CIA Health Alteration Committee

In the long ago research for my book NEXUS, I first came across anecdotal remarks, made during the Church Committee inquiry into CIA and assassination, that during the Eisenhower era assassination was actually such a standard practice that there was a structured process for projects intended to neutralize or eliminate political targets – organized to the extent that there was a “Health Alteration Committee”.

Actually, in spite of what you might read in the popular media, there is no indication that such a committee ever existed. It’s not that the CIA didn’t frequently pursue assassination, it was just never that well organized, or managed. That has become more clear as new research has revealed more detailed about specific assassination efforts of the 1950’s and early 1960s.

I’ve been doing a bit more research into CIA assassinations as it relates to multiple CIA attempts against Fidel Castro during the first Cuba Project  – efforts which were so poorly managed that the individuals in charge (Richard Bissell and Tracy Barnes) appear to have thought they were going to be successful right up to the time of the actual amphibious landings in Cuba. John Newman is also publishing new work on Cuba, as well as producing extreme detail about the CIA’s assassination efforts against Patrice Lumumba in the Congo.

It was John’s recent work that led me to realize how deeply Richard Bissell was involved in a whole series of assassination efforts during 1960 and 1961. I’ve wondered why he appears to have done such a poor job with the Cuba Project, but one of the factors was that he was also juggling two different (highly challenging) assassination projects, both using resources which were new to the CIA. It’s not that the CIA had not worked assassinations before, but they normally took advantage of indigenous regime opponents, simply enabling them with poison or weapons.

Going after Castro was tough enough, Bissell actually had to read several people into the effort just to get money out of the Cuba Project budget, under operational control of Jake Esterline. And the sniper attack plans against Castro aborted simply because the CIA had such poor maritime resources for the project that the privately owned boat being used to infiltrate the shooter suffered engine problems and was taken out of action.

In the Congo, Bissell ended up going to Staff D to look for foreign assets and both the officers he approached turned him down, saying assassination was not part of their job. He ended up almost entirely relying on the Congo Chief of Station, who was less than enthusiastic about the plan to poison Lumumba using CIA assets sent in from Europe. He was much more inclined towards the traditional approach of encouraging local surrogates to kill Lumumba themselves, which in the end was what actually happened.

All of which tends to explain something some of us have wondered about for some time – why William Harvey was called in and asked to create a new Executive Action program for international political assassinations. And why it was put under Staff D. The basic answer is that up to that point it time CIA assassination efforts had been individually crafted, largely personalized under the direction of Richard Bissell and Tracy Barnes. Harvey was ordered to create something which would be much more professional, more structured, more covert, and with global reach. As we know from his own notes, he was not all that excited about the concept even though he did pursue it as directed. Of course in the end he did no better against Fidel Castro than Bissell had done – even as a committee of only one.

Actionable Intelligence

Actionable Intelligence

This seemed like a good time to write on an issue that was key to the failure to protect America from the attacks of 2001, an issue that has once again come to the fore in an alarming fashion.

I’ve written about this here and in other places at length so I won’t belabor the point aside from pointing out that the actual foreign intelligence collection in 2000/2001 was actually quite good, and could very well be better today than it was then – emphasis on “could”.

In the period of late 1999 through the summer of 2001 the CIA, working with other governments, had managed to build a reasonably good network around a truly challenging adversary, al Qaeda. In the fall of 1999 the Agency and the Clinton Administration counter terrorism director went to the president’s national security advisor with warnings about Millennium attacks. As always, threat intelligence is only of value when it becomes “actionable”, which means someone at an executive level forces the nation’s security system to respond to it. President Clinton accepted his national security directors (and the CIA’s) concerns and did just that. The result was that a variety of so called “millennium attacks” were interdicted and aborted – but for many reasons, including political ones, you hear nothing about that these days (nor about the aborting of the Bojinka airline attack plot).

Virtually the same warnings were issued beginning in the late summer of 2001, but there was no significant executive response, the intelligence did not become actionable and it stayed down within the system – within the CIA and more importantly within the FBI.  Regardless of warnings from the intelligence community and special briefs to the president from the CIA, special action would have had to been directed towards the FBI and agencies such as the FAA to deal with the threat.  That did not happen, the attacks did.

