Men in Black

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According to Albert K. Bender, who made this drawing, sinister Men in Black convinced him to stop looking for aliens.

Men in Black (MIB)

Since the 1950s serious UFO investigators and witnesses of strange aerial phenomena have been menaced by mysterious men in black.

The frightening scenario is almost always the same. A UFO investigator or a witness of mysterious aerial phenomena is alone in his home. There is a knock at the door and one or more strange men dressed in black push their way into the witness’s home. On occasion, the MIB wear uniforms, most often U.S. Air Force, and sometimes flash CIA or Secret Service credentials. The intruders are usually described as rather short, dark-complexioned, and somewhat Asian in appearance with oddly slanted eyes. They are nearly always male, but some victims of the MIB have said that one of the number was female.

The interrogation of the witness begins at once, and the MIB know all the details of the sighting. If the witness happened to photograph the event, they demand the film. They insist on complete cooperation, stating that to do so is for the good of the witness’s country, the world, and the universe. Although menacing in demeanor—described as cold, expressionless, and unfriendly—they also sometimes exhibit weird mannerisms, such overly precise speech, outdated expressions, and laughter at inappropriate times. Some witnesses recall them as appearing to have trouble breathing.

Before they leave, the MIB warn the witness to tell no one of their visit. If the victim is a UFO researcher, they order complete abandonment of investigations. Violence is often threatened or implied if the witness should disobey their orders.

Ever since organized flying saucer research began in the early 1950s, a number of serious UFO investigators have suffered personal harassment, unusual accidents, and even mysterious deaths. In some cases sinister voices have whispered threats over the telephone and warned researchers to terminate specific investigations. Official disclaimers have only served to intensify the mystery of the bizarre incidents occurring within the ranks of civilian UFO investigators and instill fear among those who witness flying saucer activity.

According to UFO lore, it was in September 1953 that three agents of such a silencing group made their first in-person visit. Albert K. Bender, who had organized an international flying-saucer bureau, was their target. According to UFOlogist Gray Barker, Bender had received data that he felt provided the missing pieces for a theory concerning the origin of flying saucers. Bender wrote down his thesis and sent it to a friend he trusted. When the three men appeared at Bender’s door, one of them held that letter in his hand.

The MIB told Bender that among the many saucer researchers, he had been the one to derive correct answers to the flying saucer enigma. Then they filled him in on the details. Bender became ill. He was unable to eat for three days. He told fellow UFO investigators Dominick Lucchesi and August C. Roberts that when people found out the truth about flying saucers there would be dramatic changes in all things. Science, especially, would suffer a major blow. Political structures would topple. Mass confusion would reign.

In 1962 Bender published Flying Saucers and the Three Men, an account that confused serious UFO researchers, as it told of Bender’s astral projection to a secret underground saucer base in Antarctica manned by male, female, and bisexual creatures. UFO investigators questioned whether Bender’s experiences were perhaps of a psychic nature or he had deliberately contrived the story to hide the true nature of his silencing.

Within a few months after the three men allegedly confronted Bender, Edgar R. Jarrold, organizer of the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau, and Harold H. Fulton, head of Civilian Saucer Investigation of New Zealand, received visits from “mysterious strangers” and subsequently disbanded their organizations. John H. Stuart, a New Zealander, picked up a piece of metal that had fallen from a UFO during a sighting in February 1955. The next night he received a visit from a man dressed in black who relieved him of the gray-white metal.

“I have a feeling that some day there will come a slow knocking at my own door,” Gray Barker stated in They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers. “They will be at your door, too, unless we all get wise and find out who the three men really are.”

In 1956 the astrophysicist Morris K. Jessup, who had been vitally interested in UFO research, received the first of a series of letters concerning flying saucers, secret navy experiments, disappearing ships, and invisible men. The correspondent signed himself as Carlos Allende. The letters, postmarked from Texas and from Pennsylvania, seemed important enough to the Office of Naval Research to assign a special study group to the mystery. Although official investigation seemed to bog down, Jessup pursued his independent research into the flying saucer puzzle. The astrophysicist subsequently was found dead in his automobile outside a park in Florida, an alleged suicide.

In the late 1940s Ray Palmer founded Fate magazine with Curt Fuller and gave the UFO enigma its first big publicity push. The air force dubbed Palmer the “Father of Flying Saucers” and accused the editor-publisher of having fabricated the whole business to boost sales of his magazine. Palmer was the one researcher who had been in on the UFO mystery from the beginning. In June 1947 Palmer sent businessman-pilot Kenneth Arnold, who “discovered” flying saucers, to Tacoma, Washington. There Arnold became embroiled in the famous Maury Island incident—which, according to Palmer, “ended in terror and disaster and the deaths of two fine Fourth Air Force secret-service officers.”

