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Cryptic Communication from the Cosmos: Proof of Extraterrestrials in Radio Signals?

For many, a recent “We the People” petition, aimed at getting U.S. President Barack Obama and his Administration to acknowledge extraterrestrial presences here on Earth, fell just short of the long-sought “disclosure” so many in UFO circles advocate today. The idea here is, of course, that not only has Earth been visited by neighbors from distant star systems, but that government organizations have been hiding the information from the public for years… and that it’s high-time for them to stop.

And yet, world governments have already acknowledged a number of UFO-related incidents over the years, many documented in old declassified files that have been expunged from bulging file cabinet drawers in the basements of organizations like the CIA, FBI, and the NSA. The latter of these three groups drew particular interest in this regard as recently as April of this year, when a large batch of UFO-related files appeared at their website; that said, here is a direct link to the NSA’s portal to all disclosed UFO documents for your browsing pleasure.

Browsing the NSA site’s collection of UFO documents, among the files listed one will see links to documents titled, “Key to the Extraterrestrial Messages by H. Campaigne,” and “Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Howard H. Campaigne.” Looking at the PDF documents these links provide access to, one will find that a rather intriguing bit of information is disclosed: what appear to be references to a series of “alien” radio signals recorded decades ago via satellite are described, in addition to an attempt by the author of these articles at deciphering the ET messages! Could this really be “the smoking gun” so many have hoped for, or is there more to the story than meets the eye?

If one digs around on the web a bit, there are indeed a number of blogs and other sites showing where people came across this information, discussing the apparent references to radio signals from deep space that these articles, first featured in an NSA technical journal, appear to describe. However, among these various sites, I also managed to uncover this piece, which after careful study, alludes to a slightly different account regarding the origins of the alleged communications.

While lecturing at an IEEE Conference on Military Electronics held in Washington, D.C. on 23 September 1965, Dr. Lambros Callimahos, a famous NSA cryptology expert who had authored a number of innovative studies on deciphering coded messages around the same time, seems to have made references to the very same series of “ET” communications as follows:

As an illustration of how much information could be conveyed with a minimum of material, and as an example of facile inverse cryptography, let us consider a message I have devised to be typical of what we might expect of an initial communication from outer space.”

Indeed, it seems obvious here that Callimahos not only knew of a series of alleged “ET messages,” but admits to having designed them himself as an exercise! Furthermore, looking back at the roundup of articles released at the NSA’s website, among them one will also find the appropriately titled, “Communication With Extraterrestrial Intelligence” by none other than Lambros D. Callimahos. While it seems obvious to us, looking at the series of documents in this order, what the intentions and goals of the two men were, we are left with a number of websites that do make the assertion that Campaigne’s lone documents were, in fact, addressing actual signals collected from outer space. So why, if  information exists that contradicts this, has the myth of ET contact been perpetuated here?

First of all, it is obvious that Campaigne’s documents were read by many enthusiastic researchers at the time of their release earlier this year, but probably in the absence of being cross-referenced with the earlier articles of Dr. Callimahos (funny enough, Campaigne’s own articles even make direct reference to the earlier publications, but still removed from context, this was obviously fairly easy for many to overlook). Second, although the NSA documents in question were apparently cleared for release by around 2004, it took seven more years–and a lawsuit filed against the agencey by an Arizona lawyer–before the documents were finally made available to the public.

The third factor is far less conspiratorial, however; it seemed that Campaigne tended to sport a rather dry wit at times. For instance, on page 18 of the second document (Key to the Extraterrestrial Messages), the author’s subtle humor begins to help make evident that what is being detailed is, in fact, a sort of game, as he states the following: “The later messages of this group have the mysterious sequences ABCD, ABCDE, DEFG, etc, each ending with STV.” The obvious tongue-n-cheek references to the human alphabetical sequence as “mysterious” begin to allude to the nature of Campaigne’s “game.” But the real icing on the cake appears at the very end of his “analysis,” where Campaigne states the following:

Looking back over the exercise we see we have penetrated the meaning of the basic symbols, and even more important, have learned some of the syntax rules of the notation, and have caught mistakes in the process… The concepts used here are the basic ones of number, sets, and physical constants which any cultures must share. How bizarre the syntax and values of a culture could be I cannot conjecture, but any civilizations capable of sending a message across space must have many things in common.”

Of course, if the good doctor can’t conjecture how bizarre the coded language structure of an alien race may be, it suggests what should already be obvious by now: that in stating this conclusion following what he calls an “exercise,” he also confirms that he has not, in fact, had access to any such coded language of extraterrestrial origin… he had indeed been working all along with the previous document, issued by his colleague Dr. Callimahos.

So despite there being high hopes that Campaigne’s analysis had been dealing with real extraterrestrial signals from space–a myth still perpetuated by a number of websites–when taken into context, his articles only show one thing: that at least a handful of individuals within the NSA during the mid-1960s did in fact take the idea of extraterrestrial communication seriously (this approach to the entire story served as the focus of a similar article I discovered shortly afterward, which appears at the Open Minds TV website). While it’s good to know there was genuine interest in how mankind may go about deciphering alien messages in the eventual sense, almost half a century later it looks like we’re still waiting for that fabled and cosmic long-distance call from the deeper cosmos… hey ET, why dontcha phone home, already?


Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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