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Pentagon Strikes Back Against Claims of Alien Invaders

by Art Levine

May 29, 2024 | National Security

PHOTO CREDIT: 
burakyalcin

For nearly a century, there has been a never-ending narrative about UFOs crashing to Earth. The public has been bombarded with ever-more lurid tales about how the Pentagon and military contractors have been “reverse engineering” alien spacecraft they were secretly keeping hidden from public view — along with the remains of aliens they allegedly retrieved.

But these legends remained largely a staple of pop culture and fringe conspiracy theories until a since-discredited 2017 “scoop” in The New York Times sparked a UFO mania that ensared Congress and finally the federal government. The resulting hysteria provoked the enactment of new laws and recent congressional hearings, which featured repeated and unsubstantiated claims, led largely by right-wing House members, that the federal government was lying to the American people, together with demands to come clean. These sorts of attacks led the Pentagon to create a series of panels and offices to study the unproven claims.

 

A few skeptical journalists, reporting for outlets as varied as The Washington Spectator and The New York Post, pointed out that the wild stories emerged from a small group of influential UFO true believers and promoters prone to hoaxes, deception and cashing in on a gullible public’s near limitless susceptibility to cons.

For years, the government has done relatively little to push back on all this — until now. In March, the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) released a harshly skeptical new report that has infuriated the believers and inflamed the online UFO community.

Department of Defense AARO Report

 

That report was augmented by scathing criticism from Sean Kirkpatrick, AARO’s former director, of UFO conspiracists whom he accused of angling for more federal spending for their pet causes. He also noted that one mentally disturbed UFO zealot stalked him outside his house, alarming his wife, and was later arrested by the FBI. “Whenever I lay out, hey, the data says that’s not an alien, that it’s not a cover-up, they get violent,” Kirkpatrick said in an interview a few weeks ago with The New York Post’s Steven Greenstreet. “I find that beyond reprehensible when you start coming after my daughter and my wife because I’m telling you that you’re wrong.” In a series of op-eds and interviews, Kirkpatrick also denounced lawmakers for bowing to “conspiracy-driven decision-making.”

The report’s findings have been greeted with predictable outrage by UFO proponents such as filmmaker Jeremy Corbell, who called them an “insult to anybody paying attention.” Expect even more fury when they learn that investigative reporter and skeptic whistleblower Kal Korff is citing the new AARO report as a definitive US government finding in a mid-April stockholder investor fraud complaint he filed with the SEC, focusing on the UFO booster and entrepreneur Lue Elizondo (for more background, see “Spaceship of Fools,” TWS, July 2023).

Kal Korff

Kal Korff

 

Korff is controversial among UFO believers, some of whom have smeared and harassed him for decades since he began exposing the hoaxes of UFO cult leader Billy Meier. Korff’s investigations also helped send the late Wendelle Stevens, Meier’s chief promoter in the US, to prison on child molesting charges. (See sidebar.)

Elizondo, whose now-discredited claim to have headed the Pentagon’s $22 million UFO research program is eviscerated in the new AARO report, is being targeted by Korff for alleged fraud. Korff’s complaint also names News Corp, the parent company of Elizondo’s publisher William Morrow, which is planning to publish in August what Korff labels Elizondo’s “fraud autobiography.” Advance copies of the book, Imminent: Inside the Pentagon’s Hunt for UFOs, boldly identify Elizondo on the cover as the “Former Head of the Department of Defense’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.”

Imminent: Inside the Pentagon’s Hunt for UFOs by Luis Elizondo

 

Korff also filed a complaint with Scotland Yard’s Serious Fraud Unit against the UK publisher, John Blake. The respected publisher has begun pre-sales on Elizondo’s book — complete with all of his debunked claims. As of this writing, the Blake company hasn’t replied when asked for comment about the Scotland Yard or SEC fraud complaints filed by Korff against Elizondo and his publishers.

(Curiously, on the same day that TWS contacted the British publisher for comment, Elizondo issued a statement that he and other UFO “whistleblowers” were facing a “personal threat” that could get him killed; he declared, ”If something happens to me or my family members in the future, you will know what happened.”

