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UMF MAG V
"Keep your eyes & your ears open and your mouth shut..
..and you'll learn something!"
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UMF MAGAZINE # 5
The Information Continues!
Our BBS Obituary went down.. But Sepultura has risen to take it's place
with more power and expansion than before, so if you were on Obituary
you'll be welcome on the new & improved Sepultura.. Look for the Ads..
Sorry for the inconviences and greets to all the supporters of the effort!
The P/\NTHER -UMF & TRSi-
THE OMNI SIX PART SERIES ENTITLED:
COSMIC CONSPIRACY: SIX DECADES OF GOVERNMENT UFO COVER-UPS
Compiled by: The P/\NTHER TRSI/UMF
Edited by: INDESTROY/UMF
Part I - Cosmic Consipiracy April '94
I.a - The Freedom Fighter's Handbook
<Info on FOIA>
I.b - Inside the Military:
I.c - The Great High Rise Abduction
I.d - Soviet Saucers
Part II - Cosmic Conspiracy May '94
Part III - Cosmic Conspiracy June '94
Part IV - Cosmic Conspiracy July '94
Part V - Cosmic Conspiracy August '94
Part VI - Cosmic Conspiracy September '94
[ Editor's Note - From the Desk of UMF: Although the information here is
fairly reliable, it is by no means a SOUCE of information. This is a
reprint of OMNI articles, and should be treated as a REFERENCE, to be used
with other Publications and articles.]
COSMIC CONSPIRACY: SIX DECADES OF GOVERNMENT UFO COVER-UPS
Article By Dennis Stacy
Lightning flashed over Corona, New Mexico, and thunder rattled
the thin windowpanes of the small shack where ranch foreman Mac Brazel
slept. Brazel was used to summer thunderstorms, but he was suddenly
brought wide awake by a loud explosion that set the dishes in the
kitchen sink dancing. Sonofabitch, he thought to himself before sinking
back to sleep, the sheep will be scattered halfway between hell and
high water come dawn.
In the morning, Brazel rode out on horseback, accompanied by
seven-year-old Timothy Proctor, to survey the damage. According to
published accounts, Brazel and young Proctor stumbled across something
unearthly-a field of tattered debris two to three hundred yards wide
stretching some three-quarters of a mile in length. No rocket
scientist, Brazel still realized he had something strange on his
hands-so strange that he decided to haul several pieces of it into
Roswell, some 75 miles distant, a day or two later.
For all its lightness, the debris in Brazel's pickup bed seemed
remarkably durable. Sheriff George Wilcox reportedly took one look at
it and called the military at Roswell Army Air Field, then home to the
world's only atomic-bomb wing. Two officers from the base eventually
arrived and agreed to accompany Brazel back to the debris field.
As a consequence of their investigation, a press release unique
in the history of the American military appeared on the front page of
Roswell DAily Record for July 8, 1947. Authored by public information
officer Lt. Walter Haut and approved by base commander Col. William
Blanchard, it admitted that the many rumors regarding UFOs "became a
reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group
of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to
gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local
ranchers and the sheriff's office of Chaves County."
Haut's noon press release circled the planet, reprinted in
papers as far abroad as Germany and England, where it was picked up by
the prestigious London Times. UFOs were real! Media calls poured in to
the Roswell Daily Record and the local radio station, which had first
broken the news, demanding additional details.
Four hours later and some 600 miles to the east in Fort Worth,
Texas, Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, commander of the Eighth Air Force, held a
press conference to answer reporters' questions. Spread on the
general's office floor were lumps of a blackened, rubberlike material
and crumpled pieces of what looked like a flimsy tinfoil kite. Ramey
posed for pictures, kneeling on his carpet with the material, as did
Maj. Jesse Marcel, flown in from Roswell for the occasion. Alas,
allowed the general, the Roswell incident was simple case of mistaken
identity; in reality, the so-called recovered flying disc was nothing
more than a weather balloon with an attached radar reflector.
"Unfortunately, the media bought the Air Force cover-up hook,
line, and sinker," asserts Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist and
coauthor with aviation writer Don Berliner of Crash at Corona, one of
three books written about Roswell. "The weather balloon story went in
the next morning's papers, the phone calls dropped off dramatically, and
any chance of an immediate follow-up was effectively squelched."
Ramey's impromptu press conference marks the beginning of what
Friedman refers to as a "'Cosmic Watergate,' the ongoing cover-up of the
government's knowledge about extraterrestrial UFOs and their terrestrial
activities." By contrast, says Friedman, the original Watergate snafu
and cover-up pales in significance. In fact, if Friedman and his
cohorts within the UFO community are correct, military involvement in
the recovery of a crashed flying saucer would rank as the most well-kept
and explosive secret in world history.
Of course, not all students of the subject see it that way.
"You have to put Roswell in a certain context," cautions Curtis Peebles,
an aerospace historian whose treatment of UFOs as an evolving belief
system in Watch the Skies! was just published by the Smithsonian
Institute. "And the relevant context is the role of government and its
relationship to the governed. Americans have always been suspicious, if
not actively contemptuous, of their government. On the other hand,
forget what the government says and look at what it does. Is there any
evidence in the historical record that the Air Force or government
behaved as if it actually owned a flying saucer presumably thousands of
years in advance of anything on either the Soviet or U.S. side? If
there, I didn't find it."