The point being that in 1999 the president trusted the intelligence community and acted. In 2001 for a variety of reasons, the president did not act. Now, in 2019 we have an American president largely divorced from his national intelligence community, clearly not trusting them, and indeed appearing to trust foreign sources more than what is arguably the best threat intelligence capability on the planet.

Worse yet, due to his disclosures of national security information, the intelligence community does not trust the president – his violations range from exposing details of foreign intelligence collections capability to sharing information which could very well expose foreign assets.

And yes, the CIA did pull an asset out of Russia, it would be insane for them to publicly admit that – and if you buy the Secretary of State’s denial you are probably willing to think the Taliban can be trusted to honor their agreements in Afghanistan (attitude disclosure statement). As to the national security director as a backup, that’s not working out all that well these days.

Possibly even worse than all that – if possible – at this point in time any allied nation intelligence agency who would have previously shared highly security information with the United States has to pull back to save themselves and their sources  – which undermines literally decades of trusted relationships.

Bottom line – not acting on intelligence can have terrible consequences.  Handling it in a compromising fashion can be equally bad.

CIA Pseudonyms and Aliases

As I mentioned in an earlier posts, a number of people have been working really hard at developing a new a section on the Mary Ferrell Foundation WEB site – a section to address pseudonyms and aliases.

That work is a major addition to the existing series of Cryptonyms already on the site. We hope this resource will be valuable to anyone researching in CIA documents obtained both from the Mary Ferrell Foundation archives, as well as other major online document repositories.

Pseudonyms and Aliases are a truly tricky area because both involve what appear to be real names and on occasion, even with in the documents, the usage appears to have been blurred.

Normally the distinction is obvious, pseudonyms for internal use and aliases for external.  That allows you to make the call as to which which based on usage – the text usually talks about an alias being used in meetings or activities outside the agency, not just in documents.

Of course to be useful, serious aliases need to involve more than just a one time fake name use, they require employment and education covers, work histories, mail backstops and even “pocket litter” carried during field work.

So for all of you who actually dig into documents, we hope this new reference (which will be expanded and likely corrected on some names) will serve as a valuable resource.  You can find it at this link:




JFK and the Bay of Pigs


As mentioned in previous posts, much of my current research and writing time is being spent on a forthcoming new book dealing with the concept of “deniability” in covert actions, particularly operations which involve military elements. While the book will be a broad look at the topic, the fundamentals are illustrated through a deep dive into the 1960/61 Cuba Project of the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations.

It’s all fascinating for anyone interested in the CIA, in the relations between the CIA and the military, and of course anyone interested in JFK and Cuba – which has entered the history books almost entirely in regard to the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. That is a shame since historically the Bay of Pigs activity reflects only about three months of a CIA project which had been in progress for over a year – and as a sanctioned covert action it actually failed as of November, 1960, under Eisenhower.  For the full story of that failure you need to research a couple of thousand pages of documents yourself, or wait for the book…

For the moment, I’m posting primarily to present two basic points.  First, the operation at the Bay of Pigs was not at all what the CIA had promised Kennedy that it would be – they violated a number of the basic directives they had been given.  When I say that I’m talking about the project’s senior officers, Bissell and his aide Barnes.  The military officers inside the project, Esterline and Hawkins, had no idea what Bissell had promised nor any real hope that the plan would actually succeed – and had told Bissell so in person well before the operation actually launched.

The second point is that, despite what you may have read, JFK did authorize a considerable amount of air support during the three days of the operation itself, in fact he extended a number of authorities which overrode the basic rules of the mission. It turned out not be enough, in one instance due to a major US Navy blunder having nothing to do with either Kennedy or the CIA. However for an overview, the following are the mission parameters – and the compromises which JFK allowed in an effort to save the operation as it began to be overwhelmed on the beachhead:

Operational Ground Rules:

President Kennedy’s demand for political deniability was clear and consistent from the very first meetings between his new administration and the CIA. It was reasserted in his final directives and the rules of engagement for the Zapata Plan. The Cuban brigade was to be landed at night, all landing craft and brigade ships were to be at sea and outside Cuban territorial waters by daylight.

The Navy was authorized to provide screening for the brigade ships at sea and to protect the force outside the limit of territorial waters by engaging with and diverting Cuban aircraft or boats.  Only in the event that U.S. forces were fired upon were they allowed to return fire. No American citizens were to participate in the landings, and no American’s were to participate in brigade air combat strikes or combat air patrols.  Neither were American’s to participate in air transport or re-supply of the brigade.

