How U.S. government spun the UFO tale
Fox Point writer contributes to book that lays out official obfuscation
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett <mailto:[email protected]> of the
Nov. 28, 2012
Richard Thieme watches world governments watch UFOs.
An expert on computer security who counts the Pentagon and the National
Security Agency among his clients, the Fox Point resident was an
Episcopal cleric who is now, says CNN, a member of “the cyber
avant-garde.” He’s challenged audiences around the world with speeches
that mind-meld together spirituality, culture and 21st-century science.
The latest challenge from Thieme? “UFOs and Government: A Historical
Inquiry” (Anomalist Books; $29.95), a 580-page epic sure to become the
bible of Unidentified Flying Object research.
Thieme joined “The UFO History Group” consortium of researchers/writers,
including Michael Swords and Robert Powell, who spent four years delving
into the response the U.S. government and other world agencies have
given the UFO phenomenon. The group used government documents and other
archival sources to explore what military and intelligence insiders
think about UFOs and their possible threat to world security.
The book includes Wisconsin UFO sightings – a 1951 report from St. Croix
and Marinette in 1956.
“UFOs and Government” readers might find the book unsettling for what it
reveals about how governments operate and about the UFO phenomenon itself.
Here’s what Thieme has to say about the subject.
*Q. ** How did you get involved in this project? *
*A. * I was invited by Robert Powell, one of the main organizers. He
knew I was a writer and speaker and had been quietly investigating the
subject for 30 years. I had talked to a fighter pilot decorated in
Vietnam, and the subject of UFOs came up and the close encounters, and I
said, “What I read is that you chase them and we can’t catch them.” He
said, “That’s right.” He kind of turned away. He didn’t like having
things we can’t catch. I used my situation as a priest to have
conversations with people in security and intelligence and with people
in Wisconsin – credible people who saw credible things. I used my skills
as a thinker and researcher to separate the considerable amount of chaff
from the wheat. I did editing and rewriting chapters for the book.
*Q.** What were some of the obstacles you faced in collecting
information? Any Men in Black knock on your door?*
*A. * No Men in Black. Everything in the book is documented within the
government. We include nearly 1,000 references in nearly 600 pages and
as little speculation as possible. We don’t discuss aliens. We leave the
readers to conclude based on the government’s own documents what they
think might be real about this.
*Q. ** Give me some adjectives to describe the way the U.S. government
has handled the UFO issue?*
*A. * Disingenuously. Ultimately with contempt for the reasoning ability
of normal citizens, with disregard for credible officers who made
credible reports and were dismissed as idiots. These were life-changing
experiences for people.
*Q. ** Describe the history of the U.S. government and military response.*
*A. * The response to the phenomenon generally was to formulate as a
policy decision to ridicule and debunk reports in the interest of
national security. The CIA and Air Force made a reasonable decision in
light of the Soviet Union threat to spoof the phenomenon, to cover a
possible nuclear attack. And the reason that was a concern was that in
1952, there were so many sightings over Washington, D.C., so dramatic,
that the calls coming into the Pentagon overwhelmed the switchboard and
there was a genuine concern that there was a denial of service attack
giving the Soviet Union a jump in an attack. The Robertson Panel made
the decision to ridicule people. Illusion, misdirection and ridicule are
the three legs of the stool of deception. I’ve talked to pilots who saw
a UFO and their superiors said, “You must have been drinking.” All you
needed to do is have your eyesight or your drinking questioned and you
didn’t fly again. I’m willing to talk about this subject because I don’t
have much to lose.
*Q. ** What is the biggest revelation you found in your research?*
*A. * That the documentation represents a compelling, accurate
historical narrative of at best government obfuscation and at worst
manipulation of the facts in the interest of national security.
*Q. ** If I say “Roswell Event,” you say . . . ? *
*A. * We have a sidebar about it in the book. There is no single
coherent narrative that connects all of the dots in the Roswell UFO
case, so we remain agnostic.
*Q. ** How does the U.S. government’s handling compare to that of other
*A. * We have a chapter, and we have little sections on Belgium and
Brazil, where there have been major events. Other countries pursued this
in light of their own national frameworks, but the U.S. has taken the
lead. We know that the Belgians and French present compelling cases that
are inexplicable in conventional terms. The French conducted a national
inquiry using the national police force. We have statements from members
of other governments advocating a global response to the phenomenon
using the United Nations. But the French government is withholding
*Q. ** So are UFOs really extraterrestrial visitors?*
*A. * We can neither confirm or deny that hypothesis, but the
extraterrestrial hypothesis is suggested as one reasonable explanation
for the data that challenged the government to respond for the last 60
years. An informed, critical reader, we hope, will conclude that if the
nose of the camel is inside the tent there might be a camel outside the
I don’t think there is any way to read this scholarly work without
concluding that the Air Force lied, that the phenomenon is real and that
the extraterrestrial hypothesis is on the table. The sociological and
psychological question that remains for us investigators is: “How is it
that reasonable, seemingly open-minded people can confront the data we
present and dismiss it with a smirk or the statement: ‘It can’t be