Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fringe and COG Part I

Those of you who have been following my 'Fringe" series know that it has been a long, strange trip thus far. Now encompassing eleven proper installments, plus a kind of appendix, it began with a simple enough premise: to chronicle the involvement of the far right in high weirdness. By high weirdness, I am of course referring to UFOS, psi, human potential, "nonlethal weapons," and other occulted topics the mainstream has long shunned. As for far right, I have largely examined it through the prism of various intelligence-laden "think tanks" such as the Committee on the Present Danger Mach I, the American Security Council (ASC), and the United States Global Security Council (USGSC).

There have been many twists and turns in this research, which began by examining the origins of the national security state and its links to the Roswell incident (noted here and here) and has continued on up until the early 1990s. In that span I've examined a host of topics, including NICAP (noted here), the mythos surrounding Hangar 18 and Area 51 (noted here and here, respectively), the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and its origins in Tesla weapons (noted here), super soldiers (noted here) and the links between nonlethal weapons and mind control (noted here). And those are just some of the highlights.

Over the course of researching this series I've made many fascinating discoveries I was not aware of when I began, thanks in no small part to my readership, and as such it has been hard fitting everything into a coherent narrative. This necessitated the first appendix, as well as what you are currently reading. This information is quite fascinating, and as it runs the length of the years already covered, I felt it would be best to consolidate everything relating to Continuity of Government (COG) and civil defense schemes here.

I had become interested in the involvement some COG officials had in high weirdness going back to my series on the CIA's Office of Security, which was published last year. For the last year or so I have been gathering further pieces but most recently I was quite struck by a statement made by Colonel John Alexander (addressed before here and here) in his brilliant white wash UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities. Alexander dedicates a good portion of the work to debunking many of the sacred cows of Ufology but makes some quite eyebrow raising comments while discussing the notorious Majestic 12:
"With then could be the reality underlining Majestic 12? Is it possible the organization once existed and that a collection of influential people was brought together for some purpose? The answer may be yes. A reliable, vetted, and confidential source, who states he had access to MJ-12 material, indicated this was a real group. He also indicated that there would be no reports at the Department of Defense level as everything was controlled by the White House. However, he firmly acknowledge that the topics the group was involved in studying had nothing to do with the Roswell crash in particular or UFOs in general.
"The following is speculation, but that clue cause me to think seriously about what such a body as MJ-12 might be involved in. It was Hal Puthoff who pointed me towards what could be the real answer – Continuity of Government or COG. For decades this was one of the most highly guarded secrets in America. Formally initiated under President Eisenhower at the height of the Cold War, COG was designed to prevent nuclear decapitation of the U.S. government. It would appear that some of those plans remain classified and have been adapted to current counterterrorism circumstances. The point is that in those early post-World War II days, nerves were frayed, tensions were high, and a plan for national survival was needed. 
"We do know that continuation of leadership was a primary concern of President Truman. In 1945, only two months after being sworn into office following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he asked Congress to designate the line of succession. According to the Congressional Research Service, 'He [Truman] noted that, in naming his Cabinet members, a president chose his successor, and concluded that, "I do not believe that in a democracy this power should rest with the Chief Executive." ' Therefore, the idea that President Truman would make continuity of government a primary focus is fundamentally sound. 
"Very important from an MJ-12 perspective, all the pieces fit, including timing, mission, and membership. On July 26, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act that realigned and reorganized the U.S. Armed Forces, foreign policy, and Intelligence Community apparatus. It was the National Security Act that created the Air Force as a separate enable branch of the Department of Defense. The Act also established the National Security Council as a centralized body for coordination of national security policy within the executive branch. In addition it created the first peacetime intelligence organization, the Central Intelligence Agency. Notably, this act did not go into effect until September 18 of that year and one day after James Forrestal was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the first Secretary of Defense. The memo from Truman to Forrestal, directing him to initiate Operation Majestic 12 'with all due speed and caution,' is signed just six days later (September 24, 1947). While this memo has not been authenticated, the content is commensurate with activities that followed. 
"It was under the COG plans that hardened secret underground bases such as Mount Weather in western Virginia were constructed. A few years ago it was revealed that a swanky resort called Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, actually had hidden subterranean facilities and was the place that Members of Congress would be sequestered in case of a nuclear exchange. Amazingly, it is now open to tourists.
"However, complex plans, such as COG, do not materialize out of thin air. They require extensive thought and careful planning. The alleged composition of MJ-12 was exactly right for the task of developing a plan to safeguard American leadership. They had the brainpower and experience to tackle such a problem. Further, creating a body of senior advisors was the normal manner by which government agencies approach complex issues such as restoring duly authorized leadership under catastrophic circumstances. In fact, that process of appointing advisors continues to be a widely used norm. Membership of such panels is usually directly related to the level of the office establishing the study. Those named as the MJ-12 constituency dovetails appropriately with a body created that might advise a POTUS. The dearth of written substantiation is also reasonable. Other extremely sensitive projects were known to be conducted with little, or no, paper trail.
"In Stan Friedman's book he goes to great lengths to attempt to explain why Donald Menzel, a harsh UFO critic, would be included on a panel with direct access to material proving his position to be wrong. Stan concluded that it was because Menzel was leading a double life. While he publicly denounced UFOs, Stan contends Menzel was a closet insider and knew that he was intentionally misleading the American people. A much simpler answer would be that Menzel was a member of a group addressing pressing problems of strategic importance that were not related to UFOs. Certainly COG is a perfect fit. They were the right people, at the right time, involved in the right mission. That is, if they ever did exist." 
(UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities, John Alexander, pgs. 130-132)
Colonel John Alexander
It probably goes without saying, but there's a lot to take in here. Let us begin with Majestic 12, more commonly referred to as MJ-12. As I'm sure many of the regular readers of this blog are well aware of the mythos surrounding MJ-12 I shall be brief: Beginning in the 1980s a series of documents were produced by researchers Jamie Shandera, William Moore and Stan Friedman purporting to describe a highly secretive group initiated by President Harry S. Truman in 1947 to manage the UFO phenomenon. There were allegedly twelve members in the initial group, all of them heavies within the deep state at the time. They included the above-mentioned Forrestal and Donald Menzel, as well Lloyd V. Berkner, Detlev W. Bronk, Gordon Gray, Dr. Jerome C. Hunsaker, General Robert M. Montague, General Nathan F. Twining, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Admiral Sidney W. Souers, Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter and the ever enigmatic Vannevar Bush.