Regardless of its ultimate reality, however, Roswell symbolizes
the difficulties and frustrations Friedman and fellow UFOlogists have
encountered in prying loose what the government does or does not know
about UFOs. Memories fade, documents get lost or misplaced, witnesses
die, and others refuse to speak up, either out of fear of ridicule, or
according to Friedman, because of secrecy oaths. Despite a trail that
lay cold for more than 30 years, UFOlogists still consider Roswell one
of the most convincing UFO cases on record. In 1978, for example,
Friedman personally interviewed Maj. Jesse Marcel shortly before his
death. "He still didn't know what the material was," says Friedman,
"except that it was like nothing he had ever seen before and certainly
wasn't from any weather balloon." According to what Marcel reportedly
told Friedman, in Fact, the featherlight material couldn't be dented by
a sledgehammer or burned by a blowtorch.
Yet getting the Air Force itself to say anything about Roswell
in particular of UFOs in general can be an exercise in futility.
Officials are either bureaucratically vague or maddeningly abrupt. Maj.
David Thurston, a Pentagon spokesperson for the Air Force Office of
Public Affairs, could only refer inquires to the Air Force Historical
Research Center in Montgomery, Alabama, where unit histories are kept on
microfilm for public review. But a spokesperson there said they had no
"investigative material" and suggested checking the National Archives
for files from Project Blue Book, the Air Force's public UFO
investigative agency from the late 1940s until its closure in December
Indeed, the dismissive nature with which U.S. officials treated
Blue Book research seemed to indicate they were unimpressed; on that
point, believers and skeptics alike agree. But according to Friedman
and colleagues, that demeanor, and Blue Book itself, was a ruse.
Instead far from the eyes of Blue Book patsies, in top-secret meetings
of upper-echelon intelligence officers from military and civilian
agencies alike, UFOs-including real crashed saucers and the mangled
bodies of aliens-were the subject of endless study and debate. What's
more, claims Friedman, proof of this UFO reality can be found in the
classified files of government vaults.
With all this documentation, Friedman might have had a field
day. Unfortunately, researchers had no mechanism for forcing classified
documents to the surface until 1966, when Congress passed the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA was later amended in the last year of
the Nixon administration (1974) to include the Privacy Act. Now
individuals could view their own files, and some UFOlogists-Friedman
included-were surprised to find that their personal UFO activities had
resulted in government dossiers.
Be that as it may, UFOlogists saw the FOIA as a means to an end,
and beginning in the 1970s, their requests and lawsuits started pouring
in. Attorneys for the Connecticut based Citizens Against UFO Secrecy
(CAUS) and other UFO activists eventually unleashed a flood tide of
previously classified UFO documents.
In many cases, notes Barry Greenwood, director of research for
CAUS and coauthor with Lawrence Fawcett of The Government UFO Cover-up,
most agencies at first denied they had any such documents in their
files. "A case in point is the CIA," says Greenwood, "which assured us
that its interest and involvement in UFOs ended in 1953. After a
lengthy lawsuit, the CIA ultimately released more than ten thousand pages
of documents pertaining to UFOs, the overwhelming majority of which were
from the CIA, FBI, Air Force, and various other military agencies. It's
safe to say there are probably that many more we haven't seen."
As might be expected, the UFO paper trail is a mixed bag. Many
of the documents released are simply sighting reports logged well after
the demise of Blue Book. Others are more tantalizing. A document
released by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
revealed that several sensitive military bases scattered from Maine to
Montana were temporarily put on alert status following a series of
sightings in October and November of 1975. An Air Force Office of
Special Intelligence document reported a landed light seen near Kirtland
Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the night of August 8, 1980.
Another warm and still-smoking gun, according to Greenwood, is
the so called Bolender memo, named after its author, Brig. Gen. C. H.
Bolender, then Air Force deputy director of development. Dated October
20, 1969, it expressly states that "reports of unidentified flying
objects which could affect national security. . .are not part of the
Blue Book system." Says Greenwood, "I take that to mean that Blue Book
was little more than an exercise in public relations. The really
significant reports went somewhere else. Where did they go? That's
what we would like to know."
Of course there are objections to such a literal interpretation.
"As I understand the context in which it was written," says Phillip
Klass, a former senior editor with Aviation Week and Space Technology
and author of UFOs: The Public Deceived, "the Bolender memo tried to
address the problem of what would happen with UFO reports of any sort
following the closure of Project Blue Book. Bolender was simply saying
that other channels for such reports, be they incoming Soviet missiles
or whatever, already existed."
Greenwood counters that the original memo speaks for itself,
adding that "the interesting thing is that sixteen referenced
attachments are presently reported as missing from Air Force files."
Missing files are one problem. Files known to exists but kept
under wraps, notes Greenwood, are another. To make his point, he cites
a case involving the ultrasecret National Security Agency, or NSA, an
acronym often assumed by insiders to mean "Never Say Anything." Using
cross references found in CIA and other intelligence-agency papers, CAUS
attorneys filed for the release of all NSA documents pertaining to the
UFO phenomenon. After initial denials, the NSA admitted to the
existence of some 160 such documents but resisted their release on the
grounds of national security.
