In Part One of this article, I argued that former pop-punk-singer-turned-UFO-Disclosure-icon Tom DeLonge is being used as an unwitting conduit for disinformation and soft propaganda in support of the US national security state. I suggested that the UFO community is being exploited in this context as a fertile testing ground to monitor how disinformation shapes belief in a controllable subculture and that the agenda may relate to psychological warfare—the potential to weaponize belief, domestically and abroad.
Before we continue, it’s worth recapping the dominant themes and messages of DeLonge’s emergent national security narrative as conveyed in his first book and in his multiple interviews for print and audio-visual media:
DeLonge has also consistently hinted at a 'non-human' influence behind the UFO enigma, but has thus far refused to specify the nature and origin of this influence as described to him by his mysterious 'advisors.' DeLonge has promised that his transmedia narrative will continue to develop over the next several years, and, as it does, he’ll 'reveal' more of this enticing plot thread. We can be certain, however, that whatever DeLonge 'reveals' will be wholly unverifiable at our end. We will simply have to take his word for it—for all of it—just as he has taken at face value the word of individuals and agencies who specialize in the art of deception.
Listen carefully… that ringing sound, do you hear it? That’s your common sense sounding the alarm bell. Don’t ignore it.
If you’ve not yet read Part One, I highly recommended you do so now before delving any deeper with me into the DeLonge Delusion. Here, in Part Two, I’ll be focussing less on DeLonge and more on the documented history of UFO disinformation efforts. It’s a chronology of deception dating back some four decades. We must seek to understand the DeLonge story within this historical framework. This will be neither short nor sweet, but it is necessary, and I encourage you to read every word.
We’ll return to Tom DeLonge at the end of this piece. For now, if you’re inclined to read on, make yourself comfortable and prepare for a for a story worthy of the most paranoid of Hollywood conspiracy thrillers.
Spies, lies, and perception management
The US government's formal efforts to manage public perception of UFOs traces back to the early-1950s when the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel instigated a UFO "debunking" campaign employing the talents of psychiatrists, astronomers, and celebrities. In its early years, official power structures appeared to follow the Robertson Panel’s recommendations to the letter, using both factual and entertainment media to "debunk and demystify" UFOs whenever the opportunity presented itself.
It is my contention that the CIA itself came to regard its early debunking tactics as crude, illogical, and unsustainable. The Agency would soon have recognized the futility of attempting to disprove the existence of a phenomenon that persisted in publicly manifesting itself on a global scale. However, it was possible to manage how the public perceived the phenomenon. More importantly, it was possible to manage how the public perceived officialdom’s historical relationship to the phenomenon. As time wore on, the US national security apparatus moved away from outright UFO debunkery and instead sought to embrace and exploit what was fast becoming a New Age belief system. Beginning in the 1970s, agencies of the state made concerted efforts to manage popular perceptions of UFOs at both subcultural and pop-cultural levels in the form of disinformative ‘leaks’ through the UFO community, and through the narratives of Pentagon-backed Hollywood entertainment products. The goals were varied, but counter-intelligence and psychological warfare appeared to be key motivational factors. The effect of these covert operations was to sow a dense conspiratorial narrative into the fabric of the modern UFO subculture. It was (and is) a self-serving story that played to a popular distrust of government institutions, while simultaneously—and paradoxically—encouraging the conspiracy theorists to look to those very same institutions for the ultimate Truth.
For the sake of time and space, I will here skip over two major UFO perception-management and psychological warfare efforts from the 1970s. I skip them because they have been thoroughly documented elsewhere. If you are unfamiliar with the cases of Robert Emenegger and Paul Bennewitz, you are strongly encouraged to read up on them. These were early attempts on the part of US military-intelligence operatives to seed and nudge particular beliefs within the UFO community.
The game begins
For the purposes of this article, our story begins in 1980 when intelligence operatives went full-steam-ahead with an ambitious and hugely successful UFO disinformation campaign. It began with researcher William Moore, whose co-authored book, The Roswell Incident, had been published earlier that year. Moore understood that he was being used by US intelligence—he was told so explicitly by those who were using him. Moore was fine with this, though, as he had made a secret deal with them.
