Below is an approximate transcript from a Zoom interview with researcher and blogger Jack Brewer (also author of "The Greys Have Been Framed: Exploitation in the UFO Community" and "Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC") on Friday October 22. Due to the spotty Internet connection during the interview, some of the audio was choppy, but I've endeavored to provide as close a reproduction as possible to Jack's meaning in those sections where the sound cut out (I've also excised some sentences here and there where I couldn't cogently stitch together what was likely meant). Any mistranslations of Jack's meaning are my own fault. I welcome his and anyone else's corrections. For completeness, here is the audio recording, though I encourage people to also read along with the transcript.
Please see Jack's excellent blog The UFO Trail, where he shares his research into NICAP and the history of the IC's involvement in the UFO saga. Also be sure to check out Expanding Frontiers Research (led by Erica Lukes), where Jack contributes research articles delving into the UFO topic and UFO adjacent issues. See also Jack's Twitter/X feed and that of EFR.
And as Jack notes: "It starts and ends with standards of evidence."
Luis: Welcome back, everyone. Today we're joined by Jack Brewer, for second time. I'll provide a link to the previous episode where I interviewed him. Thanks, Jack, for coming on again. We'll talk about the Grusch saga a little bit. In what ways do you think that the Grusch saga is genuinely unique compared to previous UFO "whistleblower" episodes?
Jack: That's a good question. I'm not aware of any ways that it's unique. I think we could say it's kind of unique in the technologies available now with social media and the Internet and the ways that it's promoted as compared to 1980s ufology and the 1980s UFO community, things like that. But as far as I can tell, Luis, the actual content of what the man has said, anyone who's read some paperback UFO books could have given the same thing.
Luis: Though arguably I don't think there's ever been any Congressional committee looking into crash retrievals, right?
Jack: I could agree with that, though we of course had the Congressional committees in the 1960s, I don't think it went this far. There have been different statements over the years. But you're probably correct about that. And I'll let you decide how far you want to get into what he's told who and all that. But you're probably correct on that point. To tell you the honest truth, I have become less interested in the minutiae of the story, and if anything, with To The Stars and Luis Elizondo, and the things that happened since 2017, these things have lowered my tolerance for things about knowing who to follow and who said what and what office did it get sent to and who's going to do what next, that it's just a never ending circle of newspaper articles, and web casts, and blogs and YouTube interviews, that it's almost like a mirage in the desert, all of this stuff that doesn't amount to any actual evidence that is available for public review. So based on that I just lost interest in that aspect of the whole thing. And part of it is, I just try to spend my time and attention on things that tend to bear more fruit than this never-ending hearsay and statements and unverified claims.
Luis: You've looked a lot into Donald Keyhoe's involvements back in the 50s and 60s and the whole NICAP legacy. To what extent is Donald Keyhole and NICAP's legacy important to what's currently going on, if at all?
Jack: From my point of view, and a lot of people don't agree with me about NICAP and Donald Keyhoe and various circumstances surrounding him, but from my point of view I think his most lasting legacy was saddling others, like the US government, with responsibility of proving or disproving his assertions. And I think that's something that we still see continue today. I think we see that with Grusch, we certainly saw it with To The Stars, the whole Disclosure community. You know, Disclosurism is primarily based on, "We would have the proof if Uncle Sam weren't keeping it from us." And I think that Donald Keyhoe was largely responsible. Someone else would have done it if he hadn't, and other people were doing it too. But to me that's the one of the things, primarily, he brought for good or bad or indifferent, blaming other people or giving other other people the responsibility to refute or verify his assertions. I think that NICAP had an excellent business plan. They didn't execute it well. But I am very much aware of the things that could have been done in the mid-20th century that today aren't as applicable. For subscribers, their fees pay, their membership dues, get them materials sent in the mail. That really won't work anymore, even in email. There's just so much free content. But I thought it was a good idea. And they had some 14,000 subscribers at one point, just amazing. And I really liked the model of having a Washtingon based committee that then had sub-committees under it, doing projects, and different geographic locations. It was just a really great business model. It just wasn't executed well. But, to answer your question, I tend to think that what Donald Keyhoe brought to the UFO field was asserting that there are interplanetary spacecraft visiting us. And it's the Air Force or CIA's responsibility to show proof.
