Jul 26, 2022 I Nick Redfern

UFOs, Aliens, Whistleblowers and a Ufological "Deep Throat"

In my previous article about the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, I briefly mentioned Timothy Cooper, a man who was very much in the "UFO highlight" in the early-to-mid 1990s. And who claimed to have been given a huge stash of highly classified UFO documents. They were largely focused on dead aliens and crashed UFOs. With that said, let's have a look at the story to a greater degree. It was 1990 when Cooper, of Big Bear Lake, California, began to publicly dig deep into the world of aliens. Cooper had every reason to do that. It all came down to Cooper’s father, Harry Bob Cooper. He was someone who spent a number of years in the U.S. Air Force; specifically from 1941 to 1945 and from 1947 to 1960. A few years ago I was able to get a full history of Cooper Sr.’s career from the National Archives. The papers show he was stationed at, among others, the Hawaiian Islands; the Marianas Islands; Alamogordo, New Mexico; and Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Tim Cooper's father was given the Good Conduct Medal; the WWII Victory Medal; the American Defense Service Medal; and more, too. He died on September 2, 2000.

(Nick Redfern) Big Bear Lake, California: A hotbed of controversial UFO documents in the '90s

Cooper Sr. confided in his son something incredible: nothing less than disturbing knowledge of what the U.S. government knew about aliens from other worlds – and of what was being kept from the public. Interestingly, but also frustratingly, Harry Cooper’s material was only spread by the use of aliases. For example, in his 1991 book, UFO Crash/Retrievals: The Inner Sanctum, Leonard Stringfield described Harry Cooper as an “enlisted man” and called him “Bob.” And that’s all Stringfield would call Cooper. Meantime, ufologist Ryan Wood addded a bit by saying that Harry Cooper was a “conduit” of many “document leaks.” One of those “leaks” was said to have been that extremely controversial Marilyn Monroe-UFO document. According to Cooper, Sr., the U.S. government was aware of a great deal on matters relative to extraterrestrial life. Quite out of the blue, UFOs had crashed to Earth in New Mexico in the late-1940s. One of those UFOs was the device found relatively near to Roswell, New Mexico, said Cooper, Sr. The bodies of the diminutive, somewhat-human-like creatures that were on-board were hastily taken to secure facilities where they could be autopsied and preserved for careful study. No-one had seen anything like this before. Nobody wanted to. “Nightmarish” was the all-encompassing word for it all. 

Planet Earth had visitors – and no-one knew why they were suddenly here. Things began to get even more worrying for the White House of the late-1940s. There was evidence the corpses of the retrieved, damaged aliens presented a biological threat to the Human Race. Fears of worldwide pandemics were quickly the order of the day. People were abducted against their wills. Minds were wiped cleaned by aliens. It would later become known in UFO jargon as “missing time.” Medical experiments, of an unclear nature, were performed on people in the dead of night. In rapid time, and behind the scenes, things were threatening to spiral totally out of control. The government was not just worried, but utterly panicked by the sudden, and unearthly, presence in its midst. What was to be done? What could be done? Anything? Nothing? Somewhere in between? The main thing the collective intelligence community, military and government agreed on was to hide the whole situation from the public and the media. In fact, from everyone who was deemed a threat to national security. Sometimes, it was rumored, those “in the know” were shut down forever. See what I mean. 

(Nick Redfern) The "Marilyn Monroe UFO document" that provoked so much controversy

For example, the jump (or, maybe, the ruthless push) of the first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal from the 16th floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland on May 22, 1949, was rumored to have been directly caused by Forrestal’s breakdown. And what provoked that mental collapse? It all depends on who you ask. Ufologists will tell you Forrestal - a man with a mind filled with swirling secrets – was overwhelmed by the dark, alien secrets he suddenly found himself burdened with. The only thing we know for sure is that just a couple of months before Forrestal’s life was no more, he told his long-time friend, William O. Douglas, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: “Bill, something awful is about to happen to me.” Something awful did happen. Death came for Forrestal. The very first fatal victim of the UFO cover-up? Don’t bet against it. And, maybe, Marilyn was the next one up against the wall.  

