Follow by Email

Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Battle for MUFON, Part 4, The Firings and Resignations

This information is taken largely from interviews recently conducted on Jerry Pippen’s www.ufoshows2go/mufon_under_seige.htm.

“We looked around and the bodies were lying everywhere. We looked at each other and said, Well I’ll be damned.” And so, the troupe of newly and summarily fired started a group called The Committee to Reform Mufon. (From Elaine Douglass, founder of the group)

In the early months of 2011 a surprising number of MUFON State Directors, Field Investigators, and Assistant State Directors were either dismissed, urged to resign, or resigned in protest. Two of the biggest names, Ken Cherry (former State Director of TX) and James Carrion (former International Director), had already left. Several members left with Cherry, but once they were gone, things stabilized. For a while. Then the investigations began, but they didn’t follow the kind of logic that would leave a sense of closure.

Stunning Arrogance

Chase Kloetzke, Star Team Manager under Clifford Clift (not the troubled STIP program), was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the ego-centric management style of Marie Malzahn, which focused on the image of the organization rather than on its needs. Chase had had questions as to why there were “phony” GPS coordinates on the CMS website, why the third party sharing clause was still on the report form, and why cases were being deleted from the CMS reporting site.

But when her questions crossed a pet project of Deputy Director Chuck Modlin, although she won the debate, Chase got a dressing down that singed her eyebrows. Chuck called her at home and blistered her for half an hour, a call that was witnessed by two other people. He was shaking with anger and said things like, How dare you? Do you know who I am? I have shaken the hand of every president except Bill Clinton, and I didn’t shake his because I didn’t want to. I am the one who personally introduced MUFON to Mr. Bigelow. You don’t know who you are dealing with here, Chase. I am one of the original Star Team members long before Bigelow, long before STIP, long before Chase was around. I don’t need to fill out an application because I’ve been doing these cases for a long time. Know your place.

Malzahn, former colleague Chuck Reever, and Clift left Chase to deal with the wrath of Modlin alone.

Chase wondered, are the seven still active? Who are these people? Is this where our cases are going? When she asked Marie about it, she didn’t know. In spite of further inquiries, she got no further answers about the original seven Star Team members.

Meanwhile Jerry Pippin had his employees on the phone trying to figure out who Chuck Modlin was. He came on with MUFON about three and a half years ago, just about the time MUFON signed the contract with BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies). He lives in Wisconsin, where his wife is State Director. Jerry wondered if Modlin lied about being around long before Bigelow. He muttered something about James Carrion’s suspicion that Modlin was a government insider.

Chase was devastated, but she recovered. When a call came in from Washington state about a possible landing, she and the Assistant STM and the regional STM secured the information quickly. Chase said that her phone began to ring off the hook. Modlin wanted the GPS coordinates of that case and he wanted them NOW. Chase refused. He was not authorized to have them.

Malzahn then called and told Chase that from now on, when a case like that comes in the first person she is to call is not the State Director or the Star Team people but Chuck Modlin. If he asks for information, she is to give it to him. Chase emailed and called Reever and Clift, but they did not respond. Malzahn would not answer her phone.

Chase knew that the Star Team program with its confidentiality and swift deployment was dead. The promise of integrity and respect which she made to the State Directors was dead. She knew she was through with MUFON. She wondered why Modlin wanted the coordinates. Is he selling them to a corporation? Does he still have a relationship with Bigelow?

The odd thing is, when she resigned, no one asked why. Clift later declared that he had no idea why. Chase wonders, why didn’t he just ask? Chase is now working for EPIC.

I Am Your Superior!

You don’t get two chances to snot off at James Clarkson, former State Director of Washington state. His career as a police investigator has taught him to spit nails and not be surprised by anything. However, after 25 years in MUFON, he was totally blindsided by his encounter with “Field Marshall Malzahn.”

He was proud of his recruits for MUFON. One was a pilot, one lady was a state employee, and a third man was doing great as he uncovered some black triangle sightings. One day the lady found herself locked out of the CMS system. The man found that he was completely dropped from the system altogether. Clarkson was perplexed. He made inquiries.

