Nov 17, 2022 I Nick Redfern

UFOs: When Conspiracies, The War of the Worlds, and an "Iron Mountain" Come Together

Sometimes, a story surfaces that is so weird - and so controversial and conspiratorial - that it's hard to believe. But, this story has the lot. And I don't joke. It all began on October 30, 1938. That was when all hell broke loose across the United States of America. That was the date on which a radio play, based on H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel, The War of the Worlds, was broadcasted on the Mercury Theater on the Air – out of Madison Avenue, New York. The brain behind the show was none other than movie legend, Orson Welles. The reason why all hell broke loose is actually very simple: so effective and so well produced was Welles’ radio-based version of H.G. Wells’ novel, it convinced a number of listeners that hostile aliens from the planet Mars were invading our planet – and, in particular, it convinced those who missed the beginning of the show, which made it clear that the whole thing was a piece of drama and not a breaking news story. As we shall soon see very soon. There are good indications that the effect the program had on the populace had a bearing on those powerful figures in government who wish to see us all under their overwhelming control.

(Nick Redfern) Faked alien abduction events?

H.G. Wells’ story is, without doubt, a grim one: a wave of highly advanced Martian attack-craft descend on the United States and then proceed to systematically wage war and try and take over the planet for themselves. The panicked U.S. government warns the people of what is happening, as the military does its best to try and counter the invasion from another world. In skillful, plausible style, Welles had the Martian monsters heading for New York, something which – on the radio – provoked concern. Mass panic was also breaking out on the part of those who were sitting next to their radios, believing all this to be real, and anxious to know what was coming next. It was only at the end of the show that those in states of complete terror realized that what they had been listening to was not a series of news bulletins, but a bunch of actors making it look that way. There was, understandably, widespread relief. Over the years, claims have been made that millions of people were terrified by Orson Welles’ piece of work. Not so, at all. But, the number was certainly in the thousands. If nothing less, the event was a fantastic one.

There is another intriguing, but also sinister, aspect to this fascinating affair: according to conspiracy-theorists, when elements of the U.S. Government realized the sheer and incredible level of fear that Orson Welles’ broadcast provoked, those same elements also came to realize that the issue of invading aliens – albeit in a fictional fashion – would be an ideal way to stage an alien invasion, to provoke martial law, and to have the American people living under absolute control and terror. One of those who was very vocal on this issue was the late William Milton “Bill” Cooper. A promoter of conspiracy theories who was extremely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, Cooper, in 2001, was shot to death at his Arizona during a shoot-out with the police. It was all due to tax evasion on the part of Cooper. Before the Reaper came calling for Cooper, he said more than a bit about The War of the Worlds and a faked alien invasion to ensure the creation of a totalitarian state. He believed that much of the UFO phenomenon, which kicked off big-time in the summer of 1947, was created and encouraged by a secret group within government, one which planted the alien meme into society – and which would ultimately lead people to believe in extratererstrials. And, finally, for those same people to believe in an alien attack that, in reality, would be something else entirely. All of which brings us to a curious, little book that was published in the 1960s. Its title: Report from Iron Mountain.

The late Philip Coppens was a regular figure on the popular History Channel show Ancient Aliens, and right up until his untimely death in 2012. Of the story that this chapter tells, Coppens said: “In 1967, a major publisher, The Dial Press, released Report from Iron Mountain. The book claimed to be a suppressed, secret government report, written by a commission of scholars, known as the ‘Special Study Group,’ set up in 1963, with the document itself leaked by one of its members. The group met at an underground nuclear bunker called Iron Mountain and worked over a period of two and a half years, delivering the report in September 1966. The report was an investigation into the problems that the United States would need to face if and when ‘world peace’ should be established on a more or less permanent basis.” Now, let us take a look at what the report itself says. A notable extract states the following: “It is surely no exaggeration to say that a condition of general world peace would lead to changes in the social structures of the nations of the world of unparalleled and revolutionary magnitude. The economic impact of general disarmament, to name only the most obvious consequence of peace, would revise the production and distribution patterns of the globe to a degree that would make the changes of the past fifty years seem insignificant. Political, sociological, cultural, and ecological changes that would be equally far-reaching. What has motivated our study of these contingencies has been the growing sense of thoughtful men in and out of government that the world is totally unprepared to meet the demands of such a situation.”

(Nick Redfern) The Pascagoula Hickson-Parker "Alien abduction" A real event or a secret experiment?

