This article entitled 'Driving Mr. Bennewitz Insane' is by Phillip Coppens and appears on his web site phillipcoppens.com. The word "Mirage" is used here in context of meaning a false image, an illusion of reality.
Disinformation and UFOs; it is a subject that for many years has been a taboo, but by neglecting it, it will not go away, specifically not when it is becoming more and more clear that it has played an important role behind the biggest UFO stories of the last few decades.
Paul Bennewitz had his own company, Thunder Scientific Corporation, just outside the perimeter of Kirtland Air Force Base.
His company specialised in the manufacture of temperature and humidity instruments for NASA and the US Air Force, which meant that his office location was perfect. It also meant that he was very close to one of the most important military installations in the world. And what he had not counted on, was that such facilities seem to go hand in hand with “weirdness”.
In 1979, Bennewitz observed enigmatic lights dancing around the Manzano Weapons Storage Complex, the largest underground repository of nuclear weapons in the United States. For someone with an interest in UFOs, this proved to be, of course, fatal. Bennewitz was hooked and began to watch, record and research the goings-on.
On May 7, 1980, Myrna Hansen, a single mother, contacted Bennewitz with a story that she had been abducted by aliens. At the time, a few abduction cases were already known, specifically the Betty and Barney Hill, and the Travis Walton abduction. Budd Hopkins had not yet published Missing Time, and Berlitz and Moore were in the process of writing their Roswell book.
Leo Sprinkle and Bennewitz decided to do a hypnosis session with Hansen. Specifically, Bennewitz came away from the session and subsequent meetings with him believing that alien beings were beaming some sort of rays at her and controlling her unconscious mind. Furthermore, Hansen was talking about an underground base, where she had seen “body parts”. It seems that while she was at the base, a device had been implanted to control her thinking.
That same year, 1980, Bennewitz became edgy, carrying guns, stating that the aliens could come through the walls at any time. This evolved into a belief that the aliens were slowly taking over the US government, specifically the military – the lights were obvious proof of this. Bennewitz wrote down his theory in a manuscript, titled Project Beta. Sections of it read:
“Established constant direct communication with the alien… Subsequent aerial and ground photographs revealed landing pylons, ships on the ground… aliens on the ground in electro statically supported vehicles… charging beam weapons. The aliens are picking up and ‘cutting’ people every night whether all implants are totally effective I cannot predict…
Conservatively I would estimate at least 300,000 people have been implanted in the U.S… at least 2 million worldwide.”
The situation was very important and Bennewitz made contact with the Kirtland base. He was passed on to Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) Special Agent Richard Doty. It was the start of a campaign that would forever change the UFO phenomenon.
When Bennewitz reported that he had witnessed strange lights, that his equipment had subsequently made strange recordings, which he wanted the Air Force to be aware of, Bennewitz was welcomed with open arms. He was even allowed to make a presentation on the base. Furthermore, Doty encouraged him in his research and it seems that Bennewitz even received a fund to continue.
That is where the penny should have dropped. First of all, the official stance of the government is that there is little to nothing to the UFO phenomenon. So why were they openly encouraging Bennewitz? There was little plausible deniability. Secondly, when they give an individual 75,000 dollars for an investigation to record alien communications, intent on taking over control of the US government… if true, would the government not take a bit more ownership of the situation, which seems to any logical mind quite serious…
But the penny did not drop. What has since been officially accepted, is that Doty et al. had begun a campaign of disinformation, directed at Bennewitz. Bennewitz had indeed picked up radio signals, but these were military communications, not aliens. The government wanted to know how he had done this, for if he could do it, surely the Soviets and other enemies could do it also? In short, the government had identified a serious breach of security (serious because it involved one of the most important military sites on Earth) and rather than plug it, they decided to contain it, and see the extent of the hole. But in order for this to succeed, a net of lies had to be woven. It may be ugly and generally “not nice” on the private citizen(s) involved, but it is standard practice.
