According to a Technical Report prepared by the Air Force’s UFO study-program, Project Grudge, way back in August of 1949: “Upon eliminating several additional incidents due to vagueness and duplication, there remain 228 incidents, which are considered in this report. Thirty of these could not be explained, because there was found to be insufficient evidence on which to base a conclusion.” Certainly the most notable entry in the document appears in the Recommendations section. It states, and I quote: “…that Psychological Warfare Division and other governmental agencies interested in psychological warfare be informed of the results of this study.” The U.S. Department of Defense defines P.W. as: “The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.” What this demonstrates, is that the U.S. military’s UFO programs weren’t just about investigating sightings. The operations were also focused on creating utterly bogus flying saucer-themed stories – all born out of psychological warfare operations designed to hide things of a specifically non-UFO nature. Which is exactly what happened at Roswell – a spurious tale of a saucer was spun to hide something that the government wanted hidden. And it was hidden.
There is also the matter of the infamous, alleged UFO crash at Aztec, New Mexico in March 1948. It’s a story which is made famous in Frank Scully’s 1950 book, Behind the Flying Saucers, a book which turned out to be a huge seller. Many researchers of the UFO phenomenon (although certainly not all, such as Scott and Suzanne Ramsey) dismiss Aztec as nothing but a hoax, one perpetrated by a shady businessman/conman named Silas Newton. There is an interesting aspect to the Newton / Aztec story, which is worth noting. By his own admittance, and after the Aztec story surfaced, Newton was clandestinely visited by two representatives of “a highly secret U.S. Government entity,” as the late CIA man Karl Pflock worded it. Those same representatives told Newton, in no uncertain terms, that they knew his Aztec story was a complete and bald-faced lie. Incredibly, though, they wanted him to keep telling the tale to just about anyone and everyone who would listen.This led Pflock to wonder and ponder on the following:
“Did the U.S. Government or someone associated with it use Newton to discredit the idea of crashed flying saucers so a real captured saucer or saucers could be more easily kept under wraps?” Far more intriguing, though, is the next question that Karl posed: “Was this actually nothing to do with real saucers but instead some sort of psychological warfare operation [italics mine]?" Pflock - a CIA intelligence officer, and a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration - was not just fascinated by the Aztec saga of 1948, per se. He was also fascinated by the possibility that someone in the government, the intelligence community, or the military – and maybe even a combination of all three – had created the story to hide something else. Or, at the very least, had encouraged the telling and retelling of the Aztec story for psy-op-based reasons.
I know just how fascinated Karl was when it came to Aztec and the claims of Newton and that “highly secret U.S. Government entity.” I first met Karl in 2003 – at a UFO gig in the small town of Aztec, New Mexico. For a number of years, the conference was a yearly event. But, no more. Karl and I were were in touch by landline and fax (how quaint) as far back as the mid-1990s. When Karl and I finally met, he near-immediately suggested that we should write an Aztec-themed book and spend a week or so at the National Archives. Karl’s reasoning was that he knew the story very well, and, via the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, I had uncovered hundreds and hundreds of pages of material – chiefly from the FBI – on the Aztec controversy. He thought we would make a good team, and particularly so now that I lived in the U.S. – and specifically in Texas, which is, of course, not at all far from New Mexico, where Karl resided and where the 1948 crash supposedly happened.
As I listened, Karl told me that his idea was, essentially, to make the book a biography on Newton, but with the Aztec affair being the main thrust. I thought it was a good idea and Karl suggested he prepare a synopsis for his literary agent, Cherry Weiner. Which is exactly what he did. The book was going to be called Silas the Magnificent: A True Tale of Greed, Credulity, and (Maybe) Government Chicanery and Cover-up in 1950s America. Note that the book makes no mention of UFOs in its title and sub-title. Unfortunately, the project was permanently derailed when Karl fell sick with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He unfortunately died from the effects of ALS on June 5, 2006, at the age of just sixty-three. Karl is gone, but the synopsis still exists. It would have made a good book. And, very possibly, it just might have revealed more of the psy-op aspect of Aztec and of other crashed UFO yarns of bygone decades.
It’s also very worth noting that Karl Pflock was – initially, at least - very vocal on the issue of whether or not some form of secret terrestrial device came to grief at Roswell. Commenting in 1994 on the allegations that alien bodies were recovered in the New Mexico area as part of the so-called Roswell "UFO" incident, Pflock was willing, at the time, to conclude that there were indeed “human-like but strangely disfigured bodies” recovered in the New Mexico desert in 1947; and that those same bodies were “associated with some very unusual wreckage.” Pflock was careful to point out that: “Even if there were bodies - and I believe there were - they may not have been of unearthly origin. In which case, Roswell turns out to be a significant chapter in early Cold War history, akin to the currently unfolding disclosures about the U.S. government radiation experiments spawned in the same era.” It’s very important to note that Karl later changed his opinion, quite radically, and became a champion of the theory that what was recovered at Roswell was nothing more extraordinary than a Mogul balloon. Yet, it is interesting that his initial thoughts veered towards the possibility of an event connected to “U.S. government radiation experiments.” There is, however, another angle of all this. Its even stranger that we need to address, something that took place before Karl's death. And it all revolves around one of Silas Newton's personal journals.
