Some of the late Barry Goldwater’s UFO-related correspondence has recently been released, and it makes shocking reading, for a reason that I will detail in a moment. After I read it, though, I found myself thinking about the present state of the UFO mystery, how we have gotten here, and what has been lost.
When Goldwater’s first letters were written, in the late 1960s, it was still possible for respected media to publish UFO stories. It didn’t happen often, even then, but it did happen. Not anymore, and I think that some of Goldwater’s statements, and some things revealed in his letters, tell us why it is that the media and the scientific community absolutely reject the whole subject as nonsense.
As I pointed out in Solving the Communion Enigma, one of the greatest aerospace scientists of all time, Paul Hill, wrote a book called Unconventional Flying Objects that detailed his own sightings, but which he was not allowed by his employer, NASA, to publish in his lifetime. One of his sightings is among those that Project Blue Book admits remains unresolved. Had a man with such authority in aerospace been allowed to advocate for his discoveries, this might be a very different world. But NASA somehow censored him, and by the time his daughter discovered the manuscript and got it published, death had silenced him.
In a 1967 letter to a reported for the Bradenton, Florida Herald, Goldwater says, "The policy of the Air Force is to allow no one to see the UFO files at Wright-Patterson and, frankly, I can’t argue with this regulation at all. I did attempt to get in but I was told that no one was allowed and I can understand the sensitive and secret nature of these files so I didn’t press the point."
But that would not seem to be entirely true. He may have pressed the point a bit harder than he was willing to tell the reporter. The most telling of the Goldwater letters are two to Dr. James E. McDonald, a senior physicist at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Arizona. Dr. McDonald, who later committed suicide, was a tireless UFO researcher. He says to McDonald in a 1968 letter, "Frankly, I am a little surprised to lear than you had such ease in seeing the files at Wright Patterson because I have been denied that privilege by people as high as General LeMay."
Going all the way to the Air Force Chief of Staff would, I think, qualify as pressing the point, and pressing it hard.
In a 1974 letter to UFO investigator Leonard Stringfield, he says, "I mand a effort to get in the room at Wright-Patterson Field where the information was stored, and I was denied this request, understandably."
From these comments, there can be little question that he knew about the ‘blue room’ where secret UFO information is, or was, stored at Wright-Patterson. He also knew that this information was classified, and therefore was not willing to press the matter. He says, in 1974, to a Mr. C. William George, "I have no information on UFOs that it not available to you and I’m not aware exactly of what the Air Force might have and I will not make inquiries until they are willing to downgrade the classification."
In 1973, he wrote to Norman Payne of Payne Aviation that "There is no US Government group dedicated to observing or studying unidentified flying objects. The US Air Force gave up its efforts some years ago."
So, according to these various statements, in 1974 the matter was still so highly classified that Senator Goldwater would not even query the Air Force about it. But in 1973, he was saying that the Air Force "gave up its efforts some years ago."
Both things, I think, could be true. In fact, I suspect that they are true, and that they are one of the primary reasons for the long years not only of denial, but also of persecution of people who threaten the system in any serious way.
In the Senator’s papers there is a very telling series of letters and some additional documentation from a UN employee, a US citizen called Colman VonKeviczy, whose life was methodically destroyed after he suggested that the UN investigate UFOs. He presented an analysis of non-terrestrial space craft to U Thant and his cabinet. Immediately thereafter he was forced to take a compulsory vacation. When he returned, he had a conference with C. V. Narasimhan, U Thant’s Cabinet Chief, regarding the "establishment of a UFO analytic group within the UN secretariat." He was then dismissed from the service and spent the next five years protesting his dismissal, which was allegedly for age-related reasons when, in fact, the UN routinely kept on employees past the 60 year retirement age if their service continued to be wanted.
Once again, in 1978, when reporter Lee Speigel enlisted the Grenada’s Prime Minister, Eric Gairy, to back an effort to present UFO information at the United Nations, the US government was a behind the scenes opponent, and the British government actively attempted to prevent the presentation from moving ahead. In a document referring to Speigel’s effort and Gairy’s previous efforts to involve the UN, a US Mission employee commented, "Last year Grenada requested our support and Misoff had to scramble hard behind the scenes to water down the resolution and, in effect, delay the vote for one year. As Project Blue Book had already been completed by that time and the US Air Force had allegedly left the field entirely as there was nothing of any significance happening, why would the US care one way or another whether or not the head of a small nation gathered UFO experts at the UN?
But it did care, and very much, and there is a very clear pattern, at this point, of sub-rosa attempts to suppress this information. In Dr. Hill’s book, he comments that NASA did not want him to draw attention to his UFO interest while an employee, and that he expected to publish after his retirement. But that is not what happened. Instead, the manuscript was found among his personal effects after he died. So additional pressure must have been put on him. Additionally, VonKeviczy’s effort to enlist the UN in the discussion was obviously met with firm resistance from the US. He not only lost his UN position, but was shut out of the US corporate world as well. In 1970, he wrote, in a despairing letter to President Nixon, "I am repeatedly requesting your respected attention and prompt action concerning my moral, and full financial rehabilitation for my lost career at the United Nations, and the loss of numerous career job opportunities at wealthy US corporations."