Federal District Judge Gerhard Gessell upheld the NSA's request
for suppression following a review (judge's chambers only) of the
agency's classified 21-page In Camera petition. "Two years later,"
Greenwood says, "we finally got a copy of the NSA In Camera affidavit.
Of 582 lines, 412, or approximately 75 percent, were completely blacked
out. The government can't have it both ways. Either UFOs affect
national security or they don't."
The NSA's blockage of the CAUS suit only highlights the
shortcomings of the Freedom of Information Act, according to Friedman.
"The American public operates under the illusion that the FOIA is some
sort of magical key that will unlock all the the government's secret
vaults," he says, "that all you have to do is ask. They also seem to
think everything is in one big computer file somewhere deep in the
bowels of the Pentagon, when nothing could be farther from the truth.
Secrecy thrives on compartmentalization."
In recent years, UFOlogists have found an unusual ally in the
person of Steven Aftergood, an electrical engineer who directs the
Project on Government and Secrecy for the Washington, DC-based
Federation of American Scientists, where most members wouldn't
ordinarily give UFOs the time of day. "Our problem," says Aftergood,
"is with government secrecy on principle, because it widens the gap
between citizens and government, making it that much more difficult to
participate in the democratic process. It's also antithetical to peer
review and cross-fertilization, two natural processes conducive to the
growth of both science and technology. Bureaucratic secrecy is also
Aftergood cites some daunting statistics in his favor. Despite
campaign promises by a succession of Democratic and Republican
presidential administrations to make government files more publicly
accessible, more than 300 million documents compiled prior to 1960 in
the National Archives alone still await declassification. Aftergood also
points to a 1990 Department of Defense study, which estimated the cost
of protecting industrial-not military-secrets at almost $14 billion a
year. "That's a budget about the size of NASA's," he says, adding that
"the numbers were ludicrous enough during the Cold War, but now that the
Cold War is supposedly over, they're even more ludicrous."
Could the Air Force and other government agencies have their own
hidden agenda for maintaining the reputed Cosmic Watergate? Yes,
according to some pundits who say UFOs may be our own advanced
super-top-secret aerial platforms, not extraterrestrial vehicles from on
high. Something of the sort could be occurring at the supersecret Groom
Lake test facility in Nevada, part of the immense Nellis Air Force Base
gunnery range north of Las Vegas. Aviation buffs believe the Groom Lake
runway, one of the world's longest, could be home to the much-rumored
Aurora, reputed to be a hypersonic Mach-8 spy plane and a replacement
for the recently retired SR-71 Blackbird.
In fact, the Air Force routinely denies the existence of Aurora.
And with Blue Book a closed chapter, it no longer has to hold press
conferences to answer reporters' questions about UFOs. From the
government's perspective, the current confusion between terrestrial
technology and extraterrestrial UFOs could be a marriage of both
coincidence and convenience. The Air Force doesn't seem to be taking
chances. On September 30 of last year, it initiated procedures to seize
another 3,900 acres adjoining Groom Lake, effectively sealing off two
public viewing sites of a base it refuses to admit exists.
By perpetuating such disinformation, if that is, in fact, what's
happening, the Air Force might be using a page torn from the Soviet
Union's Cold War playbook. James Oberg, a senior space engineer and
author of Red Star in Orbit, a critical analysis of the Soviet space
program, has long argued that Soviet officials remained publicly mum
about the widely reported Russian UFOs in the 1970s and 1980s because
such reports masked military operations conducted at the supersecret
Plesetsk Cosmodrome. "Could a similar scenario occur in this country?
It's conceivable," concedes oberg. "On the other hand, should our own
government take an interest in UFO reports, especially those that may
reflect missile or space technology from around the world? Sure. I'd be
dismayed if we didn't. But does it follow that alien-acquired
technology recovered as Roswell is driving our own space technology
program? I don't see any outstanding evidence for it."
Friedman's counterargument is not so much a technological as a
political one. "Governments and nations demand allegiance in order to
survive," he says. "They don't want us thinking in global terms, as a
citizen of a planet as opposed to a particular political entity, because
that would threaten their very existence. The impact on our collective
social, economic, and religious structures of admitting that we have
been contacted by another intelligent life form would be enormous if not
literally catastrophic to the political powers that be."
Whatever its reason for holding large numbers of documents and
an array of information close to the vest, there's no doubt that the U.S.
government has been less than forthcoming on the topic of UFOs.
Historically, the government's public attitude toward UFOs has run the
gamut of human emotions, at times confused and dismissive, at others
deliberately covert and coy. On one hand, it claims to have recovered a
flying disc; on the other, a weather balloon. One night UFOs constitute
a threat to the national security; the next they are merely part of a
public hysteria based on religious feelings, fear of technology, mass
hypnosis, or whatever the prevailing psychology of the era will bear.
