Clarkson has published two books, Tell My Story: June Crain, The Air Force & UFOs and The Westport UFO Crash Retrieval Event and has lectured worldwide.
Journal: After many years of law enforcement investigations, what drew you to the study of Ufology? Was it a lifelong interest, or was there a catalyst that began your research?
Clarkson: I was a child of the fifties growing up on the Twilight Zone, not just watching the series but reading all the stories by Rod Serling and other authors like Ray Bradbury, Asimov, and many more. My father took us to the museums and the planetarium in San Francisco. He taught me that life abounded everywhere, but that nature and the other forces in the Cosmos didn’t favor Mankind any more than the dinosaurs. My mother told me when I was young that she believed there were “Space People,” but she didn’t say how she knew.
My serious interest in UFOs began because of a radio interview I heard when I was 15. John G. Fuller was interviewed about his then new book, Incident at Exeter, referring to a series of well documented close encounters between UFOs and the residents of Exeter, New Hampshire in 1965. What fascinated me the most was the involvement of the local police as eyewitnesses, and how adamantly the Air Force pronounced that trained observers “couldn’t” have seen what they reported.
I chose law enforcement because I wanted a career that required theory and practice, something where what you believe is put to the test. For the theoretical part, I graduated from a college prep school and some college. For the practical side, I enlisted in the Army Military Police; I became a plainclothes MP Investigator. One night I was chatting with the Desk Sergeant and looked down at business cards on the main desk at the Fort Lewis MP Station. I noticed that one of the cards was for the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC). He told me in all seriousness: That is where we report UFOs.
After my discharge, I began a 20-year career with the Aberdeen Police Department. I wore multiple hats: field training officer, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, and major accident team supervisor. In 1999 a knee injury ended my regular police career. I worked a couple more years as a child abuse detective, followed by the last decade working as a fraud investigator for the state professional licensing agency.
When I became a cop, I didn’t tell anyone right away about my UFO interest. In 1986 after the JAL pilot Terauchi disclosed his crew’s sighting of a massive UFO over Anchorage, AK, I decided to get off the sidelines of Ufology. I called the phone number for NUFORC I had seen years ago and told the person who answered that I wanted to help. He said, “Have you ever heard of MUFON?” After joining I started talking to my fellow officers about UFOs. After the kidding died down, I learned that a UFO had crashed outside of Westport, WA, in 1979 complete with a military response and cover-up. There was no going back after that.
Journal: Do you feel your many years of law enforcement investigations has aided you in your MUFON case work?
Clarkson: Absolutely, yes. Investigation is a mindset that may be applied to just about anything – it is the systematic exploration of what you don’t know by searching out the best available witnesses and evidence. At the same time your conclusion should be reasonable - One of my favorite prosecutors used to say before he gave a case to the jury, “Don’t leave your common sense at the door.”
I have worked as a field training officer and a detective sergeant; after those experiences, I am convinced that Investigation is an art and not a pure science. You can provide training in techniques, but the best investigators are natural communicators with an intuitive sense of when and how to move forward in the pursuit of the next interview or locating the next clue. Finesse is difficult to teach – how to employ the most efficient and effective way to gain the information you seek, while scanning the details while remaining aware of the overall picture.
The most readily transferrable law enforcement skill is the ability to interview anywhere about anything. I spent two years working as a child abuse detective; one of the most critically important aspect of this work is to interview without asking leading questions. This is most important in UFO investigations and most especially when dealing with people who claim they have been abducted.
In law enforcement investigations, people may have many reasons for deflecting or avoiding difficult questions. The closest analogy to UFO-related interviews I can make is that with some child victims, you run the risk that the child being interviewed wants to please, and will tell you what they think you want to hear instead of what they genuinely recall from their experience. In Ufology I believe the most frequent situation we encounter is that witnesses want to become important by disclosing spectacular details of their encounter knowing that we can seldom prove or disprove their claims. In both worlds people may have a variety of motives for what they say or don’t say to the investigator.
Journal: To expand on the last question, do you have any advice to a Field Investigator new to the field?
Clarkson: Here is the heart of what I talk about when I instruct new investigators:
Keep your focus on what you are doing, as in, what your role is and why you are investigating -
Nothing is ever what it appears to be. Always be aware that there is more going on than you know or will get to know. UFO Investigation is about trying to obtain accurate information from human beings with perceptual limits and personal biases describing experiences that may be difficult or impossible to compare with the known experiences of other human beings.
Keep asking yourself this question: What would a reasonable person conclude if they were confronted with the circumstances, statements and evidence that I am receiving now? Note that this is an ongoing conversation – situations change, and what you know will not stay the same as the investigation progresses. That’s fine; just keep asking this question.
When you are assessing witness statements, photographs, or anything submitted as evidence of UFOs, stay very aware of when you have crossed over into speculation. There is nothing wrong with speculating; it may lead you to the truth, but unverified information is simply that. Know where to draw the line between a reasonable conclusion and speculation.
