Monday, April 29, 2019

A Long Way from Kitty Hawk

This is not an easy post to write, but some things need to be said and nobody is saying them (as usual).
Tyler Rogoway, Twitter

Tyler Rogoway is a writer, photographer, & journalist on aviation and military topics. If you haven't heard yet, which you should have if you're interested in UFOs, on April 26 he posted an article, What the hell is going on with UFOs and the Department of Defense?. The post explores the U.S. Navy updating UFO reporting procedures for its personnel, as well as the influence that Team TTSA is having on shaping UFO talk. I urge reading the article in full, and there are some points in particular I'd like to explore.

Ours or Theirs?

Rogoway addressed the possibility human beings, not extraterrestrials or a non-human intelligence, are the forces behind some craft perceived as UFOs. This was accomplished while sufficiently acknowledging technology demonstrated during the now much discussed Nimitz encounters involved flight capabilities that shatter our perception of propulsion and even physics. That's a difficult thing for many people to accept, he wrote.  

That's competently argued. Even without the decades-long laugh factor associated with controversial flying objects, lots of people, certainly including those with skeptical leanings and expert backgrounds, tend to bail on discussions when reduced to sighing, "I don't know."

Others are fond of drawing questionable conclusions about select UFO cases involving craft which display flight capabilities beyond current known technology. "It couldn't be ours," they surmise.

To that we might ask, "How do they know?" Are they experts with special access to classified aircraft and not bound by security oaths? 

The possibility many UFO cases can potentially be explained as quite human technology is a likelihood that absolutely must be given its due, particularly prior to jumping to unfounded speculation and conclusions. This doesn't necessarily mean human technology explains every case, but we can reasonably assume it's a strong contender for a whole lot of them.

This is how it started, Dec. 17, 1903
In the history of mankind, humans are the only beings conclusively known to construct and launch machines into flight in this neck of the woods. If you see a vehicle of some sort flying around, there's a really, really good chance people put it up there. Let's just say there's a lot of supporting documentation.

That doesn't have to mean there are no interesting mysteries. It does mean that scientists, academics, and intelligence personnel who wade into ufology to work for an entertainment company or wander around the desert looking for saucer debris should be held accountable for acting like they don't understand horses come before carts.  

Setting the Stage

Rogoway took his post a big step further than most and indeed explained something that needs to be said. In 2004, when the "Tic Tac" case unfolded, the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group was the only flotilla equipped with and testing a state of the art surveillance and tracking system called Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). 

Rogoway wrote, "What many may not know about this event is that it occurred in a place and time where the most powerful set of aerial surveillance sensors ever created were amassed together and were watching and recording it all."

USS Nimitz
CEC combined multiple data sources to enable target visibility to an extent never before achieved. It was cutting edge, continues to evolve, and "this integrated air defense system architecture was just being fielded on a Strike Group level for the first time aboard the Nimitz and its flotilla."

How significant was it?

"We are talking about a quantum leap in capability and fidelity here folks," Rogoway continued.

What's more, the location the encounters occurred, off the Baja Coast, is potentially significant. According to Rogoway, there's no better place to test such a system. The location is not an operational environment and aircraft are not armed because nobody's expecting to engage in a fight. 

"In other words," Rogoway explained, "it was an ideal testing environment that featured the very best aerial, surface, and undersea surveillance sensors and sensor crews on the planet."
He further clarified, "The key takeaway here is that if ever there was an opportune time to capture the very best real-world sensor data on a high-performance target in near lab-like controlled settings offered by the restricted airspace off the Baja Coast, this was it. And by intention or chance, this is exactly what happened."

It would seem reasonable to be a bit annoyed that ufology's self-proclaimed intelligence insiders, as well as supposedly qualified experts who delved extensively into the Tic Tac case, seem unaware of the CEC and the significance of the location of the Nimitz during the events. I very much appreciate Tyler Rogoway reporting on these potentially important circumstances. His post is objective, informative, and recommended. 

A Question of What's Being Concealed

It has been argued that Uncle Sam's armed forces are negligent in not recognizing select reports of UFOs as legitimate threats to national security. Perhaps that is true. A lot of UFO researchers sure think so.

A counterpoint could be made there could be other, more rational reasons for official stances of disinterest in UFOs. Those reasons could in some cases also be much less dramatic than the widely believed UFO cover-up.

