by Joan d’Arc
Originally Published in Paranoia Magazine, Sept. 15, 2000
The Aviary is an “ad hoc” UFO working group which has served as an information channel between military/intelligence self-appointed ‘keepers of the facts’ (so-called “MJ-12”) and the civilian UFO community. This group was discussed in detail by Richard Boylan in Paranoia, Issue 23. In that interview, Boylan explained that the Aviary, which was formed in the 1970s, was comprised of individuals with national security clearance. These individuals came together to share information from their “highly compartmentalized” assignments, in order to arrive at a bigger picture of the UFO reality. Some of its members were pro UFO disclosure and others were not. This loose network of individuals gave themselves bird names to obscure their membership. One self-appointed “auxiliary” member of the Aviary who has never maintained such cover is Dan T. Smith. As a volunteer civilian member calling himself “Chicken Little,” Dan has openly shared information “leaks” from the Aviary to the UFO community. In this remarkable interview, Dan tells how the Aviary has “managed to keep the UFO pot stirred for the two decades or more that it has been in business.” He explains how the Aviary has contributed to UFO rumors in the public at large, including the Hale-Bopp “companion” story, which led to the Heaven’s Gate group suicide pact. Dan wonders whether the Aviary has been used in a high-level attempt to penetrate MJ-12.
Joan d’Arc: Dan, as a civilian UFO researcher and attaché to an intelligence-affiliated UFO working group called the Aviary, your “bird name” was Chicken Little. How did you come to be involved with this group?
Dan Smith: I became acquainted with one of the members, ‘Tom’ (not his real name). ‘Chicken Little’ was just my own concoction. My father was involved with the military in WWII and was later in the government as an economist. He had no interest in UFOs, but was in contact with some influential people who I discovered later had unusual interests. After doing some graduate work in physics I turned to metaphysics. An extended psychic experience led me to contact MUFON and through them I came in contact with Tom at the CIA in ‘91. He was known as the ‘keeper of the weird.’
JD: What was your main impetus for wanting to be an information dissemination specialist between the intelligence community and the UFO community, using the Aviary as a go-between?
DS: I had no prior intent in that direction. I was well into my study of eschatology before meeting Tom. I wanted to find out what take the CIA might have on eschatology and possibly provide some input. Discussing the Aviary and the UFO community was a good excuse for a continuing contact with an intelligence officer who had relevant responsibilities.
JD: How would you describe your position as a “networker” between this group and the UFO community?
DS. From the beginning I was very open about my government contact. I began to network with some folks in the UFO community who were interested in sharing information. Through Tom I was put in contact with some other members of the Aviary and this all became grist for the mill. There was a lot of comparing notes and checking of information on both sides. At one point some of my UFO colleagues persuaded the CIA/IG (Inspector General) to conduct an internal investigation of Tom relative to his unusual methods of collecting information.
JD: Can you elaborate on these “unusual methods” and the implications of this generally in the field of civilian Ufology?
DS: Well, there was the fact that he was involved in domestic collections. He was making provocative statements to me about the possible presence of ET’s. He spoke freely of his involvement with other members of the Aviary. On several occasions we met at ‘nightclubs.’ He had ‘indelicate’ conversations with a female researcher. It was far from clear what was in the line of duty. He was interviewed by an IG officer. He reported answering all the questions directly, but told the officer that he could not answer any questions about ETs.
JD: Your excellent web site, called The Eschaton, describes your end times beliefs as well as other fascinating matters. What is the background of your end times beliefs?
DS: After leaving school I struggled with mind/matter dualism for several years before reluctantly adopting an idealist or immaterialist metaphysic. It took a couple more years for me to see that some form of eschatology is inevitable for a mind-based cosmology. It also became clear that such a cosmology was compatible with some of the original beliefs and heresies stemming from the prophetic tradition of monotheism.
JD: How would you quickly describe what you feel is going to occur in this “end of the world as we know it” scenario?
DS: If history is to have any meaning, it must have a beginning, middle and ending, as does any story. Linear time will come to an end. Life will go on in some form, but not this one. The rigidities of space and time will dissolve. The boundaries between our different states of consciousness will become more fluid. The so-called Millennium will be our time for wrapping our mundane affairs and preparing for our transition to a less physical existence.