Moore’s original intelligence contact was an enigmatic individual who went unnamed for many years. He was eventually revealed by author Greg Bishop to have been Harry Rositzke (now deceased), a former high-ranking CIA officer brought out of retirement. Moore referred to Rositzke publicly only as 'Falcon.' In his book, Project Beta, Greg Bishop describes how Falcon (Rositzke) told Moore that "he represented a group of intelligence agents in the US government who were tired of the secrecy surrounding the UFO subject and were eager to release more accurate information to the public. They wanted to do this through a reputable researcher." Moore, apparently, was their man. Or one of them, at least.
There was a catch, though. "To get at the UFO info, he would have to agree to give the government people something in return." This "something" was to help the intelligence operatives plant particular ideas into the UFO community, sowing truth with fiction, and to monitor and report back on how this information was being received, interpreted, and spread. "Moore was an asset, and nothing more," writes Bishop. "He was just another game piece on Falcon’s board."
Enter Richard Doty
In October of 1980, Falcon introduced Moore to Richard Doty, a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Doty would thereafter become Moore’s primary intelligence contact. In other words, Doty became Moore’s handler. But Doty was handled by Falcon (Rositzke), who was himself almost certainly acting on the authority of the CIA, or elements within it.
It got even more complicated, as Greg Bishop observes:
Within a few years, Moore and his colleagues would begin to assign code names to their growing coterie of contacts so that they could talk freely about developments without fear of identification if they were overheard. All were given the names of birds, and were collectively referred to as the ‘Aviary.’
Moore would eventually confess to his role as an intelligence asset in spectacular fashion at the annual MUFON conference in 1989. Instead of delivering his scheduled UFO talk, he described how he had made a deal with the intelligence community, but that his plan all along had been to "play the disinformation game and to get his hands just dirty enough to lead those directing the process into believing that he was doing exactly what they wanted him to do. All the while he would continue to burrow his way into the defense and intelligence matrix to learn who was directing it and why."
The UFO community was outraged at Moore’s confession, and Moore knew better than to stick around. He left the stage quickly that night, and the UFO field too. Other researchers had little inclination to pick up the pieces, and the disinformation campaign was far from over.
In 1983, three years after his first meeting with William Moore, Richard Doty invited journalist and cattle mutilation researcher Linda Moulton Howe to Kirtland Air Force Base, where he showed her what he said were top secret documents concerning UFO crash/retrievals and ancient alien visitation. The documents suggested that aliens from Zeta Reticuli were the creators of our species. Doty implied to Howe that the powers that be were now ready to release some of this information to the public at large, and that she was to play a role in the acclimation process.
A few months prior to Howe’s visit with Doty, New York Attorney Peter Gersten, the legal advisor for Citizen’s Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), had also been given 'inside' information by Doty. Howe later summarized this meeting:
Doty claimed the government and ETs have made an agreement. The aliens could conduct animal mutilations and human abductions in exchange for teaching U.S. experts about alien advanced technologies.
The following year, in December 1984, William Moore’s research partner—Hollywood producer Jamie Shandera—received a roll of undeveloped film, which, when processed, showed photos of documents discussing a purported saucer crash near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The documents described how the saucer crash led to the establishment of 'Majestic 12,' or 'MJ-12,' a group of twelve top-tier science and military men charged by the president with secretly managing the UFO issue and understanding the true nature and purpose of the phenomenon, especially the advanced technologies involved.
In the following years, other MJ-12 documents were quietly 'discovered.' The content of the newer documents supported that of the originals, convincing Shandera and Moore that MJ-12 was the real deal, and that elements within the US government had been involved in hands-on research and development of alien technologies dating back to the late-1940s and had even established treaties with the UFO occupants. The men sat on the MJ-12 documents for three years before Moore shared them with the broader UFO community in June of 1987. He did so on the advice of Falcon (Rositzke).
