Mar 19, 2023 I Nick Redfern

Was JFK Really Killed For What He Knew About UFOs and Aliens?

One of the major areas of controversy that surrounds the ever-present UFO mystery on our world, and that is seldom discussed in a serious forum, is that which suggests a link between the U.S. Government’s UFO secrets and the assassination of United States President John. F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. As fantastic as such a theory may sound, there is a demonstrable body of evidence available that links numerous people to the JFK saga who were also allied to the UFO subject. Moreover, some UFO researchers suggest that Kennedy’s death was nothing less than a state-sponsored killing that followed a decision secretly made by Kennedy, shortly before the assassination, to reveal the Government’s UFO secrets to the public – and possibly even to the former Soviet Union. In 1988, commenting on Kennedy’s knowledge of the UFO controversy, UFO investigator John Lear stated: “The powers that be had to eliminate President Kennedy because he wanted to release the information on the disks and the aliens in 1963. Since then, we have talked to people who have heard the recording made in the Oval Office when Kennedy pounded his fists [and said]: ‘You guys better get your stuff together because I’m going to tell the public.’” Lear continued: “There were several reasons why [John F. Kennedy] was assassinated. One was the Bay of Pigs fiasco; another was that he had threatened to ‘shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces.’ A third reason was because he threatened to pull all our Americans from Vietnam by 1965. The fourth was that he intended to expose the alien-disk cover up.” Controversial words, indeed. But they do not stand alone. 

(Nick Redfern) Murder and UFOs.

The Emmy-Award-winning television producer Linda Howe uncovered information suggesting that Kennedy was far from happy with the overwhelming secrecy that surrounded the UFO issue. Indeed, as the investigative writer Lars Hansson noted in 1991, after having dined with Howe: “Ms. Howe described her meetings with military intelligence agents a few years before, during which the JFK assassination was discussed in some detail. After relating what they imparted to her she was most emphatic about the wisdom of leaving that issue alone.” Without any doubt, the most controversial data that posits a link between the death of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 and UFOs is that which was provided to a California-based UFO researcher named Timothy Cooper in the mid-1990s. As a result of his interest in UFOs that developed in the 1980s, Cooper cultivated a number of insider-sources within the military, intelligence community, and government: Deep Throat-style informants who would, from time to time, secretly leak to Cooper copies of purportedly real, highly classified documents on UFO sightings, crashed alien spacecraft, and the secret autopsies of extraterrestrial bodies found at Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. Supposedly, the documents originated with an elite group of scientists, military men and several high-ranking CIA sources that, collectively, became known as the Majestic 12, or MJ12.

Interestingly, various MJ12 documents that were provided to Cooper by his insider contacts suggest that between 1961 and his death in November 1963, President Kennedy was trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to determine the full story behind the Intelligence community’s involvement in the UFO subject. Most disturbing to that same community, however, is the claim that Kennedy wanted to completely open up the secrecy surrounding UFOs and share it with one and all. An alleged Top Secret document obtained by Timothy Cooper, and dated June 28, 1961 from Kennedy to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency demands a “review of MJ-12 Intelligence Operations as they relate to Cold War Psychological Warfare Plans’, and adds, ‘I would like a brief summary from you at your earliest convenience.”    According to former CIA Director Allen Dulles, in a Top Secret document dated November 5, 1961, and titled The MJ-12 Project, the United States’ Intelligence world was particularly concerned about the way in which Soviet air defenses perceived UFOs, or perhaps didn’t perceive them. Dulles noted: “The overall effectiveness about the actual Soviet response and alert status is not documented to the point where U.S. intelligence can provide a true picture of how Soviet air defense perceive unidentified flying objects.”

As a result of this worrying revelation, the United States had been launching “decoy” devices to test Soviet radar, and was planning on building and flying “more sophisticated vehicles whose characteristics come very close to phenomena collected by Air Force and NSA [National Security Agency] elements.” In other words, the United States Government was concerned that Soviet air defenses were unable to differentiate between what may have been a true UFO and an American spy-plane, or worse still, an incoming Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile. The nightmarish scenario that hung over the heads of MJ12 was that the Soviets would mistakenly interpret a UFO over its airspace as an American missile and initiate a nuclear attack on the continental United States. Of course, American Intelligence was gambling recklessly by flying “decoy” devices over the Soviet Union. On the one hand, the United States needed data on how accurately, or not, the Soviets were able to track fast-moving, incoming vehicles of unconventional design. And, flying devices that mimicked the movements of true UFOs offered the United States convenient camouflage if the Russians protested. But, there was also the ever-present danger that initiating such actions might have led the Soviets to panic and launch a strike against the West.