Bennewitz was thus given money, so that, now with sufficient funds, he could continue his tinkering with devices that were picking up the signals. It was money to inspire Bennewitz to continue (which was not really necessary, seeing he deemed himself one of the few, if not only, UFO researcher who had the ears of the government) and to see how far, with funding, he could go.
as the Soviets had money at their disposal, how big was the hole they had to plug? Bennewitz was paid to find out – though he never realised it.
If the story ended here, it would be just another episode in a long list of campaigns, in which UFOs were used as a good excuse for secret government work. But it did not end there. In 1982, William Moore, now a big celebrity because of his Roswell expose, met with Allen Hynek, the juggernaut of UFO officialdom. Hynek had previously headed up an enquiry into the subject and had afterwards remained on the scene, as head of his own organisation.
Over a drink, Hynek stated that he was the one who had delivered the computer program to Bennewitz that had begun to analyze the alien communications, which was part of the 75,000 dollars grant. He had supplied this tool at the request of the Air Force. Bennewitz was told that the program he had received had been “modified by the aliens themselves”, to facilitate communication with them. In truth, it was a device that was a decoy; it only was meant to produce gibberish, but the purpose was that Bennewitz would continue monitoring the communications, with the machine then “deciphering” these communications. But, as mentioned, it was specifically created so that Bennewitz would not try to analyse the communications himself, which were top secret. Instead, what he got were endless streams of
“Ground ground women of Earth are needed flexible the next discharges our chip all oy women do not command the north among us you have many friends water very shirt resist all attempts at alteration listen orange make peace.”
The communications would then be incorporated into his theories, as “evidence” of them.
In late 1980, Bennewitz decided to inform the UFO community of his findings, sending long letters to one UFO organisation, APRO, detailing his theories. At the same time, he wrote to his senators, informing them of the alien menace, which was taking over control of the base in their state. The senators tried to follow up, but with little success.
It seems that Doty decided to go to the next level of disinformation. On November 17, 1980, Doty met William Moore, asking whether Moore would be willing to co-operate. If Moore was willing to spread disinformation, Moore would be given access to the inner UFO secrets of the US government. It’s a big carrot, and it is clear that the two never mix; why would anyone who knows and has been successful in covering it up, invite someone to spread more lies, but in return he will be told the truth? But like Bennewitz, Moore seems to have fallen for it – at least, he accepted the deal.
The disinformation was directed towards Bennewitz, and in the late spring of 1981, AFOSI began to draw Bennewitz’s attention away from the base, and focus it instead on Dulce, a place of no importance and hence perfect to become the home of an imaginary alien base.
Doty had begun a campaign to destroy Bennewitz, however unintentional Moore’s role in this enterprise may have been. In August 1988, Bennewitz would finally crack and would no longer be able to function normally. His family had him admitted to a mental facility. After a one month stay, assisted by his family, he recuperated. His family wisely decided to forever shield him from both UFOs and UFO researchers.
One of the things that had driven him over the edge was the fact that he saw energy balls within his home, supposedly sent by the aliens. Doty thought this was all in Bennewitz’s imagination, until he learned that the NSA (National Security Agency) was intensely monitoring Bennewitz as well. Doty himself observed the lights when he had broken into Bennewitz’s house, to find out how Bennewitz was progressing. Doty also noted that the house on the other side of the road seemed to be a surveillance location from where Bennewitz was observed. Did the energy balls have anything to do with something that was “beamed” from across the street?
The sad extent of Doty and Moore’s cooperation became only known in 1989, when Moore admitted his role in the Bennewitz affair – and so much more. Perhaps it was Bennewitz’s mental breakdown that had finally made him realise the extent of the deception – and the human cost involved.
Moore opted for a MUFON conference, at which he would relate his dealings with AFOSI, to put the record right; at the same time, he hoped that his lecture would be a warning for fellow UFO researchers, not to fall in the same pitfall. What Moore seemed unaware of, was that several had already fallen in the same trap, many years ago, and some would follow Moore’s example and come out with the truth in the following years.
