NEWS & UPDATES
Do the Owls want to shut down Richard C. Hoagland?
John C. Haich
THE CULT OF NASA
Space and space travel are subjects that many find instinctively romantic. There's a sense of freedom and adventure that comes from contemplating the vast expanse "out there" just waiting to be explored -- a sense of escape from what can be a very uncaring world at times.
Much of this romanticism tends to rub off onto NASA, the U.S. agency charged with space exploration. As a result, NASA is viewed by much of the general public as being synonymous with space. Support space exploration? Support NASA!
This romantic tendency can and often does override even political beliefs -- for example it's not uncommon to hear libertarians defend NASA even though they may be quite vocal in their condemnation of government in general and would normally be expected to favor some form of private enterprise instead. The unusual relationship this agency enjoys, naïve and fatuous as it is, tends to blind the public to the possibility that there could be anything untoward going on there.
Speaking of NASA, anybody who's listened to Coast To Coast AM might be familiar with the following equation:
And therein lies the subject of this musing.
THE FACE ON MARS MAN
As most readers would be aware, the Cydonia region on Mars is where the infamous and somewhat controversial "Face on Mars" is located, an enigmatic feature on the planet's surface that resembles a human face staring forlornly up into space. Richard C. Hoagland has done more than most to popularize this feature by way of his book "The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever" and with his regular guest appearances on Coast To Coast AM -- a late-night talk show for connoisseurs of Strange or a cheap substitute for Mogadon depending upon one's outlook on life.
The point of this musing is not to fawn at the altar of Hoagland nor is it to write him off as a complete kook though many of his claims are indeed way out there in terms of credibility, being noticeably lacking in evidence for instance. For all this author knows there could very well be artificial structures on the surface of Mars as the various probes and landers that have been sent to the planet have not given us the complete picture by a long shot. However, there's nothing that overtly screams "artificial" in any of the remote sensing data that Hoagland has devoted his life to publicizing.
That said, some of his work is still somewhat interesting as it can at times lead one off into intellectually stimulating fields of research so it's for this reason that I occasionally check his website to learn of his latest revelation and the current status of his on-going battle with NASA.
Hoagland also has a bit to say about weird rituals conducted by senior NASA staff. Let's be very clear about this point: we're not talking here about diligent workers who very often go above and beyond the call of duty out of sheer enthusiasm and passion for the organization and its stated objectives for example, but a small group at the top who view themselves as High Priests and who shamelessly use the agency as a vehicle to act out their strange religious beliefs. Whether it's choosing to sacrifice astronauts or landing a Mars probe at coordinates based not upon potential scientific windfalls but sacred numbers these freaks secretly worship, well we're definitely not in Kansas anymore Toto!
As for these sorts of claims made by Hoagland, this author is receptive to them provided the evidence is there to support them. On balance it would appear that some "Boys' Club" antics do indeed go on in the upper echelons of the U.S. government. At any rate, it's difficult to maintain confidence in an organization headed by somebody like Sean O'Keefe -- a protégé of the mentally unstable Vice President Cheney¹ -- who proudly proclaims himself a Bohemian Grovesman even in his official biography.
* * *
In September 2002, Hoagland and his colleagues at the Enterprise Mission caused quite a stir over some infrared data that was supposedly returned by the Odyssey space probe currently orbiting Mars. Upon closer inspection, the multi-spectral IR data -- once processed into a visual image suitable for interpreting -- appeared to show a city buried under the plains of Cydonia. Hoagland claimed that the IR data came to him (or more precisely an associate) by way of an Arizona State University employee working on Odyssey's THEMIS camera team.
According to Hoagland, the THEMIS employee was either fed up with the lies at NASA vis-à-vis covering up the existence of artificial structures on Mars so decided to slip him some data that would normally not see the light of day, or he was a participant (witting or otherwise) in a COINTELPRO designed to discredit the Enterprise Mission. THEMIS principal investigator Dr. Philip Christensen naturally had a different take: somebody had gotten hold of the freely available IR data of the Cydonia region then proceeded to process it incorrectly, making the resulting image artifacts appear (intentionally or otherwise) to be a city buried under the plains of Cydonia.
TRAWLING THE TIME RIVER
The author recently stumbled upon an unusual website that contained an interesting analysis of the previously described shenanigans. The site in question is called Etemenanki and is run by a researcher who traverses through life accompanied by the pleasant Japanese-sounding ring of Goro Adachi. Etemenanki's raison d'être is to advocate Adachi's cyclical history theory which he refers to as the "Time River".
The process involves pattern-matching historical and current events, the bread and butter of intelligence analysts, with additional correlation steps to see if they fit into his Time River "matrix". To be honest, much of his work appears to be highly subjective as he is often somewhat lax in establishing a sufficient number of redundant control data points to support his linkages and his choice of data points often tend to be a little too obscure or New Age for my tastes. But whatever, we're still free to trawl Goro's River looking for juicy nuggets.
One of Adachi's series of articles, entitled "End Game," contains much that is of relevance to us. Specifically, the initial parts concentrate on the background intrigue that was going on during the period when Hoagland was presenting his IR data to the world, data which Hoagland was confident indicated a buried city at Cydonia.
For his part, Hoagland had enumerated the reasons why and how he had come to this conclusion and was by that stage actively "pitching" his findings.
SNAKE OIL SALESMAN
So what do we have here then?
Firstly, let's look at the Enterprise Mission's supposedly "real" IR data. When we compare it to the freely available IR data from the THEMIS website it becomes quite apparent that Hoagland's image is indeed a degraded version of the official one just as Dr. Christensen claimed. In fact, this is so obviously the case that anybody possessing even rudimentary image processing skills will be able to quickly determine this for themselves which naturally begs the question: "Why didn't Hoagland?"
