My new book, Flying Saucers from the Kremlin, is a study of how and why the Russians – for decades – sought to take control of the UFO scene and create hysteria and paranoia in the West. And we were doing the same to them, too. The Russians certainly deserved it. As they do too now, for their outrageous meddling over the last few years. But, does such manipulation of the UFO scene still go on? Yes, it does. Certainly, the vast majority of the programs designed to use the UFO subject as a tool of manipulation took place during the height of the Cold War; that much is abundantly clear. It should be noted, though, that while the available data is limited, we can say that UFOs – or, rather, the mystique and the legend that surrounds them – are still of interest to the intelligence services of several nations.
In a strange way, the evidence for this has a link to the saga of none other than the ultimate 21st century whistle-blower, Edward Snowden. If, prior to 2013, someone were to ask you for your thoughts on Edward Snowden, you would almost certainly reply: “Who? Huh?” His family, friends, and work colleagues aside, Snowden was unknown. Just about completely. That all changed – and it changed radically – in the summer of 2013. That was when the shocking story of the National Security Agency’s top secret programs of widespread surveillance came tumbling out into the public domain. It created shock-waves that are still reverberating to this day.
As Snowden revealed, and unbeknownst to just about everyone (the National Security Agency aside, of course), the NSA had the potential to not just spy on foreign nations but on U.S. citizens too. Landlines, cell-phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype: they had all been penetrated, very often with the witting help of some of those same companies. The data collection process was so mind-boggling and huge that it would likely have had even George Orwell himself shaking his head in disbelief; except for just one thing: Orwell’s 1984 was fiction. This was all too real.
The responses to Snowden’s revelations were interesting and thought-provoking. For some people, Snowden is the definitive American hero. For others, however, he is a man who has massively jeopardized U.S. national security, and placed our troops and agents in deep danger. There were even calls not for just his lifelong incarceration, but for his execution too, as the ultimate traitor. For many people, however, Snowden falls somewhere between both camps. And then there’s the matter of UFOs. Or, at least, the lore surrounding it. The story of Edward Snowden would never have soared to the levels that it did had it not been for the research of investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Having secured Snowden’s trust, Greenwald was able to secure an astonishing amount of highly classified material on the NSA’s surveillance programs. One of Snowden’s lesser-known revelations revolved around a PowerPoint presentation produced by the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters, which is the nation’s equivalent of its, ahem, big brother, the United States’ NSA. The presentation was titled “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive and Destroy Reputations.” Interestingly, the PowerPoint production – which, in part, provides ways and means to shatter the characters of people under surveillance – contained three photographs of alleged UFOs.
Mark Pilkington, a writer on, and an investigator of, the UFO subject has a particular interest in how government agencies have used the UFO controversy to their advantages. His 2010 book, Mirage Men, is subtitled: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs. That will give you a very good idea as to where Pilkington is coming from in relation to UFOs. Journalist David Clarke asked Pilkington what he thought of all this. Pilkington said to Clarke: “We don’t know why there are UFOs in this [PowerPoint] presentation. But the fact that the saucer photos appear within the context of influencing and manipulating online communities is highly suggestive.” You can see the full story of this in Clarke’s book, How UFOs Conquered the World.