CAIRO, EGYPT – “Dear Ed,” began the short note addressed to a fellow Yale graduate from the suburbs of Chicago. “The last two decades have been rough,” it continued, “but you are doing well on the Supreme Court. We are still fine. I think back to Jan. 21, 1980, when we did well in Iowa. (We did – didn’t we.) I’m getting older, but we still miss you.”
It was the kind of quick, hand-written missive George H.W. Bush was known for composing since his days as a Texas Congressman. On this occasion, the former President was responding to an invitation by Edward McNally, a high powered attorney many years his junior, to attend a lavish black tie affair to ring in the millennial new year at the Great Pyramid of Cheops, in Giza, Egypt, on December 31, 1999.
The “World Millennium Charity Ball” was conceived by McNally at Yale University’s drinking club, Mory’s, in 1979. Reportedly inspired by O. Henry’s macabre short story, “After Twenty Years”, which one of the ‘Yalies’ read aloud at the afternoon luncheon, the group’s promise to meet again two decades hence sparked McNally’s networking genius and the Millennium Society was born.
Established as a registered non-profit in Washington, D.C. in 1983, the society began holding annual new year’s eve fundraisers dubbed “Countdown to the Millennium” at the National Press Club. In addition to the symbolic $1,999 membership fee, the end-of-the-year gala event collected donations to fund an international educational exchange program at United World Colleges – a preparatory school network issuing 2-year baccalaureate degrees founded by Lord Mountbatten and at that time headed by then Prince, now King Charles III.
As the date for the millennial romp neared, the society unveiled its ten most “inspiring” people every year at the Countdown event and automatically placed them on the guest list for the big bash. Ronald Reagan, so honored in 1985, was among the many world leaders and hundreds of political movers and shakers who accepted the invitation and the $10,000 cover charge to help pay chartering costs for the Queen Elizabeth II luxury liner, which would ferry them to pharaoh Khufu’s tomb in the ancient city.
Twenty months before the Society’s main event and Egypt’s own millennial celebration plans, the country’s Ministry of Culture had begun a massive restoration project to bring the 4,500 year-old site up to snuff, removing graffiti and repairing any damage done to the historic ruins by decades of tourism. The project was led by Dr. Zahi Hawass, long-time director of Egypt’s Department of Antiquities, which oversees all major excavation and restoration endeavors.
A Fulbright scholar, who obtained his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Hawass appeared on a Fox 2-hour special hosted by Maury Povich called “Opening the Lost Tombs: Live From Egypt” in March, 1999. Coaxed by producers, the renowned Egyptologist pretended to discover ancient relics, mummies and the so-called “Queen’s Chamber” alongside the salacious talk show host on live television. In fact, all of the purportedly never-before-seen artifacts had been well-known and thoroughly explored by archeologists and Hawass, himself.
Fox’s trickery was later exposed by tabloid news show Inside Edition. Hawass’ academic colleagues called him out almost immediately, and his reputation took a toll. Nevertheless, the occult mystery of Luxor was still very much in play as the calendar approached the highly anticipated night. Sensational rumors began to swirl in the electronic chat rooms and forums of the nascent Internet about the high level soiree, which by then had garnered ample publicity and an improbable list of attendees, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping, Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.
Mubarak’s government was bombarded with concerns from multiple quarters about potential civil unrest and violence as a result of claims that members of the Illuminati were planning to descend on the sacred Egyptian site to carry out a black mass ritual at midnight inside the Great Pyramid to usher in the New World Order. The wild speculation and its association with the Society was introduced into the zeitgeist in 1991 by self-proclaimed Naval intelligence officer Milton William Cooper, in his conspiracy theory magnum opus “Behold A Pale Horse”:
“Simultaneously a vault containing the ancient records of the earth will be opened in Egypt. The opening of the vault will usher in the millennium. A great celebration has already been planned by the Millennium Society to take place at the pyramids in Egypt. According to the January 3, 1989, edition of the Arizona Daily Star, ‘President-elect Bush is spending this New Year’s holiday at Camp David, Maryland, but in 10 years he may be in Egypt. Organizers of the Millennium Society say he’s already committed to ushering in the next century at the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza.'”– Page 73, Behold A Pale Horse
Quoting from the AP article cited in our opening paragraph as republished by the Arizona Daily Star, Cooper’s own editorializing about the supposed opening of a “vault containing ancient records” was not a product of his imagination, but rather taken directly from a narrative dating back to the 1930s, when purported clairvoyant and New Age icon Edgar Cayce had given up on finding the “Mother Pool” of oil in San Saba, Texas, through his ostensible psychic abilities and moved on to make predictions about what might be found underground in other, oil-rich parts of the world.
