Among the weirdest and most controversial phenomena associated with UFOs are the "Men in Black," sinister individuals who allegedly possess intimate knowledge of UFO activity and an unnerving interest in UFO researchers and UFO witnesses. Although it is tempting to dismiss such stories as paranoid fantasies, the fact is that Men in Black have been reported all over the world and that most persons who describe encounters with them seem wholly sane and sincere. Ufologist John A. Keel, who has investigated a number of these cases, tells us what he's learned and what he thinks about them.
The Sinister Men in Black
By John A. Keel
Mysterious cameramen seem to have appeared repeatedly throughout the United States during the summer of 1967 and, according to the testimony of widely scattered witnesses, photographed the homes and families of persons who have reported close experiences with unidentified flying objects. As described, all of these photographers bore a striking physical resemblance to each other. They wore the same kind of clothing and arrived in identical vehicles. Until now they have not been mentioned in any newspaper or magazine. Their identity and purposes remain unknown.
To add to the mystery, these peripatetic cameramen managed to single out people who had not reported their UFO experiences to any newspaper or official agency. In some cases they had not even told their neighbors of what they had seen. Despite their total anonymity they somehow were tracked down by the "mystery men" shortly after their sightings.
As a professional reporter and full-time UFO investigator I have traveled many thousands of miles in the past two years and have uncovered many unusual cases which otherwise might have gone unnoticed and unrecorded. During my trips I frequently am approached by people who are afraid of publicity and hesitate to report their outlandish stories to the local authorities or to the Air Force. The misfortunes of former police officer Dale Spaur, one of the men who chased a UFO through two states in April 1966, were well-publicized (he lost his job and suffered marital troubles after his story was revealed) and few persons are willing to risk similar ridicule and anguish. There is self-imposed censorship on the part of many UFO witnesses, which has been the biggest barrier to my investigations. I sometimes spend days, even weeks, winning the confidence of such witnesses before they break down and tell me their complete story. Often they swear me to secrecy and make me promise to keep their identity and — in some cases — their location confidential. But I do have this full information in my files, together with tape recordings, photographs and affidavits. When I uncover anything in the witness' story or background which might make his or her story even slightly suspect I file the whole case in my "Uncertain" file and omit it from my reports.
Basically, I am concerned with the "Big Picture" ... the overall situation. Each new report adds a small piece to the massive puzzle. The incredible scope and continuous activity of unidentified flying objects in many areas seems unbelievable to newcomers to the field and overwhelms even hard-core UFO buffs who have convinced themselves of the validity of the oversimplified extraterrestrial explanation.
The truth may be that "flying saucers" are merely a symptom of the problem, a diversion to distract us from the many strange things occurring at ground level and often encompassing entire communities. The activities of the "mystery photographers" may be only one aspect, which has gone completely unnoticed by UFO buffs dedicated to collecting worthless information about the altitude and speed of foreign objects observed overhead.
In previous newspaper and magazine articles I have examined at length the many stories about the "Men in Black," those mysterious and unlikely characters first introduced in Gray Barker's controversial book They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers. At first I was willing to dismiss the MIB as the paranoid fantasy of UFO cultists, but in the past year I have spoken with many persons who claimed firsthand experience with these unidentified people (and who, incidentally, never had heard of Barker or his book).
For example, at 9:30 P.M. on the evening of September 30, 1967, I received a long-distance call from an anxious woman, the wife of a prominent politician, in New York state. This woman had called a few days before, after hearing me on a local radio program, to report a series of strange incidents involving a low-flying metal disk around her home in an isolated, wooded area. She had told her husband about it but he had refused to believe her. (Later I became quite involved in this woman's case and am convinced of her truthfulness. Her husband finally did believe her ... but that's another story.) She said that a large black car was parked directly outside her home while she was talking to me. She described the following action as it took place.
Two men got out of the car and proceeded to unlimber some kind of large camera. Both men were the same height, five feet nine inches tall, and both wore identical black suits, black turtleneck sweaters and broad-brimmed black hats. At first she thought they were priests of some kind, but there was something about them which frightened her. Their skin was dark and their features had an Oriental cast which seemed evil to her. When they failed to approach the house but merely busied themselves with their camera, she decided to call me. (Her husband was not home at the time.) As she spoke with me and described the scene, the two men proceeded to take pictures of her house, using some kind of pale red flashgun. (Remember, it was 9:30 P.M. and dark ... an odd time to take pictures.) After a few minutes they closed up their camera, got into their car and drove off.