Board members sent him from person to person. Each said, it wasn’t me. Finally it came to talking to Marie Malzahn. He didn’t know much about her except that previously she had been the State Director of Idaho. She called him and asked if he could take over some Idaho investigations because she would be doing work for the Board. The next thing he knew, she was on the Board.

Clarkson was already developing an unease about the scuttlebutt around MUFON. Then Malzahn answered his email, explaining that she was his superior and didn’t have to explain anything that was decided by the Board. Stunned, Clarkson wondered where these people came from and how did they get on the Board so fast?

At that point, Clarkson and his whole team were ready to bale. He stated that he wouldn’t be talked to that way at work where he is paid for it, so why would he put up with it at MUFON where his services are free? He wrote a long explanation to Clift. Clift wrote back simply that if that’s what he felt he had to do, his resignation was accepted. More talent, commitment, and expertise went out the door to EPIC.

A Call for Reform

Elaine Douglass is the tiger you don’t want to grab by the tail. She’s not perfect. She erred when somehow last December she got the idea that her that her Assistant State Director, Marlee Spendlove, was recruiting interest in MUFON by passing around new “raw reports.” The simple solution proposed in an email by Douglass was to drop Spendlove from the distribution list. That was just a detail. The real question was, why was MUFON publishing “raw” reports when there were so many investigated reports available?

Although she got no responses to the latter question, reaction to the statement about Spendlove was immediate. She was immediately placed under investigation. Elaine quickly checked with Spendlove, who denied giving out any reports. Douglass wrote the Board and assured them that Spendlove was innocent. She herself had made an error.

Nevertheless, Spendlove was dismissed, even though no one from the Board had actually spoken to her. Douglass protested strongly. Douglass herself was then under investigation. During that time the Board contacted Spendlove, who once again denied passing around any new reports. The Board wrote to Douglass, “We have uncovered your wrongdoing.” Douglass was dismissed as State Director of Utah.

None of the SDs, FIs, and Assistants who were dismissed had a clue what was coming. The goal of the Committee to Reform MUFON was to get the Board to cease abusive practices and to allow a vote by members as to who would be on the Board. As it stands, the Board appoints whomever they choose. That is a more efficient way of doing business, but if the Board becomes corrupted in any way, as so many suspect, it is almost impossible to root out the problem people. For better or for worse, the Board of Directors virtually has MUFON by the balls.

EPIC-logue

Ken Cherry’s new organization, Extraordinary Phenomena Investigations Council, reaped the benefit of a large number of displaced investigators and leaders who had already demonstrated years of commitment to UFO investigations. Many MUFON members immediately joined. No one on the MUFON Board seems to be concerned.

There is an incredible irony buried in the Jerry Pippin interviews. Clift told Jerry in his interview that Douglass was dismissed because she was not truthful about her colleague, and if she could not be truthful about someone she worked with, what would she do in an investigation? The Board was concerned about the integrity of it all.

When Jerry heard Douglass’s account, he fired off an email to Clift asking if Clift is really calling Douglass a liar. Clift wrote back that he didn’t say she lied, she told an “untruth.” That means that Douglass erred. But in everyday American language, if you say that someone is not truthful, you are calling them a liar. If you mean that they erred, you should use that word, not “untruth.” Jerry found that amazing.

Has anyone noticed that in using the word “untruth” rather than “error” (especially on the radio!) that Clifford Clift, International Director of MUFON, told the same kind of “untruth” as did Elaine Douglass? Perhaps it's time someone should dismiss Clifford Clift.

So, my reader friend, I’m done beating up on MUFON. If the current State Directors don’t care what is going on with the Board of Directors, then I don’t either.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Battle for MUFON, Part 3, The Disappearing Cases

This information is taken largely from interviews recently posted on Jerry Pippin’s www.ufoshows2go.com/mufon_under_seige.htm.

