Thursday, September 1, 2016

Further Research Is Justified

"It is truly remarkable how widely this factor is ignored."
- George P. Hansen, on the role of the intelligence world in inciting and inflaming public interest in UFOs, The Trickster and the Paranormal

James Carrion recently posted the latest installment of his ongoing research into the likelihood deception perpetrated by the U.S. intelligence community played a significant part in UFO events occurring shortly after World War II. He specifically focuses on the 1946-47 time frame in his work. 

Some members of the UFO community viewed the post unfavorably. Brad Sparks offered critical assessments via the blog of Kevin Randle, and Robert Sheaffer expressed concerns at his blog, Bad UFOs, among other venues discontent with Carrion's analysis. Responses from James may be viewed at his blog, Anachronism

I'd like to express some thoughts on the matter. First of all, I think we should encourage dialog. Hopefully productive dialog.

Secondly, I think Sparks unduly saddled Carrion with a primary claim he didn't actually make. I felt the crux of Carrion's initial post, and his claim, was that he would connect a career intelligence officer specifically trained in deception operations to FBI investigation of UFOs - and he did. Sparks suggested Carrion stated he would prove UFO events in 1947 were intel deceptions, which he didn't actually claim. Carrion stated he proposed that was the case, but he did not actually assert he was providing definitive proof on any UFO events, as I interpret Sparks and many others repeatedly suggested. 

Perhaps most importantly, Carrion's primary point, the deception planner-UFO connection, mattered to me, I found it interesting, and the potential significance is well understood by those who have read and absorbed his work to date. We may now proceed in sorting out the details, and Sparks or any number of interested parties may well have relevant and useful contributions to make, but I urge we not miss a point on which many of us agree and feel is important, please: Further research is justified.

The 1980's

While Carrion keeps 1946-47 in his sights, Robert Sheaffer chose in his recent post to critically explore a much wider sample of alleged Mirage Men activities and those who research them. He cited various circumstances and opted to close the piece by sharing an opinion, certainly a reasonable choice of formats.  

"In my view," Sheaffer concluded, "those hunting for Mirage Men supposedly promoting the Flying Saucer phenomenon are themselves chasing a mirage."

Like James and his analysis of the circumstances, Robert is entitled to his, but I'll have to disagree with Robert on this occasion. I'd like to share just a couple of the reasons I'm willing to entertain the possibility the Human Deception Hypothesis applies to select cases. 

Many of you know the gist of the Richard Doty story, and his activities surrounding Paul Bennewitz, William Moore and Linda Moulton Howe as explored in Mirage Men, a book and resulting documentary by Mark Pilkington and company. I'd like to direct our attention to the part of the saga in which Doty, a Special Agent of the USAF Office of Special Investigations, willfully distributed info via bogus documents during the 1980's. The docs were about alleged extraterrestrials and apparently intended to be interpreted as classified. Doty maintains he was acting in an official capacity, a claim which is debated to some extent, and the Air Force isn't saying one way or the other. Hold that thought a minute while we consider the Simone Mendez case.

Her story is addressed in George P. Hansen's The Trickster and the Paranormal and my recent book, The Greys Have Been Framed, among other media. Mendez was a 21-year-old airman at Nellis AFB in 1981 when a coworker approached her with a copy of a supposedly classified doc containing big news about UFOs and assumed extraterrestrials. There are several interesting twists and turns to the case, but, to the chase, Mendez ended up grilled by OSI, interrogated by the FBI, and her life was forever changed by the time she was cleared of potentially serious charges over an almost certainly bogus doc she was handed by someone else.

What I'm presenting for consideration is the circumstances under which the Air Force fails to release information on so much as an inquiry into the actions of Doty, who admittedly and repeatedly shared forged docs, while, during the same era, Mendez was subjected to an emotionally grueling months-long investigation. She didn't have anything to do with making the single doc in question, and the Air Force later released files verifying at least some aspects of her ordeal. Meanwhile, Doty, who we continue to know so little about his official orders, was featured in a documentary in which he openly laughed about the multiple forgeries and his participation in deception. 

Perhaps solid conclusions are not fully available, but I assert further research is justified into the circumstances behind the double standard, as well as the objectives of such possible operations. I understand the burden of proof is on the claimant, but what I am proposing is not a conclusion, but a willingness to seek one which can actually be demonstrated.