Or, for that matter, his associate Mike Bara who has many years of CAD/CAM experience and who should, one would think, possess at least a modicum of fundamental knowledge relevant to his trade. While Hoagland seems to go out of his way to exaggerate the complexity of working with image data be it visual or IR, these are not particularly complex fields in terms of understanding the underlying theory and basic processing algorithms involved nor are they difficult to practically grasp but like everything else require some time and study.
So, sad to say, we appear to have here yet another casualty in Hoagland's undeclared War on Pixels as I believe we can quite safely conclude that the Enterprise Mission knew full well that their data was not "real" at all and that the "city" was merely composed of processing artifacts after somebody had finished having some fun with the source data from the THEMIS website. It doesn't particularly matter who exactly was responsible, only that the Enterprise Mission picked up the ball and ran with it and that of course prompts us to wonder why.
Adachi also mentions some reverse speech analysis that was performed on Hoagland during his Coast To Coast AM appearances where he was basically selling the bogus data. While I don't profess to have any expertise in this area, I am aware that interpreting isolated reversals can be highly subjective. However, in this case there are numerous examples to work with and they are all fully consistent with him being well aware that the data was bogus. I personally have no doubt at all that Hoagland sincerely believes there to be artificial structures on Mars and reversals such as "you see wisdom now" paint a disturbing picture of an individual who is quite comfortable with the idea of presenting falsified data in order to bring others around to his point of view or just to bask in the glory of it all.
Nonetheless, it's apparent that there was some other form of background intrigue going on at the time, one apparently at odds with Hoagland's agenda for it seemed designed to harass and discredit him. As it turned out, Hoagland emerged from his highly vulnerable position with more than a little egg on his face and with many of his formerly ardent supporters succumbing in a lethal atmosphere of distrust as to his own possible motives inflamed by some very untimely divide and conquer tactics apparently targeting his support base.
Perhaps we can understand more about what was really going on behind the scenes if we can determine who this party might have been for they were quite obviously opposed to Hoagland.
THE AVIARIAN ASYLUM
As a background, it helps to know that Hoagland -- after many years in the game -- has come to the conclusion that there's basically two ritualistic "factions" within NASA: the "Roosters" and the "Owls".
The "Roosters" are the good guys. They want the truth to come out. Since Hoagland is evidently convinced of the reality of artificial structures on Mars, any happenings at NASA -- and rest assured he is quite diligent when it comes to independently monitoring them -- which can be interpreted as an attempt to leak information in a bid to force the real issues to the surface are in fact the Roosters crowing.
The "Owls" on the other hand are the bad guys. They want to keep the public in the Dark. If there's evidence of ancient ruins on Mars that these guys know about, rest assured they won't be telling you about it anytime soon.
Now it must be acknowledged that Hoagland's grasp of inter-factional dynamics might not be as simplistic as this model would tend to suggest for it's entirely possible that it's mainly intended as an aid in communicating with his audience. In any case, the model does hint at some underlying complexity. For example, the "Roosters" must be in possession of much of the same data as the "Owls" for how else could they leak it? So the model, while simplistic, is by no means static as there exists an inherent requirement for factional interplay.
While the author personally disagrees with the underlying premises upon which Hoagland has constructed his model which appear to be based more upon articles of faith rather than a mass of supporting data, nonetheless let's try plugging the "Owls" in here and see what we come up with for if nothing else it might prove useful in assessing what Hoagland himself might be thinking regarding the party or parties responsible for the background intrigue.
Firstly, we have Hoagland knowingly releasing bad data and claiming it as evidence of a buried city at Cydonia. Since it's readily apparent that the data is bogus, this naturally begs the question:
If there really are artificial structures on Mars and the Owls know it or even if they just suspect it's probable they may find some, it would be reasonable to assume that they would have some form of containment strategy in place. Basically this would entail planting disinformation seeds and helping them take root. If they can create enough noise over a prolonged period of time then there's a good chance that a legitimate signal -- an unintended leak for instance -- will be drowned out and go unnoticed amidst the swill or at the very least escape authoritative investigation (staged "leaks" and other such ploys can be used to condition competent investigators to expect nothing but despair as the reward for their efforts).
So, far from being concerned about Hoagland knowingly releasing bad data, you would expect the Owls to be rather nonchalant -- provided that it didn't get out of hand.
Does this then rule out the Owls from contention? Well, let's not be too hasty for Hoagland certainly seems to believe they are. Referring once again to the speech reversals, we have a direct reference to the "Owls" given in reverse.
Notice how the reversal comes as he explains that his website will be "slow and cranky". The explanation for this, supplied later, was that a denial of service attack was in progress to prevent the sizable Coast To Coast AM audience from accessing the accompanying article as the show went to air. Whether or not this was actually the case is irrelevant -- what matters is that Hoagland, seeing trouble, suspects the Owls.
Continuing with this line of enquiry, are there any other possible explanations for the Owls to be interfering with Hoagland? As it happens, Hoagland does indeed supply a somewhat plausible explanation in his voluminous collection of online writings by informing us that JPL, the premier unmanned space probe facility, is the bastion of the Owls while facilities such as Ames which he refers to as "Rooster Central" are regarded as being relatively friendly, they being more oriented towards manned missions. Indeed, his work has often noted that he doesn't have a problem with the vast majority of NASA but only those parts directly under the control of the Owls.
So let's investigate the nature of the friction between these centers and see if there might be more clues to glean as to what Hoagland might be thinking. As it happens, there is a great deal of internal jostling within NASA and it does indeed appear to get rather heated at times. The underlying reasons for this stem from the agency's founding and the way its internal structure encourages adversarial relations amongst the various centers spread across the nation.
