Tag: Leslie Kean

How the CIA Tried to Quell a UFO Panic During the Cold War

 

Article by Becky Little                     January 5, 2020                      (history.com)

• In the 1950s, when Cold War anxiety in America ranged from Soviet psychological warfare to nuclear annihilation, LIFE Magazine published a story titled “Have We Visitors From Space?” that offered “scientific evidence that there is a real case for interplanetary saucers.” A few months later in the summer of 1952, newspaper headlines blared reports of flying saucers swarming Washington, D.C. During this period, the US Air Force said that reported UFO sightings jumped from 23 to 148.

• the U.S. government worried about the prospect of a growing national hysteria. The CIA decided it needed a “national policy” for “what should be told the public regarding the phenomenon, in order to minimize risk of panic.” The CIA convened a group of scientists to investigate whether the UFO phenomena represented a national security threat.

• The CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence collaborated with Howard Percy Robertson, a professor of mathematical physics at the California Institute of Technology, to gather a panel of nonmilitary scientists. The Robertson panel met for a few days in January 1953 to review Air Force records about UFO sightings going back to 1947. The panel reviewed Project Blue Book investigators Captain Edward J. Ruppelt and J. Allen Hynek and concluded that many of these ‘unexplained’ sightings were actually explainable if you just got creative about it. The panel’s main concern was controlling public hysteria.

• According to former UK government UFO investigator, Nick Pope, the CIA was worried that “the Soviets would find a way to use the huge level of public interest in UFOs to somehow manipulate, to cause panic; which then could be used to undermine national cohesiveness.” The Robertson report itself supports this viewpoint, suggesting “mass hysteria” over UFOs could lead to “greater vulnerability to possible enemy psychological warfare.”

• The Robertson report, which was released to the public in 1975 (see the Robertson report here), recommended debunking the notion of UFOs in the media content of articles, TV shows and movies in order to “… reduce the current gullibility of the public and … their susceptibility to clever hostile propaganda.”

• News reporter and book author, Leslie Kean, points to a CBS television show hosted by Walter Cronkite in 1966, which a Robertson panelist claimed to have helped organize “around the Robertson panel conclusions”. The program focused on debunking UFO sightings.

• Between 1966 and 1968, the US Air Force commissioned another ‘scientific’ inquiry into Project Blue Book by physicist Edward U. Condon and a group of scientists at the University of Colorado. The Condon Committee concluded that UFOs posed no threat to the U.S., and that most sightings could be easily explained. It also suggested that the Air Force end Project Blue Book’s investigations into UFOs—which it did in 1969. (see Condon Report here)

• UFO researchers have suggested that the government never really allowed the Robertson panel, the Condon Committee, or even Project Blue Book to review the most sensitive ‘classified’ UFO sightings. This is directly supported by a 1969 memo signed by Brigadier General Carroll H. Bolender revealing the Air Force hadn’t shared all UFO sightings with Project Blue Book and would continue to investigate sightings that could present a national security threat after the project ended.

• Critics claim that the real goal of the Robertson panel, the Condon Committee, and Project Blue Book was never to identify UFOs, but simply to influence public reaction to them. If so, then the government must have had information about extraterrestrials it wanted to conceal.

• The secrecy involving national security issues gave the CIA and the Air Force the audacity to explain away UFO sightings as “natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions.” An example of a cover-up of UFOs that continues to today is the CIA’s claim that over half of the UFOs reported in the 1950s and 60s were actually US spy planes. CIA National Reconnaissance Office historian Gerald K. Haines notes a CIA tweet in 2014 that read, “Remember reports of unusual activity in the skies in the ‘50s? That was us.”

 

     Howard Percy Robertson

In January 1953, the fledgling Central Intelligence Agency had a thorny situation on its hands. Reports of UFO sightings were mushrooming around the country. Press accounts were fanning public fascination—and concern. So the CIA convened a group of scientists to investigate whether these unknown phenomena in the sky represented a national security threat.

