May 12, 2023 I Nick Redfern

President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" Program - and Aliens and UFOs Were in the Strange Process

In March 1983, President Ronald Reagan announced his plans to create a futuristic defense system designed to ensure the western world remained free of nuclear attack by the Soviets. While the Strategic Defense Initiative was its official title, the project is far better known by its nickname: Star Wars. The idea, which finally got off the ground in 1984, was a decidedly far-reaching and alternative one. Essentially, the plan involved deploying powerful laser-based weapons into the Earth’s orbit that, in essence, would provide a collective shield that could skillfully and decisively destroy any incoming Soviet or Chinese nuclear weapons. The program was not just ambitious: it finally proved to be overly ambitious. Ultimately, the Strategic Defense Initiative program collapsed under its own weight and a lack of adequate technology to allow it to work in the fashion that Reagan had enthusiastically envisaged. Nevertheless, it wasn’t entirely abandoned: during the Clinton administration it became the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, and is today known as the Missile Defense Agency. 

Although the MDA is a vital component of America’s defense and security, it’s a far cry from the Star Wars-like SDI-based imagery of hundreds of laser-firing weapon-systems positioned high above the United States. But, in its very earliest years, SDI was seen as a winner by many. But was it really the Soviets that Reagan was worried about? Ever since the SDI program was announced, rumors have circulated to the effect that it was a far stranger enemy that was plaguing the mind of the president, an enemy that wasn’t even human or fully understood, in terms of its origins and motivations. SDI, the theory goes, was planned to take on not an internal threat, but an external one: an evil, extraterrestrial empire, no less. It’s intriguing to note that, according to Bob Lazar, massive amounts of funding that should have gone to SDI were actually secretly syphoned off to the UFO programs at Area 51. In other words, Congress had no knowledge of the fact that the money had been allocated elsewhere. It would have been the perfect way to provide the staff at Area 51’s S-4 with huge funding, but no-one would ever know. There wouldn’t even have been any kind of congressional oversight. Not even the president would have any knowledge of what was going on. 

(Nick Redfern) Area 51, S-4 and highly secret programs

Of equal interest, there are two additional UFO-Star Wars connections: (a) President Reagan, at the height of his promotion of the Star Wars proposals, was also pushing stories about hostile aliens, as we shall soon see; and (b) Edward Teller, who, in almost single-handed fashion got Bob Lazar his job at Area 51, was tied not just to Star Wars but also to the investigation of the UFO phenomenon – which we will also see. We’ll begin with Teller. As far back as the late-1940s, Edward Teller was deeply plugged into the secret world of UFOs. It all revolved around a classified program code-named Project Twinkle. During the latter part of the 1940s, a curious phenomenon was repeatedly seen in the skies over New Mexico. USA: strange, green, glowing balls of light which seemed to take a great deal of interest in the various military and defense establishments which existed in the area at the time. On May 25, 1950, Lieutenant Colonel Doyle Rees, of the USAF Office of Special Investigations, wrote a confidential memo to Brigadier General Joseph F. Carroll, the Director of Special Investigations. In part, it stated:

“In a liaison meeting with other military and government intelligence and investigative agencies in December 1948, it was determined that the frequency of unexplained aerial phenomena in the New Mexico area was such that an organized plan of reporting these observations should be undertaken. The organization and physical location of units of this District were most suitable for collecting these data, therefore, since December 1948, this District has assumed the responsibility for collecting and reporting basic information with respect to aerial phenomena in this general area.” The “aerial phenomena” to which Lt. Col. Rees referred to fell into three clearly definable categories: (a) “green fireball phenomena;” (b) “disc or variation;” and (c) “probably meteoric.” It is category “a” that I am focusing on here. Rees continued to Carroll: “There is attached an analysis of the green fireball occurrences in this area made by Dr. Lincoln La Paz. Dr. La Paz is the Director of the Institute of Meteoritics and Head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of New Mexico…”

Rees added that on February 17 and October 14, 1949, conferences were convened at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to discuss the green fireball phenomenon. In attendance were representatives of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, Air Materiel Command, and the FBI. On the matter of the FBI, a document prepared by staff at the San Antonio, Texas office of the FBI – on January 31, 1949 – included the following on the green fireballs, the “discs” and the meteoric phenomena: “This matter,” the FBI recorded, “is considered top secret by intelligence Officers of both the Army and the Air Forces.” Also on January 31, the FBI said: “There have been daytime sightings which are tentatively considered to possibly resemble the exhaust of some type of jet-propelled object. Night-time sightings have taken the form of lights usually described as brilliant green, similar to a green traffic signal or green neon light…Recent observations have indicated that the unidentified phenomena travel at a rate of speed estimated at a minimum of three miles per second and a maximum of twelve miles per second, or 27,000 miles an hour. Their reported course indicates that they travel on an East-West line with probability that they approach from the Northern Quadrant, which would be the last stage of the great circle route if they originated in Russia.”

