top of page

UFOs and the National Security State 

The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991
by Richard M. Dolan


With a Foreword by Linda Moulton Howe

639 p. Illustrated


A Comprehensive History of UFOs


This book is a comprehensive, 638-page history of the UFO phenomenon and cover-up, and is the second volume in a trilogy that will cover all facets of the phenomenon from the 1940s to the present day.


Entitled “UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991,” this new volume, published in 2009, analyzes a decisive turning point in the phenomenon during the last decades of the cold war.


Using archival sources from the U.S. and Canadian National Archives, professional journals, and direct investigations and interviews, historian Richard Dolan provides a detailed analysis of the critical UFO encounters by military and civilians worldwide. These encounters, all thoroughly documented and equally baffling, repeatedly demonstrated that the UFO phenomenon has been a global phenomenon, and the result of highly advanced technology that has received no official recognition.


Many of these cases involved the violation of sensitive U.S. military airspace, as well as that of other nations. Some of these include:


- the unexplained intrusions over American and Canadian air bases in late 1975;

- the spectacular interception attempts of a UFO over Tehran in 1976 – an event tracked by an American defense satellite;

- the landing of an unknown object near two American-operated airbases in Britain in 1980;

- the appearance of large boomerang-shaped craft north of New York City during the 1980s;

- military records describing attempts to intercept UFOs by the nations of Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia; the appearance of triangular craft throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Soviet Union, including the attempted interception of a triangular aerial object by Belgian F-16s in 1990;

- and numerous sightings of anomalous objects in Earth orbit by Soviet and American astronauts.


This study also presents an analysis of UFO secrecy itself, throwing light on areas that have long operated in darkness. Dolan analyzes the structure of power behind the scenes, describes the “black budget” and “Special Access Programs,” studies the relationship of military versus corporate control of the UFO secret, and provides a geopolitical analysis throughout to bring the topic of UFO secrecy into the mainstream of historical understanding.

His study also provides a first-ever extended analysis of the history of UFO research itself. Dolan has recreated the discussions and debates concerning such topics as aliens abductions, animal mutilations, intelligence community infiltration into UFO research, the controversial MJ-12 documents, the Gulf Breeze controversy, claims about the reverse engineering of alien technology, crop circles, and more. He has also studied the effect of such new technologies as the Internet on UFO research.


This is a thorough and complete history of the phenomenon, the secrecy, and the response by researchers who sought to understand the mystery. Behind it all is the backdrop of a world in technological, economic, and political transformation. “UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed,” takes the reader through a fascinating turning point in the history of the UFO phenomenon, as well as the history of the modern world.

Apollo 14 astronaut, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, described Dolan’s book as “a masterful and important work,” while Nick Pope, formerly Head of the UFO Desk within Britain’s Ministry of Defence, called it “a gripping account” that gives “the definitive position on one of the last great mysteries of our time.”





to UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991

by Richard M. Dolan. © 2009 by Richard M. Dolan. All rights reserved.


The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
—Winston Churchill

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
—George Orwell

It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.
—Mark Twain


The Problem


Across the Earth’s skies and deep within the minds of humankind, UFOs are everywhere and nowhere. For years, decades, generations, and centuries, people have noticed unusual and occasionally impossible things in their skies. It will never be known how many sightings occurred in early times; today they are daily and worldwide. And yet, except for brief punctuations, the main instruments of power in our world continue to remain silent. The discrepancy between humanity’s collective eyes and its voice is striking and unsettling.


There is scarcely a person on Earth who has not heard of UFOs; many believe in them. Few, however, can say much about them. Fewer still – even believers – can find much time to think about them. Life finds a way of keeping us occupied with other matters.


Simply put, the phenomenon is a bundle of contradictions. But if UFOs could be shown to be genuine, anomalous, and apparently the result of some intelligence other than that of our official and current civilization, then surely that would be something. Something so big, so shattering, that all other truths might well be humbled by it.


I argue that this is indeed the case, strange as this claim must seem to someone schooled in the standard histories of their world. The following pages are a methodical presentation of facts and analyses that show the UFO phenomenon to be something most assuredly “not us.”