If Clifton Clift, the International Director of MUFON after James Carrion resigned, thought that dismissing Ken Cherry (former State Director of TX) would settle the oncoming ruckus, he was wrong. Rattled by a pattern of unsettling and mystifying events, the insurrection continued.

In Chase Kloetzke’s interview (member since ’96), she described her thrill at being named Star Team Manager for MUFON. She promised her friend Elaine that if she couldn’t be honest and straightforward she would resign. She assured the State Directors that she would not by-pass them, steal cases, or bully their Field Investigators. That made everyone happy. Even after Cherry left, “they had every part of me that was good.” She had an impressive resume of service to the military to prove that she had expertise. Essentially, MUFON was on track.

She and Chuck Reever (former Dir of Investigations, now on the Board of Directors) wrote the Star Team manual, receiving praise from all who saw it. The Star Team Impact Project, paid for with Bigelow funds, was designed to get Investigators to an event site before the press or the curious could annoy the witnesses or muddy the evidence.

The problem was that Bigelow representatives would often get there first without notifying the State Directors and would sometimes discourage the witnesses from talking to MUFON people. Clift admitted that there was no protocol in the contract to deal with the tensions that arose from that situation.

Compromised Cases

Chase claimed that every investigation that she organized was compromised in some way. For instance, when a backyard UFO landing case came in from FL, Chase and Sandy G (Dispatcher) had 2 investigators on their way within 17 minutes. Arriving with a chemist, they interviewed the witness (a man in law enforcement) and took trace samples, sending them to unnamed labs. They had nailed it, and Chase was ecstatic.

Two days later, while the homeowner was away, two men were seen by a neighbor entering his backyard. They torched everything in it. Chase said that the location of the case site had to be compromised by one of 16 people who had access to the CMS reporting system. For this reason, confidentiality is crucial for MUFON to maintain the trust of witnesses.

A case in TX (Stevensville sightings?) was intended to be a training exercise. Before MUFON could get there, unknown persons arrived, took the witness information, and convinced them not to talk to MUFON. Who were the interlopers and how did they know where to go?

In a Georgia case, unknown persons got to the site first and took witness information. The witness was shocked when MUFON investigators showed up, because they thought the first people were from MUFON. Clift claimed that they were from Homeland Security. MUFON reps now carry badges and ID.

James Clarkson relates that during the contract era, there were two separate incidences in which his wife, who was a Field Investigator, was told by witnesses that field representatives of Bigelow got to them first and told them not to talk to MUFON.

Disappearing Cases and Unanswered Questions

Chase began to hear from Dispatchers and State Directors that critical cases were being deleted from the CMS. They would come in late at night, but by morning, they were gone. Elaine Douglass states that when L. G., Star Team Manager for a short time, asked Marie Malzahn about it, her answer was, don’t worry about it, those are probably just military security cases. Larry let it go.

When Chase asked the webmaster about why GPS info for cases was available to anyone on the website, he answered that the coordinates were incorrect. They were just random points within a zip code. Chase wondered, why are they there then if they are not accurate? She let it go.

Elaine Douglass told of a recent email from Morgan Beall to several Star Team people, written on Feb. 6 of this year. It states, “I have observed missing case numbers and bribery. Yes, that is right. I was bribed to hand over personal witness information by BAASS personnel while on the Star Team during the previous project. I was offered a money and a job by BAASS. I declined respectfully and moved on. I reported the incident.”

The Status Today

One might ask, why are they talking about past issues? Clift stated clearly in his interview that all relations with BAASS ended in 2010. However, Chase said something in her interview that would indicate otherwise. She hated the drama that ensued when Chuck Reever resigned and Marie Malzahn took over as Director of Investigations. Today, Marie is listed as the State Director of NV. Suddenly she was on the Board. The State Directors were perplexed as to how that happened to someone from a small state who had not been with MUFON that long.