(Nick Redfern) Downtown Dallas. We all know what happened there.

Kennedy, realizing this, privately began to formulate a plan to share ‘real’ UFO data with the Soviets, in an attempt to ensure that the Russians were fully able to interpret the difference between a UFO and an American Inter-Continental-Ballistic-Missile, and therefore avoid triggering an accidental, and catastrophic, war. Ten days before his death, according to a document secured by Timothy Cooper, JFK wrote to the Director of the CIA stating that he had instructed NASA’s Director, at the time,  to ‘develop a program with the Soviet Union in joint space and lunar exploration’. Within the document, Kennedy made it clear that the Soviets needed to be aware of the differences between ‘bona fide’ UFOs and “classified CIA and USAF sources.” Or as Kennedy succinctly put it: “the knowns [sic] and the unknowns.” Interestingly, a hand-written note at the foot of this document states: “Angleton has MJ directive” – a reference to none other than James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s Associate Deputy Director of Operations for Counter-Intelligence at the time. Equally controversial is an alleged National Security Agency intercept of a telephone conversation that Kennedy had on the same day with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev that Timothy Cooper secured. Titled UFO Working Groups, the document reads as follows:

Kennedy: Mr. Premiere a situation has developed that affects both our countries and   the world and I feel it necessary to convey to you a problem that we share in common.

Khrushchev: Mr. President, I agree.

Kennedy: As you must appreciate the tension between our two great nations has often brought us to the brink of showmanship with all the tapestry of a Greek comedy and our impasse last year [a reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962] was foolish and deadly. The division that separates us is through misunderstanding, politics, and cultural differences. But we have one thing in common which I would like to address to your working group on the UFO problem.

Khrushchev: Yes, yes, I agree with your assessment. We nearly tied the knot that divides us permanently. Our working group believes the same way as yours. The UFO problem presents grave dangers.

Kennedy: Then you agree, Mr. Premiere that we should cooperate together on this issue?

Khrushchev: Yes, Mr. President.

Kennedy: Mr. Premiere, I have begun an initiative with our NASA to exchange information with your Academy of Sciences in which I hope will foster mutual concern over this problem and hopefully find some resolution. I have also instructed our CIA to provide me with full disclosure on the phantom aspects and classified programs in which I can better assess the situation. Can you persuade your KGB to do likewise?

Khrushchev: Mr. President, I cannot guarantee full cooperation in this area but I owe it to future history and the security of our planet to try. As you must know I have been somewhat limited in my official capacity as Party Chairman to order such cooperation in this area. We too feel that the UFO is a matter of highest importance to our collective security. If I can arrange for a secret meeting between our working groups at a secret location and at a time designated by you [sic]. I feel that this much on my part can happen.

Kennedy: Mr. Premiere, if a meeting at this level can convene it will be an important first step. It will lead to more dialog and trust between our countries and reduce the ever present threat of nuclear war.

Khrushchev: Yes, Mr. President, it will.

Kennedy: Then we are in agreement.

Khrushchev: Yes.

Kennedy: Yes. Until we talk again. 

And that's where that "leaked" document ends. I have to say that all of this Khrushchev stuff is complete and utter garbage. Certainly, there are some genuine links between JFK and UFOs, but this Khrushchev document is, frankly, a waster of time. As the above transcript demonstrates, Kennedy’s desire to inform the Soviets of  ‘the phantom aspects and classified programs’, strongly suggests that the worry that UFOs would be misinterpreted as secret U.S. Air Force and CIA reconnaissance aircraft and could result in an all-out war was still on Kennedy’s mind, hence his wish to provide Khrushchev with the facts. And JFK’s comment that the sharing of data would “lead to more dialog and trust between our countries and reduce the ever present threat of nuclear war” only reinforces that fact. Needless to say, this was all completely unacceptable to the CIA, and the inevitable and ominous countdown to Kennedy’s assassination at Dallas on November 22, 1963 began. Of course, skeptics say, if some of the alleged players involved in Kennedy’s assassination – or those in the official world that Kennedy consulted with as he sought to secure the alien truth – were linked with clandestine UFO investigations, we would surely see some evidence of that link. And, surprisingly enough, when we look we do indeed find that evidence.

(Nick Redfern) Oswald or someone else?