The MJ-12 documents have since been subjected to extensive forensic examination and have been convincingly shown to be fraudulent. Still, it is agreed that whoever created them went to a great deal of trouble to do so. In short, the documents realistically could only have been the product of a laborious counterintelligence operation. This has not stopped the majority of UFO researchers from accepting the MJ-12 story in essence. As noted by George P. Hansen in his book The Trickster and the Paranormal, from the 1980s onwards:
MJ-12, or a similar group by any other name, became a centrepiece of theorizing by UFOlogists. It established a governing paradigm for many researchers. They gathered snippets of evidence and tried fitting them into this framework.
It was a framework built around Roswell and the tantalizing notion that officialdom had an intimate understanding and firm control of the UFO issue.
UFOs go live
This emerging core story was further enriched and popularized on 14 October 1988, with the broadcast of UFO Cover-up?: Live!, a nationally televised two-hour live special examining the history of UFOs and UFO secrecy. Hosted by actor Mike Farrell, the show was billed as the ultimate exposé of the UFO cover-up. It featured interviews with former Blue Book head Col. Robert Friend and former Pentagon spokesman Col. William Coleman, as well as filmmaker Robert Emenegger and Holloman Air Force Base security officer Paul Shartle (who claimed to have seen alien landing footage promised but never delivered to Emenegger in the 1970s). A number of high-profile UFO witnesses were also interviewed.
The stars of the show were William Moore and Jamie Shandera, who here introduced the world to their Aviary 'informants,' Falcon and Condor, who appeared in the show in silhouette and with their voices electronically distorted. As if things weren’t mysterious enough already, the silhouetted 'Falcon' was not the real Falcon, but was, in fact, Richard Doty, who was standing in for his boss, Harry Rositzke. It was later learned that Rositzke was sat in the studio audience all along, silently watching the whole thing unfold. 'Condor' would later be revealed to be former USAF Captain Robert Collins, who, like Doty, had also been stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base.
Between them, Moore, Shandera, 'Falcon' (Doty), and Condor discussed MJ-12, UFO crash retrievals (including Roswell), and the relationship between the US government and two Extraterrestrial Biological Entities or "EBEs," dubbed EBE-1 and EBE-2, as well as alien biology and culture (including the EBEs' love of strawberry ice cream and ancient Tibetan music!). In its pop-cultural blink-and-you-miss-it debut, Area 51 was also fleetingly mentioned in text form. This was no accident, as the following year Area 51 would serve as the focus of the next chapter of the secret keepers' finely tailored overarching UFOlogical narrative.
UFO Cover-Up?: Live! Live served to crystalize and synthesize all elements of the emerging UFO 'core story' which had been sown into the UFO community by government spooks up to that point.
The show was produced by Michael B. Seligman, who for years had been a key organizer of Academy Awards ceremonies. He was and is a man of considerable influence in Hollywood. Also involved as a producer was Tracy Tormé, screenwriter of Fire in the Sky and Intruders. In a 2014 interview, Tormé explained to me his involvement in UFO Cover-Up?: Live! and the bizarre events that unfolded during its development and production.
The inside story
"At first there were some really high hopes for this project," Tormé told me. "It was going to be two hours long, it was going to be live, they were going to spare no expense… they wanted to expose the cover-up of UFOs and everything, and it all got off to a pretty good start."
Things began to get weird when the enigmatic William Moore forced himself on the project. At this point, Moore had yet to confess his longstanding role as a controlled asset for the US intelligence community. That confession would come the following year. "Bill Moore wanted to get involved in the project because he’d heard all about it," Tormé recalled. "So he came in and it was very, very cloak and dagger. He insisted on meeting the producers behind closed doors, and they couldn’t tell any of us what they had discussed." Before long, Moore flew the producers out to an island in the middle of the Great Lakes where he introduced them to his inside informants, 'Falcon' (Doty, not Rositzke) and 'Condor' (Robert Collins).
"After this meeting took place on a power boat in the middle of one of the great lakes, Michael Seligman came back and was scared of his own shadow," Tormé continued. "I mean, it was just kind of unbelievable to see the change in him. He was very, very uptight suddenly. He was very, very nervous. He was paranoid. He would constantly be telling people to keep their voices down when we were talking in the offices. He was obviously worried someone was listening to us."
