Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Oh, Disclosure, I Hear You Calling

    The following post is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the 2021 book, Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC. It seems currently relevant - if not evergreen - to the UFO topic. You may find the book on Amazon.

Keep up with author Jack Brewer's activities at Expanding Frontiers Research, a nonprofit organization he co-founded with Erica Lukes, where they and a growing team of outstanding volunteers conduct FOIA-related research, maintain a blog, produce a YouTube video show, and plan exciting future projects.


    The 1940s rang in the modern UFO era. Many researchers went on to sincerely believe they had legitimate shots at pulling the UFO sword from the stone.

The late Leonard Stringfield
“The greatest story involving Earth and Space may soon be told,” proclaimed an October 1, 1954, newsletter distributed by CRIFO. That organization was “Civilian Research, Interplanetary Flying Objects,” directed by Leonard Stringfield.

The assertion was based on an interview Stringfield conducted with Lt. Col. John O'Mara, described as a “Deputy Commander, Intelligence,” in the United States Air Force. The colonel apparently kindly “confirmed the existence of 'flying saucers,'” leading Stringfield to declare the “truth may be bared soon.”

Spoiler: It wasn't.

Stringfield further reported the Air Force planned to cooperate with the public about saucers, and that the public would be taken into confidence. This was believed to be “stimulated by recent events.” Ain't it always?

Stringfield continued, “Flying saucers 'do exist' the Colonel told me, and he added, in effect, past contradictions were unfortunate.”

Stringfield described Col. O'Mara as “wonderfully cooperative,” and the officer even gave a thumbs up to the CRIFO newsletter. Asked about the publication, the colonel indicated it was slanted in the right direction.

The CRIFO newsletter was shared with me in an email from writer and researcher James Carrion. He found the comparisons interesting to much more recent drums of Disclosure, as beaten by such outlets as the New York Times. I indeed share the perspective, as we can note many similarities to the ongoing story of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) and those promoting the narrative. Comparisons include: recent events were supposedly a tipping point; in-the-know intelligence community insiders were believed to be aiding the process; the government acknowledged the existence of UFOs; praise was bestowed upon the writer embracing the narrative; and, of course, the ultimate confirmation was to come any day. 

Members of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, or NICAP, once believed they, too, were on the verge of something big. In approximately 1958 literature from the young organization was distributed with a message from its director, Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe.

“Because of new developments, we expect a break in official [UFO] secrecy in 1959,” it was explained (see p4). The general story line came to be a 
recurring theme for NICAP and its investigators, many of whom worked diligently in their attempts to facilitate Disclosure. It was believed an ample amount of public pressure strategically applied to the right agencies and offices would cause a bean spill. The struggle, progress and setbacks of Disclosure were often publicly reported by the group. As a matter of fact, a tug of war with Uncle Sam pretty much came to define NICAP.

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    “We're close to it,” Maj. Keyhoe declared in 1966 about discovering what flying saucers were. He made the statement towards the end of his appearance on the then-popular nationally televised show, To Tell the Truth.

In 1978, optimism among UFO investigators persisted. Phoenix-based Ground Saucer Watch (GSW) Director William H. Spaulding suggested during a funding appeal published in the organization's April bulletin that UFO answers were obtainable.

He wrote, “Now is the time all of us must ask ourselves if we really want to solve the UFO mystery. If you answer yes, then we must ask every member to donate five, ten, twenty dollars to help defer the expensive legal fees.”

Spaulding was alluding to legal action directed at targets such as the CIA to obtain what were believed to be revealing UFO documents. In that same bulletin, GSW Director of Research W. Todd Zechel expressed his confidence in cracking the case.

Zechel told readers, “In order to continue this fight and put enough pressure on government agencies to force them to start telling the truth regarding UFOs, we need substantial donations from each and every member. Moreover, we need help from the general public. After all, these efforts will benefit all of mankind, in that the evidence we obtain will once and for all allow us to determine the origin and nature of UFOs. I'll get you the truth: you get me the funds.”

In Spaulding and Zechel's defense, they and their colleagues actually did, in fact, successfully obtain a substantial amount of government documents pertaining to UFOs. The material just never conclusively established their ultimate suspicions and beliefs about Uncle Sam and saucers.

Too bad for Ground Saucer Watch they didn't think of raising funds by throwing a hat in the public securities ring. That's what happened in 2017 at To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science (TTSA).

Coinciding with a company launch and call for investors, TTSA front man Tom DeLonge took up the 'breakthroughs are imminent' torch, stating, “We believe there are discoveries within our reach that will revolutionize the human experience, but they can only be accomplished through the unrestricted support of breakthrough research and innovation.”

