Saturday, November 30, 2019

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

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 

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