Reporter News 
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Darrin McBreen wants people to look up in the sky — and contemplate what might be happening up there that might be affecting us down here.
McBreen, 41, has created a popular YouTube video, featuring footage shot in Abilene, examining “chemtrails,” a term derived from the belief of some researchers that certain jet plane contrails dump chemicals on an unsuspecting populace below.
The reasons given for such alleged activity vary.
Some advocates link it to weather control experimentation, while other researchers tie in more dire effects, ranging from ill health to (at the extreme end) a program of mind control, echoing other historical examples of overt experimentation on mass human populations.
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McBreen, who is an Abilene Reporter-News Internet media consultant, said the response to his roughly nine-minute video was both surprising and pleasing.
“The response has been incredible,” he said. “About 30,000 people have seen it in a week’s time. … I’ve received responses from all over the world.”
Feedback has ranged from confirmation and personal anecdote to overt snark — along the lines of “Are you wearing your tinfoil helmet?” he joked.
But his video, “Danger In the Sky — The Chemtrail Phenomenon,” has maintained a five-star rating on YouTube and garnered more than 600 comments, features interviews with figures such as Austin-based radio personality Alex Jones, speaking over footage of planes flying among familiar Abilene landmarks.
A contrail, short for condensation trail, is a line-shaped cloud sometimes produced by aircraft engine exhaust, according to a U.S. Air Force online document “Contrails Facts.” The combination of high humidity and low temperatures that often exist at aircraft cruise altitudes allows for their formation.
Such contrails are composed primarily of water, in the form of ice crystals, and “do not pose health risks to humans,” according to the Air Force site.
But advocates of chemtrail and other related theories argue that isn’t always the case, although their reasons differ — often wildly.
McBreen said chemtrails appealed to him as a video subject because he believes the concept has credibility.
“It started out with an article by Devvy Kidd,” he said. Kidd, a journalist who lives in Big Spring, is sometimes featured on the Web site of Jeff Rense, a radio talk-show host who often deals with controversial topics such as chemtrails.
“I thought that was kind of interesting that (Kidd) was from the Big Country,” he said.
According to Rense’s Web site, chemtrails “look like contrails initially but are much thicker, extend across the sky and are often laid down in varying patterns of Xs, tic-tac-toe grids, cross-hatched and parallel lines.”
Such trails, according to a Frequently Asked Questions file on Rense’s site, “expand and drop feathers and mares’ tails. In 30 minutes or less, they open into wispy formations which join together, forming a thick white veil or a ‘fake cirrus-type cloud’ that persists for hours.”
A normal contrail “is supposed to dissipate over 30 seconds to three minutes,” McBreen said.
Many researchers also report a sort of cross-hatching effect of interspersed contrails, which some take to be sky-based markers, and unusual behavior of the planes themselves, circling and looping to cover and recover an area in ways they find to be anomalous.
Like many, McBreen believes some chemtrail sightings can be tied to weather experimentation, with side effects such as spikes in elements such as “aluminum and barium in drinking water supplies and in the air,” he said.
Some who have communicated with him because of the video have agreed, even going so far as to say they can “taste the aluminum” in their mouths from chemtrails in their area, he said.
“Some of the more hard-core researchers wonder if it isn’t a type of population control, with the intent to wear down your immune system,” he said. “When I first heard that, I found that to be pretty extreme. But the United States has a long history of chemical and biological testing on its own personnel.”
McBreen mentioned a 1994 “Rockefeller Report,” often quoted on conspiracy and chemtrail Web sites, detailing alleged experiments performed on U.S. soldiers. The report, “Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health? Lessons Spanning Half a Century,” indicates it was prepared for the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in December 1994.
Among the report’s conclusions are that “for at least 50 years, (the Department of Defense) has intentionally exposed military personnel to potentially dangerous substances, often in secret.”
That said, the U.S. Air Force’s Web site describes the entire chemtrail theory as a hoax, which it claims has been investigated and refuted by established and accredited universities, scientific organizations, etc.
Specifically, the Air Force notes that a contrail can remain visible for long periods of time with its lifetime a function of temperature, humidity, winds and aircraft exhaust characteristics — and that such contrails can form many shapes as they are dispersed by horizontal and vertical wind shear. Similarly, skeptics assert the changeover from turbojet to turbofan engines results in a different appearance than what some chemtrail theorists remember contrails used to look like.
Requests for a comment from Dyess Air Force Base on Tuesday were met with referrals to the Air Force’s official position on the phenomenon.
McBreen said that while chemtrail research is thriving on the Internet, it is important for people to understand that the evidence is “not limited to photos and videos posted on the Web.”
There are military reports, government studies, U.S. patents and U.S. legislation that back up claims by researchers,” he said. “The Space Preservation Act of 2001 mentions chemtrails by name, for example.”
In the Act, which seeks to “preserve the cooperative, peaceful uses of space for the benefit of all humankind by permanently prohibiting the basing of weapons in space by the United States,” chemtrails are described, along with lasers, plasma, electromagnetic, sonic, ultrasonic weapons, and others as “exotic weapons systems.”
Mainstream media reports are included in McBreen’s video, most notably television news reports from KSLA News in Louisiana (which McBreen said “confirms barium in Chemtrails”) and a “report from NBC News 4 in Los Angeles where residents reported getting ill from chemtrail activity,” he said.
McBreen said he would simply like to see more open debate on the topic.
“Not every contrail you see that stays up there might be a chemtrail,” he said. “But we do know that there are weather modification programs. We do know that they are cloud seeding. And we do know that they have experimented on their own people in the past.”
It isn’t the end of McBreen’s video-making. Next, he plans to tackle the topic of depleted uranium, used in munitions and considered controversial because of what some believe could be potential long-term health effects.