Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saucers, spooks, and spies


As I labor away on my book on Dulce, one thing about UFO phenomena becomes clear to me.

The government loves it.

No, really. It does. The entire apparatus, from lore to actual sightings and especially to the subculture of conventions and media for "space people" devotees, has considerable value to those dark, shadowy corners of military intelligence and national security. I once eschewed such claims or at least thought their influence to be mild at best. They smacked too much of conspiracy theories for my tastes. And then I read about Paul Bennewitz.

To truly know and understand this man's story, you need to read Greg Bishop's fantastic book, Project Beta. Watching the documentary Mirage Men, a film in which Bishop is interviewed, would likewise be beneficial but as usual, the book is better. I shall soldier on and give as concise of an account of Bennewitz's story as I can here on this page.

Paul Bennewitz was the founder of Thunder Scientific Corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The business is adjacent to Kirtland Air Force Base and serves the military in a number of contractual roles. Bennewitz's home also is of near proximity to the base, specifically it overlooks what was once the Manzano Nuclear Storage facility. It was over this area in the late 1970s that Bennewitz witnessed a series of true UFOs hovering and darting over the base. He went directly to his contacts at the base who referred him to a man named Richard Doty in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Doty and others in military intelligence began to encourage Paul Bennewitz's investigation into what he saw as a burgeoning alien threat. They also fed him information. A bit of it was even true.Sadly, Bennewitz began to grow more and more paranoid and mentally ill as he continued his investigations. He turned over his business to his sons, was committed to a mental hospital, and eventually died in 2003. His family refuses to be interviewed on the subject.

Why do this to a man? The answer is simple. The more a conduit such as Bennewitz begins to circulate and proliferate stories of UFOs and alien activity, the more distraction is generated. This conceals actual clandestine projects and activities going on. For example, Bennewitz almost assuredly did not see alien spacecraft over Manzano but may very well have witnessed prototype UAV drones in action. Those are all over the news now, but in the late 1970s-early 1980s, that would have been a highly sensitive operation indeed. The more people talk about aliens and UFOs, the further they stay from the truth.

Like I said, this sort of psy-ops, counter-intelligence shadow-skulking sounds like conspiracy and paranoia, but I've learned something in my research. Most conspiracy theories, even if they are outlandish, begin with a kernel of truth. If an outsider witnesses or otherwise becomes involved with said kernel, then they may be subject to forces willing to manipulate and exploit them in order to "bring down the laughter curtain" as Greg Bishop says. What was once a kernel of truth is willfully blossomed into the kind of big green thing with spiky spines and other stuff that I see when I let weeding go for far too long.

A great resource for me on the subject of the UFO-espionage connection has been the blog Saucers, Spooks, and Spies. Updates on it ceased in 2012, but it used to be run by ace paranormal researcher, Nick Redfern. I've completely lost track of just how many damn books Redfern has written (Keep Out! was especially helpful in my Dulce work), but one entry on his CV is On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. It details just how much various world governments have taken to watching, manipulating, and sometimes silencing UFO witnesses and researchers. Scroll through the entries in the blog. Take particular note of the accounts of Men In Black (no not the movie).

To be clear, this sort of thing doesn't happen every day. Most of us in the workaday world are not likely marks for these kinds of psychological manipulations as we aren't worth the effort. Well, I'll speak for myself. I'm hardly worth their effort. The stories of Paul Bennewitz and others, however, serve as concrete testament of what a government is willing to do to keep its secrets.

Not that I'm paranoid or nothin'.



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