A controversial character that turns up in most of the books on the JFK assassination is Guy Banister, a former FBI agent, who, at the time of the killing, was running his own detective agency – Guy Banister Associates – in New Orleans. Banister had been the subject of an investigation by the Warren Commission that investigated Kennedy’s death, but became the subject of a much deeper investigation by New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison. Banister’s detective agency was based at 531 Lafayette. However, the building had a second entrance at 544 Camp Street, which was the location of an anti-Castro organization (the Cuban Revolutionary Council) created by E. Howard Hunt and Bernard Barker, of Watergate infamy. It was determined by the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of JFK, that Lee Harvey Oswald used the 544 Camp Street address for the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. 

After Banister died, his widow found Fair Play for Cuba Committee papers at Banister’s office. Similarly, Banister’s secretary confirmed that Banister and Oswald were acquainted. During his FBI years at Chicago, Banister worked with Robert Maheu, a consultant to Howard Hughes, who planned various assassination plots against Fidel Castro. Banister also worked as the Louisiana coordinator for a group known as the Minutemen – a militia-style organization that was looking for Communist infiltrators and supporters in the United States. Only a few hours after JFK was shot, Banister drunkenly beat one of his investigators, Jack Martin, with a gun, concerned that Martin was going to reveal David Ferrie’s role as getaway pilot for the real assassins of Kennedy. As far as UFOs are concerned, Banister was one of the first FBI agents that investigated crashed UFO stories for FBI boss, J. Edgar Hoover, when Hoover instructed his agents, in the summer of 1947, to assist the Army Air Force in its UFO inquiries. The most notorious UFO event that Banister investigated occurred in Twin Falls, Idaho in July 1947 and tied Banister in directly with the crashed UFO controversy. 

The following is extracted from the Tacoma News Tribune of July 12, 1947: “FBI agent W. G. Banister said an object which appeared to be a “flying disk” was found early today at Twin Falls, Idaho, and turned over to federal authorities there. Banister, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Montana and Idaho, said the bureau had reported the discovery to the army at Fort Douglas, Utah. An FBI agent in Twin Falls, inspected the “saucer” and described it as similar to the “cymbals used by a drummer in a band, placed face to face.” The object measured 30 ½ inches in diameter, with a metal dome about 14 inches high on the opposite side, anchored in place by what appeared to be stove bolts. The gadget is gold plated on one side and silver (either stainless-steel, aluminium or tin) on the other. It appeared to have been turned out by machine, reports from Twin Falls said. The FBI declined to elaborate further.”

It is worth noting that Banister had behind-closed-doors meetings with the Army at Fort Douglas, Utah, to discuss the nature of the object. As this alleged crash and subsequent meeting occurred during the time of the reported UFO crash at Roswell, it is not implausible that Banister (being the original custodian of the object) may have been exposed to the truth about crashed saucers, particularly if there had been initial confusion about the real nature of the object – as indeed there was. On June 21 1947, a distinctly strange series of events occurred at Maury Island, Tacoma, USA that, according to some, may have involved a malfunctioning UFO that exploded in the sky and subsequently showered a large amount of debris down on the surrounding area. Not only that: the research of investigative writer Kenn Thomas has demonstrated that one of the key players in the story was later implicated, by several sources, in the death of President Kennedy. So the story goes, on the morning in question, a lumber salvager named Harold Dahl, his son, and two still-unidentified individuals witnessed six, disc-shaped aircraft – one in the middle, wobbling in a strange fashion while the remaining objects surrounded it – flying in formation over Puget Sound, Tacoma at a height of around 2,000 feet.

(Nick Redfern) Was there really a UFO-JFK assassination cabal? 

Dahl described the objects as being “shaped like doughnuts,” and with “five portholes on their sides’. Suddenly, the central disk began to wobble even more and dropped to a height of no more than 700 feet. The remaining discs then broke formation, with one of them descending to the same height as the apparently malfunctioning disc and then proceeded to “touch it.” Without warning, the malfunctioning disc then began to ‘spew forth’ what appeared to be two different substances: a white-colored material that Dahl described as a thin, white “newspaper-like” metal that floated down to the bay; and a black substance, that also hit the water, and that was reportedly hot enough to “cause steam to rise.” According to the story, Dahl reported the events in question to his superior: Fred Crisman, a man with a long and complicated life story, and suspected ties to the murky world of American Intelligence. Since Dahl had supposedly retained samples of the recovered debris, he convinced Crisman to go to the Maury Island shore and take a look for himself.  Crisman would later claim that he saw on the shore an “enormous amount” of both the black and the white material, and recovered some of it for his own safekeeping.