Right now, if I called up a reporter at the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CNN, Fox or any major media outlet and suggested a story on UFOs, I would be, at best, treated with condescension. The US government has had its way: the intellectual establishment, across the board, rejects the idea the UFOs are anything more than folklore. The suppression is so total that not even social scientists can get grants to study UFO stories as modern folklore. (The reason, of course, is that, if they engage in such study, they will soon realize that folklore is not the answer.)
When we were at the International UFO Conference last weekend in Phoenix, we saw a presentation by Chilean Air Force General Ricardo Bermudez of the Committee of the Study of Anomalous Aeronautical Phenomena, who showed videos that had been anlyzed at a professional level of skill as part of Chile’s ongoing official effort to document the phenomenon in its airspace. I was interested to find that General Bermudez is hoping to take the issue to the United Nations once again, and wondered what sort of resistance the US government will offer this time.
People are constantly asking why the US is so resistant, and it’s a very interesting question for which there are probably a number of answers. One, that is almost certainly true, is that, if even the slightest official acknowledgement of the reality of these objects is made, then it will also be necessary to admit that they cannot be controlled in any significant way, and possibly that mistakes made in the past, shooting at them and confronting them with armed resistance, have caused them to present a belligerent face to mankind that might not have been done, had we acted early on in a more carefully considered manner.
In other words, the Air Force, in the early days, essentially ruined contact, then discovered that our visitors had, instead of leaving, simply altered their agenda. There followed, perhaps, a long effort on their part to determine what was wrong with us that led to abductions and worse, and has now left us more or less isolated from help at a time when, as will be seen in a few years, we are in absolutely desperate need.
There might be another reason, also, one which has profoundly affected me and colored my own work. It is the notion that there is a social tripwire somewhere that, if we ever cross it, will enable the visitors compltely unfettered access to our reality, which, for whatever reason, they cannot get until we grant it to them.
Government admission that they are real might be such a tripwire, which would explain the long-standing official policy of absolute, blanket denial. However, gradual public acceptance might work just as well, which would explain the pro-active efforts to suppress any really convincing arguments for their existence to be put forward, and what appears to have been a long standing effort to suppress meaningful reporting on the matter and scientific research of any kind.
In 1988, I had a couple of conversations with General Arthur Exon, who was an old friend of one of my uncles and was then the retired commandant of Wright-Patterson. He told me that, far from getting out of the UFO business with the publication of the Condon Report, there was still a scientific effort going on to understand the debris that had been found at Roswell and other materials that had been obtained since then. He also said, of the secrecy, that there had been "speculation" put forth in a short memo by a famous sicentist in 1952 to the effect that, if they were from a parallel universe rather than another planet, they might not be able to fully invest themselves in our reality until and if our assumption that they are real becomes as fundamental as our assumption that another person or a table or anything around us is real.
It didn’t take me long to determine that this scientist was probably John von Neumann, who wrote brlliantly on the ‘qantum perception problem’ and also created the idea of the ‘Von Neumann Machine,’ which would be a machine set to travel the galaxy and replicate the species that created it every time it found a planet suitable for their habitation. It would contain a complete ‘image’ of the species and be able to artifically grown living representatives of it.
When I was face to face with the visitors, I was often struck by their uncanny combination of rich emotional affect and machine-like precision, and I have wondered if von Newmann might not have been speculating at all, but might have known that such a machine had arrived here.
But speculations about machine intelligence are for another commentary. If you want to know what I think about this possibility, read my novel Hybrids. (Or even, if you don’t, spring for it anyway. If you’re an Unknowncountry subscriber, you can use the coupon provided in the subscriber area to get it for a dollar plus shipping.)
In any case, General Exon’s brief comment really worried me. So much so that I wrote a story about Dr. von Neumann called the Open Doors, which speculates about the horrible conundrum that his speculation (if it was his) presents: we cannot know what is behind the door to the visitors until we open it by officially admitting that they are real, but once it is opened, it can never be closed again.
This has colored the entire body of my own work. It’s why I will never allow myself to be pinned down. It’s why I say, again and again, that we must keep the whole thing in question–while at the same time describing my own experiences in as much detail and with as much accuracy as I can manage.
It is also why we collect, on this website, narratives of close encounter and why Anne was inspired to read so many thousands of such narratives on behalf of both of us. We have been trying for years to get a look behind the door without opening it, and to help others, including, hopefully, some in official positions, to get the same sort of glimpse.
What have we found? First, something that is, if anything, more various and complex than we are, both individually and socially. If these beings have been grown in a von Neumann machine, its designers did a very good job. Second, we have seen that the rules of being on the other side of the door are radically different from those on this one. Our visitors are not ‘alive’ in the same way that we are. For them, reality is a continuity of some sort. There is no barrier between the living and the dead. Among them the perception of ‘the dead’ doesn’t even exist, I don’t think. And when we draw close to them, the barrier drops for us, too.
One is left, though, with the notion that both our religious proposition, with its elaborate pantheons and complicated moral rules, and our secular proposition, that there is nothing but the physical world, are both so profoundly flawed as to be most accurately described as fallacies.
As I have said in these pages before, I think that it’s probable that, at some point, whatever wall now exists between us and this other consiciousness, is going to collapse. I believe that, after a long, slow period of change, it is apt to happen quite suddenly. Whether that will happen in five minutes or five thousand years, I don’t know.
But it will happen. Inevitably. Certainly. Or they would not be here, and they would not be acting as they do. Of that I have little doubt.
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