To fully understand the situation one must delve into NASA's history in some depth but for our purposes it suffices to note that JPL -- the Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, California -- is the facility that currently controls the Mars exploration program at least on the operational level. Though the average NASA employee tends to chalk this inter-center rivalry up to competition over limited resources, there does appear to be an esoteric undercurrent that occasionally comes to the surface. For example, the following speech was delivered by the then NASA administrator Dan Goldin at JPL where he "thanked" former NSA chief and DIA deputy Admiral Bobby Inman for his efforts in heading a secretive oversight committee.
As one would expect, Hoagland is inclined to interpret this as some form of confirmation that the Owls have control mechanisms in place to prevent the truth about Mars and its ancient ruins from becoming public but it seems far more likely to be a case of the military exerting control over whatever NASA operations they are able to but keeping quiet about it due to NASA's public image as a civilian agency (though this image is now being rapidly eroded¹).
Given that this is really the best evidence that he has to support his contention that the Owls control the Mars program and are engaging in a cover-up I believe that we've taken this line of pursuit as far as it will go and that any further assessment would be mere speculation only. While Hoagland did indeed make a direct reference to the Owls in a speech reversal it's probable that any attempts to interfere with his work are simply being chalked up in his own mind to them as he is apparently incapable of considering other possibilities on account of his firmly held belief in the existence of ancient ruins on Mars being actively suppressed by elements within NASA.
That being the case, let's now turn our attention to other possibilities but for the sake of simplicity we'll continue to use the term "Owls" as Hoagland does to denote parties who might be likely to want to interfere with the work of the Enterprise Mission.
A LITTLE JAMES BOND
Richard C. Hoagland is no stranger to the world of intelligence. That's not to say that he's connected with an intelligence agency per se and indeed his propensity to babble uncontrollably when given half the chance makes him most unsuited to that line of work, but he does nonetheless attract the attention of those who see in him qualities that could be potentially useful in an unwitting agent of influence.
Hoagland is a highly charismatic individual who possesses an enormously bloated ego. Extremely articulate, he has an ability to persuasively argue a case even when basic facts speak against him. Though by no means the genius he believes himself to be, he is nonetheless endowed with above-average intelligence and is capable of thinking quickly on his feet.
Typical of many science-fiction writers, he is highly imaginative and prone to flights of fancy. Though it would be inaccurate to state that he is particularly gullible, he does however have a tendency to accept at face value anything that appears to validate his beliefs. Although he exhibits a distrust of authority that verges on the paranoid, he will nonetheless not hesitate to appeal to it if it brings him any closer to fulfilling his burning desire of having his brilliance acknowledged and of being widely acclaimed as a person of great standing.
Politically liberal, despite many claims to the contrary he is not overly materialistic nor is he money-hungry but he does possess a somewhat Bohemian-like tendency to think that his modest living requirements should be borne by others on account of the especially important work he engages in on behalf of all Mankind. Hoagland also has a tendency to wildly exaggerate and his willingness to unashamedly lie when it suits him borders on the pathological.
Adachi's "End Game" series refers to the "My Story" website of one Brent Caflisch. It contains what purports to be private exchanges between various parties including Caflisch and Hoagland. The page outlines some kind of behind the scenes game that was being played out sometime after Hoagland released his phony "real" IR data and apparently was created because Caflisch grew tired of the games involving him and wanted the whole tale to be told.
On his website, Caflisch reveals that Hoagland's "Bush Administration" source who had apparently been advising him on various background matters pertaining to NASA's supposed cover-up of artificial structures on Mars was none other than Dr. George A. Keyworth, former science advisor to Ronald Reagan.
Prior to being appointed presidential science advisor in May 1981¹ (a post to which he was recommended by the recently deceased inventor of the H-Bomb and close personal friend Dr. Edward Teller), Keyworth was P-Division (Physics) Leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he had worked since graduating from Duke University with a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1968. According to his own biography, Keyworth
Keyworth later became one of the most vocal proponents of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative or "Star Wars" as it came to be known to its critics and remains a staunch supporter of space-based weapons but particularly SBL technologies. Keyworth (or "Doctor SDI" as he was known in Washington political circles during the Reagan era) was one of the original conceivers of distributed surveillance which involves the use of a network of small satellites with integrated optical and multi-spectral sensors to provide high-resolution remote sensing capabilities with all-weather performance.
The same system also has both strategic and tactical uses and allows for extremely precise targeting capabilities. Keyworth has for many years been an outspoken proponent of manned spaceflight and the American military dominance of space. One rare disagreement with Reagan was over his political decision to fund what later became the International Space Station on the grounds that it represented a step backwards; Keyworth was instead a vocal advocate of space planes.
Nowadays, Keyworth keeps himself busy by serving on the board of directors of various technology related companies including Hewlett Packard and by immersing himself in his Washington D.C. think tank the Progress and Freedom Foundation which focuses mostly on telecommunications policy and was largely responsible for imbuing Newt Gingrich with his futurist ideas on information technology though Gingrich himself was something of a technophobe (Keyworth's influence was undoubtedly also a factor in Gingrich's enthusiastic support for a manned mission to Mars).
In his book, "The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever," Hoagland relates the circumstances surrounding how Keyworth was made aware of his findings regarding Cydonia. In 1983, then attached to the Stanford Research Institute, Hoagland made overtures to Keyworth by way of one Dr. William Miller, a personal friend of Keyworth's.
The objective was to secure funding for further research from the President's Fund, a discretionary source under the direct control of the President. After Hoagland had presented his pitch to Miller with Miller expressing appropriate concerns as to the possible ramifications should the supposedly artificial structures turn out to be "a pile of rocks," minimal funding of $50,000 was eventually secured. While there is no evidence that Keyworth himself ever thought the features to be anything other than natural in origin, that is certainly not what he has led Hoagland to believe in recent years.
