Open letter to the U.S. Air Force regarding allegations of UFO disinformation
I sent this letter to the U.S. Air Force on July 11, 2013 to solicit an official response to allegations by ex-special agent Richard Doty of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) that he participated in spreading UFO disinformation. Among his claims, he says he broke into a civilian’s home, created hoaxed documents, and lied to two U.S. Senators. Some of these are criminal acts that he claims he committed on orders from his superiors in the AFOSI. Whether or not this is true, these acts were committed while he was an AFOSI special agent, and I believe the U.S. Air Force needs to respond.
After working with the AFOSI public affairs department on Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA) related to this incident, I was told I would be able to speak to someone who could give me an official response. However, once I received the documents I was told they had nothing further to say.
Allegations of Criminal Misconduct
Air Force Office of Special Investigations Agent Richard Doty claims to have partaken in the acts of misinforming members of congress, breaking into the private residence of a civilian government contractor, and disseminating known forgeries of government documents while on active duty in the 1980s. Furthermore, he claims to have committed these acts on the orders of his superiors at AFOSI.
Although his claims have garnered a large amount of public attention, including having been the subject of several books (including one by New York Times Journalist Howard Blum), and were directly related to the government contractor mentioned above having been temporarily committed to a mental health facility, the U.S. Air Force has yet to comment on the veracity of his claims.
Was the U.S. Air Force involved with these criminal acts, as claimed by Doty, and if not what was done regarding his conduct?
Beginning in the 1980s, Paul Bennewitz began reporting strange lights over the Manzano area of Kirtland Air Force Base, and claimed to have recorded unusual signals emanating from the base (1). Bennewitz was the owner of Thunder Scientific, a humidity company with contracts with Kirtland and several other branches of the military and government contractors (2). He believed the lights and signals were due to extraterrestrial activity (3).
According to documents retrieved from previous FOIA requests, officers at Kirtland looked at his evidence on two occasions and decided not to investigate (1)(3). Bennewitz contacted Senator Harrison Schmitt and Senator Pete Domenici, both of whom made inquiries about the status of the investigation on Bennewitz’s material to Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agent Richard Doty. In both cases, Agent Doty informed the senators that there was no AFOSI investigation on this matter (3)(4). Likewise, the files do show that after each review of Bennewitz’s material, it was recommended that an investigation not be initiated (1)(3). This is the extent of the material regarding Bennewitz and AFOSI in these files.
However, Richard Doty has since claimed that he lied to the senators on behalf of AFOSI, and that there was a disinformation campaign underway against Bennewitz. According to statements he has made to several associates, and on at least one national radio program, he told Bennewitz there was an investigation and he gave Bennewitz hoaxed material to support this claim (5). The first such document was given to Bennewtiz after Senator Schmitt’s inquiry, and just prior to Senator Domenici’s (3)(4)(14).
According to Doty, and witnessed by others, he continued his campaign to convince Bennewitz that he was actually experiencing extraterrestrial phenomena for several years. New Mexico state police officer Gabe Valdez claimed in interviews with me that he was present when Doty flew Bennewitz over the town of Dulce, New Mexico (6). Doty claims he convinced Bennewitz that there was an alien base under nearby Archuleta Mountain.
It was during this time that Doty claims he was ordered to break into Bennewitz’s residence. He told this to the author of a book on his disinformation activities titled, Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth (7), and to retired U.S. Army Colonel John Alexander (8). Eventually, Bennewitz became so paranoid regarding an extraterrestrial invasion that he had to spend time in a mental institution (5).
Doty continues to spread information on UFOs and aliens he alleges to have received while working for AFOSI (5). Many of the documents he disseminated during his campaign against Bennewitz have grown into huge modern mythologies, spawning books, movies and TV shows.
Although on two occasions the Air Force has stated that documents pertaining to this matter, allegedly dispensed by Doty, are not real (9)(10), they have not spoken to whether Doty was under orders, as he claims, when he lied to the senators, broke into Bennewitz’s home, and dispensed material to Bennewitz making him believe he was under investigation. The question then is not whether the documents are hoaxes, but whether Doty hoaxed these documents under his own volition, or was ordered to do so as a part of a disinformation campaign, as he claims is the case.