It is also a reality that is actively being covered up. It is a phenomenon so significant that elements of the human power structure have made it their priority to keep information about it strictly to themselves, apparently at all cost. As to the identity of these secret-keepers, many sources culled from several decades of leaks, as well as broad geopolitical trends, make a reasonable case that they are “beyond” nations. The U.S. power structure, while still integral to the system of secrecy, may not be the final word as it once was.


The implications of a UFO reality and cover-up are profound. It means that our society has lived in an “official” reality so incomplete, so inaccurate, that we may with justice call it fictitious. It means that the history we have learned, the science we think we know, and the very core of who we think we are, need to be rediscovered.


There is also the knotty issue of who or what is behind the UFO phenomenon itself. Here, matters become even more complicated. It seems clear that some of the phenomena are the result of secret breakthroughs by all-too-human groups, some more covert than others. Six decades of classified expenditures (and other forms of secret spending) have provided ample resources to apply principles and technologies that have remained sealed off from the rest of humanity. This development alone is enough to justify the greatest secrecy.


But terrestrial breakthroughs do not appear to account for the core of the UFO phenomenon. The confrontational nature of the objects, the never-ending military encounters and attempted interceptions tell the reasonable mind that something else is going on. Added to this are the thousands of detailed descriptions, given by rational and intelligent people (who normally wish to remain anonymous), of having been taken by non-human beings to be studied and acted upon in various ways. These too tell us something is happening.


Separating “ours” from “theirs” can be difficult and – due to entrenched viewpoints – thankless. Still, it looks like both types of UFOs exist, adding to the complexity of an already formidable problem.


In a world that is moving fast toward a nightmarish dystopia relieved only by the distractions of a mass entertainment industry, investigating such matters may not seem to be an attractive option for many. Yet in all societies at all times, there are those who care, those who hunger for that quaint anachronism called Truth. I am here to tell you that there is such a thing. With effort and sacrifice, truth can be known. Once known, it may continue to exact a heavy price on those who possess it. And yet, it is more precious than the rarest of gems, easily worth knowing for those who dare to chase it. For it is truth, and only truth, that will ever set you free.


Main Themes


I have brought together several themes in preparing this study, which covers the UFO phenomenon from 1973 until 1991. First are the reports themselves, priority of which was given to those with military implications. In some cases this meant that the report came from a military or intelligence agency within the U.S., U.S.S.R., or another nation; in other cases it meant that reliable journalistic sources had reported an attempted jet interception or some other military encounter with a UFO; in others still it meant well-researched cases by a major UFO investigative group, such as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). Of course, not all UFO encounters in this book have direct military implications. Some are just good reports that were reliably investigated, important historically, or offered some other redeeming quality. Throughout, I sought to describe and analyze these cases succinctly, yet fully.


This book is more than a collection of UFO accounts, however. Ultimately, it tells a story, some of which concerns the attitudes of political and military agencies. We can learn these in several ways. One is through the available military and intelligence reports. While there are limits to what we can know based on reports of mid-level classification (i.e. “Confidential” as opposed to “Top Secret”), we can still see that the military considered many UFO encounters with great seriousness, even gravity. Responsible thinkers must ask why this was so, and why such an attitude has continually been countered by official silence and dismissal. When powerful groups dismiss something publicly, but take it seriously in private, we can assume something important is being withheld.


A related theme of this book concerns the evolution of the “national security state.” During the period under review, the power of the U.S. military and intelligence communities expanded at the expense of ordinary citizens. Elsewhere, multinational structures also weakened citizen power. It is little appreciated how UFO secrecy has also eroded human liberty. From the 1940s onward, it required the creation of an apparatus that was independent of realistic oversight by elected representatives, with substantial funding and latitude of action. Indeed, secrecy on UFOs is arguably a key factor in the genesis of America’s so-called “black budget.” That, in turn, has shown itself to be among the most formidable enemies of classical republican government.