Project Palladium

In his report, Stealth, Countermeasures, and ELINT, 1960-1975, CIA man Gene Poteat explained his experience with Project Palladium. The operation involved projecting false paints, sometimes termed "ghost aircraft," upon screens of unsuspecting radar operators. The bogus craft could be made to appear, at least on radar, to be any size desired, traveling on any flight path at any speed and altitude. 

Poteat wrote how missions were conducted by crews consisting of a CIA team, an NSA team, and a military support team. In at least some instances, "balloon-borne metalized spheres" were released in coordination with the false paints, thoroughly confusing enemy pilots.

We might want to keep such circumstances in mind when we read and hear about radar-supported UFO cases, particularly those involving seemingly incredible flight maneuvers. We might also want to keep them in mind before relieving Uncle Sam of any responsibility in trolling the UFO community. At the least, it seems reasonable to consider such projects in the context of human deception and UFOs. We could go on, but let's get back to Carrion's work.    

1946-47

Interesting as they may be, nothing about the two examples offered above necessarily have anything to do with what James Carrion researches. I fully concede that to be the case. I offer them solely as instances of why I feel research is justified into the likelihood the UFO topic has been exploited by intelligence agencies. 

However, what happened somewhere else, during a different era, or [insert your personal story or favorite UFO case here] have nothing to do with research of other specific events. What happened to somebody in Phoenix in the 1990's or John Keel in Point Pleasant in the 1960's doesn't necessarily have anything at all to do with Roswell.   

The arguments that all UFOs can't be deceptions are common, although the premise has nothing whatsoever to do with studying any given specific circumstance or limited chain of events, such as took place in 1946-47. It is simply not a reasonable response to the issue. The fact some apples are red doesn't mean there are no green or yellow ones. 

There are many different explanations for the many different UFO cases, whatever those explanations may prove to be. I say let's explore them. Maybe they can't all be deceptions, but I'd still like to know which ones can.

Speaking of examples that justify research into deception planners/Mirage Men, here's one more. After World War II there was a classified weapons research and development project. It was discontinued, but was misrepresented to be ongoing and consisting of an airborne weapon more powerful than the atomic bomb. It wasn't, and in at least one instance, a newspaper carried the disinfo story right on the same page as an article about the Kenneth Arnold sighting. 

A hat tip goes to James Carrion for that one. Those of us who have read Anachronism know all about it - and there's more. You really should read it if you're interested or want to intelligently question James Carrion's findings.

I look forward to ongoing work from Carrion and like-minded researchers, and I hope others such as Sparks and Sheaffer will continue to inquire further. I advocate a willingness to reasonably consider what's presented, and a willingness to follow it through to completion, wherever it may lead.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mirage Men Conclusively Linked to UFO Summer of '47

In his ongoing research to clarify the extent Cold War spy games influenced public perception of the UFO phenomenon, writer and former intelligence analyst James Carrion recently linked military deception planners to the UFO wave of 1947. His latest blog post cites declassified documents that conclusively demonstrate how career intelligence officers, part of a high-level unit now known to have been specifically assembled to execute strategic deception operations, petitioned the FBI for assistance investigating flying saucers. Given the purpose of the unit, titled the Joint Security Control Special Section, and details of the documents quoted, Carrion concludes there would have been no other reason for the interaction with the Bureau than to actively promote a deception plan.

The post is well worth the time to absorb and digest. It contains several relevant points of interest, including key aspects of the career of Col. Carl Goldbranson. The colonel trained extensively in military deception and, according to author and historian Thaddeus Holt, engaged in deception activity during the 1940's and until the end of his career. Holt documented Goldbranson to be one of the most skilled deception planners in the Allied service in his 2004 book, The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War.  

Carrion demonstrates Col. Goldbranson to have been the senior member of the deception-tasked Joint Security Control Special Section at the time he was advising FBI personnel on incidents of flying disks. Carrion explained:
This July 21, 1947 FBI memo is extremely important. It unequivocally documents the connection between US strategic deception planners and early UFO events by relating how Colonel Carl Goldbranson petitioned FBI assistance in investigating UFO events. Goldbranson was a WW2 member of Joint Security Control and one of its principal deception planners.
Carrion continued:
The Special Section of JSC consisted of only seven individuals including Goldbranson who as a full bird Colonel would have been the senior member. So for those who question the importance of Goldbranson to this analysis, only one question need be answered. What are the odds that the senior member of the principal US organization and specific section charged with planning and implementing U.S. strategic deception is on record in FBI official memorandum, getting his hands dirty in the UFO controversy of 1947? Goldbranson had no reason to be involved unless he was actively promoting a deception plan.

