts now seen repeatedly surfacing in what were widely conducted, ongoing experiments. The circumstances also lend support to the long held criticism that similar "research" activities were conducted across blurring project lines in attempts to skirt accountability. And sometimes personnel were just stoned.  


Despite worthy efforts by the Army to frame its activities as professional, organized and systematic, the disarray is evident. While it is not denied in some instances, it's not directly addressed in others. Among them are the testimonies cited of Dr. Van Murray Sim.

Sim, as history now shows us, was a mess. He's one of the guys, readers will recall, who dropped acid and partook in other substance abuse while drugging and supposedly monitoring volunteers at Edgewood Arsenal. He was also appointed by the Secretary of the Army as physician responsible for volunteers in chemical warfare research. Twice. The Army IG report fails to detail Dr. Sim's less respectable activities.

Nonetheless, I found the report to be an important read. It's historical context is relevant. Dozens of institutions and thousands of volunteers are referenced as taking part in Army chemical testing, and the report contains a wealth of information for potential future FOIA requests. I find it intriguing to note ways certain circumstances are glossed over or omitted from mention of which researchers are now aware. 

While some chemical testing projects spiraled into dysfunction (one unit was cited in which LSD "demonstrations" became part of orientation exercises, later nixed by Army brass due to the fact the practice had nothing whatsoever to do with actual research protocols), we should not allow the semi-comical stories to overshadow the truly disturbing circumstances. A realistic analysis of research into chemical warfare and behavior modification conducted by the American intelligence community includes, in my opinion, acknowledging that ineptitude and competence were both involved. The combination of competence and circumstances of potentially relevant yet currently unpublished details may quite possibly be a primary reason so much of the material was intentionally destroyed and/or remains classified.

For instance, Dr. Kaye recently explained how his 2016 FOIA request was denied for the 1957 CIA Inspector General report on operations of the Technical Services Division, which included Project MKULTRA, behavioral research and related activities. That's 60 years now that docs are still withheld. Kaye indicated the CIA responded the request was denied for reasons including the report contained information about "the identity of a confidential human source or a human intelligence source; or... key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction."

I think it's more than evident from the declassified material that a much different scenario emerges of the intelligence community than is contained in the popular narrative. We simply have no way of knowing what else would be revealed by the docs that remain classified. I have my doubts we'll ever fully know, or that we can completely trust the integrity of the declassification process, but I hold out hope we'll continue to obtain increasingly clear pictures.