Readers can find the alleged sixteen crimes committed by Elizondo, based on his unproven claim to have run a Pentagon-funded UFO office, excerpted here from Korff’s filing to the SEC. The complaint’s header reads:

Subject: Formal Whistleblower Complaint for Fraud, Stock, Investor and Publishing Fraud, Media Scams, Racketeering, Other Crimes Against Mr. Lue Elizondo

(Note: The Washington Spectator has not claimed that the SEC is investigating Elizondo or that the agency has filed a complaint against him. In our first article last July, we reported that the SEC was taking seriously Korff’s complaint about investor fraud made against Elizondo and other executives affiliated with a UFO-promoting company led by rock star Tom DeLonge.)

The attorney for Elizondo, Todd McMurtry, is dismissive of Korff’s new April SEC filing. “Some wacko filing a complaint does not mean an investigation is underway,” he wrote in reply to a request from the Spectator for comment. “You cannot create a false story by filing a meritless complaint.” As of this writing, neither News Corp, nor its subsidiary, William Morrow, had responded to phone and email requests from The Washington Spector for comment on Korff’s new fraud allegations.

If Korff’s allegations to the SEC, and to state and local law enforcement, against leading UFO proponents accusing them of consumer fraud are acted on, the outcome could have an impact on the lucrative UFO industry. The prosperity and cultural influence of purveyors of UFO mythology are seen everywhere, from popular cable TV shows like Ancient Aliens to monetized YouTube views to books, documentaries and conferences; they’re joined by a spate of new non-profits seeking more federal UFO spending and donations to protect more “whistleblowers.” So far, UFOs and paranormal phenomena remain among the few arenas in American public life in which selling provably false claims poses no little or no consequences to those making them.

Ancient Aliens

 

Sean Kirkpatrick’s interviews and the AARO report have already served to slow down – though not entirely halt – the near-uniform acceptance of UFO and alien menace tales. For instance, Kirkpatrick pointed out in blunt terms a little-understood danger: how UFO fanaticism grips some officials with top-rated security clearances found inside the government.

Kirkpatrick told the National Security Space Association in a striking interview how surprised he was to learn that a number of people he’d worked with for decades shared the conspiracy fixations. That’s when they sat down in his office and told him, “I’m not going to help you because you’re part of the government cover-up of all the alien technology.” He added, “For somebody, who I’ve known for a while and worked on highly sensitive national security problems on, to say that, without evidence, as a belief is disturbing and should be a flag for the national security community. Because how can you trust those people with our national security secrets?” In addition, he has said these officials are part of a UFO “religion.”

Of such zealous proponents, including those his office interviewed, he also said: “They’re all relaying stories that they’ve heard from other people. And if you track where all those people know each other, it all goes back to the same core group of people.”

The new Pentagon report doesn’t explicitly name these current and ex-military intelligence officials and science consultants pushing UFO tales through “circular reporting,” all without evidence. But close observers of UFO advocacy point to such influential figures as ex-DOD officials Luis Elizondo; Christopher Mellon; scientist Eric Davis and the newest, most sensational of them of them all, David Grusch, a former Air Force intelligence officer tied to the earlier UFO myth-makers.

Grusch sparked a new round of media frenzy after coming forward last June to offer highly publicized claims, partially reiterated in Congressional testimony, that about 40 eyewitnesses told him of work being done on reverse-engineering of alien craft, and seeing extraterrestrial — or “non-human intelligence” – bodies. Still, none of these claims have been backed up by a shred of public evidence or verifiable corroborating testimony in the nearly 10 months since he emerged.

On top of that, Grusch refused nine separate requests between last June and this January from AARO and Kirkpatrick to be interviewed, according to explosive new documents released last month by AARO in response to a FOIA request. In contrast, Grusch testified in July 2023 under oath to Congress (see page 27 of his testimony), “He [Kirkpatrick] did not follow up…I wish he did. I was happy to give sage counsel to him on where to look when he took the helm of AARO.” He doubled down on that claim after Kirkpatrick complained to Politico in November that Grusch was refusing to be interviewed. Grusch told NewsNation, “I have zero emails or calls from them. That is a lie.”