For those unfamiliar with James Carrion's work, he focuses on the 1946-47 time frame. He cites declassified documents and related materials to present forensic historical analysis. Carrion proposes that a small group of U.S. intelligence personnel masterminded deception operations surrounding reported UFOs for a variety of purposes designed to create military advantages. Learn more in his free book, Anachronism, and keep an eye out for his forthcoming work, The Roswell Deception.

I've followed James Carrion's research rather closely, including summarizing some of it in my recently published book along with an interview he graciously provided. Some highlights of his work, in my opinion, include demonstrating the ghost rockets saga conclusively involved aspects of deception; a discontinued classified operation, Project Seal, was misrepresented to be ongoing and consisting of developing an airborne weapon more powerful than the atomic bomb; and, now, Carrion shows deception planners were conclusively linked to the UFO summer of '47.

Critics of Carrion's work typically cite unrelated UFO cases or peripheral circumstances. Rarely do they directly address the material presented. Arguments are common that Uncle Sam couldn't be responsible for all reported UFO phenomena, in spite of the fact Carrion is simply sharing what he is learning about the specific 1946-47 era. 

A primary point, as far as I'm concerned, is that Carrion's findings justify further research into the extent public perception of the UFO phenomenon was exploited at the time. It's clear that it happened - relevant questions revolve around how much, why, the specific instances and the consequences.       

Thursday, August 11, 2016

From Pokemon to Perception Management

Developments related to previous posts and primary blog topics:

Happy Hunting

Iran banned Pokemon Go, stating the wildly popular app raised "security concerns." Ya think?

John Hanke
China will probably never allow use of the app. It recognized the national security risk, explaining locations of secret facilities could be surmised simply from identifying areas inaccessible to the Pokemon hunt. It's for sure there are more reasons, and they weren't that hard to figure out, but here's a key point to date:

Pokemon Go CEO John Hanke was involved in one of the biggest privacy scandals yet when he ran Google Geo, the division responsible for Google Earth and Google Maps. Hanke scored the job when his successful and admittedly CIA-funded venture, Keyhole, was acquired by Google. 

The Intercept reported:

...Pokemon Go is run by a man whose team literally drove one of the greatest privacy debacles of the internet era, in which Google vehicles, in the course of photographing neighborhoods for the Street View feature of the company’s online maps, secretly copied digital traffic from home networks, scooping up passwords, email messages, medical records, financial information, and audio and video files.

The article continued:

It eventually emerged that, in the U.S. alone, this collection went on for more than two years. The scandal, referred to as the “Wi-Spy” case as it was unfolding, resulted in:
  • A bruising Federal Communications Commission investigation, which followed a director’s comment that Google’s activity “clearly infringes on consumer privacy” and which resulted in a $25,000 fine.
  • A federal class-action case against Google, ongoing to this day, in which a district and appeals court have both ruled, against the company’s arguments, that the sort of data Google accessed is protected from interception under the U.S. Wiretap Act. (The Supreme Court has declined to hear Google’s appeal.)
  • Lawsuits brought by authorities in Spain.
  • Regulator intervention in Italy and Hungary.

Pokemon Go reportedly surpassed Twitter, Facebook and Netflix in day-to-day use on Android phones. On Apple devices, the augmented reality game was downloaded more times in its first week than any previous app. 

Romanek Case

The trial of Stan Romanek on charges of sexual exploitation of a child was postponed yet again. Romanek, widely known for doubtful UFO claims and infamous theatrics, was arrested Feb. 13, 2014. The trial may begin March 20, 2017.

Billy Cox of De Void wrote about the case and my assessment of it. His efforts to encourage consideration of the relevant dynamics and continue the discussion are appreciated. 

Annie Jacobsen Interview  

Writer and researcher Annie Jacobsen was recently interviewed by Big Picture Science and it's well worth the listen. In one seven-minute segment, she discussed ongoing research conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop super soldiers. DARPA's efforts included embedding an electronic chip in a moth which enabled researchers to remotely control its flight.

