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. 



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. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

On the Trail of a $7k FBI File

It all started with an FOIA request for records on Joseph Bryan III. The FBI responded by providing one file of about 37 pages and informing me there were two more files, making a total of three potential files. Both of the other two files, the Bureau explained, were transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, and suggested I pursue the files there. 

"Great!" I thought, "I'll just shoot an FOIA request over to NARA and I'll get the other two files!"

NARA soon replied that one of the files was actually still in FBI custody, in contradiction to the FBI statement. The other file was 8,500 pages(!). 

My request would be entered into a third tier review queue since the requested file consists of more than 3,000 pages. To give me an indication of the existing backlog, NARA stated it is currently processing requests received in December 2014. If I want a copy of the file whenever it finally gets made available for release, the estimated fee at this time is $6,800(!!).

"You may order a reproduction copy at the cost of $0.80 per page by contacting our office to place an order," NARA wrote in an Oct. 10 email. "We estimate that the total cost for a reproduction of 8500 pages will be $6800."

I'll explain all that more shortly. First let's consider Mr. Bryan.

Joseph Bryan III
For those unaware, the late Joseph Bryan III was a member of the Board of Governors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, a UFO research org back in the day. Bryan was also a military officer, serving in both the Navy and Air Force, and was recruited by the CIA as a psychological warfare specialist, according to many sources. Those sources include numerous obituaries and military sites, as well as the Encyclopedia Virginia which states Bryan worked for the CIA from the late 1940's until 1953. At least one historian wrote Bryan worked for the CIA "as head of its psychological warfare division." Bryan was from a wealthy family who owned a newspaper, and he wrote quite a bit on several topics. 

Bryan sat on the NICAP board from 1957-1969, and again in 1971. It is noteworthy his fellow board members included former Director of Central Intelligence Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter. 

The file on Bryan initially provided by the FBI is an interesting read. It offers significant insight into FBI mentalities and methods during the late 1940's. 

The majority of the file concerns a forthcoming article about the FBI that was going to be published by the Saturday Evening Post. The Bureau was concerned about making sure the article portrayed it in a positive way, and pulled what strings it could to influence who would be assigned to write the piece. Reporters initially thought to be working on it were not acceptable to the FBI, as can easily be discerned from memos in the file. Bryan's name eventually came up as a possible writer for the story, and it is at that point we can read along as FBI agents evaluate Bryan, interviewing numerous sources and compiling reports.

Bryan is invited to tour the FBI headquarters and meet with Director Hoover, which he does. Subsequent notes and memos are included in the file, and the Bureau seems to believe it "should have no difficulty with Bryan" as the author of the Post article, and certainly prefers him to the previous candidates.

Interestingly, Bryan never writes the piece, informing the FBI he became too busy working on other writing projects. We can only speculate about this, but, for whatever reasons, Bryan chose not to write the story after spending time touring the FBI, talking to Hoover, being provided names of sources recommended for statements, and being provided some "material". 

"Should I return the documents you were kind enough to lend me, or should I give them to the Post for loan to their new assignee?" Bryan asks in a letter to the Bureau dated Feb. 25, 1948 (page 19 of the file).

The file concludes with some 1950's memos and letters, in which conflicts arise between Bryan and some other members of the intelligence community. Loyalties and friendships are questioned surrounding the nature of on the record statements, and more research might prove interesting.

Contents of a June 9, 1955, letter from Robert A. Winston to Bryan and obtained by the FBI (pp34-35 of the file):



NARA and the FBI

Okay, so those other two FBI files on Joseph Bryan III... When I first heard from NARA that one of the files, 100-HQ-93216, was 8,500 pages and it would take years and seven grand to obtain, I shared the NARA email with some people. One of them was the resourceful James Carrion, who soon provided me a screenshot indicating John Greenewald previously requested the file. It appeared to pertain to bacteriological warfare.

I contacted Greenewald, who told me he indeed obtained the file in part in 2005, and supplied me with a link to the approximately 360 pages he was provided. John explained the process of transferring files from the FBI to NARA is, unfortunately, not always as reliable as we would hope, in the event it turned out the bacteriological warfare file had nothing to do with the subject of my request.

