Jack Brewer is a respected UFO, alien abduction, & intelligence community researcher and commentator. He is also author of the much lauded blog, The UFO Trail and recent book, The Greys Have Been Framed. Known for his measured perspective on anomalous topics and research, Jack most certainly lives up to the “credible info on incredible topics” tagline of his blog.
In addition to your excellent The UFO Trail blog, you’ve recently published your book “The Greys Have Been Framed: Exploitation in the UFO Community”. Can you give us an overview of the book and why you felt it needed to be written?
Thanks for asking! “The Greys Have Been Framed” presents verifiable and documented circumstances of exploitation within the UFO community. The book contains interviews and insights from some key figures, and offers specific circumstances in which the UFO narrative has been controlled and manipulated, significantly distorting public perception of what is taking place. The perpetrators include a variety of individuals, including members of the intelligence community and very questionable researchers, harboring a number of possible ulterior motives.
I felt the book needed to be written because my research led me to conclude that, by and large, that is the story of ufology, particularly in the United States. I’m not saying there are no UFO sightings of potential interest, or that select reports of high strangeness might not be worthy of deeper attention, but the exploitation of the subject matter is so tremendously disproportionate to the credible and sincere work published, that much more attention is warranted than it currently receives.
You’ve previously said one of the things that informed your perspective on UFO research was your career as a research grant writer. What was it in this line of work that transferred to research into anomalous topics?
There were actually a couple of major red flags. One was the way nonprofit organizations in the American UFO community lack transparency as compared to their counterparts in other segments of the nonprofit industry. Nonprofit organizations, frequently structured as 501(c)3 tax exempt corporations of the US Internal Revenue Service code, typically prioritize transparency in not only their financial matters, but also operations. Nonprofits often post their most recent financial audits on their websites for easy public access, as well as detailed reports of funding sources, primary program activities and significant accomplishments.
We’re just not seeing that in ufology. It’s very common for the directors and board members of ufology nonprofits to be difficult to access, particularly for questions of financial disclosures and accountability. It is similarly difficult to confirm specific program activities, numbers of program participants served and similar such information. Reporting and publishing such data is considered standard operating procedure in other aspects of the nonprofit industry.
A second red flag was the wide scale failure of organizations and their personnel to conduct themselves in manners consistent with nonprofit industry best practices of reporting research activities. Ufology research projects often publish no budget, fail to clarify project personnel, do not disclose financial sponsors, and neglect to identify measurable outcomes, among other key issues ignored. We should expect much higher levels of accountability and attention to detail from nonprofits that solicit our funding dollars and claim to be professionally operated.
Too often, Ufology presents itself as a circus clutching at straws, too enamoured with decades old cases and too often presenting conjecture as fact. Even MUFON, the largest investigative group with a mandate of transparent and objective inquiry has been questioned. Do you think collectively, UFO research can gain traction or even, God forbid, credibility, and do you think there are groups or individuals out there that are doing good work that should have more of the spot-light on them?
Yes, I think there are some folks doing some good work, particularly if we look at the international arena. Mark Pilkington and Nigel Watson have produced good work, as have several more European researchers. On this side of the pond, James Carrion and Annie Jacobsen are doing outstanding jobs of integrating the UFO topic into historical research and context, and as Dr. Michael Heiser, a scholar and skilled researcher himself, once wrote, “The best research in ufology happens on a handful of lesser-known blogs and podcasts.”
I’d agree with that. Jeremy Vaeni, Jeff Ritzmann and their contacts, such as Dr. Tyler Kokjohn, have made significant contributions on various shows and blog sites. Similar could be said for Andy Russell who blogs at Circular State of Mind. George Hansen, William Grabowski, Constantia Oomen and numerous writers of varying degrees of notoriety have relevant things to say in both support and criticism of aspects of UFO-related research. Podcasts such as Binnall of America and Project Archivist cover a wide range of material in useful and entertaining ways.
I think Emma Woods and Carol Rainey have contributed the most significant and realistic accounts ever published of what really happens during some of the most highly publicized – yet least reliable – investigations of alleged alien abduction. I think that’s very important for the community to understand, accept and subsequently evolve past.
I could certainly go on. There are lots more worthy of mention so, yes, I think there is some credible work. Unfortunately, not much of it is being produced by the more commonly heard from figures in the genre, and the overall value of the resulting conferences and podcasts has suffered tremendously as a result.
Moving on to your blog, The UFO Trail, which posts are the most popular? Also, which posts would you like more people to read and why?
My most viewed posts include a three-part series I did on the bizarre activities of David Jacobs, a self-described investigator of alien abduction. Also consistently viewed is a piece I did on the Leah Haley case. She was a rather high profile possible alien abductee during the 1990’s, who came to now believe her perceptions were much more likely related to human-instigated manipulation. I did several posts on the circumstances.
