Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Cover-Up Is as Elusive as the UFOs

Adm. Hillenkoetter

    We previously explored letters exchanged between renowned skeptic Dr. Donald Menzel and Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter. The admiral served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1947-1950 and was NICAP Chairman of the Board 1957-1962. The letters, dated 1961-1965, did not support and very much contradicted notions of government orchestrated UFO cover-ups and dubious related conspiracies, particularly the Majestic 12. The ideas nonetheless have long shelf lives among UFO enthusiasts and even some of those who study NICAP. 

Another previous blogpost demonstrated then-DCI Hillenkoetter's correspondence in 1949 with a government agency, the Economic Cooperation Administration, which discreetly acted as an intelligence source for the CIA. The ECA notably contracted Counsel Services, ostensibly a public relations firm. Counsel Services is documented to have worked with NICAP founder T. Townsend Brown since as early as 1951, and assisted him with incorporating NICAP in 1956.

As a matter of fact, two Counsel Services officers acted as NICAP incorporators along with Townsend Brown. One of them, Thomas O'Keefe, was a former State Department Deputy Director whose assignments included sitting on a board which selected officers for foreign service in 1952. Interestingly, and arguably humorously, O'Keefe was identified in a proposed 1956 Counsel Services-NICAP contract as empowered to retain what were termed "consultants and regional directors." The personnel were specified to work under the supervision of O'Keefe and the Counsel Services president. 

NICAP organizer Maj. Donald Keyhoe inherited the director's chair from Brown in early 1957. He embarked upon 13 years of adamantly accusing the CIA and Air Force of covering up their knowledge that flying saucers were spacecraft from other planets. The trouble for Keyhoe was not only did he never prove UFOs were interplanetary, but there is significant circumstantial evidence, as referenced above, suggesting no such cover-up took place - at least not about hiding UFOs. 

CIA Memos

    A now declassified CIA memo, dated January 25, 1965, documents officers of the CIA Contact Division visited NICAP headquarters the previous week. They spoke with NICAP's Richard Hall, who loaned them various samples and reports as requested. The memo, as shown in part below, indicates the material was sought for transmittal to the CIA Office of Scientific Intelligence in preparation for a paper on UFOs:  

A memo, "SUBJECT: Evaluation of UFO's", was soon sent to Director of Central Intelligence John McCone. It was dated January 26, 1965, one day after the above memo. The document was sent from the office of OSI Assistant Director Donald F. Chamberlain, and informed McCone, "Evaluation of these and other reported phenomena reveals no evidence that UFO's are of foreign origin or are a threat to the security of the United States."

The memo further informed McCone that OSI monitored UFO reports, including those investigated by the Air Force, and concurred with Air Force findings, as indicated in the paragraph below. The three-page memo included two pages of relatively mundane sighting statistics the author apparently felt supported the expressed conclusions. 

A 1997 CIA intelligence study further indicated the purpose of the Contact Division visit to NICAP was to obtain material for use in the OSI report on UFOs cited above. The updated UFO evaluation had been requested by McCone, according to the CIA study, "following high-level White House discussions on what to do if an alien intelligence was discovered in space and a new outbreak of UFO reports and sightings." Congressional hearings were also in the wind, all of which should not be difficult for those following the current UFO scene to envision, to say the least.

DCI McCone
f the CIA and Air Force were supposedly conspiring on a massive cover-up as Keyhoe asserted, one would have to wonder why OSI expressed in a memo to DCI McCone that the two agencies concurred on prosaic UFO explanations. Similarly, one would have to question why McCone ever requested an updated assessment from OSI if the Agency, and presumably its director, were already aware of UFO information so substantial it was concealed. 

Specifically, during the very time Keyhoe was adamantly proclaiming a UFO cover-up, the above declassified memos show the highest levels of the accused, the CIA and Air Force, were in actuality concurring there was no national security threat. Moreover, the two agencies basically identified nothing gleaned from UFO reports to be of particular significance, at least not concerning scientific investigation. This simply should not be selectively overlooked in favor of more sensational plotlines. 

It is possible to construct some scenarios that allow for existence of the Agency memos yet still remain open to the possibility the CIA was actively conducting a UFO cover-up. However, the burden of proof lies squarely on the claimant. What's more, those in the business of constructing those scenarios have long shown tendencies to shift carelessly from one narrative to the next as increasingly contorted suppositions are effectively debunked, each falling to the test of time like autumn leaves to gravity. 

Keyhoe and the IC
Maj. Keyhoe
    In Maj. Keyhoe's defense, there were plenty of valid reasons to distrust the CIA. Let's start with Keyhoe had some degree of awareness NICAP was manipulated from the start. Add to that the fact several intelligence agencies would no sooner claim they had no dog in the UFO fight, than Keyhoe would find their personnel in the midst of the fray. The NICAP director's efforts to obtain salient information and relevant documents from the CIA was consistently met with resistance. None of that, however, necessarily proves a UFO cover-up, much less an alien presence.

There are many justifiable reasons information is properly classified. Probably none of them have anything to do with "flying saucers." Classified material resulting from the exploitation of the subject of flying saucers is another story. 