In the world of UFO zealotry, true believers lashed out against researcher John Greenewald for posting the government materials documenting AARO’s efforts to interview Grusch. On top of that, Grusch and his supporters found arcane reasons to explain away his lies and his refusal to meet with AARO. Grusch, for instance, deployed weasel words to claim “neither my attorney nor myself had been officially contacted in any way” by AARO staff before November 2023 – despite clear efforts to reach him since he went public last June,  

In fact, Grusch concocted new excuses each time for failing to cooperate, even initially refusing to give his phone number or email to AARO investigators. He claimed, for instance, that the office lacked authority to handle classified information or couldn’t protect his confidentiality.

All this, remember, from the brave UFO “whistleblower” who stunned the world and spurred new Congressional hearings and legislation with his shocking claims about the government cover-up.

Grusch’s refusal to be interviewed was even more curious given the new laws protecting UAP whistleblowers, and the fact that AARO was designated as the primary office to receive military UFO reports under secure conditions. To further entice him to be interviewed, AARO staff gave him DOD’s written reassurances that he’d be protected and told him that AARO had unlimited authority to investigate his assertions. Indeed, finally, following pressure from Congressional aides to meet AARO staff for an interview, he agreed to meet with them in November — but he didn’t show up and left them cooling their heels in the lobby of an office building.

In contrast, as a co-founder of the new Sol Foundation, Grusch has been far more willing to tell his insider UFO stories to billionaires and tech investors. These include plans to speak at the upcoming SkyBridge Altenatives (SALT) conference (his main stage slot was recently cancelled, without explanation) and his past private briefing in a Manhattan penthouse, hosted by a cryptocurrency CEO, where he described a Tardis-like, 40-foot UFO that was the size of a football field inside.

AARO, as it turned out, was like the ardent suitor and Grusch the evasive object of desire in a scenario straight out of a Moliere farce. In a timeline memo (see pages 4-5) from AARO about their failed efforts to obtain Grusch’s potentially world-changing information, the office ultimately concluded, “It became evident that Mr. Grusch had no intention of providing AARO with information regarding his claims.” (Video podcaster and comic actor Lu Jimenez’s staged reading of the highlights of the 29 pages of AARO’s documented attempts to reach out to Grusch underscore their absurdity.)

Although Grusch’s tattered credibility has continued to erode, his reverse-engineering claims are still shared by many advocates in and out of government, including dozens of seemingly sincere interview subjects who did speak to AARO. Even so, their astonishing stories driving media coverage and policy-making have been debunked in some detail in the new report for lack of evidence.

As Tim Phillips, the new acting director of AARO, told reporters a day before the report’s release: “AARO assesses that alleged hidden UAP programs either do not exist, or were misidentified authentic national security programs unrelated to extraterrestrial technology exploitation.” 

All that, in turn, has prompted a firestorm among UFO proponents in Congress, on social media and on the NewsNation cable channel that has built its ratings around UFOs. Among other attack lines, they’ve accused DOD officials of perpetuating a “criminal” cover-up. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN)), who has long cited Biblical passages for proof of UFOs and sells UFO merch on his social media pages, declared, “They’re lying — they’re lying to us, man… They’re just trying to degrade people.” (In fact, as Kirkpatrick revealed in his interview with Steven Greenstreet, Burchett and other grandstanding House UFO proponents haven’t ever bothered to talk to Kirkpatrick or the AARO staff.)

The AARO report, despite the pushback from advocates, may prove to be an inflection point. It could well slow the momentum – and alleged grifting – of the drive for never-realized UFO “disclosure.” Despite requests by members of the gullible, nominally bipartisan and conspiracy-addled “UAP caucus” in the House for a new select oversight subcommittee to investigate the government’s UFO secrets, the prospect for new hearings is uncertain.

(These House members were initially joined in their drive to find the government’s hidden alien craft by some Democratic Senators, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who pushed for greater disclosure of any secret UFO programs. The AARO report and Grusch’s never-ending evasions seem to have cooled their hunger for extraterrestrial revelations. Indeed, Grusch also ducked a proposed meeting with Sean Kirkpatrick that a leading UFO disclosure champion with top-secret intelligence and armed services committee clearances, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), tried to arrange.)

