Contact in the Desert
: The Joshua Tree Retreat Center Joshua Tree, CA
The UFO phenomenon took a quantum leap in public consciousness in the ‘90s thanks to Fox TV’s The X-Files, where intrepid FBI Agent Fox Mulder investigated an insidious government cover-up and passionately declared that “the truth is out there.” For seekers who journeyed to the Contact in the Desert conference, “the truth is out here” could have been an even more fitting phrase. The majority of the world’s top UFOlogists were in attendance to detail their latest research and attendees were hungry for info.
It was the third annual edition of the conference in Joshua Tree, a famed site in the ‘50s for those seeking to make potential contact with those long believed to have been Earth’s extraterrestrial visitors. Organizers said attendance has doubled each year, and it was clear that the “Disclosure” movement is gaining steam. For most attendees, the question was not whether Earth is being visited, but who is visiting, what their agenda is, and when will there be a break in the quest for disclosure of the truth about ET visitation to Earth?
With three days of lectures, workshops, films and panel discussions, the conference was at times like a music festival, with tough choices to make when two of your favorite acts are on stage at the same time. Most of the speakers at CID made multiple appearances however, providing extra opportunities.
Topics ranged from hidden history and new age thought to the nuts and bolts of a government coverup dating at least back to the ‘40s, as well as the outlook for potential “Disclosure” in the not-too-distant future. The panel discussions proved to be a major bonus, fostering spontaneous dialogues that generated some of the most thought provoking information. Here follows a PopMatters special report on the highlights of the conference (not necessarily in order).
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos Workshop—Legacy of the Gods
The most popular speaker by far was the incomparable Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, the charismatic host of the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens TV show and the rockstar of the UFOlogy movement in 2015. Tsoukalos is also the director of Erich Von Daniken’s Ancient Alien Society. Tsoukalos drew long lines for both his Saturday lecture and Sunday workshop, as well as for photo-ops and autographs which, he gave graciously. Von Daniken also drew large crowds for his talks at CID, although his presentations didn’t have the same zing as Tsoukalos.
“The proposition that we don’t currently know how to get from star to star is incorrect,” Tsoukalos declared early on, saying that first generation starships were designed in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He said that zero gravity is the only problem with human space exploration, but that it can be circumvented by creating artificial gravity with space stations featuring a wheel design for centrifugal force. He cited The Millennial Project by Michael T. Savage for more details on the technology behind such exploratory engineering.
Tsoukalos covered wide ground in a well-organized fashion, relating his research into ancient astronaut theory as well as deep thoughts on the current cosmic situation. He stated the viewpoint shared by many at the conference that space-faring societies are philosophically and morally above killing a primitive species like humanity, thus refuting the “alien threat” scenarios that some scientists like Stephen Hawking have suggested in recent years.
”We’re an incredibly dangerous planet with nuclear weapons, killing each other in wars, people destroying their cultural heritage… and that’s why they’re not revealing themselves yet,” Tsoukalos said. “We have to get our house in order… The meaning of life has always been there from the beginning—love, that’s it.”
Tsoukalos received a round of applause for seconding the Beatles’ view that love is all you need. He continued on by stating the main premise of many segments on Ancient Aliens, which is that the gods of myth never existed and people merely worshiped visiting aliens as the divine because they were coming out of the sky.
“After three generations, no one is alive who witnessed the actual events and that’s when the crapstorm begins,” Tsoukalos said of how historic accounts get altered over time. He discounted the notion that he believes aliens built the pyramids of Egyptian and Mayan origin, clarifying that his research indicates they appear to have been built with knowledge and/or knowledge advisement obtained from “the guardians of the skies.”
“I’m always told I’m the one insulting our ancestors… but could it be that some of these stories are true?” Tsoukalos asked. He further asserted that humanity will eventually become ancient astronauts on another planet in the same way. He noted that India is a treasure trove of ancient astronaut theory, referencing the the so-called gods that inhabited gigantic cities in the sky in Indian mythology. He pointed to Varuna, guardian of cosmic law who was alleged to have lived in a palace in the sky in the Drona Parva.
“To suggest this is nothing but fantasy is where I’m insulted,” Tsoukalos said. He went on to discount chemtrail conspiracy theories, citing a fallacious logic since everyone is getting sprayed by the alleged chemical weapons. Tsoukalos wrapped up his workshop by saying that when you’re in a field you love, you must appreciate the other side, noting that he’s read all the materials attempting to debunk ancient alien theory. He also advised the full house to get away from their computers and go visit the sites of ancient astronaut lore.