I emailed NARA again and told them what I'd learned; it seemed very likely that little, if any at all, of the 8,500-pager had anything to do with Bryan. I asked if it could conclusively be determined if the file pertained whatsoever to my request, and, if so, could those pages exclusively be reviewed and provided, rather than the entire file. It was my hope, I added, all parties involved could be saved time and expense.

NARA responded that two pages of the 8,500 specifically pertain to Joseph Bryan III. The Administration offered to provide a redacted copy of the two pages at no cost if I agreed to close the request, which I did. The alternative would be to wait virtually indefinitely for the entire file of which I wasn't going to purchase a copy anyway, but probably would have traveled to DC to view if I was under the impression a substantial portion of it pertained to Bryan, which it doesn't. I will of course publish the two pages when I receive them. 

Sure glad I asked! That would have been an expensive couple pages to read, about $3,400 each, if I got the whole file, but a steal, I guess, compared to metamaterials. 

And the third file, the other one the FBI told me was transferred to NARA, but NARA said was still at the FBI? It was 62-HQ-116607, for the record. I informed the FBI that NARA replied the file was in FBI custody, and the FBI now tells me it was destroyed. 

Okay... I empathize with FOIA officers, I really do. I understand it's a difficult and often thankless job that is never-ending. After working all day, there is more work to do than when they started.

That stated, there is some merit to criticisms. There are inherent flaws to the system and the culture. I'm not going to expand on that right now, but suffice it to say the effort to obtain files should not morph into an Abbott and Costello bit that threatens to become more of the story than the contents of the files.

Last but not least, those 360+ pages Greenewald got on FBI interest in bacteriological warfare make some interesting reading. Page 72 is a 1945 FBI teletype addressing a Japanese balloon apparently found in Montana. Concerns included livestock poisoning. 

Page 75 is a 1945 memo pertaining to information apparently obtained by a Special Agent in Charge who attended an intelligence conference. Investigations were reportedly conducted concerning Japanese balloons landing in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. The memo quotes the pertinent information relayed by the SAC:

The implications to cattle mutilation reports and some theories pertaining to the Roswell saga should be apparent to those familiar with UFO lore. These are circumstances many readers will have previously heard about, but I find it interesting to be able to identify relatively original sources. This type of material has been cited before, but it never hurts to make it a little more widely available for people to consider and access.

Friday, October 18, 2019

TTSA, LMH Silent on $35k 'Metamaterials'

Linda Moulton Howe
To The Stars Academy and Linda Moulton Howe each failed to respond to multiple requests for comment pertaining to TTSA acquisition of "metamaterials" reportedly carrying a $35k price tag. Comments were sought several times over a two week period. No replies were received.

Keith Basterfield first wrote about an SEC filing submitted by TTSA, linked above, reporting material was purchased by TTSA from Tom DeLonge for $35k. It was further reported DeLonge acquired the material from Moulton Howe. It is unclear if she was compensated. Details are also lacking as to origin and history of the material, which many confidently suspect to be related to "Art's Parts," material showcased under dubious circumstances many years ago by the late paranormal radio host Art Bell.

In related news, TTSA announced a joint venture with the U.S. Army. Objectives of the project are not entirely clear, and reportedly involve advancing "TTSA's materiel and technology innovations in order to develop enhanced capabilities for Army ground vehicles."

Joseph Trevithick at The Drive reported what we know at this point about the project, which involves no money changing hands. There is also no articulated deliverable, writes Trevithick, and if a product comes out of the venture it will probably be a written study or similar type of report.

Robert Sheaffer shared his perspectives on the developing chain of events. He notes it doesn't appear TTSA is actually going to build anything, although he interprets its announcement nonetheless encourages people to believe that is the case, complete with an "invest now" button.

The skeptical takes are understandable at this point, and it's completely reasonable to ask for clarification of mounting questionable issues. Such issues involve Luis Elizondo's challenged claims of running the AATIP; Linda Moulton Howe's involvement in providing extremely questionable material; DeLonge's reported compensation for said material; substantiation of yet to be confirmed assertions put forth by outlets such as the New York Times and Politico; unfulfilled claims by TTSA of having chains of custody in hand for videos published; whether or not said videos have anything whatsoever to do with the AATIP as reported, and many more.

