THE UFO STUDY YOU’VE NEVER HEARD ABOUT
(originally published July 2014)
Those of us with UFO interests are familiar with official investigations of the phenomenon such as Project Blue Book, the Robertson Panel, and the Condon Committee. But you probably have never heard of studies like Operation Interloper. In fact there is a body of UFO study – though officially unacknowledged – that was nonetheless conducted by officials. These lesser-known studies are today dismissed by the US government as private efforts by individuals – even though they have signs of silent or tacit government approval. These prominent individuals were doing it for somebody other than themselves. Such UFO studies can be shared between people in the government in complete secrecy. That is because such “private” study reports are exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests. When it comes to such UFO studies, it is clear that nothing is clear about just what is official, semi-official or independent. These halls of study are halls of mirrors.
Major Dewey Fournet
of Project Blue Book
and the Mysterious
Major Dewey Fournet had a distinguished career as a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War. He also has a career in Air Force Intelligence. He served as the Air Force’s Monitor for Project Blue Book and, according to a Blue Book organizational chart, had the official title of “Liaison Officer to the Pentagon.” Strangely, Fournet also spent considerable time and energy conducting his own investigations of UFOs. Hard to account for, but he developed case files that were outside the official auspices of Project Blue Book while he helped to lead Blue Book. A study within a study. Though he had marked them “unclassified,” in practice these files did not circulate outside official circles, and some were retained by Fournet until his death in 2000.
Documents were left that referred to an “Operation Interloper” that was directed by Fournet. Concurrent with his position at Blue Book in the early 1950s, Fournet had inexplicably (and apparently "independently”) engaged in collecting, collating and commenting on cases that were often not part of the Blue Book system. Researcher Jan Aldrich (a very highly-regarded historian of the phenomenon) is expert on all manner of UFO studies. Aldrich states that the Fournet UFO documents seen include Fournet’s analysis of UFO sightings that date before 1947, as well as cases from the early ‘50s. They appear to be derived from various official sources and also from published reports and articles in magazines. Though Aldrich speculates that this may have been “an extracurricular effort” by Fournet and others within the US government (as well as advisors that may have included a Jesuit astronomer), I strongly suspect that this “Operation” represents far more:
The name Fournet chose for his investigation was telling in itself. An “Interloper” is defined as someone who intrudes into a region or sphere of activity without authorization. An Interloper presents itself where it does not belong. Interlopers are uninvited. If Fournet believed these UFO cases represented misperception, fraud or natural phenomena, why did he purposely use the appellation “Interloper”? Those who intrude without authorization, who do not belong and who are uninvited are known as Aliens.
Aldrich indicates that the Fournet files are “incomplete.” He reports that Fournet was known to administer his files well, yet there are clearly more Operation Interloper reports, sightings and other case material – and they are missing. Three examples of Operation Interloper “incident” reports I have found date from 1951 and 1952 and are linked here:
We can derive from these incident files that:
The investigation is inter-military (the featured cases are from the US Navy)
Investigation of cases was conducted throughout the nation
There are a minimum of 28 “Incident” files and likely far more (the highest reference case number that is known is “Incident #28”). We can also derive that there is extant material on Operation Interloper’s other cases, as well as details on who else had joined Fournet in this study.
Who Was Really Behind Operation Interloper?
The kind of research operation conducted by Fournet minimally required office space and supplies, phone service, and a secretary (after all, these cases were typed on a manual). And the expenditure of Fournet’s time on this operation during office hours as an employee of the military would be a violation, were it not in some way officially recognized activity.
You cannot be spending the work day performing the administration of government business while simultaneously conducting personal business. Fournet’s Operation Interloper UFO case files (linked to above) are from 1951 and 1952, two years during which he was also reviewing UFO case files for Project Blue Book.
Time is money. Every moment that Fournet worked on Interloper took away from the work that he was paid and authorized to do for Blue Book. Unless his work was in some way part of it.
Unless he brought his own pens, typewriters, phones and office support, they were allocated to him.
If he did his Interloper work at home, that would mean Fournet was a man obsessed, working day and night on UFOs and that he was able to accommodate other operation members. That was of course not the case.
It would create a conflict of interest to allow officers to work on subject matter privately that they are working on 9-5 on the government’s clock. And why run parallel studies on UFOs unless one is to be the public front and the other not-so-public?
Simply put, the government footed the bill and “compartmented” and obfuscated the Interloper project under Blue Book, all the while being able to deny awareness if they were ever asked.
A Precedent for Operation Interloper: The IPU
In 1982, the late researcher John Frick discovered the mention of an “Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit” (or IPU) on a computer printout that had been generated by a group within the Department of Defense. This led to further discoveries that the IPU had been under the auspices of General Douglas MacArthur and that it had operated from 1945 until at least 1951.
FOIA requests gained admissions by the US Government that the Unit, while it existed, was merely a personal “interest item” for an unnamed Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. They further disparaged it by saying the Unit lacked formal “function, mission or authority.” It turns out that MacArthur’s intelligence agent interested in UFOs was later to rise within the ranks as General Charles Willoughby.
For the same reasons that Operation Interloper could not be the work of one, the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit was not. An “Operation” and a “Unit” are military parlance that reflects the involvement of more than a single individual. It is now believed that the “foundation” of the IPU lay with General Willoughby, General MacArthur and MacArthur’s immediate superior, General George C. Marshall. This story is told more completely in my December 3, 2010 piece “US Army’s Secret UFO Study: Some are Interplanetary.”
In a similar way to MacArthur’s IPU, Major Fournet’s Operation Interloper has the appearance of being a private “interest item” by an individual officer while being far more than that. And both UFO studies have telling titles, one relating to the “interplanetary” and the other to ‘interlopers.”
If confronted by inquiry such as FOIA, the government can simply claim that any mention of any such UFO project was of personal interest to a particular officer or official. This allows them to disavow knowledge or comment on such a UFO study. Such investigation, they can say, lies outside that person’s regular duty and routine and was thus a private effort. The denial becomes plausible, that is, it becomes credible.
The truth, though, is that such “private efforts” can then be offered up and shared directly with government officials without acknowledgment that such a thing had ever happened. Such an unwritten “arrangement” allows for a freedom from inquiring eyes. it protects from repercussions and insulates and shifts “involvement.”