Is it just paranoia to suspect that agencies of government might take an interest in you for researching and writing about UFOs? Well, no, actually, it's not. Not at all. The Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) of more than a few nations have demonstrated time and again that, yes, elements of the UFO research community have been watched. And not just for years, but for decades. It's very important to keep things in perspective, however. And I'll explain exactly what I mean by that.
On more than a few occasions, a UFO researcher who we can prove has been the subject of official files, has also spent time digging into other potentially sensitive areas that might attract the attention of agencies of government, the military, and/or the intelligence community. This is an issue I wrote about extensively in my 2006 book, On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. It's worth noting, however, that a great deal more (and relevant) data has surfaced since the publication of my book, and which demonstrates how and why they watch us.
Certainly, the lengthiest FOIA files are those on the Contactees of the 1950s. Or, it may be more accurate to say that I'm talking about the lengthiest files currently in the public domain. Admittedly, we don't know the full extent of what still goes on behind closed doors. But, what we can say for sure is that both George Adamski and George Van Tassel were the subjects of extensive investigations by the FBI. Was it because J. Edgar Hoover wanted to know if long-haired Venusians were really visiting the Earth? Or if fellow Contactee, Truman Bethurum, got down and dirty with a hot space-babe named Aura Rhanes? Nope.
Bear in mind the time-frame: it was in the early 1950s that most of the surveillance of Adamski took place. This was the period of McCarthyism and "Reds under the beds" scares. And who was loudly claiming that his hippie-like space-buddies were dreaded commies? George Adamski, that's who. He was saying it to sizable audiences, too. And let's not forget the thousands of people who read his books. Adamski also stated that communism was the way of the future and that Russia was destined to dominate the world. The completely understandable concerns the FBI had about Adamski revolved around not what he claimed to know about UFOs, but of the possibility that he was using the flying saucer phenomenon as a means to spread communism. In that sense, it would be amazing if there wasn't a file on Adamski!
As for George Van Tassel, the FBI had a more cordial relationship with him - and probably because while working at Hughes Aircraft in the 1940s, Van Tassel helped FBI agent Walter Bott on a number of investigations. Yes, the FBI visited Van Tassel on a few occasions and asked him to do describe his experiences with the Space-Brothers. The files, however, show that the FBI was particularly interested in the fact that many of Van Tassel's lectures focused on controversial matters relative to atomic weapons (and the dangers they posed), religion, and the economy.
Files declassified via UK FOIA laws show that, close to 60 years ago, the UK Police Force's Special Branch took an interest in a famous Contactee named George King (of Aetherius Society fame). While Special Branch concluded that King was - and I quote - "obviously a crank," its personnel took far more than a passing interest in King's political stance. A declassified Special Branch document of May 7, 1958 states:
"Since 1st June 1957, the date of the last report about the Aetherius Society, this organisation has remained active in its campaign against nuclear weapon tests, and in this respect its policy is closely allied with that of the Communist Party. However, there is still no evidence of open communist association with the Society."
It doesn't take a genius to see what was going through the minds of Special Branch staff. Here was a man, who had a degree of prominence, and who was speaking out against the British Government's stance on atomic weapons. Special Branch's "crank" comments show that it was not UFOs - directly - that concerned the police. It was the political nature of the cosmic, brotherly message King was spreading that bothered them and which led them to compile a 40-page dossier on the man.
Then there's the infamous (and alleged) UFO crash at Aztec, New Mexico in March 1948. This notorious affair - a "little brother" to Roswell, one might say - attracted the FBI's attention to a notable degree. But not so much because of the crash. Or the hoax, depending on your perspective. The reason was because two of the key players in the story were Silas Newton (whose FBI file you can find here) and Leo Gebauer. The G-Men were knew exactly who they were, and were far from impressed by either man. Which is hardly surprising.
Newton had a long history of controversial deals. The words "mining swindle" and "under indictment" leap out of the FBI's files on Newton. As for Gebauer, in 1941, as FBI records show, he referred to Adolf Hitler as nothing less than "a swell fellow." He added that the United States would benefit from having "two men" to run the country, in much the same way that Hitler ruled Germany. And he called the Brits "a dirty bunch of rats." Something which would have led me to give Gebauer a good kicking and a few precisely delivered punches had I been around back then.
So, yes, we have a situation where FBI agents very closely monitored both Newton and Gebauer. And at the height of the Aztec UFO affair, too. But, who can blame the FBI? After all, both men were up to their necks in controversy, as well as things that were so shady you would imagine the pair lived under a permanent solar eclipse!
Now, with the past done with, it's time to bring things up to date. Keep a look-out for part-2...