A mysterious set of slides showing alien spacecraft have cropped up amid the trove of documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden - and ignited a frenzy of debate among internet UFO fans.
The set of slides are part of a Powerpoint presentation created by British spy agency GCHQ - Government Communications Headquarters - and, among 50 uncaptioned images are three which seem to show flying saucers.
Alien-hunters and UFOlogists are now poring over the images - although one of the ‘UFOs’ has been dismissed as an “out of focus picture of a seagull having a poo.”
Nigel Watson, author of the Haynes UFO Investigations Manual says that while the slides may not be evidence of alien invaders, they are the next best thing for conspiracy theorists - evidence of government mind control. The document offers guidelines for spies on how to spread lies on the internet.
Watson says, “The main evidence for the cover-up of UFO reports and manipulation of UFO beliefs, as revealed by the documents released by Edward Snowden, is contained in a Powerpoint presentation called, ‘The Art of Deception: Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations’.
“This was produced by the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), British secret intelligence agency and features fifty slides related to using the internet for psychological operations (psy-ops).It was produced by a unit called the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) for presentations to the US, National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies.”
Watson says that the slides show that, far from having captured aliens or dissected them, governments fear the power of belief in UFOs - and want to manipulate this for their own ends.
American journalist and author Glenn Greenwald wrote an essay relating to the documents, saying, that it showed goverments were practising techniques “to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets - and to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”
In the Fifties, the CIA feared that people who claimed to have contacted aliens would spread communist-like philosophy, Watson says - or that reports of sightings could be deliberately released to camouflage a nuclear missile attack.
What the new document proves is that governments are still aware of the power of UFOs as a tool for ‘controlling’ the public - and are ensuring they are ready to use this tool in the age of the internet.
“Government agencies are still aware of the power of the belief in UFOs, and that they are willing to use the Internet to exploit these beliefs,” says Watson. “Such deception can be used as a means of covering-up more mundane terrestrial activities (like the testing of secret aircraft or military exercises) or to undermine the credibility of ufologists.”
“The overall point of the presentation is to discuss how the Internet and modern media can be used to discredit people and to spread deception. Unfortunately, there is no explanatory text with the UFO pictures, so we can only speculate about what point they were being used to make.”
What is certain, though, Watson says, is that the document does not provide final proof that earth has been invaded, or even ‘buzzed’ by little green men in flying saucers - the pictures themselves are old, well-known, and widely believed to be fake.
“The presentation features three UFO pictures, on slides 35 to 37. The first is a black and white picture of a UFO over Redbud, Illinois, taken on 23 April 1950, the second a screenshot of a UFO video by Arturo Robles Gil filmed in Mexico and the third was taken on 01 August 2011 by a holidaymaker at Black Head, Trenarren near St. Austell, Cornwall,” Watson says.
“ They have been explained respectively by sceptics as a hub cap thrown in the air, a deflated mylar balloon and an out-of-focus seagull taking a poo.”
The pictures are not convincing proof of the existence of UFOs, but they do indicate that Government agencies like this are aware of the power of UFO images especially today when such images can be easily produced and manipulated.