It wasn’t long before Cooper began to receive more and more packages and letters in the mail. Such deliveries, to Cooper’s Big Bear Lake Post Office Box, continued up until around 1996. They contained nothing less than what appeared to be highly-classified documents on some of the same things that Cooper, Sr. had told his son about years earlier. Cooper, Jr., it seemed, had his very own “Deep Throat.” Or, as it transpired, a pair of them. They were Thomas Cantwheel and Salina Cantwheel: a father and daughter team. Both were said to have worked in the world of intelligence and espionage for decades. By the 1990s, they were ready to get the secrets of the Saucers out for all of us to see. They tried to do so, by providing a wealth of amazing papers on UFO secrecy.

Since “Cantwheel” is not a real name, and never has been, it became quickly obvious that the mysterious pair were using very curious pseudonyms (the closest real name is “Cantwell”). The mail-drops became more and more regular and the documents grew in number. Cooper decided to seek out the advice and help of a number of UFO researchers, including nuclear-physicist Stanton Friedman, who died in 2020, and Leonard Stringfield, who I mentioned earlier and who passed away in 1994. It was advice on what was going down that Cooper wanted - and also to share with Friedman and Stringfield some of the material that had fallen into his lap. Both men were excited, but cautious, by what Cooper had described to them. One of the things Cooper put together for Friedman - and that very few have ever seen - was a 14-pages-long document on Cantwheel, his history, his work and a great deal more. I was able to get my hands on that entire document in the 1990s (Friedman was good enough to give me a photocopy of it). It describes the elderly Cantwheel as being “6 ft. 2 in. tall,” “in early 90s,” “speaks with a southern draw,” “rambles and changes subject quickly,” and “has good command of Russian and German language.” 

Cooper also informed Stringfield and Friedman that Cantwheel had spent time in Japan in the post-Second World War era, something that continued up until 1949. From there onward Cantwheel spent his life and career in the world of intelligence, counterintelligence, and manipulation, mostly in the United States. God knows how much of all this was true. Or wasn’t. That was one of the sticky issues that nagged me throughout this entire investigation: what was real and what wasn’t? Many in Ufology were sure (or hoped) the growing stash of documents was the genuine article. That no-one had seen either of the Cantwheels’ didn’t help the investigation, though. Were they just the creations of someone’s fertile mind? Questions similar to those popped up now and again through the nineties. It was understandable. Since, then, however, Ryan Wood has confirmed that although most of the documentation on crashed UFOs and dead aliens reached Cooper by mail, Cantwheel “finally initiated brief face-to-face contact.”

Always from behind the shadows, Cantwheel assured Cooper he wanted the truth to finally come out. All of it. But, a reasonable question had to be posed: how could someone, who had spent their whole working life in the fields of deception, manipulation, and disinformation, be trusted? That was the head-spinning question at the forefront of some in Ufology. So, Cooper put even more material on the table for the UFO community to see. Not everyone, it has to be said, was sure those papers were stolen from government vaults by the Cantwheels. Some strongly suspected there were no Cantwheels. A few characters in Ufology – such as the late UFO debunker and journalist, Philip Klass - pointed their fingers in the direction of Cooper himself. In one of my few phone-based conversations with Klass, he suggested to me that Cooper was a “Walter Mitty”-type character - a man who created the documents as a means to try and earn significant wads of money and achieve a high degree of fame. There were other theories, too. 

That Cantwheel was said to have spoken fluent Russian made some people in the UFO community wonder if he was working for the Russians – or, even worse, that he was a Russian and that Cooper had been dragged into a strange disinformation-driven operation, concocted by the high-ups in the bowels of the Kremlin. Was it possible that part of all this was some a strange “game” on the part of the Russians? A nefarious plot to try and create mistrust and paranoia within the U.S. Intelligence community? That was a scenario I seriously addressed.