Waivers issued during combat:

American’s were allowed to stay directly involved in in the operations, literally assuming command of the LCI’s and the landing craft  – no effort was made to order CIA officers Lynch and Robertson out of combat (sent into the landing without headquarters knowledge) or to alter their unauthorized roles.

An American civilian commanded one LCI and other civilians, commercial seamen, crewed both LCI’s at the beachhead, all remained with the craft throughout the operation although none actually crewed the craft’s machine guns as did Lynch and Robertson.

American’s were allowed to fly in operations in support of the beachhead, both in supply missions and in successful B-26 ground strikes against Cuban forces on Day 2, as well as in a second – fatal – series of planned ground strikes on Day 3.

United States Air Force transports were authorized to conduct air drops into the beachhead – only failing to do so due to lack of preparation and logistics issues.

Brigade aircraft were authorized and did use napalm from American military stocks in air strikes, something which confirmed American sponsorship.

American jet aircraft were authorized to fly combat air support for the Day 2 B-26 air strikes and did so successfully.

American jet aircraft were authorized to fly combat air support for the Day 3 B-26 air strikes and failed to carry out their mission.

American destroyers were sent directly off the beach to probe the landing area in advance of a U.S. Navy evacuation mission. They took on Cuban artillery fire while doing so – but did not return fire.

Essentially the only escalation which President Kennedy did not authorize was the actual use of American jet aircraft to destroy the Cuban Air Force or directly attack the Cuban Army/Militia. Which of course would have been an overt act of war, without Congressional authorization.

Reading CIA Documents

The good news is that historians and other parties now have a treasure trove of Cold War era history available to them in released CIA documents, housed on line in a variety of repositories including the Mary Ferrell Foundation and Black Vault.

However anyone reading them will be faced with the reality that CIA documents contain a variety of code words, all of which are designed to conceal and protect critical information about operations, employees and assets in the event that the documents themselves would be “compromised”. That means having them obtained by anyone outside the intelligence agency, whether it be an adversary power, the media, or any party outside the service itself. This security practice also concealed that same information from other agencies, law enforcement and the military, who are routinely copied on certain types of CIA memoranda and reports.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation now offers an extensive guide to decoding CIA cryptonyms of the 1950s and 1960’s, and we are working on a project to add other related operational security categories such as pseudonyms and aliases. I’m working on an overview to address the larger spectrum of document security “tradecraft” including personnel security (aliases, backstops, covers), but for now I thought sharing the following might be helpful in differentiating cryptonyms from pseudonyms.

The first and most common mechanism of operational and personnel security has been to assign code names (cryptonyms) to functional sections of the CIA itself, to its offices and facilities, and to other government agencies as well as to its own operations and personnel. .

To simplify matters and control document routing, the first two digits in the cryptonym’s/codes normally refer to the geographic or functional area of a particular directorate, geographic region, office, or operation. The rest of the code name was intended to be meaningless although that appears not to have been true in all instances. In some cases the codes seem show a bit of “attitude” – such as designating ODENVY to refer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ODYOKE as a general code for the U.S. government, or ODACID for the State Department.

Protocol called for the code names to be centralized and registered but in practice some groups – such as counter intelligence – had the authority to create and control their own codes, and even maintain their documents outside the centralized system during certain periods of time.
In some instances code names for operations were also extended to individuals involved with them (usually individuals who were operational assets or parties of interest and not CIA personnel), creating an entire series of cryptonyms – AMOT-1, AMOT-39 etc.

While cryptonyms were used for organizational and operational security, other types of codes and measures were used to protect the identity of individual CIA employees or, on occasion, a contact working as a source for the CIA whose “true name” required concealment. Pseudonyms for CIA employees were often assigned for their entire career, while others were limited to the period in which the individual was working with the agency, either as a volunteer or assigned by their respective organization. That held true for both civilians and military personnel “detailed” to the CIA from a particular service. CIA contract employees could also be assigned different pseudonyms over time.

Pseudonyms were registered and were restricted to use in reports, memoranda and other document related activity – not to be used externally.

