June 29 - July 5, 1995

Bob Dean is flying high.

IN THE LAST year, the retired Army colonel has jetted across the United States and South America. He's hopped over two oceans on his way to Europe and Japan. He's globetrotted to Brazil, England, Italy, Rio, Germany and Tokyo, been featured in the pages of Omni magazine and even popped up on CNN's Larry King Live. The hectic pace is barely giving him time to work on his book.

"Hell, I'm 66," Dean gripes good-naturedly. "I should be sitting back with my grandchildren on my knee, smoking a good cigar and drinking a little Jack Daniel's. I've put in my damn years."

Instead, he's racing around the world, sharing what he calls a message of vital importance.

Bob Dean says extraterrestrial beings are visiting our planet. He says our government is in contact with these aliens and has covered up that contact. He says the lid is about to come off, shattering our concept of reality.

"We're dealing with the single most important issue of our time," Dean says. "And if you go beyond that in a historical sense, I think it's the single most important issue in the history of the human race."

A lot of people believe him.

WITH HIS LONG gray hair, Dean doesn't look like a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Army. Nor does his house, a nondescript family number on a southwest Tucson cul-de-sac, look like the sort of place you'd find one of Arizona's greatest UFO resource centers.

Yet it's here, sipping coffee from a souvenir cup from the UFO museum in Roswell, New Mexico, that Dean does much of his research. He's turned a spare bedroom into a makeshift office, filled floor to ceiling with ET books, alien dolls and spaceship paintings.

Dean's fascination with the subject began some three decades ago, when he was a young patriot fighting the Cold War at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the military arm of NATO.

While at SHAPE, Dean earned a "cosmic" security clearance and was granted access to top secret information. As he tells the story, one day in 1964 he was in the war room when he first discovered a document he calls "the assessment."

"I had access to the vault," Dean recalls. "That's where it was. Up to that time I was what I'd call a curious skeptic. I was an infantry type, crewcut, no nonsense, no bullshit. I had to kick it, bite it, see it, smell it to believe it."

The assessment delved into the possibility of an extraterrestrial military threat to the Allied powers, says Dean, laying out an elaborate scenario: The investigation was born when NATO began detecting unidentified objects coming out of the Soviet Union above the Warsaw Pact countries, flying over central Europe to the southern coast of England and then turning north up the channel, where they would vanish off radar above the Norwegian Sea.

The baffling flights were erratic--sometimes several times a week, sometimes not for months. The NATO countries believed the Reds were up to no good, while the Soviets believed it was a trick of the West.

"Here we are, fingers on the triggers, thumbs pressed on the red buttons, ready to start World War III," Dean says. "And none of us wanted to go to war for the wrong reasons."

Military investigators launched a top-secret investigation. They sent up planes to track the crafts, only to have the large metallic, circular objects run circles around our pilots. After three years, they released a report Dean describes as "mind-boggling."

"There was no military threat involved, because these dudes have enough technology that if they had wanted to take us over, they apparently had the ability to do it and had for a very long time," Dean says.

He was stunned by the realization: We are not alone.

"It changed my life," he says.

IN 1976, AFTER 27 years in the military, Dean retired and moved to Tucson, where he began working for Pima County Emergency Services. An outstanding employee, he spent a decade rising steadily through the ranks and earning the admiration of his colleagues. When the top spot opened, he applied for the post and finished second among the candidates.

Things got sticky when the leading candidate turned down the job and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik decided to pass over Dean because, as he later told investigators from the state attorney general's office, "Here's a person who, in my opinion, has an unusual belief. I am not saying a person can't believe whatever they want to believe, and there are a whole lot of well-thought-of people--scientists included--who happen to believe in UFOs.

"I don't happen to be one of those people. And in my judgment, I am not saying it detracts, but it's just something I wouldn't want our organization to be identified with for a variety of reasons....And that is one of the reasons I won't hire Robert Dean in that capacity."

Dean was incensed.

"Pardon my French, but the sonofabitch denied me a promotion I had worked for and really earned," says Dean, who sued the county for discrimination.

After two years of litigation--"And I'm working over there all this time," he remembers. "Talk about working in a refrigerated environment"--the county asked to settle the case out of court.

A little more than three years ago, in March 1992, Dean got his settlement: the job, the back pay, the retirement, "plus a sizable sum"--$100,000 in damages, to be exact, although his attorney got $32,000 right off the top.

After fighting to land the job, Dean decided he couldn't continue at the Sheriff's Department. After 14 years at Emergency Services, he retired.

"I said, 'I can't work for this guy, I don't trust him,' " he remembers. "After that, I literally came out of the closet on this issue."

THE LAWSUIT NOT only put a nice wad in Dean's wallet, it gave him an odd sort of credibility in the UFO community, which he has used to transform himself into a heavy hitter on the lecture circuit. In the last four years, Dean has gone from the pages of the National Enquirer to CNN, although that may say more about the tabloidization of the mainstream news media than about the existence of space aliens.

