By Mark BallardA VETERAN NASA agent who says he processed the real X-Files has come clean with the inside story on the Roswell aliens.
Joseph Richard Gutheinz Jr, a practising criminal lawyer and decorated former NASA special agent, spoke out in defence of UFO hacker Gary Mckinnon last week. Having also spent the last four years on the Texas Criminal Justice Advisory Committee on Medical and Mental Impairments, he felt qualified to call on the US government to cease its unfair hounding of the UFO hacker.
But Gutheinz, it turns out, is himself a poster-boy for UFO conspiracists, just like McKinnon: he is famous for telling a mysterious tale of dead Roswell aliens being kept in Building 265 at NASA's Johnson Space Centre where he used to work in Houston, and of a sinister government cover up.
Gutheinz led a team of agents in NASA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG). They worked from a secret bunker with grass and trees covering it. It had cypher doors leading to secluded rooms furnished with nothing but a desk, a lamp and a single telephone. Beyond the steel doors to the outside world, astronauts were training for Space Shuttle missions.
"It was kind of a spooky building. People always wondered what went on there," Gutheinz told The Inquirer. "Except for Mission Control, it was the most highly secured building at Johnson Space Centre."
The OIG agents were so secret that even NASA wasn't allowed to know what they were investigating. "The joke at NASA OIG is that whoever was the producer of the X-Files picked the wrong agency, because nobody calls the FBI. They don't trust the FBI. What they do if they think they've been abducted or something like that, they used to call the criminal investigators at NASA, which is the Office of the Inspector General.
"As a senior special agent I used to get these calls on a regular basis where somebody says I've been abducted, I've got a chip in my brain, there's somebody following me around," he said.
"It's one of the things that interested me about the Gary McKinnon story because here's a guy who really thinks there's UFOs, who's going the extra step to prove it. I understood that, because I had dealt with so many of those individuals in the past," Gutheinz added.
The most prominent of those people was Jerry Alan Whittredge, who impersonated an astronaut and thought he was a CIA assassin. He blagged his way into Mission Control, was given Space Shuttle specifications and permission to fly jets. "That was a lot of the people that we used to get calls from," said Gutheinz.
OIG agents were involved in the seven-agency investigation that caught Gary McKinnon snooping around their systems for evidence of captured UFO technology. Typically, the OIG roots out internal fraud at NASA. That's why they have to be secret. What they don't do is interrogate aliens.
"Just so you know, so we are totally clear," said Gutheinz. "You can dig all over the place - there is no ET at NASA."
But it was Gutheinz who in the February/March 2005 edition of UFO Magazine wrote how he had been abducted by agents even more secret than his own; how, being unable to account for whole days, with only vague memories of brain chips, he stumbled across the desert outpost in New Mexico where the Roswell aliens had been autopsied and a terrible accident had turned NASA personnel to dust in their own biological suits.
"I had taken complaints from people who believed the government had placed transmitter/receivers in their brains before, and I had always assumed they were schizophrenics," wrote Gutheinz. "Even today I know many people who believe this happened to them probably are schizophrenics, but now I know some are telling the truth?"
But Gutheinz was only kidding. He wrote the story for fun. He now finds it embarrassing. His children and students take the mickey out of him. His wife thinks he'll never live it down. And it was just the transcript of a vivid nightmare that had merged his life in a secret NASA bunker with the calls he would get from conspiracy theorists. Just a transcript, cheekily submitted to a UFO Magazine with an introduction that asked, are these real memories or was it just a dream?
"I thought it was a great idea when I wrote it, because I understood it. But it was sort of like Andy Kaufman. His humour - you were the only one who got it some of the time. I got it when I wrote the thing. I thought it was novel," said Gutheinz.
The magazine wrote it up under the headline 'Alien Autopsy Expose - He knows where NASA hid the bodies'.
A self-confessed maverick, Guntheinz has a track record in causing mischief. What do you think he did with those calls he got about alien abduction at NASA?
"I hate to say it, but when I had a rascal instinct, I would find somebody at the FBI didn't like, and I would give them that phone number and have them call the FBI," confessed Gutheinz.
Won't somebody please come forward and reassure us that there really are aliens? That this fragile, lonely planet isn't all we have? Perhaps take some comfort here: the Disclosure Project, the UFO group that inspired McKinnon to hack into NASA systems in 2001, will tell us what we want to know. They only ask for money first.