After being “reassured” by his ethereal guides that helping people find oil and natural gas through his extra sensory powers presented no moral or ethical quandaries, the Cayce Petroleum Company of Texas began drilling in Central Texas in 1921, with the intention using the revenue to fund a psychic healer hospital. That hair brained scheme was soon abandoned and the company began employing more mundane methods for oil prospecting, though Cayce’s sleep-induced psychic trances continued to be used as a reference to locate potential oil fields.
According to one of the later mediumship records, Cayce “predicted” that an ancient “hall of records” containing the history of Atlantis and information about the second coming of Jesus Christ would be discovered at the base of the Sphinx in the Giza Plateau at the turn of the century. This grandiose proclamation conveniently resurfaced in the midst of the oil shock of the 1970s, when Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) partnered with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to conduct a search for the mystical vault using geo-electrical resistivity technology.
Results were inconclusive, though the detection of two minor anomalies that the SRI research team determined were “probably filled with rubble“, was enough to keep Cayce’s eldest son and ARE president Hugh Lynn Cayce motivated to continue the search. This led to the formation of a new company called Recovery Systems International (RSI) in conjunction with the SRI’s project director and devout Christian, Lambert Dolphin, and the mining engineer who had led the SRI’s earlier field work in Egypt.
RSI enlisted the support of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization (EAO), which had been carrying out some restoration work on the Sphinx. The EAO sent two of its young Egyptologists, Zahi Hawass, and reformed Cayce acolyte, Mark Lehner, who had first traveled to Egypt as a tourist in 1972 and later enrolled at the American University in Cairo, where he befriended Hawass.
Like the previous efforts, RSI’s geophysical investigations turned up nothing of note, much less the existence of a hidden vault containing the secrets of Atlantis and the return of the son of God. But this didn’t discourage the disinformation networks that were about to turn Zahi Hawass into a Freemasonic villain. Despite Hugh Lynn’s apparent acceptance of the non-findings, Edgar Cayce’s first-born announced a new, sweeping plan to find the elusive hall of records just before his death in 1984.
Hugh Lynn’s official biographer, A. Robert Smith, would launch the first salvo against the image of Zahi Hawass, falsely claiming that the Egyptologist had found a slab of red granite 15 meters below the Sphinx on behalf of the ARE. Given the implications of the ‘discovery’ for Hawass’ career, Smith nonsensically claims that Hugh Lynn Cayce offered to grease the wheels of his ascension at the EAO by facilitating a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.
Hawass vehemently denies these allegations and threatened to sue John Anthony West, a former Madison Avenue copywriter turned science fiction author and purveyor of alternative Egyptology theories, when the latter repeated the claims in an investor deck he prepared for his “Sphinx Project” in 1996. The project, funded by ARE and Florida State University, carried out two expeditions in Giza in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Schor, Vice President of Forest Pharmaceuticals, between 1997 and 1998.
The Capstone Ritual
West’s “Mystery of the Sphinx” debuted on NBC in 1993 and reached an estimated audience of 33 million. Narrated by Charlton Heston, the ‘documentary’ would be re-broadcast on several cable networks with added material, which took the show’s already implausible postulations to new heights and laid the foundation for the alternative history media market exemplified by programs like Ancient Aliens and other sensationalist, pseudo-historical accounts that ultimately serve to undermine the heritage and accomplishments of non-Western civilizations, and are in turn, used to buttress ahistorical Eurocentrism and white supremacist ideologies.