That's quite an impressive roster. Virtually all the civilians alleged to have been involved with the group were among the finest scientists of their era. Forrestal and Gordon Gray, the only civilians in the group without scientific backgrounds, were key officials in national security matters. Admiral Hillenkoetter was the first Director of the CIA while Admiral Souers and General Vandenberg had headed its predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group. General Montague was the base commander of Sandia Laboratory, which frequently appears in UFO literature. General Nathan Twining, who was addressed at length in "Fringe", was the initiator of Project Sign and has long been linked to Roswell. It probably goes without saying, but if said group did exist, it would have wielded tremendous power with these kinds of heavies.

General Nathan Twining
The authenticity of the documents outlining MJ-12 has of course long been questioned, though many of the detractors grudgingly acknowledge that the above-mentioned Truman-Forrestal memo, which authorized the creation of MJ-12, is real. As I've noted before here, I've long found the prospect of MJ-12 actually existing to be rather dubious, though there is compelling evidence that Vannevar Bush was involved in some type of official UFO project for the government in the era in which the MJ-12 documents were allegedly issued.

Alexander's comments got me to re-examine this belief, however, and an intriguing idea occurred to me: What if MJ-12 or something very much like it was real after all, but not directly involved in the UFO question (as Alexander alleges) but oversaw some type of subgroup involved in such research?

If MJ-12 was an aspect of COG, as Alexander alleges, it stands to reason that the group would have considered the UFO question as there are various ways it could have destabilized the government. But at the onset of the Cold War, there were certainly other developments that could have had an equally devastating effect, necessitating a wide ranging approach to continuity of government.

Is it possible? Certainly when one considers the history of COG and the players involved, it doesn't seem as far-fetched as some may initially believe. And on that note, let us turn our attention to the history of COG.


COG has its roots in the concept of "civil defense" and civil defense plans first began to emerge in earnest during the First World War. As this was the first modern "total war," it was felt that civilian populations had to be mobilized for the war effort to both keep the military supplied and to defend the national from saboteurs and even in the event of an attack. The first formal body assigned to managing these efforts was an institution known as the Council of National Defense (CND) in these United States.

a rare picture of the Council
The CND would set a rather troubling precedent that would be continued on through later incarnations of civil defense, and later continuity of government: namely, a partnership between the public and private sectors. On the one hand, the CND was officially headed by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Labor, Commerce, Navy and War with its funding coming from the Army. In addition to these government bodies, however, President Woodrow Wilson appointed a "nonpartisan" commission drawn almost entirely from the ranks of captains of industry and who for practical purposes ran the day to day operations of the Council.  

Nonetheless, the Council appears to have performed its functions with little controversy and was promptly shuttered in 1921 once the war had concluded. It was then briefly revived at the onset of the Second World War and that is where things start to get interesting. While the second incarnation of the CND was not around for very long, it did manage one crucial feat: it created the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC).

Regular readers of this blog should be well familiar with the NDRC by now, but for the uninitiated, in brief: The NDRC is revered nowadays for the role it played in beginning research on radar and the atomic bomb that was later carried on by the closely related Office of Scientific Research and Development, but it was engaged in even more sinister projects. As was noted before here, its Division 19 was one of the first efforts by the national security apparatus to develop methods of behavior modification. Key players in the NDRC and Division 19 later ended up in more notorious CIA/ Pentagon behavior modification projects such as ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA. Even more curious, however, is the longstanding association NDRC members such as H. Marshall Chadwell (who briefly headed ARTICHOKE) and the above-mentioned Vannever Bush had to the UFO question (noted before here and here).

And it just so happens they got their start in deep black projects while operating out of an agency that was originally created as part of the nation's civil defense network --the same civil defense network that would be used to create modern COG planning a few years later. Thus, even at this early date a connection appears to exist between continuity of government and these fringe topics such as UFOs, behavior/consciousness modification and psi (which was a major component of the above-mentioned Pentagon/CIA projects, as noted before here).

