One of the preeminent cultural legacies of the Cold War in
In 1947, the
The truth of what happened in
Whatever the true nature of the black magic Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project unleashed upon the New Mexico desert in ’45, the region remains haunted to this day, and continues to be a focal point for the weirdest manifestations of hidden Americana: the seemingly entwined worlds of secret weapons testing, UFO’s, cattle mutilations, and alien abductions. During the 1980’s, a myth emerged of an underground facility in
Disinformation differs from regular propaganda, in that it is a far more subtle and underhand method of disseminating untruths. Propaganda, to a large degree, doesn’t hide its origins, and spreads itself through official channels. Disinformation, on the other hand, possesses a more fiendish ingenuity. Its method is to persuade certain groups that they have come upon privileged information which would otherwise be hidden, and thus turn the would-be truth seekers themselves into unwitting propagandists. The purpose of this activity is either to discredit those who had come too close to the truth, or to distract attention altogether from the reality of a particular situation. Since disinformation sometimes contains partial truths, it generally winds up producing endless Moebius strips of uncertainty: if a government openly acknowledges disinformation, does that constitute a further act of disinformation, thus rendering the initial information potentially true, and so on.
The extent to which the UFO mystery has been mired in disinformation is something which can probably never be accurately gauged. However, in 1955, the CIA started using the then-secret Lockheed U2 high-altitude airplane to perform “overflights” over
Paul Bennewitz was an apparently gifted physics postgraduate and inventor who ran a small electronics company called Thunder Scientific Corporation in
While carefully cataloguing and filming the unusual lights, which, in one of the many strange twists in the case, were apparently genuinely anomalous, Bennewitz encountered the psychologist and ufologist Dr. Leo Sprinkle. Sprinkle was one of the first academic figures to openly study the alien abduction phenomenon, and a pioneer in the highly controversial use of hypnosis to restore the memories of abductee encounters. In 1980, a patient of Sprinkle’s named Myrna Hanson claimed that she and her son had been abducted while driving home near a cow pasture at
Bennewitz believed Hanson’s story, and become utterly convinced that the cattle mutilations and underground facility must be connected to the lights he had been filming over the
Bill Moore was the head of APRO in 1980. As the co-author of one of the very first books exploring the
Here we find ourselves in thoroughly ambiguous territory. For the purposes of security and anonymity, Moore and his associate Jaime Shandera named this high level group the Aviary, giving each member a bird codename. According to Shandera: “We wanted the information, but didn’t want to reveal where we got our clues. To maintain anonymity, I give Bill’s source the codename “Falcon”, the next source we used was called “Condor” and so on, until we had 24 contacts from all levels of government. It was my idea to use bird names.” Shandera continued to give a brief description of individual members, in the same irresistible mixture of All the Presidents Men and the X-Files: “Hawk is a person well-connected in areas of study in ESP since the sixties, with impressive credentials. Blue Jay is person close to the President of the
The victim in all this, however, was the hapless and tragic Paul Bennewitz. Its now acknowledged that Bill Moore and Richard Doty subjected him to a sustained disinformation program. Rather than divest him of his delusions, the pair proceeded to feed him evidence with validated and intensified his suspicions. Sections of his notes reveal his increasing paranoia and panic: “Established constant direct contact with the alien….aliens on the ground in electro statically supported vehicles….charging beam weapons. The aliens are picking up and “cutting” people every night….whether all implants are totally effective I cannot predict…..Conservatively I would estimate that at least 300,000 people have been implanted in the US….at least 2 million worldwide….”At the same time, his conception of the aliens at Dulce base were acquiring the complexity of a personal mythology: “Their body metabolism is very high, estimated at 110 to 115 degrees. Elimination is through osmosis. Skin color of the ruling echelon varies from a jaundiced yellow or white. No hair of any kind. Their arms are long – near to knee level. They have very long hands and fingers. All of them look underfed. They have big heads and eyes. The humanoid types are generally light green. When in need of formula or dead they turn GREY. Many in this culture walk with a limp or shuffle their feet…”
Fearing the intrusion of his home by threatening energy balls, Bennewitz constantly surrounded himself with knifes and guns. Inevitably, he suffered a complete physical and nervous breakdown, and was finally placed in institutional care, and released from the quixotic courage and rigors of Project Beta.
The Dulce base and variations of it have gone into popular and conspiracy lore. In the 1990’s, the X-Files brought these kinds of ideas to Simpsons-levels of cultural dispersal, and made conspiracies the widespread fan-boy pastime they continue to be today. It is amusing to speculate that some of these florid scenarios may have originated in the imaginations of Airforce Intelligence spooks. Bennewitz died in 2005, a largely unknown victim of the extreme callousness of the National Security apparatus. Many, including Richard Doty, claim he never stopped believing in the alien threat revealed by Project Beta.