“We are asking the wrong questions… It’s not, ‘What do aliens look like?’; the correct question is, ‘Do we look like ETs?’ Because, according to the ancient texts, we were made in their image,” Tsoukalos said with a touch of dramatic flair. “Because we are their offspring… When they show up, we’ll be looking at our own faces.”
”Government Cover-up and New Disclosure Panel”, Featuring Stephen Bassett, Nick Pope, Grant Cameron, Linda Moulton Howe, Donald Schmitt, Richard Dolan, and Lynne Kitei
Exopolitical activist Stephen Bassett moderated the Saturday night panel, and drew a compelling dialogue from his panelists. Presidential researcher Grant Cameron spoke of how the Clintons were briefed by Laurance Rockefeller during a 1996 trip to Wyoming as part of the Rockefeller Initiative, an effort to try and convince Bill Clinton to be the Disclosure president. Cameron said the Clintons were briefed on Steven Greer’s “Disclosure Project”, involving the testimony of retired military personnel about evidence they had witnessed involving the UFO cover-up. He also noted a FOIA request that turned up a photograph of Hillary Clinton from the Wyoming trip with Paul Davies’ book Are We Alone? Philosophical Ramifications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life.
Donald Schmitt is the former co-director of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies and co-author of several compelling books on the legendary 1947 Roswell incident. He referenced the efforts of New Mexico Rep. Steven Schiff in the ‘90s to pursue government files relating to Roswell, only to have the Air Force respond that no such files could be located. This also led to the Air Force’s effort to dismiss the Roswell incident with explanation of Project Mogul, a balloon testing project allegedly used to detect sound waves from Soviet atomic bomb tests. “Excuse my language, but Don, they’re a bunch of god damn liars,” Schmitt recounted Schiff telling him. Schiff would sadly pass away in 1998 due to an unusually aggressive form of skin cancer.
UFOs in the Southwest remained in the spotlight when physician Lynne Kitei spoke of her research into “the Phoenix Lights”, the largest mass UFO sighting in modern history, where thousands of Phoenix area residents reported sightings on 13 March 1997. Kitei was moved to table her medical career after the incident and has staked out a spot as arguably the premier expert on the incident. She spoke of how the visiting Maryland National Guard was called back in 2000 to try to re-enact their alleged flare exercise the Air Force attempted to use as an explanation for the incident. “It was a joke,” Kitei said, noting that the flare exercise was unable to make anything approaching the triangular shape that thousands reported seeing. She also noted how former Governor Fife Symington, who initially downplayed the incident with a satirical press conference, came out in 2007 to announce he saw the lights too and believed they were “unearthly”.
Bassett introduced acclaimed investigative reporter Linda Moulton Howe by saying that no one had investigated more areas of the UFO phenomenon, which is indeed evidenced by her popular EarthFiles.com site. Asked to cite which two incidents she felt were most important, Moulton Howe named the Phoenix Lights and the RAF Bentwaters incident from December 1980, known in UFOlogy circles as “the British Roswell.” She cited revelations from earlier this year involving retired USAF Tech Sgt. John Burroughs, who suffered a malady of health issues following his presence at the Bentwaters incident. Burroughs was in critical condition and in need of emergency surgery which his lawyer finally got the Veteran’s Administration to pay for, following a fight to find his missing service records from the era that required intervention from Arizona Senator John McCain.
“The United States government has, for the first time ever, acknowledged by de facto the long-suspected reality of the UFO phenomenon,” attorney Pat Frascogna argued in February, using the VA’s grant of full medical disability to Burroughs for his injuries suffered after two encounters with aerial craft of unknown origin as evidence.
Moulton Howe said the Rendlesham incident was an example of close exposure to what the British call Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) energy that can damage human tissue and manipulate minds. She noted it’s the one continuing evolving case with multiple eyewitnesses and also cited the testimony of Colonel Charles Halt, the deputy base commander at the time, who has gone on record saying the lights and beams involved were of ET origin.
“I think it’s the one possible leverage point that establishes our government was working with the UK government on an interaction,” Moulton Howe said, while noting that the full motivation remains unclear. She referenced a theory about time travelers with a serious problem in the distant future coming back for genetic material to try and solve it, which aligned with a similar theory proposed by Laura Eisenhower in her workshop. Moulton Howe is also known for her research into crop circles and suggested a theory that they might be the result of time travelers attempting to measure the precision of their jumps.