COG Gets Serious

While early civil defense efforts were fairly benign, it was during World War II that extreme measures, such as plans for mass incarcerations of the civilian populace, were first proposed. When the Cold War began in earnest in 1950 and the prospect of a nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union became a very real possibility, formal continuity of government plans began to appear. Thus, the period from roughly 1939 till 1950 proved to be especially significant, as the government first became comfortable with suspending the Constitution on the one hand, while establishing plans for the preservation of government with no real input from the public on the other. Of this crucial period, the great Peter Dale Scott noted:
"In November 1939, after the outbreak of war in Europe, Hoover began to compile a list of individuals to be closely monitored and/or detained in the event of a national emergency or war. In June 1940 he sought and gained the approval of the Attorney General Robert Jackson for the list, known as the Custodial Detention List...
"According to Tim Weiner, it was on July 7, 1950, at the crest of the hysteria fomented by the Korean War and by hearings in HUAC and SISS, that Hoover for the first time formally briefed the White House and the NSC his plans for 'the mass detention of political suspects in military stockades, a secret prison system for jailing American citizens, and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.' He also revealed that he had since 1939 a list of about twelve thousand individuals, nearly all the U.S. citizens, who under his plan could be rounded up summarily on the issuance of a single 'master warrant...'
"Hoover's plan was soon paralleled in Congress by the passage (over Truman's veto) of the McCarran Internal Security Act in the same year 1950, whose Title II authorized the attorney general in times of emergency to round up and hold individuals in detention centers. Congress, in passing the Emergency Detention Act, was unaware that Hoover had already assumed this power. Moreover the Act established certain protections of individual human rights, which Hoover and some Department of Justice officials considered 'unworkable.' 'Accordingly, Attorney General J. Howard McGrath directed the FBI to ignore the Congressionally mandated standards and instead base current and future detention investigation on the administration's secretly authorized program.' In this decision we see a sign of America's emerging dual state, in what some U.S. agencies are directed secretly to ignore the law.
"The October 1950 entry of China into the Korean War moved Truman, on December 16, 1950, two proclaimed 'a national emergency, which requires that military, naval, air, and civilian defenses of this country be strengthened as speedily as possible.' Truman's proclamation of a national emergency authorized publicly the military buildup authorized secretly two days earlier in NSC 68/4 of December 14 – in the same way that Bush's proclamation of a national emergency on September 14, 2001, became the public authority for the COG measures implemented secretly by Cheney and Rumsfeld (during Bush's absence from Washington) on 9/11.
"The Chinese intervention also persuaded Truman to threaten Beijing with possible use of atomic weapons. As the Soviet Union now possessed its own bomb, Truman initiated COG planning to deal with a possible counterattack. Thus in a sense it can be said that today's manic planning for Doomsday is a by-product of the Korean War.
"Truman's proclamation of a national emergency lasted until 1977. Under Eisenhower 'A series of atomic attack simulations, entitled "Operation Alert", were implemented from 1955 to 1960,. . . to test "the capability of all levels of government to operate following an attack." ' These exercises generated a growing number of Presidential Emergency Action Documents, or PEADs, which have been since defined by FEMA as 'final drafts of Presidential messages, proposed legislation proclamations, and other formal documents, including DOJ ['s Department of Justice]-issued cover sheets addressed to the President, to be issued in the event of a Presidentially-declared national emergency.' "
(The American Deep State, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 145-147)
The COG/civil defense network was thus well on its way to becoming a shadow government by the late 1950s, with wide ranging powers to suspend the Constitution. Even in the few instances in which Congress attempted to put restraints on these powers, the COG network was frequently directed to ignore the law. Given how highly secretive and classified the COG network is, ignoring the law proved to be quite an effective practice.

It is hardly surprising then that by the early 1960s the COG network would frequently turn up in what Scott calls "deep events," political upheavals that rocked the nation and fundamentally changed its trajectory. The first time COG appeared in such an event was of course the Kennedy assassination. In a separate article, Scott outlined the presence of COG in the assassination, which chiefly involved the use of a secretive communications system known as the White House Communications Agency (WHCA):
"The WHCA radio channel used by Lawson and others communicated almost directly to the WHCA base at Mount Weather in Virginia, the base facility of the COG network. From there, Secret Service communications were relayed to the White House, via the batteries of communications equipment connecting Mount Weather with the White House and “Raven Rock” — the underground Pentagon sixty miles north of Washington — as well as with almost every US military unit stationed around the globe.
"Jack Crichton, head of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit of Dallas, was also part of this Mount Weather COG network. This was in his capacity as chief of intelligence for Dallas Civil Defense, which worked out of an underground Emergency Operating Center. As Russ Baker reports, 'Because it was intended for "continuity of government" operations during an attack, [the Center] was fully equipped with communications equipment.' [18] In retrospect the Civil Defense Program is remembered derisively, for having advised schoolchildren, in the event of an atomic attack, to hide their heads under their desks. [19] But in 1963 civil defense was one of the urgent responsibilities assigned to the Office of Emergency Planning, which is why Crichton, as much as Secret Service agent Lawson, could be in direct touch with the OEP’s emergency communications network at Mount Weather...
"We have seen that there was interaction in Dallas between the WHCA and DPD radio channels, thanks to the WHCA portable radio that Lawson had installed in the lead car of the presidential motorcade. [26] This radio in turn was in contact by police radio with the pilot car ahead of it, carrying Dallas Police Department (DPD) Deputy Chief Lumpkin of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit. [27] At the same time, as noted above, it was in contact with the COG nerve center at Mount Weather, Virginia. And Mount Weather had the requisite secret communications to receive information from classified intelligence files, without other parts of the government being alerted.
"Permit me at this moment an instructive digression. It is by now well established that Kennedy in 1963 was concerned enough by 'the threat of far-right treason' that he urgently persuaded Hollywood director John Frankenheimer 'to turn [the novel] Seven Days in May into a movie.' [28] In this book, a charismatic superior officer, Air Force General James Mattoon Scott, intend[s] to stage a coup d’├ętat …. According to the plan, an undisclosed Army combat unit known as ECOMCON (Emergency COMmunications CONtrol) will seize control of the country’s telephone, radio, and television networks, while the conspiracy directs the military and its allies in Congress and the media from 'Mount Thunder' (a continuity of government base based on Mount Weather).
"It is no secret also that in 1963 Kennedy had aroused major right-wing dissatisfaction, largely because of signs of his increasing rapprochement with the Soviet Union. The plot of the book and movie reflects the concern of liberals at the time about generals like General Edwin Walker, who had resigned in 1961 after Kennedy criticized his political activities in the Army. (Walker had given his troops John Birch Society literature, along with the names of right-wing candidates to vote for.) [29] We can assume however that Kennedy had no firm evidence of a Mount Weather conspiracy: if he had, it is unlikely his response would have just been to sponsor a fictionalized movie." 