“Imagine having 25th century technology this century,” added longtime ufology staple and TTSA co-founder Dr. Hal Puthoff. He explained that a team of passionately curious minds was assembled to reveal and decode “information that can challenge the limits of traditional theory” pertaining to studying Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Puthoff further asserted they were bringing transformative science and engineering out of the shadows.

Those 2017 remarks by DeLonge and Puthoff do not appear to be aging too awfully much better than those from their overly optimistic and perhaps at times self-important 20th century predecessors, but maybe I don't know revolutionized human experience and transformative science when I see it. I do, however, still have my money in my pocket. As of this writing, it appears much of that team of passionately curious minds sought greener pastures and the future of TTSA is very much in doubt.

Prior to the TTSA creative fundraising, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) cut right to the chase and seemed to accept funds provided to Robert Bigelow by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The controversial philanthropist and UFO World main character facilitated the arrangement as part of apparent Pentagon UFO programs. I say “apparent” because a great deal of the projects remain unconfirmed for the time being. Key MUFON personnel typically claim no knowledge of the source of the funds or involvement with what we now know to have been the agency originally managing the reported UFO projects, the DIA. It is also unclear if the DIA fully endorsed enrolling the services of MUFON, particularly if the feds were already in possession of so much information ripe for Disclosure, but we'll just keep moving.

Writers like Leslie Kean and George Knapp managed to position themselves in the midst of the Disclosure dust devil on several occasions, even if their coverage may be disingenuous, in error, or more than a little responsible for perpetuating the whirlwind itself. The two, along with numerous Disclosure beat reporters who followed suit, tend to promote rather credulous stories and flawed lines of reasoning in the form of what some came to consider access journalism. Such examples include Knapp's devotion to the Bob Lazar story, unquestioning portrayal of Skinwalker Ranch, and uncritical acceptance of TTSA statements and narratives while consistently showcasing the personalities involved.

Knapp's defense of the dubious Lazar case is particularly vulnerable to criticism, considering the duo's claim they were each aware of a location where Lazar stashed some purportedly alien-engineered Element 115, yet they steadfastly refused to produce it. Researchers aptly noted the irony of supposed Disclosure activists who, we are to believe, choose not to grace the world with the very smoking gun they demand from the powers that be.

Kean's objectivity and apparent confirmation bias were called into question when she perpetuated claims of a government cover-up of the JAL 1628 UFO case. The claims were directly contradicted by testimonies of two firsthand witnesses to the alleged cover-up. They attended a meeting in which the purported cover-up directive was allegedly issued, yet they said no such statements were made. Moreover, the two indicated info was actually distributed for analysis. Kean omitted the circumstances from her account of the case - even after researchers brought them to her attention - while reportedly simultaneously obstructing communication between the researchers and her contact who claimed the cover-up was in place.

Kean also made yet to be verified assertions about the AATIP, as well as fantastic claims about Chilean alleged UFOs that proved unsupported. The work of such writers as Kean and Knapp is held in high regard by many UFO enthusiasts, while others seriously question their chronic uncritical and incomplete reporting that often omits rather obvious discrepancies. Criticism may be most justified in the way the two present themselves as journalists, while titles such as UFO promoters seem much more accurate.

Yet another noteworthy UFO Disclosure activist, or at least he seems to like to think so, is Dr. Steven Greer. The former medical doctor undertook rather extreme theatrics and questionable lines of research, ostensibly designed to facilitate wider knowledge of UFOs and their occupants. Greer's activities reportedly include bringing an entourage of armed bodyguards to a scheduled speaking engagement at the 2013 Contact in the Desert event in Joshua Tree, California. He is also known for exaggerating the significance of his interactions with public officials and charging substantial fees for workshops purported to facilitate contact with extraterrestrials, among other eyebrow-raising activities.

Greer's general shtick is that the visiting ETs are friendly, but Uncle Sam wants to paint them as hostile and keep a lid on it because ET has a source of free energy. Letting the free energy cat out of the bag would loosen the government stranglehold on many industries, Greer suggests. His outspoken activism on UFO truth, he would lead us to believe, resulted in several thwarted attempts on his life by the powers that be, thus the dramatic scene at Joshua Tree.

Contents of a May 2013 promotional MUFON email

Greer may be most infamous for his extraordinary claims which proved incorrect surrounding the Atacama skeleton, and the ethical issues which arose with his and Dr. Garry Nolan's handling of the specimen. Nolan, an honored Stanford professor and researcher who obtained degrees in genetics, had a brief affiliation with To The Stars. He was also widely and confidently suspected to be a not so anonymously portrayed, starry eyed character in a Dr. Diana Walsh Pasulka nonfiction (sort of) book, American Cosmic.