                  The Robertson Panel

But there was something else.

At a time when growing Cold War anxiety about the Soviets ranged from psychological warfare to wholesale nuclear annihilation, the U.S. government worried about the prospect of a growing national hysteria. In the previous year, UFOs had begun to figure prominently in the public conversation. In April 1952, the popular magazine LIFE published a story titled “Have We Visitors from Space?” that promised to offer “scientific evidence that there is a real case for interplanetary saucers.” In July that year, newspaper headlines around the country blared reports of flying saucers swarming Washington, D.C. Between March and June that year, the number of UFO sightings officially reported to the U.S. Air Force jumped from 23 to 148. Given all the attention UFOs were getting, the CIA decided it needed a “national policy” for “what should be told the public regarding the phenomenon, in order to minimize risk of panic,” according to government documents.

The Robertson report: The real enemy is hysteria

          Edward U. Condon

To this end, the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence collaborated with Howard Percy Robertson, a professor of mathematical physics at the California Institute of Technology, to gather a panel of nonmilitary scientists. The Robertson panel met for a few days in January 1953 to review Air Force records about UFO sightings going back to 1947.

Project Blue Book, which had started in 1952, was the latest iteration of the Air Force’s UFO investigative teams. After interviewing project members Captain Edward J. Ruppelt and astronomer J. Allen Hynek, the panel concluded that many sightings Blue Book had tracked were, in fact, explainable. For example, after reviewing film taken of a UFO sighting near Great Falls, Montana on August 15, 1950, the panel concluded what the film actually showed was sunlight reflecting off the surface of two Air Force interceptor jets.

The panel did actually see a potential threat related to this phenomena—but it wasn’t saucers and little green men.

“It was the public itself,” says John Greenewald, Jr., founder of The Black Vault, an online archive of government documents. There was a concern “that the general public, with their panic and hysteria, could overwhelm the resources of the U.S. government” in a time of crisis.

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Angels, Airships, and Aliens: The 3,500-Year History of UFO Sightings

Listen to “E108 9-28-19 Angels, Airships, and Aliens: The 3,500-Year History of UFO Sightings” on Spreaker.
Article by Matt Blitz                       September 24, 2019                        (popularmechanics.com)

• The US Navy has admitted that the three released videos of ‘unidentified aerial phenomenon’ are authentic, each depicting quick-moving oblong-shaped objects. The Navy has yet to identify the objects in these videos. The term “UAP” has replaced “UFO” which still carries a lot of historical “baggage” and stigma, and discourages people from reporting a sighting. Journalist Leslie Kean who helped break the New York Times story in December 2017 about the Navy’s UAP sightings says, “That term (UFO) is so loaded at this point, that you are never going to change people’s understanding of what it means.” “All you can do is adopt a new one.”

• But this is not a new phenomenon. Humans have seen and encountered unidentified flying objects for millennia. The only thing that’s changed is how people have interpreted these events over the years. Here is a summary of four eras of UFOs:

Biblical Beginnings – Diana Walsh Pasulka, author of American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology and a professor of philosophy and religion at UNC Wilmington reports that “Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the major religions actually have pictures and anecdotes of aerial phenomenon.” In nearly every religion, there are “contact events” where an important figure makes contact with a heavenly figure. Moses and the burning bush, Mohammad and the angel Gabriel, and the Virgin Mary’s own angelic visitation. “These are human’s first contact with something they interpret to not be human or of this planet. And, if they are [not of this planet], they are de facto extraterrestrial.” Unexplainable phenomena can become religion.

The Era of Airships – In his 2010 book Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times, French astronomer Jacques Vallee analyzed 500 historical UFO reports. The earliest sighting dates back nearly 3,500 years to modern-day Sudan, when a falling star “the like had not happened before” struck down the Nubians to give the Egyptians a military victory. These mysterious sightings dot human history and culminate in Dubuque, Iowa in 1879 when a “large, unexplained airship” was visible for an hour before it “disappeared on the horizon.”