Media outlets like The New York Times and The Guardian featured the AARO report. Ironically, these same outlets once hyped the far-fetched claims it debunks — but so far they haven’t issued corrections or any retractions for those earlier stories. Even some UFO congressional proponents, such as Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO), have begun to publicly raise questions about the veracity of self-proclaimed whistleblowers, such as Luis Elizondo and David Grusch. In response to a recent question from New York Post reporter Steven Greenstreet about their dubious claims, Burlison responded, “I don’t believe hardly anything that they tell me.”

* * * *

In essence, the AARO report seems to support the blunt accusations Korff and other skeptics have made against Elizondo and allied UFO advocates because it debunks their unproven claims – even though it doesn’t directly name any of the individual hucksters. In addition to countering the “reverse engineering” myth, the report also concluded there was simply “no evidence” for assertions since the 1940s that UFO sightings involved extraterrestrials, chalking virtually all of them up to misidentification of ordinary objects.

The AARO report appears to have prompted both Luis Elizondo and Christopher Mellon to begin easing away from their earlier alien-oriented explanations. “My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone,” Luis Elizondo told CNN in 2017 after the Times story broke featuring him. He repeatedly emphasized, as in a talk before one pro-UFO organization, No, we were not looking at drones.”

Now, they’re turning to the drone explanation — and even pretending that they never backed the extraterrestrial hypothesis that made them famous. Echoing Christopher Mellon, who welcomed new government attention to the “drone problem,” Elizondo declared, “Absolutely spot on, Chris…as we’ve been saying for the last seven years.” The New York Post’s Steven Greenstreet labeled this apparent turn-around as shameless “gaslighting.”

The AARO report also punctured the entire mythology that’s emerged around UFOs, also known as “unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP),” by looking closely at how the unverified claims and tall tales have spread. It examined the roundelay of hearsay and second- and third-hand stories that amount to a game of telephone propelling ever-more hallucinatory fables about UFOs and aliens.

The report is also important in that it might reduce gullibility in those of our leading institutions – such as Congress and most of the media — that heretofore have largely embraced the alien narrative. For the first time, the government has given an official, definitive imprimatur to the debunking of the well-publicized alien-linked claims of high-profile “whistleblowers” and UFO promoters.

Consider the controversy over Luis Elizondo’s much-hyped claim that he headed the Pentagon’s secret $22 million UFO research program for nearly 10 years. Actually, he was only involved in an unfunded, hobby-like “activity — after the original program lost funding — alongside his prosaic administrative duties “This effort was not a recognized, official program and had no dedicated personnel or budget,” the AARO report concluded.

Another attorney for Elizondo, the noted progressive lawyer Danny Sheehan, told The Washington Spectator that Elizondo stands by his original claims about his UFO research leadership role.

(To buttress his purported directorship of the non-existent program, shortly before he quit the Pentagon in 2017, Elizondo created a jerry-rigged paper trail. Later leaked, the email he sent seemed to hand over leadership of a vaguely described “program” to a puzzled colleague, Neill Tipton. The note [see page 1] was ladled with bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and didn’t even mention UFOs or aviation technology. Tipton replied, “Thanks Lue – although at some point I need to know what this actually ‘is’…”)

Sheehan has his own credibility problems. A liberal icon for his work on the Pentagon Papers case, he has gained notoriety recently for creating his own quasi-religious non-profit to push “disclosure.” He’s also urging humans to negotiate with the aliens – he’s identified several species — to offer them voluntarily human sperm and eggs. That overture has been proposed by Sheehan as a peaceful alternative to being abducted and raped by extraterrestrials, a once-popular myth making a comeback. Indeed, he speculates that aliens could be chosen to serve on a proposed federal panel to determine what government UFO secrets are safe to reveal. “One of the two open seats ought to be filled by an extraterrestrial being,” he matter-of-factly told best-selling Communion author Whitley Streiber.

But the announced altruistic motives of his New Paradigm Institute to bring about disclosure and arrange a peace deal with our alien overlords have been augmented by a noble new cause: to train a fresh generation of Ufologists. In partnership with the small Ubiquity University in Santa Cruz, unaccredited by any recognized mainstream organization, the aspiring scholar of UFOs can get a combined MA/Ph.D. in extraterrestrial studies for a mere $16,600.

