UFO conspiracy theory

From Academic Kids

The UFO conspiracy theory is any one of many conspiracy theories in which it is suggested that major world governments (particularly the United States government) have proof that UFOs are the result of alien visitation, but are suppressing this information, either for nefarious purposes, and/or out of the belief that mankind is unprepared to deal with the psychological, social, or theological implications of such a reality.

Such theories often incorporates the idea that governments are in fact in communication or cooperation with extraterrestrials. Some of these theories claim that the government is explicitly allowing alien abduction in exchange for technology.

In fact, the United States’ government has demonstrated a sometimes keen interest in UFO reports, but has also typically been reluctant to admit this, or to discuss their opinions or findings. This reluctance has probably inspired some theories, and fueled others. The Brookings Report is a genuine study commissioned by the U.S. government, which suggested that evidence of extraterrestrials might prove profoundly disruptive to human society; this study has led to speculation that government agencies might cover up evidence of extraterrestrials, whether on Earth or elsewhere.

In his exhaustive ‘’The UFO Book’’, Jerome Clark devotes 22 pages to examination of various overlapping UFO conspiracy theories which he describes as “the strangest and most convoluted UFO stories ... from various sources, some of them said to be connected with military and intelligence agencies, that the U.S. government not only has communicated with but has an ongoing relationship with what are known officially as extra terrestrial biological entities or EBE’s ... These unsubstantiated claims have given rise to nightmarish conspiracy claims that some call Dark Side theories.” (Clark, 1998, 143) Clark also characterizes the tales as an “evolving legend”. (Clark, 1998, 159)

UFO conspiracy theories typically inform one another and often entangle so tightly that it’s difficult to determine who originally made any particular assertion. Many UFO conspiracy theories are quite detailed and elaborate. But they are also typically short on (or utterly lacking) corroborative evidence, and are subsequently regarded by most mainstream parties as--at best--profoundly exaggerated and inaccurate. Many more dismiss the more lurid and elaborate theories as paranoid fantasy.

Still, various polls have suggested that many Americans suspect that their government is withholding or supressing UFO-related evidence.

It’s been suggested that UFO conspiracy theories have been presented to UFO enthusiasts as disinformation designed to distract from prosaic but secretive government efforts. Some UFO conspiracy theories have been studied as emergent folklore or urban legends.

Various conspiratorial UFO ideas have flourished on the internet and are frequently featured on Art Bell’s program.

In fiction, television programs (The X-Files and Doctor Who) and films (Men in Black and Independence Day) have featured elements of UFO conspiracy theories.

Elements may include the government's sinister Men in Black, the military base known as Area 51, a supposed crash site in Roswell, New Mexico, and a political committee dubbed the "Majestic 12".



Frank Scully’s 1950 Behind the Flying Saucers suggested that the U.S. government had recovered a crashed flying saucer and its dead occupants near Aztec, New Mexico in 1948. It was later revealed that Scully had been the victim of a prank by “two veteran confidence artists”. (Clark 1998, 295) Still, Scully’s book sold well, and doubtless helped shape later UFO conspiracy theories.

Donald Keyhoe was a retired U.S. Marine who wrote a series of popular books (published beginning in the 1950's), arguing that the U.S. government was supressing UFO evidence.

Some contemporary critics charged that the United States Air Force was perpetrating a cover up with its Project Blue Book. During this era there seems to have been little or no suggestion that officials were in collusion with Aliens, but the suspicion that evidence was being officially suppressed would feature strongly in later theories.


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Alleged Holloman Air Force Base UFO Landing

Clark cites a 1973 encounter as perhaps the earliest suggestion that the U.S. government was involved with EBE’s. That year, Robert Emenegger and Allan Sandler of Los Angeles, California were in contact with officials at Norton Air Force Base in order to make a documentary film.

Emenegger and Sandler report that Air Force Officials (including Paul Shartle) suggested incorporating UFO information in the documentary, including as its centerpiece, genuine footage of a 1971 UFO landing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Furthermore, says Emenegger, he was given a tour of Holloman AFB, and was shown where officials conferred with EBE’s. This was supposedly not the first time the U.S. had met these Aliens, as Emenegger reported that his U.S. military sources had “been monitoring signals from an alien group with which they were unfamiliar, and did their ET guests no anything about them? The ET’s said no.” (Clark 1998, 144)

No film was even presented, however, and the documentary was released in 1974 as ‘’UFO’s: Past, Present and Future’’ (narrated by Rod Serling). The alleged Holloman UFO landing was discussed in the documentary, and was depicted with illustrations.

(Years later, in 1988, Shartle would declare that the film in question was genuine, and that he had seen it several times.)

Paul Bennewitz

The late 1970’s also saw the beginning of an affair centered around Paul Bennewitz of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Bennewitz was a businessman, but he had a Ph.D.. in physics. He claimed to have uncovered the fact that Aliens were controlling humans through electromagnetic devices, and furthermore claimed that UFO’s were regularly flying near Kirtland Air Force Base and the nearby Manzano Nuclear Weapons Storage Facility and Coyote Canyon Test Area.