To sort through the layers of confusion spawned by the governments
stance and to reveal informational chasms, whatever the cause, Omni is
launching a series of six continuing articles. In the following months,
we will take the long view, scanning through the history to examine UFOs
under wraps in the decades following Roswell. In the next installment,
look for our report on official efforts to squelch UFO mania and keep
tabs on UFO researchers in the McCarthy-era landscape of the Fifties.
FREEDOM FIGHTERS HANDBOOK:
THE OFFICIAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT HOW-TO FOR INVESTIGATING UFOs
By Paul McCarthy
Many people think the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), passed
by Congress in 1966, gives an American citizen automatic access to any
government document. Not so. UFO researchers have found that it gives
them the right to request, but government agencies retain the right to
deny-as they often do.
In fact, applicants find, FOIA requests may be stymied by any
number of exemptions. When information if related to criminal
investigations, pending policy deliberations, national security
considerations, or when it violates an individual's privacy, the FOIA
application is denied. The applicant can appeal, of course, and if he
or she loses, may take the case to federal court-but who has the money?
On top of that, FOIA requests are not a priority with the government, so
some agencies have backlogs that won't be acted upon for years. On
other occasions, UFO investigators suspect their petitions are acted
upon too quickly and end up in the circular file.
Yet thousands of pages of UFO documents have been pried loose
over the past 20 years. None clinch the case for a government cover-up
of UFO activity, but they, along with the cross-referencing of other
documents and insider tips, hold out the intriguing possibility that the
government is clinging to hundreds of thousands of pages of files for
the diligent or luck to unearth. Hoping to satisfy our readers'
fascination for government secrets new and old, the following handbook
details some of the most tantalizing FOIA requests and provides tips on
tapping the government for more.
YOUR EYES ONLY: OMNI'S TOP TIPS FOR ACCESSING CLASSIFIED MATERIAL ON UFOs
ON THE DOCKET
UFOlogists list the most dramatic attempts to pry loose documents still
The Big Fish. The most important FOIA UFO case ever, according
to UFO researcher Stanton Friedman, was filed in 1979 against the CIA.
Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), an Alexandria, Virginia,
organization headed by Larry Byrant, joined with others, including
Friedman, to go after all UFO documents in the possession of the CIA.
The CIA responded that it could do nothing because the documents it had
were issued by other agencies and could only be released by them. Of
those, CAUS went after 18 National Security Agency (NSA) documents, but
the NSA would not release them, claiming they would reveal "sources and
methods." CAUS filed an admini-strative appeal with the NSA and lost.
It then went to federal court, and the judge ordered NSA to search its
files for UFO documents. Surprise: 239 documents showed up-79 from
other unnamed agencies, 23 from the CIA, and 137 unexpected NSA bonus
documents. Still, the NSA refused to release them, and the judge, after
reading the NSA's justification, agreed. Under a later FOIA actions,
the CIA released 9 of its 23 documents, mostly unimportant abstracts of
Eastern European press stories on UFOs. Adding the original 18 NSA
documents that CAUS sought to the newly uncovered batch of 137 shows
that the NSA held on to 155 while the CIA retained 11. In addition, 79
documents from other agencies never saw the light of day-proof,
according to Friedman, that the government can keep a secret.
Project Moon Dust. Projects Moon Dust and Blue Fly are
purportedly efforts aimed at retrieving manmade space objects that
reenter the atmosphere and crash. Clifford Stone, a retired U.S. Army
sergeant with an interest in UFOs, has been trying to get the military
to admit that it runs these projects and that it also recovers downed
UFOs. Stone claims that the 696th Intelligence Group at Andrews Air
Force Base, Maryland, makes these retrievals, and he has even submitted
an FOIA request for the group's UFO files.
Records from Roswell. The Roswell case, in which a UFO is said
to have crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947, continues to
haunt researchers and to draw numerous FOIA requests. In one of these,
Don Schmitt, a researcher from the Center for UFO Studies in Illinois
and coauthor with Kevin Randle of the 1991 book UFO Crash at Roswell,
has filed an FOIA request on behalf of the family of Mac Brazel, the
rancher who found the purported UFO wreckage. "Specifically, we wanted
to see the results of a medical examination allegedly given to Brazel by
the United STates Army after he made his discovery," Schmitt explains.
"The Army denied that it had records on Brazel of any soft, even though
Brazel served in the Army during WWII."
Secret Sins. Is there a secrecy oath signed by military
personnel involved with UFOs? Many UFO investigators, including Don
Schmitt, claim to have active-duty and retired military witnesses who
will talk privately but not openly about UFOs and the government for
fear of losing pensions. Schmitt awaits the results of an FOIA request
submitted to the Army, Navy, and Air Force on whether or not an oath of
secrecy actually exists.