Individuals who did need to present themselves in public, using assumed identities for different operations and activities, were assigned false names and in some instances extensive false identities – the names and identities were assigned as “aliases”. Aliases would be regular names, some of them similar to true names but others strikingly different. We do find aliases mentioned in documents; in some instances “true names” are also given to help with the obvious internal confusion.

Aliases that were used for any extended period of time had to be “backstopped” with residence and mailing addresses, as well as other precautions to ensure that the individual using them would be able to function using a name and identify other than their true name. Short term aliases generally involved at least a minimal level of false identification and miscellaneous but related materials sometimes referred to as “pocket litter”.

Individuals detailed to work with the CIA on covert action projects were assigned certain types of “covers” for operational security, the most basic being that of an employee of another government agency such as the State Department or USAID; the simplest covers were little more than mailing addresses where mail could be received under one name and forwarded to another – or simply forwarded as a routine forwarding request. An example would be to have military personnel detailed to serve in the earliest years of the Vietnam era forwarded or returned from a military postal address in the Philippines.

Clearly this all got quite confusing, even internally within the CIA, and we do find documents with handwritten annotations of true names beside pseudonyms or even aliases, a security violation but still a temptation for those trying to deal with reams of reports and memoranda.

Mystery Man

Tracy Barnes is an individual whose path I keep crossing.  Most recently in the current work I’m doing on the Cuba Project and the Bay of Pigs.  I first came across Barnes when I was researching NEXUS, my book on the CIA and assassinations.  As it happened Tracy was the head of the CIA’s Guatemala operations (PBSUCCESS), a program which paid a great deal of attention to assassination, while not actually carrying out most of the planned murders simply due to the pace of events – which moved quicker than did the actual assassination plans (which themselves involved not only the use of threats for intimidation, but a program of regime elimination as part of the actual coup).

Barnes turned up again in the Cuba Project, that time as an aide to Richard Bissell, the project chief.  The Cuba Project had an extremely bifurcated and compartmentalized organization structure – a significant factor in its failures. While Barnes is sometimes characterized as the individual responsible for the Cuba project under Bissell (yes, that’s what Wikipedia says), that was not at all true.  The project’s major operations were run under WH/4, a task group of CIA Western Hemisphere led by J.C. King, with actual operations under Jake Easterline (taking direction from Bissell, possibly relayed through Barnes).  In fact the deeper you dig into the organization chart the more amazingly poor the whole command and control structure of the Cuba Project becomes.

Finding Barnes in both projects where assassination was a major, if hidden element, of operations led me to do a good deal of research on Barnes and it’s amazingly hard to find solid information on him.  One of the things that emerged early on is that he and Bissell had both been rumored within the Agency itself to have constituted what was called the “Health Alteration Committee”.

One instance, documented by the HSCA, involved Barnes – acting under Bissell – to either assassinate or incapacitate an Iraqi Colonel with a poisoned handkerchief.  Another involved Barnes giving the order to blow up a Cuban airliner, hopefully with Fidel Castro on board…and order cancelled by Bissell. While Castro makes some sense, given the structure of the CIA it’s difficult to imagine exactly what authority Bissell and Barnes would have had in regard to Iraq, it certainly is inconsistent with the known assignments. Which leads to the speculation that the two men may simply have been known to be willing to pursue such actions and used at senior officer discretion – as an on call team for such actions. Barnes apparent involvement in the Trujillo assassination comes to mind in that regard.

It is rather hard to trace Barnes’ exact responsibilities and activities.  For example after the failure of the Cuba Project he was reassigned to Domestic Operations, a rather backwater post compared to his previous career postings.  But one interesting to JFK research because it would be CIA Domestic Operations which appears to have contacted Lee Oswald on his return to the United States – and through surrogates in his return to Dallas, Texas. If there was one unit of the CIA that should have been monitoring Lee Oswald in 1963 it would have been Domestic Operations, searching for reports on Oswald from Domestic Operations, or copied to it or to Barnes would be an interesting task.

As for myself, my limited posting time recently is largely due to my intense work on a new book dealing with the Cuba Project.  And in research for that book, Richard Bissell becomes a primary figure – as he should as chief of the project.  So do Jake Easterline, operations chief in WH/4 and Colonel Hawkins the project’s military officer (of its second phase – the landings in Cuba; its first phase failed after some six months).