Moore’s admission of deception – though he claimed he himself had been deceived – did not go down well. The master of ceremonies had to threaten, silence and intervene the audience on numerous occasions. Some realised that the man on stage had driven a man insane and did not approve. Others were flabbergasted – some must have realised how the government had been toying with them.
Moore claimed that he only began to co-operate in 1981… but did he tell the whole truth, or merely leave out certain material? It is indeed likely that Moore and Doty only began to co-operate in 1981. But Moore was the first person to argue for the fact that Roswell was an alien landing, based on the flimsiest of evidence – however good he made it sound for the book. And though this is now widely accepted by the world at large – helped by television series such as Roswell – any half-serious research will reveal that Roswell is a classic example of government disinformation.
Amongst the stories that Doty fed Moore was one of a live extraterrestrial that had been captured after another crash in New Mexico, and had lived until 1952. Since then a series of other extraterrestrials had been sent as ‘ambassadors’. Doty also spoke of a treaty between the US government and the aliens. Moore accepted some of this information as gospel, other material, specifically the initial material that Doty had fed to Moore, he was quickly able to dispel as false. Doty shrugged it off as “that was its purpose all along – you have succeeded in your task”. It is clear that in the early 1980s, Doty was not knowledgeable enough to concoct UFO stories by himself – and I would suggest that the primary role of Moore was to help him develop better stories. If Moore fell for it, the entire community would run with it.
The biggest con would soon become known as the MJ-12 or Majestic 12 documents. It was Doty who showed Linda Moulton Howe the ‘classified document’ in Kirtland AFB in 1983. It is an alleged briefing paper, exposing the existence of a top secret council that aids the US president on the government’s alien policy. Howe was contacted by Doty in 1982, after she had made a TV documentary on ‘cattle mutilations’ that argued in favour of a link with UFOs. Doty promised Howe film footage of the aliens which, needless to say, failed to materialise.
Writer Whitley Strieber was also told the “live Alien” story by Doty. He relates it in his book Breakthrough:
“I interviewed Mr. Doty after his retirement, although he apparently told this story while on active duty as well. In my interview, Mr. Doty repeated the same tale that he has told many times, of the capture of a live alien, whom, he said, was a mechanic or engineer aboard a UFO. This being, he continued, had not been able to talk till Air Force surgeons had rebuilt his vocal chords, which was done in 1949. He stated that he had seen videotapes of the alien and is the originator of the now-famous story that aliens like strawberry ice cream.”
More on the ice cream later.
The entire campaign was not just a two man show. It may be that the entire disinformation campaign was stage managed from behind the scenes. What the audience in the UFO show sees is a list of authors. Many of the prominent advocates of the 1947 Roswell crash have what can only be described as “intriguing” connections.
Both Kevin D. Randle and Colonel Philip J. Corso are former military intelligence officers. Randle served in AFOSI in the mid 1970s; Corso (who died in 1997) was a high-ranking officer in US Army intelligence. In the early 1960s, Corso participated in misinformation operations with C.D. Jackson, the head of the psychological warfare department.
Jackson “coincidentally” was also involved in the Hill abduction and played an important role in the “aliens abduct American couple” story. When Moore made his confession in 1989, he stated that four other prominent American UFO researchers were also working for AFOSI, but refused to name them.
As to the invisible stage managers: the list of Moore’s contacts with AFOSI and other government departments has become known as “the aviary”, for Moore gave each of them codenames, specifically names of birds.
One member of the aviary was Hal Puthoff, listed as Owl. He was a founding father of the remote viewing experiments, which involved the famous spoon bender Uri Geller. A more interesting character is Ron Pandolfi, the “Pelican”, who headed the CIA’s Weird Desk, which fielded UFO sightings and enquiries from the public.
In October, 1988, some of the birds descended on television. A program called UFO Coverup? Live!, produced by Michael Seligman and orchestrated by William Moore had interviews with two “government informants”, Falcon and Condor. The “informants” were interviewed behind screens and with their voices electronically disguised, in order to prevent government retaliation – of course.