I had heard this scene described many times before. Three men dressed in this same manner had turned up in West Virginia in the summer of 1967 and had been seen by several reliable witnesses. Two such men had been observed taking photographs of the homes of UFO witnesses in broad daylight on Long Island in June. That same month I responded to a series of strange phone calls urging me to go alone to an isolated spot on a back dirt road nearby. There I found a large black Cadillac containing two dark-skinned men in dark suits apparently waiting for me. They blinked their headlights at me and then slowly drove off. I followed them for several miles, until they went around a bend in the road in a heavily forested area and disappeared. I cruised around for several minutes trying to pick up their trail when suddenly they reappeared behind me and followed me! I stopped and started to get out of my rented car but they drove slowly on past me and again vanished. Apparently the whole episode was staged to convince me that the Men in Black really do exist. Their car bore no license plates. I attempted to take pictures of it but it was night and the photos did not come out.
Numerous witnesses on Long Island reported seeing the MIB and their black cars throughout the summer of 1967. In many of these cases the windows of the cars were described as being totally opaque ... a dark charcoal color which made it impossible for the witnesses to see the occupants. On several occasions these cars allegedly attempted to run down witnesses walking across the street. A large black car containing two men dressed in black also came within inches of colliding with a car driven by Mrs. Mary Hyre, a reporter for the Athens, Ohio, Messenger, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia., in September. Mrs. Hyre has carefully and meticulously investigated and reported upon the many UFO sightings in her area during the past year.
Sixty miles north of Point Pleasant, in Parkersburg, WV, a young family man from Belpre, Ohio, had a brief encounter with two black-garbed, Oriental-looking men on a main street in August. He said that they appeared confused or drunk (a common description) and seemed to have difficulty walking. When I interviewed him and his family in November, I learned that a mysterious car had pulled up in front of their home about two weeks before my visit and that a man in a black suit had apparently taken photos of their house with a large camera. Two of their neighbors also had witnessed this and corroborated their story. The unidentified photographer did not pay any attention to any of the other houses on the street.
In April, another Ohio man reported being pursued by a strange flying object while driving along Route 2 on the West Virginia side of the river. Months later, toward the end of October, he returned home from work to find a prowler in his apartment. The prowler was about five feet nine inches tall, dressed in black and carrying some kind of camera. He set off a flashgun which temporarily blinded the witness and escaped out the open door.
Individually, these stories are worthless. But I now have collected many of them from many different sections of the country, all containing the same remarkable details and all coming from ordinary, honest people who never connected these peculiar incidents with their UFO experiences. I also have made spot checks to determine if these photographers have approached non-UFO witnesses in the same areas. The results were negative.
Are these mysterious Men in Black part of a large, widespread organization engaged in obtaining information and photographs of people who have had close encounters with the UFOs?
In the majority of the cases I have investigated such people's claim they actually were pursued by the objects or were in the immediate vicinity of a brief landing or hovering operation. Since most of these people have remained voluntarily silent, as stated earlier, it is unlikely that any government agency could have known about their experiences. Indeed, my frequent visits to Washington, DC, and my close liaison with numerous agencies in government have convinced me that these "mystery men" can be in no way related to the Air Force or the United States government.
The Air Force has, in fact, issued an order to all commands urging Intelligence officers to be on the watch for these strangers. The MIB are openly violating several federal laws. Usually their cars do not bear any kind of license plates. In two cases in my files, the witnesses did see license plates and copied down the numbers. A police check revealed that the numbers were not in use ... such plates never had been issued! In another case, the witness reported seeing a black plate bearing a large gold "V" on the back of the car. A double "XX" also has been reported.
Why haven't the police ever spotted these cars?
I've checked with the police departments in West Virginia, Ohio, and Long Island where these vehicles have been seen and reported and found that no police officer has ever seen one of them.
The UFO mystery is filled with contradictions, coincidences and seemingly deliberate diversions. While it may appear the MIB are keeping careful tabs on people who have seen something special or who have been singled out by the objects (or by their occupants) for special attention, we should not overlook the possibility that these mystery men may serve no purpose other than to create side issues, to produce fear and confusion among witnesses and investigators.
