Jun 30, 2020 I Nick Redfern

UFO Researchers: The Real Reasons Why You Are Being Secretly Watched

In 2006, Anomalist Books published my book, On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. It's basically a full-length, historical examination of how and why government, military and intelligence agencies have secretly spied on certain elements of the UFO research community – and all across the world, no less – since that legendary year in which the Flying Saucer was born: 1947. The book revealed that numerous, central players within the UFO arena had been watched closely by the world of officialdom, including infamous UFO "Contactees" George Adamski, George Hunt Williamson and George van Tassel (all of who were the subject of FBI files); Gray Barker and Albert Bender – two of the earliest chroniclers of the Men in Black puzzle; Bill Moore, Stan Friedman and several other of the premier Roswell investigators; crashed UFO data-collector, Leonard Stringfield; and various early UFO research groups, including the National Investigations Committee for Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), to name just a few.

Without a doubt, the most controversial data contained within the book was provided to me by a retired employee of the British Police Force’s Special Branch who, within the pages of the book, I termed "The Sandman." He asserted to me that while working for Special Branch in the mid-1970s, he was engaged in a secret operation to monitor certain members of the British UFO research community. The Sandman further maintained that after his retirement from Special Branch, and during the 1990s – the time period in which he ran a private security company that occasionally undertook clandestine work for British Intelligence - he was recruited into a Special Branch-led operation to carefully monitor some of the newer faces on the ufological scene. Those same, newer faces included (a) UFO researcher, Matthew Williams; (b) computer-hacker, Matthew Bevan; and (c) Robin Cole, a Cheltenham, U.K.-based researcher who was busy at the time digging deeply into the links between UFOs and the Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, at Cheltenham.

Most interesting of all was the reaction of the UFO research community in late 2005 and early 2006, when the rumor-mill began to quietly report on both the above data and the then-forthcoming publication of On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. As I know personally from emails sent to me at the time, there was a high degree of anticipation that, finally, the UFO research community was going to see prime evidence that we were being watched because we were getting, as one commentator concisely put it, "too near the alien facts." Similarly, a couple of contacts in the research field praised the book – before they saw it – and predicted it would open the floodgates to "a final proof the government knows we know they have aliens and crashed ships in their hangars." Well, when the book was published several of those enthusiastic commentators vanished into the shadows in a flash; and the reaction was decidedly mixed, to say the very least. And I’ll tell you why. Time and time again, I found that the reasons why British, American and Australian Intelligence agencies (to name but three nations involved) were secretly spying on the UFO community actually had nothing whatsoever to do with UFOs, aliens, dead extraterrestrials held in cryogenic storage, or tales of Area 51 and Hangar 18.

Rather, the motivation was prompted by the fact that those same intelligence communities were acutely worried some UFO researchers were also tied with politics, the criminal underworld, and hostile, overseas intelligence agencies - such as those of the former Soviet Union and North Korea. They also feared that UFO research was acting as a form of ingenious camouflage to mask the fact that we were, in reality, trying to uncover defense and intelligence secrets of a distinctly down-to-earth nature for those same aforementioned hostile overseas intelligence agencies. Needless to say, this was not at all what the UFO research community anticipated; nor was it what they wanted to hear from me. Instead, they wanted tales of researchers getting too close to the extra-terrestrial truth. They desired stories of intimidation created out of a direct result of us uncovering cosmic conspiracies – and here I was giving them stories of espionage-based chicanery, of which the UFO angle was always secondary, and sometimes barely that, even.

Predictably, out came the old, tried-and-tested saucer-based chestnuts: I had been financially bribed by "them" to write the book and diffuse the controversy surrounding so-called "real saucer spying." "They" had threatened me into writing the book. The utterly tiresome, and wholly anticipated, tirade went on and on. Certainly, one of the biggest criticisms leveled at me in many quarters was the fact that I had relied on a source – the Sandman – that had (a) insisted on anonymity; and (b) maintained that Special Branch was deeply engaged in spying on ufologists for strictly political and espionage-based reasons. Well, at the time that On the Trail of the Saucer Spies was published, there was no evidence – whistle-blower testimony aside, that is – that Special Branch were watching the UFO research community because of concerns of a political and security-based nature. It did eventually surface, however. And for that evidence we have to turn our attention to the most recent book from British ufologists Dave Clarke and Andy Roberts: Flying Saucerers. Clarke and Roberts have secured a body of intriguing official UFO-related documentation from Special Branch, via the terms of the Government’s Freedom of Information Act.

As their book amply demonstrates, one organization that Special Branch took more than a passing interest in was the Aetherius Society, founded by George King. The roundabout way in which King’s organization came to the attention of Special Branch is a convoluted story in itself - and I urge you to get hold of a copy of Flying Saucerers if you are in any way interested in how and why the world of UFO research can cross paths with that of officialdom. Consider the following from Clarke and Roberts that concerns the activities of the Aetherius Society in 1958: "…the Aetherius Society was by now very firmly on the establishment’s radar and in May 1958 they once again came to the attention of Special Branch."

