Monday, February 20, 2017

News of Note

Romanek Trial

A Feb. 17 pre-trial conference in the case of Stan Romaek was postponed to Feb. 24 when prosecutors, defense attorneys, Romanek and Judge Susan Blanco met privately. Romanek is a self-described alien abductee charged with possessing and distributing child pornography. The group discussed additional evidence presented by the prosecution, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald. Elizabeth McClintock, an attorney representing Romanek, stated the evidence could affect the defense team's previously endorsed alibi. An eight-day jury trial is scheduled for March 20. Learn more at Relevant Web Links on Romanek Case, where I've been updating key links of what has now been a three-year saga since Romanek's arrest.

As Every Cop Is a Criminal

Lucien Greaves
Spokesperson Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple will be making a presentation titled, Mind-Control, The Process Church, Satanism, The FBI, & The Life of a Public Paranoid. It will cover research conducted by Greaves on the late FBI man Ted Gunderson and related conspiracy narratives of Satanic ritual abuse. You can read more about the event in a Facebook post. The presentation will be held Friday, March 3, 8-10pm EST at The Satanic Temple in Salem, MA, and will be posted to YouTube shortly thereafter.

The work of Greaves and his colleagues periodically overlaps into social issues found in ufology and related genres. Among their areas of interest are the consequences of failing to prioritize critical thinking, as well as damage induced through hypnosis irresponsibly administered on vulnerable populations. 

See, for instance, the infamous case of the Castlewood Treatment Center, in which lawsuits were settled alleging that patients who sought treatment for their eating disorders were rendered increasingly dependent on facilitators when hypnotically led to believe they were victims of Satanic ritual abuse. A solid argument can be made it's strikingly similar to alien abduction fear-mongering with an alternative perpetrator, devil worshipers, cultivated by an obvious common denominator, the hypnotist.

You'll likely find The Satanic Temple's activism intriguing if you're interested in debate surrounding such issues as separation of church and state, rights to worship and assemble, and freedom of expression. The organization is significantly active in pressing elected officials to uniformly recognize obligations to members of the public, regardless of religious preference. 

IUFOC

The International UFO Congress recently wrapped up in Arizona. Motherboard spoke with a retired neuroscientist in attendance. Not sure about all that, but keep an eye on Robert Sheaffer's Bad UFOs blog, where he traditionally posts a summary of the event and its speakers.     

UFOs: Reframing the Debate

"If you like your UFO literature to confirm what you already 'know,' this is not the book for you!" 

I'm proud to have submitted a chapter to the soon to be released book, UFOs: Reframing the Debate. Edited by Robbie Graham and with artwork by Red Pill Junkie, it's a collection of essays on alternative perspectives on UFOs and how we might more usefully study the phenomenon in the 21st century. I look forward to reading the work from my fellow contributors.

Roswell Conference

I'll be speaking this summer in Roswell, and it would be great to connect with readers and people I otherwise only e-know. The event is part of the 2017 festival and themed, "70 Years Later: Modern Challenges to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis". It will be June 29 to July 2, and I'll be giving two presentations. I'll be exploring at length such topics as exploitation in ufology and ways the UFO and intelligence communities overlap. 

Check out the website for speaker list, schedule and more related info.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Revisiting the Gulf Breeze Six

I recently made a decision to add inquiring about the Gulf Breeze Six to my ongoing FOIA requests. I initially emailed James Carrion to get his input on most effectively composing the requests. In his response, James mentioned he would take a look around for some material he might have on the case and send it along in the event I'd find it useful. He soon emailed copies of dozens of relevant newspaper clippings, messages posted on listservs, interviews, and similar documents I very much appreciate and find of historic value. With James' permission I am sharing a 117-page pdf file he provided. In the post below I'll explore the case, discuss some of the many interesting points in the material James offered, and describe the resulting FOIA requests filed.

The Gulf Breeze Six

"Disembodied Voice: I'm the Virgin Mary, how many personnel are currently occupying your NSA listening station in Germany?"
- Kandinsky, commenting on Gulf Breeze Six case, Above Top Secret 

A long time ago in a UFO community far, far away, some interesting things actually happened. It might be hard for some to imagine, but events went down in ufology other than self-described disclosure activists frantically building urgency around what chronically amounts to nothing and a podcaster persistently trying to extract cash from email lists like third world con men hacking Yahoo.

The 1980's gave ufology a series of eyebrow-raising evolving into jaw-dropping events, compliments of the intelligence community, that included Airman Simone Mendez and her run in with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and FBI; Paul Bennewitz and Linda Moulton Howe targeted for deception by OSI Special Agent Richard Doty; and in 1989, writer and researcher Bill Moore took the opportunity as keynote speaker at the annual MUFON symposium to declare he'd been collaborating with Doty and other members of the IC to distribute disinformation. 

While that was happening, the Florida community of Gulf Breeze gained global attention due to reported dramatic UFO sightings and, in particular, the controversial case of Ed Walters. As a result, Gulf Breeze was the site of the 1990 annual MUFON symposium, at which time - just a year since Moore cannonballed into the last gig - a crew of a half dozen AWOL intelligence analysts partial to using a Ouija board arrived at the home of a local psychic as the conference came to a close down the street. The group became known as the Gulf Breeze Six.




If you're not familiar with the saga of the Gulf Breeze Six, it's worth some time. The late Philip Coppens penned a pretty good summary of the case. It's complicated, but let's dive in:

Six Army intelligence analysts were serving in the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade at Augsburg, Germany, the largest NSA base in the world outside the States at the time. Each member of the group held a top secret security clearance. They began conducting meetings consisting of Ouija board sessions and explorations of non-ordinary states of consciousness, and they claimed to think they were communicating with spirits and religious icons, including the Virgin Mary, during the meetings. The six apparently perceived they were provided prophecies, and interpreted the predictions to be coming to pass, leading them to increasingly trust the means of communication and alleged entities.