Always the blabbermouth, Hoagland was keen to give Coast To Coast AM listeners a brief history of Keyworth's more recent interest and involvement. The following transcript segment is from the 24JUL02 episode (the same day the THEMIS IR image of Cydonia was released which was of course the main topic of discussion).
Keyworth, of course, is not part of the current Bush Administration. Although Hoagland consistently stated on-air and in many online articles that "Deep Space" was his "Bush Administration" source, Hoagland's assistant Mike Bara was forced to concede that he wasn't part of the Administration after Bell placed him (probably inadvertently) in an awkward position. Bara, it seems, was unwilling to blatantly lie to Bell on-air.
The following transcript segment is from Mike Bara's 06SEP02 appearance on Coast To Coast AM.
Hoagland's response to Caflisch's outing of Keyworth was to pump out a series of bizarre new lies. In an internet interview given a month after Bara's Coast To Coast AM appearance Hoagland stated:
How Mike Bara failed to notice that the individual he had lunched with and whom he regarded as his friend was actually "several people" Hoagland neglected to say.
But it gets even worse.
After Hoagland had gauged that a sufficient amount of time had elapsed since Mike Bara's 06SEP02 on-air "slip-up" and Caflisch's outing as well as his own half-hearted "several people" spin on Keyworth's exposure, Hoagland was back on the airwaves with, what else, the original cover story (it should be noted that Keyworth's name had only been mentioned in connection with being "Deep Space" on a few obscure websites and the much larger radio audience would have been mostly unaware of this).
The following transcript segment is from Hoagland's 07NOV02 appearance on Coast To Coast AM.
Noteworthy is Hoagland's comment that Keyworth had called just prior to the show and had instructed him "not [to] step on the wrong toes". This is apparently a reference to an incident which Hoagland had referred to during his previous appearance on 05SEP02 in which he rather unwisely blabbered:
Besides stepping on the wrong toes, this particular incident which Hoagland very kindly shared on-air provided the means by which the author was able to independently confirm that his "Deep Space" source was indeed George Keyworth, this being achieved by requesting that a Naval contact enquire as to the background details of Hoagland's request.
As expected, it turned out that Hoagland had found it impossible to refrain from name-dropping when making the request for assistance and the Navy, knowing of Keyworth's National Security Advisory Council² membership and its reputation for not always advising in America's best interests, feared that Hoagland may have been given classified data.
SETTING THE STAGE
The Enterprise Mission's campaign to prepare the way for presentation of THEMIS data alleging to show a city buried at Cydonia got under way in earnest in late February 2002 with the publication of a piece appropriately entitled "The Game's afoot -- Again" (Hoagland's choice of title once more demonstrating the truly astonishing extent of his braggart nature as well as his obvious contempt for the intelligence of his audience).
The article, the first in what eventually became a three-part series [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] spanning the months of February to May 2002 in the lead-up to the first THEMIS IR data release, starts off with a picture of Keyworth (pilfered from here) and a quotation to the effect that NASA routinely lies¹. If this all seems a little obvious considering that "Deep Space" was supposed to be his secret source (the name of course derives from a somewhat unwitty play on "Deep Throat," the infamous Watergate source) it should be noted that the citation for the quote indicates Keyworth's tenure as science advisor during a Reagan term and that soon afterwards Hoagland started to refer to his "Bush Administration" source in a clear attempt to detract attention away from Keyworth.
While it's difficult at times to even contemplate what must go on in the dark recesses of Richard C. Hoagland's mind, it appears that this rather amateurish attempt at counter intelligence served more to inflate his ego and sense of importance but nonetheless was sufficient to throw casual investigators off the trail.
While Keyworth was telling Hoagland what he wanted to hear regarding the confirmed existence of artificial structures at Cydonia and elsewhere on Mars, nonetheless he made it clear that NASA would cover this up when it released the THEMIS IR data. To a personality such as Richard C. Hoagland, a man who enjoys playing cloak and dagger games, this just reinforced his views that the only way to "beat" NASA was to play by his rules rather than theirs. Ergo, if they were hiding data (as Keyworth assured him they were) then he would simply "put the data back in" when NASA released its "sanitized" scraps.
For a revealing insight into how Hoagland justifies these actions and to better understand the mentality involved, consider the following quote attributed to him: "[U]ltimately, this is NOT about "science," but about the "politics of science," playing on OUR field is infinitely better than trying to win a game which is permanently rigged .... On THEIR playing field ..."
Of course, by "THEIR" he means the Owls who are hiding the evidence and by "OUR field" he means "do whatever it takes to get to Mars" and the "politics of science" of course means "any old garbage will do so long as it raises public awareness". In other words, Hoagland sees this as a raging battle with the Owls and he's playing to win -- he took the gloves off a long time ago.
The main point of the article, besides being general stage-setting for the upcoming scam, was to introduce readers to Phobos 2. The importance of Phobos 2 was that it was destined to serve as the much needed "independent confirmation" for the THEMIS derived findings of a buried city by using it as the "precedent" and also, as Hoagland is inclined to do, as an appeal to authority to add weight to his forthcoming arguments.
To this end, and assuming that we're even prepared to credit Hoagland with relaying an accurate version of events, the Russians apparently also see cities on Mars!
What is also noteworthy about the article is its amazing prescience for in it Hoagland ponders the possible ramifications of "a series of images [that] suddenly appeared on the web, purportedly from Mars and leaked from a company called IEC".
And the significance of these images?
Well, they're "supposed to be of some Martian ruins just below the surface". But Hoagland wasn't fooled, he was more than a little sure of himself: "we [the Enterprise Mission] have serious doubts about the legitimacy of the image."
How extraordinary that this should occur just months before Hoagland "discovered" The Long-Buried City of Cydonia!
In a Freudian moment, Hoagland continued: "So while we were somewhat unimpressed with the execution, the timing and content of the release jogged our memories and got us to thinking ...."
