missing times
© Terry Hansen
The Missing Times: News Media Complicity in the UFO Cover-Up is a book written by independent journalist Terry Hansen in 2000. Having seen it referenced in several books on UFOs from the last decade or so and recommended by several experts in the field, I decided to check it out. As our regular readers will know, we at Sott.net like to keep up to date on the various oddities, anomalies, and instances of 'high strangeness' that pop into our reality on a regular basis. And, being an alternative news website that analyzes and comments on mainstream media coverage (i.e., propaganda) of everything from weather to warfare, the book's focus on the inner workings of media coverage on the topic suggested it might be right up our alley, so to speak. As it turns out, The Missing Times is a great resource for information on censorship and propaganda in general, not just UFOs and media, and it has some far-ranging applications, as we'll see.

First of all, a bit of an overview of the book itself: it begins with a short introduction on the way news media has covered (or not covered) big UFO stories, particularly the 1975 Malmstrom Air Force Base UFO/ICBM encounters. Widely reported in the local and regional press, it took a full two years for these highly sensational (i.e., newsworthy) events to reach the national news.

Hansen observes that there are two realities in media: the official reality, represented by major national news corporations (which reflect official government views), and folk reality, which is often represented in local or regional, 'small-town' reporting. UFO stories, in particular, often make it into the local press, where they're reported fairly accurately, but rarely if ever do they get serious coverage in the national press. And when they do, it's usually because the story has already become so large that they need to cover it or risk looking like they are censoring it. Even then, their reporting is rarely if ever serious or objective. Rather, it's loaded with 'spin', name-calling, and 'wink-and-nod' levity. What's the reason?

Hansen poses what's probably the $64,000 question: if UFOs are or have been seen by military and officialdom as a national-security issue, what would that imply about media coverage of related events? From official documentation, it's clear that the UFO problem was seen as such by those in charge, so the question is very relevant. And 'national security' is so vague a concept as to apply to anything from military, defense, and foreign-relations objectives to economics, trade, scientific and technological advances, and the general international balance of power. In other words, events of interest that relate to any of those areas can be seen as relating to national security by our leaders, and thus flushed down the memory hole as far as the public is concerned. Say goodbye to open discussion and freedom of information. Something can be hushed up on the basis of 'national security' simply because it may be bad for the CIA's image, with the plausible justification being that it might 'aid the enemy'. (As was revealed, for example, when Knopf published -- in bold type, so as to be easily discernible -- the portions of Victor Marchetti's book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence that the CIA failed to get censored. The portions that were effectively censored were left blank, in order to show how much got censored.)

And UFOs have definitely posed at least an apparent military threat (witness the airspace violations of the Malmstrom event, among others, mentioned above). Possible technological advances from the study of UFOs is also conceivable (what military wouldn't love stealth craft that can hover, make right-angle turns on a dime, and outmaneuver the best jets on the market?). And, perhaps most importantly, as psychologist Carl Jung suggested, the idea of an alien intelligence with these capabilities would 'wrench the reins of power' from humans hands. More to the point, French astrophysicist Pierre Guerin said that UFOs frighten leaders because "they make it clear [that] world leaders are not in control of events." Later on in the book, Hansen writes: "Remember that mass panic, political instability, and economic collapse are always possible should the full extent of the danger ever be revealed -- or even widely suspected. So an essential underlying concept of the deception campaign would have to be a consistently repeated denial that any problem exists." In short, UFOs are a national-security issue, no matter how you look at it, so it will pay to know the standard military and media responses to such crises.

In that vein, Hansen then gives a very good history and summary of censorship and propaganda techniques and usage from the past century in relation to national-security crises, e.g., the world wars. The British got the ball rolling (their Official Secrets Act still applies). In fact, British intelligence techniques were used as a model by Nazi propaganda master Joseph Goebbels. British techniques also largely inspired American ones. The war periods saw examples of overt censorship. In other words, people knew the truth, but were legally ordered to say nothing about it. "Loose lips sink ships," as the slogan went. Media sources willingly complied with this censorship, as well as issued official propaganda (directed both against enemies and citizens). Patriotism helped, and where that failed, harsher methods were employed. After the war, censorship has been more covert, and Hansen describes the various methods by which this has been, and is, done. One example is censorship 'choke points', e.g., the wire services. Stories that are covered locally can be prevented from becoming widespread by blocking them at the news-wire level. This is most often the case with UFO coverage, where the wire services will refuse to pick up UFO stories for wider distribution (thus resulting in the two realities mentioned above).

