After completing my last post about Howell McConnell from the NSA, and being unable to find out anything about his UFO interests post 1974, imagine my surprise when I picked up John B Alexander's new book "UFOs:myth, conspiracies, and realities," and who should be in there but Howell McConnell.
Alexander tells of setting up an "Advanced Theoretical Physics Project (ATP.) "This was a small internal group drawn from the government and aerospace industry, all of whom were interested in the topic." (p.6.) "Membership was highly restricted and it was literally an old boy network." (p.16.) "Membership included people from the Army, Navy,and Air Force plus several from defense aerospace industries and some members from the Intelligence community." (p.17.) "The first set of meetings and briefings were conducted from 1984 through 1988." (p.21.)
"Howell McConnell had been participating in the ATP from the beginning. McConnell was a career employee at No Such Agency, as some people refer to this super secret organization, which was located a stone's throw outside the Washington Beltway at Fort Meade, Maryland.
"Based on his own initiative and personal concern about UFOs, Howell had written a position paper on the topic that was made available to his superiors. Upon a document search responding to a written request under FOIA, that paper had been released by NSA. Thus, he was known to the public as informed in the area. For personal reasons, Howell and Jack, a coworker of his, had a deep interest in the topic." (p.30.)
"When it came to record keeping, Howell was also a saving grace in NSA. While civilians seem to believe that every piece of information that goes into the U.S. Government is saved, that is not true. Especially in the days of paper files, Washington, D.C., would have sunk into the swamp on which it is built just under the sheer weight of the documents. Rather, most material was scheduled for routine destruction after a specified date. Using an old boy net, McConnell had become known inside NSA for his interest in UFOs and incoming reports were regularly funnelled to him.
"He kept many of those reports long after their expiration date. It is important to note that the vast majority of those documents were from intelligence officers around the world who were sending in reports that appeared in their local newspapers. There were a few that got our attention, as they came from trusted sources. However, even having reports with high credibility, and possible military significance, was not sufficient to get formal collection requirements related to UFOs." (p.31)
"As ATP progressed, Howell, jack and I did meet with a very senior official in the NSA regarding what had been concluded thus far in our study. Like the senior officials from the other agencies, he was interested but had nothing to offer. There was no problem with Howell keeping track of information regarding UFOs, but no requirement to do so. Most of the UFO reports that came into NSA were generated by people located at foreign sites passing on routine information they thought worth observing." (p.31.)
Strategic Defense Initiative:
In a page dedicated to a briefing of Lieutenant General Jim Abrahamson, head of SDI, the briefing included the subject of UFOs, there is a statement "While the Air Force data from Space command got some interest, it was the NSA material that received the most attention." (p.33.)
What was this material? It was "...statements from Dr F Yu Zigel, a senior Soviet astronomer and laboratory director..." (p.33.)
"Obviously the Soviet scientists that NSA was listening to did not doubt the reality of the UFOs. "How did you get this?" General Abrahamson asked, seemingly shocked by the verbatim transcript. McConnell responded, explaining our technical eavesdropping methodologies..." (p.34.)
"For UFO buffs, that means a lot of material that they are looking for simply doesn't exist. Previously mentioned was Howell McConnell, who worked at NSA and is known to some UFO researchers. McConnell did have a small number of highly sensitive files regarding UFOs in his possession. In some cases they had passed their normal date for destruction. Had he not kept the files on his personal safe, they would have been routinely destroyed, and with-out a record of their prior existence." (p.205.)
"...when people came forward with extraordinary tales about how they encountered UFO projects in the Black World, they can easily be spotted by those who understand the system and have really worked in it. When former officials like Colonel Bill Coleman of the Air Force or Howell McConnell of NSA discuss their activities in the field, their descriptions fit entirely..." (p.208.)
This and the previous post do indicate that there were indeed individuals in various agencies such as the NSA, who had a deep interest in the UFO phenomenon, even though there was not an official requirement to collect data on the subject.
It is noted that if one didn't come across Howell McConnell in sources such as Vallee's dairies or Alexander's book, then the average researcher would never know of this interest.
An internet search on "Howell McConnell" turned up two entries:
1. McConnell was a key speaker in February 2001 at the Las Vegas "Black Hat Windows 2000 security conference." By then he had retired from the NSA. Click here.
2. He became a tour guide at the National Cryptologic Museum at Fort Meade, the home of the NSA. Click here.
Click here for what I believe is McConnell's 1968 NSA paper.
Have readers come across anything else on his UFO interests?