Luis: Why do you think that Keyhoe was opposed to the Contactees?
Jack: It's interesting. For whatever reasons he liked to view himself and the organization as scientific. There were people however that had influence, helping NICAP, volunteering and doing work, distributing money, that very much supported the Contactee movement. As a matter of fact, some of the original founding minds behind the organization through thought real highly of some of the Contactee, that they should even be involved in organizing the original NICAP. But Keyhoe didn't think that way, and started what has become a standing conflict with UFO organizations and researchers, even bloggers and writers, is how to appeal to the community without at the same time isolating segments of it. I think that's just an ongoing challenge. We talk about that in research circles all the time as how you get traction in giving critical thinking, fact-based, evidence-based information when sensationalist writers and websites that are clearly motivated by clickbait, that are so popular and prevalent that they just kind of drown out voices of reason. I would like to mention, fortunately, Erica Lukes, who you know Luis, she is the leader at Expanding Frontiers Research, where I write and help out, she had a nice interview, got to speak with a writer at the Salt Lake Tribune, it was just published today, which as Luis and I are speaking it's Friday October 22. So we were very pleased about that. But those are few and far between, though. While Erica got to give some good, fact-based information and make some clear statements about trying to get people to understand the history of the topic as compared to one belief or another, that is the exception to the rule, and sensationalism often gets more more attention. And yeah, I mean that's just something, ever since Keyhoe's day it's been an ongoing challenge of how an organization or even a single writer can appeal to a demographic, has these different segments that go from one extreme to another.
Luis: Kind of related to that, do you think that the overall tone of the UFO narrative is becoming more optimistic or is it becoming more sinister?
Jack: I think it ebbs and flows and it depends what segment of the subculture you're in. I don't see a whole of change much over time. It just kind of fluctuates, and it depends on whether you're listening to Bill Cooper that used UFO/fringe topics to piggy-back into his extremist ideologies, or whether you're listening to a David Jacobs who has a narrative of these abduction perpetrating extraterrestrials. Or you could read the late Dr. John Mack who believed that they were benevolent entities that were visiting us. So I think it just depends. I think there's always been a use of subject matter, UFOs and the topic, to try to direct that audience into other things that might be supportive of extremist politics, it might be into money-making schemes, that people see the UFO community as a group of people that might have income, they might have resources to spend money on things that are not wise investments. Definitely, the right-wing extremism has a history, and it's just something that's always been there. Is it getting worse? Again, I think maybe we have to look at the technology side of it to determine that. You can certainly reach more people today than you could back when a Nazi group in Toronto for instance had purchased the NICAP [minutes?]. Today's it's much easier to get on podcasts, to go to conventions and get those messages much more efficiently to larger groups of people. But it's definitely still happening.
Luis: Do you think that the Contactee-type image is maybe making a come-back? You know, we still hear a lot by these so-called "Starseeds", and Grusch himself has alluded to the Magenta story, which includes Nordic aliens recovered from the craft in that story.
Jack: I don't know, Luis. I really couldn't say. I certainly don't have any measurable data. It seems like as Leslie Kean directly stated, she tried to avoid the more extreme aspects of the topic when she wrote for the Times with Blumenthal. I think that journalists in that group try to make it sound more scientific than it is. For instance, as Steven Greenstreet has reported with Skinwalker Ranch under the money that was invested by the Defense Intelligence Agency. So I think, Contactees coming into that, it somewhat becomes a matter of semantics, I think. How much it's popular or not popular, I don't know. I could see it certainly making a revival if someone of Kean's status, or Luis Elizondo or whoever the next person that is that maybe we haven't even heard of yet that will be on a popular newscast or YouTube interview. If they tell people that it's coming, that it's a thing, well then there will be lots of people perceiving that they're experiencing it, I would say.