X Marks the Spot. Another facet of the Roswell case concerns a
United Press International (UPI) reporter who supposedly told Schmitt
that in the early 1960s, a public-information officer (PIO) at Holloman
Air Force Base showed him a map of the Roswell crash site and even drove
him out to look at it. Schmitt's FOIA asks for the name of the PIO and
seeks to learn whether he ever worked with a UPI reporter in the early
Name, Rank, and Serial Number. Schmitt would also like to
obtain the records of an ultimately locate 30 military personnel who
allegedly worked at Roswell Air Force Base in 1947. He submitted an
FOIA with their names and serial numbers, asking for access to their
complete records. The Air Force responded that it had no records on
Operation Majestic. The MJ-12 documents-short for Operation
Majestic-turned up in microfilm form in the mailbox of Jaime Shadera, a
UFO investigator, back in 1984. Although most UFO researchers now
believe the documents are phony, some say they may be evidence of a
top-secret briefing given to president-elect Dwight Eisenhower in
November 1952 by Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, then-director of the CIA.
After spending considerable time and money trying to verify
these documents, Stanton Friedman put in an FOIA request in 1989. He
thought he could study the authenticity of the controversial MJ-12
documents by comparing them to other CIA briefings of like. Friedman
learned the times and dates of these additional briefings in archival
research and using that specific information requested the documents
from the CIA. Two years later, the CIA responded that it could not find
any such briefing documents. Friedman appealed but was told he was
number 390 on the list. He is still waiting for a response.
FOIA Wannabes. Fred Olsen III would like to submit an FOIA
request to the Air Force that asks for the guncamera photos of UFOs that
former military pilots claim were taken during the 1940s and 1950s. Don
Schmitt would like to submit an FOIA request to the Air Force on the
contents and purpose of a mysterious military transport plan said to
have departed from Roswell Air Force Base under tight security on July
For those sturdy souls who wish to buck the tide, it is
sometimes possible to successfully wield the Freedom of Information Act
to dredge up information buried deep. To help the uninitiated work the
system and uncover as much as possible, FOIA pro Don Schmitt of the
Center for UFO Studies provides three useful tips:
* UFOlogists believe petitions may be screened for buzzwords like UFO,
which tip officials off to give the request prejudicial treatment, so
researchers try to be creative. "We never refer to Roswell by name,"
says Schmitt, "and in the last five years, I have not made an FOIA
request in which I specifically referred to UFOs."
* Schmitt and other FOIA experts often request paragraphs, even
sentences, not in classified documents just to see whether the agency
has any information on the topic at all. The technique also confuses
officials, preventing them from pigeonholing the request as UFO related,
thus encouraging them to give it a higher priority and push it through.
* Hoping to stop the government in efforts to pull the wool over their
eyes, UFO researchers often request documents they know for a fact
exist. "We often try to trip them up," Schmitt explains. "We sent in
our request; they deny it. Then we send copies of specific documents
that refer to the documents they claim they don't have."
SIDE-STEPPING THE FOIA The frustrations of filing an FOIA being
what they are, a number of UFO researchers have now evolved alternative
strategies for prying documents from government vaults. A couple of the
most prominent efforts are detailed below.
MOON DUST II. Cliff Stone's requests to the Air Force and
Defense Intelligence Agency for projects Moon Dust and Blue Fly
information were unsuccessful, so he's making similar requests through
the office of Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico who is working with
the Pentagon's Congressional Liaison Office on this issue. Remember,
you are part of a constituency; your representative can help.
Operation Right to Know. In 1992, Operation Right to Know was
formed by three Mutual UFO Network members who felt political action was
the only way to wrest secrets from the government. They passed out UFO
literature on the ellipse behind the White House in 1992, picketed in
front of the White House in 1993, and demonstrated outside the United
Nations building in New York in November 1993. Operation Right to Know
now has more than 200 members, is growing wit European chapters, and
will probably picket for access to government UFO information in a city
INSIDE THE MILITARY:
Article by A.J.S. Rayl
In 1969, Project Blue Book-the 16-year U.S. Air Force
investigation of UFOs-came to an end, and so did the government's
interest in extraterrestrial flying discs. Of so the American public
has been told. In recent years, numerous individuals and documents from
various agencies have emerged from behind the veil of government secrecy
to tell a different story. Their spin: that while the government
officially abandoned all interest in UFOs, a secret military underground
was hot on the trail of suspicious radar blips, saucers, and even the
aliens themselves. What follows are the stories of three
individuals-two of whom come with impressive military credentials; they
say they have glimpsed what seems like evidence of a decades-old
cover-up cloaked in the guise of national security. The third
interviewee, a propulsion-system engineer, claims he was hired by an
independent military contractor to study the innards of an
extraterrestrial spacecraft being researched and tested on the Nellis
Air Range in central Nevada.
Omni cannot endorse the veracity of the stories told below. In
fact, we must emphasize that extraordinary tales like these require
extraordinary levels of proof certainly not furnished in our pages, nor,
we feel, anywhere else. That said, we'll get to the fun part. In the
pages that follow, you'll find strange tales of alien intrigue and UFO
woe. Decide for yourself: Are these the ravings of demented hoaxers and
madmen or revelations of truth? Their stories, delivered in dossier
format, have been edited from interviews conducted by author A.J.S. Rayl
during the past year.
NATO Meets E.T.
Name: Robert O. Dean, retired Army command sergeant major
Claim: Back in the Sixties, NATO issued a classified report
stating that UFOs were real, of extraterrestrial origin, and had visited
the earth. This extraordinary report was said to come our of NATO's
command center, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE),
located then just outside of Paris, France.