By proposing absurd alternatives to orthodox Egyptology, such as West’s incredible tales of Atlantean refugees who came from Mars to settle on the Nile, native Egyptians are disenfranchised from their own history and opportunities to drive a wedge through their culture and society can flourish. West’s theories have since been expanded upon by other Western research personalities like Graham Hancock and Richard Hoagland, whose widely-read books push these fake histories further into popular culture and allow subversive neocolonial forces to keep resource-rich countries destabilized.
McNally’s Millennium party had been liberally covered in the press for years by the time former British TV sportscaster David Icke published his book, “The Biggest Secret”, at the end of 1998, where he debuted his farcical reptilian Illuminati thesis, in which George Bush, the British Royal family and other elites were cast as half reptile, half human hybrids presiding over global plot to ensnare humanity in a “fourth dimensional” consciousness trap.
Icke, who was selling his own Giza millennium tour to proselytize about the dark, interdimensional forces at our doorstep like a street preacher with a bullhorn and bad hand-drawn placards announcing the end-times, posited a variation of his reptilian theory on the eve of Egypt’s official millennium celebrations, which were to feature a 12-hour electronic musical opera by French electronic music composer, Jean-Michel Jarre, and culminate with a helicopter lowering “a light-emitting gilded pyramidion” capstone on top of the Great Pyramid.
In December, 1999, Icke posted a screed on his website about the Masonic symbolism of the capstone ritual and its historical relationship with American political power, linking to USAF officer Texe Marr’s $19.95 video explaining the “Luciferian” plan that was to be conjured by the Illuminati in Giza. The local opposition press, which had been critical of the Giza restoration project, pounced on the lurid tabloid gossip assertions to write incendiary accusations against the much-publicized capstone event, claiming it was part of an international plot to bring Egyptian civilization under the thumb of “Zionist Freemasonry”.
Jean-Michel Jarre, whose grandmother was Jewish, instantly became a target for Islamist publications like Al-Shaab, which availed themselves of Icke’s and Marrs’ gaudy assertions to attack Mubarak’s government. Hawass, a strong proponent of orthodox Egyptology, was incensed by the conspiratorial nonsense floating around the millennial events, and the notion that the capstone ritual was some sort of “Masonic–Zionist infiltration”, in particular.
Despite having no role in planning the festivities, Hawass also came under attack for the capstone ritual and was tagged as an agent of the shadowy cabal of interbreeding human-reptile hybrids. State-controlled media attempted to reverse the narrative by assuring the nation that the capstone idea was “100% Egyptian”, but the damage had been done and the capstone portion of the concert was cancelled as a result.
As for the global elites who Edward McNally had openly bragged about booking on the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship through the Millennium Society he and other Skull & Bones fraternity members had started over two decades earlier, there seems to be scant evidence that the trip ever took place or where McNally spent that new year’s eve. What we do know is that in the first year of the new millennium, tensions in the Middle East would be fully rekindled after the failure of the Camp David talks and the beginning of the Second Intifada.
In the wake of September 11, 2001, fellow Bonesman George W. Bush would appoint Edward McNally as the first General Counsel for homeland security and counter-terrorism, putting the proverbial capstone on McNally’s 21-year career (up to that point) in white collar criminal prosecutions at the federal, state and local levels, as well as his parallel private practice.
Fry Cook on Venus
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off wrapped shooting on November 22, 1985, destined to become a classic American film that faithfully captured the essence of suburban, upper middle class teenage angst of the roaring ‘80s like only John Hughes could. Matthew Broderick’s portrayal of Hughes’ old high school friend, Ed McNally, was iconic and one imagines that except for the red hair on McNally’s head, the Broadway actor’s performance must have been close to McNally’s own personality, which has been described as “larger than life”.
Hughes may not have ever publicly confirmed (or denied) that Ferris Bueller’s character was based on McNally, but the rumors have been persistent enough to take them as more likely than not. There seems to be no question that virtually all of the movie’s plot points have their genesis in events of McNally’s life, including the central premise. Moreover, knowing something about the real life Ferris allows us to dissect Hughes’ narrative to reveal hidden layers in what turns out to be a film replete with symbolism and subtext that transcends the mere retelling of a few funny anecdotes.