When Report from Iron Mountain hit the bookstores in 1967, it created near-instant coverage and commentary. The primary reason was because of the overriding conclusion of its writers. Namely, that if world peace was achieved – and on a permanent basis – the economy of the United States would almost certainly collapse. And, with the economy spiraling out of control, it would not be long before social collapse followed too. The book makes for fascinating reading. But, is it really what it purports to be? John Kenneth Galbraith, writing for the Book Supplement of the Washington Post, said: “As I would put my personal repute behind the authenticity of this document, so I would testify to the validity of its conclusions. My reservations relate only to the wisdom of releasing it to an obviously unconditioned public.” The New York Times, in an article written by Eliot Fremont-Smith, said of the controversy-filled book: “It is, of course, a hoax – but what a hoax! – a parody so elaborate and ingenious and, in fact, so substantially original, acute, interesting and horrifying, that it will receive serious attention regardless of its origin.”

It is widely believed in many quarters that Report from Iron Mountain was nothing more than a brilliant hoax – one which still has sizeable followers to this very day. Fingers are pointed in the direction of a man named Leonard Lewin. The theory goes that Lewin was the real brains behind the book, and that he had significant help from a variety of figures in the peace movement, including the editors of Nation – Richard Lingeman and Victor Navasky. Further help came from an economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, and E.L. Doctorow, a writer. Despite such allegations, the report still has a robust following. Although the original edition of Report from Iron Mountain has been out of print for many years, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, new editions of the book began to surface. New prefaces assured readers that the story was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Colonel Fletcher Prouty (on whom Donald Sutherland’s character “X” was based on, in Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK), was sure the book was not a hoax or a satire. Indeed, Prouty made mention of the book, and of his belief in it, in the pages of his memoirs. And, on the matter of Oliver Stone, it’s eye-opening that in 1992, in a preface for Prouty’s memoirs, Stone referred to Report from Iron Mountain as a book which brought to the fore “the key questions of our time.”

We’re still not done with matters relative to the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was quickly ushered in as President when JFK was assassinated, believed that Kennedy himself had given the order for Report from Iron Mountain to be published. So the rumors go, on hearing about the book, Johnson – who was a supporter of the Vietnam War and someone who was against world peace – “hit the roof.” It was also in 1992 that Leonard Lewin filed a lawsuit - specifically for infringement of copyright – against a man named Willis Carto, a white-supremacist. What Carto had done was to sell bootlegged versions of Report from Iron Mountain. This development opened a large and complicated can of worms: Carto was represented by a lawyer named Mark Lane. He argued before the court that Report from Iron Mountain may well have been a genuine government-created document. In which case, it would not be subjected to American copyright laws and legislation.

Then, in the summer of 1995, the Wall Street Journal focused its attention on the controversial book, stating that those who viewed it as real were of the opinion that it offered “proof of a secret government plot to suppress personal liberties and usher in a New World Order dominated by the U.N.” Also in 1995, Garry Wills, writing in the New York Review of Books, offered his readers the following: “Fear of the Pentagon, fairly new on the right, is an old companion on the left. A shrewd satire, Report from Iron Mountain was published in 1967 to mock delusions of ‘wargamers.’ But people continue to circulate it: if it is a government document, it is public property; and if it is copyrighted, that just shows how the government uses its illegal power to suppress information.” Now, we come to the matter of the connection between faked alien invasions to control the world’s population and Report from Iron Mountain. One particular section of the book stands out:

(Nick Redfern) Rendlesham: a test on the military personnel. Nothing else

“Credibility, in fact, lies at the heart of the problem of developing a political substitute for war. This is where the space-race proposals, in many ways so well suited as economic substitutes for war, fall short. The most ambitious and unrealistic space project cannot of itself generate a believable external menace. It has been hotly argued that such a menace would offer the ‘last, best hope of peace,” etc., by uniting mankind against the danger of destruction by ‘creatures’ from other planets or from outer space. Experiments have been proposed to test the credibility of an out-of-our-world invasion threat; it is possible that a few of the more difficult-to-explain ‘flying saucer’ incidents of recent years were in fact early experiments of this kind.”

That final statement was certainly a notable one. And one sure to open eyes. And why might that be? Well, I'll tell you. Since the 1950s onward there have been examples of what we might call "staged UFO events." For example, the aforementioned Philip Coppens was certain that Betty and Barney Hill were not abducted by aliens from a faraway world. Rather, Philip strongly suspected that the whole thing was a game - perhaps, even, orchestrated by a spin-off of the notorious CIA program, MK-Ultra. The same has been said by me about the December 1980 Rendlesham Forest "UFO landing." I'm 100 percent sure that the whole thing was a plot to see how easy it might be to to manipulate a team of military personnel. There are reasons, too, to think the very same about the 1973 Pascagoula, Hickson-Parker "UFO kidnpping." Put all of this story together and it most definitely makes matters even more plausible. And it also makes us think: are there any real UFOs? 

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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