JD: Your Eschaton revelation comes to you via science as well as religion. How would you succinctly explain this to people who aren’t familiar with “new” physics concepts (realizing that people can go to your web site for more information)?
DS: As Physics has evolved, the world it describes is becoming increasingly more abstract, much more “thought-like” than “thing-like.” What is not abstract are just the ephemeral qualities with which our minds imbue those abstractions. As we awaken to the fact that reality is a projection of the cosmic mind of which we all partake, we will begin to exercise more control over the nature of that projection. This will be an extension of psychosomatics to sensorium that is our world.
JD: Do you know anything about a group called the Advanced Theoretical Physics Working Group, a group which was formed to integrate theories in “new” physics and remote viewing as these came to describe the nature of reality? In your opinion, how has quantum physics changed the modern view of reality, and what was the UFO’s role in this?
DS: I don’t know any group of just this name, but there are many folks doing this. I was once a ‘quantum dualist’ (i.e. the mind influences matter through the agency of quantum phase correlations). But once you have postulated a robust realm of the mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to view the world of physics as other than an abstract construction of the mind. The quantum may be weird, but UFOs are a lot more weird. With UFOs we are no longer talking physics. This is metaphysics with a vengeance. This is dream-time, not space-time. The UFOs are pulling the rug right out from under what we used to think of as our ‘reality.’ In the case of ‘MJ-12,’ with the best brains in the world it was like the cartoon of the fire alarm box. Behind the glass panel is a Bible. ‘In case of emergency, break glass.’ Now we know how MJ-12 felt. Imagine how much worse they felt when they opened the Bible to John 16:12 as I did one eventful morning about twenty years ago. … The folks of ‘MJ-12’ concluding that an advent of this sort was being prognosticated by the Visitors have probably been anticipating this moment of truth with some trepidation.
JD: How would you characterize the relationship between your Eschaton and the Intelligence community? Are there parallel beliefs, motives or modus operandi?
DS: Along with the rest of the UFO community, I believe that we have been visited. I believe that this visitation was in preparation for a messianic event which is imminent. That event will inaugurate our Millennium of preparation leading up to the Eschaton. The Aviary is the part of the intelligence community most closely and publicly associated with the ‘MJ12/Visitor’ complex. The messianic event itself, however, must be as spontaneous and independent of ‘MJ12’ and the Visitors as is possible. Thus the intelligence community will have very little direct input in this matter. National and global security will be largely redefined under the Millennial Aeon.
JD: OK, can we clarify this a little? What do the Visitors and UFOs have to do with the “messianic event”? What is the relationship between the Visitor phenomenon and the Second Coming of the Messiah?
DS: I am suggesting that the Visitors could be playing several roles that would be relevant to a messianic event. They would be an off-world advance team helping in the preparation. This would involve alerting the powers-that-be to the inevitable advent of the Messiah, Millennium and Eschaton. They would convince those powers that it would not be in their interest to interfere in the cosmic plan. The Visitors might then negotiate with these powers in selecting a mutually acceptable individual for the role of Messiah. The Visitors might also be overseeing the ‘abduction’ phenomenon in as much as it could be part of the preparation for the Millennium.
JD: Am I missing something here? Isn’t there already a Messiah assigned to this role?
DS: This is a heterodox scenario. This is divine minimalism. Christians will be mightily disappointed, those who were expecting a figure in white robes to descend from the clouds. The idea is that we do not need theatrics this time around. There is a package deal. Whoever can convince the world of its immateriality and of the rationale for the Millennium and Eschaton, that person will be the Second Coming. Anyone who aspires to being this paradigm shifter should expect to play that role. I feel no need to apologize for personally wanting to put an end to the hegemony of materialism.
JD: You suggest that this messianic event must be separate from the Visitor phenomenon, meaning perceptually independent?