Members of the group had lifelong interests in paranormal subject matter, including one, Spc. Vance A. Davis, who as a teenager took a course in "Silva Mind Control," and another, Spc. Kenneth G. Beason, who dabbled in hypnosis and reportedly was interested in UFOs. The six also included Sgt. Annette Eccleston, Pfc. Michael J. Hueckstaedt, Pfc. Kris P. Perlock, and Pfc. William N. Setterberg. They reportedly went over the proverbial wall in early July, 1990, after giving away some belongings and ceremoniously burning their records and books. 

Another key figure was a Gulf Breeze self-described psychic, Anna Foster, who Perlock met while in cryptology training in Pensacola prior to shipping off to Europe. Foster apparently also befriended Beason when he was stationed in Pensacola. All but Eccleston, the lone female of the six soldiers, were reportedly staying at Foster's apartment while Absent Without Official Leave. Eccleston was apprehended at a campsite at nearby Fort Pickens, for whatever reasons.
      
Former home of the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade
at the US Intelligence Field Station, Augsburg, Germany
The group's beliefs and motives for going AWOL were somewhat unclear, but were at least partially represented to include a desire to deliver information as provided by the mysterious entities to the U.S. president. I'm not sure if they expected Mr. President to be at Anna Foster's place, but anyway... They were also reportedly interested in speaking with an author of UFO books and related conspiracies, quite possibly Bill Cooper, and that would make a little more sense about going to Gulf Breeze before moving on to laying low in the western woods as they claimed was on the itinerary, or I guess it would make more sense. Sorta. Anyhow, it should not be completely surprising that some of the confusion was due to the content of statements originating from the Pentagon and spokespersons after the detention of the six, later retracted through official channels or denied altogether by the former soldiers. 

Also adding to the confusion were statements by members of the Gulf Breeze Six, which at times seemed to be unclear if not lacking logic. What's more, some of their acquaintances were quoted in the media as saddling them with remarks and beliefs they later denied. Ideologies attributed to the group included a forthcoming Rapture, alien spaceships frequenting Gulf Breeze, a UFO cover-up conducted by the government, a plot to thwart the Antichrist, significant malevolent forces operating covertly within the U.S. government, and similar mindsets arguably being found with increasing frequency among members of the UFO community and related genres. Some of the beliefs were later defended by Vance Davis and his peers, while some were dismissed as rumors. 

Any way we look at it, the six were a pretty paranormal-friendly bunch, or at least claimed to be, and landed in Gulf Breeze about the same time a MUFON convention wrapped up on July 8. The six were apparently in Tennessee a few days earlier, where they bought a van and drove it to Florida, arriving July 9, according to Gulf Breeze police, but I strongly suspect that date was established from statements obtained. If not, it would be reasonable to question how police actually knew when the entourage hit town. At any rate, Hueckstaedt soon crossed paths with local law enforcement when he was pulled over in the van for driving with faulty taillights, and the entire group was eventually detained July 13-14. The six were transferred to the custody of intelligence agencies and taken to Fort Benning, GA, and Fort Knox, KY, for interrogation. 

They were soon issued general discharges and released with minimal consequences. Three of the six, Beason, Eccleston, and Hueckstaedt, returned to Gulf Breeze, remarkably arriving back in town within three weeks of first having been taken into custody. Beason said he returned to the area because of friendships he developed, according to an August 4, 1990, newspaper article titled, Three discharged soldiers return to Gulf Breeze, friends


Article explaining Beason, Eccleston, and Hueckstaedt returned to Gulf Breeze following their discharges,
found on page 67 of pdf file provided by James Carrion


Drilling Down

The above summary leaves many of us with more questions than answers. A sticking point, for instance, has long been understanding how the six navigated international airports without being detained. A partial explanation might include information contained in a July 19, 1990, New York Times article (see p 98 of the pdf file):

The Pentagon said that two of the soldiers went on authorized leave from their unit, the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade at Augsburg, West Germany, about two weeks ago, and never returned. At the same time, two other soldiers from the unit vanished, and officials suspected that two more who were on leave would not return.
Military authorities issued a worldwide alert for the six soldiers on July 9.
July, 1990
That might account for how they managed to get stateside, combined with circumstances reported in an article from the Northwest Florida Daily News (p 64 of the pdf), which suggested the group used forged leave papers. Before the worldwide alert was issued Monday the 9th, Beason and Hueckstaedt could feasibly have made it to Tennessee by Friday, July 6, as reported was the case by the Pensacola News Journal (p 91 of pdf). The two reportedly planned to soon meet the other four (p 69 of pdf, Marin Independent Journal, U.S. soldiers go AWOL to find 'Jesus in a spaceship'). Some, however, including Davis (as cited by Coppens), would later speculate intelligence officials knew of the group's plan all along and were monitoring the journey.  

A piece in the July 19, 1990, edition of the Pensacola News Journal (pp 90-91 of pdf, 6 soldiers here to kill Antichrist) indicated Robert Hall, an Army spokesman, stated authorities didn't know how the six got to the United States. The author of the article also obtained comments from Stan Johnson, a contact of Beason's in Tennessee, who apparently picked up Beason and Hueckstaedt at the Knoxville airport on July 6 and helped them buy the van. 

"He did mention... about going to Pensacola for a UFO convention," Johnson was interestingly quoted as recalling about Beason. 