But I’ve been struck by how little Barnes appears in communications and reports.  He was so deeply into the project that he did attend strategic meetings, he was a player at project HQ and was clearly trusted by Bissell.  But what was his real role?  One of the directions I’m going now is that Bissell had compartmentalized things to the extent that the Guatemala and Nicaragua operations of the project were quite separated from the boat missions and intelligence collections going on out of the project’s Miami Base (not yet designated JMWAVE) and its Key West maritime missions base.

One of the things the IG report on the project criticized was how insular and isolated those Florida missions were from the overall project.  And interestingly enough in the early months of 1961 the Florida base and in particular Key West appears to be where the sniper attacks and assassination missions against Fidel Castro were being run.

Missions apparently under the oversight of none other than Carl Jenkins. But the question arises, who was the HQ person giving orders for those missions. At present I’m speculating it was Tracy Barnes, acting very secretly under Richard Bissell – who in turn had initiated the separate efforts to kill Fidel Castro using Roselli, Trafficante et al. Even with all the work we have done to date we have never established an operational connection between the poison efforts and the Cuba Project.  The same can be said for the sniper attacks and the Cuba Project headquarters.

Now I’m thinking that the connection may well have been Tracy Barnes.  And when Bissell and Barnes hit the wall with the failure at the Bay of Pigs, they lost their position as the Health Alteration Committee…..which meant they needed to be replaced….Mr. Harvey, we have a new task for you.



Riding with Private Malone

If you listened to the song you should have found it incredibly sad – if you fully appreciate how the war there erupted in 1964, drawing in tens of thousands of American service people, it’s even sadder.   The following is excerpted from Surprise Attack:

During the summer of 1964 the United States was continuing covert action North Vietnam, at the same time increasing its electronic intelligence collection immediately off the North Vietnamese coast.

Deniable maritime attacks on North Vietnamese coastal targets had begun in 1962 and by early in 1964 the raids began to use U.S Navy provided Swift PT boats. By summer, the American Military Assistance Commander, General William Westmoreland, was shifting from commando attacks to shore bombardment from the patrol boats being operated by the South Vietnamese.[i]

The North Vietnamese responded by sending patrol vessels against raids. On the night of July 30, a reaction group of four patrol boats chased South Vietnamese raiders some 45 nautical miles. On their return north they passed within four miles of the U.S. Destroyer Maddox, performing electronic intelligence in the Gulf of Tonkin.[ii]

On the evening of August 3, three South Vietnamese boats attacked a military garrison and a radar site. Some 770 rounds of high explosive were fired during the attacks – all told some four separate attacks on North Vietnamese military targets had been made over five days.[iii]

The following day, the destroyer patrol commander moved his ships well offshore to provide maneuvering room in case of attack. Both ships reported continuing technical problems with their radars, the Maddox’s air search radar and the Turner Joy’s fire control radars were both inoperative. From South Vietnam, the Marine SIGNET unit transmitted another CRITIC to the effect that some sort of military preparations were underway, inferring that the destroyers were the likely target.

There were no specific references in the signals, the assumption were that any activity would be targeting the destroyers. Anticipating a night attack, the destroyers began to report a variety of air and surface contacts. The carrier Ticonderoga dispatched a Navy jet to the scene, the pilot easily located both destroyers – quite visible by their wakes – but found no sign of any other vessels in the area.

Navy Commander James Stockdale, in the air over the destroyers was adamant, “I had the best seat in the house to watch that event and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets—there were no PT boats there . . . there was nothing there but black water and American firepower.”[iv]

In the dark and with a mix of chaotic and intermittent radar, sonar and visible observations, both American destroyers opened fire on perceived targets and reported themselves under attack. The incident was over in some two hours and within three hours the Maddox commander transmitted an after action report advising that the Maddox had never positively identified an enemy vessel.

In the interim, the initial CRITIC warning of possible military action had arrived in Washington at 7:40 pm EST. At 9:25, with no further warnings, the Secretary of Defense had advised the President of a possible second attack in the making.