• According to Pasulka, by the late 19th century humans began to shift their interpretation of the unknown from a religious framework to a technological one. In 1896 and 1897, mysterious “airships” were seen all over the U.S. with many witnesses signing affidavits. Thomas Edison remarked “it is absolutely impossible to imagine that a man could construct a successful airship and keep the matter a secret.” But by the late 19th century, hydrogen-filled airships were in development.

The Dawn of the UFO – Late into World War II, American fighter pilots started observing orange, glowing lights they dubbed “foo fighters”. Rumors circulated about the Nazi’s using advanced technology and even establishing a lunar base. But American scientists explained it away as “electrostatic phenomena”. Then in 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw strange round craft flying in formation in excess of 1,000 miles per hour. Again, the Army dismissed it as a mirage or hallucination. But others came forward to say they had also seen similar aerial phenomenon.

• A few years later, the Air Force coined the term ‘UFO’ and it was prominently used in the Robertson Report, the same scientific panel that dismissed the ‘foo fighters’. The convenient excuse for these UFOs became the Soviet’s testing of secret weapons. But the US military brass “wrote that off pretty early on because of the extreme sophistication of the technology,” says Kean. “It was unimaginable that the Russians could have something like this.”

An Extraterrestrial Threat? – The US Air Force created a secret project code-named “Sign” to investigate these UFO incidents. Kean says that there were “so many documents that show at the highest levels [the U.S. military] didn’t know what they were.” Some believed that these aerial phenomena were not from this planet. Then the July 1952 sightings over Washington D.C. convinced the government that the phenomenon could not be ignored. The military told the FBI that “the objects sighted may possibly be ships from another planet such as Mars”. The military told the public was that there was no “conceivable threat to the United States”, while they secretly feared a national security threat. Says Kean, “They just didn’t know what else to do at that point.”

The Mystery Remains – The Robertson Panel in 1953 determined to debunk UFO sightings as either man-made or natural phenomenon. And that’s exactly what federal authorities did for more than six decades. But recent events suggest a new government strategy in the works. As of the 2017 New York Times article, the government confirmed that it had been investigating the UFO/UAP phenomenon in a $22 million Pentagon program that officially ended in 2012, but insiders said it continued until 2017 when its head, Luis Elizondo, resigned. The program studied physical effects from encounters with the objects and the theoretical technology that could enable the UAPs to perform as they did. But most interesting was that the program had recovered materials from these UAPs.

• Kean thinks there is a lot of research going on behind-the-scenes. As it is presumed that the U.S. isn’t the only country in possession of UAP materials, there is a secretive global race associated with this research. Says Kean, “From what I’ve been told, it’s a competitive thing. Whoever understands the technology first has a real advantage. My sense of it is that there’s an undercurrent of competition among Russia, China, and the U.S.”

• Sources have also told her that the physics of how these objects move has already been cracked. “What they’ve figured out is very futuristic,” says Kean. “[T]hey can understand how it’s done.” Scientists and medical experts are also attempting to understand the biological effects on those humans who’ve come close to these phenomenon.

• More than two-thirds of Americans believe that the US government knows more about UFOs than they are telling the public. It’s becoming common to see UFO videos on YouTube. But are they extraterrestrial? “It’s a valid hypothesis,” says Kean. Or could they be explained as inter-dimensional, or time travelers, or super-secret weapons or aircraft developed by another nation on this planet? What was a mystery in ancient times remains a mystery today.

This past week, the U.S. Navy confirmed that several videos—two of which were first released by The New York Times in 2017 depicting so-called “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP)—are authentic. The three videos, (another was later published by The Washington Post), each depicting quick-moving oblong-shaped objects, were shot by Navy pilots during training exercises in 2004 and 2015. The Navy has yet to identify the objects in the video, and along with the Department of Defense, said the videos should have never been made public.