Hoagland is no stranger to the subject of buried cities located with the aid of supposedly "leaked" infrared data either. Back in the 1990s for example he made the extraordinary claim of having discovered a buried city beneath the surface of the Moon. Hoagland explained that the image, supposedly derived from Clementine multi-spectral data, showed "immense geometric structures both miles above and miles below the Lunar surface ... an ordered, organized city laid out beneath the surface and protected above by miles of vertical glass structures."
But the THEMIS scam was going to be the best yet because this time Hoagland had the support of his powerful backer who assured he that he was right -- there were cities down there. He already knew this to be true, now others would be made to see it too.
TIMELINE OF KEY EVENTS
SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER
Hoagland's 05SEP02 appearance on Coast To Coast AM was a four hour orgy of whining and incessant begging for NASA to "come clean" about the artificial structures on Mars. Informing the audience that Deep Space had told him "you've got to get the night-time infrared, if you do it's Game Over!" and hinting that even he thought there might still be power being supplied to the city ("the lights are on but nobody's home!"), Hoagland mused that the night-time data would show the city all lit up ("it should be glowing like neon signs up and down Hollywood and Vine!") before pleading once more for the audience to demand the data without delay.
"Mr. and Mrs. America," he whined in the most pathetic tone he could muster, "you have got to help us get this data and get it now... and the email lists and the fax numbers and the phone numbers of all those talk shows and all those politicos and the White House and the Congress, everyone who can be interested in the outcome is on our website tonight."
The Phobos 2 card was played tirelessly too. Hoagland conveyed with more than a hint of awe in his voice the astounding tale of Phobos 2 and the buried Martian city which confirmed his very own findings of a similarly buried city at Cydonia.
Of course, if "they [the Russians] published their data" then Hoagland should have had no trouble pointing people to it, but the citation for this published data describing the amazing discovery of a Martian city found on Phobos 2 data has yet to materialize.
Later in the same broadcast Hoagland continued to enthrall listeners by explicitly spelling out the connection between his own findings and those of the Russians back in 1989.
Following the 05SEP02 release of the Enterprise Mission's "buried city at Cydonia" findings, the Phobos 2 "independent confirmation" card was played yet again -- this time in a 20SEP02 piece entitled "Whither Phobos 2?" that was supposedly "independently researched" by James L. Burk of MarsNews.com.
Burk, a past President of the Seattle, Washington chapter of the Mars Society, an organization which lobbies for a manned mission to Mars¹, claimed that the piece was the result of a "major study [that was] prompted by our [MarsNews.com's] desire to confirm the recently highlighted IR data of the Hydraote Chaos region."
For a "major study" it was noticeably devoid of information that wasn't already supplied in the Enterprise Mission's 28FEB02 piece "The Game's afoot -- Again" though through diligent Googling the industrious Mr. Burk did manage to track down Dr. Becklake [interviewed in 1989 regarding the Phobos 2 data] but inexplicably neglected to seek confirmation as to whether he was indeed claiming that a buried city was located in the Hydraote Chaos region of Mars (the 1989 quote attributed to him has him saying: "As for the question of what it is: I don't know").
In any case, Burk's piece was seized upon by Hoagland who promptly linked to it on his website with the headline "MarsNews.com Phobos 2 Story Confirms Enterprise Mission Assertions". Completing a truly bizarre cycle, Burk thoughtfully added at the bottom of his rehash that readers might like to refer back to the Enterprise Mission's piece for independent confirmation of his own independent confirmation of that same piece.
But Hoagland wasn't done exploiting his Phobos 2 "precedent" just yet. In an update released on 05OCT02 entitled "A Continuing Tale of Two Cities" in which he attempted to silence the detractors of his 05SEP02 presentation for pointing out a mountain-sized pile of flaws and inconsistencies in not only the data but his story itself, Hoagland detailed efforts he was taking to obtain from the Russians the raw IR data from Phobos 2².
The Phobos 2 images of the Hydraote Chaos region shown on the Enterprise Mission website were obtained from a video source and are of very poor quality so raw IR data or failing that processed data would go a long way towards advancing his case. Indeed, just the mere mention of his frantic efforts to cut through all the red tape to obtain supporting data which must exist would have earned him brownie points with those readers conjuring up images of a noble investigator under siege by a ravenous horde of "regressives" and "diseased minds".
In any case, Hoagland failed to explain why he had waited seven whole months to put into motion requests to obtain such astonishing data when he had already claimed that the data showed a city back in February 2002 and presumably harbored such thoughts even earlier seeing as one of the screenshots [ 1 | 2 ] was dated 2001.
Another way in which the Enterprise Mission heeded Keyworth's instructions to "scream bloody murder" was to file a complaint against NASA under the provisions of the federal Data Quality Act (DQA) on the basis that the alleged "real" image showing the "city" supposedly came from Arizona State University's THEMIS website -- this despite a total lack of supporting evidence (Hoagland did however keep the Coast To Coast AM listeners entertained with tales of "having the timestamp" and learned dissertations on the TIFF file format and how the header indicated that it was "produced on an old government UNIX computer").
The DQA effort was spearheaded by television documentary producer Francis Knizeª with the full support of Richard C. Hoagland. Knize eagerly assaulted NASA public relations representative Don Savage with demands to expedite the process and confess the crime to the American People just as soon as the legislation came into effect (Knize's filing number being 001).
Although strictly speaking the THEMIS "Image of the Day" was exempt from DQA provisions residing as it did on an ASU server with the data having yet to be contractually handed over to NASA's Planetary Data System archives, NASA Headquarters nonetheless humored the request and assigned Nancy Kaplan to investigate who was indeed expeditious in reporting back that the claims were unsubstantiated rubbish but that they were free to file an appeal if they so wished.
But no matter, it was all still noise and every bit helped.