During his interview, Falcon claimed that the MJ-12 group had its headquarters at the Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. and that the US Navy had “primary operational responsibilities of field activities relating to MJ-12 policies.
Falcon added that an extra-terrestrial was a guest of the U.S. government at the time, and that the aliens had a base at Area 51 in Nevada. Just to add some colour to these dry facts, Condor added that the “captured” or “ambassador” aliens liked “Tibetan music” and strawberry ice cream.
Doty – who was Condor – and Moore had come a long way: from a campaign to fool Bennewitz, Doty was now fooling the entire nation. In case anyone would think there is some validity to the bird’s allegations: Moore himself would later say that the program contained a substantial amount of disinformation, although some of it was true.
For sure, those aspects that were true won’t have come from the mouths of his birds.
Though Doty has been the most visible contact and there is some confusion whether Doty was either Condon or Falcon (we will stick with Condor), Moore has always stated that Doty reported into someone (“Falcon”) who sat at the core of the campaign – or at least more in that direction than Doty.
By 1988, that person had apparently decided to move from behind the scene… to behind a screen, even though he was willing to be interviewed on television. Moore further claims that Falcon was someone highly placed in the intelligence community – which is evidence of just how deep the rabbit-hole of disinformation ran.
But who is Falcon? Timothy Good, Robert Hastings and other researchers believe that Condor is Captain Robert M. Collins (ret.), a former AFOSI officer at Sandia National Laboratories, now a consulting engineer.
Queried, Collins stated, “Since being friends with Bill and having a strictly personal interest in UFOs I also knew and understood effective CI [Counter Intelligence] methods to cover the identity of a confidential source. Bill was familiar with these methods. Both the use of my name and Doty’s to cover the identity of ‘Condor’ and ‘Falcon’ worked very well for over 2.5 years.” Some doubt does remain whether Collins was the “real Falcon”, or merely someone who played the role for television. Some claim that the real Falcon, then a man in his 60s, was in the small studio audience for the show. Robert Coleman, who was present, is said to have recognized the man and was surprised to learn that he was involved.
Richard Doty and Bill Moore insist that Falcon is someone in the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington. Thus, Richard Boylan has named Commander C. B. Scott Jones as Falcon.
Jones is a former officer with the Office of Naval Intelligence and spent 30 years in the intelligence field overseas. He has been involved in government research and development projects for the Defense Nuclear Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He is also a former aide to Senator Claiborne Pell, who has had a long-standing interest in UFOs. In the 1990s, Scott Jones would become a well-known speakers on the UFO lecture circuit, though whether he owes this to a bird reputation is officially not clear.
One other bird, Seagull, was Dr. Bruce Maccabee, an optical physicist at the US Naval Surface Weapons Lab in Maryland and a consultant to MUFON.
Maccabee is well-known for his involvement in the Gulf Breeze UFO sightings case and is one of the people who, after Moore’s public confession, felt it was also time to confess his links with the government, though he argued that he had never been involved in the type of campaign that Moore had been involved in with Bennewitz.
So, did this entire wicked campaign to deceive the American public, making them believe that aliens were hiding in secret bases such as Area 51, begin in 1982, when Doty and Moore hooked up? And what is the role of Moore? Victim, or co-conspirator?
That there is more to Moore than meets the eye, is evident from what occurred to Lee Graham, an aerospace worker at Aerojet Electrosystems in Azusa, California who was shown documents like the MJ-12 and Aquarius by Bill Moore, prior to their public release. “Publix release” is not the correct word, as the MJ-12 papers were sent to Moore himself and Jaime Shandera, by an anonymous “source”. Though Doty is most often identified as the main perpetrator of the hoax, some have claimed Moore faked the documents himself. He officially denies this.