The most direct inference to the real McNally in the original script ended up on the cutting room floor in order to make the character more likable. Ferris Bueller’s adventure was supposed to begin with the theft of a bond from his father’s closet, which he and girlfriend ‘Sloane’ would cash together at the bank to finance their escapade, as McNally once did when he was at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, IL.
Born into wealth, McNally was also born into a certain level of fame given that his father, former Air Force doctor, Dr. Randall E. McNally, was a world-renowned plastic surgeon who had operated on 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc – a.k.a. Napalm Girl – in South Vietnam during a trip he took in 1972 to recover his brother’s remains. Perhaps desperate to gain his father’s attention as one of his ten children, Ed McNally also once stole his purple Cadillac to skip school, just like the red Ferrari sequence in the film.
The red Ferrari sub plot is significant because it reveals Ferris Bueller to be the alter ego of Cameron Frye, Bueller’s best friend and foil. It is, after all, Cameron’s father in the film who owns the Ferrari and Cameron is the only cast member in the film who undergoes a character transformation. While Bueller himself is faced with all of the external challenges, his uncanny overconfidence sees him barrel through them without flinching. Meanwhile Cameron is faced with his internal demons early on and it is at this moment where Hughes may have left the biggest clue of them all.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off hinges on one inciting incident, which is Cameron’s decision to skip school with his best friend. Before anything really happens, Ferris tries to convince his hypochondriac cohort to get out of bed. After some prodding, Cameron arrives at the turning point by adlibbing the first two lines of African American spiritual, Go Down Moses: “When Cameron was in Egypt’s land… Let my Cameron go”.
From this moment forward, Ferris Bueller does everything Cameron is afraid to do. Reluctantly, Ferris’ shy, introverted friend starts coming out of his shell and working up the courage to stand up to his father about his lack of affection. Though we are never privy to how Cameron’s story ends, Cameron himself tells us what awaits Ferris Bueller after high school: “He’s gonna be a fry cook on Venus”.
Handling the Truth
By the time Ferris Bueller’s Day Off premiered in theaters in 1986, Edward McNally was starting his gig as Rudy Giuliani’s Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.). Having just returned from Beijing, China, where he had been the first to serve as a Luce Scholar, McNally would follow his time in the Big Apple to become a speech writer for President George H.W. Bush, authoring presidential addresses about the first Gulf War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
McNally went on to head the criminal division in the state of Alaska during the Exxon Valdez litigation as Anchorage District Attorney from 1991-94, when his office was found to have used tainted evidence to prosecute oil tanker ship Capt. Joseph Hazelwood by the Alaska Court of Appeals. As the Millennium Society accrued more members, McNally joined the Chicago law firm, Altheimer & Gray, representing Illinois Governor George Ryan, who would later be convicted on corruption and RICO charges, and McNally himself would be suspected of tampering with the FBI’s investigation.
“In some ways,” McNally told the Yale Daily News in 2002 about his appointment as general counsel for the Office of Homeland Security, “I guess you could say I’ve been preparing my whole life for this kind of position”. As the co-architect with Tom Ridge of the newly formed DHS, McNally defended the abuses then taking place at Guantanamo, stating that he didn’t know “how much [of the criticism] is real and how much is misinterpretation of what the photos show”.
As the ‘war on terror’ got off the ground, perceptions managed through the new digital media landscape through the Internet would indeed play a crucial role in shaping and distorting reality for billions of people around the world. The real life Ferris Bueller knew a thing or two about manipulating perceptions just like his on-screen double managed to fool family, friends and strangers to get his way.
When the Arab Spring forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011, Dr. Zahi Hawass was forced to flee as well. The minor capstone scandal on the eve of the new millennium had snowballed into a tsunami of disinformation and misinformation that had protestors calling him the “Mubarak of Antiquities”, in addition to being falsely convicted of corruption. He was publicly humiliated in a video-taped expulsion from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, ushered into a taxi cab amid jeering archeology students, that was seen by thousands of his countrymen.