Crisman duly reported his experience to the publisher Ray Palmer (of Amazing Stories fame), who hired none other than Kenneth Arnold to investigate the Maury Island affair. Arnold, whose own, historic encounter came three days after Dahl’s encounter at Maury Island, delved deeply into the story, and was later joined by two Air Force investigators, Captain William Lee Davidson and First Lieutenant Frank Mercer Brown, who were working under General Nathan Twining to collect information on the then-current wave of UFO encounters that was being widely reported across the United States. Crisman turned over samples of the mysterious debris to the Air Force investigators, who intended to fly it to their final destination at Wright Field, Ohio. Fate would have another outcome, however. Shortly after Brown and Davidson departed from Washington State, their plane crashed, killing both men. A team was dispatched to clean up the site. Reportedly, the strange debris could not be located. Many commentators (including Captain Edward Ruppelt of Project Blue Book fame) have stated that the entire Maury Island event was nothing more than an unfortunate hoax that had a tragic outcome for Brown and Davidson. Kenn Thomas’s intense and dedicated research, however, has shown that the affair might not be as black-and-white as has previously been assumed. 

Most significant, are Crisman’s links with the Intelligence community: In 1968, Fred Crisman was subpoenaed by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, as part of Garrison’s investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. In a well-known report titled The Torbitt Document, Crisman is named as one of the three “hoboes” picked up in the rail yard behind the infamous Grassy Knoll at Dealey Plaza, Dallas where, some maintain, a “second gunman” was located during the killing of Kennedy. The fog of time has effectively resulted in certain aspects of the Maury Island case remaining unresolved – and perhaps permanently, too. For some, the case is still nothing but a tragic hoax. For others, however, it is seen as one of the most important cases of all, involving the actual recovery of debris from a malfunctioning UFO. The involvement of shadowy players on the periphery of the Intelligence community; the possibility of the deliberate murder of Air Force personnel in possession of the strange materials recovered at Maury Island; and even both direct and indirect links to the JFK assassination, all serve to ensure that the controversy surrounding the Maury Island affair continues. 

According to a document secured by Timothy Cooper from one of his whistleblower sources and titled  the Majestic 12 1st Annual Report, some of the debris from Maury Island was turned over by Crisman (described in the document as a Counter Intelligence Corps operative) to a CIA agent named Shaw. Researcher Kenn Thomas suggests that this was Clay Shaw – one of three people that Jim Garrison attempted to indict during his quest for the truth surrounding the JFK assassination. And although Shaw was eventually acquitted, his role as a CIA asset has since then been well documented, and finally admitted officially by the Agency. For his part, Garrison claimed that his prosecution of Shaw was a “toe-hold” to a larger conspiracy in which Fred Crisman may have been an assassin working on behalf of the aerospace industry, which had its own reasons for wanting JFK dead. Shaw himself died on August 14, 1974. 

(Nick Redfern) The Roswell crash-site.

The co-author with William Birnes of the book The Day After Roswell that detailed his alleged secret knowledge of the Roswell UFO crash of July 1947, Colonel Philip Corso was an investigator for Senator Richard Russell, who was on the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy. At the time of his death, Corso was planning a follow-up book with the working title of The Day After Dallas that would, he said finally reveal to one and all the truth about the JFK assassination. How curious that someone who claimed to know the truth about Roswell also allegedly maintained intimate knowledge of Kennedy’s death. Equally as fascinating is the fact that the aforementioned Senator Russell was also implicated in the UFO mystery: he had a major UFO sighting while visiting Russia in 1955 that was subsequently investigated, extensively, by both the CIA and the Air Force. It is known, from cryptic comments that he made, that Russell received a classified briefing on the UFO subject from the CIA. Interestingly, Russell was the one member of the Warren Commission who believed that a conspiracy lay behind Kennedy’s death. And the links do not end there.

Indeed, it's a big game: there are a lot of claims concerning JFK and the UFO phenomenon. But, there are also a lot of hoaxed documents in the picture, too. So, if you want to try and see if there really was a JFK-UFO link, then go ahead. But don't embrace everything. Some of the material is the real deal. The rest? That's outright disinformation - and particularly so the Majestic 12 material. In other words, go carefully and don't believe all you hear. But, there was something in it all...

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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