The incident began on the afternoon of June 21, 1947, when fisherman Harold A. Dahl and his son saw six large, round aerial objects hovering over the bay off Maury Island, near Tacoma. While they watched, one of the UFOs dumped or sprayed a substance something like molten slag that the fishermen claimed damaged their boat, killed their dog, and nearly killed the two of them. After he had taken his son to be treated at a local hospital, Dahl told his employer, Fred Lee Crisman, about the harrowing experience. Initially Crisman doubted the account, but samples of the mysterious substance emitted by the UFO that Dahl had collected later convinced him. On the morning after his seemingly hostile encounter with a spaceship, Dahl said that he was contacted by a man dressed in black, driving a black 1947 Buick, who warned him to speak no more about the UFOs over Maury Island. About the same time, Crisman, who was checking out Dahl’s story about the slag, claimed to see a UFO hovering over the bay.

The Maury Island affair was quickly written off as a hoax by air force investigators, but Arnold claimed to have been confronted by at least two nearly omniscient Men in Black, who thus antedated Bender’s visitors by six years.

Howard Menger, an early UFO contactee who claims to have been inside a saucer and to have talked with aliens, said that when he was living in High Bridge, New Jersey, in 1957, two men in dark business suits came to call on him. They displayed authentic-looking credentials and claimed to be agents from a government bureau. They warned Menger to quit talking about flying saucers and to drop his research.

In 1965 Rex Heflin of McMinnville, Oregon, managed to take some highly interesting photos of a UFO while performing his duties with the highway department. A few days later Heflin was visited by a man bearing credentials of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). The phony NORAD investigator demanded, and received, Heflin’s original series of pictures. They were never returned until, years later, they mysteriously appeared in his mailbox. Analysts still recognize Heflin’s photos as among the best ever taken of UFOs.

In April 1966 two Norwalk, Connecticut, schoolboys were pursued by a low-flying UFO. The next day a man appeared at the boys’ school and introduced himself to the principal as a representative of a “government agency so secret that he couldn’t give the name.” The mysterious agent questioned the boys for nearly three hours.

Broadcaster Frank Edwards, now best remembered for his best-selling book Flying Saucers—Serious Business, spoke often of an official plot to silence him. Edwards had been conducting a highly successful radio show sponsored by the American Federation of Labor when he began to air stories on flying saucers. He was warned to abandon the subject. Edwards persisted and was given his walking papers. In spite of thousands of letters protesting his firing and the silencing of his UFO reports, his ex-sponsor stood firm. When reporters asked George Meany, president of the AFL, why Edwards had been dropped, Meany answered that it was because he talked too much about flying saucers. Edwards said that he later learned that his constant mention of UFOs had been irritating to the Defense Department, which had brought pressure on the AFL.

In 1966 the researcher and author John Keel stated his opinion that the Men in Black are the “intelligence arm of a large and possibly hostile group.” Keel considered the MIB to be professional terrorists who had among their duties the harassment of UFO researchers involved in cases that might reveal too much of the truth. Keel’s pursuit of the silencers led him to uncover some extreme cases of personal abuse in which certain contactees or investigators have been kidnapped by three men in a black car. The abductors subjected their victims to some sort of brainwashing technique that left them in a state of nausea, mental confusion, or even amnesia lasting for several days.

In Keel’s opinion, UFO researchers were wasting their time chasing lights in the sky and worrying about air force involvement in the flying saucer enigma. In his address to the 1967 Congress of Scientific UFOlogists, held at the Commodore Hotel in New York, Keel told of his personal mission to track down the silencers, and he advised UFO investigators to shift their attention from the vehicles to the occupants. In his opinion, the menace was not in our skies, but on the ground, and spreading like a disease across the country and the world. “The UFOs don’t want us to know where they are from,” Keel stated. “They have been lying to contactees since 1897”—a reference to the mysterious Airship of 1897 widely reported in that year.

In response to the controversy stirred up by Keel and other investigators over MIB, Col. George P. Freeman, the Pentagon spokesman for Project Blue Book, was quoted as saying, “We have checked a number of these cases, and these men are not connected with the Air Force in any way. It has never been within the line of duty of any government agency to threaten a private citizen or to enter his home without a search warrant. No government agent is empowered to demand surrender of private property by any law-abiding citizen.” Colonel Freeman went on to say that by posing as military officers and government agents, the silencers were committing a federal offense.

In recent years, encounters with the MIB have decreased. They have even been the basis for three motion-picture comedy spoofs starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Although reports of the mysterious interrogators have diminished, they have not ceased altogether. UFO researchers and witnesses still report bizarre, perhaps paranormal, experiences after sighting unusual aerial activity. And some witnesses still insist that they were terrified by individuals dressed in black who paid them a visit and threatened their lives if they didn’t forget the UFO phenomena that they observed.

If the silencers are perpetrating a hoax, who is doing it and why? Are they, as some investigators believe, agents from another world who labor to spread confusion and fear among serious UFO researchers? Are they, in spite of official denials, agents from a top-secret government agency that knows the answer to the flying-saucer enigma and has been commissioned to keep the truth from the American public? Or, as some researchers have theorized, are the silencers and the UFOs from an older terrestrial race that has survived and become more technically advanced as it thrives in some remote region of Earth?

Whoever the silencers may be, they clearly wish the nations of the world to remain ignorant of the facts about flying saucers. Perhaps they reason that the more ignorant we are of the true nature of the dangers which face us, the less able we will be to deal with the inevitable confrontation with an alien race and the more rapidly we will allow ourselves to become subject to a race or culture that considers itself superior to Homo sapiens.