DS: Let’s back up a bit. I am saying that we humans constitute a very significant aspect of the cosmic mind. The First and Second Coming, in particular, are designed to awaken humanity to their central role in the cosmic plan. We don’t need to be told this, only reminded, so easily do we forget. Our memory only needs to be jogged a very little bit. Minimalism is the word when it comes to divine intervention, in keeping with the ‘prime directive.’ The perception of coercion is the very worst thing that could happen. If it appears that the cosmic plan is being imposed upon us, we would naturally react negatively. In reality this plan is of us, by us and for us. The messianic event is critical. It may appear that I have just contradicted myself. From the previous response one might imagine a smoke filled room underground in Area 51 where the Visitors and MJ12 haggle over the identity of the Messiah to be ‘imposed’ on humanity. This hardly seems spontaneous. However, if these negotiations can be kept secret, then the intervention remains minimal. There can only ever be informed speculation as to what might have actually transpired. The ‘designated’ individual would have to convince her fellow humans as to the reasonableness of the hypothetical selection process.
JD: In your estimation, is it going to be possible to keep these events separate?
DS: The best I can do here is to give you a ‘for instance.’ Let’s suppose that I was the selected one. My unusual interactions with Tom, and some other events, might lead me to suspect this to be the case. It would then be up to me, however, to make this case to the public, where it could be accepted or rejected. Even if some others could be convinced of this possibility, there would be no implied coercion in their acceptance of the outcome. If I were right, however, others would eventually come around to seeing and agreeing with the reasonableness of the choice, even if this occurred posthumously.
JD: Let’s get back to your role in the Aviary. As a civilian networker for the Aviary, what types of information did you learn that most blew your mind? And how did this information affect your end-times beliefs?
DS: There has been a gradual realization that ‘MJ12’ and the Visitors are no longer playing a proactive role, and may no longer even exist here. This is the scariest piece of information that I can impart. Tom has been responsible for closing down the phenomenology and psychic warfare programs. He is also active in planning for the scaling back of the Navy and Air Force. It is reasonable to infer that he has similar duties relative to ‘MJ12’. That may mean that I am a significant part of an effort to transfer the residual MJ12 responsibilities to the civilian sector. That is a sobering thought for myself and for any others who are inclined to participate.
JD: What do you mean by “the Visitors are no longer playing a proactive role, and may no longer even exist here”?
DS: The Visitors got their message across to those who needed to be informed. That was the point of their Earth mission. There may exist now a sequestered ‘star gate’ that can be activated for special purposes.
JD: What do you see foresee will be your “duties” with regard to a transfer of what you call “residual MJ12” responsibilities to the civilian sector?
DS: This transfer will occur in the context of a ‘Second Coming.’ I consider myself a candidate for that role. Tom has partially abetted that illusion on my part.
JD: Has this transfer been requested by the Visitors?
DS: Presumably, yes.
JD: It concerns me that Tom, CIA “keeper of the weird,” with his “unusual methods,” might be pulling your leg. Does this not concern you?
DS: If there were proof that this was not a joke, that proof might easily trigger a financial panic, for instance. One has to proceed with great caution and virtual deniability. It is fair to say that we are pushing that envelope.
JD: Can you elaborate on this statement specifically with regard to your perceived role as a candidate for the Messiah? As you stated earlier, “my unusual interactions with Tom, and some other events, might lead me to suspect this to be the case.” In what way has Tom ‘abetted this illusion’?
DS: The ultimate answer to this question will depend on whether one is assessing credit or blame. Further down I cite the ‘Sunfish’ remark. Perhaps one day a Congressional committee will want to hear Tom’s explanation of that remark and of our interactions relative to it
JD: Your second project, the Aquarium, is described on your web site as an informal association of individuals who share a common realization and goal, and who recognize that society is rapidly approaching a “critical junction.” I presume that this junction is the Eschaton? Do you believe the Eschaton will occur during your own natural lifespan?
DS: I hope that the ‘Second Coming’ may occur during my lifetime. According to premillennialism, we would then have our allotted Millennium to prepare for the Eschaton.
JD: The Aquarium’s goal is to minimize the confusion and disharmony that will occur during the unfolding of this “cosmic plan” and to “maximize” the benevolent aspects of these coming changes. You also specifically state that the Aquarium has no political affiliations and no adherence to any one belief system. Are there members who are presently in government intelligence positions?
DS: The ‘Aquarium’ name derives from the ‘Aviary.’ It is an informal designation for those people who believe that mere humans are now in position to fulfill God’s plan of salvation for the world. There is no formal membership.
JD: How would interested parties go about joining this group? What types of concerns would these individuals share?
DS: There is nothing to join. It is just those of us who wish to get on with the cosmic plan.