It should be obvious the intelligence community had - and continues to have - no tolerance for outing its classified information and covert operations to overly inquisitive UFO hunters. The stonewalling is often incorrectly assumed to be confirmation of IC possession of significant knowledge pertaining to UFOs. That's just simply not necessarily the case, is not the way facts are established, and is particularly questionable when boosted by intelligence officers, academics, and people who should know better.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Seeking Truth at a Circus

JFK Jr. or somebody
    You got rats on the west side, bed bugs uptown, or at least it frequently seems so in the UFO subculture. Let's take a look at why cynicism is often justified and the genre continues to be about as appealing to self-respecting academics as a town full of money grabbers. Shadoobie. 


    Anjali staked her claim to ufology immortality when she arrived on the scene with a DC press conference. She proceeded to inform the world, or a few dozen of us paying attention, that she knew where some alien-like higher life forms were hanging out, and that she would assemble a team of researchers to document it. Anjali essentially called next on Disclosure.

Absurd on its face, that such circumstances could be occurring without significant attention from the FBI and similar intelligence agencies, the narrative was quite disjointed in many ways. The story relied heavily on a lot of mumbo jumbo about digging into a mountain to access beings who aren't entirely physical and so on and so forth, but these are not really the most problematic aspects of the Anjali saga. 

Arguably more concerning is that the story was embraced by many, some discussing it as potentially true, while others used it as an easy target of severe criticism. The common denominator from one extreme to the other, as represented on various UFO podcasts and video channels, was often the apparent means to increase one's popularity and reach by carrying on about Anjali.

Mental Health Issues

    Anjali's story is not particularly unique in its enabling by hypnosis conducted by Barbara Lamb. This should be a serious red flag, as should the fact symptoms of emotional trauma and various psychological conditions are virtually indistinguishable from behavior commonly exhibited and even celebrated in the UFO subculture. 

UFO enthusiasts, and particularly those who subscribe to beliefs contact is occurring with intelligent non-human beings, heavily avert from the psychological implications. This might be considered particularly hypocritical, in the manner the mental health field is ignored and rejected much in the same way ufologists complain their perceived field of study is not taken seriously. The fact of the matter is, at the very least, a percentage of people reporting such circumstances as portrayed by Anjali are confused for any number of reasons, all of which are further inflamed by the UFO circus. A circus, I might add, consisting in part of deluded people and those who ride their coattails.

Four Years

      December 2021 will mark four full years since chronic UFO sensationalists Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal got their AATIP story published in the Times. Much of the key elements of the piece remain unconfirmed (The DIA states the estimated completion date for AATIP- and AAWSAP-related FOIA requests is Dec. 30, 2022). Moreover, TTSA did not achieve its extraordinary stated and implied goals. I am extremely confident if four years ago we asked anyone swooning from the story what they hoped would be the status at this point in time, they would not have said they'd just love if Elizondo were still suggesting more patience is required.

Nonetheless, a contingent of UFO Twitter accounts, bloggers, and so on continue to at least feign ongoing enthusiasm. A competent argument can be made the rhetoric is substantially less a representation of popular opinion (or reality) as much as a successfully executed public relations campaign that effectively created minor social media influencers. 

Adding insult to injury is the fact some of the former TTSA personnel continue to be referenced as experts and invited to participate in activities in which they appear entirely unqualified. The history of ufology includes numerous circumstances of incorrectly labeling research as scientific. In at least some instances this is an attempt to gain otherwise unearned respect. We would be wise to hold claimed scientific investigation up to the rigors of transparency and measurable progress its definition demands.

Lil' Help?

     UFO investigators and trend setters have long claimed to want acceptance from the scientific community, but their actions suggest otherwise. They frequently engage in activities and cultivate followings that virtually ensure rejection from respected science professionals. 

It is my understanding the current psychological paradigm does not recommend confronting severely traumatized and confused people with contradictions that may be serving as mental coping mechanisms. Such dynamics would be more widely understood by a community if it spent a fraction of the time it invests in searching for truth on YouTube actually consulting the work of qualified professionals. The point being it's not a wise endeavor to take up the hero's journey of playing along with Anjali or any number of people with similar stories, and academics with sincere interests in valuable and responsible research are quite aware.

Likewise, self-respecting researchers who value career paths and integrity are going to minimize involvement with grandstanding personalities whose assertions lack substance. It's not the topic of UFOs in itself that causes the much discussed stigma, it's also largely due to organizations such as TTSA treating the situation more as a political campaign than ever publishing anything of value. 

Similar may be said about self-described journalists who are more aptly described as UFO cheerleaders. Intelligent and capable scientists, historians and researchers are simply not going to take up residence in the crosshairs. 

So, you may ask, if so much of it is hype and sensationalism, why follow it at all? That is a reasonable question and one with which the subculture may one day catch up, but mostly hasn't yet. There are a number of reasons your attention and beliefs are prized, and the reasons change from one player to another. The reasons are subject to change from one specific instance to another as well. These, and the implications spanning from war games to spy games and grifters to emotionally damaged people, may be the only answers ever to be conclusively mined from the UFO circus.