Perhaps, but films have frequently been used for limited hangouts. With the increasingly isolation Kennedy felt within his own administration during the final months, just how effectively he could have dealt with an out-of-control COG network internally is debatable. Instead, he seems to have taken his case to the American public via films like Seven Days in May and Dr. Strangelove (which, as noted before here, also has eerie parallels to the Kennedy assassination and subtle references to the COG network).

Another Deep Event

For our purposes here, the second "deep event" Scott links to the COG network is most noteworthy. This second incident is of course Watergate and it is of interest because the involvement of a certain Office of Security veteran regular readers of this blog should be well aware of: "Plumber" James McCord

You see dear reader, in the years leading up to McCord signing on with the White House "Plumbers", he was involved in a most curious project while working out of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, a predecessor of the National Program Office
".... As a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, McCord served as commander of the Special Analysis Division (SAD) of the Wartime Information Security Program (WISP), which was a creature the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP). In the event of a 'national emergency,' declared by either the President or the Secretary of Defense, the Office of Wartime Information Security would activate contingency plans for imposing censorship on the press, the malls and all telecommunications (including government communications). In addition, provision existed for the preventive detention of civilian 'security risks,' who would be placed in military 'camps,' thereby quashing any effective dissent. The civilians selected for preventive detention were expected to include antiwar activists, trade-union leaders, members of radical political organizations and others identified on the FBI's 'custodial detention cards.' The peacetime rubric under which these plans were rationalized was the specter of election-year violence. There were reports – in fact unfounded rumors – that the Weather Underground was planning to bomb the polls on Election Day, and that one or both of the national political conventions would end in a bloodbath. The presidential election might, therefore, have to be 'postponed' in the interest of public safety. The implementation of WISP might be expected to restore order within a short period of time, during which the incumbent president would remain in office.
"As for McCord's SAD unit, its responsibility was to develop and test computer procedures for handling the federal 'watch lists' and 'custodial detention' targets, dispensing orders to various military units on the basis of geographical location and functional duties. Towards that end, McCord participated in WISP-connected war games conducted at the government's supersecret Mount Weather facility. Given McCord's background in counterespionage and counterintelligence, he may be said to have been ideally suited for activities of this kind."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pgs. 16-17)
James W. McCord Jr.
Indeed. As I've noted before here, McCord is easily the most interesting of the Watergate Plumbers. On the one hand, he clearly seems to have been the man who sabotaged the infamous break-in. On the other, he appears to have been running a sexual blackmail operation that targeted the DNC's Watergate-based headquarters for months before the break-in.

But in addition to Democrats, McCord's operation also appears to have ensnared key officials in the Nixon administration, most notably John Dean and Jeb Magruder, two of the three men (along with Attorney General John Mitchell) who ultimately green-lighted the Watergate break-in. Curiously Dean, the White House Council under Nixon, was also involved in COG planning prior to Watergate. Of his involvement, Peter Dale Scott noted: "... John Dean, perhaps the central Watergate figure, had participated in COG activities when serving as the associate deputy attorney general" (The American Deep State, pg. 118).

John Dean
Jeb Magruder had no known ties to COG, but he played in key role in the rise of a man who would wield tremendous influence over the COG network for decades to come:
"State representative Marion Burks was the initial favorite, and was expected to receive the popular Mrs. Church's endorsement. But [Donald] Rumsfeld's chances suddenly improved when the Chicago Sun-Times, which had already endorsed Rumsfeld, headlined a story that money in an insurance company of which Burks was the chairman had gone missing. The ambitious twenty-nine--year-old (he turned thirty in July 1962) had recruited an equally youthful team of helpers, including an MBA student from the University of Chicago named Jeb Stuart Magruder, later jailed in the Watergate scandal for his role in the Nixon administration's criminal dirty tricks operation. 'I already had experience in the 1960 Nixon campaign in Kansas City, so it was natural for me to get involved,' Magruder, now a minister of the Presbyterian Church, told me in 2006.
"Rumsfeld himself affected a statesmanlike attitude during the campaign, never mentioning the allegations against Burks, while Magruder and other Rumsfeld operatives reportedly arranged for someone to raise the issue at every one of Burks's meetings, disregarding his repeated protests of innocence. 'I did what I did best,' the seventy-two-year-old Magruder replied when I asked him about his role. 'I don't remember much about Burks.' In his 1974 memoir, An American Life, a younger Magruder recalled, 'We did everything we could to keep the [Burks] issue alive. Don never mention it in public, but whenever Burks spoke we would send our people to pepper him with questions about the scandal.' The allegations were a total smear; Burks retired as a respected circuit court judge. But meanwhile Rumsfeld had won the primary."
(Rumsfeld, Andrew Cockburn, pgs. 13-14)
Donald Rumsfeld
And so began the storied career of two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who remained actively engaged in COG planning during the nearly two and a half decades he was out of government. As was noted before here, Rumsfeld was also a member of a hawkish think tank known as the United Stares Global Strategy Council (USGSC) during the same time the group brought on John Alexander to promote the use of "nonlethal warfare." Nonlethals would later gain traction in the Bush I presidency wen Rummy's dear friend and fellow COG compatriot Richard Cheney was serving as the Secretary of Defense.  But more on that in the next installment.