During the 1970s and 1980s, that American national security state was involved in secret programs that were connected with UFO phenomena, ranging from the (alleged) electrogravitic elements of the stealth bomber, ET aspects of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the UFO-hunting Defense Support Program (DSP), the testing of non-aerodynamic and radical craft in Nevada’s Groom Lake and Southern California, the spreading of disinformation targeted against UFO researchers, and much more.


The final key theme of this book deals with the evolution of our own ideas about UFOs. Leading edge thinking on the topic was in a very different place in 1991 than it had been during the early 1970s. How researchers got from the one place to the other is a fascinating story. What had once seemed like a somewhat straightforward proposition – extraterrestrials visiting Earth in spaceships – went through many permutations. Researchers began to discuss subjects previously off-limits, such as dimensions, time travel, remote viewing, abductions, animal mutilations, black helicopters, crop circles, and the Nazi “legacy.” Included in this explosion of new ideas were claims and details of the cover-up, and even discussion of whether or not there was a “human-alien deal” involving abductions and technology transfer. Much of the new thinking was based on solid foundations, such as government documents, open source research, or new developments in science. Some of it was fantastic and impossible to verify.


Through it all was a backdrop of global change, technological revolution, and finally the widespread adoption of personal computers throughout the U.S. and Europe, all of which affected the UFO scene.


The Story


During the early 1970s, the UFO topic was still suffering from the conclusions of the Air Force sponsored Condon Committee. In 1969, its report had concluded that the study of UFOs had not added to scientific knowledge, and that UFO reports were “not of probative value.” UFO researchers responded by trying to bring respectability to the topic; hence the development of “scientific ufology.” Studying the cover-up, a major tactic during the 1950s and 1960s, became passé while researchers focused on improving scientific and logical rigor, as well as improving investigative methodologies. Meanwhile, the 1970s brought many difficult, “high strangeness” reports that severely tested old ideas about UFOs. The phenomenon itself seemed to stimulate new ideas in research.


The absence of a political emphasis in UFO research did not last very long. Government denials remained the rule, but the political turmoil of Watergate and Vietnam led to a strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1974 – which was further strengthened during the Jimmy Carter administration. The result was a flurry of requests by private citizens for documents pertaining to UFOs. Before long, thousands of pages of relevant documents had been released by the CIA, FBI, and many military agencies. Taken separately, none of these documents could be considered a “smoking gun” proving that UFOs were extraterrestrial, but the cumulative impact of the best ones was formidable. It became obvious that some UFO reports had been taken very seriously by responsible agencies while, at the same time, they downplayed UFOs to the public. Some of these documents described baffling and provocative violations of airspace by objects that simply should not have existed, and the futile attempts by interceptors to engage them. This was explosive stuff in the late 1970s, and many researchers understandably looked to FOIA as the best tool with which to pry open the secrets of UFOs.


Another prong in the attack on secrecy were leaks concerning the retrieval of crashed UFOs. Researchers had shunned the topic for years. Now, however, people began to talk, not just about Roswell (which quickly became the most prominent of them), but many other cases. Already by 1980, researchers had collected scores of accounts from former military personnel who claimed to have been present at the retrieval of a crashed UFO, or to have seen alien bodies at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB), or to have participated in the secret in some other way. Some researchers wondered whether they could make an air-tight case about one of these stories, and whether they could blow the lid off of the secrecy.


Alas, it was not to be. From all available evidence, it appears that the intelligence community initiated a counter-strike in the form of disinformation. Starting in the early 1980s, this effort has left a permanent mark on UFO research. Most prominent was the release of the “MJ-12” documents in the mid-1980s, which certainly looked like authentic, secret statements describing the extraterrestrial reality and cover-up. The problem was that they almost certainly were mailed by intelligence officers from Kirtland AFB, one of whom had previously shown another UFO researcher similar but decidedly different documents. Those documents contained information that did not easily reconcile with the later ones. On the other hand, the MJ-12 documents did contain information that proved fertile for followup investigation, and certain arcane tidbits that suggested they were genuine. Complicating matters were a series of statements by prominent members of the defense community which supported the existence of an organization like MJ-12 – that is, a UFO/ET “control group.” The result was that what had seemed like a straightforward proposition, e.g. just getting hold of the “right” document, turned into an endless debate over document authenticity, while insider claims and leaks – inherently difficult to verify – were simply not enough to obtain a government admission that UFOs were real and, in some fundamental way, alien.