(Nick Redfern) Project Twinkle: Were the Russians the culprits?

All of this most definitely raised more than a few eyebrows within the U.S. military. The outcome was that a program was established to specifically study the matter of the green fireballs. It was known as Project Twinkle. The FBI had more to say in 1949: “The only conclusions reached thus far are that they are either hitherto unobserved natural phenomena or that they are man made. No scientific experiments are known to exist in this country which could give rise to such phenomena.” Project Twinkle files reveal that Dr. La Paz suspected the Green Fireballs were, “…U.S. guided missiles undergoing tests in the neighborhoods of the sensitive installations they are designed to defend.” He added, however, that, “…if I am wrong in interpreting the guided missiles as of U.S. origin, then certainly, intensive, systematic investigation of these objects should not be delayed until the termination of the present academic year. Recent international developments compel one to sense the imperative necessity of immediate investigation of the unconventional green fireballs, in case you are in possession of information proving that they are not U.S. missiles.” For a year or so, the green fireballs were seen time and again around sensitive installations in the southwest – after which the sightings dropped, and finally came to an end. Project Twinkle remained active for a while, however, even though matters had certainly calmed down. The Final Report on Project Twinkle reveals the following from 1952: “The Scientific Advisory Board Secretariat has suggested that this project not be declassified for a variety of reasons, chief among which is that no scientific explanation for any of the ‘fireballs’ and other phenomena was revealed by the report and that some reputable scientists still believe that the observed phenomena are man-made.”

As for the Teller connection, UFO researcher Grant Cameron says: “Dr. Teller’s first encounter came in the early days of the UFO mystery during the Truman Administration. On February 16, 1948, Dr. Edward Teller, along with Dr. Lincoln La Paz, a University of New Mexico astronomer, was part of a secret 1948 ‘Conference on Aerial Phenomena’ that was held at Los Alamos to discuss the UFO phenomena. The particular interest of the conference was the so-called ‘green fireballs’' which were then being widely reported in the area. This green fireball investigation was also known as ‘Project Twinkle.’  Dr. Teller had commented during the conference that he felt the phenomenon was an electro-optic phenomenon rather than a material phenomena due to the lack of noise.” Of equal note, Cameron adds: “In 1958 Teller expressed interest about possible life on Mars. In testimony before the Senate Preparedness Subcommittee on November 25, 1958 he stated that even though the moon and Mars were inhospitable places, Teller felt there would be a search for ‘any kinds of traces of life.’”

From at least the late 1940s to the latter part of the 1980s – when Lazar got the gig of a lifetime – Edward Teller was someone who had deep and long-lasting ties to the UFO phenomenon. That he was also a prime-mover in the Star Wars program suggests he almost certainly knew that Congress was being misled with regard to the diversion allocations of money allocated to Star Wars actually being provided to the personnel at the Nevada Test and Training Range’s S-4. Now, let’s look at what President Reagan had to say about aliens of a hostile kind – and at the same time he was championing the Strategic Defense Initiative. It’s a notable fact that President Reagan made a number of intriguing statements relative to the UFO phenomenon in the mid-1980s – when SDI research was at its height - and specifically from the potential threat it posed to each and every one of us. It all began in November 1985, at the Geneva Summit, when Reagan was deep in discussion with Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev. 

(Nick Redfern) Secret Experiments in New Mexico: the 1940s and 1950s

The subject: trying to find a way to reverse the arms-race and decrease the threat of a global, nuclear holocaust. According to formerly classified memoranda generated by the Department of Defense in 1985: “Reagan said that while the General Secretary was speaking, he had been thinking of various problems being discussed at the talks. He said that previous to the General Secretary’s remarks, he had been telling Foreign Minister Shevardnadze (who was sitting to the President’s right) that if the people of the world were to find out that there was some alien life form that was going to attack the Earth approaching on Halley’s Comet, then that knowledge would unite all the peoples of the world. “Further, the President observed that General Secretary Gorbachev had cited a Biblical quotation, and the President is also alluding to the Bible, pointed out that Acts 16 refers to the fact that ‘we are all of one blood regardless of where we live on the Earth,’ and we should never forget that.” 

Barely four weeks had passed before Reagan publicly raised the UFO issue yet again. This time it was before an entranced throng at Fallston High School, Harford County, Maryland. He told the packed crowd: “I couldn’t help but – when you stop to think that we’re all God’s children, wherever we live in the world – I couldn’t help but say to [Gorbachev] just how easy his task and mine might be if suddenly there was a threat to this world from some other species from another planet outside in the universe. “We’d forget all the little local differences that we have between our countries and we would find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this Earth together. Well, I guess we can wait for some alien race to come down and threaten us, but I think that between us we can bring about that realization.” And Reagan was far from done with alluding to the world that, just perhaps, there might be an extraterrestrial threat waiting in the wings to assume control of the planet. It was September 21, 1987 when, before none other than the United Nations’ General Assembly, Reagan told a captivated audience:  “In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. 

“And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?”

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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