Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Advocacy or Investigation: Only Way to the Truth Is Through Critical Review

Sometimes what's not being discussed may be most telling of all. 

In yet another intriguing episode of UFO Classified, show host Erica Lukes interviewed Mick West. A number of interesting points were discussed about issues surrounding the now famous Navy videos. 

Lukes raised the possibility the objects depicted may in some instances represent quite human aircraft or other types of experimental operations, such as the testing of advanced radar and countermeasures. This has been competently posed by others, as well, including Tyler Rogoway, who noted a number of circumstances consistent with military exercises in a series of posts at The War Zone. UFO World nemesis Seth Shostak raised a similarly interesting - and entertaining - point on a recent episode of Coast to Coast AM when he suggested F/A-18 aircraft seem to be a common denominator of the video clips. That might be considered comparable, he added, to having only one make of binoculars which consistently reveal Bigfoot.   

Mick West explained during his recent discussion with Lukes why he is underwhelmed by the Navy vids and the related media fuss. Lukes added that, as spherical UFO reports go, the TTSA-hyped variety may arguably not even be among the most compelling. She then described two cases which happened during her stint as Utah MUFON State Director.

Several sphere-shaped flying objects were observed by multiple witnesses in Utah during daylight hours, Lukes explained. The sightings went on for an extended period of time, as sightings go, and witnesses described the objects as able to hover in place, as well as accelerate at what were perceived to be high speeds. Interestingly, the sightings placed the objects over a National Security Agency facility, consisting of what Lukes described as highly restricted airspace. Some witnesses reported military aircraft in the vicinity, seemingly monitoring or supporting the situation. Lukes discussed the case in the context it may have represented advanced drones, among other possibilities.

Shortly following the Utah case, Lukes explained further, a similar sighting took place in Colorado. The Utah and Colorado reports were very similar in witness descriptions of the objects and flight capabilities. Lukes described her disappointment and surprise when MUFON upper management, for whatever reasons, discouraged further investigation and asserted the Colorado case was the result of a Google balloon. Lukes suggested the explanation was simply not consistent with the evidence collected. 

It is curious that we do not hear more about cases as Lukes described, aspects of the Navy vids and witness accounts as addressed by West, and similar material that provides much more accurate context than typically circulated. Would the average UFO enthusiast know the difference - or want to know the difference - between UFO advocacy and competent investigation? 

Code-name Bumblehive: the Utah Data Center, a domestic surveillance
facility in which NSA serves as the lead agency 

Yet another potentially relevant case curiously omitted from current public discourse involves a series of spherical flying object sightings in Iran, circa 2004. That's the same year as the now much discussed Nimitz incident. 

Those of us with an even passing familiarity with the Navy reports, what we might call typical orb sightings, and even UFO reports in general should quickly recognize possible correlations. As reported in Forbes, among other sources, the spherical objects were menacing Iranian nuclear sites. 

Forbes further reported that, according to Iranian sources, the small wingless objects had advanced flight capabilities, including cruising outside the atmosphere and at speeds ranging from Mach 10 (that's 7,673 mph) to zero, sometimes hovering in place. The objects possessed powerful electronic countermeasures, or ECM, capacities that could jam Iranian radar and disrupt navigation equipment by using high levels of magnetic energy.

According to one report, the pilot of an F-14 Tomcat tried to lock its radar on the target, only to have the beam disrupted. The Iranian pilot reportedly said the object was spherical with a green afterburner, adding that the intruder increased its speed and "disappeared like a meteor."  

The objects were further described as luminous. Interestingly, Iranian officials indicated they suspected the reported light emission enabled night photography. The Iranians did not in the least suspect their nuclear facilities were being explored by interplanetary aliens or subjected to fabled Skinwalker-like poltergeists, but, to the chase, they decidedly thought the objects to be none other than CIA drones.  

"According to Iranian sources, the CIA's intelligence drones displayed astonishing flight characteristics," Forbes reported. 

Regular blog readers and those who read The Greys Have Been Framed may recall I've been waving this case around for a while now. A little repetition never hurts, I guess, especially when the point keeps seeming relevant.

Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel drone
Defense and aviation writers consulted tell us here at The UFO Trail that it is indeed now apparent such CIA drone surveillance occurred over Iran during the time in question, whether or not it necessarily involved advanced flying spheres. Foreign Policy reports, for instance, that the U.S. began flying drone missions over Iran from Iraq as early as April of 2004. A CIA-controlled RQ-170 Sentinel drone crashed and was captured by Iranian forces in 2011, with such missions reportedly reaching hundreds of miles into the nation for years prior and following the incident.