We are part of a much larger and more important effort – As UFO Investigators we are confronted with a massive NOISE – Numerous witnesses who think they are reporting encounters with Intelligence(s) with unknown motives. What is reported may be partly or completely false because of a wide variety of all too human motives and perceptual limitations, or it may be true. Your assignment is to sort out the meaning from the meaningless. We are seeking the SIGNAL within the NOISE- If we are fortunate, we may get glimpses, hints of meaning, perhaps a true insight into a non-human intelligence that reveals itself via what we call UFOs.
Each person we meet will judge the whole field of Ufology by their encounter with you. Since there is little likelihood of disclosure barring an overt undeniable ET event, we are fighting the long war – we win by demonstrating that UFO researchers are sincere, motivated, and professional. No matter what the case is, if you act reasonably and act in good faith, you won’t go too far astray. Every time another member of the public majority changes their mind about the reality of the UFO Phenomena, we win a small but significant victory.
Journal: You have released two very impressive books, do you have any current writing plans?
Clarkson: Recently, I have been going in two directions. First I am gathering cases involving first-hand testimony and experiences by law enforcement officers. I understand the risks these men and women take professionally and personally by admitting and documenting what they saw. I understand their desire to protect and prepare the public. Secondly, I am re-contacting some witnesses I interviewed years ago to find out how their UFO encounter affected their lives over time.
Journal: Passionate researchers, rarely confine themselves just to what flows into CMS. They often are enveloped in other research as well. The quest never stops. You happened to write about two of your research files, for those who have not read your two releases, would you share a little about each book?
Clarkson: Actually, neither of these two cases came in through CMS. By the time I joined MUFON I had been working as an Aberdeen Police Officer for seven years. The great irony is that a UFO crashed and was recovered by the military about 25 miles from Aberdeen in Westport, WA, in 1979 and I didn’t know anything substantial about it until 1986. When you are a rookie officer you don’t see much daylight and I didn’t get the local newspaper. If I had read the headline story in the November 26, 1979, edition of the Aberdeen Daily World, I would have seen this headline, “UFO Wreckage in Elk River?”
Because of my career, having a family with young children and some unanticipated difficulties, the Westport UFO Crash Retrieval didn’t get fully investigated until 2012. With much thanks to my wife, Joanne, and a courageous wildlife biologist who was an eyewitness to the strangest aspects of the Westport UFO, I completed a complete case study in the form of a short book in 2013 – the Westport UFO Crash Retrieval Event – A Case Study.
One of the important parts of being a State Director or a UFO Researcher in general is public outreach. I love meeting people and hopefully helping them to see a bit beyond the edge of consensus reality. In 1993 I met a lady named June Kaba; her maiden name was Crain. She approached after my lecture and said, “You’re right. The government knows all about UFOs, and they’re keeping it secret.”
It turned out that she had a story to tell but it took her four more years until 1997 when she was willing to divulge what she learned about UFOs when she worked in top secret laboratories at Wright Patterson AFB when she was a young woman between 1942 and 1952. I became June’s friend in the last year of her life. She gave me insights into the early days of the USAF at Wright Patterson. Along the way she experienced the difference between how scientists and engineers discuss UFOs behind closed doors and what the public is told. I kept my last promise to June and the result was TELL MY STORY – June Crain, the Air Force and UFOs.
Journal: As a State Director, could we talk about some of the struggles you are faced with that may not be so well known. I noticed several new trainees to Washington’s roster. It is a very active state. Do you find at times you are overwhelmed with the work load?
Clarkson: I became State Director after many of the core members in the Seattle area had retired or moved away. The state is divided by the Cascade Mountain Range and the membership east of the mountains is slowly recovering. I think there are other State Directors who are in similar situations. Since I don’t live in the most populated city (Seattle), it’s an uphill battle to schedule meetings. It’s not easy to find a venue in another city, or to pay for lodging, meals, etc.
The reality of dealing with volunteer UFO investigators is that only a few are really willing to work. We receive about 30-40 CMS reports per month and I have been trying to handle it with as few as two and as many as four people over the last several years. The popularity of “Hangar 1” has resulted in an upsurge of historical UFO reports. An increased case load on already overworked volunteers is not good news. I feel like we are sinking because we can’t bail the case load fast enough.
What worries me is I may burn out completely or that I will miss a really good case because I am so busy fighting off the deluge of lights in the sky. I have lost several investigators to burnout. I think many times there are unrealistic expectations when FI’s start - I actually had one FI ask me if he could accompany me to the next UFO crash site. I try to make it very clear that part of our role is public education – as we all know 6-7 cases out of every 10 involve man-made or natural explanations. Maybe that’s not exciting, but our investigators need to know that it’s not always exciting. But it can be rewarding to provide a public educational service on UFOs, and often, basic astronomy.
