In part one of this series the role of the US military and intelligence communities at the birth of the modern UFO phenomenon, in 1947 with the Dahl and Arnold sightings, was considered. I speculated that these institutions had a far greater hand in the founding myths of the 20th century UFO culture than is generally acknowledged.
While there is some debate as to just how far a hand the government had in the creation of the myth, there can be little doubt that they were actively trying to guide the UFO debate by the early 1950s. Look no further than the Robinson Panel Report for the obvious.
"...in January 1953 the CIA convened a secret panel consisting of nuclear physicists, radar and rocketry experts, other Air Force personnel and an astronomer. Headed by Dr. Howard Percy Robertson, director of the Pentagon's Weapons Systems Evaluations Group, the group spent four days with very long lunch breaks listening to UFO reports, watching films of unexplained objects, and seeking possible explanations of the phenomenon. Their conclusions, which were not fully revealed to the public until 1966, effectively echoed the concerns of Chadwell's earlier report.
"The Robertson Panel Report recommended that the military focused on training its personnel to recognize unusually illuminated man-made objects and natural phenomena, including meteors, fireballs, mirages and clouds, both visually and on radar. 'Such training', it noted, 'should result in a marked reduction in reports caused by misidentification and resultant confusion.' As far as the general public were concerned, a programme of 'debunking' would be set in place to reduce their interest in the subject, and diminish 'their susceptibility to clever hostile propaganda' from the Soviets. 'As in the case of conjuring tricks,' it noted, 'there is much less stimulation if the secret is known.' The Panel had some interesting suggestions as to how this education might be carried out: they recommended using Walt Disney cartoons and the Jam Handy Co., which made Second World War training films, as well as the Navy's own Special Devices Center (now the Office of Naval Research) to train in aircraft identification...
"The Robertson Report also recommended that civilian UFO groups be monitored, 'because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. [Their] apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind.' For the next two decades, one of the groups mentioned by name, the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) of Tucson, Arizona, found itself under close scrutiny by the intelligence services."
(Mirage Men, Mark Pilkington, pgs. 84-85)
|Howard Percy Robertson|
APRO would of course hardly be the only UFO organization that was heavily infiltrated by spooks. Keep this in mind as I shall address the extreme lengths this infiltration went to a little further down. For now though, I would like to make two observations. The first is the debunking aspect of the Robertson Panel Report, which has led many ufologist to conclude that something must be up if the panel felt the need to cover-up sightings. And this is not bad speculation -but it does not necessarily mean that the UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin. Leon Davidson, a chemical engineer and scientist that helped develop the atomic bomb, speculated that some UFO sightings were deliberately staged tests of advanced electronic counter-measure (ECM) technology. Washington would have a clear interest in 'debunking' such sightings, if for no other reason than to waste the Soviet Union's time and resources trying to discern what was an advanced weapon and what was simply swamp gas.
The second observation I would like to make is the lengths, even at this early stage, the military and intelligence community were attempting to manipulate popular culture toward their agenda in regards to UFOs. But first, let us briefly consider the Psychological Strategy Board. Continuing with Pilkington:
"The Psychological Strategy Board (PBS) was signed into existence by Harry Truman in 1951, tasked with co-ordinating psychological operations at home and abroad, and ensuring that America and Americans looked, sounded and thought right. If this sounds Orwellian, then that's because it was: even the contents of its first strategy paper are still classified, though traces of it can be found referenced in other documents. According to one, the PSB's role was to develop 'a machinery' to promote 'the American way of life', and to counter 'doctrines hostile to American objectives'. To do so they would take in 'all fields of intellectual interests, from anthropology and artistic creations to sociology and scientific methodology.'
"In May 1952 the PSB took over Packet, the CIA's psychological warfare programme, aimed at persuading foreign leaders that the American way was superior to anyone else's way, particularly the Russians'. Maintaining America's charisma abroad required the control, procurement and production of everything from scholarly 'seminars, symposia, special tomes, learned journals [and] libraries', to church services, comic books, 'folk songs, folk lore, folk tales and itinerant storytellers'. The PSB's message was broadcast over TV and radio, and from ships and aircraft; even the use of 'three dimensional moving images' was considered for added realism...