Lack of UFO urgency arguably comes from the top and trickles down. If the brass aren't worried about nuke facilities getting buzzed, then neither are intel analysts. There is indeed precedence and many examples of this dynamic. 

Widely circulated photo of reported
Ghost Rocket originally released
by Swedish Army
James Carrion took a deep dive into the reported Ghost Rocket phenomenon of the 1940's. He presented authenticated memos and documents which showed intel analysts, officers, and even an FBI Special Agent became pretty thoroughly convinced upper echelon members of Swedish and U.S. intelligence were well aware of the origins of the supposed mystery rockets. This was due in substantial part to a lack of official concern, including allowing officers to remain on leave and failing to significantly increase security measures during a reported rocket wave. They just weren't interested, in spite of intel reports and public proclamations. 

Please allow me to emphasize that intelligence reports also cited contradictions in statements by officials and their lack of presenting tangible evidence in assessing it was likely the powers that be were themselves responsible for the Ghost Rockets: They pushed stories lacking verification, and they did not display evidence or concern in proportion to the stories.

U.S. Navy Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt, who Carrion suspects would have been among the informed upper echelon, actually discouraged investigation. He declined a chance to visit a potential rocket crash site to obtain debris for testing. The admiral suggested there would be more opportunities later. Opportunities, of course, which never came. 

It should be noted the purpose of the Ghost Rocket ruse would by no means have been to dupe the public into believing aliens were among us. That seems to have been accomplished by a credulous and often less than intellectually honest UFO community.

Objectives of the operation would have included confusing adversaries about what's in the sky and who's flying it, which would have potentially created a variety of advantageous situations for further exploitation. Perhaps one man's UFO cover-up is another man's classified job description of gas lighting the global intel community. 

A Long Way from Kitty Hawk

Orb-like objects have reportedly been flying in the vicinity of Iranian nuclear facilities. Those up on their UFO lore should quickly recognize a few common themes here, like the seeming nuclear site issue. Also noteworthy are the reported flight capabilities and actions of the flying objects, which include flying outside the atmosphere, achieving Mach 10 speeds, hovering over a target at a speed of zero, and powerful electronic countermeasures (ECM) which jam enemy radar and disrupt navigation systems through the use of high levels of magnetic energy. 

That's a lot to chew on and could sure get one's alien senses tingling. The Iranians, however, who apparently haven't been part of an altar call at a MUFON Symposium, suspected a much different explanation. They assessed their uninvited visitors to be CIA drones.

Iranian Air Force F-14 Tomcats
In 2004, which, by the way, was the same year of the Nimitz events, an Iranian F-14 Tomcat unsuccessfully tried to lock its radar on a luminous object over the Arak nuclear facility. The radar beam was effectively disrupted, apparently by the object, which was described by the pilot as spherical in shape. It reportedly had something described as a green afterburner which caused turbulence in its wake, then increased speed and "disappeared like a meteor." Interestingly, the Iranians seemed to think the flying objects emitted light in order to enable nighttime photography, whatever we may specifically make of that. 

In 2012 the two crewmen of an F-14 were killed when scrambled to intercept an intruder headed towards the Bushehr nuclear power plant. The F-14 exploded seconds after takeoff. I'm not aware of any cause given for the explosion.

In related stories, Wired reported in 2013 that Sandia National Laboratories was developing a Transformer-like drone. The object was designed to fly, swim, drive, and hop its way to its mission, transforming itself to accommodate different terrain.

"Its wings become fins as it dives into water, or underwater paddles that shed casings to reveal wheels as it moves toward land — wheels with the ability to jump 30 feet into the air. An entire campaign could be conducted by a remote operator or, more likely, semi-autonomously," the article explained.

There are clearly a lot of different kinds of machines crawling the planet. They have a wide range of capabilities and diverse appearances. We should expect them to become more frequently reported. 

We don't have to throw the babies out with the bathwater, but let's encourage suspending judgement on extraordinary explanations until conclusive evidence is available - and, of course, actually presented. Let's not ignore the most likely possibilities. We just deceive ourselves if we do, and we deserve better than that, from all involved. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

UFOs as Espionage Tools

The Boyd Bushman case offers examples of how intelligence agencies might investigate people involved in wild stories of alleged aliens and UFO technology. These stories may become tools used in intelligence and counterintelligence operations to gain the trust of people issued security clearances. Beliefs in an extraterrestrial presence may then be cultivated and exploited in an effort to obtain classified information. It's not hard to envision such scenarios might substantially disrupt the research process in ufology as well as the resulting beliefs in the public at large, even when that's not an objective of the operation. Writer and researcher Nick Redfern recently gave his take on the Bushman case.   