At 10 pm a flash message reporting an attack was received and within three hours, President Lyndon Johnson had ordered a major retaliatory air attack against North Vietnam. The Maddox after action report – which failed to confirm any enemy sighting – had arrived prior to that decision, along with word that the combat air patrol had also been unable to identify any attacking boats in the vicinity of either destroyer.[v]

At approximately the time the President’s ordered was being issued, the Admiral in Command of the Pacific Fleet had reported that the earl reports of enemy torpedoes in the water appeared doubtful. Freak weather, “over-eager” sonar observers and questionable visual observations were also noted.

Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp recommended delaying any retaliation until his command had time to sort out the intelligence and fully confirm an attack. Additional SIGNET later seems to have persuaded Sharp that the attack was real, however it is now clear that intelligence was mistranslated and misinterpreted.

On the Ticonderoga, Commander Stockdale had his orders to launch retaliatory air strikes. He himself had no doubt about the overall situation, “We were about to launch a war under false pretenses, in the face of the on-scene military commander’s advice to the contrary.”[vi]

After action reports and additional information from the military personnel in the field was already arriving in Washington at the time McNamara and Johnson were ordering major retaliation – for an attack which had not actually occurred.

Worse yet, the most current studies strongly suggest that from that point on, intelligence data was classified or possibly even intentionally mishandled, to justify their decision. It would be decades until the full set of signals intelligence reports was released by the National Security Administration, and historians were able to demonstrate – with total certainty – that no second attack had actually occurred.

In fact the NSA documents show exactly the opposite, the signals intelligence was of such quality that it was possible to determine exactly what the North Vietnamese naval forces were doing – which included salvage of their two patrol boats damaged in the previous night’s attacks and a number of close in coastal patrols.

There was no indication of any approach to, much less engagement with American vessels.[vii] With the extensive SIGNET now available, a thorough analysis reveals no comparison at all between the North Vietnamese communications activity of August 2 when an engagement did occur, and August 4, when one did not.


[i] Pat Patterson, Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy, “The Truth About Tonkin”, Naval History Magazine, Volume22, number 1, February 2008


[ii] Robert Gillespie, Black Ops Vietnam : The Operational History of MACVSOG, (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 2011), 23


[iii] Pat Patterson, Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy, “The Truth About Tonkin”


[iv] Jim and Sybil Stockdale, In Love and War, (Annapolis Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 1990), 5-8


[v]Robert Hanyok, Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds and Flying Fish : The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery 2-4 August 1964 , 25


[vi] Jim and Sybil Stockdale, In Love and War, 25.


[vii] Robert Hanyok, Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds and Flying Fish : The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery 2-4 August 1964, 3


Cuba Project and Radar Anomalies


If anyone makes instant sense out of that title – congratulations!

What it means is that I haven’t been posting much because I’m deeply involved with two projects, both pretty taxing.   First, I’m engaged in research and writing on the initial chapters of a new book dealing with the Eisenhower 1960/61 Cuban regime change project – a project that was initially authorized to do no more than put a limited number of highly trained Cuban volunteers on that island to organize and lead guerilla movements against the Castro regime.

A project which Eisenhower never officially reauthorized beyond that scope but which ended with an attempt to land a full brigade of some 1,500 infantry troops on several beaches around the Bay of Pigs.  A covert action which was initially directed to be totally deniable, but which ended up involving a unit of main line American tanks, a heavy weapons group, and a series of paratroop drops.

In more recent decades the Cuba Project is historically discussed almost solely in terms of the Bay of Pigs, with the blame for the failure being cast almost universally on decisions by President Kennedy.  The real history is far deeper than that and it needs to be told in an understandable fashion.

At the moment it is buried within the reports from several official inquiries, a highly flawed CIA historian’s report and a large number of key operational documents which reveal a great deal of the real story.  Extracting the actual history of the project from the story line that came out of the original investigations and became established history – and from the outright obfuscation and lies of the project’s CIA chief –  is more than a little challenging, not something that is done quickly or simply.  The lies and obfuscation are not easy to identify, the real story is deeply complex.

And at the same time, just so tax my gray cells further, I remain quite interested in research on several technical areas of the UFO phenomena, in particular as it relates to certain incidents involving not simply observations but instrumented data collection.  For those of you not following the contemporary observations I’m going to post a link which introduces you to a recent U.S. Navy incident which products visual observations, laser targeting effects, multiple radar imaging and tracking and infrared imaging.

The link takes you to a conference presentation which gives you an overview of the incident and then some fairly heavy scientific analysis, concluding that the object in question was real, more than unconventional and truly anomalous.