On January 17, 2003 The Los Angeles Times' Peter Pae reported details of an exclusive interview with NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe. The piece -- headlined "NASA Sets Its Sights on Nuclear Rocket to Mars" -- quoted O'Keefe as saying "the Bush administration has signed off on the ambitious nuclear-rocket project -- though not specifically for the Mars landing -- and the president may officially launch the initiative during his State of the Union address on January 28".
O'Keefe went on to say that NASA expected to receive a "very significant" funding increase for the previously announced Nuclear Systems Initiative (NSI) which was to be renamed Project Prometheus.
It seems certain that O'Keefe was passing on what his master Cheney wished for him to say and the comments -- appearing as they did in the respected Times -- were evidently intended to publicly pressure Bush into announcing plans for a manned mission to Mars during his upcoming State of the Union address. Bush's advisors, already forced to go along with Cheney's preemptive war plans, weren't amused.
The result of the publication of O'Keefe's comments was an extraordinary series of denials by various NASA spokesmen to the effect that O'Keefe had been misunderstood -- though notably O'Keefe himself remained quiet. Placed in the position of having to defend his integrity, Pae stood by the story and was adamant that the report represented an accurate description of his interview with O'Keefe.
NASA spokesman Don Savage was also keen to clarify that the term "nuclear rocket" referred only to reactor technology and it's certainly true that this term when used in isolation can be confusing even to those familiar with the various technologies that are sometimes collectively labeled as such. But that aside, on balance Pae's version of events is entirely believable for NASA spokesmen conceded that O'Keefe had indeed mentioned Bush's upcoming State of the Union address during the interview and nothing less than a major announcement would warrant Bush even mentioning NASA especially given the then prevailing political climate.
That Pae was left in no doubt that O'Keefe was airing firm plans for the immediate future was evident by him hinting at who might stand to benefit from such a grand initiative. The story went on:
Since Pae had previously stated that the Bush administration had signed off on the ambitious nuclear-rocket project, he obviously had the "not yet approved" Mars landing component in mind when discussing the "significant boost".
Another of those aerospace concerns would be San Diego based General Atomics on whose board George Keyworth sits. General Atomics would be expected to aggressively seek a piece of the action given their experience designing nuclear reactors (the company is also well known for building UAVs such as the Predator). Back in the 1950s and 60s, General Atomics -- then part of General Dynamics -- was the prime contractor for Project Orion¹ which was concerned with the research and prototype development of a rocket utilizing Nuclear Pulse Propulsion (NPP).
Although NPP -- more commonly referred to as External Pulsed Plasma Propulsion or EPPP by its proponents to avoid the pavlovian trigger word "nuclear" -- would be politically difficult to sell and certainly couldn't be used for a launch into orbit as Project Orion originally envisioned, it nonetheless remains a viable proposition for use outside of the Earth's magnetosphere and the technology is still being enthusiastically advocated.
Now hazard a guess as to who came along, right on cue, to advise the Enterprise Mission regarding O'Keefe's astonishing Mars landing comments...
In an article entitled "What’s in a Name …?", author Mike Bara informs us that Deep Space "told us [the Enterprise Mission] that Bush is quietly moving forward on an ambitious plan to get humans to Mars."
What Keyworth meant to say was that he and his cronies at the Center for Security Policy² (which includes Cheney, Rumsfeld and O'Keefe who are all closely affiliated) were not so quietly pressuring Bush to move forward with their ambitious plan to get humans to Mars. Of course, if Bush himself really wanted to go then there would be no need for sly dealings with organizations such as the Enterprise Mission; after all he is the President and if he wants to go to Mars then he's perfectly capable of rousing public support himself with the aid of a well written speech like the one penned for Kennedy's Moon landing goal. In short, there's simply no need for him to invoke the assistance of a bunch of egotistical image fakers with overly vivid imaginations.
Bara went on to recite what other goodies Deep Space had to share with the Enterprise Mission: "The means to secure funding will involve generating political pressure by getting the public to recognize the value of going to Mars. To do this we are told, the work of the Cydonia researchers -- and of Richard C. Hoagland in particular -- will be "elevated" with the general public in a series of "revelations" designed to create critical "political mass.""
In other words, the crazy CSP ideologues would arrange for a series of "revelations" to "elevate" the kooky pseudo-science of Richard C. Hoagland in order to create critical "political mass" so that funding could be secured. Of course, Hoagland himself would register these "revelations" as confirmation of his own beliefs then proceed to "scream bloody murder" as instructed by Keyworth which effectively would translate into an endless stream of awe-inspiring Moses on the Mountain type sermons on Coast To Coast AM and other media outlets where he would inform the audience that they must "write to your Congressman!" and "fax John McCain!" and "contact the media folks" because we have to get to Mars to "find the libraries!" and "retrieve the records!" and other such quackery.
While the CSP plan is clearly audacious, it isn't as far-fetched as it might at first appear because when you already have key people in positions of power then all you need do is provide them with sufficient ammunition to show that there's public support. It should also be noted that critical "political mass" by no means implies the support of a majority of the American population as most Washington D.C. lobbying is performed on behalf of special interest groups who, in the absence of public outcry, can and do get the job done. In the case of a manned mission to Mars, despite the huge costs involved, selling it would be entirely feasible provided that you applied the pressure to where it was most needed -- in this case directly with President Bush.
Once you have the President onboard you can then discard the silly baggage (such as the Enterprise Mission) and proceed on a basis that the general public would find acceptable (i.e. you'd have the President make that speech that he would have made in the first place had he actually wanted to go to Mars himself).
