Fortean Times: ‘Weapons of Mass Deception’ online

Fortean Times magazine has put my article from issue 266 (July 2010) online.

It’s a reworked section from the book, discussing what proved to be the turning point in early UFO history – the July 1952 radar ‘sightings’ over Washington DC. I plan to write more about the brilliant Leon Davidson, who first suggested an Electronic Counter Measures origin for the DC flap, on this blog soon.

PS. FT‘s subhead ‘How the CIA created the flying saucer craze’ is a little misleading, as anyone who reads the piece will discover.

Find it here

About Mark

Author of 'Mirage Men' & 'Far Out' and publisher/editor at Strange Attractor Press.
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6 Responses to Fortean Times: ‘Weapons of Mass Deception’ online

  1. Steve says:

    Still highly sceptical of overuse the ECM hypothesis, but still studying the capability.

  2. Mark says:

    I agree that it’s unclear quite how well developed the radar spoofing tech was in 1952, but the Pentagon had unquestionably been aware of it since 1945, and the tools had entered the civilian domain by the later ’50s.

    The article by Eugene Poteat in Studies in Intelligence, (PDF) talks at length about the advanced Palladium system used by the CIA and NSA, and presumably still used to this day – it was certainly being used in the 1980s as there was discussion of deploying it in Libya to try to destabilise Gadaffi.

    • Steve says:

      Yes, I was looking through that pdf originally, its very informative, but frustratingly untechnical, and there doesnt seem much else easily available or affordable (I’m not curious enough to shell out £50 on a radar tech manual:)).

      My current thought as far as my limited research allows is that the CIA didnt have anything like this before 1957, but as you say maybe the Military did, though I suspect we might know by now if they did. It also seems to involve quite large equipment, carried on trains and mounted on ships, so where would they hide it near Washington? It seems to involve a fairly large exposed parabolic dish. One possibility would be a ship I guess (not sure how far their radar is from the coast?), which would point the finger at the Navy (fitting a suspicion you mention in the book) or even those notorious guys in the ONI?

      One bigger reservation I have is that I think it would be technically impossible to spoof an aircraft’s radar, it seems you have to fire a false reflection beam directly into the radar dish, which works well for ground based fixed radar, but I can’t imagine how you could do that for a high speed, manouvering jet fighter, and certainly not several at different angles of attack? But then again I’d imagine most intercepters would be guided in by ground radar until they locked on with their weopens systems and flight radar, and the technical details would probably vary in different decades. So as ever the devil is in the details🙂

  3. Steve says:

    Another thought. Presumably the spoofed target would appear to be coming from the direction of the spoofing device? Or at least towards it or perpendicular to it if they were manipulating the beam? So that might be a clue to possible sources?

  4. Steve says:

    Though the Navy might be off the hook this time, most reports give a SSW origin. Which is roughly from Fort Belvoir, home of United States Army Engineer Research and Development Laboratory in 1952…

  5. CDA says:

    You describe Leon Davidson as “brilliant”. An overused word.
    Have a look at his article “Why I believe Adamski” which appeared in Flying Saucer Review, Jan-Feb 1960, if you have not already done so. It sounded just plausible at the time, but is it still? I doubt it! Davidson took the CIA theme too far and his Adamski thesis never caught on. I corresponded with him in the 1970s and he still adhered to his CIA-inspired UFOs. Yet he did produce an excellent shortened form of Project Blue Book Report 14 which went through several editions. But he had the view that the CIA had magical powers and could produce UFOs, visual or radar, whenever they wanted.

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