Oh, and the European Stars and Stripes was quoted in the same article (pp 90-91) as reporting the crew of six went to Gulf Breeze to kill the Antichrist, but we'll come back to that in a minute. First, the article indicated the MUFON conference was held in Pensacola July 6-8, and reported MUFON officials "could not say whether Beason or Hueckstaedt attended any of the symposium sessions," but get this: Anna Foster, the psychic who opened her home to the group, apparently did.

In what appears to be the next day's edition of the same paper, the July 20, 1990, Pensacola News Journal, a story was published titled, Soldiers were to expose UFO scam, sister says (pp 92-93 of pdf). The article highlights Beason's sister and her husband, Carolyn and Charles Reed, explaining how Beason "said they were going to expose a government cover-up of reports that aliens have visited Earth," although the couple did not seem to take him particularly seriously. The article continued, "The Reeds said Beason also told them that Foster had introduced him to a UFO group that believed the government was covering up alien visits to Earth."

"If anybody should be arrested, it should be that lady," Charles Reed told the News Journal about Anna Foster, for what it may or may not be worth. 

The article interestingly concluded:
The Mutual UFO Network held a symposium on UFOs two weeks ago July 6-8, but the group did not endorse any position on a government cover-up, said Don Ware, a Fort Walton Beach representative of the group.
Although Ware said Foster had attended the symposium, Foster refused comment again Tuesday night.

The Stand

Among the more dramatic of the many dramatic story lines to emerge from the saga involved the Antichrist. The previously referenced July 19 article published in the News Journal (pp 90-91 of pdf) reported members of the six were being held at Fort Benning, and that Maj. Joe Padilla, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said he didn't know why they left Germany or anything about their religious beliefs. Gulf Breeze Police Chief Jerry Brown was similarly asked for comment. The article explained:
When he was told of the Stars and Stripes report Wednesday, Brown said, "I don't believe that. Who is the Antichrist?"
If the cult had talked about destroying the Antichrist, that person should have a name, he said. 
  
According to a Georgia MUFON State Section Director, who described a Fort Benning doctor as his source, at least some of the Gulf Breeze Six claimed to believe the Antichrist indeed had a name, and it was Ed Walters. In an August 4, 1990, letter to MUFON International Director Walt Andrus, the Section Director wrote (p 77 of pdf):
In regards to your request that I try to meet with the soldiers here at Fort Benning, Georgia who were involved in the recent "End of the World" deal at Gulf Breeze, Florida, the following negative report is submitted.
I was unable to meet with the soldiers who were being held in the stockade and my fraternity brother, who is a doctor at the base hospital, couldn't get me in to see the two men who were on the psychiatric ward. All I could get from the doctor was relatively the same as that which was out on the media wires. The soldiers had originally met while stationed together in Germany and they believed that the UFOs are works of the 'devil.' They also supposedly claim that Ed Walters is the anti-Christ and that is why the UFO activity has been so heavy in the Florida panhandle. I'm sorry I wasn't able to get anything better on this but the people at the Provost Marshall's office weren't very receptive to the idea of a UFO investigator. 

How Bizarre, How Bizarre

Other points of interest include Vance Davis describing his mastery of "self-hypnosis through active imagination" as taught in "Silva Mind Control courses that were held in Alex Merklinger's school in New York." Davis purported to interact with entities through such techniques (p 5 of pdf).

Davis stated GB6 colleague Kenneth Beason was practicing hypnosis techniques in an interview published in the January/February, 1995, edition of a Northern California MUFON periodical titled, Case Briefs: Explorations and Review. The item was reprinted with the permission of The Phoenix Newsletter. A passage I find interesting is pictured right and described below.

"Did you receive information from sources other than the Ouija Board?" the interviewer asked.

Vance Davis replied, "The UFO documents came from a woman (with Ashtar Command) in Germany. (That was the Cooper Report, and other documents.) We didn't really get anything from work, (but) we started seeing things differently. The first thing that really got us moving, and they didn't put this in the statements, (was) the Iran earthquake that year (1990), because we were told about it thirty days before it occurred. We were also doing hypnosis."

"Was Beason hypnotizing you?"

"Yeah. It was a relaxed state; like Edgar Cayce used to do. We were doing a lot of parapsychology research. A whole lot of it. We did Tarot cards, and all that kind of stuff. We were trying to disprove all of this stuff, until the Ouija Board happened and some hypnosis stuff."

In his book, Unbroken Promises: A True Story of Courage and Belief, Davis further described the group's sessions, as well as the woman in Germany (p 29 of pdf):
This third session ended up giving us the name of a woman in Munich that would have some information for us on the alien and UFO situation. The woman's name was Gabriel. We did, indeed, find that woman in Munich and she gave us some information and documents that were interesting, to say the least. That paperwork was taken by the officer that arrested Mike [Hueckstaedt] in Pensacola. We never saw it again.

The sessions included perceived interactions with Biblical icons Mark and Mother Mary, the latter of which curiously seemed to have arrived via the Ouija board to answer questions for Annette Eccleston, who "grew up a Catholic, but was no longer a practicing Catholic." (p 30 of pdf) Much more can be learned about the sessions and how the group members were influenced in the pdf file. Oddly enough, such activity in the vicinity of the base and interest in the subject matter may very well not have been limited to the wayward six. There may have been others involved.