The case of the menacing, hypersonic spheres raises many reasonable questions and concerns. It is essential to address them. 

Maybe the Iranian sources are not entirely trustworthy, having hatched a disinformation scheme for what might be a variety of objectives. Perhaps the story is a mixture of truth and intentional disinformation. Another possibility is perhaps most of it is relatively sincere, but pilots are simply mistaken about some of what they saw. Maybe the objects were CIA drones, were spherical as reported similarly at later dates by American pilots, but the pilots were simply wrong about some of the specific flight capabilities they think they observed.

It is worth noting that virtually all of the reasonable questions we might pose about the Iranian case equally apply to the Navy vids and corresponding reports. Furthermore, the questions are entirely necessary in order to ever arrive at any semblance of discerning what actually took place. Not only is it not taboo to raise and discuss the issues, it is completely essential to the fact-finding process.

In related news, science journalist Sarah Scoles raised yet more valid points which are noticeably absent from UFO discussion and typical coverage. She recently commented on FOIA documents pertaining to the Navy UFO incidents obtained by War Zone and related circumstances:

Specifically, and according to the Pentagon, two of the three videos were originally filmed in January of 2015. Many sources, including the much discussed Times article itself, established the official date range of the AATIP to be from 2007-2012. Reuters reported in Dec. 2017:

The Pentagon openly acknowledged the fate of the program in response to a Reuters query.
"The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe," Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Ochoa said in an email.
"It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change," she said.

Rumors persist the program continued in some form or other, possibly even in a very unofficial capacity, but those rumors are arguably fanned by the same people and "reporters" who told the public to believe the story was monumentally important in the first place. Moreover, it's beside the point in comparison to the fact the premise of the now infamous Dec. 2017 Times article was that the vids were a part of the AATIP, an assertion that was not only never established, but appears to be quite impossible. 

There are those who will argue they don't care; they perceive the Department of Defense is acknowledging UFOs are real, and that's what's important to them. A problem is that's not what happened. It's what we're told happened - by the same people who can't substantiate multiple headline-making assertions that formed the basis of that Times story.

As we consider the telltale silence surrounding such issues, is it not reasonable to ask why IC professionals who now represent TTSA would not address the discrepancies? Like, if we know about the 2004 Iran case and the multiple witness flying spheres in Utah and Colorado, wouldn't it seem like well-connected IC guys would? And wouldn't it seem critical to address and examine such cases if conducting a sincere and thorough search for facts surrounding the Navy vids? It would seem like it to me, at least as compared to trotting out a pro-UFO thoroughly debunked Italian hoax on cable television. 

The UFO genre continues to be plagued by an inability and lack of willingness to differentiate between advocacy and investigation. In its defense, it's largely led. There are many reasons and layers of agendas to blame, but it should be clear enough to even a casual observer that the search for facts suffers. 

It appears that, for many, having their beliefs encouraged is good enough. However, others actually want the truth. To find it, they must take a path through critical review. There simply is no other way.


  1. I read Sarahs book about a month ago,from what I remember those videos were traced back to a German film company,I cant believe how gullible the community is,or possibly desperate?

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  2. The New York Times is no longer the New York Times. The paper used to have an independent ombudsman, a public editor to ensure journalistic integrity.

    Most interesting is that the Times eliminated the ombudsman in 2017, the same year they published their ill vetted infamous "UFO" article.


  3. I tracked the trail of the first tape. Only one of the videos can be traced back to a German film company (Vision Unlimited). It was lifted off of the USS Nimitz servers by an IT technician. Said to be under orders of a senior officer. I note other Naval files and reports were copied. Allegedly including a longer version of the FLIR1 video.

    A friend in Germany then uploaded the video onto openly accessible servers of the Vision Unlimited company. The link was posted to the Above Top Secret web site in 2007.

    One assumes the video and files were not considered valuable enough to pursue irrespective of any regulations in place. Although undercover investigation in the US & Germany might have occurred there seems to be nothing about anyone being charged.

    Then the original IT technician returned to the same web site last year.

    One of the administrators there said they had tracked down "the name, place of birth, date of birth and other information" of the friend in Germany who uploaded the video and then also verified the ID of the person who removed the video from the carrier. There seemed to have been no concerns over national security. Even though this was mentioned IN other forum messages.

    All suggests the FLIR1 video and associated files are of negligible value to the Pentagon. If the military authorities wanted names of the alleged perpetrators then all they would have to do is reach out to the administrators at the Above Top Secret web site. Who have already tracked down these individuals identities.

    The more likely eventuality however is that whatever was leaked was no longer of 'defense significance' and perhaps never was in the first place.

    Maybe we shouldn't believe everything we read on the internet?