Luis: Do you think that the far right has more of an inherent interest in being adjacent to these UFO stories than the far left?
Jack: It certainly seems so, doesn't it? Doesn't it seem that way to you when we look at the news cycle? It seemed to even out some for a while there. But the credulousness was pretty equally distributed around. There weren't many outlets that leaned right or left that were giving the kind of review of it, the way that it should have, many reporters working on many of the aspects to refute it. It seems to me that it is a Republican brainchild at this point. They seem to be more on board with championing these self-proclaimed whistleblowers who actually aren't bringing any evidence with them, just stories. It does seem that they're more interested in championing this stuff, and they do seem to tie that into "Deep State" ops and making insinuations, if not accusations, that it's being done to hurt the conservative, the right-wing politics. And if there's anything from my vantage point, I'd like to hear your position as well, if there's anything that seems consistent with it, it's just that it is so convoluted, and they just pile lie on top of lie on top of lie that you end up four or five steps removed from what somebody said, that the Deep State's covering up, that it's a conspiracy to do this, that and the other, that the original lie doesn't even get examined anymore. What are your thoughts on that? Doesn't it just become just a soup of unverified nonsense?
Luis: Yeah, which is a feature instead of a flaw for many people. Because it becomes impossible to falsify it, so it becomes science-proof. Many people are now basing their worldview and opinions on emotion instead of facts. I see this other thing as well, see these attacks on consensus reality are tied in with this notion, maybe not always explicitly stated, a kind of a notion that there's no such thing as objective reality, that belief is the important thing.
Jack: And that kind of ties in with Vallee and Keel and paranormal writers. There's a place in my heart and mind for Eastern philosophies. I'm okay with non-material, metaphysical-type discussions. But where I have a problem with it is when people try to make that argument and gain its support in the scientific community at the same time. That's where I have trouble with it. Like a journalist who's doing a story wants to gather their information, they work to find evidence to support or refute any given topic or issue. And there's just no place in that for no consensus reality. So you really can't bring that argument to a journalist who needs some type of verification, some meat that people can sink their teeth into with his story or his book or his podcast. And the same applies about the members of the scientific community, that if people are willing to argue metaphysics and provide no proof and it happened this way and that way, well then by definition you just can't make that scientific. And I know there's an argument to that, that, you know, well the phenomenon defies investigation, well then that may be true, well then don't expect science to give it a stamp of approval if that's the case. You just can't argue at the same time, and as you point out Luis, it's a convenient way of making it non-falsifiable.
Luis: I suppose also, maybe the other aspect is that the far left would at least make the claim to being scientific, that Marxism is a "science of history." Whereas the far right has historically been much more tied with mysticism. And that's something that we definitely see a lot in ufology.
Jack: Yeah, I'd agree with that. Which is kind of interesting really when you think about it, it always reminds me of ways that the right and left became, kind of, that in certain circumstances had shared enemies. Then you start intermingling their ideologies, because it interests me in an odd way how people can want to embrace literal alien creatures from another planet or dimension or whatever, that they [these same people] will literally put up a border wall and not allow people into their country and not allow them to practice their religion. I kind of find it interesting to look at how that's come to be. What I see there in some of these circumstances through history, is that what the right and left shared was a dislike of authority, and if we can make the Deep State or the intelligence agencies bad, or the White House bad or whatever the case may be, and just keep blaming them, then you have a shared enemy. And then as we were talking about with people like Bill Cooper, and get people more open to hearing your rants about needing to make those border walls and making the nationalism message more prominent while listening to your talk about distrusting the FBI, distrusting the CIA because they won't tell us about the aliens, then you just continue the message with "Blame them for everything." Again, it's not falsifiable. It just becomes a tool to exploit people.
Luis: But what's your sense then about specifically what's behind the Grusch story? Do you think it's a psychological operation, or a grift, or is it just covert gossip, or is everyone just confused?
