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The JFK-UFO Connection: When Did it All Begin and Who Were the Main People?

Claims of a connection between the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the UFO subject have been circulating for years. For decades, in fact. For the most part it all began in the early 1990s (there was, however, a brief bit of controversy in the late 1980s, as will later become clear). That’s when a man named Timothy Cooper – a Ufologist – found himself on the receiving end of a large amount of very controversial documents. They were said to be classified U.S. government papers on UFOs. Not only that, they concerned matters relative to alien autopsies, crashed UFOs, deaths in the field of Ufology and more. Supposedly, Cooper was clandestinely contacted by an elderly man who used the name of “Thomas Cantwheel.” The fact is, though, there is no such name as “Cantwheel.” There never has been. The closest to it is “Cantwell.” Not a good start, at all. As the 1990s progressed, Cooper received more and more files. The material ran into thousands of pages. I know, because years ago I spent a week in a motel-room in Orange County, California doing an inventory of all of Cooper’s files for ufologist, Dr. Robert Wood. The room was packed with papers. I’m sure that many people in Ufology have never seen the majority of that material.

Contained within those allegedly purloined papers were references to JFK, and to a man named Clay Shaw (a CIA asset and someone who many JFK assassination researchers believe played a significant role in the death of the president). Fred Crisman, someone else who straddled the world of JFK and of UFOs, also appeared in the Cooper papers. Crisman was a player in the extremely controversial “Maury Island” UFO incident/hoax (take your pick) of June 1947. Not only that, none other than Jim Garrison (District Attorney of New Orleans, Louisiana from 1962 to 1974) suspected that Crisman was one of the gunmen in the JFK assassination! Then, there’s the so-called “Marilyn Monroe UFO document” that, by its contents, suggests that Marilyn, in August 1962, was about to be terminated for what she knew about crashed UFOs and dead aliens. Marilyn’s information allegedly came from President Kennedy and his brother RFK. That’s if you buy it all. Read on for my views on this part of the story…

The Grassy Knoll (Nick Redfern)

As I specifically point out in my recently-published book on this subject (Diary of Secrets), there is an extremely strong possibility that the Marilyn document was not the work of the CIA (as it has claimed to be by many people in Ufology), but the work of a skilled hoaxer of letters and documents named Lee Israel. Back in the early 1990s Israel – once a well-respected author – was down on her luck, hence the reason why she decided to create fabricated material and then to sell it for significant wads of dollars. It didn’t take too long before the FBI descended on her. Luckily for her, Israel didn’t serve any jail time. She died in 2014. Check out her autobiography, Can You Ever Forgive Me? In 2018, a movie of the same name surfaced and tells the story of Israel’s activities. It’s intriguing to note that Israel, in 1980, wrote a biography of journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. The name of the book: Kilgallen. It just so happens that Kilgallen died in 1965 (under what some believe to be under mysterious circumstances) while investigating the JFK assassination. Kilgallen had an interest in UFOs. Not only that, Kilgallen appears in the alleged CIA-UFO-Marilyn document. As I note in my book, none of this should be considered a coincidence. Israel knew of all the key players mentioned in the Marilyn document. It would have been easy for her to put it together. Another part of the JFK-UFO angle was born, true or complete crap. Or, as I see it, somewhere hazily in-between.

Another early figure who made a connection between President Kennedy and UFOs was John Lear. Coast to Coast AM said of Lear that he was “…a retired airline captain and former CIA pilot, as well as the son of the famous inventor of the Lear Jet. He is a former Lockheed L-1011 Captain and is highly regarded in aviation circles. He has flown over 150 aircraft and has earned every certificate granted by the Federal Aviation Administration. John also held 18 world speed records and has worked for 28 different Aircraft Corporations. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, John began coming forward with some startling revelations concerning the subject of aerial phenomena and Unidentified Flying Objects.” In promoting what amounted to the wilder side of Ufology, Lear provoked a big debate and quickly rocked the UFO world. Mind you, the stodgy, over-the-hill, and stuck-in-the-mud old Flying Saucer folks needed someone to bring them into a new era of aliens, Area 51 and the Internet.

In 1987, Lear came out with some extraordinary information – much of which would have had Fox Mulder salivating uncontrollably. Even skeptic Dana Scully would have had a few sleepless nights after hearing all of that. Of the Kennedy-UFO links, Lear wrote: “The powers that be had to eliminate President Kennedy because he wanted to release the information on the disks [a little-used term for “UFO”] and the aliens in 1963. Since then, we have talked to people who have heard the recording made in the Oval Office when Kennedy pounded his fist and told the representatives of MJ-12 [supposedly, a top secret group in the U.S. government that oversees UFO secrecy, and that will surface again later]: ‘You guys better get your stuff together because I’m going to tell the public.’ “There were several reasons why [JFK] was assassinated. One was the Bay of Pigs fiasco; another was that he had threatened to ‘shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces.’ A third reason was because he threatened to pull all our Americans from Vietnam by 1965. The fourth was that he intended to expose the alien-disk cover-up.”

Much is still being said about the UFO-JFK debate (pro and con), but it was from the 1980s to the early-to-mid 1990s when things really got going.

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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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