"Charles Douglas 'CD' Jackson, who would be a close adviser to President Eisenhower after his election, was a key strategist for the PSB. Like Edward Lansdale, Jackson was a former advertising executive and magazine publisher (at Time Life and the Fortune) turned intelligence specialist. A champion of American values, Jackson was regarded as the most influential member of the invisible government that shaped America's image after the war, and he had powerful friends in the arts, such as Henry Luce who ran the Time Life empire and Hollywood mogul Darryl Zanuck. Where they didn't already have a strong grip Jackson and the PSB created one, gaining influence over publishers, newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, artists and art organizations, orchestras and small but influential magazines such as Encounter and the Partisan Review. PSB influence generally required just a friendly word in the right ear, but sometimes it took money and occasionally it necessitated total control over a target body to get the message out: if opinions needed to be formed, the Board was there to do it...
"The Psychological Strategy Board was rebranded in 1953 as the more oblique-sounding Operations Coordinating Board, but the wheels set in motion by Jackson and his team continued to spin throughout the 1960s, curbed only after Senator Frank Church led his 1973 investigation into CIA activities. Following this unwelcome exposure the Agency was forced to out 400 employees and agents working within the media, an estimate generally regarded as being 'on the low side.'"
(ibid, pgs. 75-77)
This hugely powerful organization knew a good thing when they saw it as far as UFOs were concerned.
"In early 1952 CIA Director Walter B. Smith wrote to Raymond Allen, director of the Psychological Strategy Board:
Meanwhile, the intelligence community was also hard at work infiltrating various civilian UFO organizations. This is most blatantly obvious in the organization known as NICAP."I am today transmitting to the National Security Council a proposal in which it is concluded that the problems associated with unidentified flying objects appear to have implications for psychological warfare as well as for intelligence and operations. I suggest that we discuss at an early board meeting the possible offensive and defensive utilization of these phenomena for psychological warfare purposes."
(ibid, pg. 78)
"Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, the former CIA chief who stated, 'It is imperative that we learn what UFOs are and where they come from,' and later joined the board of directors of the National Investigative Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), could have lent credibility to the stratagem by deliberately promoting the extraterrestrial theory. Also among the leaders of NICAP, one of the most influential UFO groups in the fifties and sixties, were at least three well-known intelligence operatives: Bernard Corvalho, Nicholas de Rochefort, and Colonel Joseph Ryan, men who were trained practitioners of the modern techniques of psychological warfare."
(Dimensions, Jacques Vallee, pg. 248)
I will remind my readers that Hillenkoetter is also the one who instigated the CIA's initial mind control projects.
"Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter was the first Director of the CIA; he was also later to become a member of NICAP, the organization of professional scientists, military men, engineers and civilians created to uncover the truth about UFOs. Hillenkoetter remained convinced of the phenomenon all his life. But on April 20, 1950 -ironically enough, Hitler's birthday -he approved the creation of a special project to discover a means to combat the Russian mind weapons, whatever they were. This project was called BLUEBIRD."This also brings me to another fascinating X-Files synch: the beloved character of Max Fenig, who played a major role in the legendary two-parter "Tempus Fugit"/"Max", was also a member of NICAP. Ironically, the opening of "Tempus Fugit" shows Max on a jet plane being stalked by a CIA assassin. Again, I can't help but wonder if this is some kind of wink by Chris Carter to those 'in-the-know.'
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pg. 187)
Anyway, in many cases UFO organizations were a target of infiltration by the military and intelligence communities. In other cases, these communities seemingly created groups and organizations dedicated to spreading the extraterrestrial theory. No figure of the later of half of the 20th century played a larger role in this capacity than Andrija Puharich and the mysterious alien beings he claimed to be in contact with, often referred to as 'the Nine.' I've already written more extensively on the Nine here, but to briefly recap:
"From 1948 until 1958 Puharich ran a private paranormal research centre called the Round Table Foundation in Glen Cove, Maine, carrying out experiments with several famous psychics...In 1952 he took an Indian mystic, Dr. D.G. Vinod, to the laboratory, although apparently not so much to test his abilities as to listen to his teachings, which came by what is now known as 'channelling': more or less identical to old-fashioned trance mediumship, in which the medium becomes a conduit for various discarnate spirits.
"The first of these sessions took place on 31 December 1952. Vinod entered the trance state and at exactly 9pm, spoke. His first words were, portentously: 'We are Nine Principles and Forces.' One of the 'Nine,' who identified himself only as 'M' (a second communicator, 'R', also appeared over the next few months), furnishing some extremely detailed scientific information concerning a variant of the Lorentz-Einstein Transformation equation (relating to energy, mass, and the speed of light).