Beason's sister and brother-in-law, the Reeds, told the Pensacola News Journal the man claimed to believe the Rapture was imminent and his group of twelve, not six, was prepping. The News Journal reported, "He also told the couple that before the second coming of Christ the group - which Beason said numbers 12 - would emerge and try to convert people to believe in Christ, the Reeds said." (p 92 of pdf)

For what it's worth, the Northwest Florida Daily News piled on, citing Stars and Stripes as reporting there were indeed more interested parties (p 79 of pdf):
A member of their unit told the newspaper Stars and Stripes the six were out to find and destroy Antichrist, the figure the Bible says will challenge Christ. He spoke on the condition his name would not be disclosed. 
Padilla, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, Wednesday retracted an earlier statement that the six were members of a group known as "The End of the World."
But Stars and Stripes quoted the soldier from the Augsburg unit as saying the cult has additional members in the area.
"There are others who are upset they didn't get invited" to go along on the search for the Antichrist, the newspaper quoted the soldier as saying. 

The cherry on top the bizarro milkshake may have been delivered in the form of "an unsigned typewritten note presumably sent to the US Army and all the major TV networks and wire services demanding the release of 'The Gulf Breeze Six,'" as reported August 16, 1990, in the Gulf Breeze Sentinel (read the transcript). The message in question was also reported by Jacques Vallee via Revelations, among other sources, and related discussion may be viewed on page one of the pdf file provided by James Carrion and referenced throughout this blog post.

The Sentinel article stated, "Mark Curtis at WEAR Channel 3 first shared this intriguing note with The Sentinel two days before the announcement that the Gulf Breeze Six were discharged from the Army and released."

The message contained in the note, which was reported to have been typed in all caps and accompanied by images, stated in full:
ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, UPI
U.S. Army:
Free the Gulf Breeze Six.
We have the missing plans, the box of 500+ photos and the plans you want back.
Here is proof with close-ups cut out.
Next we send the closeups and then everything unless they are released.
Answer code AUGSBB3CM  

Possibilities 

I suppose reasonable conclusions about the chain of events would have to include what many might argue is most obvious: The Gulf Breeze Six were young, impressionable, and open-minded to a fault. That might be an explanation, pending further information allowing more conspiratorial conclusions be drawn. Maybe the rest is just history, or at least what's known about it. Such happens. A lot, around ufology. 

Another perspective was offered by Coppens. Reasonable and interesting, I'd say:
"Logic" – which does not really come into this story, but somehow needs to be applied to keep a reasonable level of sanity, I would suggest – suggests that something else was going; that this group was singled out and became the victim of an experiment, which their pre-joining interests made them predisposed towards, and which "someone" carefully remoulded to see to test out a hypothesis. If this is true, then the scenario was successful, and when the test was concluded, they were rounded up, brought in… and allowed to tell their story, so that the public disclosure of their story would serve part of the exercise as well.

There are researchers, including George P. Hansen, who suspect individuals who become ensnared in the twilight where the IC meets ufology may land on the radar of intelligence agencies because of their interests in UFOs and paranormal subject matter, not in spite of it. From Hansen's The Trickster and the Paranormal, page 232: 
[Richard] Doty was apparently involved with the dubious Ellsworth UFO case before he entered AFOSI. Why then was he made a Special Agent? Given the sensitive nature of that agency's work, an extensive background check must have been done, and his caper at Ellsworth must have come to light. It is plausible that Doty was recruited by AFOSI precisely because of that. His personal interest in UFOs may have been useful to AFOSI, and his unreliability could have been an asset because he could be easily discredited if he was caught in something that might embarrass the agency.
The plausibility of this scenario is strengthened by the case of Simone Mendez. Her story appeared in Just Cause in 1991, after documentation supporting her report became available via the FOIA. It leaves many questions unanswered, but it implicates the AFOSI.

Liner Notes

Related matters of interest include:

- Former MUFON Eastern Regional Director Donald Ware, who the Pensacola News Journal attributed with stating Anna Foster attended the MUFON 1990 International UFO Symposium, in 1992 guided Leah Haley on a now infamous hike across Eglin Air Force Base. They were in search of an alien spacecraft suspected to be downed by the U.S. military with Haley aboard. The unsubstantiated tale resulted from hypnosis sessions conducted on Haley by John Carpenter, another former MUFON director, who became entangled in the Carpenter Affair. In 1993 Ware was removed from the board in what then-International Director Walt Andrus called an unprecedented election in the July, 1993, MUFON UFO Journal. In his "Director's Message," Andrus explained to Journal readers:
This action stemmed from continued advisory statements by members of the Executive Committee to Don that he refrain from mailing books to Board members and Eastern Regional State Directors espousing "channeling" philosophies and techniques over a two year period.
As a result of Mr. Ware's fascination with channeling as a means of communicating with aliens or entities, he invited Dr. Norma Milanovich, a professed channeler, to attend the closed MUFON "Face-to-Face" meeting in Albuquerque, NM in July 1992 and allowed her to read her channeled answers to the questions posed for discussion by the participants. Much to the shock and dismay of MUFON officers attending, Dr. Milanovich read the answers from a computer print-out which she claims was obtained from "Master Kuthumi" during a 33-minute period the previous night.  
Ware went on to direct the International UFO Congress from 1993-2010.

- The former home of the Gulf Breeze Six and the 701st Military Intelligence Brigade, the US Intelligence Field Station of Augsburg, was the old stomping grounds of Maj. Gen. Bert Stubblebine and Sgt. Lyn Buchanan as portrayed in Jon Ronson's The Men Who Stare at Goats. A few years before the Gulf Breeze Six arrived, career intelligence officer Stubblebine was deeply involved in unconventional avenues of research. He was credited with creating Remote Viewing and went on to become what could reasonably be described as an irrational conspiracy theorist. Buchanan, who worked with Stubblebine and was involved in the Remote Viewing initiative, considers himself an alien abductee, as explored in an interview he generously provided me.