Annie Jacobsen is the author of such non-fiction works as The Pentagon's Brain, in which the history of DARPA is explored. She also wrote Operation Paperclip, a book that - for my money - is the leading resource on the subject.  

Perception Management

Former Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agent Walter Bosley has a new book on the horizon. As he tweeted Aug. 10:


Bosley is the author of several books on occult mysteries, breakaway civilizations and related subject matter. He has provided interviews and commentary at numerous venues and media, including Mark Pilkington's Mirage Men.  

Nothing Here, Just a Fog Bank

The Independent Barents Observer, "a journalist owned online newspaper covering the Barents Region and the Arctic," reported this week the Russian Navy is enveloping an entire town in manufactured smoke during an exercise to create camouflage. Severomorsk, population 50,000, is the third largest city on the Kola Peninsula and home to the main base of Russia's Northern Fleet. The operation was scheduled to take place Aug. 10 to 12, during which time townsfolk were instructed to take sensible precautions like keeping windows shut, but told to generally not worry about what's going on.

"Residents are asked to remain calm: the smoke mixture is not dangerous to humans, though, it has a particular smell," the Russian Defense Ministry explained in a prepared statement.

Talk about Mirage Men! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ufology Indicted

Stan Romanek
The meandering path of Stan Romanek winds into the courtroom next Monday, Aug. 15 [Edit: Trial has been postponed until March 20 at the request of both prosecuting and defense attorneys]. His 2000 reported UFO encounter snowballed into a chain of increasingly fantastic, difficult to believe scenarios, often supported by no more than flimsy evidence bordering on insults to intelligence. His troubled story evolved to allege that enduring alien abduction and the covert nefarious activities of government agents became an ongoing way of life. 

Whatever extraordinary events may or may not have taken place around him, Stan Romanek will now be judged by a Colorado jury on two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The high profile UFO community personality is accused of possessing and distributing child pornography. 

Questionable Claims

The Stan Romanek saga is out of the ordinary even by ufology standards, and that was the case long before his Feb. 13, 2014 arrest. It is unusual for a number of reasons, including because it is often considered utterly unbelievable. This is in a genre in which first hand accounts of alien spacecraft and their occupants are routinely exchanged with casual acceptance. 

One of the things making Romanek's claims so difficult to buy is that he repeatedly led with the chin where angels fear to tread. He presented evidence intended to support his claims, yet when the "evidence" frequently went south, the persecution card was played. This was typically done under extremely shaky circumstances in which even the most willing to believe tended to doubt Romanek's accusations of government plots to discredit him. 

Although Stan's efforts indeed led some to promote his saga as the most thoroughly documented alien abduction case ever, it would equally be true that his "evidence" did not produce the validation he likely sought. Romanek may at times have been his own worst enemy.

Take, for instance, when James Carrion reported the word "follow" was misspelled as "fallow" in a report Romanek submitted to the National UFO Reporting Center. The word was then misspelled the same way, "fallow," in correspondence allegedly written by independent witnesses. Three of them. The spelling-challenged witnesses, two of which were supposedly physicists, to the best of my knowledge have yet to be produced or verified to exist. 

"Fallow" also surfaced in an alleged Air Force document Stan presented that was titled "Project Romanek." He claimed the doc was left in his mailbox. 

I kid you not. As Carrion wrote in 2009:
The word fallow shows up in Stan's original UFO reports to the National UFO Reporting Center.
The word fallow shows up in the UFO report to the National UFO Reporting Center by a 3rd party witness that allegedly had no relationship to Stan Romanek but corroborates one of his sightings.
The word fallow shows up in an alleged Air Force document that Stan mysteriously received in his mailbox, subject "Project Romanek."
The word fallow shows up on the Jeff Rense website in an online posting by alleged physicist John Mannon who supports Stan's story.
The word fallow shows up on the AboveTopSecret.com website in a posting by another alleged physicist (TommyBoy) who supports Stan's claims.
"The fact that the word fallow got misspelled in any single document or online posting is not the issue," Carrion emphasized, "but that the misspelled word shows up in so many third party documents supporting Stan's claims - third parties that allegedly have no relationship or connection with Stan. What are the odds that all of these third parties misspelled the same word (in documents supportive of Stan), is due to chance?" 
     
Then there was the Boo Video. That's the clip where Stan claimed he filmed an alien peeking in a window. 