Sheehan also told both NewsNation broadcaster Ross Coulthart and AARO his ever-changing story about having viewed secret photos of a captured flying saucer; alas, he has no evidence, having lost his yellow legal pad with the strange UFO symbols he copied on it.

Unsurprisingly, AARO was reluctant to accept his story. This is proof, Coulthart and Sheehan say, of the AARO cover-up of what they insist is Sheehan’s “first-hand” evidence of alien spacecraft. Sean Kirkpatrick had told The Guardian, You’ve got people that talk to people who come in to tell the story, or tell the media, and other people come in, but it turns out none of them have any first-hand evidence or knowledge.”

Sheehan, for his part, persists. He told Coulthart on his new NewsNation podcast “Reality Check,” that his missing yellow legal pad UFO tale is definitive proof that Kirkpatrick is lying about not getting first-hand evidence. A somber Coulthart grilled Sheehan: “Did Sean Kirkpatrick lie when he said AARO received no first-hand evidence of a crash retrieval program?” Sheehan responded, “I think it was a willful, transparent, conscious lie.”

Ross Coulthart, since introducing David Grusch to TV audiences with credulous exclusive interviews last June, has been the leading broadcast personality flogging the sort of evidence-free UFO conspiracy stories demolished by the AARO report – including David Grusch’s reverse engineering and alien “biologics” claims.

Coulthart more than matches both Grusch and Sheehan in making his share of wild, unproven claims. While he may never catch up with the widely acknowledged king of hoaxed findings, Jaime Maussan, who recently paraded alien mummies displayed in coffins at a conference in Mexico, it’s not been for lack of trying.

Before and during his work for NewsNation and other media outlets, Coulthart promoted a sensationalistic series of unverified and often discredited stories that he has never retracted or corrected. These include a baseless UK Parliament pedophile scandal that cost Scotland Yard nearly $4 million, based on leads and claims from mentally ill or unreliable witnesses charged by police with filing false reports and, in one case, child molestation; a documentary promising definitive proof of recovered alien technology; and a hoaxed account of a supposed Area 51 eyewitness whose nephew had previously hawked an alien craft recovery patch from the “program” on eBay.

Unsurprisingly, AARO didn’t believe those fabrications either. Coulthart, predictably, excoriated AARO for not taking the patch-seller’s Area 51 claim seriously. (To grasp the full scope of Coulthart’s journalistic malpractice, check out video podcaster Steven Cambian’s 10-hour compilation of Coulthart’s fakery.)

Coulthart also touted a crashed UFO so big it’s covered by a building on top of it. But if he were to reveal the location of the UFO, he says, “I would be putting in jeopardy the lives of good men and women in service of their country.” This intrepid journalist is now promoting a $5,000 per head tour to Egypt to explore psychic powers and alien influences there.

As his reckless reporting has continued unchecked – eventually winning him the title of special correspondent and his own new video podcast series “Reality Check” on NewsNation – Coulthart’s rhetoric became even more dangerous. Indeed, he may potentially incite some of his most unstable followers – in a believer community that has already seen a few zealots murder their family members — to attack government officials for their role in the purported UFO cover-up. On That UFO Podcast last November, he said that, assuming government officials are conspiring to “criminally” cover up the truth about aliens, they should be tarred and feathered and dragged around Washington DC and stoned behind a Humvee.” Even if this was meant only as over-the-top invective to drive home a point, in this climate Sean Kirkpatrick and others could potentially be victims of Coulthart’s stochastic terrorism.

This risk is even greater in the increasingly enraged online world of UFO believers that sees itself as victims of the cover-up. As our earlier reporting in “Spaceship of Fools” indicated, as well as commentary by columnist Dave Troy, the potential for violence– fueled by inflammatory and right-wing rhetoric — in the cult-like fringes of the UFO community has only escalated as their hopes for “disclosure” have been repeatedly dashed.

* * * *

The AARO report addressed several cases of alleged US government involvement with, and concealment of, alien-related activity brought to AARO’s attention by sincere – but mistaken – believers. The office reported, in part, “AARO successfully located the USG [US Government] and industry programs, officials, companies, executives, and documents identified by interviewees.” But those interviewees often named authentic classified programs known to the Pentagon and select members of Congress. “They mistakenly associated these authentic USG programs with alien and extraterrestrial activity,” AARO concluded.

