Sunday, March 13, 2011

Howell McConnell - the UFO man from the NSA

Dear readers

Here in Adelaide, South Australia, we have a period of cultural entertainment known as "The Fringe." 250 shows of a variety of types, take over the City's venues, and provide a deliciously different perspective on life. With names such as "The Freak and the Showgirl" these shows take one away from everyday life into worlds where anything is possible. A little like the UFO phenomenon.

On a rather oddly cool, but still warm day, where it is trying to rain, but not quite succeeding, I am enjoying our local long weekend, with a glass of Moscato, a white wine, and thinking of the National Security Agency. A rather odd combination one might think, but here is why.

Old posts:

With my interest in all things Jacques Vallee, and intelligence agencies, I decided to take another look at one aspect of the relevance of the National Security Agency (NSA) and UFOs.

The NSA website:

The NSA lists all of its Freedom of Information Act UFO documents (click here.)
I reviewed the content of the NASA UFO documents in a series of posts on this blog between 29 December 2009 and 4 January 2010.

The documents cover the period 1955 to 1994. So, as late as 1994, someone in the NSA was collecting documents relating to UFOs. The 1994 document, by the way, was a 22 page summary of the USAF's report on "Roswell."

One of these documents is a "Memorandum for the Record" dated 29 August 1978. It originated with an unnamed NSA employee with an interest in UFOs who attended a MUFON UFO Symposium in Ohio in July 1978 (click here for more on this symposium.). The employee discussed their interest with their supervisor and others in the NSA.

At the symposium the employee gathered copies of some letters from a Mr Barry, which the NSA employee, thought were fraudulent. Eventually, some agency, NSA or another, wrote to Mr Barry and advised him that the letters were indeed fraudulent.

I wondered who that NSA employee could be?


Jacques Vallee, in his "Forbidden Science-Volume 2" diaries makes mention of an NSA employee who like then CIA Dr Christopher "Kit" Green, (see my previous posts on Green)showed an interest in UFOs. (Vallee, J. 2008. "Forbidden Science-Volume Two- Journals 1970-1979-The Belmont Years." Documentica Research, LLC. ISBN 978-0-615-24974-2.)The volume has the following relevant entries:

27 October 1972

"At the Hilton desk I found a note from Puthoff with instructions to call a certain "locator number" and to ask for Howell McConnell. I was supposed to say I was referred to him by "R.T." I have just called the locator, which rings inside NSA and left a message." (For more on Puthoff click here.)

28 October 1972

"Howell McConnell does work at the National Security Agency, one of the most secretive components of the Intelligence Community whose initials are said to stand for "Never Say Anything" or "No Such Agency." He arrived looking like a jovial math teacher, a rotund character with spectacles and gray mustache, oddly sweet for a man in the spook business. We sat in the dining room, ordered a pot of coffee, and spent the whole morning there.

I was ready for almost anything, except for that discussion about mysticism, he nature of the universe, poetry, cosmic consciousness...I had prepared an introduction: "I want to talk to you on a confidential, personal basis, not as a member of any research group," I began. We seemed to be on trusting terms, but I remained on guard. Aren't these people trained to project an impression of trust? I explained why professional scientists rejected the idea of a phenomenon which threatened their mental structures."

"Bureaucrats are just like your scientists," he said. "I work for a bunch of bureaucrats whose tendency, too, is to deny. But an Agency like ours can take no risks. So we keep an eye on things. If something does happen, they'll be able to say they were aware of the situation, that one of their analysts was informed, his documentation up to date..."

He asked me if I'd ever heard of a group based at Wright-Patterson, which is supposed to do secret analyses on behalf of the Air Force. He's heard that the office in question confiscated UFO negatives in order to analyze them secretly.

"Perhaps we should continue this discussion in my room," I suggested, aware that a group of people had come in, sitting down at a table close to us. Howell laughed.

"In a hotel like this the rooms are equipped with listening devices. The security men need to find out about any improprieties. Who knows who may be paying them to get information? We're much more private here, right in the restaurant.

That remark threw me into a world of new questions. I thought back about the incident of the previous night. In the rest of our discussion we went deep into the topics of psychic reality. I told him about my computer compilation.

"This catalogue of yours is more important in terms of the consciousness evolution it represents than as computer data..."

That remark led us towards psychic phenomena, where he knew a great deal, and mysticism, his favourite topic. "What an unfortunate word, mysticism!" he said. "I prefer to speak of contemplation. Nothing exists in itself, only in relationship to other entities, so if you think about it, everything goes back to the triad, the Trinity."

This turned our talk to religion. He belongs to the Charismatic Community, which strives to reach a higher level of consciousness through prayer, miraculous cures of the sick. He compared my catalog to prehistoric paintings of animals on cave walls, a magical representation of the hunter and the hunted, except that my own magic was that of the computer. He added: "If you ever need help, don't hesitate to call me." But I don't plane to require help from the NSA."