As it turned out, Bush of course made no mention of going to Mars in his January 2003 State of the Union address and the assembled dignitaries could hardly have clapped any louder even if he had, but NSI --- now christened Prometheus³ -- did get its funding increased when the FY 2004 budget was submitted to Congress the following month. Also included in the NASA section was a side-box entitled "Where Are the Real Space Aliens?". You can be quite certain that no OMB staffer who valued their job would ever insert such a title and refer to "science fiction movies and books" unless acting under the direct orders of somebody in a high position of authority within the Executive branch.
The reference to "Space Aliens" was conveniently placed next to the Project Prometheus budgetary allocation data and the incident given substantial media attention (however the "word" put out to the media pack was that Bush was responsible since it was after all a "Bush Administration" budget).
To help hype this little exercise, Senator Bill Nelson (you know, the guy who used his political position to scrounge a ride on Space Shuttle Columbia, the guy who bumped astronaut Gregory Jarvis from his seat so that he wound up on the ill-fated STS-51L Challenger mission after having been previously bumped by yet another Senator on a junket ride, the Senator Nelson who's eternally grateful to NASA for letting him live out his boyhood dream of being an astronaut despite the fact that he was a useless waste of space, that Senator Nelson) was brought in to appear on Meet the Press with Tim Russert just after the budget's release to offer up some appropriate sound bites. Naturally the Enterprise Mission noted the "revelation" and milked it for all it was worth.
Another "revelation" involved the loss of Mars Polar Lander which the Center for Security Policy and its clique of devotees within the intelligence community later exploited for information warfare purposes. While the primary target audience for the exercise was the small Mars anomaly research community headed by the Enterprise Mission with their firmly held belief that NASA were covering up evidence of artificial structures on Mars, sections of the general public were also made to wonder if perhaps there might be something to the claims of these researchers given the highly unusual circumstances surrounding the announcement.
It should be noted that Mars anomaly researchers and their followers comprise a particularly unsophisticated target audience with firmly entrenched beliefs and the community as a whole exhibits many of the characteristics associated with a cult. When confronted with apparently official claims or data which tend to reinforce these beliefs they have repeatedly demonstrated an inability to do anything other than accept them at face value. On the odd occasion when blatant evidence of manipulation has come to light they have either been inclined to discount it on the grounds that their small community is far too intelligent to be so easily duped or if they do recognize it to form ludicrous conclusions usually involving some form of New Age psycho-babble.
The MPL "revelation" began with an exclusive report published on 19MAR01 and filed by Leonard David, senior science writer for the space news site Space.com. In it he reported that NIMA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, had discovered Mars Polar Lander on Mars Global Surveyor imagery of Mars -- a lengthy 14 months after the craft had been written off as lost and at the same time the CSP were implementing their new "revelations" policy.
Although NIMA's official spokeswoman Jennifer Laffley stated that the agency had no conclusive evidence that MPL had been positively identified, an unidentified source went much further by claiming that NIMA experts were "euphoric" at having not only located MPL but having determined that it was resting atop its three landing legs. In other words, it hadn't crashed on landing due to a flight control system bug that went undetected due to inadequate testing as the investigation had concluded was likely the case but that it had landed intact and should therefore be fully functional barring other problems.
To see the unlikeliness of the "NIMA" claim (note that the claim was being made by people with enough influence to trade off NIMA's name and to get away with it but not enough to make the agency officially support it) it need only be pointed out that Mars Global Surveyor's MOC camera has a narrow angle cross track width resolution of 1.4 meters per pixel and that MPL is 1.06 meters tall by 3.6 meters wide.
Even if the sun angle is such that the lander is casting a long shadow the resolution is at best only good enough to determine the location of what might be MPLº and is certainly insufficient to say with anything approaching certainty that it's sitting atop its little landing legs for in this universe even NIMA is subject to sampling constraints regardless of how sophisticated their processing algorithms may be.
Naturally the claim was greeted with unconcealed glee by Dr. Noel Hinners of Lockheed Martin Astronautics, MPL's builder. He had previously accepted responsibility on their behalf for the loss under highly embarrassing circumstances of Mars Climate Orbiter and while reportedly unaware before being interviewed that "NIMA" had found MPL he nonetheless considered it a splendid opportunity to call for NASA to take the perfectly good unused sister lander off the company's hands.
While Lockheed Martin is something of a fellow traveler at the Center for Security Policy, not so much on ideological grounds but because the CSP ideologues' relentless calls for ballistic missile defense and the waging of Roman style perpetual war is simply great for business, there is no evidence that such an unsophisticated scam was designed to fool NASA into accepting the sister lander and in helping to restore the astronautics division's battered reputation. Indeed, NASA's luckless spokesman Don Savage (whose job seems largely to involve countering CSP instigated stupidity) made it abundantly clear that NASA were unimpressed by the claims.
But MPL sitting atop its landing legs is a Mars anomaly researcher's wet dream and Hoagland and others (the "simulated NIMA enhancement" is particularly amusing) in the field were predictably quick to run with it. Why it must have been "taken black" mused Hoagland, clearly NASA were secretly studying the giant Banyan trees that grow in the Southern Polar region of the planet and using MGS as a relay with the evil MSSS fiend Michael Malin ensconced in his secret bunker feverishly downloading the data. That trying to gently smack a fragile lander on the side of another planet might involve a certain degree of inherent risk was completely irrelevant and need not be factored into the analysis for it was self-evident that the more NASA denied the charges the more they must be true.
Moreover, since everybody knows that "NIMA" are the gods of geospatial analysis and being super secret they naturally can't be expected to publish their work, we should all just take them at their word.
And so the "revelations" kept coming. According to Bara: "The first sign of this program actually moving forward comes in May, 2001, when on the explicit orders of Vice President Dick Cheney, JPL belatedly publishes a new April, 2001 image of the Face on Mars -- in full lighting and high resolution".
