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Milton William 'Bill' Cooper

Behold a Pail of Horsesh*t: The truth behind William Cooper’s influential conspiracy theories

At the 1989 MUFON Symposium, infamous conspiracy theorist Milton William ‘Bill’ Cooper – author of the influential 1991 book Behold a Pale Horse – took the audience for a wild ride with his talk: “The Secret Government and UFOs”, in which he claimed to have become privy to top secret UFO intel in the early ’70s while serving as a briefing officer with the Pacific fleet. At that time, Cooper allegedly viewed a series of UFO briefing documents that included a couple dozen alien photos and information concerning sixteen saucer crashes that occurred between 1947 and 1952.

Cooper’s conspiratorial cosmology included the secretive Majestic-12 group, which consisted of a twelve member body that—according to Cooper’s sources—were the senior members of a larger Illuminati-like thirty-two-member group called the Jason Society that had been commissioned by President Eisenhower to “find the truth of the alien question.”

Excerpted from Adam Gorightly’s Saucers, Spooks and Kooks: UFO disinformation in the Age of Aquarius, available in paperback from Amazon US and Amazon UK, and also as a Kindle eBook.

During his meteoric ascent into UFO superstardom, Cooper was interviewed by the syndicated television program PM Magazine. While chatting up the host of the show prior to taping, Cooper mentioned the “The Krill Papers,” an infamous ufological document that concerned a secret human-ET exchange program. As part of this secret program, an ET had been left behind on Earth identified as “Krll” or “O.H. Krill.” Cooper claimed that the initials “O.H.” meant “original hostage” and that “The Krill Papers” were among a number of top-secret briefing papers he smuggled out in his lunchbox in 1973 while serving in the Navy. John Lear, who was a by-stander for the PM Magazine interview, recalled:

I was standing offstage a bit when I heard Bill talking to the host about the Krill Papers. Bill was telling the host that the Krill Papers were real. He said he’d seen them when he was in Naval Intelligence. I pulled him aside and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing? I told him there was no way he could have read the Krill Papers in 1973 because I’d just written them along with John Grace only a few months before.1

Cooper—as to be expected—took exception with Lear setting him straight, then turned the tables telling Lear that he was the one who was actually lying, which was Cooper’s usual comeback when presented with facts that didn’t square with his version of reality. In Behold A Pale Horse, Cooper claimed that damn near anyone who ever disagreed with his conspiratorial worldview was part of a sinister disinformation campaign, whom included in its ranks such ufological stalwarts as Bob Lazar, Budd Hopkins, Stan Friedman, Bill Moore, Jaime Shandera, George Knapp, Linda Howe and Bruce Maccabee. Cooper also took aim at the editors of UFO Magazine, Vicky Cooper and Don Ecker (who published a two-part Cooper exposé), referring to them disparagingly as “Don Pecker” and “Sticky Pooper.”

In the early ’90s, Cooper launched a shortwave radio show called The Hour of the Time, which quickly took the Great American Heartland by storm, providing fodder for those hungry for the latest scoop about New World Order conspiracies. The Hour of the Time was a primitive precursor to Alex Jones’ Infowars, who obviously owes a lot of his bombastic bull-in-a-china-shop style to Bill Cooper. Cooper, not unlike Jones, was known to take a nip or two (and sometimes more) before going off on long-winded rants, occasionally berating the show’s callers.

Cooper’s sketchiest claim to fame was a videotape he peddled at speaking gigs called The Truth Betrayed: Dallas Revisited  which presented “evidence” that JFK had been killed by the driver of the presidential limousine, a secret service agent named William Greer with an “electrically operated, gas powered assassination pistol built by the CIA” containing a shell fish toxin dart.

The Truth Betrayed  had been produced by a researcher named Lars Hansson, who later noted in his essay Lear and Loathing in Las Vegas that the videotape was intended “to serve only as a preliminary research tool to spur potential investors to underwrite a thorough professional investigation into the theory that the driver of the presidential limousine, William Greer, actually turned around and fired the fatal shot at JFK… It was never intended at any time to be considered a final statement on the issue, much less to be shown publicly and/or distributed as such.”