But back to Graham: he eventually took the documents to his superiors and came under intense security by the Defense Investigative Service (DIS). Moore, who provided the documents, however, was never investigated by DIS even though Lee Graham insisted that an investigation should take place.
In 1987, two men visited Lee Graham at work. One of the men identified himself as FBI Special Agent William Hurley. The second man, dressed in civilian clothes, did not identify himself, but later turned out to be Major General Michael Kerby, USAF, who at the time of the visit was Director of the Air Force Legislative Liaison office.
The one-hour interview was a pep talk to convince Graham that he should disseminate the MJ-12 document to the public. Graham was also shown the then Top Secret designation of the F-117 ‘Stealth’ fighter. This was an item of interest to Graham, who had been seeking it through FOIA requests for years. Again, a major carrot was being dangled in front of UFO researchers.
Intriguingly, Graham learned the identity of Kerby from C.B. Scott Jones, then a congressional aide to Senator Claiborne Pell. Coincidence, or evidence of Jones’ involvement with UFO disinformation – in his capacity as Falcon? Jones provided Graham with Kirby’s biography and photograph of the general. He told Graham in the accompanying letter that Kirby was a “mutual acquaintance.” How the two knew and how Scott Jones knew of the visit are two intriguing questions… When he was later confronted with these questions, Jones stated that the general had been at Senator Pell’s senate suite on a courtesy call, and he had mentioned the visit to Jones, knowing Jones’ “interest in these matters.” It’s all a big coincidence, life, is it not…
When Graham filed FOIA requests related to his meeting, he discovered that he was being monitored by AFOSI Colonel Barry Hennessey in Washington, D.C. Hennessey was Richard Doty’s boss at AFOSI.
With MJ12 and “the aviary”, a new claim was made, this time involving a “UFO Working Group”. The claim was made in a book by Howard Blum, who had the bad luck to be published in the fall-out of the Moore affaire. As a consequence, his book got a far more sceptical review than most other books, specifically those who had made far bigger claims, had received.
The head of the UFO Working Group was given the name “Col. Howard Phillips”. In truth, it was Col. John Alexander (Penguin), the former director of non-lethal weapons testing at Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico. Alexander had been one of the birds on Moore’s list, and it seems that the UFO Working Group was just the latest “incarnation” of the Aviary.
Jacques Vallee commented that “the Colonel Phillips [John Alexander] secret group is not the real secret group. It is only the latest carrot dangled in front of a public always eager for new revelations… There is clearly an endless supply of such stories, and they are always volunteered to people who are prone to believing them but have no ability to check them.”
Many of UFO Working Group, turned Aviary, went on to become members of the National Institute of Discovery Sciences (NIDS), started up by Nevada billionaire Robert M. Bigalow. Bigalow is donating his money in an effort to better understand the UFO mystery.
Bennewitz died on June 23, 2003, at the age of 75. It seems that a campaign, specifically directed towards him, then mushroomed into a public campaign, to make – specifically the American – public believe aliens were here and the government was working with the aliens. Bennewitz’s price was a mental breakdown, but as soon as he had been able to remove UFOs from his life afterwards – shielded from it by his family – he apparently seems to have led quite a happy life, especially when compared with the life he led between 1980 ad 1988. Bennewitz can be seen as a martyr, and in that role he should perhaps be an inspiration to many: to realise that many of the major themes in the UFO community, from aliens in residence in Area 51 to crashed ET spacecraft, is worthy of study, but from the point of view of government disinformation – not a possible revelation that will change the world. Seeing the UFOs for what the likes of Doty have made them into, that may set many people free – and might indeed lead to a major revelation: we have been lied to – on purpose – by the government.
To quote the great Bart, Shakespeare: "Oh, what complex webs we weave. When first we practice to deceive." Conspiracy theories weave complex webs with one another and are apt at absorbing valid criticism into there webs of complexity. This is one of the aspects of conspiracy theories I find so very interesting.
Most of the content of this blog and Podcasts are drawn from this book and represent only a fraction of what is contained in the book.