Among the hearsay or misunderstood claims they ran to ground in the report:

*An AARO interview subject insisted that a former military officer told him that the military member had touched an alien “off-world” vehicle. When contacted, the officer said he never encountered alien technology and can’t recall speaking to the interviewee. But the report noted, “If it happened, the only situation that he might have conveyed was the time when touched an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter at a facility.”

*An interviewee insisted that in the 1990s he overheard communications between scientists at two military bases claiming “aliens” were present during specialized materials testing. The AARO investigators concluded, “The conversation likely referenced a test and evaluation unit that had a nickname with ‘alien’ connotations at the specific installation mentioned.” As skeptical UFO researcher Luis Cayetano pointed out, this likely was as a reference to the F-117 “materials application and repair specialists (MARS), nicknamed Martians.”

*The report cited a witness who believed aliens were involved with a craft exhibiting a “peculiar flight pattern” at a US military base. AARO’s finding: He got the time and location right, but “DOD was conducting tests of a platform protected by a [classified] Special Access Program …This program is not related in any way to the exploitation of off-world technology.”                               

The report also punctured a common trope of self-described whistleblowers such as David Grusch, Luis Elizondo and Eric Davis that they’ve signed Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) or have other restrictions on what they can say. These commitments, by their account, prevent them from telling the real, detailed truth of the government’s work with alien craft, as outlined, for instance, in a spurious memo attributed to Davis that he won’t comment on because of his claimed threat of prosecution. The advocates have insisted that the prospect of going to prison, getting fired and even being killed – Grusch claims whistleblowers have been murdered — faces anyone who violates their sacred UFO confidentiality agreement. (In a related gambit, the excuse that the The Men in Black swooped in and stole their UFO evidence has also been commonly offered for decades.)

The AARO report is blunt about this purported NDA threat hanging over truth-tellers: it doesn’t exist. The report declared, “To date, AARO personnel have not discovered or been notified of any NDAs that contain information related to UAP.”

Taken all together, it’s case closed.

* * * *

Well, not quite. If you’re not immersed in the rabbit hole of UFO conspiracies, you’d think that the new AARO findings would have weakened the UFO community’s last pillars of belief in their primary heroes, Lue Elizondo and David Grusch. After all, Elizondo had declared as a first principle in this pinned tweet: “My pledge to you: 1) I will always tell you the truth.”

For some proponents, the hard truths in the report did indeed undermine their faith in the whistleblowers, but not in the reality of alien visitations.

For many, however, their faith only hardened as whatever shards of critical thinking that remained had eroded after years of relentless propaganda and in-group thinking. Old-fashioned notions of obtaining independent verifiable evidence seemed quaint. Such sound advice was contained in Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detection Kit,” but he is long gone.

How to detect baloney, Carl Sagan style

 

Elizondo, Grusch and their media champions had helped make all this possible, so it should have come as no surprise when yet another self-proclaimed military whistleblower stepped forward to fill the vacuum their gradual demise has made possible. On a Twitter space on April 21st, a former Air Force officer named Jason Sands came in to make a series of bizarre claims including time-travel expeditions to Mars and communicating with “blue avian” aliens.

He was greeted with mostly awe, belief and gratitude by the inhabitants of UFO land – except for a few skeptical questioners. He told them everything they wanted to hear, including being part of a “Secret Space Program (SSP)” popularized by a disgraced media figure, Corey Goode, best known from his work on the Gaia TV cable network with nearly 800,000 members and 3.6 million web visitors a month. He claimed to have been part of a “20 and Back Program” that shipped him to Mars — only to return him back in time to earth as his younger self, after 20 years of cosmic, and cosmetic, planetary service.

Goode was later forced in a 2022 deposition first aired by podcaster Steven Cambian to concede that he made up the entire fabricated set of tales – his “intellectual property,” he explained — to cash in with his devoted viewers. “I’ve never lived on another planet,” he admitted. Like televangelists who return their flock after a scandal, Corey Goode is still in business telling his now 184,000 followers on YouTube about his secret space mission, appearing at conferences and offering courses to the faithful on his website.