If Doty was not acting under orders, this would mean he was forging government documents while he was an active AFOSI agent. In that case, AFOSI needs to respond to whether they were aware of Doty’s activities, and if so, what action was taken. It would be surprising to find AFOSI was not aware of this sort of criminal activity going on for several years by one of their agents. Doty has indicated he was demoted at one point, however, this is not documented in the military records I obtained through FOIA, nor is the reason for this demotion (11). It is also unknown whether this demotion has any relation to the apparent criminal activity related to this case.
The official AFOSI Bennewitz files
These files have been obtained separately through FOIA requests by UFO researcher and author William Moore, Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), and Navy physicist, Bruce Maccabee. Because of the multiple sources, and the high credibility of Dr. Maccabee and the files released by CAUS, I believe these documents to be legitimate. The USAF has informed the recipients that these are all of the files related to AFOSI and Bennewitz. I am seeking confirmation through my own pending FOIA request (Case # 2013-03291-F). [This was written prior to the fulfillment of my FOIA request, which was fulfilled August 2, 2013, and included the same documents I reference here. View the documents I received here.]
The first document is a Multipurpose Internal OSI Form dated October 28, 1980, and signed by Major Thomas Cseh. The subject is “Alleged Sightings of Unidentified Aerial Lights in Restricted Test Range.” It states that Bennewitz contacted Doty through Major Ernest E. Edwards. Bennewitz claimed to have “knowledge and evidence of threats against Manzano Weapons Storage area.” On October 26, 1980 Doty, along with Jerry Miller, Chief Scientific Advisor for the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland, went to Bennewitz’s residence and conducted an interview. It is noted that Miller had experience investigating UFOs with Project Blue Book. They reviewed photographs, 8mm film, and recording tapes showing periods of high levels of electrical magnetism emitted from the Manzano/Coyote Canyon area. They noted Bennewitz also had surveillance equipment pointed at the base to record high frequencies (1).
They concluded that there were some type of “unidentified aerial objects” caught on the film, but they could not determine whether they posed a threat. They also found the electronic recording tapes to be inconclusive. They informed FTD [Foreign Technology Division] of their findings who wanted to inspect Bennewitz’s data, and briefed their command. However, it was noted that command “did not request an investigation at this time (1).”
The second file is another Multipurpose Internal OSI Form dated November 26, 1980, and also signed by Major Thomas Cseh. The subject is again, “Alleged Sightings of Unidentified Aerial Lights in Restricted Test Range.” The report describes a meeting that took place on the base on November 10, 1980, between Brigadier General William Brooksher, seven other officers, and Bennewitz. Bennewitz presented film and photographs which he believed to be of alien spacecraft, and described how he believed he was in contact with these aliens. He requested a grant to further research his interactions. One of those present, Dr. Lehman, Director of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland, told Bennewitz he would help him fill out paperwork to request a grant from the USAF (3).
This document then states that on November 17, Doty advised Bennewitz that AFOSI would not investigate the objects, and that they were “not in a position to evaluate the information and photographs.” It also says that on the date of the report, November 26, 1980, Doty received a phone call from Senator Harrison Schmitt inquiring about AFOSI’s role in the investigation of the sightings reported by Bennewitz. Doty advised Schmitt that AFOSI was not investigating the phenomenon and referred him to another AFOSI district. Schmitt declined and said he would check with the Secretary of the Air Force to determine the correct USAF agency to investigate the phenomena. The final note in this document is that Bennewitz had many conversations with Senator Schmitt, and Schmitt had in turn called Brigadier General Brooksher on multiple occasions regarding Bennewitz’s sightings (3).
The third document is an AFOSI communication form noting a meeting between Senator Peter Domenici and Doty regarding Bennewitz. It is signed by Colonel Frank Huey. It says that the IG [Inspector General] contacted AFOSI to advise them that Senator Domenici wanted to talk to Doty. Colonel Harvell approved the meeting, and Domenici, who was already in the IG’s office, went directly to speak to Doty. The report then says a subsequent check was made with Domenici’s aide, Mr. Tijeros, to find out what they wanted to discuss with Doty. Tijeros said they wanted to know whether AFOSI had conducted a formal investigation of Bennewitz. Tijeros was informed that there was no formal investigation. Tijeros indicated that Senator Domenici will likely make no further inquiries into the matter (4).