Interesting is the relation of censorship and propaganda. As Hansen puts it, "Once an epistemological vacuum has been created through the use of censorship, the next step is to fill this conceptual void with false information, creating ... a 'pseudo-environment.'" Hansen traces the history of modern propaganda, focusing on Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays. The rise of propaganda, following the work of these two experts, resembles a massive schizoidal declaration,[1] in psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski's terms: "The Enlightenment view that people were essentially rational quickly gave way to a view of a public whose opinions and behavior can and should be engineered and managed by an intelligent elite. ... Bernays had utter contempt for the abilities of the average person to think about and understand the world. Consequently, he argued that the social terrain and mental scenery needed to be continuously monitored, modified, and adjusted by an elite class of opinion-molding tacticians who could channel public opinion in directions the elite desired." One way of doing this was "by staging seemingly spontaneous events that would induce the public to perceive the world in the ways desired." How many times have we seen that scenario play itself out on the world scene? Then there were wholly fictitious means: atrocity stories. 'False-flag' attacks are not just the domain of political thrillers (e.g., the popular television series Game of Thrones and House of Cards employ them liberally in their plots). They're the stock and trade of any good public-relations department. When simply making shit up about your enemy to inflame the indignation of the people isn't enough, a simple frame-up does the job nicely. Kill some people and blame it on your enemy. Simple and effective.

([1]: Lobaczewski phrases the worldview of schizoids, which often makes it into their writings, like this: "Human nature is so bad that order in human society can only be maintained by a strong power created by highly qualified individuals in the name of some higher idea.")

But, getting back to the issue of UFOs, this is the environment in which we should be analyzing the problem: a generations-long history of advanced and effective censorship and propaganda methods. Drawing on their documented use in other historical contexts, Hansen summarizes the usual suspects as follows:
Covert censorship
  • Censorship-at-source (i.e., military secrecy)
  • Discreet, high-level contacts with publishers and media owners
  • Recruitment of influential journalists
  • Monitoring and interception of UFO-related news reports
  • Lifetime secrecy agreements
  • Surveillance of UFO organizations and individual researchers
  • Theft and confiscation of evidence
  • Acts of sabotage
  • Character assassination
  • Threats (against individuals and organizations)
  • Harassment
  • Incarceration of dangerous or uncooperative individuals
  • Assassination
  • Cover stories
  • Damage or "spin" control
  • Bogus investigations, documents, and reports
  • Recruitment of influential people as media spokes persons
  • Use of group leaders to influence lower-ranking members
  • Front organizations
  • Targeting of selected influential groups
  • Psychological operations
  • Rumors and misleading information (disinformation)
  • Use of "deep-cover" agents to spread propaganda
  • Films and TV programs produced under contract
  • Books and articles written under contract
He then looks at each in turn, with examples of their probable use in relation to the UFO problem. This analysis makes up the bulk of the book. As Hansen states repeatedly, it's impossible to prove that there has been a concerted censorship and propaganda campaign (using the media) in regard to UFOs, because such things are by necessity secret and unprovable (e.g., taking into account lifetime secrecy agreements and the fact that the only people used in such operations are those who are fully vetted). But isn't it curious that there's evidence of every trick in the book being used when it comes to UFOs? If it quacks like a duck ...

Hansen ends the book with a discussion of new forms of media, and the benefits and pitfalls they share, e.g., the Internet, Cable TV, and talk radio. As he mentions, by 1995 there was already evidence that the CIA was using the Internet for psychological warfare, and he brings up the resemblance of Internet PR campaigns to psy-ops, rightly observing that there's no reason to think such things aren't already happening (i.e., paid Internet trolls). In sum, the book is really an invaluable source of examples of media plants, paid propagandists, and famous people, newspapers and news companies working for the government (e.g., Walter Cronkite, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, even the National Enquirer). It's a clear and concise overview of how the media really works, and just how entrenched it is in a system that caters to the national-security state.

However -- and this brings me to my real point -- what struck me while reading Hansen's book was the resemblance and applicability of the above techniques to another topic of interest here on Sott.net: comets and fireballs. Remember, scientific topics are often classified on grounds of national-security if they will give the U.S. an advantage. In fact, Hansen observes, just as there are two media realities (official and folk), there are two scientific realities: private and public. Several topics in science disappear into the world of classified, black-budget research and development. There's also the possibility that certain phenomena of interest pose an existential threat, and this is where the topic of comets resembles that of UFOs.

In their book on comets, Cosmic Winter, Victor Clube and Bill Napier begin with a hypothetical scenario. An overhead cometary explosion (of the Tunguska type, or to a lesser extent, of the Chelyabinsk type) is mistaken by military leaders as a foreign atomic attack, triggering nuclear war. This same issue was applied to the UFO problem in the late '40s by military and intelligence leaders: the danger of UFOs being mistaken for Soviet invaders, and vice versa. Mass sightings could not only clog up defensive capabilities and communication lines; they could unintentionally start a war. Using a similar starting point as Hansen, we can ask the question: If cometary bombardment poses a potential national-security problem, what might that entail? Does it, in fact, have national-security implications? Recall the quotations above from Guerin and Hansen:
UFOs frighten leaders because "they make it clear [that] world leaders are not in control of events."