A still from Romanek's alien vid

In one of his more infamous episodes, Stan clearly attempted to discreetly throw objects around a room while implying something paranormal was taking place during a 2014 video interview with Peter Maxwell Slattery. He would later tell Slattery that he intentionally discredited himself because he was instructed to do so during an anonymous phone call else face consequences to himself and loved ones. Basically, he went with the "I made a fool out of myself on purpose or they'd kill me" strategy. Did I mention leading with the chin where angels fear to tread?

An entire book could be written on the discrepancies alone in the Stan Romanek case. In 2009 he claimed a break in occurred at the home of a friend where he was temporarily staying in order to appear at a conference, and that police were called to investigate the situation. Allegations were also leveled that a bomb threat took place at the hotel hosting the event. Local police, however, reportedly confirmed they received no such calls during the time in question, and that no other departments would have responded to the reports. The Romanek saga is absolutely riddled with such inconsistencies.   

Alleged Police Corruption

Less than two weeks after Romanek was arrested on child porn charges, he showed up at a Loveland hospital claiming he'd been beaten up by police. I obtained a copy of the police report and investigations, resulting in my article, Police detective: Evidence not consistent of a fight in Romanek assault case.

Romanek after alleged assault
Loveland Police Det. Henry Stucky suspended the case due to a lack of suspect information and leads, concluding the physical evidence at the scene did not support Romanek's claims. Stucky cited several instances as well as information contained in reports composed by his colleagues as to why he drew his conclusion. The final report clearly suggested detectives were doubtful Romanek was actually assaulted and that they suspected the scene was staged.  

The Romaneks reacted to the collective chain of events by upping their ongoing claims Stan was targeted by government agents in order to discredit him and keep the lid on the ET situation. Allegations of harassment and hacked computers were frequent and standard fare, yet no conclusive proof of such claims has been produced to date, much less that illegal material was covertly placed on his computers as claimed. 

In what some would describe as a rather typical, convoluted attempt to deflect attention from the lack of actual evidence supporting Romanek's many fantastic claims, the actions of Loveland Police Det. Brian Koopman were specifically blamed for Stan's legal woes. Koopman, who was a key figure in the Romanek sexual exploitation of a child investigation, was later charged in an unrelated case with attempting to influence a public official. He was found not guilty.     

Romanek supporters continued to allege Koopman set up Stan. The theory is in contradiction to the fact Koopman and fellow officers investigated Romanek due to a tip initially received from Homeland Security, and, basically, the conspiracy narrative that Koopman was out to get Romanek doesn't make sense. It really wouldn't matter if it made sense if it was validated, but it's not, at least not at this point in time. It's just empty talk, like the entire Romanek saga to a large extent, save the discrepancies and inconsistencies being the only circumstances that can be confirmed. 

Ufology Indicted

None of the above means Stan Romanek is necessarily guilty of the charges. Far from it. He is entitled to due process.

What it does mean is, like it or not, ufology - and its community and culture - have been drug into that Colorado courtroom right along with Stan. And maybe they should be.

Should the UFO community not suffer the public relations consequences of celebrating what to more moderate members of society clearly appear to be disturbed individuals? If not the ufology event organizers and consumers, who, exactly, is responsible for putting people at podiums who fail to demonstrate abilities to follow and present rational lines of reasoning?

When vulnerable, non-consensual parties start getting hurt is often the point where authorities take notice of what's going on within fringe subcultures. No matter how the Romanek trial unfolds, the social issues will be on full display, and their relevance will remain regardless of the verdict. It will be completely apparent to the less indoctrinated that the UFO community, in its current incarnation, offers acceptance and normalcy to people intent on avoiding accountability for their statements and actions while averting from critical thinking. 

They also tend to avert from professional mental health services, and the consequences are staring us right in the face. Right there in Loveland. At the least as a reminder, if not a literal example.

There is no doubt we have a percentage of community members who suffer from untreated emotional trauma, a lingering effect of horrific events long since experienced. Those experiences just aren't likely to have been at the hands of alien perpetrators. How we, as a community, choose to deal with that reality is relevant. It's also going to trial. 
  
--------------------------------------------------------

See Relevant Web Links on Romanek Case for a list of significant articles and developments since Romanek's arrest. 

