The way of the explorer
|I first met moonwalker Edgar Mitchell in late 1995, at a restaurant in the back yard of Kennedy Space Center, which was getting ready to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Apollo 14. Given how NASA types tended to treat UFO questions like warlocks and unicorns, De Void was unprepared for Mitchell’s receptivity. No, he insisted, he hadn’t seen evidence of UFOs during his off-planet adventures. “NASA at that time was so sure there were no such things, there was no discussion of it.” But he added this: “I would say, however, that if there was knowledge of ET contact existing within the government, and we were sent into space blind and dumb to such information, I think it is a case of criminal culpability.”|
Criminal culpability. Whoa. Thus began a long conversation with one of the old astronaut corps’ unique thinkers. This was a guy who, after admitting he conducted ESP experiments on the moon in 1971, took a lot of crap from colleagues – and he didn’t care. He went onto formalize his curiosity about human consciousness by founding the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which went on to publish papers on everything from meditation to the “Physical effects of collective attention at Burning Man 2013.”
Anyhow, the former Navy captain rolled his own tobacco that night, back when you could still smoke indoors, and he talked about one of his even more unusual intrigues. A year or so earlier, during Air Force efforts to resolve General Accounting Office questions about missing records related to the 1947 Roswell controversy, USAF Secretary Sheila Widnall had granted amnesty to potential whistleblowers who might produce leads, but by that time the major players were dead. One year after that, without naming names, Mitchell said he was in discussions with former military or government operatives who wanted to extend immunity to cover even more UFO insiders.
“The purpose of the meeting was not to convince anybody else of their stories,” he said, “but to get people released from their security oaths with regard to these phenomena. Given who they were, and their credentials, I have to tell you, it pushed my confidence level up five notches.” Mitchell said he was shaken by what he was learning. “I am convinced there is a small body of valid (UFO) information, and that there is a body of information ten times as big that is total disinformation put out by the sources to confuse the whole issue.” He described the setup as “a body of semi- or quasi-private organization” operating with black-budget federal funding. “And nobody knows what goes into black budgets. The prime requisite is security first and everything else second.”
Without more details, Mitchell’s allegations sounded like something Fox Mulder’s scriptwriters could’ve hatched without really trying. We now know that the sixth man on the moon had, in 1995, begun huddling with “Ambassador to the Universe” Disclosure guru Steven Greer, whose ET outreach tuition now begins at $2,500 a pop. The Mitchell-Greer bond fell apart when Greer began using Mitchell’s name as a witness to promote his Disclosure initiative. Mitchell, in fact, had no first-hand knowledge of Greer’s alleged cloak-and-dagger scenario, and he charged Greer with “overreach(ing) his data continuously.”
But in 2008 – and once again, without naming names – Mitchell stoked the embers when he told CNN’s Larry King he had met a high-level Pentagon official pooh-bah who told Mitchell that he – the pooh-bah official – couldn’t get his hands on classified UFO documents because he lacked the proper security clearance. But that was a story Greer had been repeating for years. And that official was Rear Adm. Thomas R. Wilson, former Defense Intelligence Agency director and – at the time of his meeting with Mitchell in 1997 – director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
So De Void got on the horn to Wilson, whose golden parachute had made for a soft-retirement landing with a defense contractor in Minnesota. Wilson definitely remembered Mitchell asking him about pursuing UFO leads. But Wilson also said he had all the security passes he needed. “What is true is that I met with them,” Wilson told De Void in a phoner. “What is not true is that I was denied access to this material, because I didn’t pursue it. I may have left it open with them, but it was not especially compelling, not compelling enough to waste my staff’s time to go looking for it.”
Mitchell told De Void he was “shocked” by Wilson’s answer. Ever the gentleman, however, Mitchell declined to argue: “I do not wish to engage him on this matter.” For his part, Greer stood by his Wilson story in an email: “I was there and I know what he said. I was also informed prior to the meeting that, after sending him a secret document with UFO-related code names and numbers, that he located one of the compartments but was specifically denied access to the operation.” And that was that.
But so earnestly did Mitchell want to get to the bottom of the mystery that he traveled to Mexico City for the unveiling of what would be the biggest UFO fiasco of 2015 – the Roswell space alien cadaver pix, which were being hyped as a game-changer. Within days, the images were discovered to be Kodak slides of a Native American mummy. De Void didn’t attempt to contact the Apollo veteran for reaction after that. But living in fear of making mistakes would’ve been an untenable prospect for one of only a dozen men to leave bootprints on another world.
“The desire to live life to its fullest, to acquire more knowledge, to abandon the economic treadmill,” he wrote in his autobiography The Way of the Explorer, “are all typical reactions to these experiences in altered states of consciousness. The previous fear of death is typically quelled. If the individual generally remains thereafter in the existential state of awareness, the deep internal feeling of eternity is quite profound and unshakable.” After literally expanding the perimeters of human history, what could possibly be intimidating after that? Name-calling?
So bon voyage, Dr. Mitchell. And here’s hoping that your greatest wish for those who determine our fates will someday come to pass: “From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”