Mar 07, 2023 I Nick Redfern

UFO Manipulation, UFO Disinformation, and Aliens That Never Quite Were

In one of my previous articles, I demonstrated how all the stories of UFOs coming out of Area 51 might have been nothing but disinformation and manipulation. What's important to know is that other countries have done this, too. Let's have a look at some of those cases. Nineteen-sixty-nine was the year in which an elaborate UFO-themed Soviet ruse was put into place. This one was highly sophisticated and revolved around a crashed UFO and the autopsy of an alleged alien creature. The story itself is undeniably fascinating – which is what the Russians were surely counting on – as the “evidence” is an old piece of film-footage that reportedly chronicled the whole thing. While the crash of the UFO is said to have occurred in March 1969, the story – and the attendant film – did not surface until 1998, almost three decades later. That was the year in which a television production, The Secret KGB UFO Files, was broadcast in the United States and elsewhere. A great deal of money was put into the over-sensationalized production and it was hosted by the late Roger Moore, the star of seven of the phenomenally successful James Bond movies. The documentary covered a wide body of UFO-based data (some of it blatantly hoaxed); however, there’s no doubt that it was specifically the film of the supposed crashed UFO and its deceased crew-member which caught the attention of most of those who bothered to watch it.

Certainly, a great deal of effort went into the production of the film: this was no amateur, half-hearted operation. The footage is grainy, appears old, and was filmed by someone with a hand-held camera. It shows around fifteen-to-twenty men wearing Russian uniforms, thick coats and hats; they are all armed and are guarding a small, circular-shaped craft which appears to have slammed into the ground in a wooded, frosty area. The location was said to have been Sverdlovsky, Russia. The trees are largely bereft of leaves and everything points to the incident having occurred in very cold, bleak weather. Only around a half of the saucer-shaped vehicle protrudes out of the soil, in an angled fashion. The inference is that the military unit found the craft shortly after it hit the ground and, at the time of the filming, were in the process of guarding the site from any and all onlookers that might have come along. To this day, we don’t know where the film came from, and how it reached the producers of The Secret KGB UFO Files. We’re told that the production company had to pay $10,000 U.S. dollars to secure it, after it was smuggled out of KGB archives. Supposedly.    

(Nick Redfern) How much UFO lore is disinformation? And how much of it is the real thing?

It is worth noting the following from the National UFO Center: “The footage at the crash site does seem to be authentic at least on several points. The truck in the film is a circa 1950 model ZIS151, which has not been used by the military for quite some time, and the truck would have been difficult to find to stage a hoax with. Other elements of the film do not exhibit any obvious signs of a hoax.” It should be noted there are two other, old military vehicles in the film, too. As for the remaining portion of the film, it very much mirrors the notorious “Alien Autopsy” film, which, in 1995, was foisted on the world by a man named Ray Santilli, and to wildly varying degrees of fanfare. Three men appear to be working on the autopsy of a small, humanoid creature, while a woman take notes. Numerous websites claim that the woman has been identified as a “KGB stenographer” named “O.A. Pshonikina.” This statement has been repeated time and again; yet, there is no evidence to prove the claim. Such is the reliability – or not - of the Internet. Did this footage amount to the Soviet Union’s hasty response to the Serpo operation? To have the U.S. Government and the intelligence community to think that the Russians had recovered, and were extensively studying, alien creatures and their technology? These are mind-boggling, yet utterly plausible, questions to ponder on.

Now, let's look to a strange story of a UFO "plant." But, by whom? Well, that's a significant thing to ponder on. For decades, tales have circulated suggesting that in 1952 a flying saucer crashed on the island of Spitsbergen, Norway. And, that under circumstances not dissimilar to those that supposedly occurred at Aztec, New Mexico, in 1948, the unearthly craft was supposedly recovered, along with its deceased, alien crew. It transpires that a reference to this case can be found in a UFO-themed document that has surfaced under the terms of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act from the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden’s old employers. It’s a reference that adds yet further weight to the idea that government operatives have carefully and clandestinely used the UFO subject for manipulative, mind-warping purposes.

(Nick Redfern) Karl Pflock: From UFOs to the CIA.

