My previous article – on how and why government agencies have quietly kept a close and careful look at people in Ufology – made it clear that it was (and still is) politics, rather than aliens, that has prompted widespread surveillance of the UFO research community. Also in my previous article, I brought up the matter of the FBI’s file on one of the most famous UFO Contactees of the 1950s. The man under the microscope was George Van Tassel. The FBI’s Van Tassel file is more than three hundred pages in length and it references the man’s politics, his religious beliefs, and how he funded his annual UFO conferences out at Giant Rock, California. Mrs. Van Tassel was interviewed by the FBI too – as J. Edgar Hoover’s special-agents sought to get a full picture of the Contactee himself. There’s yet another section – albeit a small section – of the file that is worth noting. This one doesn’t revolve around politics, but it isn’t UFO-themed either. Rather, it concerns a strange weapon that – the FBI’s records demonstrate – Van Tassel had apparently designed and perfected.
It’s a fact that Van Tassel had a fascination for electronic devices and alternative technology, the most famous example being his Integratron, which still stands to this very day. For years, Van Tassel worked on the machine, the purpose of which, he claimed, was to enhance our psychic powers and potentials, and to significantly extend the human life span. Van Tassel never had the opportunity to see his project come to fruition; his reputation as someone who had a longstanding fascination with advanced technology, however, was not lost on his followers. Nor was it lost on the FBI. Not at all.
In April of 1965, rumors started to circulate around the FBI office at Miami, Florida that Van Tassel had succeeded in creating nothing less than a dangerous weapon that could cause blindness to people. The production and the utilization of this weapon was, the FBI recorded, related to an acquaintance of Van Tassel, who is described in an FBI memorandum as “an ultra-rightist with tendency toward violence.” Who that may have been, we still don’t know. A two-page Teletype to FBI headquarters, dated April 9, 1965, revealed all of the available facts: “A source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, and in addition has furnished information which could not be verified or corroborated, advised that a secret device, which can be carried on a person and used to blind people, has recently been perfected. This device, also referred to by [censored] as a weapon, formerly developed to keep others from seeing operator of weapon. [Censored] reports no other details regarding description and use of device. However, he said his information was second hand.”
The document continues: “The source states that it has been determined the alleged device, was developed by George W. Van Tassel, Giant Rock, Yucca Valley, California, who reportedly owns or operates an airport some 20 miles from Yucca Valley in the desert area. Source stated Van Tassel claimed he worked over seven years in research and development of this device and the machine to make it. The weapon reportedly is of an electrical type, not further described. Any additional information can be obtained only by individuals who purchase the device and must be present at the time it is made.” Less than a week later, the FBI seemed far less impressed with Van Tassel and his claimed inventions: “Because of Van Tassel’s apparent mental condition, as evidenced by his statements and apparent beliefs concerning interplanetary travel by men from Venus, and in view of his other highly imaginative and incredible statements concerning space travel and population, it is believed that no further inquiries need be conducted by the Miami or Los Angeles Offices concerning Van Tassel.”
Ninety-Sixty-Five also happened to be the year in which the FBI finally closed its George Van Tassel file and relegated it to the archives. The final entry in the lengthy file is a letter from a member of the public, whose name was deleted by the FBI (for privacy purposes) in the files. On August 17, 1965, he or she wrote to the FBI about Van Tassel and his work: “In my opinion, it is quite subversive and in conflict with the interests of the United States the way this gentleman uses the demoralizing of religion and also his accusations against our Government.”