These three documents seem to indicate that AFOSI humored Bennewitz by examining his evidence, but did not engage in a formal investigation. Doty served as the point of contact to inform Senators Schmitt and Domenici, as well as Bennewitz, that AFOSI would not be investigating Bennewitz’s alleged alien evidence.
Richard Doty’s claims
The source for the claims I am referring to is a radio show appearance by Richard Doty on February 27, 2005. It was on a night time program called Coast to Coast AM, with a very large international listening audience. Although Doty has done many other interviews, they are almost all in print or online. Often his claims vary from one interview to another, and when pressed on this point, Doty often denies he made the statements. This includes a book he is credited as co-writing titled, Exempt from Disclosure. He claims he did not write the chapter credited to him, although his co-author notes he did sign the paperwork to authorize the book and cashed the checks for payment. Either way, I use the radio interview because it is similar to the core story he has been portraying in other interviews, and is one of the few sources with his verifiable direct statements.
According to Doty, in reference to his visit to Bennewitz’s residence with Miller on October 26, 1980, he says “The report was that this person had sufficient knowledge and the right equipment to tap into sensitive communications equipment and sensitive projects that was (sic) occurring in Kirtland.” The radio host, Art Bell responded, “Alright, somewhere in the mix of all this comes disinformation. In other words, you are going to admit tonight, I believe, that you dispensed disinformation, is that true?” To that Doty responds: “That is absolutely true.” Doty explained that this was done to protect base secrets. He said, “what we did is that we convinced him that what he was picking up wasn’t anything classified from the base, but in fact it was probably of alien origin (5).”
Doty says that Bennewitz also believed there was an alien base under Archuleta Mountain, near Dulce, New Mexico. Doty claims he worked with personnel from Ft. Carson to help perpetuate this idea. Doty explains, “We had a couple of black helicopters, and we had some things planted onto the ground around Archuleta peak, and just to convince him that what he was actually looking at, what he thought, actually was an alien base (5).”
Doty said that this disinformation campaign was an easier way to handle Bennewitz’s collection of sensitive Air Force activities than making him stop. He says, “It was easier for us to have done it that way than to get a warrant, a search warrant and a seizure warrant and seize all of his property and seize his equipment. What would that do? That would cause a lot of publicity, and the wrong type of publicity the base wanted (5).”
Bell asked Doty if he was aware that Bennewitz eventually ended up needing psychiatric care. Doty responded, “Yes, and I visited Paul a number of times.” He continued, “I was trying to convince Paul, and I went to his son to do this, that ‘hey, everything we told you before, Paul, isn’t true.’ And I explained to him why we were doing it, but he never believed me (5). “
Bell asked if he had any remorse for what happened to Bennewitz, to which Doty replied, “…it upset me what happened to Paul. I mean I went and tried to talk to Paul about it, against my commander’s orders. He told me, ‘Hey, he doesn’t have the clearance. You can’t go over there and tell him this stuff didn’t happen.’ But I did anyway, because I was concerned about Paul (5).”
Bell then asked Doty if there were other cases of UFO deception that Doty was involved with. He replied, “…pertaining to just UFOs, it was the four operations.” One of which he said was regarding researcher Linda Howe. He says, “…we invited her to Kirtland, we showed her some information pertaining to UFOs, we showed her a document and tried to bring her in and hook her on a hook, and she took it initially and then we carried on a contact with her over a period of time, meeting her at different locations and providing her with some information.” This is important because Doty has denied bringing Howe to Kirtland in the past, and has also denied showing her anything on UFOs. However, according to Howe, the document she was shown is very similar to a hoaxed document given to another UFO researcher, William Moore (5).