Jack: I think all of the above could apply to different people at different times. I think it's a really complex agenda, or complex circumstance with layers of agendas from different people. I think a certain tribalism comes into play where people that work together want to protect each other, to get some revenge at people who weren't in their clique in the intelligence agencies and things like that. I think some of them may honestly believe the things they say. I think some of them may believe in some of the things they say, and that they think the rest of it justifies, like "the end justifies the means" type of thing, especially those that have religious agendas. We've seen again and again about history how extremist people can do things when they literally believe they're doing supreme work. Money can factor, power, all kinds of things. I'll tell you, Luis, the sticking point I always come to is that educated, intelligent people know how to present a coherent argument and systematically present it when that's what they want to do. And when they don't do that, or don't even act like they understand, like they deny that they understand the argument from people that are saying, "You haven't presented any evidence", I really begin to doubt motives there, because then, at the absolute best, we're talking about people that are incompetent and can't understand that they have not presented verifiable evidence. So if we're to take them at their word, then at best they are incompentent; and, you know, at worst, willfully deceiving and obtuse. There's some skeptics that give [that way?] too much leeway. I think there's some people that otherwise do pretty good work with making one point or another, or examing one situation or another. Skeptics like to do it, they like to argue, like to examine it. For some of them, maybe it's worth something to them financially, they like the attention, they just enjoy doing it it and the web views they get. But I feel like it might be a litle obtuse about, "So you really believe this person is just this stupid?" You know, that this person just really doesn't understand that they shouldn't shoot bottle rockets at the sky and call it scientific investigation? I get, at times I get as impatient with skeptics about that as I do with the people actually doing the nonsense, to tell you the truth.
Luis: I think there's also an aspect of when reasonable people are interacting with sociopaths or grifters, the reasonable person kind of defaults to trying to assure the other person that nothing bad is going on. You know what I mean? They're trying to bend over backwards to assume that the grifter has got the best of intentions.
Jack: Yeah, I do know what you mean. Over the years, I've discussed a way range of different circumstances with people. I do recall one time in an email chain with some research partners, I'd presented some circumstances that I was interested in, one of the people in this email chain said, "Well I'm sure that this person was acting in good faith and had the group's best interests at heart." And I was just like, "How can you be sure of that? Are you saying no one ever acts with ill will? I mean, the prisons are full of them."
Luis: Are we in a UFO flap right now, or just a UFO craze?
Jack: I don't know if there's many actually being sighted or not? Do you? One of the things that certainly To The Stars managed to accomplish post-2017 was getting a lot of attention and buzz back to a topic that I remember joking in my circles, even, that ufology was doing pretty good not to have any UFOs. And als about all of the phones, what is it, 90% of the people on the planet or something are walking around with a camera in their hand all the time and we don't have decent pictures of UFOs. An argument from my point of view is that the low information zone, as Mick West aply termed it, may have a whole lot to do with UFOs and may have always been the main place that UFOs were hanging out. In my estimation, we're more in a "people are interested in it" than we are in a situation where there's activity of some of unknown origin that could be studied somehow.
Luis: Although, arguably, you might be able to make the case that at least with the US Navy they are actually sighting a lot of drones and balloons maybe coming from Cuba because China has an electronic listening base there, they're trying to gather ELINT from the US. But I mean, that's not aliens, it's just...
Jack: Yeah, that's what my thoughts turn to. Look at TheDrive, in the last few years they were looking at some really interesting things, but like you're saying, I don't think that's what Donald Keyhoe had in mind, you know, traditional writing about UFOs. It seems to me that there's been quite a [time?] since we just had a good old-fashioned story about "Some people were in the woods and look what they saw, and this is what happened, here's the reports, and here's the date it happened." Maybe it's almost not possible anymore with social media the way it is, we can't get like a 9-month investigation can't happen before the story is launched, the story gets launched immediately, and then it's picked apart and torn apart and people move onto something new. And there's some follow up later. Just everything about it is different now than it was 20, 40, 60 years ago.