Background: Dean, a highly decorated veteran, served on the
front lines in both Korea and Vietnam. In 1963, while assigned to the
Supreme Headquarters Operations Center (SHOC), SHAPE's war room, headed
up by then-supreme allied commander of Europe, Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer,
Dean claims he was able to read the detailed 12-inch-thick NATO report
The Story: "SHAPE was one of those choice assignments. You had
to have a spotless record and pass security background checks. I
applied on a whim and got it. I was very proud and pleased. At SHAPE,
I was put through more security checks, given a Cosmic Top Secret (yes,
this is a real term) clearance, the highest NATO has, and assigned to
the Supreme Headquarters Operations Center, known as SHOC, the NATO
war room. In those days, the activity would run hot and cold and much
of it would depend on how the Soviets wanted to play it. The most
intriguing thing to me was that we were continually having a problem
with large, metallic, circular objects that would appear over central
Europe; these were reported as visual phenomena by our pilots and
appeared on radar as well. Some flew in formation, and most of the time
we spotted them coming out of the Soviet Union, over East Germany, West
Germany, France, and then they would often circle somewhere over the
English Channel and head north, disappearing from NATO radar over the
Norwegian Sea. These objects were very large, moving very fast, at very
high altitudes-higher than we could reach at the time-and they seemed
obviously under intelligent control. "I was told this had been going on
for some time and that in February 1961 there had been quite a scare.
Fifty of these objects were spotted on radar and headed in formation
from the Soviet Union toward Europe, flying at about 100,000 feet. The
Soviets had closed all borders. Everybody went to red alert. All hell
broke loose. We really thought 'The War' had started. We scrambled.
We knew the Russians were scrambling. It was the largest number of
these objects that had been seen. Fortunately -and only by the grace of
God-we didn't start bombing and neither did the Russians. In nine
minutes, they were gone.
"I was told that then-Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Europe,
Sir Thomas Pike, had been repeatedly requesting information from London
and Washington about these objects, but nothing would ever come. We
found out later that the Columbine-Topaz spy ring in Paris was
intercepting everything and forwarding it to the KGB, which often got
intelligence information even before we did. So Pike decided, I was
told, to develop an in-house study to determine whether these objects
were a military threat.
"In the meantime, the UFO matter literally brought about the
establishment of direct communication between the East and West in 1962,
which I have always found interesting and ironic. We had pretty well
determined by that time that these were not Russian craft, and the
Russians had determined they were not ours. So, we came to an
understanding, and a direct telephone line was opened between SHOC and
the Warsaw Pact Headquarters Command. Of course, a setup was always a
possibility, so we had backup ways of checking out whether the Russians
were being truthful. But since we were both armed to the teeth and
World War III was just ticking away, it was a logical step in the right
direction. That idea developed into the hotline between the president
of the United States and the soviet premier, following the Cuban Missile
"Well, by the time I arrived in 1963, everybody had been talking
about the study, and I had heard the rumors, seen the blips on radar,
witnesses the commotions, and some of us occasionally even talked about
the possibilities. But nothing really prepared me for what I started to
read in the early morning hours one night in January 1964.
"It was about 2:00 a.m. and a relatively quiet night when the
SHOC controller on duty went into the vault and came out with this huge
document. 'Take a look at this,' he said. The title was simply
Assessment: An Evaluation of a Possible Military Threat to Allied Forces
in Europe. It was numbered, #3, stamped Cosmic Top Secret, had eight
inches worth of appendices, dozens of photographs, and had been signed
into the vault by German colonel Heinz Berger, SHOC's head of security:
I quickly learned that it was based on two and a half years of research,
was funded by NATO money, and that only 15 copies were published-in
English, German, and French. Each one was numbered. All were
classified and ordered to be kept under lock and key.
"Every time I got the chance, from then until I left, I would
read a section or two in it. It was the most intriguing document I'd
ever read. It was put together by military representatives of every
NATO nation and also included contributions from some of the greatest
scientific minds. These objects were violating all of our known laws of
physics, and the study team had gone to Cambridge, Oxford, the Sorbonne,
MIT, and other major universities for input on chemistry, physics,
atmospheric physics, biology, history, psychology, and even theology,
all of which were separate appendices.
"I read about theories on Einstein's sought-after unified-field
theory, the high radiation at various landing sites, and UFO reports
that dated back to the Roman era and up to our own F105 pilots'
sightings and encounters, and on and on. I had always been a skeptic,
but this report, well . . . it concluded that this stuff was not science
"I read about contact encounters. One incident that had just
happened in 1963 involved a landing on a Danish farm. According to the
report, the farmer went aboard with the two little beings and two more
human-looking men who spoke to him in Danish. The report included parts
of his interrogation by government authorities and their conclusions
that he was telling the truth. In another incident, according to the
reports, a craft landed on an Italian airfield and offered to take an
Italian sergeant for a ride. He wet his pants-that's what it said-and
was so scared, he didn't go.