The NSA’s copy of this previously-classified document is very slightly different to copies of the same document that have been declassified by the U.S. Air Force, the Department of State, and the U.S. Army. Someone in the NSA – unfortunately, we don’t know who – identified the Spitsbergen story in the document as being a “plant.” As for who secretly seeded the story, and why, well, that’s another matter entirely. Maybe, U.S. intelligent agents planted the story to try and further have the Russians believe that the U.S. government was back-engineering extraterrestrial spacecraft, when it really wasn’t. On the other hand, the “planters” may have been the Soviets themselves, trying to achieve something almost identical, but aimed squarely at the heart of the White House and the Pentagon. Jack Brewer, who runs The UFO Trail blog, says of all this amazing chicanery concerning the Spitsbergen saucer saga of 1952: “It should be a forgone conclusion at this point that the UFO topic was exploited by the global intelligence community for a variety of purposes from one operation and era to the next. The consequences might indeed be significant and far-reaching.” From 1947 to the early years of the 1950s, we have seen prime evidence of how the East and the West used the UFO phenomenon – the “mythos” might be a more appropriate word to use – as a means to put the wind up the opposition. As will become clear in the following chapter, not only did these programs continue; they also resulted in the creation of some seriously weird, and highly influential, belief-systems concerning extraterrestrials. In some quarters, they still continue to be championed to this very day. 

Moving on: there's the matter of a fascinating saucer-saga. The strange story of the alleged UFO crash at Aztec, New Mexico in March 1948 – and the recovery of a number of dead “little men” at the site - is a real hotbed of lies, disinformation, and shady characters. Most of those same characters were best avoided by those with dollars to spare. The tale was made infamous in the pages of Frank Scully’s 1950 blockbuster, Behind the Flying Saucers; it was a book which turned out to be a huge seller. Today, the Aztec affair is seen by some ufologists as Roswell’s “little brother.” As its “skeleton in the cupboard” might be a far more apt description, however. Many researchers of the UFO phenomenon dismiss the Aztec incident as nothing but a hoax; one which was perpetrated by a shady businessman/conman named Silas Newton. His less-than-shining FBI file can be accessed at the FBI’s website, The Vault. When it came to stories of aliens from faraway worlds, making money was always the goal for Newton. And the only goal. Along for the ride with Newton was Leo Gebauer. He was a quasi-scientist and the Igor to Newton’s ego-driven Dr. Frankenstein. There is, though, a very interesting and extremely odd aspect to the Newton/Aztec story. It serves to demonstrate how the UFO phenomenon was becoming the tool of manipulative disinformation specialists in the intelligence community. And not just of the Soviet Union. The United States was getting into the strange game, too.

Back in 1998, the late Karl Pflock, ufologist and CIA employee (sometimes at the same time…), 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 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. 

As for those few pages that Pflock was allowed to see – and to transcribe word for word – they tell a tale of undeniable weirdness. By his own admittance, and a couple of years after the Aztec story surfaced in Frank Scully’s book, Newton was clandestinely visited by two representatives of “a highly secret U.S. Government entity,” as Pflock carefully and tactfully described it. Those same representatives of the government told Newton, in no uncertain terms, that they knew his Aztec story was a complete and bald-faced lie. Utter bullshit, in fact. Incredibly, though, they wanted Newton to keep telling the tale to just about anyone and everyone who would listen. This caused Pflock to ponder on an amazing possibility: “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?”

(Nick Redfern) Dummies or ETs? It all depends on who you ask.

Far more intriguing, though, and highly relevant to the theme of this book, is the next question that Pflock posed: “Was this actually nothing to do with real saucers but instead some sort of psychological warfare operation [italics mine]?” With the Newton revelations in hand, Pflock, no later than 1999, came to believe that back in the early fifties someone in the government, the intelligence community, or the military of the United States – and maybe even a swirling combination of all three – wanted the Aztec story further circulated. The purpose: as a means to try and convince the Russians that the U.S. military had acquired, or captured, alien technology. When, in reality, it had no such thing in its possession at all.  And, one final thing that will take us right back to the very beginning...

As well as investigating what appeared to be legitimate, mystifying UFO encounters in the summer of 1947, the FBI also studied the possibility that the Russians were recruiting communists within the United States to provoke fear – and were using aspects of the UFO enigma to heighten that fear. Barely a month after the Kenneth Arnold situation erupted and caused worldwide amazement, FBI Special Agent S.W. Reynolds had a face-to-face chat with Brigadier George F. Schulgen, of the Intelligence Branch of the Army Air Corps Intelligence. The reason was, in part, to address that controversial matter of potential Russian manipulation of the UFO issue. In fact, it was this theory – rather than matters relative to aliens or to highly classified U.S. military programs – that was at the forefront of Brigadier Schulgen’s thinking. FBI records show Schulgen informed Reynolds that “the first reported sightings might have been by individuals of Communist sympathies with the view to causing hysteria and fear of a secret weapon [italics mine].” Schulgen’s team suspected that many flying saucer sightings were not what they seemed to be. Rather, they were completely fabricated tales – with no real UFO component attached to them at all, but driven by a Soviet operation to maximize deep concern in the United States. The Russian program to meddle  with the UFO phenomenon had begun. It's still going on.

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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