Recently breaking into the most viewed posts on my blog is a two-parter authored by Carol Rainey and titled “The Singer’s Hybrid Daughter”. It’s an excerpt from her in-progress manuscript, “The Abductionist’s Wife: A Memoir”, which I’m looking forward to reading in full when it’s published.
Some posts I’d like to see get more attention would include “Psy Ops and Mind Control: Then, Now and the UFO Community”. A couple others would be “The Carpenter Affair: For the Record” and “What Happened to the Ambient Monitoring Project?”.
Those would be a few I’d like to see people read more because specific, documented circumstances are explored, and I think too often discussions consist of too much philosophical generalization and not enough detailed information. I’m of the opinion those of us interested in UFO-related topics often have general ideas of things taking place, but typically don’t know much about details of what has occurred at various UFO organizations and intelligence agencies. I’d like to see people become more interested in such details, and better understand how it all shaped the current ufology culture.
It’s been said of your blog it’s analogous to watching the people doing the pointing rather than the thing they’re pointing at. From your perspective, how does that analogy relate to the experiencers versus the investigators, and is there a delineation between the two?
I think much too often ufology has served as a medium for like-minded individuals to support the subjective beliefs of one another. That would be fine if it were not taking place under the guise of conducting objective research. In that regard, I would say the lines between the experiencers and investigators become very muddled and unclear, particularly when the demographics overlap, which is often the case. The significance becomes key of such dynamics as professional, ethical protocols, avoiding confirmation bias and understanding the pitfalls of subjective interpretations. Unfortunately, the importance of functionally working with such dynamics is not currently prioritized, often resulting in the experiencer-investigator relationship being more of a promotional label than a practical definition of what is actually taking place.
I’d like you to pick two favourite UFO cases – one a well known case that still has traction in Ufology and/or mainstream media and culture but is demonstrably a castle made of sand, and one case not so easily dismissed that may potentially indicate something more interesting or tangible.
Wow, where to begin, right? It’s difficult to limit the cases.The so-called ghost rockets of the 1940’s are looking pretty weak, at least as paranormal phenomena, as is the case of alleged medium and UFO experiencer Robbert van den Broeke. The “drones” of a few years ago are a wash, although some self-styled researchers continue to back them, and the incredible (in every sense of the word) “Roswell slides” epitomized everything wrong with ufology. In spite of itself, the slides saga encouragingly inspired its own solution in the Roswell Slides Research Group, which conclusively solved the otherwise poorly conceived mystery in short order.
I’d have to add that the alien abduction genre is really on the proverbial thin ice, ranging from the shaky cases Budd Hopkins served up all the way to the likes of David Jacobs, Barbara Lamb and their states of seemingly remaining oblivious to cost effective forensic testing. That doesn’t have to necessarily mean there are no reports of high strangeness of interest, but it’s increasingly clear that such investigators either don’t have access to any such cases or they are mishandling and inaccurately interpreting them.
Cases not so easily dismissed might include the events surrounding Point Pleasant, West Virginia, also known as the Mothman saga. Something happened, as well, at Stephenville and Phoenix, whatever those “somethings” may have been.
The UFO Disclosure movement – An intentionally myopic and narrowly defined request unlikely to be granted designed to keep some of it’s protagonists in the spot-light, or a worthy endeavour?
I tend to see “disclosure” as an unworthy endeavor. Reasonable arguments could be made that its proponents are, at best, poorly informed about the intelligence community and not doing a good job of thinking things through. At worst, they are disingenuous and exploiting public interest in the UFO phenomenon for self-serving purposes.
Among the reasons an official disclosure would never take place is that the subject matter is too enmeshed with classified projects that have absolutely nothing to do with extraterrestrials. There is simply no advantage for intelligence agencies to clarify such circumstances for their global adversaries, so they won’t. The very existence of such agencies is grounded in successfully executing deception and confusing their adversaries, so they have no intentions of voluntarily disrupting the process.
One of the biggest concerns I have about the sincerity of disclosure advocates would be their persistent demands aimed at the White House while failing to conduct similar activism within the UFO community itself. For instance, the US federal government officially denies any knowledge of extraterrestrials while individuals within ufology claim to be directly involved with such alien beings, yet disclosure advocates fail to make demands of or even request such individuals produce evidence for public review. Specifically, Barbara Lamb, David Jacobs and a host of others claim to know the whereabouts of ET-human hybrid beings; Steven Greer claims to have abilities to summon extraterrestrials at will; Whitley Strieber claims to believe he carries an alien-administered implant in his ear. There are many, many more similar examples. I think we should ask ourselves, if disclosure activists are sincere, why they would aim all their resources at Uncle Sam while failing to pursue such other, much more accessible potential sources.