Yet, UFO research progressed markedly during this period. New issues came to the forefront, joining the FOIA effort and investigation into Roswell. Most prominent of these was the abduction phenomenon. True, the topic of alien abduction had been discussed to some extent during the 1960s, but primarily as a side issue. At best, it was considered to be a rare event, and very difficult for many researchers – to say nothing of the general public – to take seriously. But the phenomenon would not go away; researchers found themselves increasingly in the presence of people who had periods of missing time, or memories of being taken and examined by alien beings. Some eventually found it impossible to ignore any longer and began a systematic study of the phenomenon. The results caused yet more tremors in the field of ufology, more arguments, and more questions.


By the late 1980s, Roswell, MJ-12, and abductions all caused deep divisions in UFO research. But there was still an identifiable community of researchers who, in a sense, all spoke the same language. That is, they were a fairly close-knit bunch who knew each others’ work, had studied the same cases, were members of one of the major organizations, and believed in “scientific ufology.” Starting in 1987, this cultural unity was shattered. This was largely due to the existence of a new, wide-open forum: the Internet. Anyone with access to a computer and a modem could publish their thoughts instantly, for all of cyberworld to see. The UFO journals, governed by their various directors, editors, and submission policies, had for decades been the dominant venue for discussion. Suddenly, they were being bypassed by a steady stream of papers that before long turned into a flood, and then a veritable ocean.


The result was that the UFO community began to “let it all hang out.” Claims of human-alien “deals,” and the reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial technology began to surface. Discussions of global control groups like the Bilderbergers and Illuminati seeped into the mix. Increasingly, claims were made about the various types of extraterrestrials said to be on Earth. The old guard found all of this distasteful, embarrassing, and wrong-headed: what happened to careful scientific evaluation of individual UFO cases and a suspension of judgment? Supporters of the new school countered that they had simply dragged the ever-conservative ufology into a region where it had needed to be all along.


Meanwhile, a new development in the phenomenon itself began to coalesce: the advent of the mass sighting. Surely, there had been instances before where large numbers of people witnessed a UFO. But during the 1980s, there were several places where the sightings continued over an extended period of time, and were seen by hundreds of people, sometimes thousands. The Hudson Valley region of lower New York State and Connecticut; Gulf Breeze, Florida; California’s Antelope Valley; Nevada’s Area 51; the town of Fyffe, Alabama; most of Belgium; and Mexico City all were host to ongoing waves of UFOs, with many witnesses, often armed with cameras and video.


Here, as in prior years, we see the strange juxtaposition of the unusual nature of these aerial phenomena, combined with a decided lack of interest in them by major journalistic sources. Most of the limited coverage they received was local; to the extent they were covered by the major media, such as the New York Times, they were typically dismissed as misidentifications of something conventional, or as hoaxes. Usually, they were simply ignored.


Why would major newspapers and media players ignore something that, presumably, would be a major story and therefore bring in more money? They might, if they had close relationships to those very groups intent on maintaining secrecy. In fact, during the 1970s and 1980s, several studies appeared showing just this. In 1988, Katherine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post and long-time collaborator with the CIA, told a CIA audience that “there are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.” Somewhere along the way, the mainstream American media transformed itself from being a public watchdog into the mouth of Sauron.


Indeed, the world itself went through a major transformation. It was not simply a function of the Internet, although this was surely important. On a grander scale still, what was happening was globalization. The Soviet Union, increasingly unable to compete economically, began to fall apart. Elsewhere, multinational corporations assumed ever-greater power and influence in the geopolitical realm. By 1990, the President of the United States had given a name to these changes: the New World Order.