The situation was questioned by your author, as was Nolan and Walsh Pasulka's lack of willingness to directly address their alleged involvement in reports of “security personnel” monitoring and editing her statements made on podcasts. Suffice it to say neither of the two had much to say about any of it, but I guess that's Disclosure for you. Transparency often seems to only be a good thing if it's applied to the actions of others. The sincerity of Walsh Pasulka's seemingly halfhearted effort to conceal the identities of primary characters in American Cosmic was questioned throughout segments of the UFO genre, as were the 
underlying motives.

Back to Greer. He shoveled the coal pretty hard on the Atacama skeleton story, which he sold as pertaining to extraterrestrials. This was depicted in his 2013 crowdsource-funded film, Sirius, which was billed as blowing the lid off the UFO mystery. Cash contributors voiced disappointment when they had to pay to view the movie and indicated they felt double billed. Some then found the contents of the movie lacking and falling well short of its advertised lid-blowing significance. The disappointment didn't get any less bitter when Greer announced yet another film which needed funding and would, once and for all, reveal the shocking truth. It of course didn't, then he did it again. Some might think tax forms show the purpose of his persistence in the face of chronic futility.

In 2014 I reviewed tax information submitted to the Internal Revenue Service by the Greer-operated nonprofit corporation, Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), which seemed to serve as the hub for his ventures. I discovered Greer reported taking no salary from CSETI, but during the 2012 tax year, CSETI reported paying some $177,000 for consultation fees to the Greer-owned Crossing Point Inc.

The amount CSETI paid the prior year, 2011, to Crossing Point was $180,360. In 2010 over $214,000 was paid from CSETI to Crossing Point. During the three-year period reviewed, Greer's Crossing Point was paid nearly 70% of the $833,083 combined CSETI reported total income, according to 990 forms filed to the IRS.

The 2012 CSETI Form 990EZ indicated the organization surrendered its nonprofit status effective January 1, 2013. The move may have been related to bringing in so much more unrelated business income than public support that its nonprofit charity status was possibly jeopardized as defined by IRS. Surrendering the nonprofit status would then be an advisable move on Dr. Greer's part, and not bad work if you can get it.

Stephen Bassett crashed the Disclosure party and formed the Paradigm Research Group, a lobbying initiative, or something to that effect, to end the “truth embargo.” To the best of my knowledge, the Group officially and functionally consists of no one other than himself. His efforts include such projects as the 2008 Million Fax on Washington, in which he attempted to inspire followers to inundate the incoming Obama administration with faxes, emails, and phone calls demanding the release of UFO files.

Bassett probably made his loudest noise with the 2013 Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. Six former members of Congress were paid $20,000 apiece to sit in a mock hearing in which they spent a few days listening to dozens of people of varying levels of credibility, notoriety, and infamy provide testimony on UFOs. The above mentioned Steven Greer was among the presenters, and evening activities included a screening of his film, Sirius.

Richard Dolan was also among the presenters at the Citizen Hearing and is known for what his followers seem to believe is his fight to pry the UFO truth from the government. At the Hearing he rather shamelessly trotted out a filmed interview of an aged man, referred to as “Anonymous.” The man allegedly worked for the CIA and observed many astounding ET-related sights during his employment at Area 51. The statements, dubbed a deathbed testimony, were heavily implied to be motivated by the man's desire to tell the world what he knew and avoid taking the stories to his looming grave.

Trouble was, as I covered in 2013, Linda Moulton Howe had long since interviewed “Anonymous.” His completely unverified story was no less than 15 years old at the time it was implied to be urgent and showcased by Dolan and Bassett at the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. In preparation for my above referenced 2013 article on the situation, I offered both Dolan and Bassett an opportunity to comment and explain what they would say to people who might question the tactic. Neither responded.

Mummy of a two year old boy promoted as an ET

Doubt was further cast on Dolan's judgment and motives when he participated in the Roswell Slides fiasco, a chain of events involving slides which depicted what was actually a mummified Native American child but were promoted as images of an ET. Dolan spoke at the dubious beWITNESS event, a public rollout of the slides sponsored by Jaime Maussan, at which time Dolan called the slides “compelling.” He also vouched for the research skills of the questionable crew promoting the story, who at absolute best utterly failed to pursue the most profoundly obvious of explanations. Many wondered how Dolan, who claims to be qualified to penetrate and analyze complex issues related to UFOs and national security, could sincerely be so inept.