Some of the content in your blog and your book covers government intelligence agencies. What would you say are the best verifiable examples of intelligence agencies having an interest or even influence when it comes to the subject of UFOs?
Events surrounding the Robertson Panel offer us documented circumstances of the intelligence community delving into the UFO subject. The group was a CIA-sponsored scientific committee formed in 1953 and briefed on UFOs. It also explored the use of the topic as a psychological warfare tool. Publicly, a sanitized report was issued with no mention of CIA sponsorship or involvement. The Agency denied interest in UFOs and related subject matter at the time, but now acknowledge the circumstances of the Robertson Panel.
Dr. Leon Davidson found himself in a mix of intelligence agents when he investigated UFOs in the 1950’s. He pursued the case of the Maier sisters, a pair of women the CIA now acknowledges to have shared interest in along with the Air Force. As it became increasingly clear to Davidson that intel agencies, in contradiction to their official policies, were indeed investigating UFOs and the people who claimed to encounter them, the CIA dispatched agents in attempts to shake Davidson off the trail. However, the situation escalated and the Agency now concedes it was mishandled.
Davidson went on to suspect the CIA was intentionally manipulating the topic of UFOs for psy op and warfare purposes, and in at least some circumstances he was certainly right. Agency veteran Gene Poteat would later report how Project Palladium successfully cast false radar paints upon enemy radar screens while coordinating the simultaneous release of unusual aerial objects. In one specific circumstance during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, Poteat and his Palladium team caused enemy fighter pilots to be dispatched off the coast of Cuba to chase ghost aircraft while “balloon-borne metalized spheres of different sizes” were launched to cause further confusion.
One of the more intriguing circumstances involves a now declassified 1954 CIA cable. The Agency was in the midst of sponsoring a coup in Guatemala, and suggested its assets “fabricate [a] big human interest story, like flying saucers,” in order to deflect public attention away from its involvement in political affairs.
In more recent times, long time CIA man Ron Pandolfi was quoted as stating that Agency official interest in UFOs was due to “the possibility of espionage.” He added that during the 1970’s the CIA obtained “firm evidence” the KGB had devised plans to use US citizens, specifically including ufologists, to penetrate the US defense program.
I think that stands to reason, and would potentially go a long way towards deconstructing some of the mystery around such chains of events as the Bennewitz affair, the Simone Mendez case, and the saga of Leah Haley, among others. We could again consider the low likelihood of official UFO disclosure in such context: Many so-called UFO files might very well have nothing to do with extraterrestrials, and the intelligence community would have no reasons to reveal the manners the topic has been exploited for espionage and counterintelligence purposes.
When it comes to the alphabet agencies recently and people’s liberties and rights, do you think there are real threats to these or is there simply a good dose of paranoia? What issues do you think are the most salient?
Yes, I think there are very real and present threats to personal privacy and civil liberties. A document supplied by Edward Snowden to “The Washington Post” indicated the US National Security Agency (NSA) conducted bulk data collection at Internet access points to the tune of 444,743 email address books obtained from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail, and 22,881 from other service providers – in a single day!
Of further concern are the ways agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) consistently warn of impending terrorist strikes, yet never – as in not once – actually predicted an impending event with any accuracy. Journalists such as Glenn Greenwald inform us the threat of terrorism is typically so overblown and sensationalized that the average American is more likely to be crushed by household furniture than to die as the result of radical Islam activities. Understandably, many therefore suspect intelligence agencies are selling fear to the public in attempts to justify rendition programs, torture as a viable tool, global black sites and prisons such as Guantanamo Bay, increased drone operations, surveillance on citizen populations and similar extreme and questionable polices.
In my opinion, salient issues include placing emphasis upon upholding innocence until proven guilty, human rights and civil rights. I think it’s an extremely concerning situation, and I very much doubt the average voting American knows much at all about data collection, what has taken place at Guantanamo and related issues.
Are you interested in, or have an opinion on other types of anomalous research or phenomenon such as ghosts, hauntings or cryptozoology?
Yes, I find all of it interesting. I enjoy reading about the experiences of others, and I like visiting “haunted” hotels, for instance. I appreciate all types of well conducted and reasonably presented research. I think, at heart, if we are interested in one type of Fortean phenomena, then we are interested in all of it to some extent.
What’s lined up for the future Jack? Any further books planned?
I haven’t yet decided about another book, but ya never know! It’s certainly a possibility. There’s sure plenty to write about!
I’m currently enjoying getting posts up at The UFO Trail, strengthening some contacts in the community and catching up on my reading. I’ve also been enjoying guesting on some podcasts and radio shows. I’m very grateful for public interest in my work and perspectives.
Thanks for the interview, Lee! Much appreciated!
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