Follow Dana Rieck on Twitter and keep an eye on her employer, the Loveland Reporter-Herald, for coverage of the Stan Romanek trial.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Of Pokemon, Mirage Men and Manchurian Candidates

The Pokemon Go madness continues. Related items of interest include multiple shootings and a couple kids who inadvertently - and illegally - crossed the U.S. border into Canada before being picked up by authorities. To top it off, Hollywood icon Oliver Stone called the app indicative of totalitarianism and surveillance capitalism.

According to Stone, as quoted by Fortune at San Diego Comic Con:
They’re data mining every single person in this room for information as to what you’re buying, what you like, above all, your behavior.
So Pok√©mon Go kicks into that. It’s everywhere. It’s what some people call surveillance capitalism—it’s the newest stage. It’s not for profit at the beginning, but it becomes for profit in the end. Because it creates its own awareness, and it gets into everywhere in the world, until it manipulates our behavior, and we start to act like that, which has happened already quite a bit on the internet.
But you’ll see a new form of, frankly, a robot society, where they will know how you want to behave and they will make the mockup that matches how you behave, and lead you into another form of behavior.
It’s what they call totalitarianism.
I'd agree the intelligence community is on this evolving technology like a dirty shirt. 

Meanwhile...

The Operative Word Being "Facts"

Image from the Billy Meier collection
 posted by Tom DeLonge on Instagram along with his
 message of taking pride in the activities of the CIA
Enigmatic former front man of Blink-182 Tom DeLonge has published yet another UFO disclosure tease. This time, he explained on Instagram that a trailer will soon be released of his forthcoming documentary. He added that his work included spending hours with two CIA scientists and "a very high-level person from the Defense Department," who apparently informed him the U.S. "has been doing incredible things in relation to this topic."

"Every decision they made," DeLonge continued, "as hard as it is to comprehend now, really was in our best interest. At first, your instinct is to be angry because you feel like you were lied to, left out of something important... But once you know the facts, you'll be proud of what our country did. Very proud."

Hail to the chief.

If DeLonge is sincerely as enthusiastic as he keeps claiming, I might end up feeling a little sorry for him. He wouldn't be the first who went over the top with a passionate interest before finding experience and wisdom are rewards of a marathon, not a sprint.

Is DeLonge scamming, being taken for a ride by Mirage Men, or something else?

Which brings us to...

Manchurian Candidates Plus 50 Years

It's now been well over half a century since the CIA first sought to produce Manchurian Candidates. The experiments attempted to covertly condition, or brainwash, involuntary research subjects to carry out missions against their will and previously held morals. 

Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Kaye has conducted an ongoing study of declassified CIA documents on the Agency's much more recent torture program executed at black sites and Guantanamo Bay, dubbed "America's Battle Lab" by key base personnel. Kaye and other researchers showed direct links between Cold War mind control projects and recently used "enhanced interrogation techniques," including the use of certain specific drug classifications, torture methods, training manuals cited by intelligence personnel, and CIA divisions which developed the programs and materials. Kaye is among those who have conclusively demonstrated the EITs and related programs went beyond attempts to obtain working intelligence and consisted of experimentation.

His latest efforts include considering documents and circumstances cited in a recent Wa Po article. From Kaye's July 14 post, Bandura, Mitchell and CIA's research on torture to produce double agents
Greg Miller's new article at The Washington Post, How a modest contract for ‘applied research’ morphed into the CIA’s brutal interrogation program, and its associated documentation (see end of this post below), reveal aspects of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen and the CIA's torture program that I and others have long insisted rested on an illegal program of human experimentation.
[...]
When the CIA emphasized they want to "Adapt and modify the Bandura social cognitive theory for application in operational settings" and "Refine variables of interest to assess in order to apply [this] model to specific individuals", I believe they are talking about interrogating and torturing "war on terror" prisoners -- whether they are actual terrorists or not -- to become double agents working for the CIA, Department of Defense, or other U.S. intelligence agencies.
[...]
What is important is that we now have direct evidence that the CIA's torture program, and likely that of DoD as well, was not largely about gathering workable intelligence for the safety and operations of U.S. personnel or the U.S. population as a whole, but to recruit double agents for counterintelligence and operations purposes, i.e., for sabotage, assassination, and general espionage. These latter may have had the aim of protecting the "homeland," but at the cost of a "moral disengagement" and level of illegality (kidnapping, torture) that is startling.
Such research likely continues to shed light on why so few charges have been leveled at Gitmo prisoners who the American public was told were "the worst of the worst." The claim has long been questioned, including by writer/researcher Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman who authored the nonfiction book Murder at Camp Delta about his service in the 629th Military Intelligence Battalion at Gitmo. Hickman was also a co-author of a Seton Hall University School of Law paper that established torture and human experimentation conducted at Guantanamo Bay.