It might seem as if many Disclosure activists rally for transparency as long as it's someone else's activities being disclosed.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Former Skinwalker Personnel Suspect They Were Unwitting Research Subjects

Robert Bigelow
Two men who state they formerly worked on Robert Bigelow's Skinwalker Ranch are expressing concerns they were unwitting research subjects during their employment. Chris Marx and Chris Bartel took to social media and podcasts to voice claims they experienced paranormal-like events at the ranch and that they underwent medical tests they now suspect involved research lacking their knowledge and fully informed consent. 

Marx suggested legal action may be forthcoming:

Bartel on Twitter:

Each of the two men were interviewed by Erica Lukes. More about their claims may also be found at the blog of Keith Basterfield, who is following this developing story. It is yet to be seen how much documentation will be presented to support the statements and allegations made by Marx and Bartel, but the circumstances have the potential to prove interesting.

Concerns about adherence to human research subject protocols arose when a statement attributed to a BAASS senior manager was posted May 4, 2018, by Channel 8 in Las Vegas, the host of controversial reporter George Knapp. The statement asserted BAASS adopted "a novel approach of utilizing the human body as a readout system for dissecting interactions with the UFO phenomenon." It was further asserted that several medical technologies and related tools were used "for in depth study of the effects of UFOs on humans." 

Such circumstances were previously suggested in the now well known NYT article published in December of 2017 that broke the AATIP story. The article stated, "Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes," but no details or substantiation were provided.

Information pertaining to the review, approval, and oversight of research involving human subjects is thus far sorely lacking from the vague and anonymous reports. To date there has been no clarification of specifics surrounding the medical exams or whether the work was approved by an institutional review board, or IRB, which ensures adherence to legal and ethical standards. Several FOIA requests are pending which researchers hope will shed light on the methodologies and means of measuring progress of such claimed studies, among many other questions which remain unanswered, and, in many instances, unasked around the UFO circuit.

Non-lethal weapons expert,
former NIDS spokesperson,
CIA consultant, and ufology
influencer, John Alexander
Long before the 2017 article at the Times, select researchers expressed concerns the Skinwalker saga was misrepresented for what might be a number of different reasons and motives from one person to the next. Among the suspected reasons was the possible existence of some type of classified research and development project. 

The suppositions seem bolstered by a 1996 AP article (pictured below) in which non-lethal weapons expert Col. John Alexander, acting as a spokesperson for Robert Bigelow's now dissolved National Institute for Discovery Science, made vague and contradicting statements. Alexander told the AP a mission of NIDS was to make information widely available yet simultaneously declined to provide details of how or why research was being conducted at Skinwalker Ranch.   

"You know, the Skinwalker Ranch to me is interesting for a couple reasons," writer, researcher, and former MUFON International Director James Carrion explained in 2014.

"There's a mythology that was being built up. Why was it being built up? I think it had somewhat to do with the mythology surrounding Area 51. Somebody wants to continue that mythology."

Summing up his thoughts on Bigelow and the Skinwalker Ranch, Carrion added, "All I know is somebody is obfuscating what is really going on, and I don't think it has to do with protecting people's lives [concerning the lack of access and lack of transparency]. I think it's something else."

The funding sources for research conducted at Skinwalker are as unclear as the objectives and outcomes. The Defense Intelligence Agency, which funded the AAWSAP, responded to an FOIA request it has no records pertaining to contracts undertaken with or funding provided to NIDS. 

It may be noteworthy that the FOIA does not require agencies to disclose the existence of properly classified records. It is somewhat feasible such records exist and are classified. 

The National Security Agency, rumored to have been involved at Skinwalker, fully denied an FOIA request for documents pertaining to NIDS and BAASS. "Please be advised that due to security concerns, this is our standard response to all requests where we reasonably believe acquisition records are being sought on a contract or contract related activity," the NSA explained.

Many FOIA requests to the DIA remain pending on BAASS. One FOIA request which was completed, however, substantiates that BAASS was indeed awarded an AAWSAP contract in 2008. Details of what was ultimately delivered are yet to be fully disclosed. The project may eventually prove to have taken place in either part or whole at Skinwalker Ranch, but, as of this writing, that is yet to be established, as is a great deal about activities surrounding NIDS, BAASS, and intelligence agencies. 

Part of an FOIA response from DIA establishing BAASS
was awarded an AAWSAP contract

Recommended further reading:

The Carpenter Affair: For the Record 

UFO-Pentagon Story Reflects Fundamental Problems