UFOs have come to occupy a central place in pop culture. A growing number of people believe we are being visited by extraterrestrials. Space aliens can regularly be seen meeting with presidential candidates at supermarket check-out stands. And millions of people tune in each week to Fox-TV's X-Files, hoping that Scully and Mulder will finally find the truth.

Dean has his own version of the truth--and it's out there, indeed. It goes something like this: We're not only dealing with extraterrestrial intelligence, but with extradimensional beings as well. He says there are a hundred different alien life forms buzzing earth regularly, some only 40 or 50 years ahead of us.

Dean says a massive multi-agency cover-up has been orchestrated by the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. The conspiracy stretches beyond U.S. borders, reaching into Britain, Canada, West Germany, France, Italy and Japan.

Among his other claims:

• We are part of a long-term genetic experiment, seeded on this planet by aliens long ago.

• When President Jimmy Carter began pressing the military for information about UFOs, he was told he couldn't be briefed because he lacked the necessary security clearance.

• The "carpenter from Galilee" was not of this earth.

Dean has put all this together using his intelligence skills over the last 30 years--hearing stories, filing them away, slowly but surely assembling his giant mosaic. He still gets info today from a loosely knit "old-boys network" of astronauts, cosmonauts, admirals, Jesuits and others. (Yes, Jesuits--the Pope knows perfectly well what's going on.)

Why is the government keeping such a tight lid on it? Because our leaders fear the truth will shatter our current perception of reality. We'll undergo a paradigm shift--our worldview will change drastically and abruptly.

"When the truth comes out--and it will eventually, and sooner than you might think--it's going to have an impact," Dean predicts. "It's going to affect our economic status in the world, it's going to affect our sociological, our psychological, our political beliefs. And that's one of the reasons the government has desperately for so many years tried to keep it under wraps."

Dean believes he has an obligation to prepare people for this upcoming shift by educating them "gently and slowly."

"They're here," he says simply. "And they have always been here. And in my historical presentation, I have proof that they have been here. I've got proof."

What's his proof?

"It's artistic, primarily," he explains. "Historical and artistic proof. Statuary, paintings, reports from Roman archives 2,000 years old, where they were watching and recording the same things we see in the skies today. People say, 'You have proof, show me.' I say, 'What do you want? Do you want a piece of metal? What would that prove? Do you want a photograph? Photographs can be phonied up. You want to meet an alien?' What is proof?"

Proof to most people would be what Dean doesn't have: hard evidence that the U.S. government has been in contact with extraterrestrials. He has no smoking gun, no classified document acknowledging his claims. But then, of course, Dean's whole promise is that the government is determined to keep the entire affair quiet.

Does Dean sound far too fantastic to be believed? Often, yes, but it's certainly true that the U.S. government sometimes lies and frequently keeps secrets. Just look, as Dean points out, at the Pentagon's black budget--last year, some $50 billion, all hidden away from the public's eye. He points out that the black budget has grown from $36 billion in 1986, with no accountability to our country's citizens.

Then Dean begins to talk about Dreamland. Sometimes called Groom Lake, sometimes Area 51, it's a mammoth military base in the Nevada desert some 95 miles north of Las Vegas. It's one of the United States' greatest open secrets--the Pentagon officially denies Dreamland exists, but the military has surrounded the base with electronic sensors that detect intruders the moment they enter an ever-growing security zone.

Stories about Dreamland are legendary among the UFO community. Some say it's a massive underground base, sinking some 40 stories into the ground. Others say the military has been reverse-engineering post-atomic technology recovered from alien crash sites, building awesome new flying devices. Still others speculate the aliens and the government are working hand-in-whatever out there beneath the Nevada sand.

One thing is certain: Whatever's happening is considered far too dangerous to share with the American people. And that has Bob Dean angry.

"I'm an old retired solider who's pissed off," he says. "I was on the inside, I was part of the cover-up for a long time. They have put this subject in the most sensitive security area you can imagine. What has really got me angry is we have national policy being made in Washington, D.C., that's affecting the lives of every man, woman and child on this planet, and that policy's being made by people who are not elected, who are not accountable to the executive and legislative branches of government. And they're trashing the Constitution. That pisses me off more than anything else."

AND SO HE'S gone on the road, traveling from UFO convention to UFO convention, spreading his own gospel. It's a good deal--sponsors generally cover the cost of his plane ticket and lodging. Dean is in demand.

"The average guy out there is interested enough and curious enough and ready to get some truth here," Dean says. "The American people not only have a right to know the truth, they have a need to know the truth."

Dean could be delusional, a monomaniac who sincerely believes his stories are true. He could be flat-out lying, spreading these tales for a free ticket to travel the world. He could even be an agent of the government, telling outrageous stories to further discredit the UFO community.

Or he could be telling the truth--there is extraterrestrial intelligence out there. And if that's the case, perhaps someday the lies we believe about our world will be stripped away and the truth will forever change the future of the human race.

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June 29 - July 5, 1995

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