Back in 1998, Pflock was approached by a still-anonymous source who had something very interesting to say about the Aztec caper, and about Newton too. It was a decidedly weird series of revelations that Pflock surely never anticipated receiving. To his dying day, Pflock refused to reveal the name of his informant in the shadows – rumors, however, were that the person may have been a nephew of Silas Newton – but, Pflock did say that all of the lunchtime meetings with his source occurred between July 11 and September 24, 1998 and took place in a restaurant in Bernalillo, New Mexico. So the story goes, Pflock’s informant had in their hands twenty-seven pages taken, or rather torn, from an old and faded, lined journal. No prizes for guessing who that journal had belonged to. That’s right, sly, old Silas Newton. Pflock was told that Newton had kept multiple journals and diaries not just for years, but for decades. They were jammed with entertaining tales of sexual conquests, of Hollywood starlets, of the fleecing of the rich and the gullible, and of wild adventures across the United States. The outcome of all this? Newton decided, around the turn of the 1970s, that it was right about time for him to write-up his version of the Aztec controversy. It would surely have been a definitive page-turner. Death, however, inconveniently intervened in 1972, when Newton passed away in his mid-eighties. What happened to all of those journals is anyone’s guess. No wonder that, sometimes, Ufology makes my head spin!
And, just to demonstrate that this "Game of UFOs" is not a single one, consider this: Now-declassified CIA files of 1952 on the notorious Spitsbergen "crashed UFO" affair begin: "Writing in the German magazine Der Fliger, Dr. Waldemar Beck says that a flying saucer which recently fell at Spitsbergen has been studied by eminent Norwegian and German rocket experts. He writes that Dr Norsal, a Norwegian expert in rocket construction, went to the place where the flying saucer had fallen a few hours after it had been discovered in the mountains of Spitsbergen by Norwegian jet planes."
The CIA continued: "In the wreck of the apparatus the expert is said to have discovered a radio piloting transmitter with a nucleus of plutonium transmitting on all wavelengths with 934 hertz, a measure that has been unknown so far. The investigation has also shown that the flying saucer crashed because of a defect in its radio piloting system. The saucer which carried no crew has a diameter of 47 meters. The steel used in the construction is an unknown ally. It consists of an exterior disc provided at its peripheral with 46 automatic jets. This disc pivots around the central sphere which contains the measurement and remote control equipment. The measurement instructions have an inscription in Russian."
Was there some substance to this report? And if so, was this crashed flying saucer Russian or extraterrestrial in origin? Having an interest in the case, I dug further, and came across several pages of U.S. Air Force material that showed shortly after the incident was reported by the media, the intelligence arm of the U.S. Air Force made inquiries with the Norwegian military who asserted that they had no knowledge of the crash. But still the story refused to die. By far the most intriguing aspect of this saga, however, came from none other than the National Security Agency. From the NSA I obtained a translation of a 1960s Russian media article on the UFO subject. Contained within the article, I was interested to see, was a passing reference to the Spitsbergen incident, which stated: "An abandoned silvery disc was found in the deep rock-coal seams in Norwegian coalmines on Spitsbergen. It was pierced and marked by micro-meteor impacts and bore all traces of having performed a long space voyage. It was sent for analysis to the Pentagon and disappeared there."
This was certainly a new slant on the case; but what really caught my eye was the National Security Agency’s reaction to the mention of Spitsbergen. Instead of dismissing the matter as a hoax, a still-unidentified NSA agent circled the paragraph of the article referencing Spitsbergen, and wrote in the margin the intriguing word “PLANT” in bold capitals. Had the NSA been exposed to data that could conclusively lay the legend of Spitsbergen to rest, once and for all? If that was the case, the NSA weren’t saying, and no further evidence pertaining to National Security Agency involvement in the Spitsbergen incident came to light. And yet, that curious one-word note, scrawled many years previous by an anonymous NSA employee, continues to puzzle me. Rather than indicating an outright hoax, the “PLANT” reference suggested that the Spitsbergen story (even if bogus) had been disseminated officially, possibly to cloud and confuse the rumors surrounding crashed-UFO incidents in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Of course, this begs the questions: (A) How many more "UFO crash" stories may have had their origins in the world of government / intelligence-orchestrated programs of disinformation and psychological warfare; and (B) why the need for such actions? Perhaps certain governments really do have crashed UFOs in their possession and wish to swamp the real data with so much faked material that the former will get buried, hidden and confused by the latter. Or, maybe there has never been a real crashed UFO event - ever - but certain governments, at the height of the Cold War, dearly wished to promote such scenarios as a means to frighten and intimidate the enemy. Things to think about!