(Nick Redfern) Secrets, spies and controversial documents

As that mysterious duo of father and daughter continued to quietly work with Cooper, more and more material began to pile up – material that hadn’t been seen before. That included files and records Cooper had obtained from his sources and via the Freedom of Information Act. Mostly, though, those controversy-swamped documents were provided to Cooper illegally – if they were kosher to begin with, that is. There weren’t just manila files; there were boxes of such material. Their titles included “The Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit Field Order;” “The Oppenheimer-Einstein Draft;” “The 1st Annual Report;” and “The SOM1-01: Extraterrestrial Entities and Technology.” There was far more than that. The day came when I got to see all of Cooper’s files – an issue we’ll soon come to. Also, I can say with certainty that writer-researcher Ryan Wood was not exaggerating when he said that “literally thousands of additional pages” [italics mine] of alleged classified UFO documents were in Cooper’s hands. Even to this day, I can say for sure that the UFO community has seen very little of what was in Cooper’s collection. To what extent we'll ever really know the story, I don't know. We may never know. There is still something very intriguing, though. And here it is...

In 2001, Ufologist Robert M. Wood got a hold of all those Cooper’s files from the Cooper home in Big Bear Lake, California. From there, they reached Wood’s place in Orange County. And, finally, Wood gave them all to me - to do whatever needed to be done with them, he said, somewhat vaguely. The massive amount of material that had been in Cooper’s hands for years was now in my hands. Yes, that entire, towering pile of paper. Since Wood was fine about me taking the reins, and seeing where things might lead, I began to work on an inventory of all of Cooper’s massive collection of UFO documents (real, questionable or somewhere in between). Wood had left nothing behind. And, said Wood, if it helped the investigation, it would be okay for me to share as much of the material as possible - at my discretion. Wood realized that storing all the material into bunches of boxes, and doing nothing with it, was pointless. It was for that very same reason both Ryan and Bob Wood created the Majestic Documents website: to get the word out, to share the documents, and hopefully bring forth people who might be in positions to further the research. And get some answers.

 As well as the documents, I dug through all of Cooper’s correspondence, too. Leonard Stringfield, Timothy Good, Stan Friedman and more: their letters were all there. I also scrutinized Cooper’s letters that he’d sent to government branches, to military facilities, to intelligence agencies, and to the Freedom of Information offices at all of those same agencies. Cooper had hoped to get as much information as possible on what really happened out in New Mexico in the summer of 1947 – and elsewhere, too. It scarcely needs mentioning the project would likely take a long time to complete. I was not wrong. It all began in February 2002. I flew out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to California, which is where Wood lives, and checked into an Orange County motel-room for eight days and nights. I have to say that knowing of Cooper’s gigantic collection was completely different to actually seeing it close-up. It was huge. My room, thankfully, was a large one, and with a small office-type, off-shoot from the main room. I’d got all I needed. Almost…

Echoing Hunter S. Thompson’s classic Gonzo-themed book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I set to work – both day and night. I spent the time having the staff bring me impressively-sized club-sandwiches, strong beer, whisky-and-coke, and whatever else caught my eye on the menu. Juggling the booze with potentially-stolen, “above top secret” government documents – that the Men in Black just might have killed for - was no problem for me. What I can tell you is that while I was sprawled-out on the bed with all my scattered notes, and with the documents scattered all over the place, I got to see a lot of photocopied material that many researchers still have yet to see. Much of it was legit documentation. Original documents, I mean. Some, however, had more than an air of questionability about them. Others were caught somewhere foggily in-between. They included the “Blue Boy” document, a lengthy report on the early years of Ufology. It was said to have been put together by a U.S. intelligence agent with an extensive history in UFOs. I saw more, too. Much more: voluminous files on the White Sands Proving Ground, the Los Alamos Laboratory, and other sensitive facilities dating back to the 1940s. I finished the week of work for Bob Wood and a took a late-night flight back to Dallas.To be sure, the whole situation has proved to be a bizarre, mystery-filled affair.

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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