Suddenly, according to Chase, there were secret agendas, egos, and future projects involving Bigelow and his money. There was horror and angst that James Carrion was going to make a public statement on the radio, that Elaine Douglass started a group called the Committee to Reform MUFON, that Ken Cherry was going to write a tell-all book with Jim Marrs. Chase’s reaction was, “Who cares?” We have 500 cases a month. Let’s just get working on them and it will all turn out OK. All of the above events took place this year.

Notice, “future projects with Bigelow and his money.”

There is one more suggestion in Elaine Douglass’s interview that the BAASS game is still afoot in MUFON. It is unverified but so shocking that I will simply encourage the reader to go to Part 3 of her interview and listen.

During the Clarkson interview, Larry Bryant emailed a wry quip, “Who woulda thunk that MUFON would be run like a corporation… a rico corporation.” A rico business is one that demonstrates a pattern of corruption. Larry later explained that he meant that some in MUFON may be trending toward that kind of behavior. OK, Larry has a strange sense of humor. He didn’t totally mean it. But is there a grain of truth in his tongue-in-cheek comment?

To be continued: Part 4: The Firings and Resignations. Why?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Battle for MUFON, Part 2, The Contract

The information below is from recent interviews by Jerry Pippen at www.ufoshows2go.com /mufon_under_siege.htm.

It changed MUFON. It generated mistrust, recriminations, secrecy, and bitter fights.

The contract between MUFON and Bigelow Aeronautic and Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) was signed in February 2009. Here is how the Committee to Reform MUFON described it in a March 2011 email to the members of MUFON:

“According to the contract, Bigelow is buying ‘the Seller's existing CMS database. . .and all other data,’ as well as ‘field investigative services and all information and material derived from those services, including but not limited to. . .physical evidence. . .photographs, film, data from detection devices. . .radar. . .satellite data, ground disturbance site information. . .electronic information, interview transcripts, any testimony, including recordings. . .as well as any other item that may be recovered from prior, present and future field investigations [of] MUFON.’”

In other words, with that 5-page contract, the present MUFON Board of Directors sold temporary access to the resources of the organization for $672,000, gave the key to BAASS, and said we will take all the risks and liability, and you can take whatever you want.

Elaine Douglass, founder of the Committee to Reform MUFON (CRM), was able to quote portions of the contract because it was sent to her by an anonymous supporter. She still does not know who sent it.

What was the purpose of the deal? MUFON needed the money while, according to Clift, BAASS wanted the technological advantage that might be gleaned from significant events. It could potentially save Bigelow millions of dollars in the end. Carrion felt at the time of signing that the confidentiality of the witnesses was protected because they could opt to not check the third party box on the report form.

The Deal Goes Sour

For a while all went well, but in time, things began to go seriously awry. This blogger is not going to intrude into the complex legal issues regarding the terms of the Contract or who broke it. Suffice to say that it resulted in broken relationships and mutual recriminations. It ended in February 2010, at which time James Carrion, the acting International Director (ID), resigned MUFON in bitterness and disgust. And the fun may not be over yet between Carrion and the Board. According to the present ID, Clifford Clift, all relationship with Bigelow and BAASS ended at that time. But, here’s how the progression goes from there…

BAASS had some big financial backers, but their identity was proprietary information, and no one besides John Schuessler could know who they were. Not even the International Director. Now, ordinarily a corporation entering into a contract does NOT have to reveal its backers. But one needs to ask here,

is a partnership between a large, competitive corporation that surely has connections to government agencies, an appropriate match for a small, civilian, volunteer research organization where trust, integrity, and witness confidentiality is essential for viability? MUFON is a 501c3 charitable organization which is beholding to the public. What if the big corporation gets pushy and bossy and wants its own agenda to take precedence?

Carrion claimed that that is exactly what happened. He feels that today the Board is still being 'managed' and 'manipulated' by forces 'within' and 'without.' Even Clift had to admit that without proper protocols in place, “things got out of hand.”

John Schuessler received a security clearance with BAASS. That’s not against any law. Corporations do offer security clearances. But John is on the Board of MUFON. Therefore he may have established a relationship with the unknown financial backers. And who knows, they might be the Alphabets. The CIA, DoD, AFOSI, DIA, NSA, etc. They could possibly be the very representatives of the government agencies responsible for the UFO coverup.

