CIA Cover-Up Alleged in JFK's 'Secret UFO Inquiry'
A story that combines UFO cover-ups with the assassination of John F. Kennedy is a gold mine for conspiracy theorists. And that's just what author William Lester says he uncovered while conducting research for a new book on Kennedy: a memo written by JFK and addressed to the CIA in which the president requests confidential information about UFOs.
In the never-before-seen, top secret memo supposedly written on Nov. 12, 1963, the president ordered the CIA director to organize the agency's intelligence files relating to UFOs, and to debrief him on all "unknowns" by the following February. Ten days later, Kennedy was assassinated.
The newly surfaced document is bound to add fuel to the undying fire surrounding the president's death. But first things first: Is the document authentic? [Top 10 Conspiracy Theories]
'Something odd about it'
Lester, a paranormal researcher and author of the new book "A Celebration of Freedom: JFK and the New Frontier" (Wasteland Press, 2010), said he obtained the memo along with two others from the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act.
"The government regularly declassifies documents after a certain amount of time goes by, and then you have to file a request for those documents," Lester told Life's Little Mysteries.
"When I was in the process of filing, those letters had just become declassified and released to the public." This happened in 2006 or 2007, Lester said. "At the time, I think other people were getting them too."
The top secret memo hasn't turned up anywhere else besides Lester's book, however, and some archivists question its authenticity.
A research technician at the JFK Library in Boston, who asked not to be named, was unable to find a carbon copy of it in its presidential archive, which holds copies of all of JFK's letters.
"We did some research into the presidential papers to try to find any evidence of the Nov. 12, 1963 letter to the director of the CIA, John McCone," the technician told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site of SPACE.com. Despite the fact that JFK kept carbon copies of all his letters, even the classified ones, "in searching through the president's office files -- CIA, NASA and National Security files -- we could find no evidence of this memo or anything like it."
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Furthermore, it doesn't look like other the top secret memos Kennedy wrote during his presidency.
"Something is a little odd about it," the technician said. "It is sanitized in very odd places: the director's name, the top heading of the document (which usually distinguishes which agency is generating it) and then the tiny "top secret" print at the top of letter. Top secret items are usually stamped in large dark ink on the letter."
The missing link?
Lester claims that the new declassified memo is thus the missing link in a conspiracy theory surrounding another document that many conspiracy theorists think indicates that the CIA killed Kennedy to prevent his involvement in a UFO cover-up. However, this second document, and thus the conclusion, is also suspect.
This document, called the "burned memo," was passed to the fringe media in 1999 by an anonymous source claiming to be a former CIA operative. The alleged leaker said he worked for the CIA between 1960 and 1974 and pulled the memo -- which experts have never verified as authentic -- from a fire when the agency was burning some of its most sensitive files.
In the "burned memo," the CIA director at the time (his name is blacked out) allegedly wrote: "Lancer [the CIA's codename for JFK] has made some inquiries regarding our activities, which we cannot allow. Please submit your views no later than October. Your action to this matter is critical to the continuance of the group."
The new memo, Lester said, proves JFK really was probing the CIA about UFO intelligence, and that the CIA might have taken steps to prevent this. "If Kennedy had gotten some level of control of this issue from NASA or the CIA, who's to say he wouldn't have disclosed that information to the American public? Who knows where that would have led?" Lester commented.
Given that most historians believe the "burned memo" is a fake, however, the connection to the CIA's secret plot to assassinate JFK doesn't stick.
Alternatively, even if the burned memo is fake but the newly surfaced memo is real, there are several perfectly logical reasons why Kennedy might have written it. Lester believes the president was interested in UFO intelligence for three reasons.
First, Lester said, Kennedy was concerned that UFOs seen by the Soviets would be misinterpreted by them as being U.S. aircraft behaving provocatively. This may be what Kennedy implied when he (allegedly) wrote, "It is important that we make a distinction between known and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence gathering of their defense or space programs."
The second reason for Kennedy's inquiry could have been his obvious interest in space travel; at the time of his (alleged) writing, NASA was a new agency, Lester explained, and "the whole question of outer space and life in outer space was at the forefront of everybody's thinking." Third, there was a natural concern about UFOs at the time due to a spurt of incidents thought to be sightings.