- Rima Laibow, MD, was a speaker at the MUFON 1990 International UFO Symposium in Pensacola. Her pro-hypnosis platform and promotion of alleged alien abduction were viewed favorably by MUFON, as was the case with her fellow speaker, Budd Hopkins. Dr. Laibow went on to marry Maj. Gen. Stubblebine.    

- In 1991 the 701st MI Brigade was awarded the prestigious Director of the National Security Agency's Travis Trophy. The award was granted for having made the nation's most significant contribution in signals intelligence.

- In 1989 Anna Foster published her book, Song of my soul

FOIA

I recently submitted four FOIA requests on the Gulf Breeze Six. One was to the NSA, asking they conduct a Mandatory Declassification Review, or MDR, of the file referenced by Coppens. He stated 1400 of its 1600 pages were withheld, so perhaps more of that will be released. I also requested NSA provide records pertaining to investigations of the individuals and their activities, as suggested in newspaper clippings. 

I similarly requested the Army conduct an MDR of the file referenced by Coppens, as well as related records on the group. Newspaper clippings, establishing the existence of such Army investigations of the six, were offered in support.

The CIA and FBI were also queried, with files requested on interactions with and investigations of the Gulf Breeze Six. Offered in support was a July 19, 1990, article (p 81 of pdf) which stated, "Gulf Breeze Police Chief Jerry Brown said that no arrests were made, and [the six] were turned over to the CIA and FBI before going to Fort Benning." Also cited was a July 17, 1990, clipping (pp 86-87) which attributed Police Chief Brown with stating the FBI, CIA and NSA called the Gulf Breeze Police Department following the soldiers' detention.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lash Files Remain Elusive

My latest efforts to obtain official files on the case of Jeffrey Alan Lash included FOIA requests submitted to the FBI and CIA. In December I received a response from Section Chief David M. Hardy of the Department of Justice Office of Government Information Services. It was regarding the request to the FBI.

Section Chief Hardy explained records responsive to my request were unable to be identified, adding that his "response neither confirms nor denies the existence of your subject's name on any watch lists." He further stated it was a standard notification "and should not be taken as an indication that excluded records do, or do not, exist."

Hey, thanks! 

In Hardy's defense, the FBI may very well have no files on Jeffrey Alan Lash. Hardy clarified that if I had additional information "pertaining to the subject that you believe was of investigative interest to the Bureau, please provide us the details and we will conduct an additional search." That's apparently above and beyond Lash's name and a summary of key aspects of the case as initially provided. 

I therefore offered in response an article published by The Guardian reporting the deceased Lash had claimed to believe he "was a secret government operative under constant surveillance by the CIA, the FBI or both." I also provided a Washington Times article indicating Lash identified himself to neighbors as "Bob Smith" and "claimed to have worked for either the FBI or CIA." Both articles were published July 23, 2015. Many similar sources could easily be cited.

That being the case, I reiterated my request for files available for release on any investigations the Bureau may have conducted on Jeffrey Alan Lash. I also requested records reflecting any interest in or relationships with Lash. We'll see what happens next.

Ceramic artwork depicting Don Quixote titling at windmills,
Columbia Restaurant, Tampa

Oh, That Jeffrey Alan Lash

The CIA was more rigid while sending me nothing. A January letter from Information and Privacy Coordinator Michael Lavergne explained, "Although you have provided some of the identifying information required before we can effectively search our files on an individual, we still need additional data before we can begin processing your request." Lavergne further stated the Agency requires some evidence of Lash's death. Also required is Lash's date and place of birth, as well as date and place of death, which, by the way, some of actually was provided in the initial request. 

"Without this data," Lavergne wrote, "we may be unable to distinguish between individuals with the same or similar names."

My bad. There's probably a truckload of files on Jeffrey Alan Lashes who claimed they were ET-human hybrids on the CIA payroll before they died and were left by women to decompose in cars in Pacific Palisades. I'll try to be more specific in my followup.

---------------------------------------------------

Related posts:

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange Case of Jeffrey Alan Lash

LAPD Denies Request for Lash Files

LAPD: Lash Files Will Not Be Releasable

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NSA UFO Docs

National Security Agency, Fort Meade, MD
Documents declassified by the NSA paint an intriguing picture of interest and activities in the UFO community. Please follow along as we cross reference files that explore UFO-related deception and establish the existence of a report on a UFO symposium authored by an NSA assignee in attendance. I'll also explain my efforts to learn more via the Freedom of Information Act. 

"Surprise or Deceptive Data"

The January, 1997, Volume 43 of The Skeptics UFO Newsletter is available at The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website. Its author, the late Philip J. Klass, described a batch of docs released by the NSA due to various efforts, including a lawsuit launched by Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS). I point out the work of Klass because not only did he discuss the docs we're going to explore, but primarily because he speculated about the possible author of some of the NSA material. Klass suspected Tom Deuley, a long time MUFON director and former NSA employee, was "almost certainly" involved in compiling a portion of the information held by the NSA. I bring this up not to be overly conspiratorial, but because I find the chain of events interesting, and I suspect some of you will agree. To try to be clear, please allow me to emphasize it is not news that Deuley was employed by the NSA or that he discussed the UFO community with his employer, but it warrants mention in relation to the following material.

A declassified doc available on the NSA site is a draft titled, UFO's and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data. Its author is not disclosed, as is standard policy, and it is undated. However, we know it was obviously composed prior to the info release as described by Klass because he discussed it in the 1997 newsletter, and it is referenced in another NSA doc from the same era. More on that shortly, but let's consider the draft a bit.