Who deploys the Men in Black? Who flies the unmarked black helicopters? Who taps the phones of major witness reporters? Who spreads confusion and disinformation among the ufo community? Who ran Project Blue Book? Who scooped up every last shred of evidence at Roswell and then lied multiple times about what really happened? Who paid Rick Doty to totally deceive and disorient Paul Bennowitz? The ufo community will answer that it’s the alphabet agencies.

Furthermore, due to the increasing non-disclosure clauses, the disgruntled in MUFON feared that the organization had begun to be a “cryptocracy,” a culture of secrecy and repression of information, (Clarkson interview, word borrowed from Jim Marrs.)

So of course, it stands to reason that when the competition for witness information became intense between MUFON and BAASS in 2009, and when cases and evidence began to disappear, and State Directors’ feathers got ruffled due to being bypassed, which was not supposed to happen, what was the first thing people thought? BAASS or the government is/could be doing all this.

As for John Schuessler, even if he is second cousin to Mother Theresa, a sweet man and honest as John the Baptist, in the new MUFON culture, he became a theoretical link between the Members/Volunteers and the Cryptocracy.

People may ppfffttt all this and say, that’s just gossip and suspicion--there is no foundation to it. That may be true, but in a cryptocracy, suspicion, speculation, and gossip is all people have to go on, and it does affect morale. And it may be accurate.

Non-stop bitter recriminations

Today, Carrion is still claiming that there is a government infiltration into MUFON (interview and blogs). Privately, he names a name and a government organization, and he’s not the only one making such claims. Even Clift suspects government intrusion. He stated that he and John Schuessler agree that MUFON seems to be attacked in some way when they get close to a significant report. Clift is blaming the dissenters for being the source of this trouble. He points to “the Elaine Douglasses,” (founder of The Committee to Reform MUFON) who are being “funded and fueled by disinformation artists.” The dissenters point to the Board.

In 2009, Ken Cherry, former State Director of TX, began an Advocacy Group which proposed what he felt were needful changes in MUFON. One point was that a new background check form was way too involved for a volunteer organization like MUFON. It’s the kind of thing you might undergo if you were being hired by the FBI. The result of Cherry’s discontent was that he was told to apologize for all the mean things he said about MUFON or he would be replaced. Of course, he would not apologize. He left and started a new paranormal research group called EPIC. Clift points to Ken Cherry’s complaints as the beginning of MUFON’S troubles.

That was the beginning of the Exodus.

If all connection with BAASS had ceased in both appearance and in reality at the end of the contract period, if the Board had gone on from there and managed MUFON in an intelligent manner, and if no further troubling circumstances had arisen at MUFON, the rolling ship would have righted itself and sailed on. But alas, the stage had been set, the atmosphere infected, and the troubles persisted.

Competition with BAASS for cases created mind-boggling situations in the day to day MUFON investigations. Were there government spies in MUFON’S midst? There was plenty of trouble and mystery to come that would suggest that there are.

To be continued: The disappearing cases.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Battle for MUFON, Part 1

UFO history is once again being made.

The UFO phenomenon really hit the airwaves in 1947 with three major cases. I will only name them here because in UFO lore they are already famous. I speak of the Roswell crash, the Maury Island case, and Kenneth Arnold’s sighting of the discs that became known as flying saucers. The Air Force got involved with Project Sign in 1947, which became Project Grudge In 1949, and Project Blue Book in 1951. In 1953 another committee produced a report called the Robertson Panel, which concluded that UFOs are not a significant threat to public safety or national security and do not require official attention. Scientists interested in UFO research, experiencers, and believers all found the methodology and conclusions of these projects to be extremely unsatisfying. In 1969 Project Blue Book (which should have been called Project Eyeroll) was closed. That year another committee report, the result of two years of study, came out to settle the question once and for all. J. Allen Hynek’s opinion of the Condon Report was that “it was a masterpiece of throwing a scrap of political meat to the critic dogs” [The UFO Experience, 1974, 218]. The Condon Report contributed greatly to the demise of a well-known UFO research group called NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena). (J. Allen Hynek, d. 1986, was an astronomer and college professor, and was a consultant for the AF during Project Blue Book)