"[Why] were men of little or no value kept under these conditions, and even repeatedly interrogated, months or years after they'd been taken into custody?" Hickman encouraged readers to consider in Murder at Camp Delta. "Even if they'd had any intelligence when they came in, what relevance would it have years later? ...One answer seemed to lie in the description that Major Generals Dunlavey and Miller both applied to Gitmo. They called it 'America's battle lab.'"

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pokemon Go: Considering the Possibilities

The television may no longer hold the distinction as the most effective mind control device ever invented. If any doubt remained that smart phones were making a serious challenge to the title, the recently released Pokemon Go app seems to have come along and knocked the TV right off its perch once and for all. It has mobilized the previously stagnant screen-staring masses, and the implications are profound for industries ranging from marketing analysis to global intelligence.

Chasing Pokemon

Early one evening last week I took a walk through Altamonte Springs, Florida. As I approached a park, I saw dozens and dozens of people flocking to the area. At first I thought perhaps there was a music event or some kind of festival. As I got closer, I realized they were all staring at their phones. All of them. 

They were chasing Pokemon.   

The scene was extremely surreal in a futuristic, sci-fi kind of way. The normally sleepy park, usually reserved for a few ambitious joggers and a dog walker or two, was filled with hundreds of people. Some were sitting, staring in silence at phones, as if perplexed, defeated, exhausted, or all three. 

Most were briskly roaming about. They stared at their phones with excitement and anticipation.

Anxiety seemed palpable, and I had a strange sensation of invisibility. They didn't see me. 

They ran past me. They walked past me. They sat silently, but none of them looked at me. They didn't care, not about me, not about each other, not about the beautiful scene of the sun setting over the lake, or anything else. They were chasing Pokemon. 


Vid uploaded to YouTube by user ampedin,
showing Pokemon hunters in Washington

"It connects us to our childhoods," explained someone I approached who identified them self as a 28-year-old corporate worker. They told me they grew up playing the game, and supposed people enjoyed its link to their younger years.

"I just got off work about an hour ago, and here I am," they added with what I interpreted to be more than a bit of remorse. 

Implications

Not surprisingly, the origins have been explored of the latest incarnation of Pokemon, and it's less than a few degrees of separation from In-Q-Tel, an "innovation technology solutions" arm of the CIA. In a manner of speaking, it really doesn't even matter who develops such habit-forming technology, at least not initially, because its existence is extremely relevant one way or the other. As a matter of fact, it's potentially game changing.

The implications cannot be overstated. We are witnessing the implementation of an app that potentially accesses personal data, reveals location, and provides a virtual image of surroundings, all while rendering its user just this side of oblivious. 

Such apps offer much food for thought to capitalists and marketing professionals as well. You can potentially bring a Pokecrowd to the parking lot of your business, supposing you'd want to, and presidential candidates have staffers on top of it already. It should also come as no surprise that accidents and public nuisances have been attributed to the craze.  

It is truly remarkable that such an idea as a Pokemon program could move masses of people to change their routines and descend upon areas as instructed - in a fever pitch, no less. The intelligence community is destined to explore the virtually unlimited possibilities. Initial interests might include influencing players to unknowingly conduct activities for advantageous purposes, as well as rendering metropolitan areas inaccessible and lawless due to an unforeseen influx of large mobs of people. Traffic jams, utility overloads - all kinds of burdens on public services and related possibilities stand to loom on the horizon. 


YouTube user The Culture shares footage 
of the Pokemon hunt in Central Park

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fantastic Bush Quote on UFOs Tracked to Satire Site

41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush,
who did not attend an Orlando fundraiser
and did not discuss UFOs at it 
An incorrect story has been making the rounds in recent months quoting George Bush Senior as stating Americans can't handle the truth about UFOs. A bit of fact-checking demonstrates the item to be false. Perhaps equally as important is the manner such inaccurate information is cultivated without conscience in the UFO community by the very sources claiming to provide reliable reports.  