"The implications of the UFO phenomena go far beyond the particular phenomena itself," the 7-page doc begins. It goes on to explain that "surprise attack is such a basic ingredient of military success" because "it is able to rely on a most dependable human blind spot: The inability of most men to objectively process and evaluate highly unusual data and to react to the data in a meaningful way."

The author then cites celebrated ufologist Dr. Jacques Vallee while establishing the human response to observations of unusual phenomena "is predictable and graphically depictable." The assault of a person's psychological structure is considered, with the emotional impact of the strangeness of a UFO sighting compared to witnessing a brutal murder, and identified as "the same."

Conditions attributed to trauma are reviewed, including amnesia, and a chart with a "strangeness index" (see right) estimates the likelihood a person will discuss experiences with others in proportion to the perceived extent of peculiarity. It suggests the stranger the incident, the less people the witness will tell, which could also easily be interpreted as the more traumatized and mentally paralyzed they stand to become.

The first of two redacted sections is apparently an example of how human response to perceived unusual phenomena can be detrimental, particularly from a military perspective, as the author concludes, "It is apparent that we cannot allow such a human flaw to leave us blinded to unusual or surprising material. The example indicates that some people are less affected by strange phenomena than others, though still frightened by it, they remain capable of reporting it with a fair degree of objectivity."

It might be interesting to know more about the details of that redacted example. The second redacted section is the author's recommendations to solve the challenge.

Seeking more information about the two redacted sections brings us to another document you've probably heard about or seen around. It's an affidavit of NSA man Eugene F. Yeates in the case of Citizens Against Unidentified Flying Objects Secrecy v. National Security Agency - and there are two affidavits, one public, the other originally classified but later released. Nothing's ever simple in UFO Land.

Fork in the Road 

Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, once said about UFOs, "Well, it turns out that the government does have something to hide, but it has nothing to do with extraterrestrials." He may very well be right, and he's certainly correct in at least most cases, yet many of us, Mr. Aftergood included, might find the circumstances quite interesting.

CAUS sued the NSA in the early 1980's to release its UFO files. This resulted in a chain of events which included the affidavit of Eugene F. Yeates. The long and short of his statements suggest the reasons the NSA desired to selectively withhold information had nothing to do with the UFO community's popular suspicions and collective definition of UFOs. The concerns, Yeates stated, were about national security involving matters of communications intelligence (COMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT). 

Did you notice that fork in the road? Some people always chase aliens, and if there aren't any around, they're not interested. Others always debunk aliens, and if they're convinced they've established there aren't any around, they're not interested anymore either. If, however, you're interested in how the intelligence and UFO communities bump into each other in dark alleys, then thanks for sticking with me and we're well on our way.

There is a public Yeates affidavit and a formerly classified, now available affidavit. The NSA hosts a copy of the public doc, and The Black Vault provides a copy of the declassified doc.

The formerly classified affidavit contains statements from Yeates on the "Blind Spot" document explored above, including comments on the two sections remaining redacted. Yeates explained:

This document was discussed in paragraph 20b of my public affidavit. It is entitled UFO's and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data. In this document, the author discusses what he considers to be a serious shortcoming in the Agency's COMINT interception and reporting procedures -- the inability to respond correctly to surprising information or deliberately deceptive data. He uses the UFO phenomena to illustrate his belief that the inability of the U.S. intelligence community to process this type of unusual data adversely affects U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities. Deletions in this document were made as follows:
[...]
(2) Paragraph three of this document uses a signals intelligence operation against [redacted] to illustrate the author's point. This paragraph contains information about SIGINT activities that is currently and properly classified... The material in this paragraph also concerns the organization and operational activities and functions of NSA directed against [redacted]...
(3) Paragraph four of the memorandum states the conclusions and recommendations of the author. While it talks of the ability of the Agency employees to deal with unusual phenomena it is not responsive to the plaintiff's request regarding UFO or UFO phenomena. In any event, as I stated in my public affidavit (paragraph 20b), the subject matter of that paragraph is exempt from disclosure because it contains the employee's specific recommendations for addressing the problem of responding to surprise material... One specific recommendation suggests an operational approach to solving the problem which reveals NSA activities and is, therefore, exempt from disclosure...

That sounds pretty interesting and potentially relevant to me. I'd like to know more.

The formerly classified Yeates affidavit went on to address a document withheld, once again on the grounds it had nothing to do with actual UFO phenomena, but was instead an "account by a person assigned to NSA of his attendance at a UFO symposium":
In processing the plaintiff's FOIA request, a total of two hundred and thirty-nine documents were located in NSA files. Seventy-nine of these documents originated with other government agencies and have been referred by NSA to those agencies for their direct response to the plaintiff. One document, which I addressed in paragraph 20c of my public affidavit, was erroneously treated as part of the subject matter of plaintiff's FOIA request. It is an account by a person assigned to NSA of his attendance at a UFO symposium and it cannot fairly be said to be a record of the kind sought by the plaintiff.
The same circumstances described by Yeates, yet this time as he stated in the public affidavit:
The third non-COMINT document is a memorandum for the record by an NSA assignee that was originally withheld in its entirety... In my review today I have ascertained, however, that this memorandum is neither in whole nor in part responsive to the plaintiff's request. It does not deal with UFOs or the UFO phenomena. Rather, it is a document voluntarily prepared by the assignee to report an incident that occurred during his attendance at a UFO symposium. It is the assignee's personal account of his activities and does not include reference to any UFO sighting or phenomena.
FOIA

It is apparently the statements about the UFO symposium that led Philip Klass to be most confident Yeates was referring to Tom Deuley, at least in that particular instance. As Klass explained in his 1997 newsletter, Deuley spoke publicly of discussing his attendance at a UFO conference with his employer, the NSA. Regardless, I identify a number of things of potential interest about the documents. I therefore filed a couple of FOIA requests.