The latter chapters of Hynek’s book reflect his utter frustration with the lack of proper scientific attention to the topic of UFOs and the blindness of officialdom to the potential importance of the phenomenon. He called for further intelligent and professional assessment of the many reports that were accumulating all over the globe. Enter MUFON, Mutual UFO Network, a large, international organization with a well-known journal called the MUFON Journal. Wikipedia reports: MUFON was originally established as the Mid-west UFO Network in Quincy, Illinois on May 30, 1969 by Walter H. Andrus, Allen Utke, John Schuessler, and others. Most of MUFON's early members had earlier been associated with Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO).

Thus, for over 40 years, MUFON has brought together the average citizen on the street, the highly trained specialists, and everything in between to answer the call for careful, methodical UFO research for the betterment of humanity. There are now thousands of members. The hierarchy includes the witness who reports an incident on the MUFON website, dispatchers who sort the cases, State Directors (SDs), Asst. SDs, regional investigators, local Field Investigators (FIs), Star Team responders (able to deploy within 24 hours, have their own sophisticated equipment, and can pay their own travel expenses). There are oversight positions such as Star Team Manager, Director of Investigations, Deputy Director. Then there is the Board of Directors and the International Director. All these positions are voluntary except for a rather low salary for the ID and his two secretaries. The volunteers for the most part are extremely loyal to MUFON. They work hard, take their jobs seriously, and believe that what they do is really important. Up to just a few years ago, MUFON was a relatively orderly, well-cared-for garden. I say relatively only because it is run by people, and no organization with that many people in it can be perfect. But, for the most part, the volunteers loved their work and the people that they worked with.

In all of this apparent bliss, there was one thing that MUFON did not have an abundance of. Money. Money for research, money for their symposiums, money for travel, money for salaries, phone bills, printing costs, etc. MUFON barely stayed in the black with the sale of merchandise, donations, and membership fees.

In 2009, a new presence presented itself in the MUFON garden, an entity proffering a partnership… MUFON research services for bags and bundles of money. Money beyond the wildest dreams of the ID and the Board of Directors. Enter stage left, billionaire Robert Bigelow, Las Vegas entrepreneur.

Mr. Robert Bigelow had previously founded a paranormal research group called NIDS (National Institute of Discovery Science). He funded a research project on a ranch in Utah which allegedly had a reputation for being a paranormal hotspot. He had a board of eminent academicians and scientists whose job it was to keep the ranch research as credible and scientific as possible. In the end, an excellent book was written about it by Colm Kelleher called The Hunt for the Skinwalker. Mr. Bigelow was generous in his support. When a significant event occurred at the ranch, a simple phone call would bring the researchers post haste to the ranch on a corporate jet. When I came to the last page of that book for the second time, I had nothing but respect for Robert Bigelow and the two people that I personally knew on their board.

So when the conversations began in January 2009 between John Schuessler, MUFON ID James Carrion, Jan Harzan, and Bigelow’s company BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advance Space Studies Company) it seemed like a good idea. A small contract with BAASS had already closed with satisfactory results. BAASS was offering $56,000/month for a year for access to MUFON’S CMS reporting site, past files, and future investigations. They had the right to question witnesses if those witnesses checked a box on the website report form allowing their information to be shared with third parties. There would be two funding dates during the year in which the contract could be reviewed. It could be terminated then, or re-funded, or funding could be increased. If funding was dropped, the contract would cease. It was made known that Mr. Bigelow was not using his own money. He had backers, but no one knew who they were except John Schuessler, and he was not to disclose that information.

The branches of the tree hung low to the ground, laden with tantalizing fruit. It looked good, it smelled good. What could possibly….go…..wrong…..?

To be continued…