The origins of the entire crazed tale are even stranger: it grew out of a 1970s spoof documentary televised in Britain called “Alternative 3” meant as an April Fool’s joke (and hilariously documented by filmmaker Emily Louise Church), but then grew into a worldwide mythmaking cult.

A month ago, when Jason Sands announced to the true believers that he too was a SSP member, he told the thousands of mostly worshipful listeners, “I was forced to be in the program.” They’ve been conditioned to accept anything military whistleblowers told them, though later, roughly half of the faithful, including the followers of a self-proclaimed alien-human “Star Seed” known as Alien Girl, found it too incredible to believe.

The most critical blows, though, to Sands’ attempts to market himself as the latest brave whistleblower came from established UFO influencers. After dispatching Sands, they pulled up the ladder behind them as they climbed back into the mothership of UFO lucre and fame. The lawyer Danny Sheehan, a model of sober-minded UFO activism, told a podcaster that after meeting with Sands he found him “confused” and apparently not credible enough to represent him.

Eric Davis, a government-funded scientist who claimed to have been trailed home by poltergeists and to have communicated telepathically with demons during his research on Skinwalker Ranch, blasted Sands on a private Facebook group: “Sands turned out to be either a liar or a believer of his own BS….People I collaborate with have met him and realize that his claims don’t hold water.”

Even so, it turns out that Jason Sands was one of the self-styled “whistleblowers” who was interviewed by David Grusch — and whose strange tales may have been relayed by Grusch to government officials.

Sands’ most influential defender was filmmaker James Fox, whose upcoming film highlighting on-the-record government insiders is slated to feature Sands — and that Sands was eager to promote. Fox declared, “As part of my due diligence I can state that he is who he says he is and is willing to testify under oath and even take a polygraph test regarding his claims.“ He added he was still evaluating Sands’ claims.

Unfortunately, Fox, although the most technically polished of pro-UFO film directors, is prone to pushing unproven and contradictory tall tales from pseudo-“eyewitnesses.” That’s made clear in his film Moment of Contact — on the oft-debunked “Brazilian Roswell” incident — which was expertly, if rudely, skewered by Steven Cambian.

Some of the wider doubts about Sands may have been fueled by the discovery that he appeared last year under a different name on a call-in show, claiming to have worked closely with David Grusch – but couldn’t pronounce his name correctly. The credulous online communities in #UFOtwitter and #UFOx, a few days after his appearance, were still debating whether he was legitimate.

The fact that there are any doubts at all among the historically unwavering UFO zealots now facing new challenges to their world-view from the AARO report should be treated as welcome news.

Still, the pathway out of the rabbit hole remains needlessly hard to navigate. Law enforcement and federal agencies have failed to curb the grift of UFO promoters and true-believing Pentagon contractors engaged in unchecked paranormal pursuits. The AARO report has the potential to be an important first step in helping to restore critical thinking, and may help hold those who exploit the faithful with their false claims to account.

Art Levine is a prize-winning investigative reporter and contributing editor of The Washington Monthly. He is the author of “Spaceship of Fools,” his investigation for The Washington Spectator last summer on unproven claims of alien visitations, the dissemination of false information to government agencies and the eagerness of mainstream media to embrace it. He has written for Newsweek, The American Prospect, Salon, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Mother Jones, Truthout, In These Times, AlterNet and numerous other publications. He is also the author of Mental Health, Inc: How Corruption, Lax Oversight, and Failed Reforms Endanger Our Most Vulnerable Citizens.

 

Kal Korff and His Enemies: The Price of Blaming the Messenger

As a teenager, Kal Korff was already publishing skeptical articles on UFOs and myths like Bigfoot. He even published his first book — on the Billy Meier cult — in high school. Korff’s hard-edged approach over the years to exposing frauds, hoaxers and charlatans has made him essentially a devil figure among UFO true-believers and conspiracy-mongers. Not known for his modesty, he’s also grated some of his skeptical allies in the war against bunk.

Korff has publicly taken on many of the leading hoaxes and conspiracy theories.  Among them: He used computer modeling to support his case for Oswald as the lone assassin in a debate on the Larry King Show on the 30th anniversary of the death of JFK; played a leading role in exposing the faked “alien autopsy” film; and definitively debunked the most widely known Bigfoot film, a 1967 hoax His research laid the foundation for a 1998 Fox TV special “The World’s Greatest Hoaxes”  (in which this reporter makes a brief appearance), as well as a National Geographic special that featured  an on-camera interview he arranged with the fake Bigfoot, Bob Heironimous.

