Ever since organized flying saucer research began in the early 1950s, a number of UFO investigators have claimed that they have suffered personal harassment, unusual accidents, and even mysterious deaths due to the visitations of three mysterious men in black. In some cases, according to UFO researchers, sinister voices whispered threats over the telephone and warned them to terminate specific investigations. By the mid-1960s, percipients of alleged UFO activity continued to protest that they had been visited by ominous strangers who made it clear that their orders to remain silent about what they had seen would be violently enforced.
Official disclaimers by the U.S. Air Force, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have served only to intensify the mystery of the bizarre incidents that have instilled fear among those who witnessed flying saucer phenomena and have prompted accusations of government cover-ups by members of civilian research groups for over 50 years.
The legend of the three Men in Black, the MIB, began in September 1953 when Albert K. Bender, who had organized the International Flying Saucer Bureau, received certain data that he felt provided the missing pieces concerning the origin of flying saucers. Bender wrote down his theory and sent it off to a friend he felt he could trust. When the three men appeared at Bender's door, one of them held that letter in his hand.
The three Men in Black told Bender that among the many researchers he had been the one to stumble upon the correct answer to the flying-saucer enigma. Then they filled him in on the details. Bender became ill. He was unable to eat for three days.
Bender went on to say that when people found out the truth about flying saucers there would be dramatic changes in all things. Science, especially, would suffer a major blow. Political structures would topple. Mass confusion would reign.
In 1962, Bender decided that he would at last tell his story to the world in Flying Saucers and the Three Men. This perplexing volume served only to confuse serious researchers, as it told of Bender's astral projection to a secret underground saucer base in Antarctica that was manned by male, female, and bisexual creatures. Many questions remained to plague UFO investigators. Were Bender's experiences really of a psychic nature? Was his book deliberately contrived to hide the true nature of his silencing? Had the whole experience been clothed in an extended metaphor that might yield certain dues to the perceptive researcher?
In the opinion of many UFO investigators, the Men in Black are representatives of an organization on the planet Earth, but they are not from any known bureau in the U.S. government. According to some researchers, both these men and the UFOs come from some civilization that has flourished in a remote area of
Within a few months after Bender had been silenced, Edgar R. Jarrold, organizer of the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau, and Harold H. Fulton, head of Civilian Saucer Investigation of New Zealand, received visits from mysterious strangers and subsequently disbanded their organizations.
John H. Stuart, a New Zealander, picked up a piece of metal that had fallen from a UFO during a close sighting in February 1955. The next night he received a visit from a man dressed in black who announced that he had more right than Stuart did to the piece of grey-white metal. The man in black told Stuart a lot about flying saucers and left him feeling frightened.
"I have a feeling that some day there will come a slow knocking at my own door," Gray Barker (1925– ) wrote in They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers (1956). "They will be at your door, too, unless we all get wise and find out who the three men really are."
UFO and paranormal investigator John A. Keel's (1930– ) pursuit of the flying saucer silencers in the late 1960s led him to uncover some extreme cases of personal abuse in which certain contactees or investigators had been kidnapped by three men in a black car. Keel noted that it was nearly always three men who subjected the victims to some sort of brainwashing technique that left them in a state of nausea, mental confusion, or even amnesia lasting for several days. The investigation of many of these cases never get beyond local police departments, Keel found. Neither the FBI nor any other central government agency was engaged in collecting information on such stories of mistreatment by the mysterious three Men in Black.
Responding to accusations from civilian researchers who demanded an investigation and who suggested that the air force was somehow behind such silencings, Colonel George P. Freeman, Pentagon spokesman for Project Blue Book, was quoted as saying that the three Men in Black were not connected with the air force in any way. Nor would any other United States security group claim them. It has never been within the line of duty of any government agency to threaten private citizens or to enter their home without a search warrant. No government agent is empowered to demand surrender of private property by any law-abiding citizen. Freeman went on to say that by posing as air force officers and government agents, the silencers were committing a federal offense.
Broadcaster Frank Edwards (1908–1967), who became well known for his best-selling Flying Saucers—Serious Business (1966), made much of what he believed to be an official plot that had been set to silence him. Before becoming interested in UFOs, Edwards had been conducting a highly successful radio show sponsored by the American Federation of Labor (AFL). He was warned to abandon the subject of flying saucers, and when Edwards persisted, he was given his walking papers.
In spite of thousands of letters protesting the firing of Edwards and the silencing of his UFO reports, his ex-sponsor stood firm. When reporters asked George Meany, president of the AFL, why Edwards had been dropped, Meany answered that it was because he had talked too much about flying saucers. Edwards claimed that he later learned that his constant mention of UFOs had been irritating to the Defense Department and that the department had brought pressure to bear on the AFL.
Edwards was only temporarily silenced, and he soon had in syndication a radio show that dealt almost exclusively with flying saucers and other strange phenomena. But his sudden death on June 24, 1967, the 20-year anniversary of Kenneth Arnold's sighting of the flying saucers near Mt. Rainier, Washington, sparked immediate concern among UFO researchers that Edwards had been silenced for good. And it certainly added to the paranoia that he had died on the day before he was scheduled to address the Congress of Scientific Ufologists assembled at the Hotel Commodore in New York City.
Stories of the Men in Black have continued unabated since their origin in the early 1950s. In 1997, the motion picture Men in Black starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith became a smash box office hit by portraying the sinister "three men" as two men who worked for a secret government agency that patrolled the action of aliens living secretly on Earth. The concept that originated in fear and distrust of the government or of some nefarious secret organization of aliens or agents was played for laughs, and the motion picture used state-of-the-art special effects to create astonishing outer space creatures. A sequel to the successful film was released in 2002, and the legend of the frightening Men in Black knocking at the doors of those who had witnessed UFO activity to threaten and to silence them continued to be seen as a vehicle for comedy.
If the UFO silencers are a hoax, no one has yet answered who is perpetrating it and why. Whoever comprises this persistent silence group either knows, or gives the impression of knowing, a great deal more about the universe than the current scientific community does.
Many researchers of UFO phenomena continue to believe that the Men in Black are agents from another world who labor to spread confusion and fear among Earth's serious UFO investigators and those witnesses of UFO activity. Others maintain that in spite of official denials, the Men in Black are agents from a top-secret U.S. government agency, which knows the answer to the flying saucer enigma and has been commissioned to keep the truth from the American public. Still others claim that they are agents from another terrestrial political system that endeavors to guard its secret of advanced technology just a bit longer.