While a “UAP” may be an unfamiliar term, that’s sort of the point. UAPs are essentially the new UFO—but with a lot less historical baggage. A Navy spokesman told The Washington Post that the acronym “UFO” carries so much stigma that it discourages someone from reporting a sighting.

“That term is so loaded at this point, that you are never going to change people’s understanding of what it means,” journalist Leslie Kean, who co-wrote the 2017 New York Times investigation into the Pentagon’s UFO (or UAP) program, tells Popular Mechanics. “All you can do is adopt a new one.”

But humans didn’t just start seeing UFOs darting around above our heads in just the past few weeks…or in 2015, 2004, 1947, or even 1639. Humans have seen and encountered unidentified flying objects for millennia.

BIBLICAL BEGINNINGS

Unidentified flying objects have been recorded throughout human history. The only thing that’s changed is how people—stretched across thousands of years—have interpreted these unexplainable events.

“Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the major religions actually have pictures and anecdotes of ariel phenomenon,” Diana Walsh Pasulka, author of American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology and a professor of philosophy and religion at UNC Wilmington tells Popular Mechanics.

Some of them were comets, asteroids, meteors, and other atmospheric optical phenomena that were scientifically unknown to our ancient ancestors, but others still defy modern explanations.

Pasulka explains in nearly every religion, there are “contact events” where an important figure makes contact with a heavenly figure. Moses and the burning bush, Mohammad and the angel Gabriel, and the Virgin Mary’s own angelic visitation.

“These are human’s first contact with something they interpret to not be human or of this planet. And, if they are [not of this planet], they are de facto extraterrestrial.”

Pasulka says the Torah’s tale of Jacob’s fight with an angel is a good example of an encounter with aerial phenomenon that was turned into a religious narrative. “When you go back to the original source and read it in its original language… it wouldn’t look like what the artists’ rendition of it are in Western history,” says Pasulka, “It would look like he’s fighting some kind of being from outer space.”

Pasulka isn’t saying that a biblical figure fought an alien and it turned into a religious text, but that vision of a figure descending from the sky could have come from a shared, human experience or observation. When religion is a lens to explain the universe, unexplainable phenomena can become religion.

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Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFO Still Continues, Says Investigative Journalist Leslie Kean

by Nirmal Narayanan          March 5, 2018            (ibtimes.sg)

• In a now infamous December 16, 2017 New York Times article, Leslie Kean (pictured above), one of the article’s investigative journalists, reported that the Pentagon’s $22M Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program which investigated UFOs ended in 2012. Now Ms Kean says that the secret Pentagon program still exists.

• Kean also confirmed that the ‘pill-shaped’ UFO which was spotted by U.S. Navy officials in 2004 might have come from outer space. Says Kean, “These objects, in this one incident in 2004, were actually observed coming in from outer space. They came in and then they went out, up into the sky. So whatever that means, that’s what happened. They were also seen able to move very, very, very fast from one space to another. Way faster than any airplane could do.”

 

Leslie Kean, the investigative journalist who shed light on Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) has now claimed that the secret project is still running. As per Kean, the investigation on unidentified flying objects is being continued by Pentagon, despite their previous statement which claimed that the program was ended in 2012.

“It’s completely rational to be interested and to try to figure out what’s going on with this. We know that this program existed, it still exists, and it investigated military cases and very significant cases of pilot encounter with these objects,” Leslie Kean told Wtop.

Kean made it clear that all the unidentified flying objects which we see in the sky are not necessarily from an alien world. However, Kean confirmed that the UFO which was spotted by US Navy officials in 2004 might have come from outer space. She added that none of the modern aircraft on earth could fly in such a way like that object did when it was tracked by a US Navy jet.

“These objects in this one incident in 2004 were actually observed coming in from outer space. They came in and then they went out, up into the sky. So whatever that means, that’s what happened. They were also seen able to move very, very, very fast from one space to another. Way faster than any airplane could do,” added Kean.

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