Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Project Rainfall - The Secret History of Pine Gap ... and UFOs?

Tom Gilling, author of numerous books such as the wonderfully strange "The Sooterkin"and true crime & history collaborations and outings such as "Evil Life", brings a welcome external look at "Australia's most secret place," with his book "Project Rainfall - The Secret History of Pine Gap" (Allen & Unwin, 2019).
Part of the interest here is that given Gilling has access to newly released data, the memoirs of NSA spy David Rosenberg and others, and the contributions of academics and activist such as the late Prof. Des Ball - my own original pathway to the secrets of Pine Gap with "A Suitable Piece of Real Estate - American Installations in Australia" (1980) and "Pine Gap"(1988) and his collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Richelson - "The Ties that Bind" (1985) - along with a whole lot of other material.
Author Tom Gilling (image ex Text Publishing)
Tom Gilling touches all the appropriate bases and even dives into a final chapter entitled "A saucerful of secrets", tipping the narrative arc into "a twilight zone between information and speculation that made it irresistible to UFO fantasists." (Gilling, page 72).  To quote Gilling, "The cloak of secrecy the CIA had thrown over its flying saucer investigations also covered its spying operations at Pine Gap, and with similar results: in both cases, the public suspected the agency was up to more than it would admit.  The mystery surrounding both UFOs and Pine Gap convinced many Australians that the two were linked." (Gilling, 288)
Tom Gilling then offers a parallel narrative where a real linkage seems thin indeed on the evidence he plays around with, but we have been down this path before.  See my October 2011 post "Pine Gap - a reality check" where I described more explicit Pine Gap UFO "connections," along with my interview with former NSA electronic intelligence agent David Rosenberg.  I contacted David about Tom Gilling's book.  He had heard of it but had not yet read it.  Should he share some takes on the book I'll update this blog accordingly. David Rosenberg book "Inside Pine Gap - the Spy who came in from the cold" (2011) was redacted in part due its NSA overview, with some relaxed, and other materials included in the 2018 edition "Pine Gap - the Inside story of the NSA in Australia" which emerged with the ABC drama series "Pine Gap."
David Rosenberg ex NSA/Pine Gap with Bill Chalker in 2011

I mentioned JIB's Bob Matham's 1966 get together with 3 CIA officials Albert Wheelon, Carl Ruckett & Leslie Dirks at the future Pine Gap site in my 2011 post and in my contribution to the 2012 UFO History group's opus "UFOs and government" which I had located in Jeffrey Richelson's excellent book "The Wizards of Langley - Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology" (2001). Tom Gilling errs slightly in attributing a 1965 CIA memo entitled "Evaluation of UFO's" to Bud Wheelon. He concurs with the memo by way of signing off on it, but the author is actually Donald Chammberlain, assistant director , Scientific Intelligence. Bob Matham's assisted me with some correspondence and helped me find his JIB nuclear intelligence head Harry Turner who ran his own "UFO wars" within the clandestine worlds of Australian scientific and military intelligence - see my contributions "The OZ Files" (1996), "Hair of the Alien" ((2005) for a chapter on Turner's secret investigations into an early Australian abductee - Vicki Klein) and the 2012 "UFOs and Government" Australian chapter. 
 Bob Mathams, JIB
 Albert Wheelon CIA
Carl Ruckett CIA
Leslie Dirks CIA
Tom Gilling's dance through the Pine Gap & UFO "connection" is largely driven by Gerald Haines' "CIA 's role in the study of UFOs, 1947-90: A die-hard issue" and Australian files available through the archives. He dwells on the 1972 Benstead photos over Lake Hume. UFOIC's Bill Moser passed the photos onto CSIRO scientists Dr. Keith Bigg who ultimately felt they were a double  exposure. The coverup contention is tenuous at best, particularly given Norman Benstead never saw anything UFO like when he took the photo.  It may have been a nice lens flare perhaps, but Dr. Bigg's suggestion that he destroy his recreation shots make have contributed to the "cover-up" claim, where there was none.  It was Dr. Bigg who told me back in the 1970s, when I was cordially discussing with him a UFO landing case with ground traces from Emerald Beach in 1970, "Never admit that your interest is in UFOs or you'll get nowhere.  You're more likely to get cooperation in hunting witches.  Think up a "scientific" reason." Hmmm, I'm a long way passed that, but science has been a guiding approach in my UFO research and studies.
I recommend Tom Gilling's open study of Pine Gap, but there are some caveats on the ramble into UFOs. See my "Pine Gap- a reality check" for a look in that murky area.