In the 1960s, nearly everyone was interested in UFOs -- JFK, NASA, the CIA and citizens alike.
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On November 12, 1963, President John Kennedy issued two Presidential memoranda instructing NASA and the CIA to begin cooperating with the USSR on joint space missions including a lunar landing.
On the same day, a conversation occurred between Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on the importance of sharing information concerning UFOs as they moved forward with joint space missions. Leaked documents concerning the alleged conversation and the role of the CIA in controlling UFO information directly implicate the CIA in Kennedy’s assassination ten days later.
In addition to the two Presidential memoranda cited earlier in this investigative series, another leaked document shows the extent to which Kennedy was prepared to cooperate with the Soviet Union in declassifying UFO files. The aim was to avoid the risk of a mistaken military confrontation over UFOs.
The document is allegedly a Top Secret NSA intercept of a “Hot Line” conversation between President Kennedy and Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev dated November 12, 1963.
Kennedy and Khrushchev discussed the importance of their respective UFO working groups to deal with the UFO problem to avoid the risk of future conflict.
Kennedy told Khrushchev: “I have begun an initiative with our NASA to exchange information with your Academy of Sciences in which I hope will foster mutual concern over this problem and hopefully find some resolution.” Kennedy was certainly referring here to the National Security Action Memorandum released on the same day, November 12 1963. Kennedy also said, “I have also instructed our CIA to provide me with full disclosure on the phantom aspects and classified programs in which I can better assess the [UFO] situation.” While the NSA intercept has not been conclusively determined to be authentic (it has been ranked medium-to-high level of authenticity), it is consistent with the November 12 National Security Action Memorandum 271 titled: “Cooperation with the USSR on Outer Space Matters."
The risk of mistaken identification of UFOs leading to an accidental nuclear war was also allegedly considered by NATO at the same time.
According to Robert Dean, a retired Command Sergeant Major who worked at NATO headquarters from 1963-1967, in 1964 NATO issued a Cosmic Top Secret document dealing with the threat posed by UFOs being confused with a nuclear first strike by the Soviet Union.
Titled simply “The Assessment,” Dean said that it was feared that mistaken UFO sightings could start an accidental nuclear war. Dean’s statement validates the content of the alleged Hotline transcript and gives support to its authenticity.
JFK Sought UFO Files 10 Days Before His Death
A newly released letter shows that 10 days before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy wrote to the head of the CIA demanding to be shown highly confidential documents about UFOs.
Author William Lester, who is researching a new book about Kennedy, says the CIA released the letter to him under the Freedom of Information Act.
Kennedy's letter, dated Nov. 12, 1963, has the subject line "Classification review of all UFO intelligence files affecting National Security," and asks for access to those files.
A second Kennedy letter released to Lester, written on the same date, was sent to the administrator of NASA and expressed a desire for cooperation with the Soviet Union on mutual outer space activities, according to Britain's Daily Mail.
Lester told AOL News: "One of his concerns was that a lot of these UFOs were being seen over the Soviet Union, and he was very concerned that the Soviets might misinterpret these UFOs as U.S. aggression, believing it was some of our technology.
"I think this is one of the reasons why he wanted to get his hands on this information and get it away from the jurisdiction of NASA so he could say to the Soviets, 'Look, that's not us, we're not doing it.'"
The Daily Mail pushes the envelope in its coverage of the story, headlining it, "Was JFK killed because of his interest in aliens?" But AOL News acknowledges that the president's interest in UFOs shortly before his death "is likely to fuel conspiracy theories about his assassination."
The story has already sparked renewed interest in the so-called "burned memo" that a UFO investigator claimed he received from an unidentified CIA leaker in the 1990s.
According to the investigator, the leaker said he worked for the CIA between 1960 and 1974 and pulled the document, marked Top Secret, from a fire when the agency was burning some sensitive files, according to the Daily Mail.
The memo from the CIA director refers to a group of military officials and scientists allegedly appointed by President Harry Truman to investigate the possible presence of aliens on earth. It also refers to "Lancer," which was Kennedy's Secret Service code name, and states, "As you must know, Lancer has made some inquiries regarding our activities, which we cannot allow."