The Mutual UFO Network recently announced a new Director of Research, Dr. Christopher Cogswell. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering and “hopes to bring a seriousness and strong research focus to this field,” according to the MUFON website. While we wish the doctor the highest degree of success, we would be remiss if we failed to observe the organization where he chooses to volunteer has an infamous history of substantially obstructing the very efforts he claims to undertake. His predecessor, Robert Powell, bailed for reasons reportedly including the MUFON choices of speakers at its annual symposium in 2017. In a nutshell, the organization’s mission statement of dedication to scientific study is miles apart from many of its actual activities. If Dr. Cogswell is going to help the situation a number of circumstances will need to be addressed, from employing hypnosis as a memory retrieval tool to endorsing psychic channeling, and those are just some of the problems.
A lack of transparency and public accountability has long plagued MUFON. We have explored it at length on The UFO Trail, including posts such as UFO Community Members Weigh in on Dubious MUFON Speakers. Long before Powell’s concerns became more widely known, writers and researchers such as Nigel Watson, Frank Warren, Robert Sheaffer, and several more expressed relevant points about the quality of MUFON speakers and contributed to the 2015 post.
Back in 2014 we attempted to obtain explanations of what MUFON termed a collaboration with a French government agency, GEIPAN, that investigates unexplained aerial phenomena. Statements from MUFON leadership arguably were embarrassingly vague, while, in stark contrast, the head of GEIPAN proved quite willing to discuss the circumstances when contacted.
Other posts, such as parts one and two of the 2013 offering, MUFON, Science and Deception, further demonstrated the leadership’s lack of willingness to field questions. MUFON’s Jan Harzan has been contacted numerous times, including for comment on how an org dedicated to scientific study could promote such entirely speculative notions as Barbara Lamb’s claims surrounding ET-human hybrids, but did not respond.
Likewise, Harzan failed to respond to inquiries about the criteria used to grant David Jacobs a lifetime achievement award. Jacobs is a historian who practices hypnosis as a memory enhancer, claimed to have been harassed by an ET-human hybrid that sent him instant messages, and suggested to Emma Woods to wear a chastity belt during a long distance telephone hypnosis session, among numerous other dubious actions.
In preparation for a 2013 article on a reported UFO crash in Casselberry, Florida, attempts were made to consult several MUFON personnel. Multiple emails inquiring about the case were sent to the Executive Director, Director of Investigations, Florida State Director, and a former Florida Chief Field Investigator. None responded. We could go on at length, but the issues run even deeper still than irresponsibly promoting unsubstantiated conjecture under the guise of science or failing to share information about investigations.
From where I sit, it is significant that the Pentagon indirectly admitted funneling funds to MUFON via Robert Bigelow. This was clearly done through Bigelow’s now known receipt of funds and subsequent MUFON-BAASS initiative, yet it is virtually a non-story in UFO Land. Community members for years accused MUFON of acting as an arm of the federal government, and are now validated for all practical purposes, yet the wheels of sensationalism continue to turn with hardly a pause. You can’t say we weren’t warned.
After serving as MUFON International Director from 2006 to 2009, James Carrion wrote in a 2011 blog post that it was not Robert Bigelow who funded MUFON’s work for Bigelow Aerospace, but “sponsors” Bigelow revealed to John Schuessler but not the rest of the MUFON Board of Directors. Carrion’s statements have aged well (See my post, Pentagon-UFO Story Reflects Fundamental Problems, for further info and commentary).
The Pentagon acknowledges the Defense Intelligence Agency invested money in the UFO community. Up until that time, such interests and circumstances were officially denied. They were taboo, scandalous. It was out of bounds to so much as speculate the IC was in bed with UFO researchers and their organizations. Capital “S” Skeptics cried conspiracy and called for proof. Now it’s confirmed and met with a shrug on both sides of the UFO community aisle.
I’d like to direct our attention for a while, please, to the fact the intelligence community has full on acknowledged involvement in the UFO community – this century, here and now. Others told us so and they are now validated, yet it’s seemingly not a story, in lieu of analyzing film clips, exchanging opinions on inconclusive claims about alleged aliens, and minimizing its potential significance. In my opinion, if funding sources for one project are called into question, then funding sources for many projects are called into question, especially those involving the same individuals and organizations.
MUFON has a long way to go to gain any credibility, not to mention competently addressing who’s been running its organization. Please join me in considering some of the circumstances that brought us to the point in which the Pentagon casually confirmed what amounts to funding the Mutual UFO Network.
The Carpenter Affair. Let’s start there.
During the 1990’s, the org’s lead alien abduction researcher “confidentially,” as he put it to me in a series of emails, provided Robert Bigelow – the guy who would later play point man on the DIA’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program – with data from case files of alleged abductees in exchange for a reported $14,000. John Carpenter, a Missouri social worker and hypnosis advocate, defended his actions, which included choosing not to obtain consent from the 140 people prior to releasing their files to Bigelow and his National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS).
MUFON officials, including John Schuessler, who sat on a NIDS board, primarily chose the stance of silence on the topic. Col. John Alexander, a former employee of the Bigelow-founded NIDS, declined comment in 2013. Alexander was asked about any interest he may have had in the files; why he suspected his employer, Bigelow, may have desired to obtain them; if other alien abduction researchers also shared files with Bigelow as Carpenter claimed may have been the case; and if Alexander was at liberty to discuss any relationships between Bigelow corporations and intelligence agencies. Alexander, a man who has repeatedly presented himself as willing and able to talk inside baseball on UFOs and the intelligence community, didn’t want to discuss it.