One more thing bears mentioning before wrapping up: James McCord's early CIA forays. You see, McCord had already been active at the black heart of the deep state years before he was brought into COG or Watergate. When he initially signed up with the CIA he was signed to infamous Office of Security (OS, addressed at length before here), the section of the CIA that ran Project ARTICHOKE and its predecessor, BLUEBIRD, for potentially up to two decades. And as was noted before here, McCord just so happened to be close to Morse Allen and General Paul Gaynor, the two leading OS figures behind ARTICHOKE. Indeed, it is highly likely McCord was involved in ARTICHOKE in some capacity and at a minimum participated in the cover-up of Frank Olson's death (noted before here). What's more, McCord was in frequent contact with his old OS boss, General Gaynor, throughout the period in which he was both running a honey trap on the DNC and Nixon's inner circle while also working for the Plumbers.

In point of fact, high weirdness surrounded McCord and Watergate (as noted bore here). And he was highly active in COG planning at the same time as another figure who would later hook up with Colonel John Alexander. In the next installment we shall consider this relationship and much more. Stay tuned dear reader.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Twin Peaks Musings

As some of you may be aware, Twin Peaks and The X-Files are my all time favorite shows. As a child of the 90s, I was lured into The X-Files debut in 1993 while still in elementary school. Twin Peaks was already off the air by then, but I became obsessed with the show several years later after viewing Fire Walk With Me, a film version of Twin Peaks that came out in 1992. In particular, the sequence involving David Bowie totally blew my mind and remains one of my favorite scenes in film to this day.

While still in middle school, I tracked down a VHS set of the original run of Twin Peaks (sans the pilot), solidifying my obsession. From there on Twin Peaks became like an old friend, a place I could always comfortably escape to when the real world became to dull. My obsession with Twin Peaks never quite became a daily ritual as The X-Files did (I watched an episode or two of The X-Files before I went to bed every night for well over a decade) but it was always by my preferred escape from the daily grind.

Needless to say, when the returns of The X-Files and Twin Peaks were announced a few years ago, I was stoked in a way I hadn't been for Hollywood products in years. While I may have lost my faith in Tinseltown years ago, not so much in Chris Carter or David Lynch.

While The X-Files revival had its faults, possibly its biggest hindrance was a lack of episodes. Six hours of material just wasn't enough to appease the different type of fans the original run produced, who tend to prefer either monster-of-the-week eps or the "mytharc" ones. The X-Files revival tried to tackle both, unleashing two mytharc-centric episodes, one pure monster-of-the-week episode (penned by the great Darin Morgan no less) and three episodes that fell somewhere in between. While the individual episodes, especially the mytharc ones, were strong, the overall narrative felt somewhat disjointed as Carter and company tried to satisfy both sets of fans on a limited run. Hopefully the next season, which will expand to ten episodes, will manage a better balancing act.

Twin Peaks returns with eighteen hours of new footage and seemingly little interest in meeting fan expectations (or at least those of the critics). The new series comes off as a natural extension of the widely panned (at the time of its release) Fire Walk With Me, with the weirdness being upped another half dozen notches or so for good measure. No doubt individuals hoping Lynch would return to the pilot and fist season of Twin Peaks have been greatly disappointed, but they should have known better anyway.

Fire Walk With Me set the template for the rest of David Lynch's career and since then his films (with the exception of the cash-in The Straight Story) have only become and weirder and less concerned with linear storytelling. In that sense, Twin Peaks: The Return is exactly what the fans should have been expecting.

David Lynch
But even if Lynch and greatly underrated co-creator Mark Frost are sticking to their guns, does it work? In this writer's mind, absolutely. In fact, I could just end this post now by urging fans of this blog, or The Secret Sun, Rune Soup and the like, to tune in as soon as possible if they haven't already as The Return is practically a manifesto on many of the arcane topics discussed here or similar sites. Ruminations on non-human intelligence, black projects and the nature of reality and consciousness itself are the order of the day, but filtered through Lynch's supremely surreal prism.

Ah, but that is the exact prism that is needed. A big part of the appeal Twin Peaks has held for me over the years is how it presents the supernatural. When the show began to delve heavily into such netherworlds during the second season it was widely lambasted for loosing the plot. But supernatural fingerprints were always all over the series.

What upset most viewers was how incomprehensible it all was. Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) received messages from the beyond that were so enigmatic that it frequently took weeks for them to begin making any kind of sense, if at all. And the behavior of denzies of the Black Lodge was so strange, with their backwards language and curious phrases ("Let's rock!") that most were simply left dumbfounded.

But for anyone whose ever read the supernatural musings of Charles Fort or John Keel, or similar theories concerning UFOs put forth by Jacques Vallee or has even been following the great Christopher Knowles' examination of the psychodrama played out by Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser, one realizes that Twin Peaks has put forth the most accurate take on the Other Side ever aired on television. And certainly it would have few rivals among film as well.

Simply put, the Other Side speaks in a language that we do not entirely understand and works on a schedule that may well be inconceivable to the human mind.

David Lynch and Mark Frost understand this implicitly and have gone to great lengths to capture this high strangeness on the Twin Peaks revival. And they are absolutely blowing my mind. I'm sure many of you out there are feeling the same way as well.

And while its far to early to attempt some type of broad analysis of the new season with only eight episodes having been aired at the time of this writing, I would like to note a few points that are of interest to me and which I think regular readers will find compelling as well. Warning: this will be extremely SPOILER heavy. Also, I am writing with the assumption that the reader is familiar with both the new season as well as the original run of Twin Peaks and the mythology surrounding. If not, you may find yourself lost throughout this post.

So, with those disclaimers out of the way, let us begin.