Aside from the fact that this was not the first such case of interference by Keyworth and the CSP (the "revelations" policy having commenced some months beforehand following the inauguration of the new administration though Bara of course wasn't to know this), this particular incident involved taking advantage of legal action initiated by a group called FACETS (the Formal Action Committee for Extraterrestrial Studies) to pressure NASA into re-imaging the "Face on Mars" [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] (it was in connection with this incident that Bara had his lunch meeting with Keyworth, Bara also being a member of FACETS).
In his book, Hoagland explains that FACETS founder David M. Jinks had contributed $10,000 to fund the legal maneuver and the services of attorney Peter A. Gersten were retained for this purpose. Recognizing an opportunity to generate some "political mass" from the effort, the Keyworth clique -- operating through Marshall Wittmann as well as making direct advances -- called upon the assistance of fellow Reagan-fawner and rabid Bush-hater Senator John McCain.
McCain, in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, urged NASA to comply with the request so that Hoagland could be supplied with "grist for the mill" (naturally if the image failed to show evidence of artificiality it would only be because NASA had sanitized it prior to release).
From all accounts NASA were extremely reluctant to waste spacecraft resources acquiring more images of the feature but enough "political mass" had been generated to justify Cheney stepping in and upgrading McCain's request into a direct order which the agency grudgingly carried out. Furthermore, the agency was compelled to solicit from FACETS even more targeting requests so that the kookery could continue even longer and Keyworth and friends could get a better return on their investment.
Following the 911 strikes the "revelations" ground to a screeching halt as the CSP became preoccupied with more pressing matters of concern. Always the story teller, Hoagland spent the next few months entertaining his disciples with typically bizarre musings as to the nature of these events which indicated that he had no clue as to what was happening in the real world. Things then picked up again in the lead-up to Odyssey's first return of THEMIS IR data from the Cydonia region as the prodigal son Keyworth returned.
No doubt he was encouraged by evidence of Hoagland's continuing stupidity and ignorance which had served him so well in the past.
To understand the driving force behind this renewed interest in space it's necessary to think strategically and not romantically as most space advocates are inclined to do. Like it or not, space has strategic value and while it's nice to fantasize about holding hands and dancing around as a united planet of happy people à la Star Trek, being pragmatic we note that there will always be those who seek to exert control over others and their property and if they have the power to do so and feel personally safe in proceeding then they will surely do just that.
There will also be those who blindly proceed without weighing up the potential consequences of their actions and these people are for all intents and purposes insane.
A September 2000 policy paper released by the Project for the New American Century entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century" gives a revealing insight into the thinking that guides the decisions of the civilian Pentagon leadership. Broadly speaking, the report calls for a strategy of containment of other nation states regardless of hostile intent including the use of preemptive action to ensure America's military dominance into the future.
While the report touts itself as being "internally consistent," as one would expect from a report authored by intellectuals rather than military professionals reality quickly goes out the window and the potential dangers of pursuing such a policy are marginalized because the intellectuals don't perceive themselves to be at personal risk though they are perfectly willing to absorb military losses in pursuit of the policy.
The report amounts to an update of the leaked 1992 Defense Policy Guidance report prepared for Cheney by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy at the Pentagon, and Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, which sought to "discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."
In terms of space control, the report endorses the position of the December 1997 Report of the National Defense Panel entitled "Transforming Defense: National Security in the 21st Century" which notes:
Though the reports tend to gloss over the fact, the reality is that America is even now at risk of losing its dominance in key fields such as aerospace and the development of key technologies under the guise of peaceful space exploration is one way in which the aerospace sector can be sustained. Given these strategic considerations, it is hardly surprising that somebody like Cheney would seek to have NASA integrated into the Pentagon infrastructure where it can be more readily directed towards achieving essentially military objectives.
While NASA have always enjoyed close ties to the DoD in terms of key personnel selection and in taking into account military requirements when designing launch systems such as the Space Shuttle, Cheney's plans would effectively make NASA a cohesive part of a greater whole.
In addition to being a hawkish bunch, the Center for Security Policy are also very persistent. Despite Bush's reluctance to cave-in to their demands by announcing a manned mission to Mars during his State of the Union address -- a goal his advisors are well aware is merely a cover for the development of critical enabling technologies for the military control of space -- the CSP continue to apply the pressure.
In an interview given last September Bush sounded concessionary but nonetheless was firm that he wasn't going to Mars on their terms anytime soon:
In addition there's also a top-level policy group which comprises Dick Cheney, Sean O'Keefe and Bush's unfortunate science advisor and Office of Science and Technology Policy director, John Marburger.
O'Keefe cockily assured:
Translated from Washington-speak into plain English he basically means to say: "Do what my master says!"
THE OWLS COMETH
At this stage we have good reason to suspect which parties Hoagland's "Owls" might possibly represent, however there's insufficient evidence to conclude with any degree of certainty which of these might actually have been responsible for the attempts to interfere with the Enterprise Mission and with Keyworth's well laid plans.
While it may be readily apparent to impartial observers that Richard C. Hoagland and his Enterprise Mission are being used to advance the agenda of a group of ideologues and their entourage of defense contractors, one has to wonder whether Hoagland himself has registered at least on some level that he's being played for a fool and is being told exactly what he wants to hear. There can be no denying that Hoagland is passionate about his belief in the existence of ancient ruins on Mars, but barring complete stupidity on his part there should be at least some evidence to suggest that he has at least a primitive realization of his current predicament.
Indeed, Hoagland's final email to Caflisch after Caflisch had issued him an ultimatum and threatened to publicize private correspondence appears to be just that.
This chilling message certainly suggests that Hoagland knows that Keyworth has ulterior motives and he was concerned enough by the possibility that this might become widely known that he felt compelled to issue his own thinly veiled threat.
Clearly if Hoagland started out an unwitting accomplice he is now very much a willing agent of influence for Keyworth and the Center for Security Policy.