His work as skeptic crystallized in a  1995 book about the discredited UFO cult led by the Swiss-based Billy Meier, as well as his book taking on the foundational  myths of the Roswell crash. For his Meier book, he went undercover to Switzerland posing as a long-haired American believer who wanted to expose the skeptic Kal Korff. With the help of Meier’s ex-wife, he found remnants of negatives showing that Meier used inverted dinner plates on strings to fake UFOs.

He also exposed Meier’s claims to have had sex with human-looking Pleidian lovelies by showing that these “alien” images were captured from a TV screen showing dancers on the Dean Martin Show — and that Meier’s proof of time-travel to the time of dinosaurs was lifted from a TV special on these pre-historic animals. Despite Meier’s films, videos and Messiah-like claims being discredited at least 40 years ago, his UFO religion still has thousands of followers and chapters in Australia, Japan, Europe and North America.

Billy Meier and the space beauties who are actually dancers from the Dean Martin show.

All that has led to cyberstalking, smears, anti-Semitic attacks and harassment, mostly associated with Meier believers. One European-based stalker sent dozens of threatening emails — even writing “I will come to your shitty flat and stab you in the fucking throat.“ The online smears led to a criminal investigation by Prague authorities which now includes notifications to Interpol.

These days, Korff, with his background in investigative reporting and counter-terrorism consulting, is adding something new and unprecedented to his breed of skepticism. He founded a company chartered in Nevada, UFOlitics, dedicated not only to exposing con-artists and charlatans in the UFO and paranormal field, but also actively seeking to hold them legally accountable.

Defining “UFOlitics” as the corrupt intersection of UFOs, the paranormal and politics, Korff declares, “UFOlitics is the only company in the world that exists to hunt down, expose and help prosecute [alleged charlatans] and recover damages for victims and the public.” Whether publicly-held corporations and UFO conmen can successfully be prosecuted or sued for consumer fraud has yet to be tested in court, but he’s the first skeptic in nearly 80 years of UFO lies, hoaxes and myths to try.

Korff is now enrolled in the Nevada Confidential Address Program (CAP) to protect himself from stalkers and harassers. Korff-driven criminal complaints have generally led to police monitoring of suspects — and even felony convictions against some of his most fanatical critics. Those who go after Korff and his reporting can run afoul of the law and find themselves in serious trouble.

One harasser who stole Korff’s identity in order to commit financial fraud served 11 months in a California prison — the result of an FBI investigation.  Most notably, following Korff’s investigations in the early 1980’s, a seven-year prison plea deal for child molestation was  imposed on Meier’s leading US champion, retired USAF Lt. Col. Wendelle Stevens, a noted author of UFO photo books who died in 2010. Korff has also reported the Meier UFO cult’s threats to the CIA Legal Counsel and FBI.

Korff’s updated law enforcement complaints, scheduled to be sent after the publication of this article, have added new targets: the rabid online warriors for Luis Elizondo and other UFO celebrities now battling both their critics and the government scientists who don’t accept the alien visitation narrative. These attacks have escalated to include harassment of family members and loved ones.

The most unhinged of them — some of whom are found online at #ufohategroup , as chronicled by TWS last fall — have already engaged in doxxing, death threats, cyberstalking, violent rhetoric, and making false reports to Child Protection Services and individuals’ employers.  Several of these attacks — even if now deleted, or if the accounts have been closed — have already been gathered by Korff in dossiers to supplement his filings with law enforcement that are routed through a liaison with the Nevada CAP.

With customized software and AI tools used in his consulting work for intelligence agencies here and abroad, Korff and allied investigators – including some law enforcement officials — are tracking social media accounts and websites trafficking in new smears and threats aimed at Korff or others citing his work.

For instance, citing a Massachusetts harassment statute, Korff notes it’s a crime to engage “in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time that is intended to cause serious emotional distress to another person ” Or, as it’s also known, a typical day on #ufotwitter.

 

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