JD: Dan, what exactly do you mean by ‘get on with’ the cosmic plan? Are you saying that there is a group of people who want ‘Armageddon’ ASAP? Will the Eschaton be precluded by an Armageddon-like scenario?
DS: Yes, please hold the Armageddon. We still have another thousand years of recognizable, linear history. If that ever gets too boring, then hurry, Lord. The gross non-linearity of inter-dimensional space-time, dreamtime will take some getting used to, even for those who fancy themselves spiritual virtuosos.
JD: You also state regarding membership: “everyone who wants to participate and a few select individuals who don’t want to participate but are deemed useful by Dan T. Smith.” Can you elaborate on this statement? What type of individuals would be deemed useful?
DS: Did I say that? I guess I was thinking of cosmic co-optation. No one can escape God’s love.
JD: Would alternative publications like Paranoia be deemed useful?
DS: Of course!
JD: I’d like to talk about the Heaven’s Gate cult suicide, which occurred after the remote viewing of several UFOs reportedly following the comet Hale-Bopp in 1996. You have addressed this event in your web site as it concerns the Aviary. In this essay, you write the following: “The Aviary is not responsible for the deaths of 39 innocents. It just looks that way. The Aviary always just manages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, minding someone else’s business. And I should know….” Can you elaborate on how the Aviary manages to stir up this kind of trouble?
DS: The Aviary has certainly managed to keep the UFO pot stirred for the two decades or more that it has been in business. Rick Doty has probably contributed more to the UFO-government conspiracy rumors than everyone else combined. He has done so while in the government employ, and maintaining high level contacts in the intelligence community. Tom weighs in on this scale as a not so distant second. It might be that the Aviary was being used in this manner in a high-level attempt to penetrate MJ-12. If this were the case, it seems probable that they experienced success, with Tom being the most likely beneficiary.
JD: With regard to Heaven’s Gate, you have also written: “There is a larger agenda and those 39 got caught at the short end of that agenda. The Aviary knows something of that agenda, and it shakes a lot of trees trying to find out more, and some of the apples will hit the ground pretty hard.” Can you elaborate on that agenda? Whose agenda is it that the Aviary is trying to shake down?
DS: The larger agenda is eschatology. We presume that this is God’s agenda, but it doesn’t hurt to kick the tires once in awhile, just to make sure.
JD: In this essay, you admit that “the remote viewing of the alleged Hale-Bopp companion was pretty much an Aviary spin-off.” Can you elaborate on this? What did the Aviary hope to achieve with this story?
DS: Remember that this was part of the run-up to Y2K. If this were deliberate, it was like the setting of the fires in the Bandolier Forest near Los Alamos. You take your chances. It might still be considered a success, compared to what else might have happened.
JD: Was it trying in some way to measure the public’s gullibility?
DS: Gullibility? Perhaps it was more like measuring how dry is the powder in the keg. Another way to kick those tires.
JD: In this essay, you admit that the alleged April UFO landing was definitely an Aviary story and you admit that you were the one who passed it on to the public where it “quickly took a life of its own….” You also state that you knew this UFO landing story was likely to be disinformation, but you put it out to the UFO community anyway. Dan, what were you thinking?
DS: As I recall, I mainly put this story to Richard Boylan, and I did not have to be a brain surgeon to know that Rich would run with it. If Rick Doty had invited me to be on the ‘landing’ team I might have taken him up on it. I am willing to believe Rick’s claim to have been in communication with Wm. Colby and that his canoe ‘accident’ before this anticipated ‘landing’ had some impact on whatever did or did not transpire. The Aviary was stirring the pot well before Y2K. If something was going to blow up, it was better to have it happen sooner rather than later. The fact that only 39 people lost their lives that April perhaps should make us feel fortunate. And who knows, we might have thwarted a real landing or a hoax landing that might have made matters much worse.
Let us note that in this same time frame I had established an independent contact with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as another verification of Tom’sbene fides. I was told that I was part of something called ‘unconventional collections’ and that I could rest assured that I was involved with some very competent people. This was from a senior staff member who happened to be Jesuit trained and knowledgeable of eschatology. It was Tom who facilitated my contact with the other members of the Aviary in which Rick was a central figure. This is not to say that Rick was competent, but only that there was a much larger context.