The Numbers

Certain numbers appear to have significance to the story line and appear at certain key points in the new season. In several instances, Cooper is told specific numbers by elements of the Other Side that latter have some type of significance. In other cases, these numbers have simply appeared in the background or are uttered by random characters, but seem to appear more than once in the series. Here are a few such examples:

253: Before leaving the Black Lodge, the Arm mentions 253 to Cooper. Later on it is revealed that 2: 53 is the time Cooper's doppelganger was scheduled to return to the Black Lodge.

315: 315 was the number of Cooper's old hotel room at the Great Northern Hotel, the key to which he still has when he returns to our world. When Cooper is forced out of the Black Lodge by Arm's doppelganger, he eventually falls into a room in a vast compound overlooking an Abyss. Awaiting him in the room are an eyeless woman and what appears to be a giant electrical socket with the number 15. Cooper later leaves this room with the eyeless woman and walks out onto what appears to be some type of box floating in space. On the box is some type of generator/container the curiously resembles the fabled Die Glocke, better known as the Nazi Bell.

The eyeless woman flips a switch on the Bell, then appears to be electrocuted. Her body floats off into space as Cooper looks on. He then heads back down, only to find himself in a slightly different room with a different woman (this one listed as "American Girl" in the credits). There is another giant electrical socket here as well with the number 3 by it. Cooper transforms into a kind of vapor and floats into the socket, which takes him back to our world at 2:53 in Las Vegas.

430: During one of the first scenes in the first episode Cooper is told by the Giant (Carel Struycken) to remember 430, along with Richard and Linda and "kill tow birds with one stone." Later Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), a resident of Twin Peaks, kills a small child with a truck. A Twin Peaks deputy tracks down the owner of the truck, who agrees to meet the deputy again at 4:30 to discuss the the murder. The truck owner does not make the meeting.

Deadly 6: The child struck by Richard dies near a power pole with the numbers 324810, and below these numbers a giant 6 in a circle. In episode two Cooper's doppelganger killed a young woman in a hotel room numbered 6.

Lucky 7: If 6 seems to be linked to death in the show, 7 may have a connection with life and luck. After evil Cooper kills the woman in hotel room #6, he goes over to room #7 and appears poised to sleep with another woman (i.e. he gets lucky) there under his sway. Later, (in episode 7 no less) an assassin likely hired by evil Cooper attempts to kill the real Cooper in front of the business where Dougie Jones, the golem created by evil Cooper to take his place in the Black Lodge, worked. The name of the company? Lucky 7 Insurance and it proves to be so as the real Cooper easily disarms the assassin with aid of the Black Lodge.

First Peoples

Much like Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, the specter of First Peoples is draped all over Twin Peaks. Of course, it was always present in the form of the character of Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse), the Native American artwork of the Great Northern and the mythos surrounding Owl Cave. With The Return, these elements are once again present, and even more amplified. The search for the real Cooper on the Twin Peaks end is set in motion by a phone call from the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) to the now Deputy Chief Hawk informing him that a clue was missing in the death of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) related to his heritage.

Meanwhile in South Dakota, a new murder mystery seems to be unfolding in the small town of Buckhorn. And like Twin Peaks, it seems to have its origins in a Native American settlement. In the first shot of Buckhorn Lynch lingers on what appears to be a giant Indian Mound in the middle of the town. As I've noted before here, Indian Mounds have frequently be linked to hot spots of high weirdness. 

Gordon Cole's Office

There appear to be some tantalizing clues in the office of FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (played by Lynch), Cooper's former boss, in the pictures hanging on his wall. One picture is of the legendary novelist Franz Kafka, whose surreal, often nightmarish work, dealt with bureaucracy run amok in which protagonists often found themselves subjected to complex, bizarre and illogical predicaments beyond their control. The real Cooper's situation may not be quite "Kafkaesque," but the world Lynch invokes in Twin Peaks has more than a few overlaps with Kafka's works.

Franz Kafka
Another compelling image is of a mushroom cloud, presumably from the Trinity Site. As we saw in episode 8, the most recent one as of this writing, Lynch seemed to indicate that the evil personified by the Black Lodge entered into our world as a result of the splitting of the atom.

This is a compelling notion at the cutting edge of research into high weirdness. The great Christopher Knowles has speculated that the Trinity test also opened a gateway into our world that allowed something not entirely friendly to enter. It is no coincidence that the modern UFO era, with the Kenneth Arnold sighting and Roswell, began in earnest less than two years later.

1947 also witnessed the official beginning of the various Pentagon/CIA "behavior modification" experiments that included Projects CHATTER, Pelican, BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MKULTRA and MKOFTEN, among others. While these projects are generally believed to have been chiefly concerned with mind control, the reality is that they were equally obsessed with UFOs, psi and other strange phenomenon. Project STARGATE, the Pentagon remote viewing project, had its origins in BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE (as was noted before here), for instance. And of course by the early 1950s ARTICHOKE scientist Andrija Puharich claimed to have channeled "The Nine" (noted before here and here), an alleged extraterrestrial intelligence that existed out of time and space.

Some may object to this interpretation as things like UFOs have been little mentioned in the show itself (though the beloved character of Major Garland Briggs [Don S. Davis] had worked on Blue Book, as well as Cooper's old partner, the psychotic Windom Earle [Kenneth Welsh]), but readers of The Secret History of Twin Peaks will not be so quick to dismiss such notions. The book delves heavily into Ufology, addressing the Kenneth Arnold sighting, Roswell, Maury Island and Fred Lee Crisman, Projects Sign, Grudge and Blue Book, Majestic 12 and even the long-speculated upon connections Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley had to the phenomenon, ending up with a Keel/Vallee-esque take on the subject. It even even recasts a minor character from the original series, newspaper editor Dougie Milford, as a kind of budding Fox Mulder who spent years chasing UFOs for the US intelligence community before being reassigned to Twin Peaks. Clearly author Mark Frost is very well versed in this subject and I would not be surprised if the topic eventually crops up in the new season. But back to the matter at hand.

