| Historian Aaron J. Gulyas is doing a podcast, The Saucer Life, and I recommend checking it out. Gulyas is a longtime researcher, writer, and presenter in the UFO community. He does good work and his podcast is entertaining, as well as full of intriguing, well sourced tidbits. The Nov. 26 episode, Encounter 206: And then the feds showed up…, addressed the type of circumstances often explored here at The UFO Trail.
The show focused on a chain of events involving the 1954 Detroit Flying Saucer Club. Gulyas cited declassified FBI documents he located at The Black Vault which indicate members of the Saucer Club became
concerned about the potentially anti-American and subversive activities of other attendees. A concerned citizen contacted the FBI, touching off an investigation, a series of covert interactions surrounding FBI agents and club members, and, as Gulyas put it, an example of why government interest in flying saucers was really never about the saucers in some cases.
Points I find interesting about the saga include similarities between mid 20th century fear of communist aggression and current day Islamophobia. For instance, activities at least one Detroit Flying Saucer Club member felt warranted reporting to the FBI included the expression of anti-nuclear war sentiments and the promotion of peace. Not exactly treason, but apparently disturbing enough for a self-described patriotic American to call the feds.
Also of interest was a central figure, Laura Mundo, who conducted a campaign to promote the film The Day the Earth Stood Still. We might reasonably assume her support of predominant themes in the movie – namely, aliens, universal peace and disarmament – primarily fueled her interest in the film, pending substantial reasons to suspect otherwise.
As we have previously explored, investigation of espionage has been much more relevant to the UFO community than its disproportionately low amount of attention suggests. Espionage and counterespionage operations have significantly shaped UFO-related beliefs, inadvertently or otherwise, of any number of community members, some of them more directly and noticeably than others. This is often without so much as a smattering of discussion. What’s more, the involvement of intelligence personnel in ufology is not only nothing new, but a staple. If we were to make a Venn diagram of the intelligence and UFO communities – particularly ufology’s high profile members – the much larger circle of the former would significantly overlap the latter.
The birth of the modern era of UFOs was fathered by the intelligence community. The ghost rockets, Kenneth Arnold story, Roswell saga and more are saturated with IC involvement and verifiable instances of under the table activities.
The contactee movement, which, as Gulyas reports, included Laura Mundo’s support of George Adamski, was itself saturated with intel implications as well. To omit the involvement of the IC in an exploration of the contactee era would render an incomplete assessment. As a matter of fact, many ufology circumstances from the times involved intelligence agencies, as Gulyas is exploring at The Saucer Life. The cases are many and frequent.
The USAF Office of Special Investigations became a regular player in the UFO genre, and the FBI always was. Career CIA and NSA personnel substantially contributed to the evolving fantastic story lines and subplots, ranging from sitting on boards of directors of UFO organizations to making sensational yet unsubstantiated claims themselves. The list goes on.
The covertly CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel suggested to the Agency in 1953 that UFO “organizations should be watched because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. The apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind.”
|View the full transcript of the Jan. 30, 1954 CIA cable
via the State Department
Far from above such subversive actions itself, the CIA recommended in 1954 to operatives in Guatemala to consider fabricating a story about flying saucers. The objective was to distract public attention from Agency sponsorship of a coup in the Central American nation.
It began that way in ufology in the mid 20th century, and it really hasn’t changed a whole lot since. “Disclosure activists” are indeed continuing to hang their hopes on the cryptic statements of intelligence personnel, arguably reading between the lines exactly what they desire to find. What’s more, the much discussed Tom DeLonge identifies himself as willing and able to sort IC fact from fiction and inform us of what he “knows” about the alien presence. Actual substance is disappointingly – and quite noticeably – absent from his disclosures.
I can understand when UFO enthusiasts aren’t interested in the intelligence community. I really can. I realize many people want to hear about unexplained phenomena. It’s interesting, and very few of us ever picked up our first UFO book or attended our first conference to learn about the significance of espionage in the UFO community. There are indeed any number of intriguing UFO cases with well presented research surrounding them. It’s reasonable to find them of interest.
It is nonetheless equally true that the mid 20th century to present era of UFOs includes substantial activity of the intelligence community. The reasons are many, and the objectives, whatever they all may be, are different from one situation to the next. The fallout is relevant. Whether we choose to find it more interesting to stock our bookshelves with reports of unusual phenomena, or the social circumstances surrounding them, may at times be considered comparable to viewing an optical illusion, the kind in which we see either a vase or two faces opposite one another, depending on perspective. It might sometimes be worth remembering that the entire disorienting illusion was created by an artist in the first place.