We also should consider the close resemblance of the descriptions given of these men to the descriptions given of ufonauts by those who claim to have seen some. Witnesses such as John Reeves of Brooksville, Florida. Woodrow Derenberger of Mineral Wells, WV, and many others who have reported seeing the pilots of the "flying saucers" have described them as dark-skinned with Oriental features. In other words, do the people (?) said to be riding around in UFOs share the physical characteristics of the men riding around in black Cadillacs?
Perhaps it is time for us to reconsider the popular speculations about "flying saucers" and reexamine the somewhat baseless conclusion that they are of extraterrestrial origin. A much bigger game may be afoot here. Perhaps we have been deliberately misled into assuming they are not of this planet. There never has been any evidence, either physical or observational, to indicate that they come from elsewhere.
Actually all of the available evidence suggests that the objects are made of earthly materials and piloted by humanoid types not too dissimilar from ourselves. We may, in fact, be dealing with a subversive group who, like the Gypsies, are able to live among us unnoticed and isolated from our general society. The UFOs may be used only to transfer these unknown people from one surface point to another. The machines themselves, if they are machines, could have been manufactured centuries ago and might emanate from hidden bases located in isolated regions scattered around this planet. Certainly the massive number of historical sightings, going back thousands of years, indicates the UFOs always have been a natural part of our environment.
If the Men in Black do not represent our government — and I believe that they do not — then they must come from some other secretive group or organization directly related to the UFOs. And they are successfully infiltrating our cities and villages on a large scale. When an innocent citizen accidentally learns of their presence their representatives zero in on him or her, perhaps to prepare the way to silence the witness at some point in the future. They photograph the person's home and family. In many cases, they also tap the witness's telephone and, inexplicably, even tamper with his mail.
If these many witnesses were to relate their experiences to psychiatrists they probably would put them down as schizoid paranoiacs. It is only in the matching of the corresponding details from many such stories that we are forced to realize that we well may be dealing with something beyond an ordinary mental aberration. The late Captain Edward Ruppelt, one-time head of the Air Force's Project Blue Book, admitted that all such stories were automatically shoved into a massive "C.P." ("crackpot") file. Apparently it never occurred to the Air Force to study its "C.P." file for corroborating details.
Recently the heavy-handed F.B.I. moved in on three cases I had been investigating. I know they rejected one of these outright, classifying the witness — a distinguished man in his community — as a "nut."
The sober truth is that the United States government does not have any kind of law enforcement agency equipped with sufficient funds and trained personnel to investigate these matters properly. Air Force Intelligence operates on a very limited scale within the United States and it just hasn't got enough men — or enough authority — to investigate these cases. The C.I.A. has no authority at all within the continental United States ... it is devoted primarily to the collection of information. Further handicapping possible governmental investigation is the sad fact that very few of these witnesses are willing to report their experiences directly to an official agency. In most cases they do not even talk to their local police about it.
Early in the "saucer era" (following 1947), such witnesses were exposed to so much ridicule (with their sincere letters ending up in the Air Force's "crackpot" file) that succeeding witnesses became cautious and secretive.
Adding to the dilemma, the early UFO buffs who claimed to experience telephone interference and mail tampering hurled unfounded accusations at "the government" and an anti-government attitude blossomed in UFO research circles. Gradually this attitude rubbed off on the public at large and was further increased by the Air Force's stubborn and absurd "explanations" of many outstanding UFO sightings. Today the government has been completely cut off from its chief source of UFO information — the American public.
I am sure that for every case I have uncovered there must be hundreds more that have gone unreported to anybody. The Men in Black ... whoever they are, wherever they're from ... have been able to operate with impunity, without interference, secure in the knowledge that their victims never would talk for fear of being labeled "insane," or even if they did talk, that no one would believe them.
All of the witnesses I have interviewed have told me they felt there was something inherently "evil" about these Men in Black — something alien and dangerous. In a number of cases, people apparently have been drugged or hypnotized by the MIB and several have suffered amnesia and memory lapses after alleged face-to-face confrontations.
Perhaps all of this sounds like a bad plot from The Invaders TV series, but it seems to be very real. Experience and many in-depth interviews with bewildered people all over this country have convinced me that this is part of the elusive "secret" behind the "flying saucers." And perhaps only a small part at that. It has been kept from you not by the Air Force or government, but by the entities behind the UFO phenomenon itself
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