Luis: Would you say maybe there's even been a drop in the level at which, kind of like the threshold has been lowered for judging something to be a UFO. Because you see Jeremy Corbell and George Knapp promoting the so-called "triangular UFOs" which actually turned out to be bokeh from the camera. I mean, it's so obviously just that, but these UFO people are still promoting them as bona-fide UFOs.
Jack: Yes, that is indeed what I'm alluding to. And we have a definite problem, the United States military and intelligence community defining what they're looking at it and why they're looking at it, and then people in the media and the [alternative?] media that will take their statements and try to make them really kind of ambiguous. And the people that kind of promote these stories for their own means will make them more sensational. Absolutely. Some of the people that I work with, like Eric Lukes, and Adam Gorightly, and some others, Mark Pilkington, I respect their knowledge and understanding of the history of the subject, and the intelligence community's involvement in it. We've talked about the United States military has always had a concern about air space, there's nothing new about that. Anytime they determine that there's something that they don't know what it is, they're interested in it, so your point is well taken. I can see where the Pentagon spokesperson kind of shrugs and says, "I don't know what you want me to tell you guys, we know some of this stuff, and we don't want to tell you all about what we know about it." And what that means is some of their statements are ambiguous, and they may have intentions of confusing and not being clear, and they may have declined some opportunities to make things clearer, the powers-that-be I mean. The charlatans and pseudo-journalists certainly run with it. But yes, your point is very well taken that anything hoisted and shoved over the bar to call it a UAP will certainly get all the attention anyone can wring out of it, that's for sure.
Luis: There's also kind of an exploitation aspect, which you've looked at. But I'm seeing this a lot actually, even just the style of YouTube thumbnails, you'll often see "They're lying to us", that kind of thing. It just seems like it's exploitative emotionalism. They're [the grifters and charlatans] trying to use UFOs as a way to get everyone riled up.
Jack: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, you've read a lot of my stuff, watched my interviews and things. I'm of the opinion that the intelligence community obfuscate and cover-up, and it might be about exotic aircraft or it might be about a number of things. And then we're back to the burden of proof on Donald Keyhoe or Luis Elizondo or whoever to prove that it's anything more than a colorful story or a bait-and-switch or something like that. But yeah, covering up is what they [the IC] is what they do. And I don't think that a good intelligence officer would deny that. Of course they operate in secrecy, that's the fundamental aspect of intelligence gathering is to find out things, that your enemies don't know that you've learned, and for your enemies to be confused about what it is you're doing and why you're doing it, that by the very nature of what you're doing it should be difficult to analyze. And I think that a lot of, many many people in the UFO subculture don't understand that, and it's simple in its most basic form. And then some that do understand that don't really want to analyze it for the sake of their own [financial?] interests.
Luis: What do you think are the social stresses right now in the world, maybe particularly in the US, which might be acting as a backdrop and push for UFOs?
Jack: How do you mean? Why now or why people are interested?
Luis: Right. Why does there seem to be another wave of interest going right now? How would you link that to what's going on in society? Maybe economic stresses like unemployment, or geopolitical stresses.
Jack: I think that's a reasonable, I think you could go through different regions and see why Florida might interested about one thing or another when they have the problems with DeSantis and Matt Gaetz, why Florida would want to look into certain things. You have Utah that is known for Skinwalker Ranch, and they currently have, literally every day, if you just look at the Salt Lake Tribune website, literally every day they have something else happening that is just really bad news with abusive and exploitative and problematic things. I think there are different reasons for different regions. You had New England, you have where Betty and Barney Hill have legendary status, you have different things in different places. But I would put 90% or more of the last 6 years squarely on Christopher Melon and Luis Elizondo and the people they were involved with and then all of that is the same crew that's been propagating, cultivating and spreading these stories for decades, and that's the people around Robert Bigelow and Skinwalker Ranch. I think, in my opinion, an entire study could be done on the financial infuence that Robert Bigelow had in the UFO subculture and how money, that at a minimum, through him, he was a conduit for money, and through him influenced what America and the world believed in time about about UFOs. I think you're on point that there are social aspects too. As far as whatever put the fuse in place, different things may have lit it, but I think that Christopher Mellon and the people that he was with at To The Stars had a whole lot to do with it. And interestingly, it depends on who you ask on whether it's good or bad. There's people who are more than willing to lift him up on their shoulders and carry him up on down the road for what he's done. As I suggested earlier, I'm pretty sure he's aware of the process.