Bennewitz detailed his assertions to the Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization, who regarded him as a deluded paranoid. He them wrote to Air Force Sergeant Richard C. Doty in October, 1980, and reported his various claims.

A few days after receiving his letter, Doty and Air Force scientist Jerry Miller interviewed Bennewitz at his home. He showed them his elaborate equipment set-up designed to photograph, film and otherwise monitor UFOs.

Clark cites an Air Force memorandum released via the Freedom of Information Act, which reports, “after analyzing the data collected by Dr. BENNEWITZ, Mr. MILLER related the evidence clearly shows some type of unidentified aerial objects were caught on film; however, no conclusion could be made whether these objects pose a threat so the Manzano/Coyote Canyon areas.” (Clark 1998, 146)

Bennewitz was invited to Kirtland AFB on November 10, 1980, to present his findings to a small conference of Air Force officers and scientists. One week later, writes Clark, Air Force officials told Bennewitz they would not be investigating his evidence any further.

This was hardly the end of the Bennewitz affair. He would continue his own investigations, and later became convinced that the so-called Cattle mutilations were due to aliens. He met Myrna Hansen, who was hypnotized by University of Wyoming psychiatrist Leo Sprinkle. Under hypnosis, Hansen offered a detailed account of being kidnapped by aliens, and taken to an underground base in what she thought was New Mexico; this is perhaps the first mention of the so-called Dulce Base. There, Hansen says, she saw many liquid-filled vats containing portions of cattle and human remains.

Bennewitz would later accuse Sprinkle of being a CIA agent.

It was later claimed that Bennewitz was the victim of a disinformation campaign.For more information, see The Destruction of Paul Bennewitz, by Low Lawhon (http://ufos.about.com/library/weekly/aa093097.htm)



The so-called Majestic 12 documents surfaced in 1982, suggesting that there was secret, high-level U.S. government interest in UFO’s dating to the 1940's. See Majestic 12 for further information.

Linda Moulton Howe

In the late 1970’s, Denver, Colorado-based journalist Linda Mounton Howe had produced ‘’Strange Harvest’’, a documentary film about the many allegedly strange deaths of cows throughout the western U.S.

‘’Strange Harvest’’ was a modest success, and Howe became interested in UFO reports in general, and the Bennewitz affair especially.

In 1983, Howe agreed to produce a new documentary called ‘’UFO’s: The ET Factor’’ for HBO. Peter Gersted (head of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy) told Howe that Doty wanted to meet her and disclose some secret UFO information, specifically a supposed UFO account from Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Howe says that she met Doty at Kirtland AFB, and rather than discuss the Elleman incident, he allowed her to read a secret document. “A Briefing Paper for the President of the United States on the Subject of Unidentified Flying Vehicles”. (Clark 1998, 154) Howe says she was not allowed to copy the paper or take notes, and was required to read it in Doty’s presence.

The document, Howe reported, detailed a series of events: Several UFO crashes and recoveries, including some where the alien occupants were alive, and remained in the care of the U.S. government. The aliens gave several aircraft to the U.S. as a gift, and the government were reverse engineering them to determine how they worked. A UFO landing had indeed been filmed at Holloman AFB, but in 1964, not 1971.

Howe reported that Doty promised considerable confirmation, including documents, film and photographs. The U.S. government had wanted to reveal the reality of UFO’s for some time, Doty allegedly reported, but had waited until the political and cultural climate was receptive.

When she told HBO about Doty’s statement, they were intrigued, but insisted on a letter of intent from the U.S. government before pursuing the documentary any further. Howe reported that Doty promised to obtain guarantees.

Through the summer of 1983, Howe says, Doty repeatedly made and canceled various conferences with her: A meeting with a retired Air Froce Colonel who had extensive contact with an EBE, and various opportunities for Howe to view UFO films or documents. Howe says she spoke to other ostensible government officials who confirmed parts of the UFO conspiracy she had read in the classified memo, but always with Doty as liaison.

Then in July, 1983, Howe says Doty told her that he was no longer allowed to be involved with her UFO documentary. Without his aid, Howe says she lost her contacts with other officials. By 1984, HBO gave up on the documentary.

In 1989, ufologist William L. Moore would report that “I became aware that Rick (Doty) was involved with a team of several others ... in playing an elaborate disinformation scheme against a major UFO researcher who, at the time, had close connections with a major television film company interested in doing a UFO documentary.” Moore says that Howe was discredited due to her interest in Bennewitz. (Clark 1998, 156) Clark does note note if Moore offered proof of his assertions.

John Lear

In the late 1980’s, John Lear became prominent in UFO circles. Citing “unnamed but well connected sources” (Clark 1998 157), Lear asserted that the U.S. government had in fact recovered dozens of UFO’s over the decades. In exchange for advanced technology, the government allowed for a limited number of alien abductions.

This proceeded for some years, until in 1972, the government discovered that the aliens were kidnapping far more persons than their agreement had stipulated. This dispute culminated in a conflict between aliens and humans at a secret military base near Dulce, New Mexico. The aliens supposedly killed about 40 high-ranking military officials or scientists, and many more military personnel who tried to invade the base.