JD: You stated you weren’t surprised to see the Hale-Bopp companion story gain “considerable currency” in the UFO arena. What was your impetus for doing that?
DS: I could have chosen to have had no contact with the Aviary or to have kept quiet about it. I chose to have contact and to not keep quiet about it. I was shining my light on the Aviary and perhaps on ‘MJ-12.’ I still am. I don’t think this story is over by a long shot.
JD: Looking back, what had you hoped would come of this “networking” enterprise? Have you any idea as to how Art Bell was used in this scenario?
DS: I believe that an eschatological preparation is the most rational explanation for the observed behavior of the Aviary, especially of Tom, and for the inferred behavior of ‘MJ-12.’ How well that end is being served remains to be seen. Art Bell was certainly influenced by the Aviary. I don’t know that he was ‘used’ any more than you or I are being ‘used’ right now.
JD: You state in your essay that “… the Heaven’s Gate affair is the Bennewitz affair written large….” This is a most interesting statement. For readers who aren’t familiar, Paul Bennewitz was a UFO researcher who was fed false information by the CIA operatives, and was basically driven crazy. What are the important similarities between the Heaven’s Gate/Hale-Bopp affair and the Bennewitz affair?
DS: Perhaps Paul was being used as a guinea pig for Dan. Perhaps Dan is being used as a guinea pig for the next guy. Maybe the next guy will be the Second Coming. I am volunteering with that in mind. Maybe Paul did not have the opportunity to consider all the options. No one ever does. The actual messiah will have to explain the holocaust. Explaining Heaven’s Gate is hardly in that ball-field.
JD: In this essay you state that if you had it to do over again, you would do it over again. You write: “… When one sheep goes astray, I am very reluctant to leave the other 99 in the lurch, or the ends do sometimes justify the means.” This Messiah analogy is disturbing. How long have you held this self-perception? Was it before or after you met “Tom,” CIA “keeper of the weird that this perception began to unfold?”
DS: When I met Tom I was already ‘entertaining’ the folks on CompuServe with the possibility that I was the Spirit of Truth, i.e. third member of the trinity. Later on Tom said, “Everyone knows that I’m Catfish and you are Sunfish,” (this being apropos of the Aquarium). I chose to read that as ‘Sonfish’ and to take it as something other than a joke. I was not at all surprised when the folks on CompuServe decided that it was not funny and kicked me off. Who’s to blame? Why blame? The world is but a stage.
JD: You also comment, “in the field of eschatology, one gets paid mainly to keep track of the ends….” This statement is a little confusing. So then, in the field of eschatology, one gets paid? As I understand it, you are a civilian. Can you tell me, do you work for a civilian business enterprise or are you self-employed?
DS: I have some independent income. As a piper I am piping a certain tune. I may just be entertaining myself and a few of your readers. We could do worse than that.
JD: In this essay, you have also written that, “I believe that we are all in good hands, and if two of those hands turn out to be mine, please forgive me for not being quite as surprised as you.” What exactly do you mean by this puzzling statement?
DS: I’m just saying that I don’t think my state of mind is completely my fault or Tom’s fault. We all march to different drummers, some of which may be cosmic. We all hope for the best and don’t spend as much time preparing for the worst as pure reason might otherwise dictate.
JD: Steven Greer has written that the eschatological belief system has pervaded the civilian UFO community. He describes, “very strange bed-fellows: war mongers and militarists in cahoots with industrialists who share a bizarre eschatological bent.” He has warned that some of these people want Armageddon ASAP. Can you comment on these statements?
DS: This sounds reasonable to me. And if you want my opinion, I am against any more Armageddon. We have had enough of that already. No?
JD: In your estimation, is there a large group of persons in the intelligence community who believe as you do? Also, can you give me an idea of how many people are part of your “loose knit” Aquarium group?
DS: I don’t know anyone in the world who believes quite like I do. But heck, let’s do an experiment. Run this article and see what happens with Tom. In the meantime we can all be thankful that we are not Tom.
JD: And why is that? Is Tom is some hot water right now?
DS: Tom has said that his continuing association with me is the greatest deliberate risk that he has taken with his career. Whatever may be the internal struggles relative to MJ-12 and the Visitors, Tom is riding shotgun for the Aquarium.
Published in Paranoia Magazine, September 15, 2000.