After hearing tales of MJ-12 and who knows what else from 'Falcon' and Condor, Seligman showed signs of cracking. "He just went completely off the deep end," said Tormé, "he started making a lot of really irrational decisions. We were doing a completely live show, but Michael insisted that every person that appeared on camera during the two hours have to read off cue cards. His reasoning was that he didn’t want anyone saying anything he wasn’t expecting. He wanted to know what they were going to say. So what ended up happening was that every interview had this wooden, artificial, stupid quality to it."
I asked Tormé if he felt the TV show had been targeted and hijacked for UFO disinformation purposes. "At that time there were people who were intentionally spreading disinformation to a select group of researchers, including Bill Moore, Jamie Shandera, Linda Moulton Howe, amongst others." Tormé acknowledged. "False information was being funnelled to these people. Obviously Richard Doty was one of the disinformants, and he was also involved in UFO Cover-Up?: Live! So there is a certain amount of truth to the conspiracy rumours. There may have been outside efforts to exert some control over the project through Mike Seligman, who was so weak-kneed by that point, and so freaked out by whatever it was that he had been told, that we were rudderless. We had no one in charge of this project."
When I asked what could have caused such an extreme reaction from Seligman, Tormé speculated:
They probably told him something that sounded very ominous, like we were headed towards an alien invasion, or something like that. And he just bought it, hook, line, and sinker.
Which brings us, albeit briefly for now, back to Tom DeLonge, who appears to have been told a strikingly similar story by his own official contacts. It's the same old same old: UFOs represent an unparalleled threat to national security and historical secrecy is justified on these grounds—the 'bad guys' ain't so bad after all. The story also conveys a subtle but potentially worrying message to observant enemy powers: "We have Star Trek technology—don't mess with us!" What better way to scare potential aggressors than to make them suspect you are in possession of super-advanced alien technologies?
It is worth noting that UFO Cover-Up?: Live! featured onscreen interviews with a number of Soviet scientists live from Moscow. Early on in the show, host Mike Farrell stresses the significance of this Soviet participation, describing it as “The first UFO glasnost in television history.” Later in the show, Farrell, still reading from his teleprompter, says to one of the Soviets, “Thanks for opening a new channel of communication between the US and the USSR.” Let us not forget that UFO Cover-Up?: Live! was broadcast in 1988 during the hard frost of the Cold War. In an extremely unusual arrangement, the show, which was pivotal in bringing the UFO core story to a mass audience, was broadcast live in America and the Soviet Union simultaneously.
Besides the possible goal of messing with the enemy's mind, the DeLonge DeLusion is perhaps most sensibly viewed as but the latest example of the intelligence apparatus planting particular ideas into a close-knit subculture, sowing truth with fiction, and monitoring how this information is being received, interpreted, and spread. It takes us all the way back to the 'Falcon.' The names and the faces may change, but the game stays the same.
To quote George P. Hansen:
Any legitimate analysis that tries to explain belief about UFOs must recognize that the UFO subculture is awash in disinformation spread by government personnel, and that this has played an enormous role in shaping the subculture. Virtually all UFO investigators who make regular public presentations are from time to time approached by people who claim to have seen materials or documents while in military service that confirmed that the government has UFO projects… These low-profile informants are a major source of UFO beliefs held by millions of people. Their information circulates quietly throughout the culture…
This is demonstrably the case. But the next 'informant' was far from low-profile. This one would shout from the rooftops, and his testimony would become a central pillar of modern UFO conspiracy theory...
In Part Three, we'll follow the disinformation campaign as it evolved throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium in the testimonies of new 'whistleblowers' and 'leakers' and we'll see how the US defense apparatus exploited its longstanding relationship with Hollywood to amplify at a pop-cultural level its own carefully crafted, self-serving UFO narrative. It all leads slowly but inevitably to a certain wide-eyed punk singer.
To be continued…
Robbie Graham is the author of Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood’s UFO Movies.