Shortly after the beWITNESS purported big reveal of the slides, the truth came shining through and the story was completely dismantled due to the quality work of the Roswell Slides Research Group. Within hours of the event, a team of volunteer researchers was well on its way to competently analyzing the slides, high resolution images of which the promoters had previously withheld and supposedly been unable to accurately interpret for years. As stated, the slides were conclusively shown to depict a deceased Native American child. Dolan's stock continued to dip with other instances of seemingly unquestioning acceptance of fantastic stories that should test the patience of even the most credulous UFO fan.

He more recently vigorously fanned the flames of an ill conceived tale with extremely loose connections between dots, all ultimately designed to prove what, in UFO circles, is known as the Core Story (saucer crashes, alien bodies and all that). A word to the wise: if an argument relies heavily on speculation, it doesn't prove a point.

The incarnation in question of this version of the Core Story involves hearsay and alleged statements attributed to the purportedly in-the-know Adm. Thomas R. Wilson, and was referred to by Dolan as the “UFO leak of the century.” The story was of course amplified by George Knapp, since it included reference to Eric Davis and others of Skinwalker and TTSA notoriety. For those particularly interested, writer Billy Cox reported how Wilson repeatedly denied any validity to the rumors, among other problematic aspects of this shaggy dog story.

It is rather fascinating how the UFO Disclosure concept stays propped up so sturdily. Back on January 8, 1999, Art Bell hosted “UFO Disclosure '99” on Coast to Coast AM. Stephen Bassett was an integral part of the show, and other guests included Steven Greer, Richard Hoagland, and Joe Firmage.

It should be noted that so many of these UFO activists somehow manage to endlessly sell urgency. Many have been personally ringing an alarm of imminent Disclosure for decades.

The highest hurdle for Bassett to clear indeed became the fact the deadlines of his recurring insinuations and outright predictions came and went, unfulfilled. And he made a lot of insinuations and predictions.

Similar can be said of history's many UFO personalities who donned the Disclosure cape to promise all-telling government revelations to an eagerly awaiting UFO World. It may get tough to perpetually conjure Disclosure urgency, but it is obviously quite possible. New generations and followers continue to find it an irresistible draw while taking roles as both movement leaders and supporters. For some there may be a lack of awareness of the history of futility, while the dedication of others may be grounded in stubbornness, wishful thinking, questionable motives, or any number of such circumstances. The UFO-intoxicated masses just keep coming, and there is always a supplier to meet the demand, if not create it.

Let's dial the clock back from the current headspinning pace and return to the early days of the modern UFO steeplechase. Though absent internet and podcasts, the pioneers were not without urgency and drama. Far from it.

Our group of focus formed in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s. Mystery and curiosity surrounded the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena from its very inception. Many challenges would plague the organization, but public interest in its affairs was usually not among them. This was apparently due in part to the public's fascination with flying saucers, an occurrence which was driven by several factors, most certainly including media attention.

After considerable investigation I have become thoroughly convinced many NICAP members were sincere and effective researchers, even if unaware of their biases at times. Whatever games may have been afoot, there were indeed people in NICAP genuinely interested in a UFO mystery, for better or worse. They believed their work was important and they considered themselves to be pioneers of a sort. In some manners of speaking, perhaps they were. In other instances, motives are more in question, as is research accuracy at times.

NICAP experienced highs, lows, success and failure, reportedly amassing some 14,000 members at one point. For some context, the Mutual UFO Network currently claims on its website to have about 4,000 worldwide members.

Among the most notable aspects of the NICAP legacy is The UFO Evidence, brought to life by editor Richard Hall. The 1964 report consists of some 200,000 words of UFO investigations. It embodies what NICAP felt was its 750 most compelling cases from the more than 5,000 contained in its files. The UFO Evidence was provided to Congress and more than 10,000 copies were disseminated to scientific research organizations, government agencies, universities, military installations, and libraries (see p46). While the relevance of the material could certainly be debated, the report offered a tangible starting point for discussions and a realized achievement for investigators of its day.

So what happened between NICAP's inception, a 1960s heyday of public interest, soaring membership, reports of CIA infiltration, the org's decline, and its eventual 1980s demise? To better understand the rise and fall of NICAP, and events of cultural and social significance along the way, let's start by exploring the beginnings. That takes us to the U.S. capitol. The year was 1956.

1 comment:

  1. All apologies for being late to the game, so to speak. Outstanding blog posting!