Dougie Milford (Tony Jay)
A third picture seen in Gordon's office is also pregnant with symbolism: that of an ear of corn. In The Golden Bough, James George Frazer links corn to various myths of dying-and-resurrecting deities.
"Dionysus was not the only Greek deity whose tragic story and ritual appear to reflect the decay and revival of vegetation. In another form and with a different application the old tale reappears in the myth of Demeter and Persephone. Substantially their myth is identical with the Syrian one of Aphrodite (Astarte) and Adonis, the Phrygian one of Cybele and Attis, and the Egyptian one of Isis and Osiris. In the Greek fable, as in its Asiatic and Egyptian counterparts, a goddess mourns the loss of a loved one, who personifies the vegetation, more especially the corn, which dies in winter to revive in spring; only whereas the Oriental imagination figured the loved and lost one as a dead lover or a dead husband lamented by his leman or his wife, Greek fancy embodied the same idea in the tenderer and purer form of dead daughter bewailed by his sorrowing mother."
(The Golden Bough, James George Frazer, pg. 405)
the picture of corn in Cole's office
Was the picture of corn then potentially a hint of things to come? If so, it would likely revolve around the relationship between Cooper and Laura Palmer, who appear to have been magically wed at the end of Fire Walk With Me. In The Return it is Laura who appears in the Black Lodge to tell Cooper that he can leave. Shortly thereafter Laura is suddenly taken from the Black Lodge in a sinister fashion. Later Leland Palmer (Ray Wise), Laura's father and killer, tells Cooper to find Laura before he leaves the Black Lodge.

In leaving the Black Lodge, Cooper seemingly goes through his own descent into the underworld, or likely in this case the Abyss, where he ends up at the above mentioned compound with the electrical outlet portals. Episode 8 seems to indicate that this is the home of the Giant. Curiously Enki, the Sumerian deity of fresh waters and one of their chief deities, was said to live above the Abzu (roughly the Sumerian equivalent of the Abyss).

Deep Private Hang Outs

In the first two episodes much is made of glass box under constant video surveillance from all angles in a New York skyscraper. The large room the box is housed in is under 24 hour security detail with an employee tasked with staying in the room with the box at all times to observe it and reload the cameras. 

Eventually the private guards mysteriously disappear and the steward allows a very curious young woman into the room with him. Things soon turn sexual, and while they are distracted a shadowy figure appears in the box. It soon breaks out and literally tears apart the couple. Earlier Cooper had appeared in the box what the steward was out of the room. 

All the information we've learned about the box thus far indicates it and the room are owned by a shadowy billionaire who was conducting some type of experiment with it. Here there are shades of the National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS), a research organization dedicated to exploring fringe science. It was founded by the mysterious billionaire Robert Bigelow and staffed with a host of officials such as Colonel John Alexander (addressed before here and here), Hal Puthoff and Edgar Mitchell (noted before here) long linked to deep state forays into UFOs, psi and the like. 

At one point Bigelow acquired the infamous Skinwalker ranch for the NIDS, where it conducted a host of experiments on the bizarre phenomena long reported in and near the ranch. There has long been speculation that the research done at the Skinwalker ranch and other field work conducted by the NIDS were a continuation, in the deep private, of work begun in deep state projects such as ARTICHOKE and STARGATE.

the shadowy Robert Bigelow
It is interesting to note that both Robert Bigelow and his NIDS are/were based out of Las Vegas. Bigelow built his fortune on real estate there before moving into the aerospace industry, space exploration and fringe science. Of course, a good chunk of The Return has been set in Las Vegas, with the real Cooper assuming the life of golem Dougie Jones there after returning from the Black Lodge. I would not be surprised if the mysterious billionaire behind the glass box turns out to reside in Las Vegas and turns up in the story line there eventually.

On that note, it is worth mentioning the Las Vegas chapter of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFOI) that operates out of Nellis Air Force Base. The AFOI brings together many key black ops figures from various branches of the US intelligence community and is believed to wield enormous power behind the scenes in the CIA, DIA and the like. The Las Vegas chapter of the AFOI has many members long linked to fringe topics --that above-mentioned Colonel John Alexander, longtime Area 51 employee and some time Coast to Coast AM guest T.D. Barnes and the infamous Colonel Michael Aquino (noted before here). More information on the AFOI and its Las Vegas chapter can be found here.

As such, Las Vegas is far more apt location for Twin Peaks than it may initially seem. It will be most interesting to see if Lynch and conspiracy buff Mark Frost will further explore the city's deep background. 

But let us return to the glass box for a moment? Ufologist Grant Cameron recently indicated that the Twin Peaks subplot has eerie parallels to reports of a portal being opened between dimensions. 
"He stated that Aliyah Malik Pandolfi had talked to Trump. She is the wife of... Ron Pandolfi. All of this briefing had to do with a portal that would play a role in disclosure...
"Sounds like a crazy idea except for two things.
"First, Smith is very close to Pandolfi who is closely tied to whatever the government knows about UFOs, and Smith has reported things from Pandolfi that later turned out to be true.
"Second, at the same time Smith was saying this, I got an independent Facebook message from Adrian Boniardi in Hollywood who thought there was going to be a gradual disclosure leak of information about UFOs. The leak connected to a new TV show called Counterpart, and had to do with the portal. The coincidence and timing were overwhelming. Boniardi wrote:
More drip? Keep an eye on this show when it comes up sometime this year. It promises to be very interesting of the kind of 'Fringe'. 
I've worked on it these last couple of days and the storyline seems interesting. 
'A U.N. (United Nations) employee discover that in the place where he works at (somewhere in Germany) they're hiding an inter-dimensional portal.'
"As synchronicity would have it, someone recently brought to my attention that Twin Peaks (2017) features a portal into an alternative dimension, with the portal being kept under guard at a New York City skyscraper owned by mysterious billionaire."
(Managing Magic: The Government's UFO Disclosure Plan, Grant Cameron, pgs. 256-257)

In fact, such a concept --a portal to another dimension --has become increasingly popular of late. The runaway hit Stranger Things also dealt with such a concept as did fellow Netflix production The OA. There have of course long been rumors, mainly relating to the Montauk mythos, that the deep state did in fact open such a portal. These developments certainly make for some interesting speculations.