In the first, I requested that the declassified draft, UFO's and the Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data, once again be reviewed with consideration given to releasing the two currently redacted paragraphs. If possible, it might be interesting to know more about the operations, examples and recommendations contained therein and offered by the author. 

The second FOIA request was to review the feasibility of now releasing the previously withheld report on the UFO symposium. It could be interesting to read, whether or not composed by Deuley, and it is of potential historic value. I've got a few more requests pending to other agencies on different cases and will be sure and pass along any relevant info as it develops. 

Last but not least, I do not consider myself experienced at wading through declassified docs, identifying the latest declassified version (sometimes a doc will be declassified and "more" declassified repeatedly over time) and similar relevant tricks to know of the FOIA trade. If you're aware of docs and material relevant to the above cases or other topics I write about, a heads up is always welcome.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Army Cold War Chemical Research Report

"I recommended, and my boss agreed, to destroy all of the individual records of the evaluations because things occurred during the interrogation situation, while they were under the drug, that could have been taken out of context later and used against them in an adverse manner, and so to protect the individuals who were involuntarily reacting to these situations, I destroyed the individual records involved."
- Testimony of Col. Lawrence W. Jackley 

A declassified 1976 Army Inspector General report, Use of Volunteers in Chemical Agent Research, was recently posted by governmentattic.org. The 264-page document chronicles some 25 years of Army chemical research, development, and testing on humans. Composed in the wake of 1970's Congressional inquiries and hearings, points of interest in the report include:

  • From 1950 to 1975 the Army studied approximately 34,500 chemical compounds, with 32 agents, including hallucinogens such as LSD, selected for clinical testing on volunteers. 
  • The scope of the operations included the Army Medical Research Laboratory, which in 1954 employed 32 college-educated officers, 130 enlisted scientific and professional personnel, and 117 civilian workers educated at Harvard, Stanford, Duke and other leading universities.
  • The Army supplied personnel for a secret Special Purpose Team which conducted field tests on global "nonvolunteers." Aspects of the operation took place on a strict needs to know basis and "was clear from the outset to the conclusion the project violated Department of Defense and Department of the Army policies and procedures for conduct of chemical/medical research." 
  • Although most American military test participants were termed "volunteers," the report concluded coercion occurred, with one psychiatrist at Fort McClellan, 1959-1961, stating servicemen who declined to submit to experiments were sent to him for evaluation as to why they chose not to take LSD.
  • While defending its integrity and competence, the Army nonetheless acknowledged records were lost or nonexistent in some cases, protocols were subject to wide interpretation, and the chain of command was not always sought to approve test conditions as required. Informed consent was clearly not obtained from all test subjects, and in some instances women and members of other demographics prohibited from screening were used anyway.
  • A soldier accused of removing classified documents was never charged after "prolonged interrogations" conducted by the Special Purpose Team included hypnosis and administration of LSD. A decision not to court martial was reached for reasons including the desire to uphold secrecy surrounding the activities of the team, "the soldier's recollections of the 'bizarre methods' employed" by the group, and the unanimous opinion of consulting psychiatrists the man had severe psychiatric disorders. He was issued a General Discharge in 1961. 
  • In 1958 tests conducted on members of the 7th Special Forces Group included monitoring the soldiers as they attempted to resist interrogation after having been clandestinely administered hallucinogens. The project officer, Col. Lawrence W. Jackley, testified in 1975 there was so much variance in reaction the exercise was useless. He and his boss made the decision to destroy all of the records, Jackley stated, because "things occurred" during interrogation and he wanted "to protect the individuals who were reacting involuntarily to these situations."

Historical Context

"An English calvaryman and his horse
ride through a gas attack wearing protective masks
and body cover, 1934," according to History in Pictures
A history of chemical testing is summarized in the report, touching on chemical warfare long predating the 1950-1975 era primarily explored. The Army offers explanations and justifications for its long term testing of chemical compounds for use on humans. Some of the dynamics and perspectives expressed will be recognized by those familiar with such Cold War operations. 

Particular emphasis is given to the importance of Russian advances in the field. Historians and researchers will correlate the reference with American justifications for behavior modification, or mind control, projects. Works such as The Search for the Manchurian Candidate by John Marks documented at length how U.S. officials blamed Russian research efforts for the need to conduct such operations as MKULTRA, justifiably or otherwise. Marks notably quoted a CIA officer, who wrote of the project in a memo to his boss, "If this is supposed to be covered up as a defensive feasibility study, it's pretty damn transparent."

Interestingly, the Army IG took the justification a bit further than simply blaming states hostile to U.S. interests, and suggested the Army was placed in a no-win situation by the American press: The media, the IG argued, covered and repeatedly emphasized the Russian threat of chemical warfare to such an extent the Army was criticized for not taking strong enough defensive action and later criticized for action it took. It's actually a rather well presented point - and would carry even greater weight - were it not for the things we now know can be read between the lines of the IG report, talented as its authors may have been. 

Correlations

It should be emphasized, as was the case in the report, the material covered is not intended to address ventures by the CIA such as MKULTRA, Department of Defense operations such as Project 112, or other biological and chemical weapons testing involving humans outside the direct responsibility of the Army. The subject matter nonetheless overlaps. The report acknowledges it was a massive undertaking to attempt to effectively summarize the 25 years of circumstances, and clarifies it was simply not possible to obtain documentation where records were missing or admittedly destroyed. The IG stated license was taken at times to attempt to fill in the gaps. 