Doty elaborated on his association with Moore, saying, “Bill Moore was recruited by another person within Defense Intelligence Agency to provide disinformation.” In a letter to the editor in the July 15, 2000 issue of Saucer Smear, Doty wrote, “Moore was a coded source for OSI. That means he provided intelligence information that was documented. He was paid for his information. Moore was used to provide disinformation to Ufologists (12).” Although the details change, to my knowledge, Doty has never denied Moore’s involvement (5).
Finally, in regards to all of this, Doty claims in the radio program, “I followed orders. Everything we did was following orders (5).”
Although Doty claims the Bennewitz affair was disinformation, he also claims he was briefed on UFOs when he joined AFOSI. He says the briefing stated, among other things, “[Roswell] was real. We had an alien. It was in captivity up until 1951. He was kept at Kirtland and he was kept at Los Alamos. He died in the later part of 1951.” Doty also claims the alien liked strawberry ice cream and Tibetan music (5).
This section will review hoaxed documents linked to Doty, most of which are connected to the events we have reviewed thus far. We will also review one document that surfaced just prior to Doty’s interactions with Bennewitz. The significance here is that if Doty is to be believed, these documents, which have had a significant impact on the UFO research community and society in general, are official fabrications of the USAF. If these documents were not created in a disinformation campaign, then Doty either alone or with others, participated in hoaxing official government documents.
Moore, the UFO researcher mentioned in the radio program, was co-author, with Charles Berlitz, of the book The Roswell Incident, which was published in 1980. It was the first book on the alleged UFO crash in Roswell. He says that in 1980 he was approached by a high level intelligence official, the same person Doty referenced earlier as working in the DIA, who said he and others knew the truth about UFOs and wanted the information out, so they would help him with his work. Moore gave this man the code name “Falcon” and says the he was told he would work primarily through a liaison that turned out to be Doty. Many have speculated that Doty was Falcon, but Moore denies this (13).
Moore says he began providing Falcon and Doty information on the UFO community and Paul Bennewitz. During a speech at a UFO conference in 1989, Moore said, “My role in the affair was largely that of a freelancer providing information on Paul’s current thinking and activities. I had nothing whatsoever to do with the counterintelligence and the disinformation (13).” However, he later claimed he was involved with dispensing at least one hoaxed document (14).
Moore says he worked with Falcon and Doty until 1984 (13). Rumors of his involvement with government agents eventually lead him to come clean in the aforementioned speech in 1989, at which point he retired from UFO research. In 1990, along with his research partner, Jamie Shandera, he released a document called The MJ-12 Documents: An Analytical Report, which analyzed the documents related to the Bennewitz Affair.
The first hoaxed document Moore examines is not part of the Bennewitz affair, but it does have links to Doty. It is a letter, along with an Air Force Incident/Complaint Report, from Ellsworth Air Force Base, regarding a UFO encounter. The letter claimed the incident had occurred on November 16, 1977, and was subsequently classified on December 2, 1977. The author claims he wanted to get the information out before the Air Force covered it up. The letter was sent to the National Enquirer (14). According to Bob Pratt of the National Enquirer, those named in the letter were questioned, and the letter was determined to be a hoax (15).
It is included in Moore’s report because he says Doty was stationed at Ellsworth at the time (14). Military records for Doty I obtained also show Doty was at Ellsworth from 1976 to 1979 (11). When Moore asked about the document, Doty told him he was aware of the “operation,” to create the document, but did not have any direct involvement (14).
The second document is a letter sent to a UFO organization called the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) in July of 1980 about a UFO sighting that was witnessed by Craig Weitzel near Pecos, NM. It claims Weitzel was stationed at Dobbins AFB, but was visiting Kirtland. The letter claims a man in a black suit told Weitzel he saw something he should not have and demanded photographs of the object that Weitzel had taken. The man writing the letter claims he was a friend of Weitzel’s, and was himself stationed at Kirtland. He said Weitzel had spoken to an OSI agent named “Mr. Dody (sic)” about the matter (17).
Moore worked with APRO at the time the letter was received. He says the letter was loosely based off a real sighting, but was a hoax. He also says he didn’t know it then, but he found out later that Doty had written this letter. He says Doty told him the letter was meant to draw someone out of APRO who could provide information on Bennewitz, which, as we have seen, Moore eventually did end up participating in (14).