The above image is a copy of the second page of a 1996 letter apparently composed from Carpenter to Bigelow, discussing copying and sending 140 case files, as well as expressing thanks for payment. The image was obtained from researcher Gary Hart, who included the letter and other items in complaints filed to MUFON and the State of Missouri Division of Professional Registration. Read more in the 2013 blog post on the Carpenter Affair linked above.
In 2017 I published a post about NSA largely releasing a document via my FOIA request about an NSA assignee’s attendance at a UFO symposium. The existence of the document, though previously withheld, was long known to researchers such as Philip Klass. Although we did not previously know its specific contents, Klass confidently suspected it was authored by Tom Deuley. Klass was in all likelihood correct for reasons provided and linked in my 2017 post. The document proved to be a memo, titled Information request solicitation, in which its author informed NSA of events and actions of researchers at the 1978 MUFON Symposium. From the now mostly declassified memo:
Ambient Monitoring Project
In 2014 I did a blog post on the ill-fated Ambient Monitoring Project (AMP). The undertaking was initially titled the Abduction Monitoring Project, but was changed for reasons that reportedly included efforts to increase credibility and attract qualified researchers. The initiative involved placing instruments to measure environmental changes in the homes of individuals reporting alien abductions. It was headed up by long time ufology staple and career intelligence officer Tom Deuley, who likely composed the above NSA memo and served in leadership capacities of multiple UFO organizations, including MUFON. Funding sources for the AMP were not clearly disclosed and details of project results were never released. From the 2014 blog post:
Deuley wrote in the 2008 Journal article that the AMP was jointly proposed to MUFON, FUFOR [Fund for UFO Research] and the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). The collaboration reportedly resulted in the UFO Research Coalition, or the URC, as Deuley dubbed it. Exactly where the funding originated, however, was not clear, and Deuley did not at all address the amount and specific terms of project funding.
The proposal was given to the Fund for UFO Research, Deuley stated in the article, “with the intention that they in turn offer the idea to some prospective donors who might be interested in this project.”
“Over time,” he continued, “the Fund’s efforts led to sufficient funding for the work.”
“With a good prospect for a sponsor,” Deuley not so clearly explained further, “the URC continued to fine-tune the proposal. After several rounds of changes and negotiation with the prospective funding organization, the proposal for the Ambient Monitoring Project was accepted.”
Who ever the “prospective funding organization” of which Deuley may have been referring, how ever the proposal may specifically have been “accepted,” and where ever reported “sufficient funding” may have actually originated, Richard Hall told UFO Updates List the project was out of money. Hall informed them of that nine months before Deuley’s July, 2008, article which suggested funding was in hand and data was in the process of being analyzed.
In 2008 I emailed inquiries about the project to various board members of the UFO organizations involved. An email was sent to Deuley, who I requested provide details that might be available for public release, particularly concerning such information as final analysis and project personnel. He replied August 2, 2008:
“The analysis is in progress and will include a full report when all of the cases have been analyzed. Until then we feel it is prudent to not publicize who is doing the analysis or where it is being conducted. The report is most likely to be printed in the MUFON Journal, and if extensive to be published for sale by the UFO Research Coalition.”
I sent a similar inquiry to David Boras of CUFOS, who briefly replied on August 3, 2008, “Statistical analyses are ongoing and not yet available.”
Astronomer Dr. John Carlson, also of FUFOR, and I exchanged some brief messages. Even after I made him aware Deuley had just days prior stated in an email to me that AMP data was in the process of being analyzed, Carlson wrote in an August 5, 2008 email there were no funds to analyze the data, so he believed the project was effectively dormant.
Such discrepancies and contradictions within MUFON and UFO orgs have now become common to the point of no longer attracting meaningful discussion. Inaccuracy and a lack of direct answers from leadership have come to be expected.
UFO Research Coalition
It was repeatedly stated by those familiar with and involved in the AMP that it was a collaboration of CUFOS, MUFON and FUFOR. Tom Deuley reported in his 2008 MUFON Journal article that the collaboration resulted in the forming of the UFO Research Coalition. The FUFOR website indicated the Coalition was formed at the suggestion of Robert Bigelow.
“Disagreement over control of the UFO Research Coalition lead to a complete break with Robert Bigelow,” the website further stated, indicating the “disagreement” culminated in 1994. The conflict was apparently resolved by the time of the MUFON-BAASS venture of 2009, when many of the same organizational leaders were on deck, as can be explored in detail at the bottom of the 2014 blog post, What Happened to the Ambient Monitoring Project?.
There may be some events of interest under the descriptions of high strangeness or things in the sky. I don’t claim to know, and as regular readers are aware, my primary area of focus migrated into social aspects of the UFO community. While I don’t profess to conclusively know much about what all is being reported and witnessed, I’m pretty confident you aren’t going to get any substantial explanations from the latest crowd of self-proclaimed insiders, researchers, and disclosure activists. We simply have no reason to think so, barring extreme changes of operating procedures. It is more than reasonable at this point, if not arguably naive not to call into question the funding sources and agendas of those directing the UFO research community.
It is also reasonable to desire financial accountability from tax-funded projects, such as the AATIP, and nonprofit corporations, namely MUFON, that collect public financial support while enjoying tax benefits. You are entitled to expect accurate and reasonably transparent reporting of budgets and activities. We clearly have a long, long way to go to achieve such transparency in the UFO community. I am strongly of the opinion its obstruction and the related issues are much more worthy of attention than the unsubstantiated sensational claims promoted by the involved parties.