Luis: Are you aware of any Russia or Chinese interludes in this area, maybe using UFOs as a way to drive wedges into American society?
Jack: I would be really surprised if that doesn't factor. I have some blogposts we've published at Expanding Frontiers about espionage and counterespionage in the UFO community, that some of your listeners might like to read. I've been looking as I know some other researchers have as well, into UFO conferences that were funded in recent years by the Chinese government and held in Moscow and [attended by?] American investigators. It's difficult for me to think that would be without done tampering, and that the money behind that and the intelligence agencies, that they wouldn't be consulted for that kind of thing to happen with China and Russia. It's difficult for me to envisage that they are sincerely concerned about extraterrestrials or unidentified flying objects or anything like that. I think it's a subject for research that is wide open. I think James Carrion did a really good job with presenting some salient points for consideration in his work. And I think he's probably on track with picking a specific time period like he did, namely the 1946/1947 era and sticking to it. Otherwise, it's just too broad and too convoluted to try to go beyond what happened 7 years ago, what happened 12 years ago, or in 1981. And then you need to look at the global community. It's a lot of stuff to take in. But I think it's worth doing, it's work that researchers should do. As I've mentioned, I think James Carrion is doing a good job with the 1940s. Absolutely, the global intelligence community factors in, and I think it's what a lot of the dance if for, at least as far as the Pentagon and the Department of Defense.
Luis: Well, that's all the questions I had, but is there anything else you want to add?
Jack: I think you've asked me good questions; I appreciate you wanted to speak to me about it. I think that you could be add some really salient points to all of this, Luis.
Luis: I will try. Certainly, the IC aspect has long fascinated me. On the other hand, I don't want to overstate it, because I do appreciate that they would, I mean they did have an interest in it as we saw with the Robertson Panel conclusions, concerns about public safety or public panic and air vulnerability. But in the other hand I don't want to risk overstating the case because that might veer into conspiracy theory. Do you concur with that?
Jack: Oh, I completely understand. On the one hand, the Robertson Panel was completely right. And we had seen that hysteria and just craziness has, I mean a lack of critical thinking emerges. That's again where we've been saying UFOs are just a symptom, and various groups, if they're into anti-medicine or something like that, they find a sympathetic ear in the UFO community among people that don't like authority. And one of the other other areas that we found that is people that are involved in cryptocurrency, in decenstralized financing. And one man's lack of bank insurance and lack of federal regulations is another man's freedom to run his finances as he sees fit. There's problems in that. So yes, it definitely all ties together in that way. And you have this, just, critical lack of rational thinking. The Robertson Panel was definiely right about that, yet your point is so well taken, Luis, that at the same time, the American intelligence community, and we can reasonably assume others as well, have been guilty of doing that, the very thing that the Panel was warned against, and even said that psychological warfare specialists should be made aware of this and should utilize it. And there's no doubt that it's been exploited to some extent. So yes, it is a tricky topic, that at the same time we're saying the American gvoernment warned of this, the American government turned around and did it. And that's where it's so important to be able to use our critical thinking skills, is we can't just say the CIA is good, the CIA is bad, Americans are heroes, Americans are villains. There's different circumstances at different times and each one has to be looked at individually and they all play into each other. And so, yes, I very much understand, you want address some of it, and at the same time you have to be so clear and so detailed about it, or you'll end up just getting pulled into one of the camps that has that black and white thinking.
Luis: Yes. Anything else? I'll definitely put your links in the description. Any other resources that people should be made aware of that you would recommend?
Jack: Not off the top of my head. These days you can keep up with me at ExpandingFrontiersResearch.org. We're also on Twitter and are really excited about the things we're doing and thanks very much for wanting to talk with me.
Luis: Thanks Jack, talk soon.