What had happened was that the international power brokers who had always lurked behind the scenes had found better ways to govern their world. Whether or not one wishes to call this a conspiracy, we can state matter-of-factly that a Kingmaker such as David Rockefeller (who was a major factor in creating nearly all the Presidencies covered in this volume: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush), was moving toward a goal he had openly desired for his entire life. It included, first, a diminution of traditional concepts of national sovereignty in favor of an array of transnational structures. These might be the old clubs like the Bilderbergers, Council on Foreign Relations, and Trilateral Commission, or other legal structures/entities such as the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the European Union, or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Regarding the management of UFO secrecy, such a development should well give one pause before assuming that the office of the U.S. President had the final word on such matters.


The second major result of globalization was (and continues to be) a transfer of authority from the public realm to the private. The evolution of UFO secrecy reflected this development. It is impossible to know the details, but the general picture has become clear enough. Control over key components of the UFO secret have drifted further and further away from (theoretically responsible) government and military officials, and increasingly toward private entities. This transfer of power is reflected in a number of statements from insiders, as well as by more generalized studies of the Pentagon’s system of “Special Access Programs,” the prototypical black budget programs. In effect, the world underwent a silent, transnational revolution during the late 1980s and early 1990s.


Another thing that had happened was that someone seemed to be developing and flying, if not actual flying saucers, then something very much along those lines. By the late 1980s the signs were becoming clear. Perhaps the Hudson Valley objects were not terrestrial objects, perhaps they were. By the end of the 1980s, however, sightings in California’s Antelope Valley and Nevada’s Area 51 were of objects that were surely made by the U.S. defense industry. In the judgment not merely of UFO-watchers but aviation and aerospace experts, it looked as if these objects were utilizing a form of field propulsion. That is, anti-gravity.


“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” We can assume that the original lie of the 1940s was intended to stall for time; meanwhile, policymakers would frantically try to figure out what was going on. But this lie developed into immense, complex, and ultimately separate infrastructure. The longer it continued, the more entrenched the established parties became; the more removed they became from officially established truths; the less they were able to explain to the rest of the world what was actually going on. It was one thing to explain to the public that one or more extraterrestrial intelligences were freely operating on Planet Earth for purposes which they kept to themselves. It was entirely something else to explain that a massive black infrastructure had evolved, siphoning off public money, operating in total secrecy for years, developing new technologies, and making profits based on monopolistic exploitation of acquired ET technology. Another still to explain that the U.S. President, or other national leaders for that matter, were not necessarily the key decision-makers when it came to such matters.


Having said this, there is reason to believe that the President was not completely out of the loop, at least during this period. There appear to have been several times when a disclosure of the UFO reality was considered, one of which was during the Bush administration in 1991. Like the others which preceded it, it was an abortive attempt. From sources I have spoken to, people whom I consider to be in a good position to know, such discussions have tended to occur “every five years or so.” The obstacles are daunting, primarily intransigence from within the classified world, but just as importantly the fear of repercussions throughout the social, financial, political, and legal structures.


There can be no question that the challenges of disclosure are intimidating. For those in the know, it is much easier to let matters continue as they have been, despite the difficulties already involved. That attitude can work – as long as the world does not change. But we in the 21st century are living through revolutionary times, and this revolution truly began during the period under review in this book. The world will never be ready for disclosure of this truth, just as most couples are not ready for their first child. It will come just the same, however. Like any new parent, we will have to learn and adjust on the fly.




In researching this book I was fortunate to have a vast array of resources that were not available to me for the first volume of this study. Due to the kindness of several individuals, most notably the late William T. Sherwood of Rochester, New York, who bequeathed me his entire, substantial ufological library, I have had a surfeit of books, journals, newspaper clippings, as well as video and audio interviews. Of greatest importance are government documents which are available to anyone via several large collections on the web. In addition, I found interesting and previously unknown documents while visiting the U.S. National Archives in College Park, Maryland and the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa.


Government documents are important; unfortunately they do not tell the whole story. In the first place, even during FOIA’s “glory years” of the late 1970s, the UFO documents that were released had been of mid- to low-levels of classification. The few “Top Secret” documents were nearly entirely redacted. Generally speaking, this situation worsened in subsequent years to the point where FOIA became nearly useless for most military UFO encounters after the mid-1980s. A few accounts continue to make it through, however, so the effort remains important.