"Puharich worked with Vinod for a month, then had to return to service with the US Army, which kept him away from the Round Table Foundation for several months, returning later in 1953. A final seminal session with Vinod occurred on 27 June that year, when a circle of nine people, led by Puharich, gathered to listen to the disembodied nonhuman intelligences known as the Nine. Two of the 'sitters' on that momentous occasion were the philosopher and inventor Arthur M. Young and his wife Ruth, who also have key roles in this curious scenario. Another sitter was Alice Bouverie (nee Astor), daughter of the founder of the Astoria Hotel in New York. Already the message was percolating through to the upper echelons of American society.
(The Stargate Conspiracy, Picknett & Prince, pgs. 167-168)
Alice Bouverie was not the only American blue blood in attendance at this session. But the real enigma is the inventor of the Bell Helicopter, Arthur Young, who is also a major player and financial backer of the extraterrestrial theory. Young's influence would stretch beyond the Nine/Puharich circle within the closely overlapping New Age and Extraterrestrial movements. In fact, Puharich and Young would be instrumental in linking these two movements. Another of Young's tendrils wound up in the Robert Temple branch of ancient alien theories:
"(To show how convoluted this whole business is, I might mention that Arthur Young, founder of the Institute [for the Study of Consciousness], was the one who originally turned Robert Temple on to the idea of trying to find out how the Dogon tribe knew so much about the dark companion of Sirius..."
(The Cosmic Trigger, Robert Anton Wilson, pg. 242)
'Convoluted' is putting things mildly, especially when one considers that Young is another one of these UFO buffs that also has striking ties to the Kennedy assassination, via his daughter-and-son-in-laws, Ruth & Michael Paine (Ruth was related to Young's wife through a prior marriage).
"Michael Paine had managed to get a job at his stepfather's old firm, Bell Helicopter, at a branch facility they had in Forth Worth, Texas. One can only imagine that the job was due to his stepfather's influence at Bell, since Michael's work record is spotty and he had no college degree...
"Ruth Paine met Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife, Marina, at a party in Highland Park, Texas (a short drive from Irving) on February 22, 1963...
"Marina Oswald -who spoke very little English -was invited to stay with Ruth Paine at her home in Irving, along with Marina's child. This way, according to Ruth Paine, they could swap language lessons (a plan that seems to have been abandoned immediately after Marina moved in). Lee Oswald would go to New Orleans to seek work, and during that time he became modestly famous for about a week due to his 'Fair Play for Cuba' leafletting and subsequent media appearance. When he returned to Dallas, he took up residence in a rooming house, once Ruth Paine had managed to network him into the Texas School Book Depository, and Marina remained with Ruth at Irving. When the assassination occurred, it was the Paines who led the police officers to the place (and the blanket) where Lee supposedly stored his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle."
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pgs. 266-267)
In fact, some of the most damaging evidence in the eyes of the public against Oswald was supplied by the Paines. But I digress. Back to Andrija Puharich and the Nine. The Nine would not claim to be extraterrestrial until three years after the 1953 session, when Puharich and Young stumbled upon fellow UFO hunters, Charles and Lillian Laughead, in Mexico. Interestingly, the Laugheads had previously been involved with the UFO cult described in the classic academic study of cult belief, When Prophecy Fails.
It was not however, till the hypnotic sessions Puharich conducted with legendary Israeli psychic Uri Geller that the extraterrestrial theory went into overdrive.
"In deep trance, Uri described being three years old, seeing a light in the sky and encountering a shining being. Then a voice spoke through him (in English), telling the researchers that Geller had been 'programmed' on that occasion, and that Puharich was to take care of him... Further hypnosis sessions followed. The entities explained that Geller had been programmed for a special mission to Earth -'He is the only one for the next fifty years to come' and announced that they were a form of conscious computer, living aboard a spacecraft called Spectra. After a few sessions, Puharich asked: 'Are you of the Nine Principles that once spoke through Dr Vinod?' The reply was: 'Yes.'
"Puharich had another subject in mind, one that would assume a much wider appeal -virtually becoming a new religion -as the twentieth century draws towards its close. He asked the communicating entities: 'Are you behind the UFO sightings that started in the United States when Kenneth Arnold saw nine flying saucers on June 24, 1947?' Again, the answer was affirmative.
