Mar 08, 2023 I Nick Redfern

Some of the Stranger Stories Coming Out of Area 51 - and Out of Another Secured, Top Secret Facility

There can be very few people on the planet who have not heard of its infamous name. Many will be familiar with the extraordinary claims of what, allegedly, goes on there. It’s a place that is saturated in secrecy, cloaked in conspiracy theories, and, according to many, it is home to Uncle Sam’s very own, highly classified, prized collection of secret aircraft, dead aliens, crashed UFOs, and extraterrestrial technology. Highly fortified, and guarded by personnel who have the right to use “deadly force” to protect its many and varied secrets, it is, of course, Area 51. For years, there were rumors of a top secret installation deep in the Nevada desert. Incredibly, outside of the world of officialdom and the people who lived in the area, hardly anyone had heard of the place until the latter part of the 1980s. That was when a controversial character named Bob Lazar came out of the shadows and revealed a startling story. According to Lazar, in late 1988 he worked briefly at a facility on Area 51 called S-4. That work reportedly revolved around the study of a number of acquired alien spacecraft. Yes, the U.S. Government has a secret storage area for vehicles from other worlds. Maybe even from other galaxies. At least, if you buy into the stories of Lazar. 

It’s hardly a surprise that when the Lazar story hit the headlines the media quickly latched onto it, as did the UFO research community, many of whom saw Lazar’s revelations as the breakthrough they had waited for, patiently, and for so long. Maybe it was just such an amazing breakthrough, but, on the other hand, perhaps it wasn’t. We’ll come to that thorny issue later. Regardless of whether or not people bought into Lazar’s revelations, the fact is that the genie’s bottle – so to speak – was, thanks to his disclosures, now open and ready to be mined. As a result, Area 51 appeared in various episodes of The X-Files, in a block-buster movie of 1996, Independence Day, and in numerous other sci-fi-driven shows, as well as on almost endless numbers of television documentaries. Although, from the government’s perspective, it’s barely acknowledged to exist, Area 51 is known worldwide. In a very strange fashion, it has become part of our pop-culture. And that is unlikely to ever change, such is the allure of the tales coming out of the base. But how and why did one top secret government facility achieve such notoriety? That's a good question! Now, to another strange, secret affair.

(Nick Redfern) The world's most famous (and secret) facility.

The U.S. Government working to weaponize occult and supernatural phenomena? And right in the heart of Area 51? If you think it’s too far out, you just might be wrong. It all began in the latter part of the 1960s with one Dr. Sydney Gottleib. Having secured a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in the 1940s, Gottleib, in 1951, was offered the position of head of the Chemical Division of the CIA’s Technical Services Staff. Mind-control, hypnosis, the manipulation of the human mind, and the nurturing of “Manchurian Candidate”-style figures were very much the order of the day. It was work that Gottleib dedicated himself to for years. In 1968, however, life and work changed significantly for Gottleib. Welcome to the world of Operation Often.

Without doubt the brainchild of Gottleib, Operation Often was kick-started thanks to the then-Director of the CIA, Richard Helms. Gottleib very quickly convinced Helms that the CIA should explore the fields of the paranormal, the demonic, and the occult, to determine if, and how, they could be used against the likes of the former Soviet Union and the Chinese. An initial grant of $150,000 was quickly provided. Investigative writer Gordon Thomas says: “Operation Often was intended…to explore the world of black magic and the supernatural.” It did precisely that. In no time at all, Operation Often became something of a secret order, one that was dominated by disturbing phenomena, the study of ancient and priceless books on the occult, and a long list of notable characters. As evidence of this, the personnel on-board with Operation Often were soon mixing with (among many others) fortune-tellers, mediums, psychics, demonologists, astrologers, Satanists, clairvoyants, and even those that practiced sacrificial rituals – such as the followers of Santeria.

In essence, Gottleib and his team were looking to hit and pummel the Russians and the Chinese with hexes, curses, bad luck, ill health, and even death – and all by engaging in Faustian-like pacts with paranormal entities from dark and disturbing dimensions beyond ours. Volunteers on the program were placed into altered states of mind, in the hope that doing so might provoke out-of-body experiences which, then, would allow mind-to-mind contact with anything and everything that might be on the other side, such as demons, devils, and who knows what else? To what extent the program worked is open to debate. Not because the data is sketchy. Rather, the data and the results of the work of Operation Often remain classified – decades after the program was initiated in the late-1960s. This begs an important question: if Operation Often achieved nothing of significance, why not let us know? Where’s the harm in that? That the CIA flatly refuses to release it files on the project strongly suggests that some success – maybe even a great deal of success – was achieved. Of course, when you deal with the Devil, there’s always a price to pay. Perhaps the nature of that price remains classified, too.