The time donated by volunteers is our most precious resource; I also have a family and a home to maintain. I try hard to respect the personal commitments that our staff has. When you have too many cases to investigate and too few investigators, as SD you have to choose to try to keep up with the CMS or you can work on recruiting and growing your organization. You simply can’t do both effectively especially when it requires your time and money to make anything happen.
Initial police reports distill the information from victims and witnesses, so that the follow-up investigators can make effective and efficient decisions about what is worth pursuing. No agency has infinite investigative resources, and that most especially includes us. MUFON doesn’t screen anything that comes into CMS as far as I can tell. Anyone is allowed to provide the barest minimum of information but we are still required to handle it as an assignable case with a required report.
I know from having supervised detectives, there is an inevitable trade-off between quantity and quality of case closures. I think this is more especially true with volunteers, but anything over about a half dozen assigned cases and investigators go into overload mode, a kind of mental vapor lock. Police departments do not have the manpower to investigate every reported crime; you have to make choices to effectively manage your resources. As an investigative agency, I really believe we need to have a serious discussion about what cases should be just logged in and what cases deserve a thorough investigation.
Journal: You speak at length about your feelings on “The Big Lie,” as well as showing compassion for those that have suffered to keep the truth hidden. What are your feelings on disclosure, and how far off do you feel it is?
Clarkson: I believe the Disclosure question is best addressed by thinking about how the possession of ET Technology would be viewed by those entrusted with maintaining and developing our national defense – as long as recovered ET technology is part of advanced weapons research those in control of national security policy will never willingly release it, or openly acknowledge its existence. The nature of the real government is such that there is zero incentive for the truth about UFOs to ever be disclosed. We now know there is a Black Budget Government, also called the Deep State, or what Richard Dolan aptly described as the National Security State. It is not influenced by any public opinion and it forwards its own agenda because there is no public oversight. This parallel shadow government started in 1947 with the passage of the National Security Act, which may have been partly motivated by the recovery of ET technology at Roswell.
There are periodically individuals who claim to be UFO whistle blowers. The question always is: Where is the proof? Without evidence, UFO whistleblowers often serve the interests of the Secret Keepers, keeping the UFO community inundated under waves of sensationalism and false hope. Sadly, we often do it to ourselves falling prey to greedy hucksters– See the Roswell Slide Debacle for example. Events like the Roswell Slides keep us from ever focusing on one goal, such as Disclosure to muster whatever meager forces we do have as UFO researchers.
Those in control know how to manipulate the media. While people are distracted by the latest tragedy, or the current marital state of the Kardassians, or who will win the Super Bowl, who cares what Whistle Blowers like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Gary McKinnon have to say? Why would a real UFO Whistleblower fare any better than they have? It could be argued that a real UFO Whistleblower would have an “accident” long before they got to trial for disclosing secret evidence of the reality of UFOs.
The process of general social control has gone so far that any critical view of the history of the National Security State makes one a “conspiracy theorist,” despite the fact that America was born from a conspiracy against the British Crown. In this way any serious UFO researcher can be quickly marginalized and discredited in mainstream media.
In the post 9-11 world, if UFO research ever became anything more than an amusing nuisance to the Deep State then UFO researchers would be silenced or eliminated altogether. It really is that simple.
Organizations within the Deep State like DARPA are working towards fully autonomous AI robotic weapons systems that are unstoppable in any battle environment to include main street USA. The same folks that believe that killer robots are a good idea are not likely to tell the truth to the public about what was really recovered at Roswell and other places over the years.
If the existence of a technologically advanced ET civilization contacting Earth is admitted, many social, religious and economic pillars of our civilization might crack or fall down. What happens to the power brokers of our hydrocarbon fuel civilization if there is a new alternative form of energy available like what is apparently powering the UFOs and we just don’t need to covet petroleum resources anymore? What happens if suddenly people view each other as Terrans instead of members of particular nations, races or religions? Those in power might not be viewed as all powerful because of their position or wealth; the elite will do just about anything not to lose their control or to give up any profit.
Individuals need to feel they are in control of their reality – there is a need to know that events are largely predictable and comprehensible. Experiencing a UFO, especially up close, traumatically shatters the sense of personal control. For most people in mainstream society, UFOs are at best entertainment, until the unpredictable moment when the presence of technologically advanced ET intelligence shatters their concept of what is “normal.”
I just don’t see much evidence of anyone in the political sphere being motivated by a need to tell the truth to the public. I know this is a very dystopian view – but it appears that only the Aliens can change how their existence is disclosed to the people of the primitive chaotic civilizations of Earth.
Journal: A very special thank you to Jim Clarkson for taking the time to sit down with me for the One On One. If you would like to see someone interviewed for the MUFON One on One, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.