The pair continue that Special Branch’s report, copies of which are in the possession of the authors and me too, stated that the Aetherius Society was "…active in its campaign against nuclear weapon tests, and in this respect its policy is closely allied with that of the Communist Party" - even though, as the authors note, "no evidence of open Communist association with the Society" was ever found. Clarke and Roberts also learned from now-declassified Special Branch documentation that in both August 1958 and August 1959, Special Branch operatives secretly attended Aetherius Society demonstrations in London. With respect to the 1958 demonstration, Special Branch recorded that: "…it can thus be seen that the Aetherius society is molding its preposterous claims to conform with the popular concepts of religion…There is a possibility that all this high-sounding talk of 'Karma' and 'Cosmic Parliaments' is simply a system of financial gain for certain individuals and George King in particular."

As all of this demonstrates, Special Branch was certainly taking notice of King and Co., but not for reasons that had any direct bearing upon UFOs and/or official, secret knowledge of UFOs. Rather, it was for other, more down to earth reasons and theories, such as the issue of nuclear weaponry and politics - which is precisely what the Sandman had told me Special Branch was doing, years before the King documents surfaced officially to Clarke and Roberts from Special Branch. On the other side of the Atlantic, the picture is very similar. Thanks to the provisions of the U.S. Government’s Freedom of Information Act, files have surfaced on another individual implicated in the UFO puzzle - and again as a result of specific concerns about the man’s politics. That man was Oliver Kenneth Goff, described in now-declassified FBI files of 6 May 1955 as ‘a self-styled freelance Evangelist who for the past number of years has been speaking around the U.S. regarding the threat of communism to the U.S’. Interestingly, one of Goff’s regular lectures was titled: "Traitors in the Pulpit, or: What’s Behind the Flying Saucers - Are they from Russia, Another Planet, or God?" Other lectures that Goff routinely delivered to interested parties included: "Treason in our State Department;" "Should we use the Atom Bomb?" "Red Secret Plot for Seizure of Denver;" and "Do the Reds Plan to Come by Alaska?"

As the FBI additionally noted: "Also, some of the titles of Goff’s books, which he publishes voluminously are: 'Will Russia Invade America?, One World, A Red World, and Confessions of Stalin’s Agent.' The FBI further added that "Goff is a self-admitted former member of the Communist Party’, and that he ‘was found guilty by jury trial on February 25, 1948, in United States District Court, District of Columbia, and was fined $100 as a result of the subject’s placing anti-communist signs before the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C." FBI files on Goff also record that: ‘The Rocky Mountain News on October 25, 1951, contained an article stating that three Englewood persons were ordered to appear in Denver Municipal Court as an aftermath of the ripping of the Soviet flag yesterday at Civic Center. Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Goff were two of these three individuals."

Goff was certainly an interesting character, and someone who had made comments in the 1950s about communist based plans to covertly introduce fluoride into the US water-supply, to create a "spirit of lethargy in the nation." Goff also claimed that - in the 1950s - he compiled a document titled Brain-Washing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook of Psycho-politics. Goff died in 1972 while still only in his early sixties. And while we now have access to at least some of the official world’s surveillance files on Goff, the full story of his links with communism and flying saucers remains tantalizingly incomplete.

Another interesting piece of data that surfaced in the wake of the publication of On the Trail of the Saucer Spies came from none other than well-known UFO researcher, Bruce Maccabee. In a review of my book for the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Maccabee wrote of his own run-ins with the official world: "After I spoke at a UFO conference near Washington, D.C. in February 1993, I was contacted by an assistant military attaché who was stationed at the Russian Embassy. He wanted to know how to obtain US government files on UFOs." Maccabee continued that: "…you can imagine my surprise and amusement when, about six months later, while I was at work I got a call from the 'dreaded' FBI." Notably, Maccabee added: "…it became obvious to me that the agent didn’t know much about the UFO phenomenon and was amused to learn about the FBI files on the subject. But he was especially interested in my interactions with the military attaché." Almost certainly, given the fact that Maccabee has undertaken sensitive work of a non-UFO nature at an official level, this was a typical attempt to recruit Maccabee – using the UFO issue as a starting point, and one that would inevitably have led into other defense related avenues. Maccabee chose not to take the bait. Let us now turn our attention to the situation in Australia.

A file that originated with the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) has been declassified and details the strange saga of how, and why, Australian spies kept watch on elements of the nation’s UFO research community for years. The lengthy dossier is full of data that ranges from the strange and the esoteric, to the hilarious and the sinister. It contains a wealth of material on (a) Australian Flying Saucer groups; (b) concerns about communist-related issues and affiliations pertaining to members of some of those same groups; (c) fears of military personnel and non-military civilians with secret clearances becoming involved with such groups; (d) possible leaks of security data of a distinctly non-UFO nature; and (e) even issues pertaining to vegetarianism and nudism! In other words, yet again, we see a situation where the official world of Intelligence keeps close tabs on the UFO community – but yet again for reasons that are lacking in a direct UFO connection.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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