The third document is the first piece of disinformation allegedly given to Bennewitz. Moore says the document was given to him by Falcon and Doty to give to Bennewitz (14). The document was an alleged secret AFOSI teletype dated November, 1980. It was regarding analysis of Bennewitz’s photographs and alleges that this investigation is part of a secret project called Aquarius “with restricted access to ‘MJ Twelve’.” It claims NASA is monitoring the case and that AFOSI is gathering evidence and forwarding it to NASA (18).
Moore says he was given the document in March of 1981, but because he was hesitant to give knowingly false information to Bennewitz, he did not deliver it until late that summer (14). This timing is notable, because it was late summer, specifically July 30, when Senator Domenici went to Kirtland to ask about the Bennewitz investigation (4). Although Bennewitz and Senator Schmitt had already been told there was no AFOSI investigation (3)(4), the receipt of this document could explain why Bennewitz and/or Senator Domenici believed there was an investigation in the summer of 1981.
The fourth document is a list of notes allegedly used to brief President Carter on the UFO situation with bombastic claims of Air Force cover-ups regarding crashed UFOs, alien technology, interactions with aliens, etc. The cover again mentions Project Aquarius and “MJ12″ (19). Moore says he was allowed to view and photograph this document in March of 1983 (14). In April of 1983, Linda Howe says she was invited to Kirtland Air Force Base by Doty and shown this document, or one very similar. As noted above, in the radio interview, Doty confirms this (5).
The fifth and final document is an MJ-12 Eisenhower briefing. This document was sent to Moore’s research partner, Jamie Shandera, on December 11, 1984, in a package from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The document was on 35 mm film (14). The document’s content shows similarities to the alleged Carter briefing, including the mention of MJ-12 (20)(14), first referenced in the teletype (18). It was also sent from Albuquerque, where Doty lived at the time and was still stationed at Kirtland AFB. However, Doty denies having created or sent the document (14).
Moore also denies having created the document (14). Allegedly acting on an anonymous tip, Shandera and Moore claim to have found a supporting document in the National Archives on July 18, 1985. This document is a July 14, 1954 memo from Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President, to General Twining regarding a “NSC/MJ-12 Special Studies Project.” It is a short memo and discusses the date and time of a meeting. It does not allude to the nature of the meeting (14). The National Archives has since released a paper outlining 10 points that “pose problems” for the authenticity of the document (22). Otherwise, there has yet to be any verifiable official reference to MJ-12.
The FBI undertook an investigation of the MJ-12 Eisenhower Briefing due to multiple requests. That investigation included a request to AFOSI headquarters inquiring about its authenticity. AFOSI claimed the document to be “bogus,” however, neither they nor the FBI have commented as to the document’s origins (9). To date, AFOSI has not commented on whether they have any involvement with the creation of the documents, as alleged by their own AFOSI agent, who, as demonstrated, was very closely related to the individuals who allegedly were anonymously given these documents, a document which also shares similarities to other documents that he asked to be given to Bennewitz, and had shown Moore and Howe.
According to Doty, “The FBI did an investigation on me because of the MJ-12 documents. It was 88 or 89… They thought I disclosed those documents (5).” If this is true, the results of their investigation have yet to be revealed.
Due to the extent at which the mythology created by Doty’s official or non-official disinformation campaign has worked its way into an alleged hidden history of Air Force and U.S. government secrecy, and due to the negative impact these events had on Mr. Bennewitz and his family, we deserve a response from the Air Force on their involvement, or non-involvement in this matter. Mr. Doty is now a sergeant for the New Mexico State Police, based out of Grants, and he continues to make wild accusations about the Air Force’s secret knowledge of UFOs and aliens. If he was not under orders to fabricate these documents, as he claims, then his employers and those he continues to attempt to perpetrate hoaxes upon, deserve to know this.
Prepared by: Alejandro Rojas
After reading this letter, you may agree that the Air Force needs to respond to the allegations posed in this letter. If so, please feel free to use this information to make your own inquires.
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