Regarding the Phoenix Lights, Moulton Howe said she received a call right after the incident from a contact who works on computer systems for the Department of Defense. “Linda, I want you to know, last night, I got a communication that one of our most secretive DoD satellites was fried… and it was ETs,” her source told her. Moulton Howe concluded by suggesting that “if we knew the whole truth, we’d learn that their future survival and our survival are linked.” Historian Richard Dolan largely sat on the sidelines at the Saturday panel, but stepped up for the Sunday night panel.
”New Beginnings: Future of Planet Earth” Panel Featuring Donald Schmitt, Stanton Friedman, Linda Moulton Howe, Richard Dolan, Michael Tellinger, and Daniel Sheehan
The Sunday night panel was moderated by Alan Steinfeld, host and producer of the New Realities TV show. Nuclear physicist, author, and Roswell expert Stanton Friedman kicked off the discussion by lamenting that “we’re waiting for a new Woodward & Bernstein [to break the UFO cover-up] and we’re not finding them.” But Dolan and Moulton Howe quickly countered that the mainstream media has shown it’s not really interested in such a story at this time.
Moulton Howe related how she had contacted a senior editor at the Guardian news site in the UK about fresh info on the Bentwaters incident, and that they wanted her to do a contributor piece. But three days later she was told, “Sorry, we can’t go forward, it’s been knocked down from upstairs.” She also cited another incident with CNN circa ‘89-90 involving a story on her documentary about cattle mutilations, A Strange Harvest. She said producers were 100 percent on board but same thing happened, with the story being rejected by “the people from above.”
Dolan, most well known for his first book UFOs and the National Security State, suggested that reporting on the UFO issue doesn’t necessarily have to come from the mainstream media, citing Glenn Greenwald’s impactful reporting on NSA surveillance issues with independent news sites. “I really do believe the mainstream establishment media is making themselves into an irrelevancy,” Dolan added. As to skeptics who believe ET visitors couldn’t get to Earth merely because of the limits of modern quantum physics, Dolan echoed the earlier thoughts of Giorgio Tsoukalos, saying that the “UFO phenomenon is actually at the forefront of scientific development… we now know there are valid scientific formulations on how interstellar travel could theoretically work.”
Friedman criticized NASA’s SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), saying “they provide no evidence… and yet they absolutely refuse to look at the UFO evidence.” He cited this as a big problem since SETI likes to consider itself “on the top of the heap” in the search.
“The government is not your friend, they’re the slave masters… the current education system is nothing but training for a labor force… stop sending kids to these prison camps,” ancient civilization researcher Michael Tellinger said. Moulton Howe concurred to some degree, adding that “If they can keep you preoccupied about survival, they own you, you are enslaved.”
Dolan got down to brass tacks in summarizing the entire modern societal struggle as “a race between a kind of encroaching global totalitarianism on one hand and a new freedom on the other.” He concurred with research advanced by author Jim Marrs at the conference that “the one percent” has declared war on the rest of humanity “and we have to find a way to combat it.”
Friedman agreed, noting that “we still live on a planet on which there is no nation that wants its people to be aligned with the planet.” Schmitt chimed in with one of the evening’s pithiest comments, noting that “Everything is scripted, as if the whole world has become professional wrestling.” He recounted an appearance on the Montel Williams show where the superficial host kept responding to the UFO issue with, “Well how does that put meat on my plate?”
Dolan’s groundbreaking book UFOs and the National Security State, was mentioned by Bassett and Dolan noted being proud of the title and how he had finished it a year before 9/11. “I feel I was on to something,” Dolan said, noting that “the American reaction to the UFO problem of the ‘40s is one of the key things that has damaged this country.” He added that the real benefit of ending secrecy would be the reclaiming of some semblance of a free republic and liberation movement from the institutional powers that be.
Talk of the 2008 presidential election led Schmitt to reference Dennis Kucinich’s progressive campaign being sunk in part by how he allowed the mainstream media to ridicule him for recounting a legitimate UFO sighting. Dolan concurred, adding that Kucinich backed down and “wasn’t as forthright as he should have been.”
Attorney Daniel Sheehan advanced one of the most intriguing propositions of the weekend when he suggested that Pope Francis would be calling for an international jubilee later this year to forgive debt around the world, which would press the reset button for nations and citizens indebted to an “inherently sinful economic system”. It was suggested that this in turn could help clear the path to disclosure by taking certain status quo economic interests out of the equation.
Ever the pragmatic watchdog, Dolan added that fractional reserve banking is another key issue that still needs to be dealt with before it can wreck the global economy again as it did in 2008. He also warned of a potential false flag incident that would be pinned on Iran. He said “we’re empowering ourselves” by understanding false flags. “If we don’t know the history, we’re basically living in a world of amnesia,” Dolan said in one of his most insightful comments.