In preparation for this history, I also examined the journals of many major UFO organizations, including the MUFON UFO Journal, The International UFO Reporter, The APRO Bulletin, The NICAP UFO Investigator, Flying Saucer Review, and a host of other publications, newspaper clippings, and websites. Moreover, I have been fortunate in interviewing a number of researchers and insiders of all types, most of whom allow public attribution, and a few who do not. Using an anonymous source for any historical work is a tricky business, and in general I have avoided using them for direct attribution. In a few cases, however, I have deemed the information and source significant enough that I could not in good conscience leave it out.


Regarding the topic of UFOs, in which national security issues come into play, accompanied by official silence, disinformation, and outright lies, any history will always be incomplete. Until matters come out in the open, this is how it will continue to be. The best we can achieve is a balance between caution in the use of sources, and courage in the willingness to draw implications from the data. At all times, we must distinguish between what we know and what things look like. There are those who prefer to remain in the safe waters of the former, and others who live exclusively in the deeps of the latter. For my part, I have ventured through them all, from the calm to the treacherous.




Even for experienced researchers, UFOs can seem surreal, if only because they find so little support for the idea within respectable society. The same applies to witnesses. Scratch below the surface a little, and you will find many people who have seen, or at least believe they have seen, a genuine UFO. Although seeing is believing, the passage of time can still engulf an extraordinary sighting within the mundane necessities of daily life. The experience then becomes no more than an interesting anomaly, often forgotten or pushed aside because there is just no place for it, and they certainly do not have the stomach for the ridicule.


Setting aside the truth value of the UFO phenomenon, it is an interesting sociological reality that so many people are unwilling to discuss the most incredible – and at times traumatic – experience of their lives. What does it say about our society that this is so? My feeling is that, by its very nature, it represents a form of repression. If you are a reader who believes UFOs to be nonsense of some sort, I can nevertheless assure you that you have a friend or relation who has seen one. They have simply learned not to discuss it. Many people can live perfectly well within the constraints of repression and denial; they simply learn to shut off certain parts of their mind. It is sad, but it happens all the time.


But not everyone is the same. Not everyone is willing to do this, or even can do this. By any estimate, there are many millions of people on this planet who have had a powerful UFO experience. They cannot and will not be silenced indefinitely. We are today living in a period of such dramatic change – technologically, politically, socially, culturally – that I believe it is only a matter of time before something gives way.


And what of them? Those beings, intelligences – people? – who are behind the phenomenon itself? I have spoken about the silence of the human structure of power, but the beings who are traversing the skies, oceans, and space above the Earth are not landing on the proverbial White House lawn. They have an agenda, an interest, which they are not willing to share, at least not publicly. Many people claim to have had private communications with some of these beings, which run the gamut from the hellish to the divine. Regarding their nature and agenda, we enter of necessity the realm of speculation. Matters of exopolitics, that is the study of our relationship with “them,” will always be premature under such circumstances.


Still, it is not outrageous to consider that, having mastered certain technologies that we ourselves may soon be acquiring – or even certain matters of mental or spiritual attainment – that multiple groups are interested in our beautiful blue orb and its abundance of life. The human species should be of prime interest to them, especially now. Consider the changes we have made to ourselves and the world within a mere century. From a world of horse-drawn carriages to cars, airplanes, radio, television, atomic weapons, guided missiles, integrated circuits, computers, and internet. An object weighing just a few ounces can let you speak, text, or see anyone in the world, hold thousands of songs, give you instant directions to anywhere, and connect you to the world’s largest libraries. Experts in artificial intelligence believe we are just a few years away from having computers that will claim to be conscious in some manner, and will seem like they are, whatever the nature of that consciousness may truly be. Then there is the matter of nanotechnology and quantum computing, the results of which are expected to transform our world even more completely than the internet revolution already has.


In other words, humanity is in the process of reinventing itself. Any observing intelligence must be well aware that we are poised, knowingly or not, to leap into their world. We have probably been there all along, only asleep. Now we are about to wake up.


bottom of page