Submarine launch of an LM Trident missile
The late Boyd Bushman was issued a Top Secret security clearance in his role as a Senior Specialist at Lockheed Martin, a major American aerospace and defense company. He publicly discussed extreme ET-related beliefs, including describing networking with allegedly like-minded global associates. They supposedly shared his concerns that the U.S. government possessed smoking gun alien tech that should be open to the masses.

His employer, LM, apparently thought otherwise, and informed the FBI in the 1990's it was concerned Bushman was the subject of "an ongoing attempt to elicit LM proprietary or USG classified information." FBI records on Bushman, available at The Black Vault, indicate at least one of his associates was found to have "a history of allegations of misconduct, violations of security and classified information handling procedures, and suspicious contacts with foreign nationals." All of this involved a person "suspected of inappropriately releasing information."

From FBI files on Bushman

It's not difficult to theorize that at least some of Bushman's global contacts, people he described as sharing a mutual belief that government secrecy hampered the efforts of scientists to discuss alleged ET technology, may have had ulterior motives. There are several interesting cases of this nature in the winding history of ufology, and one of them involves the now deceased Vincente DePaula.

Vincente DePaula

It's first helpful to consider 1980's ufology to develop context of the DePaula case. The alien smoking gun was coming anytime and there were a lot of intel operatives jamming up the UFO conference circuit, or at least that's what a lot of people believed. The former obviously never came to pass, but the latter actually proved to have merit. All that's pretty much a lot more stories for another time, but the gist of the plot is there were a bunch of spooks and their assets in ufology, we just probably are wrong about the purposes much more often than not.  

Tensions were high, and, as is consistently the case in ufology, many interpret the presence of the intelligence community as confirmation of their beliefs. That's of course not necessarily true, if not quite often probably untrue. 

As still happens, people with opposing views were apt to accuse one another of spreading disinformation on behalf of intel agencies, whatever the actual reasons may have been for IC interest in the social circles. This is not to necessarily minimize the potential significance of the complex and tangled webs, as there were indeed people acting with unclear and obstructed agendas, as there continue to be around the UFO scene.

Bill Moore, Jaime Shandera and Stanton Friedman,
staples of the 1980's UFO community

Vincente DePaula was a Cuban immigrant employed in the defense industry, according to a now inactive website belonging to Ron Regehr. The two met and developed a friendship due to their work on classified material and their shared interest in UFOs. Both were active in the Mutual UFO Network, resulting in DePaula drawing the head of an alien at Regehr's request. The specific details behind the drawing are not entirely clear, but it apparently received some notoriety around the community. DePaula was eventually interrogated by the Defense Investigative Service (DIS) and, according to Regehr, DePaula stated the interrogations were related to the drawing.

Interrogations by DIS of Vincente DePaula,
according to Ron Regehr
DePaula indicated DIS wanted to know more about sources of information pertaining to the alien head. He apparently did not cooperate, which reportedly led to four interrogations during 1986, collectively spanning some 41 hours. One lasted for eight hours and another went on for 28 hours.

Some people seemed to think DePaula's ordeal was due to a DIS interest in tracking who knew about an alien presence and maintaining secrecy. It was also speculated that DePaula and his UFO associates suspected his work on classified satellite systems was part of a secret government effort to monitor UFO activity and alien abductions. Some even believed DePaula's lack of cooperation with DIS led to induced cancer and his untimely death. 

Perhaps another possible explanation for DIS interest in Vincente DePaula and his UFO social circles might involve something more along the lines of how the FBI seems to have undertaken an investigation into the associates of Boyd Bushman. It seems easy to envision, whether or not it applies to the DePaula case, that intelligence agencies would become concerned about the identities and motives of people who develop confidential relationships with individuals issued security clearances. That might particularly be the case when the nature of such relationships includes discussions directly related to their employment activities by way of the topic of alleged aliens.

I unsuccessfully attempted through the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records on the reported interrogations of Vincente DePaula. DIS was disbanded and absorbed into the Defense Security Service, which responded that no records currently exist and were probably discarded. Other agencies similarly reported no records available for release.