Dimensions and Universes

And that brings me to my own outlandish theory concerning the new season of Twin Peaks: What if it takes place, at least in part, in a different dimension than the original series and the film? 

I ask this speculative question due to what initially seemed like simple continuity errors on the part of Lynch and Frost. Specifically, I'm thinking of much of what went down episode 6 relating to Carl Rodd (Henry Dean Stanton), a returning character, but one who only appeared in Fire Walk With Me. 

In FWWM, it was clearly established that Rodd was resident of Deer Meadow, Oregon and managed the Fat Trout Motor Home there. An FBI agent, Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) was sent there to investigate the death of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley), the first victim of BOB/Leland. Banks kept her trailer at the Fat Trout. Also located there is the electrical pole with the numbers 324810 and a circled 6 on it.

Seemingly the same exact electrical pole that turns up in Twin Peaks, Washington over 25 years later at in intersection where the magician MIKE had confronted Leland/BOB and Laura Palmer in FWWM and where Richard ultimately kills a child in the new season.

the well traveled electrical pole
Further muddying the waters is the issue of Fat Trout Trailer Park, also of Oregon in FWWM. In The Return its referred to as the New Fat Trout Trailer Park, leading many fans to assume Carl had simply moved it at some point. But The Secret History of Twin Peaks, written by series co-creator and the co-writer of the new season Mark Frost, tells a different story.
"In the early 1980s Rodd returned to his hometown for the first time in nearly 30 years and took up residence outside Twin Peaks in a brand-new trailer park. He eventually became the manager of this park, and part owner as well. He quietly gained a reputation there and in the rest of the community as a sensitive, caring and, despite his meager means, generous soul. He lives there in the park to this day."
(The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Mark Frost, pg. 146)

But FWWM clearly established that Rodd was living in Oregon in 1987 when Teresa Banks' murder occurred and yet here it is alleged that he was already living in Twin Peaks at that time. Mark Frost was only an executive producer on FWWM so its possible he was not overly familiar with the story line, but given how obsessive fans of the show are, it seems odd that such a glaring continuity error would be left in, especially sense it appears Rodd and the Fat Trout will play a key role in the new season as well (the other individual mentioned by the Giant, Linda, is apparently a resident of the Fat Trout).

Ah, but Rodd and the Fat Trout are not the only continuity error in Secret History either relating to the Teresa Banks saga either. In fact, Frost relocates the entire town of Deer Meadow from Oregon to Washington state, near Twin Peaks no less.

Nor is the story line of FWWM all that is altered as I've noted some changes in the book go back to the original show, which Frost was deeply involved in. For instance, the time frame of Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Nadine's (Wendy Robie) courtship is dramatically changed while Audrey's (Sherilyn Finn) motives behind being in the bank at the time of explosion also appear to have been changed.

Was all of this just sloppy work by Frost? But what of the electrical pole, which the viewers were clearly meant to notice, being transferred from Deer Meadow (of either Oregon or Washington) to Twin Peaks? I'm getting the sense that Lynch and Frost are subtly indicating that the world of the new season is slightly different than that of the original series and especially FWWM.

An even stronger indication of this possibility is dropped at the end of episode 7. Twin Peaks fans on Moviepilot made a startling observation about the final scene of this episode:
"Ready for the most mind-boggling thing you might have missed? At the very end of the episode we find ourselves in the Double R Diner instead of at our usual gig at the Roadhouse. It seems like a pretty average scene: People are sitting around enjoying their coffee and cherry pie, Norma's at a booth crunching numbers, Shelly's pouring refills, and Heidi is giggling. Then a man runs into the diner and frantically yells, 'Anybody seen Billy?' (btw, the man is credited as Bing and is played by Lynch's son Riley, who was also in the band Trouble in Episode 5).
"But this is where it gets really weird. Eagle-eyed Redditor EricMee13 pointed out that after Bing's exchange, the scene completely changes. Just look at the before and after photos above. After Bing leaves, Shelly turns around at looks a bit confused, before shaking it off and going back to work. But was she confused because of Bing's question, or was she noticing the changed clientele? This is certainly no editing fluke, but whether or not Lynch is trying to convey just a general sense of unease or something more sinister remains to be seen."
An accompanying picture clearly shows that the patrons of the Double R are different than the ones who had been eating prior to the entrance of "Bing" (played by one of Lynch's sons):

Before (top) and after (bottom) Bing
It seems hard to believe that this was some type of continuity error as well. This sequence, along with the bizarre appearance of the electrical pole in Twin Peaks, strongly indicates to me that things are not quite as they seem in the current Twin Peaks universe. Is it possible then that the new season is set in a different dimension or universe? Certainly doppelgangers are well established in the Twin Peaks universe by now, but are they limited to characters? Are there doppelgangers universes as well? To my mind, this is certainly a possibility worth considering at this point.

And with that I shall wrap things up for now. If I have some more thoughts as the series progresses, I'll be sure to weigh in again. Until then or next time, stay tuned dear reader.