"Remember that mass panic, political instability, and economic collapse are always possible should the full extent of the danger ever be revealed -- or even widely suspected. So an essential underlying concept of the deception campaign would have to be a consistently repeated denial that any problem exists."
A close reading of history will show that these fears are not unfounded. Periods of cometary bombardment are accompanied by civil unrest, end-times panic, regime change, food shortages, economic collapse. Unsurprisingly, given the framework provided by Hansen, knowledge about these issues is not widespread. Historians gloss over the cometary events and focus instead on climate change. Practically everyone knows about ancient encounters (e.g., the dinosaur extinction), but more recent, major historical events are disputed or ignored (e.g., Tunguska, the Y-T impacts, the Bronze Age and 6th-century events, etc.). And essential books on the topics are out-of-print an near-impossible to procure (e.g., Clube and Napier's books, Mike Baillie's). (Perhaps relevant, Hansen also discusses censorship of publishing houses, which while harder to effect than broadcast and newspaper media manipulation, has historically been done by the CIA, e.g., by buying copyrights, purchasing entire print runs, and other methods of behind-the-scenes influence to stop the general public from accessing damaging material.)

Taking all this into account, as Clube and Napier make clear in their book, and as has been more recently explored by Laura Knight-Jadczyk in her book Comets and the Horns of Moses and by Pierre Lescaudron in a book soon to be published by Red Pill Press, elites do not appreciate the cosmos interfering with their image of control, in particular when it comes to comets. When they are shown to be powerless, their power is taken. And if leaders are ultimately powerless, they must keep a lid on the phenomenon and threat in order to protect themselves (or "to protect the public from themselves", in the schizoidal variation). They must present what evidence there is in such a way as to give the illusion that they are still in control of events.

It's not even necessary that the threat be imminent; it only needs to be potentially perceived as such by the public. So put yourself in the position of a world 'leader'. As a leader, you are a cog in the military-industrial machine. As such, you probably aren't much interested in long-term consequences. Your primary concerns are profit, power, and perception management. Now, let's say your paid scientists present you with information showing the potential for cometary bombardment to destroy civilization as we know it, or at the very least take out a major city or two, or scare a lot of people into revolution. Such possibilities must be prevented -- a conspiracy of silence is essential. The corporate and political psychopaths involved won't be bothered with humanitarian concerns -- they will be primarily concerned with maintaining the balance of power and saving their own skins, if they possess enough foresight. Those with a smidgeon of conscience will probably adopt the attitude that "people are better off not knowing." As a national-security crisis, the problem must be denied, using whatever censorship and propaganda methods can be brought to bear, so those who are really concerned about informing the public will be silenced in one way or another. When some scientists realize that a threat is imminent, the existing policy of secrecy and propaganda is already in place and can't be broken out of, and methods of censorship are applied to maintain the status quo.

So how exactly do you manage the 'pseudo-environment'? First, block general knowledge by privatizing and compartmentalizing research and relevant scientific data. Military contracts and government secrecy agreements help here. As for filling the epistemological gap, agents and discrete contacts in the major media become essential to pass on the cover stories, do damage control when big events occur, smear scientists involved in such research, and promote the work of scientists under contract to write up bogus papers and reports. Again, this has all been pretty much standard operating procedure for the past century. Not only is it possible, it's probably been done more than any of us can imagine.

First come the cover stories. Hansen gives an interesting historical example that may be relevant: the July 16, 1945 test of the first atomic bomb was explained away as an ammunition dump explosion. The media dutifully presented the story and the public bought it. Does that ring a bell? How to explain high-profile meteorite/comet-fragment impacts? Munition dump explosions! Explosive airbursts? Tannerite explosions! Comet-fragment sightings? Missile tests gone wrong! (Or right!) Atmospheric changes resulting from an increase in comet dust? Chem trails! The cover stories can get quite ridiculous. (Although, to the best of my knowledge, officials have yet to pull out the "swamp gas" card, which failed miserably when the Air Force got Dr. J. Allen Hynek to use it in 1966 to explain a high-profile UFO sighting.)

I think the take-home message is this: if something has the potential to affect national security -- no matter how tortuous the path to get to that conclusion -- it's best not to trust any official explanation. By necessity there will be a wall of disinformation over which to climb. Whether it's CIA involvement in drug trafficking, human trafficking, pedophile rings, assassinations, torture, market manipulations, potentially explosive scientific research into comets, gravity, free energy, quantum cryptography, consciousness, or even 'out-there' topics like UFOs, crop circles, or psi -- chances are there's something about it that those in charge would prefer you didn't know about, and an Augean stable's worth of muck to clear out before arriving at the truth of the matter.

I'll leave the final word to Terry Hansen:
In the final analysis, the answer to whether journalists have a responsibility to tell the public the truth about UFOs hinges on whether it is safe to trust in the honesty, wisdom, and infallibility of our political leaders. Blind trust in authority places the fate of the American people in the hands of a tiny elite whose objectives are unclear and whose vision is often obscured by any of a variety of human and institutional weaknesses.

"The risks of no secrecy are the risks of democracy," Daniel Ellsberg once told members of the U.S. Senate. Perhaps all we can say for certain, then, is that journalists who decline to pursue the truth -- about UFOs or anything else -- declare to the world their belief that democracy is no longer an adequate system of government for the American people. [Emphasis mine]