The report documents assembly of a Special Purpose Team, the existence and activities of which correlate with research published by Hank P. Albarelli, Jr. and Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, and considered in my book, The Greys Have Been Framed. The team conducted missions into the 1960's consisting of field experimentation later denounced by the IG, including plans to subject Vietnamese prisoners of war to chemical experiments. The report states no evidence was obtained to indicate the mission was carried out. Nonetheless, plenty of documentation is provided of related activities undertaken by the group and its questionable, yet unnamed, personnel and their international assignments. For several reasons I'm not entirely confident evidence of the Vietnamese mission would have surfaced even if it existed.

"The opinion of witnesses [which were Special Purpose Team members] as to why the project was aborted varied," the report states. "In fact, no two offered the same reason..."

Concerning another project executed by the Special Purpose Team, the report explained, "Arrangements were made with the intelligence staff members [redacted] to provide orientals of various nationalities for use in LSD experiments."

Research conducted on U.S. servicemen included a scheme to assemble, drug, and interrogate subjects at a cocktail party-like event. Those familiar with related declassified material will recognize the correlation to a plan hatched by CIA behavioral research czar Morse Allen, who envisioned snatching an unsuspecting individual from a social event and programming them via drugs and hypnosis to conduct an assassination. A few variations of the objective of Allen's proposal existed, including prioritizing the implementation itself, as compared to whether or not the kill was actually carried out (see The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, page 138).

Sid Gottlieb and attorney, circa 1977
Quickly coming to mind might also be MKULTRA Project Director Sidney Gottlieb's ill conceived act of covertly drugging members of the Army Chemical Corps Special Operations Division during a 1953 working retreat. Among the targeted were scientist Frank Olson, who died the next week following a now infamous fall from a Manhattan hotel room window. There was no mention of the circumstances in the IG report, although aspects of the chemical divisions were of course referenced repeatedly.

It is noteworthy The Black Vault obtained and posted an FBI file on Sidney Gottlieb. It indicates in 1975 the Bureau wanted to interview the CIA man concerning the destruction of records. It appears after exchanges between the FBI and Gottlieb's attorney the interview never took place. I find the FBI file of historical significance, including its copy of a 1975 WaPo article referencing such CIA records destruction.

Experiments on the 7th Special Forces Group covered in the Army IG file included dosing the soldiers with LSD while they were assigned guard duty and instructed to deny entry to an area by anyone not having a special pass. "Penetration of the guard post was accomplished easily," the report stated.

Research in question took place in some circumstances in direct violation of clear orders to refrain from conducting involuntary testing. The chain of command was persistently ignored, be it by design, due to drug-induced dysfunction or combinations thereof. We see templates of the same schemes arising again and again over the years and from one operation and declassified document to another. Sensory deprivation, interrogation techniques, airborne compounds rendering military units disoriented, and similar themes come up repeatedly. In my opinion, this suggests a majority of researchers were unaware of the classified activities of other departments, while better informed agency directors and key personnel attempted to tweak concepts now seen repeatedly surfacing in what were widely conducted, ongoing experiments. The circumstances also lend support to the long held criticism that similar "research" activities were conducted across blurring project lines in attempts to skirt accountability. And sometimes personnel were just stoned.  

Conclusions


Despite worthy efforts by the Army to frame its activities as professional, organized and systematic, the disarray is evident. While it is not denied in some instances, it's not directly addressed in others. Among them are the testimonies cited of Dr. Van Murray Sim.

Sim, as history now shows us, was a mess. He's one of the guys, readers will recall, who dropped acid and partook in other substance abuse while drugging and supposedly monitoring volunteers at Edgewood Arsenal. He was also appointed by the Secretary of the Army as physician responsible for volunteers in chemical warfare research. Twice. The Army IG report fails to detail Dr. Sim's less respectable activities.

Nonetheless, I found the report to be an important read. It's historical context is relevant. Dozens of institutions and thousands of volunteers are referenced as taking part in Army chemical testing, and the report contains a wealth of information for potential future FOIA requests. I find it intriguing to note ways certain circumstances are glossed over or omitted from mention of which researchers are now aware. 

While some chemical testing projects spiraled into dysfunction (one unit was cited in which LSD "demonstrations" became part of orientation exercises, later nixed by Army brass due to the fact the practice had nothing whatsoever to do with actual research protocols), we should not allow the semi-comical stories to overshadow the truly disturbing circumstances. A realistic analysis of research into chemical warfare and behavior modification conducted by the American intelligence community includes, in my opinion, acknowledging that ineptitude and competence were both involved. The combination of competence and circumstances of potentially relevant yet currently unpublished details may quite possibly be a primary reason so much of the material was intentionally destroyed and/or remains classified.

For instance, Dr. Kaye recently explained how his 2016 FOIA request was denied for the 1957 CIA Inspector General report on operations of the Technical Services Division, which included Project MKULTRA, behavioral research and related activities. That's 60 years now that docs are still withheld. Kaye indicated the CIA responded the request was denied for reasons including the report contained information about "the identity of a confidential human source or a human intelligence source; or... key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction."

I think it's more than evident from the declassified material that a much different scenario emerges of the intelligence community than is contained in the popular narrative. We simply have no way of knowing what else would be revealed by the docs that remain classified. I have my doubts we'll ever fully know, or that we can completely trust the integrity of the declassification process, but I hold out hope we'll continue to obtain increasingly clear pictures.