Following this conflict, Lear reports, the aliens have essentially gone about their schemes with no interference. Up to 10% of the U.S. population have been abducted, and the Strategic Defense Initiative was actually proposed to protect from alien invaders, not Soviet missiles.

Lear relied heavily on Bennewitz’ stories, which Bennewitz claimed to have heard from officials at Kirtland AFB.

William Milton Cooper

As unlikely as Lear’s accounts might seem, William Milton Cooper’s tales were wilder still. Clark writes that “Cooper told his lurid and outlandish claim as if it were so self-evidently true that sources or supporting data were irrelevant.” (Clark, 1998, 162) Cooper came to public awareness in the late 1980’s.

Cooper claimed to have been a Naval intelligence officer, and in many ways, his accounts were similar to earlier UFO conspiracy theories: UFO’s had crashed, the ships and their alien pilots had been recovered, and the government made agreements with aliens. There were further details as well, in Cooper’s self published 1989 screed, “The Secret Government: The Origin, Identity and Purpose of MJ-12’”.

Cooper’s 25-page pamphlet was crammed full of lurid claims: UFO's had been crashing on Earth since the mid-1940's and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal threatened to publicize the fact, and was killed to prevent him from doing so; In 1954 “His Omnipotent Highness Krlll”--leader of a species living on a planet orbiting Betelgeuse--appeared on earth and suggested a treaty: The aliens would abduct humans and wipe their memories of the event, in exchange for sharing their technology. U.S. officials feared the aliens’ superior technology, and felt they had no choice by to accept the conditions offered by the aliens. Aliens quickly broke the treaty, kidnapping and killing humans and livestock. The Cold War, Cooper says, was largely a facade: The United States and the Soviet Union were actually in close collaboration, both to combat the aliens and to pave the way for a totalitarian one world government. The Majestic 12 committee began selling drugs to raise funds to combat the aliens, reports Cooper, and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated when he objected. Cooper borrowed liberally from Alternative 3, a tongue-in-cheek BBC prank program.

Cooper manages to involve Our Lady of Fatima, the Antichrist, and an impending nuclear World War III in 1999. He predicted that Jesus would return in 2011.

Many ufologists who were striving for legitimacy ignored Lear and Cooper, yet both men were popular speakers on the UFO lecture circuit, and Cooper expanded his account into the book, ‘’Behold A Pale Horse’’.

Lear remains active in UFO circles; Cooper was shot and killed in a confrontation with police.

Bob Lazar

Bob Lazar came to public prominence in the 1980's; he claimed to have worked on UFO's at secret air base Area 51. See Bob Lazar for further information.

UFO Coverup: Live!

In 1988, actor Mike Farrell hosted "UFO Coverup, Live!" a syndicated television special broadcast in the United States. William Moore and Jamie Shandera appeared (among others), and introduced "Falcon" and "Condor", allegedly high-level government employees who disclosed information about UFO crashes, and the survival of a few occupants, who were kept in U.S. custody.

July, 1989 MUFON Convention

The Mutual UFO Network held their 1989 annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 1, 1989.

Moore was scheduled as the main speaker, and he generated controversy even before his appearance: He refused to submit his paper for review prior to the convention, and also announced that he would not answer any follow-up questions as was common practice. Unlike most of the convention’s attendees, Moore did not stay at the same hotel that was hosting the convention.

When he spoke, Moore said that he and others had been part of an elaborate, long-term disinformation campaign begun primarily to discredit Paul Bennewitz: “My role in the affair ... was primarily that of a freelancer providing information on Paul’s (Bennewitz) current thinking and activities.” (Clark, 1998, 163) Air Force Sergeant Richard C. Doty was also involved, said Moore, though Moore though Doty was “simply a pawn in a much larger game, as was I.” (ibid.) One of their goals, Moore said, was to disseminate information and watch it was passed from person to person, in order to study information channels.

Moore said that he “was in a rather unique position” in the disinformation campaign: “judging by the positions of the people I knew to be directly involved in it, (the disinformation) definitely had something to do with national security. There was no way I was going to allow the opportunity to pass me by ... I would play the disinformation game, get my hands dirty just often enough to lead those directing the process into believing I was doing what they wanted me to do, and all the while continuing to burrow my way into the matrix so as to learn as much as possible about why was directing it and why.”(ibid., 164)

Once he finished the speech, Moore immediately left the hotel. He left Las Vegas that same night.

Moore’s claims sent shock waves through the small, tight-knit UFO community, which remains divided as to the reliability of his assertions.


The Branton Files

The Branton Files have circulated on the internet at least since the mid 1990’s. They essentially recirculate the information presented above in rambling fashion, with many run-on parenthetical asides from “Branton”, the document’s editor.

Phil Schneider

Phil Schneider made a few appearances at UFO in the 1990’s, espousing essentially a new version of the theories mentioned above. He claimed to have survived the Dulce Base catastrophe, and decided to tell his tale.


UFO conspiracy theories show no signs of abating. 2003 saw the publication of Alien Encounters (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1578212057/qid=1097415684/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_2_1/104-4867761-3571135#product-details), by Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman, which primarily regurgitates the notions presented above (especially Cooper's) and presents them as fact.

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