Hansson approached John Lear (assuming he had deep pockets) and shared a copy of Dallas Revisited in the prospect of getting him to invest in his research. Little did Hansson know, but by this time Lear had fallen out of favour with his father, Bill Lear, losing access to those deep family pockets. After getting his mitts on Dallas Revisited, Lear began showing the film (without permission) at his lectures, and passed along a copy to Bill Cooper, who not only afterwards trotted it out like his own baby, but also started selling copies of it at his speaking gigs. When Hansson caught wind of these escapades, a shit-storm soon erupted between himself, Cooper and Lear. According to Hansson:

Cooper’s supporters told me a couple of months after my visit to his home that Cooper had a copy of the tape and was showing it publicly. At that time, in late October 1989, I confronted him over the phone about his dishonesty regarding his use and sale of the videotape, and have since done so publicly in print, on television, and on the radio. When he chickened out of appearing on the TV program Inside Report, which was taped in April and aired in May 1990, after learning that I would also be appearing to counter him, the producers deliberately left out half of my statement. I had made it clear on their videotape that at the time I threw the rough video together I believed that there was sufficient supporting evidence to warrant a complete investigation; however, after seeing a much clearer version of the Zapruder film, discussing the issue with a number of other respected researchers, and combing through the evidence at hand more closely, I had decided by November 1988 the theory was no longer tenable.

Cooper later broke ranks with ET true believers, claiming he’d been duped about UFOs and alien abductions, which he’d come to realize were actually a government disinfo op designed to conceal the New World Order agenda. According to biographer Mark Jacobson:

Cooper said he’d begun to suspect flying saucers were not from outer space in late 1989, when a scientist of his acquaintance came to his hotel room late one night, carrying what the man called “a mysterious briefcase.” Cooper described how when the scientist opened the briefcase, a miniature flying saucer rose out of it “under its own power, hovered briefly, and then vanished from sight.” The scientist told Cooper this was a man-made device, the product of Nazi anti-gravity technology brought to the USA by Third Reich physicists like Werner von Braun during the post–World War Two ‘Operation Paperclip.’ It had not yet been ascertained what made the objects suddenly invisible or whether they disappeared into “the future or the past,” but this was among the projects under study at Area 51. There were absolutely no aliens involved.2

In the early 1990s, Cooper aligned himself with the Second Continental Army of the Republic militia group and told the IRS to fold it five times and stick it where the sun don’t shine: that taxation was unconstitutional and if “They” wanted to try take away his guns, then bring it on, Big Brother. During Hour of the Time broadcasts, Cooper claimed that he had been targeted by “The Illuminati Socialist President of the United States of America, William Jefferson Clinton.”3

In 1998, Cooper was charged with tax evasion and bank fraud. Federal marshals—aware that Cooper was always locked and loaded—took a measured approach, realizing any type of confrontation might escalate into violence. By the fall of 2000, marshals had been unable to serve a warrant and Cooper was listed as a federal fugitive.  In the meantime, Cooper had a number of confrontations with the locals in Eager, Arizona. The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred in July 2001, when a firearm-wielding Cooper chased off a local man from a parcel of land near his home. This incident triggered (no pun intended) a response from the Apache County Sheriff’s office that led to Cooper’s ultimate undoing when, during a raid of his home, he went out in a blaze of bullets, shot dead at age 58, on November 6, 2001.

Link: Bill Cooper Resource Page at Gorightly’s ChasingUFOs blog


1. Jacobson, Mark. 2018. Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 97).

2. Jacobson, Mark. 2018. Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 103).

3. Barkun, Michael. 2003. Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. University of California Press. (p. 95)

Excerpted from Adam Gorightly’s Saucers, Spooks and Kooks: UFO disinformation in the Age of Aquarius, available in paperback from Amazon US and Amazon UK, and also as a Kindle eBook.

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