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A bridge too far?
An AAWSAP manager hangs radioactive laundry on the line (again)
It’s nothing, man, just a flesh wound — it’ll scab over. I just need to clear my mind.
The bogeyman has been in our heads since childhood, since the Pleistocene bonfires, when the first storytellers warned us not to wander too far, too deep, too quickly, into the blind unknown. Because he was out there, sure as nightfall, waiting, malevolent, always.
He changes shape and size even as we speak, his contours sketched by mythology, personal trauma, pranks, missing-person headlines, superstition, Hollywood and the limits of our susceptibility. And as our circumstances grow more dire by the year, might we soon find ourselves confronting potentials so patently absurd and unsettling, the only rational response is to laugh it off and change the channel?
In June, molecular biologist and biochemist Kolm Kelleher issued an assault on reason in the Society for Scientific Exploration journal EdgeScience. Kelleher is a name long familiar to students of the ongoing paranormal controversies emanating from Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. His field research began in 1996, and his latest article – “The Pentagon’s Secret UFO Program, the Hitchhiker Effect, and Models of Contagion” – is an updated summation of a book he co-authored in 2021, Skinwalkers at the Pentagon: An Insider’s Account of the Secret Government UFO Program.
The timing of Kelleher’s emphatic reiteration of anomalous goings-on 150 miles east of Salt Lake City is a little too perfect. Congress, after all, is fed up with the Defense Department’s foot-dragging on the transparency aspect of the UFO/UAP conundrum. Stymied by the Navy’s flop of a public hearing back in May, and after drafting spending-bill language that would grant whistleblowers not only immunity for stepping forward but the right to sue supervisors who might retaliate, lawmakers are beginning to sound almost . . . urgent?
‘Threats . . . are expanding exponentially’
Two months ago, in demanding more resources to get on top of this UFO thing, the Senate Intelligence Committee inserted a newsworthy euphemism into its Intelligence Authorization Act proposal for FY 2023. Lawmakers claimed that “cross-domain transmedium threats to the United States national security are expanding exponentially.” And in explicit acknowledgement of the growing scope of the problem, they ordered the intelligence community to pursue the mystery under a new organizational name – the Unidentified Aerospace-Undersea Phenomena Joint Program Office.
If only labels alone could contain it …
Skinwalkers at the Pentagon and its freaky content might’ve sunk like a stone last year were it not for the credentials of one of its two other authors. He was the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top missile-threat analyst, and he was charged with supervising the DoD’s $22 million UFO research initiative from 2008-10.
Called the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program, the AAWSAP project – directed by the DIA’s James Lacatski – assigned 50 technicians, security officers, engineers and multi-disciplinary scientists to the puzzle. The lion’s share of their efforts focused on Skinwalker Ranch, a reputed hotbed of metaphysical commotion then owned by chain-hotel bigwig Robert Bigelow. And the results – chronicled also by veteran journalist George Knapp – blurred the lines between UFOs and practically every Halloween trope in the book.
Greetings from Planet Cray-Cray
Even so, despite the poltergeists, orbs, specters, mutilated cattle, materialization/dematerialization, etc., the most disquieting takeaway from Skinwalkers at the Pentagon was something that sounds like it came from the DSM handbook for Planet Cray-Cray. Kelleher calls it the Hitchhiker Effect, and as he restates in his June essay, we might be ignoring the symptoms at our own peril.
Kelleher, who ran the day-to-day operations for AAWSAP, reports that all five DIA employees who worked the Bigelow contract at Skinwalker Ranch – as well as at least 10 security officers deployed to the site – didn’t come home alone. “Nightmarish dogmen,” “black shadow people standing over their beds,” “orbs routinely floating through their homes,” and a veritable “inferno of unexplained phenomena” appeared to track them down after they left Utah.
Kelleher states there were quantifiable consequences as well for a number of AAWSAP personnel, including “flu-like symptoms,” “autoimmune disorders,” some coinciding with blood, tissue and joint abnormalities. Some of the afflicted agreed to brain scans, which revealed neurological damage. But that wasn’t the creepiest part. That distinction goes to the pseudonymous “Jonathan Axelrod.”
Cited as the Naval Intelligence aerospace engineer who led the formal investigation into the 2004 Tic Tac UFO incident, Axelrod returned from Utah to his Virginia home only to discover a raft of weird shit happening to his family – but not to him.
In addition to the “shadow-like figures,” orbs, and loud sudden nocturnal noises, Axelrod’s wife insisted she turned out the lights before bed one night and made eye contact with a tall, bipedal lupine phantom staring back at her from the front lawn. After comparing notes, Axelrod’s two teenaged sons confessed they’d seen the same thing in the back yard, in broad daylight. Then, one of his son’s friends, who wasn’t in on the family secret, volunteered that he’d seen a wolf-like creature standing erect in his own yard, peering into his bedroom window. Yet another friend-in-the-dark said he’d seen blue orbs whizzing around his yard.
Images ‘almost comically stereotypical’
Friends, neighbors and relatives of the DIA’s Skinwalker posse who never set foot on the Ranch told similar stories. Go here to an excerpt from the History channel’s “Skinwalker Ranch” series for some of the latest. But you see where this is going:
Kelleher likens the Hitchhiker Effect to a communicable disease, in which a phenomenon involving “profoundly altered perceptual environments” can be transmitted unwittingly by the infected. He cites parallels with psychedelics. But what would be the original source of infection? Exposure to what – crypto-electromagnetic frequencies dancing on tri-field meters at a very specific geographical location? And you can transfer that “infection” to someone else?
This apparently isn’t a new thing. Kelleher reaches back to Lawrence Livermore National Lab in 1973, when psychic Uri Geller was doing classified experiments involving ICBMs and electronics. Geller is a Rorschach splotch, people see what they want to see, it doesn’t matter. What matters are the tales LLNL staffers and scientists told author Jim Schnabel.
Things got real peculiar real fast with the mind-projection experiments. The Livermore crowd mentioned the emergence of a “teasing, tormenting, hallucination-inducing spirit” capable of imposing “almost comically stereotypical images” inflicted not just on people at the lab. The anomalies also supposedly operated on folks at a distance, lab workers and/or their families in their homes. How bizarre did it get?
“There were sometimes animals – fantastic animals from the ecstatic lore of shamans,” phantoms dropping in and out, a massive corvid staring at homeowners from the foot of their bed, midnight footfalls in empty hallways, etc. “After a few weeks of this,” relates Schnabel, “Russo and some of the others began to seriously wonder if they were losing their sanity.”
Good. We need more of this.
Union workers picketing Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2021 are about to get ripped to shreds by a chupacabra, or something similarly horrible . . .
Fortunately, Kelleher says an “epidemiological infectious agent model” is feasible, especially with brain-mapping technology routinely employed to identify biomarkers. Candidates would share symptoms like “waking up with black shadow humanoids standing over their beds,” poltergeist hijinks, bedroom orbs, “apparitions of dead children,” loud bangs or, in short, “alterations in a person’s perceptual environment.” Getting data on the lag time between exposure and transmission would fall under “incubation” research, and who knows, maybe The Hitchhiker Effect would track like biological contagion.
“Both spread through a replication process that is heedless of the consequences for the individual,” Kelleher writes, “and if each person transmits to more than one person, the rapid pace of exponential growth creates an epidemic.”
Soooo: Who wants to tell Congress it’s time to figure out if the bogeyman is real, once and for all?
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