"The appendix that really got to me was titled 'Autopsies.' I
saw pictures of a 30-meter disc that had crashed in Timmensdorfer,
Germany, near the Baltic Sea in 1961. The British Army, according to
the report, got there first and put up a perimeter. The craft had
landed in very soft, loamy soil near the Russian border and so hadn't
destructed, but one-third of it was buried in. We and the Russians,
who also quickly showed up, had both tracked it.
"inside, there were 12 small bodies, all dead. There were
pictures of the bodies, which looked like the beings known as the
'grays,' being laid out and then put on stretchers and loaded into
jeeps, and autopsy photos, too. Some of the little grays appeared to
not be a reproductive-capable species. The autopsy guys concluded,
according to the report, that it looked as if they had any system for
"The craft itself was cut up like a pie into six pieces, put
on lowboys and hauled off. Scuttlebutt was that it was given to the
Americans and flown to Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio. I
looked at all these pictures and couldn't believe it. My skin got cold
and I thought, My God. I had never really believed we were all alone in
the universe, but this was hard to swallow.
"The major conclusions in the NATO report blew me away. There
1) The planet and human race had been the subject of a detailed survey
of some kind by several different extraterrestrial civilizations, four of
which they had identified visually. One race looked almost
indistinguishable from us. Another resembled humans in height, stature,
and structure, but with a very gray, pasty skin tone. The third race is
now popularly known as the grays, and the fourth was described as
reptilian, with vertical pupils and lizardlike skin.
2) These alien visitations had been going on for a very long time, at
least 200 years-perhaps longer.
3) The extraterestrials did not appear hostile since if that were their
intent they would have already demonstrated their malevolence.
4) UFO appearances and quick disappearances as well as the flybys were
demonstrations conducted on purpose to show us some of their
5) A process or program of some soft seemed to be underway since flybys
progressed to landings and eventually contact.
"I wanted so badly to copy this thing. I did take a photograph
of the cover sheet, which wasn't in and of itself classified. But I
didn't want to wind up in Fort Leavenworth. So instead I would go to
the bathroom and take notes-surreptitiously, very carefully.
"I have been through an awful lot in my life, but I've never
been able to just walk away from that report. I know that I'm taking a
chance by violating my oaths. But this is the most important issue of
our times-so dammed important that I can't think of anything more
important, and the public has been deceived and completely kept in the
dark about all of this for all these years. It's the biggest
scientific, political scandal ever. Besides, what have I got to lose?
I'm 64 years old now. Are they going to bump me off? I have told the
truth. My integrity and credibility stand. When is our government
going to tell the truth?"
Update: After 27 years of military service, Dean retired and
began another 14-year career with the Pima County Sheriff's Department
Emergency Services in Tuscon, Arizona. In 1990, he gave a lecture at
the University of Arizona in which he talked about UFOs. The talk
garnered local media coverage. Afterward, he was denied a promotion at
the Sheriff's Department, because, he alleged, be believed in UFOs.
Dean filed suit and won an out-of-court settlement in March 1992. Now
retired, Dean has become a member of several UFO organizations and has
begun giving occasional lectures. He is working through "any and all
legitimate channels" to uncover a copy of the NATO document and to
gather witnesses for an open Congressional hearing on the subject of
Official Response: "Our list of classified documents generated
by SHAPE at that time does not include any with titles similar to that
cited by Mr. Dean," says Lt. Col. Rainer Otte, German Force, deputy
chief, media section of the public-information office at SHAPE. "Files
on military personnel are in all circumstances kept under national
control. Information on the security clearance that Mr. Dean held
may-if ever-only be released by U.S. authorities."
The Critics' Corner: "This is a fascinating story, but fantastic
claims like these need more than one man's testimony to be credible,"
says Jerome Clark of the Center for UFO Studies. "Unless independent
verification comes forth, this remains only an intriguing anecdote, not
unlike many others that have circulated since the early UFO era."
Name: Bob Lazar, independent contract scientist and businessman
Claim: To have worked as a propulsion-system engineer in late
1988 and early 1989 on one of nine extraterrestrial spacecraft being
researched and tested on the Nellis Air Range in central Nevada.
Background: From 1982 to 1984, Lazar claims he worked at Los
Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in the Meson Physics lab with a
Q-level security clearance. In 1985, while on vacation in Nevada, he
wound up buying into a legal Reno brothel; the investment proved so
profitable that he didn't have to return to full-time employment for
a while. He moved to Nevada in 1986. In 1988, he wanted to get back
into scientific work and was hired, he says, to work on the top-secret
Project Galileo. Lazar passed a lie-detector test in 1989, arranged by
George Knapp, then an anchorman for KLAS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Las
Vegas, Nevada, for a special locally aired series, UFOs: The Best
The Story: "In 1988, I decided to reenter the scientific
community and sent resumes to various people. Finally, I interviewed
with a placement firm to work for the Department of Naval Intelligence
in a civilian capacity, and in the fall of 1988, I was hired on an
on-call basis to work on a project involving advanced propulsion
systems. At that point, that's all I knew.
"Not long after, I was flown along with several others out to
area 51 on the Nellis Air Range. There, we were put on a bus with
blacked-out windows and driven about 15 miles south to the Papoose dry
lake bed, bordered by the Papoose Mountains, where there was an
installation they called 'S4.'