Personally I’m interested in a number of incidents dealing with not just radar tracking of UFO’s, but observations which suggest that the UFO’s were intentionally emitting radar transmissions and IFF signals (Identification Friend or Foe) suggesting that they were either testing American electronics intelligence aircraft and ground air defense radar site or doing something even more interesting.

However, to effectively restudy such incidents, we need help from some military veterans or professionals with radar experience – so if you are one and if these three examples interest you please drop me a note at

1957 Incidents – two month period:

FPS-3A L-band search radar tracked an inbound target at average speed of about 6,200 mph for 48 secs [?] when it “stopped abruptly” and “remained stationary” for 12 secs to the ENE at 75° azimuth 85 miles range, N of Grand Canyon, then target headed outbound at about 7,000 mph on 85° heading over the last 72 secs before disappearing at the radar’s maximum range at 81° azimuth 224 miles range (near Marble Canyon, Ariz.). Target responded to encrypted military IFF transponder signals and transmitted encrypted responses. Similar occurrence 2 days earlier noted by night crew but no others in 2 years prior.


Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) RB-47 jet on training mission repeatedly encountered maneuvering radar- transmitting UFO which correlated with visual of brilliant white-red light tracked at 10 nautical miles from RB-47 by Dallas/Duncanville AFS 647th ACWRON air defense FPS-10 radar (32°38.8′ N, 96°54.3′ W), with same motions outpacing jet, simultaneous blink outs on Duncanville radar, ELINT monitors, visually and on airborne navigation radar.  MPS-7 L-band search and MPS-14 S-band height-finder radars tracked a stationary target at 42,000 ft to the NW at 308° azimuth 82 miles range (S of Chandler, Ariz.). Target responded to encrypted military IFF Mode 3 transponder signals, transmitted encrypted responses resulting in “normal Mode 3 paint” on radar scopes, and “a very slight strobe came from object appearing like ECM jamming.” See similar incident on July 16, 1957, in Arizona (Las Vegas radar station) and RB-47 case on July 17


Unidentified Update

As most of you know, my interests in recent years have broadened – from political assassination to a range of national security topics. Those topics include threat and warnings intelligence, national command and control systems (how they work; how they don’t) and the study of both American and Russian covert action as reflected in  both deniable political warfare and regime change.

It might have surprised some to see me do a book – Unidentified – on the subject of UFO’s, but if you have read it you will know that the book’s theme was national security and the application of threat and warnings intelligence methods to several decades of the UFO experience, beginning during World War II.

I had worked on and anticipated an update to Unidentified, a second edition, which would have been out this year. But what has become increasingly clear is that the work I was doing and the new copy that was generated was literally becoming outdated, month by month.

First it was the discovery that there had been a contemporary program within the Defense Intelligence Agency to explore certain aspects of unconventional and anomalous aerial objects, including the technical exploration of some highly theoretical physics which might explain observed flight characteristics and propulsion.

Then there were ongoing revelations about incidents occurring in restricted Navy test areas on both the west and east coasts of the United States, and even more striking incidents involving ongoing intrusions of unknown objects during maneuvers and training routines involving our most advanced Navy nuclear carrier strike groups. As time went on (months only) it became clear that those were not just isolated incidents but in some instances repetitive intrusions occurring over hours, days and even weeks.

Now if you have read Unidentified you will recall that such waves of intrusions are really noting new; it’s just that in earlier decades they occurred over atomic materials production plants, then atomic weapons construction sites, then atomic weapons storage sites and finally over Air Force ICBM sites and SAC bases.  For that matter, the experiences being related by Navy pilots are not unlike a wave of interceptor encounters which observed all along the strategic northeast corridor from Boston down to Washington DC and the huge Navy base at Norfolk, Virginia in 1952.

That wave of reports, including a series of incidents over Washington DC, was serious enough to get President Eisenhower to call a secret meeting on “Defense of the Capital” and hand off the problem (since the Air Force couldn’t give him the answers he wanted) to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Unfortunately that sort of historical context is totally missing from the current interviews with the Navy pilots and from all the media reporting. Yet the only thing that has really changed since 1952 is that today’s pilots have the benefit of both ship based and airborne phase array radar as well as infrared tracking systems which literally allow them to track and record data in a manner not at all possible during earlier years.