31 October 1972

"This morning I walked over to Puthoff's office...I told him about my talk with McConnell... I was reminded of the parting words of Howell McConnell: "I am surprised by such meetings, by the meaning of apparent coincidences," he said "And I wonder who we are."

21 February 1973

"Hal has come back from another trip to Washington. After our failure to get anywhere with well-intentioned McConnell, who evidently knows nothing, Hal has spoken to other "Government officials in a position to discover the true state of affairs" about UFOs."

3 May 1973

"Two letters have arrived, both touching on the topic of evil. One is from Aime Michel and the other from Howell McConnell...Howell's letter revolves around a classified meeting he recently had with Geller, presumably in the Washington area.

"My conversation with him convinces me that we are about to cross the border to the new world mentioned in "the future of man." He forces us to confront the pitfalls we must meet when we lift the cover of Pandora's box."

Howell sends me some books by Christian novelist C.S. Lewis, who uses science-fiction as a vehicle for ideas about the grand cosmic fight. Then he asks for detailed biographies of Geller and Ingo Swann! I don't intend to play along. Doesn't NSA have its own channels to get that kind of information?" (For more on Michel click here.)

16 October 1973

"Today I had lunch with Hal Puthoff...I told Hal about my frustration with NSA and McConnell, a nice guy with strong religious beliefs but no hard data..."

2 February 1974

"In a recent letter McConnell mentions a delightful story he found in a book by Thomas Merton about the Fathers of the Desert. A hermit was once visited by an Angel of Light who told him: "Behold, I am Archangel Gabriel and I have a message for thee!" The humble man was unimpressed : "I have done nothing to deserve such a great honor," he told his celestial visitor. "Go and take your message to someone else!" Quite a lesson for our New Age gurus."

2 February 1974

Speaking of Dr Christopher "Kit" Green, "The most important thing I learned was that Green had counterparts in every branch of the Executive. Like Howell McConnell they mainly operated "out of personal interest."" (For more on Green click here.)


  1. I can't escape the gnawing idea that Vallee's openness to 'the phenomena' left him vulnerable to the mythmakers and this somehow swayed the pattern of his thoughts.

    His conversations with Michel show a very early tendency towards the abstract metaphysical. Perhaps this was deliberately 'validated' by mystery men like McConnell, Kit Green and others? Another idea I often return to is that Vallee is himself one of the mythmakers? Has he been a party to the deception or an instrument of it?

    Certainly, over the decades he's supported SRI and NIDS when others have been asking big questions of some of the players. P144 foreshadows the 'Skinwalker Ranch' legend and raises more questions!

    "I feel hurt because of something stupid Allen has done. He rang up Janine on Monday: “Guess where I'm calling from? Utah!” He exulted. “In the Uintah basin, with Mimi and the kids. I'm gonna talk to all the witnesses. Junior Hicks is here, I'll let him speak to you.”

    Janine didn't have much to say to Junior Hicks, so they both hung up after a few awkward exchanges.This is sheer one-upmanship on Allen's part. He has destroyed my trust in our work together. We had agreed to careful plans to “discreetly” investigate a delicate series of events in the Uintah basin."

    From his arrival in the field, one or two stories need addressing, in my opinion.

    Whatever the reasons for Vallee's published views and interviews, he is indeed an interesting character. Very few people (in the field) have generated as many ideas as this man and so much great reading.

  2. Hi

    I too wonder how much of Vallee's thinking has been directed by his involvement with such people as Hal Puthoff, whom Vallee had extensive dealings with in the 70's.

    I have found more on McConnell in John B Alexander's book "UFOs." I will post this information shortly.

    Thanks again for your comment.

  3. There is certainly an interesting cavalcade of characters in this journey, but I think we have to be realistic about how much they have contributed to solutions to this enigma. When Colonel/Dr. John Alexander concludes after alll his attempts in his 2011 book, "We are not close to solving the enigmas posed by UFOs, rather we are still on the front end of defining the fundamental issues and boundaries." We perhaps should conclude this cast of characters have not found out much, at least in terms of the preoccupation and focuses they have applied.
    But as an optimist I would argue they have wonderfully contributed to the dialogue and debate as well as drawing attention to a mountain of provocative data.
    I have posted a review of John's book on my blog.

  4. I knew McConnell in '68. Had many conversations on current affairs, philosophy and the politics of the 60s. I've lost contact with him. Does your organization have a current contact for him, i.e., email, POB... It would be wonderful to speak with him again... Sincerely Neil Shovlin

  5. Hi Neil

    I'm afraid I have not had any contact with him. However, an internet google search revealed the following

    It says that in 2010 he was with the national Cryptologic Museum at the NSA.

    Sorry I cannot be more helpful.


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