The Story

Paranormal-themed blogs, news sites, discussion forums and similar venues began carrying reports late last year of George H.W. Bush fueling the conspiracy fires while attending an event held in Orlando. It was allegedly a fundraiser for the attempted presidential run of his son, Jeb. As the story went, Papa Bush was asked about UFO disclosure, and he responded that we can't handle the truth.

Those who picked up the story included George Filer of Filer's Files, a writer and monthly column long highlighted by such organizations as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC). Filer was a speaker at the 2012 MUFON Symposium in spite of such questionable circumstances as selling lights he claimed cured the flu.   

Filer became one of many repeating the Bush story when he did so in Filer's Files #52, published in December, 2015. He credited Your News Wire as his source for the info. 

The Trail

Suffice it to say it did not take a seasoned detective to identify the story as false. No more was required than a laptop, a few minutes to conduct some searches, and a willingness to ask a few questions.

Where did Your News Wire get the story? Where, exactly, did this event occur? Can the people in question be confirmed to have actually been there? Such are the basics - who, what, where and all that stuff - we might initially ask about any story. If writers appear to conceal and obscure such details, or simply fail to report them, we should question why. 

A simple internet search quickly revealed yournewswire.com published the story October 5, 2015. Prominently and clearly credited as its source was World News Daily Report (WNDR), an infamously inaccurate "satire" site. Its disclaimer states:

WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.

That's it. That's the source of the story, a website that openly states its content is fictional and suggests any resemblance to actuality is miraculous.

The WNDR article did not have a date, but comments posted suggest it ran in October or thereabouts, obviously prior to the Your News Wire article that linked to it. None of the versions of the story included any details about the supposed venue hosting the alleged fundraiser. Furthermore, if Filer or other writers who ran with the story - with or without knowledge of WNDR as the source of the Bush quote - had so much as briefly checked what the Bushes were doing during the time in question, they would have easily discovered conflicting information.

A Florida Politics post, dated September 12, 2015, reported upcoming fundraisers involving the Bush family. Former First Lady Barbara Bush was scheduled to be at an event in Greater Orlando on Oct. 8, for instance, and former President George W. Bush was raising funds in New York, Texas and Arkansas. An Oct. 25 event in Houston was scheduled to include George W. and his father, George H.W. Bush. No mention whatsoever was made of an Orlando event involving Jeb and/or Bush Senior.  
    
The Harm

I'm not convinced WNDR is the most negligent party in such chains of events. Sure, it's a click bait site and, no, I don't condone the venture, but it is legal and appears to be the prerogative of such sites. We might not agree with the ethics and intentions, but maybe we should hold our community members to the same standards we would so quickly impose on a website like WNDR - that openly admits its stories are false if we bother to read what it posts about itself. 

I'm much more concerned with self-described investigators who selectively parrot what they hear and subsequently contribute to the manipulation of the UFO community. Am I to think this is the extent they vet their often celebrated witnesses? ...and why shouldn't I suspect swallowing such stories hook, line and sinker is indicative of gullibility, lack of critical thinking and poor research skills? Isn't that a reasonable opinion to surmise?

What's more, once the damage is done, i.e., people have read, absorbed and become attached to a story, it stands to effect them at deep emotional levels long after they may be informed it's false. Research shows people tend to resist opposition even harder when presented with facts that conflict with their belief. From How facts backfire, originally published in 2010 in The Boston Globe:

Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.  

It is challenging to express the extent I think this applies to ufology. The harm, as I see it, is the wholesale exploitation of a demographic of people: those willing to be open-minded enough to explore reports of UFOs and related phenomena. It is perpetrated all too often by the very organizations and investigators claiming to advocate for them. 

When unverified story is piled on top of unverified story year after year after year, it becomes extremely difficult to resist the resulting conditioning. Such resistance is now required, however, in order to look at reports with fresh eyes and explore them without biased, preconceived conclusions. The damage has long been done and there are many who fail to see anything wrong with it or even identify it as damage. I would argue that if we don't make an intentional effort to prioritize actuality, we never even give ourselves a chance to understand what takes place. 

I invite consideration of subjecting our community members to the same criticisms when warranted as we would satire sites. Failing to do so has resulted in decades of detrimental conditioning, the likes of which have solidified passionate beliefs built upon the shifting sands of quantity prioritized over quality.