The tracking and data collection in these Navy incidents is so comprehensive that it’s literally impossible to ignore that actual objects of some sort are repeatedly appearing, and to some extent engaging, with Navy interceptors. Of course as the Navy pilots themselves observe, it’s not really an engagement given the dramatic difference in flight capabilities demonstrated by the UFO’s. The same flight characteristics that have been reported – but never captured and recorded on a variety of tracking devices  as in the current incidents.

In fact it’s so obvious, and of such concern, that the Navy is in the process of issuing its own new directives for the reporting of UFO incidents. What the Air Force or other elements of the national intelligence community is doing – if anything – is totally unknown. There is also no discussion of whether or not similar intrusions are occurring over any other segments of the national security/defense complex.

You can read more about what’s going on now below – and appreciate why a second edition of Unidentified a work in progress as I struggle to extend it into the 21st Century.

I’ll offer a few thoughts to bridge the gap – and to comment on certain questions I’ve received – in a follow-on post.

A Tribute to Ian Griggs



Ian Griggs passed this week, he was a British Police Officer, a long time JFK researcher, a stalwart in the DPUK group, a regular presenter at the JFK Lancer “November in Dallas Conference”, a scholar, the author of an exceptional book on the Kennedy assassination – and my good friend for years.

Ian devoted a good deal of his JFK research to Dallas, to the Dallas Police Department and to Jack Ruby, Ruby’s club and performers. He interviewed dozens of people associated with the DPD, with Ruby personally and with the club. Ian spent years compiling a study of the DPD personnel who were working at the time of the assassination, published many articles on them, and wrote a book which we all hope to see in print eventually.

His book “No Case to Answer” has been in print for some time and is something I would highly recommend.  Ian approached the JFK assassination and Lee Oswald as the purported assassin based on his career experience in British law enforcement. The title of the book comes from his conclusion that there simply was no case against Oswald that would have been sustained in court, nor for that matter sufficient to have brought the charge to court in the first place.

No Case to Answer explores a number of issues that support that view – including Oswald’s rifle, the mysterious (and missing in crime scene photos paper sack), the mysterious and missing Oswald line up (missing what was supposed to be a key witness to Oswald as the shooter), and a variety of other points of evidence which Ian deconstructs patiently and in great detail.

Perhaps the most dramatic deconstructions is something Ian liked to demonstrate in his conference presentations – the purported assembly of Oswald’s rifle inside the Texas School Depository after the rifle was supposedly carried to work and into the building in two pieces in a paper sack.

Ian would present the rifle parts (he actually purchased a Carcano in the US and flew home with it to London early on in his studies).  He would point out the very small machine screw required to reattach the rifle parts…and then note that the Warren Commission could find no such small screwdriver in Oswald’s possessions – or in the Texas School Depository – so it concluded that Oswald had used a coin as a tool to lock in the screw and secure the rifle parts.

Given that the screw has to go all the way in and is flush with a metal plate, he would demonstrate and note that it was impossible to do the work using a coin without scratching the finish on the plate.

And then he would project a photo of the Oswald rifle officially held in evidence – with no scratches on the metal plate.  Thereby demonstrating a level of police investigative work which clearly was missing from a great deal of the Warren Commission inquiry.

I first met Ian in London (in a pub), even before joining him as a regular in the Lancer conferences in Dallas.  Later he recruited me to do my first conference presentation (all fifteen minutes of it) and ultimately hosted myself and my wife on a visit to England, including my presentation at the annual DPUK conference.  It was always a treat being with Ian. On that particular trip we were with him when London police responded to a bomb threat at our hotel, and also in a similar situation on the London tube system. He understood their protocols and easily chatted with some of the officers we met, reducing our stress level a good bit.

In Dallas, Ian routinely helped organize diner during the conference for several of us – with a visit to Campisi’s, where we could sit in Jack Ruby’s favorite booth (hey, its not all crime scene evidence and documents – you need a little flavor to make it real).

In that regard I would also have to admit some of my best time at the conferences was spent with Ian and our friends, whether it was in a pub in London or Canterbury (or at the Sherlock Holmes pub/restaurant in London) or in the conference hotel bar in Dallas.

Here’s to Ian, I’ll miss you my friend.