"Puharich wrote: 'Now I was totally convinced that Uri and I had been contacted by such a local cosmic being; by this I mean some representative or extension of the Nine Principles.'
(The Stargate Conspiracy, Picknett & Prince, pg. 170)
Until the 1970s knowledge of the Nine was largely confined to a handful of individuals. But with the arrival of Geller, Puharich began to attract a circle of fringe physicists, psychologists, and artists around him that would have an enormous influence of mainstream culture in the following decades.
"In the 1970s, however, when [Jack] Sarfatti was still developing the theories that would later make him famous in the world of physics, he was hanging out with Puharich, Uri Geller, and other notables in a hothouse atmosphere of radical thinking about science, communication, information, and psychic phenomena. Safatti claims to have introduced Geller to Jacques Vallee -the French UFO researcher of Passport to Magonia fame -and both to Steven Spielberg. Spielberg would later produce Close Encounters of the Third Kind, using Vallee as a technical adviser: Vallee the Anton LaVey to Spielberg's Roman Polanski. The character played by Francois Truffaut in the film is said to be based on Jacques Vallee himself. This same nexus of Puharich and Sarfatti is said to have influenced Gene Roddenberry in his development of the Star Trek television series. And behind all of this is the hugely influential figure of Ira Einhorn, usually referred to as 'the Unicorn' after the translation of his surname into English.
"...So you had filmmakers talking to physicists, psychics talking to soldiers, and spies talking to everybody. Seminars were held, books and papers published. People like science-fiction author Philip K. Dick (who was discovered by Hollywood in the 1990s, unfortunately after his death) and Robert Anton Wilson could be found in kaffeklatsch with Timothy Leary, John Lilly, Saul Paul Sirag, and assorted G-men. There was a sense among these people that an event of momentous importance to the planet was imminent, and that they were in the forefront of whatever it was going to be.
"Many of them had already had paranormal contacts of some sort (a list that includes Sarfatti, Wilson, Dick, Geller, Puharich, and many, many others) and were certain that these contacts signalled the beginning of a more overt presence by these beings. These were people with government grants and contacts at the highest levels of the US military... and not only the US military. The Soviets were also involved, if only peripherally. And much of this was going on relatively un-noticed by the American people at large. Although they had seen Uri Geller bend spoons on national television, and had read the stories and novels by Dick and Robert Anton Wilson, for instance, they had no idea that all this activity was being produced by a loosely-organized group of intellectuals operating half-in, half-out of the mainstream... and half-in, half-out of the US government. And it was not until 1974, with the publication of Puharich's book about Uri Geller, that anyone outside a small circle of friends and associates had ever heard anything about The Nine."
(Sinister Forces Book Two, Peter Levenda, pgs. 245-246)
|Geller and Sarfatti (right)|
I will get to the intelligence/military aspect of this in part three of this series, but for now I will ask the reader again to consider the names that are being mentioned -Steven Spielberg, Philip K. Dick, Gene Roddenberry. These are some of the absolute most influential names in science fiction and pop culture at large over the past 40 years. And this is just on mainstream culture. A practical cult would develop around the Nine within the New Age movement.
"The New Age has already fallen in love with the Nine, largely thanks to their hugely successful The Only Planet of Choice, which has sold at least 50,000 copies in Britain alone, and which continues to sell steadily. Our friend Theo Paijmans, who hosts a three-hour weekly radio show from Amsterdam on the subject of UFOs and the unexplained, tells us that every week without fail callers ask questions based on The Only Planet of Choice. And in the United States, Carla Rueckert's The Ra Material, based on her channelling of the Nine, is extremely influential. According to Palden Jenkins, who edited the first edition of The Only Planet of Choice, more and more channelling, meditation and healing groups are beginning to 'realise' that the source of their inspiration is none other than the Nine. There seems to be a covert campaign -on a massive scale -of spiritual takeover and unification."
(The Stargate Conspiracy, Picknett and Prince, pg. 198)
From the New Age freak to the garden variety sci-fi geek, the Nine have had an enormous influence on our culture for the past forty years while remaining largely unknown outside of mainstream circles. And by and large they can be traced back to two key individuals: Arthur Young, whose curious background has already been addressed in this blog in addition to a previous piece on the Nine, and Dr. Andrija Puharich, possibly one of the most influential, and nefarious men of the twentieth century. His remarkable career will be examined in much greater depth, as well as the 'Bennewitz Affair', in the next installment.