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Spying on the Saucer Seekers

I’m often asked: Do government agencies really spy on certain elements of the UFO research community? The answer to that question is an undeniable “Yes!” A classic example is that of one of the premier collectors of data on alleged crashed UFO reports, the late Leonard Stringfield, who was a high-profile figure within the American UFO research community from the mid-1950s right up until his death forty years later.

The author of two books on UFO encounters, as well as numerous “Status Reports” on his crashed UFO data, Stringfield first attracted official attention in 1954 – from the FBI, no less – whose now-declassified documentation on Stringfield makes it very clear that the man himself suspected more than fifty years ago that his UFO activities were the subject of an official monitoring operation.

According to the FBI: “A source of unknown reliability, an acquaintance of Leonard H. Stringfield, who is the Director of the captioned organization Civilian Research Interplanetary Flying Objects, in October 1954 advised that Stringfield is the Director of the organization and is assisted by his wife, and that Stringfield writes and publishes monthly the multi-lithographed ‘Newsletter’ of the organization. He uses the ‘Newsletter’ to report news pertaining to the sightings of flying saucers and he claims the ‘Newsletter’ now has a worldwide circulation of about 4,000 copies.”

The FBI continued: “The same source furnished a copy of the ‘Newsletter’ [that] reports that Stringfield had a private talk with Lieutenant Colonel John O’Mara, Deputy Commander, Intelligence, United States Air Force, on September 21, 1954, and that in essence Colonel O’Mara told Stringfield that flying saucers do exist and that past contradictions were unfortunate. Stringfield has stated that he believes his home telephone is being monitored, presumably by the Air Force, and that he therefore makes his phone calls to Lieutenant O’Mara at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from his office. Stringfield, in talking about the possibility that the US Air Force might stop his operations, made a statement to the effect, ‘The Air Force can’t do anything to me. I’m claiming saucers are interplanetary.’”

As far as official surveillance of Stringfield in later years was concerned, researcher Bill Moore – a researcher who had widely acknowledged links with the U.S. Intelligence community in the 1980s and who co-authored with Charles Berlitz the first book on the Roswell “crashed UFO” controversy of 1947, The Roswell Incident – stated in the September 30 1989 issue of Focus the following:

“Drawing from my own knowledge and experience, I can summarize the individuals who were the subject of intelligence community interest between 1980 and 1984. It is important to remember here that in some cases, I was not personally involved, but rather only aware of these goings-on through conversations with others…”

Moore continued: “Stringfield remained the subject of some interest through 1983, after which I heard very little about him. The [counter-intelligence] people seemed to know a lot about Len and his sources. The impression I got was that someone else much closer to him than I, was keeping tabs on his activities, but of course, I never knew for certain.”

In 1991, Stringfield himself wrote: “I have other sources today who seem to know that I am currently a subject of interest to the intelligence community. If I could draw any conclusions from the travails of my past experiences, then I am also being subjected to both good information and disinformation…”

Leonard Stringfield died in December 1994, never really knowing if the data provided by his whistle-blower sources on crashed UFOs was genuine or carefully-orchestrated disinformation. But, that he was being watched by someone, specifically because of his saucer-based activities, does seem very likely.

And, Stringfield was just one of many, as I will reveal in future posts…

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  • I have become convinced the intelligence community is as relevant and consistent a component of ufology as outlandish tales of the fantastic. The two might of course sometimes be one and the same.

    This is not to necessarily suggest there is nothing paranormal sometimes taking place. I am most certainly suggesting, however, that failing to thoroughly consider the potential extent the intel community monitors and manipulates ufology simply leaves us with an incomplete and inadequate view of the situation. I therefore appreciate the research and reporting represented in this post. Thank you, and I look forward to more as your time and attention allow.  

  • Nick, do you think this had less to do with government concern about UFOs than perhaps a concern about potential leaks of military information to Stringfield?

  • Nick_redfern

    Definitely. My 2006 book, “On the Trail of the Saucer Spies” made it very clear that, particularly in the 1950s and later in the late 70s and through the 80s, there was a lot of concern in the Intel world about UFO researchers using their UFO studies as a cover to find secret data on classified aircraft programs etc. The Air Force’s OSI and the CIA (as declassified files reveal) were very concerned at various times that certain UFO researchers may have been in league with the Russians on just such a plot. Of course, such was never proved. But, it didn’t stop the government from thinking this was going on. And, in some cases it may well have been.