While the official line is that the program fizzled out in the early-to-mid 1970s, persistent rumors suggest that having originally operated out of the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, up until 1974, the program was secretly relocated to Area 51 in that same year. Notably, Gottlieb – who died in 1999 – had a working relationship with none other than Edward Teller, who, as we have seen, pops up in the story of Area 51 from time to time, and to a significant degree. Attempts to secure documents on the Gottlieb-Teller connections under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act have not yielded anything. On more than a few occasions, I have been the recipient of fantastic accounts of a mind-blowing nature. The problem, however, is that no matter how deeply I pursued the relevant story, I reached nothing but an endless brick wall. So, I figured I would share with you one of those cases – right here, right now. Of course, I can’t say for sure that it isn’t the work of nothing but a fantasist or a hoaxer, one with an agenda of the very obscure kind. But, by at least putting the data out there, I also figure it may well provoke debate.

It’s a tale that was told to me in 2012 and which focuses on the not insignificant matter of immortality. We all want to live forever, right? Well, yes, we do. Providing, of course, we can remain at the age of our choosing, and not spend our days forever locked into extremely elderly, decrepit mode. As for the story, it was all focused on a hush-hush program that was run out of a particular facility in Utah:  the Dugway Proving Ground. That is, until 2004 when it was reportedly moved to Area 51. It was a program that allegedly began in 2003 and was prompted by the discovery of certain, unspecified, ancient “things” in Baghdad, after the invasion of Iraq began. The project had at its heart something both amazing and controversial. It all revolved around nothing less than attempts to bring the human aging process to a halt – and maybe, even…to reverse it. This was, however, a very unusual program, in the sense that it didn’t just rely on modern day technology and medicine. That may sound odd, but bear with me and I’ll explain what I mean by that.

(Nick Redfern) A connection between Area 51, the Dugway Proving Ground and secret, ancient knowledge?

Yes, the program had a number of brilliant scientists attached to it, but it was also populated by theologians, historians, and archaeologists – who were quietly contracted and hired and subjected to grim non-disclosure agreements. The quest for the truth of immortality was, to a very significant degree, not based around the present or the future, but on the distant past. Much time was spent digging into accounts of none other than “Manna from Heaven,” and the controversies surrounding what has become known as “White Powder Gold,” the “Bread of Presence,” and “Amrita.” All of these have several things in common: (a) they have ancient origins; (b) they have to be ingested; (c) they have the potential to offer perfect health; and (d) they promise never-ending life. Of course, it must be stressed that is what legend, mythology, and ancient religious texts tell us. Actually proving that these mysterious “things” exist and also proving they can do what we are told they can do, is a very different matter. So, I did what I always do in these situations, which is to listen very carefully to what the relevant person has to say. True or not, the story was pretty incredible.

Deep underground, scientists who had spent much of their working lives striving to understand why, exactly, the aging process occurs as it does, were sat next to biblical experts who were deciphering and interpreting ancient texts on the aforementioned life-extending, digestible substances. Military personnel, who were dutifully ensuring the program ran under the strictest levels of security and safety, rubbed shoulders with modern day alchemists, who were striving to crack the White Powder Gold conundrum. And learned souls in the fields of none other than “ancient astronauts,” and the Bible’s legendary “men of renown,” crossed paths with demonologists. The story continued that at least as late as 2010, absolutely no progress had been made, beyond adding to the lore and legend that surrounds tales of immortality and massive lifespans in times long gone. Rather ironically, the fact that I was told the project was a 100 percent failure added credibility to the story – for me, at least, it did. You may think otherwise. To me, it sounds exactly like the kind of off-the-wall program that significant amount of dollars might be provided to, in the event that it just might, one day, offer something sensational and literally life-changing. That the source of the story specifically didn’t spin some controversial and conspiratorial tale of a secret, ruling elite living forever, was one of the things that makes me think there just might have been something to all this – and perhaps there still is.

For most people any mention of Area 51 conjures up imagery of a vast, impenetrable fortress constructed and closely guarded in the middle of nowhere. That’s actually not the complete story though. For example, Area 51 is situated less than one hundred miles away from Sin City itself, Las Vegas. In other words, you can be within almost literal spitting distance of the base in a little more than an hour. What makes Area 51 so impenetrable, though, is the fact that it is heavily guarded – and not just at the base itself. It’s impossible to get within around ten miles of the facility. Armed guards patrol the desert land on a 24/7 basis. Motion-detector sensors are pretty much everywhere. Cameras constantly scan the vast landscape for any and all potential intruders. And if you try and penetrate the base you may well find yourself filled with lead. And, no, that’s not an exaggeration.

Of course, there's no doubt that a great deal of strange and weird things comes out the mouths of people who claim certain, sensational things relative to Area 51. And Dugway, too. Indeed, I only shared these stories with you because I haven't been able to prove there is  any reality to the stories. So far, I haven't found anything solid. Nothing. But, by putting these stories in the public domain, I hope it will bring out least a handful of people who know something. We'll have to wait and see. After all, who knows what might just be around the corner of Area 51? Or of Dugway, too? Maybe...

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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