UFO conspiracist William Cooper killed in gunfight with police – News and Comment – Brief Article

Robert Sheaffer

Milton William Cooper, 58, a UFO conspiracist, tax resister, and “militiaman,” was killed in a gunfight with Apache County, Arizona, deputies during the early morning of November 6, 2001.

Cooper burst upon the UFO scene in 1988 with spectacular claims about a UFO incident he said he witnessed aboard ship while in the Navy. He claimed he saw “a huge disk rise from beneath the ocean, water streaming from the air around it, tumble lazily on its axis…. It was a metal machine, of that there was no doubt whatsoever.” He also claimed to have been a permanent member of a Naval Intelligence Briefing Team (highly unlikely for an enlisted man), which allegedly dealt with UFO matters. He spiced up his yarns with wild tales about MAJI, MAJIC, The Blue Team, and other supposed government programs associated with UFO contact. He even talked about “Project Luna,” at first supposedly an alien base on the far side of the Moon, which he later claimed was actually an underground military base near Dulce, New Mexico.

About ten years ago, Cooper was a fixture at many UFO and conspiracy-related conferences. I attended his lecture at a 1991 conspiracy conference in Atlanta which he claimed that “within two years” the New World Order would take over U.S. sovereignty and suspend the Bill of Rights (see “Psychic Vibrations,” SI, Spring 1992, p. 249).

It didn’t take long for the UFO mainstream to turn against Cooper. He had come out of nowhere telling grossly sensational stories, and yet was quickly eclipsing those who had been laboring for decades to gain public acceptance for stories only a bit less outlandish. A little investigation quickly showed how Cooper’s tales were not only implausible and unsubstantiated, but had significantly changed over time. Don Ecker of UFO Magazine ran a series of exposes on Cooper in 1990. Worse yet, Cooper acquired a reputation for belligerent and abusive behavior, and was reported to be drinking very heavily. He began to make slanderous attacks and false accusations against those who questioned his stories. Within a few years, Cooper had been marginalized in mainstream UFOlogy and turned his attention more toward politics, although UFOs and Area 51 remained part of his overall message. UFOs were supposed to have been invented by Nazis, and were being used by the U.S. government to stage a mock alien invasion to establis h the one-world government of the New World Order.

Cooper found another large and gullible audience in the militia movement of the extreme right. He had a regular shortwave radio program, the Hour of the Time, heard on WHRI, World Harvest Radio International from Indiana. Cooper’s wide-ranging broadcasts blamed the federal government for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, as well as for the World Trade Center attack this past September 11. One of his last programs was titled “The Bush-Bin Laden Connection.” According to James Nichols, brother of Oklahoma City bombing co-defendant Terry Nichols, Cooper’s broadcasts were a major influence on Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Cooper had been a fugitive for three years after failing to appear in court on tax-evasion charges. (His Web site, www.williamcooper.com, still makes the claim that the IRS has “no authority” and “no jurisdiction.”) He was broadcasting his shortwave program from an armed compound near Eagar, Arizona, near the eastern edge of the state. Local and federal law-enforcement officers were wary of attempting to arrest him there. Knowing that Cooper was heavily armed and had vowed that he would not be taken alive, they feared provoking a bloody incident. According to Glenn Jacobs, a local newspaperman who knew Cooper, “he kept an AK-47 just inside his front door by a magazine rack.”

Last July Cooper was reported to have recklessly threatened to shoot a local citizen without provocation, even following the man back to his house. This resulted in a warrant for his arrest. According to The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, November 7, 2001), on the night of November 5 a group of undercover police officers attempted to draw Cooper out of his house. They planned to arrest him when he walked outside. However, Cooper surprised them by driving, nor walking, the short distance to where they had gathered. A second police vehicle attempted to block his return to the house, causing him to drive off the road, where he attempted to run over an officer who was on foot. Near the door of his house, Cooper turned toward the officer who was urging him to surrender, shooting him in the head and wounding him seriously. Another officer returned fire, killing Cooper (see www.azcentral.com/news/articles/breaking/1107cooper07.html).

Cooper’s 1991 book Behold a Pale Horse remains a classic among conspiracy buffs. The book lacks a clear organization, simply moving from one dire alarum to the next in chaotic fashion. It warns of a “New World Order” being foisted upon us by a secret government, whose powers will be enhanced by sacred relics such as the Holy Grail, the robe of Jesus, and the Spear of Destiny, still being guarded by a secret surviving branch of the Knights Templar. This book contains the complete text of the notorious anti-Semitic hoax document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Cooper adds in a note that “any reference to ‘Jews’ should be replaced with the word ‘Illuminati’,” but the trick is not convincing.

Even after his death, many UFOlogists still are defending Cooper as someone who had valuable insights, despite his admitted unreliability and violently unstable behavior. As is now well known, “big lies” are remembered long after little ones have been forgotten, and hence William Cooper’s legacy will be with us for a long time.

Robert Sheaffer writes our “Psychic Vibrations” column. His most recent book is UFO Sightings: The Evidence (Prometheus 1998).

COPYRIGHT 2002 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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