"I was introduced to my supervisor and a co-worker and then
given a stack of briefings on various projects, including Project
Galileo, which was devoted to the study of nine disc-shaped
extraterrestrial craft that were somehow acquired by the U.S.
"I was assigned back engineering tasks on the reactor and
gravity-propulsion system of one of the discs-essentially to help figure
out what made it work. I don't know whether it was a crash retrieval,
although I doubt it, because the disc didn't appear damaged in any way.
In the briefing reports, there were pictures of several discs along with
some of the information they had already obtained from back engineering
"I was stunned and exhilarated at the same time. But there were
well-armed guards everywhere, and this place wasn't exactly the kind of
environment where you could just start asking any and every question you
had. Security, in fact, was oppressive. You were escorted everywhere,
even the bathroom. And if your I.D. badge was just the slightest bit
out of place, you would be tackled by a guard and held with a gun to
your head until your supervisor arrived. And the guards lived for that.
"At times, the whole thing seemed just surreal. There was a
poster of the disc I was working on, which I dubbed the Sport Model, on
several walls. It read, They're here.
"I dealt with only the power sources and propulsion systems on
one of the discs, and I did enter that one disc on several occasions.
The disc was approximately 15 feet tall and about 52 feet in diameter.
It had the appearance of brushed stainless steel or brushed aluminum. I
didn't run a test on it, so I don't know if it was metal, but I did run
my hands down the side of it getting in, and it felt cold, like metal,
and it looked like metal. It had no physical seams, no welds or bolts
or rivets, and it looked as if it were injection molded.
"Inside, there were tiny little seats, much too small to
comfortably handle an average-sized human. I bumped my head on the ends
of the craft, so I concluded that the ceiling curved down to below five
feet, 11 inches inside. There was not a right angle cut anywhere in the
craft. Everything had a smooth curve to it.
"The reactor, which produced anti-matter and then reacted it
with matter in an annihilation reaction, was only about 18 inches
in-diameter and 12 inches tall and was located in the center of the
disc. It operated like a tiny ballet, where everything that happened
relied on the effect before it. The way it accelerated protons inside
of it, the was the heat was converted to electricity, was totally smooth
without any wasted heat or latent energy. It was phenomenal,
approaching a 100-percent dynamic efficiency. Now that seems impossible
when you consider the laws of thermodynamics. All I can say is that
this technology is well beyond anything that we now know with our
twentieth century knowledge.
"The reactor is fueled with an element that is not found here on
Earth. Part of my contribution to the program was to find out where
this element plugged into the periodic chart. Well, it didn't plug in
anywhere, so we placed it at an atomic number of 115. It has been
theorized for some time that elements around 113, 114, and 115 may
become stable and nonradioactive, and this is apparently what we were
seeing. Element 115 is a stable element, but one with some interesting
properties. It can be used inside the reactor as a fuel, but also as
the source of an energy field accessed and amplified by the craft's
gravity amplifiers. In other words, the craft was both fueled and
propelled by virtue of element 115.
"There was a storage of silver-dollar-sized discs of element 115
from which triangular wedges were cut and put into the reactor. It was
a copper-orange color and extremely heavy. While it was not
radioactive, we assumed it was a toxic material and consequently handled
it as such.
"In all the discs at S4, there were three gravity amplifiers
positioned in a triad at the base of the craft. These were the
propulsion devices. Essentially, what they did was amplify gravity
waves out of phase with those of the earth. The craft operated in two
modes-omicron and delta, which indicated how many gravity amplifiers
were in use. In the omnicron configuration, only one amplifier was
used; the other two were swung out of the way and tucked inside the
disc. In omnicron mode, the crafts can essentially rise and hover but
do little else. To leave the atmosphere, however, all three gravity
amplifiers have to be powered up and focused on the desired location.
Finally, the crafts do not travel in a linear mode. Rather, we
determined that the discs produced their own gravitational fields in
order to distort time and space and essentially pull their destinations
"One afternoon, my colleagues and I walked out onto the dry lake
bed. The disc on which we had been working, the Sport Model, had
already been moved out of the hangar and was beginning to lift off.
Except for a slight hissing, it made no noise. It lifted to about 30
feet off the ground. The hissing stopped, and it just hung silently in
the air, moving to the left, then right. It was absolutely amazing.
"The was information is compartmentalized, that's all the
hands-on information and experience I was allowed to have access to,
though we were given the chance on occasion and only for short periods
of time to read briefing reports that detailed other aspects of this
project. The reports I read that dealt with power and propulsion
systems were accurate, and I proved that to myself by working on the
system. Still, I draw a hard line between what I know to be true and
what I read in the other briefing reports.
"With that understanding, I did read reports about the origin of
this disc. According to one of the briefings, it came from the Zeta
Reticuli star system. Now obviously I didn't fly in a craft or go to
that star system, so I don't really know if it came from there. I didn't
speak to any aliens or see any, so I don't know if they exist or not.
That report also said that contact was made at a certain date; however,
all the dates were in code. Also, according to the report, these beings
told our officials that they had been coming here for 10,000 years, that
humans are the product of externally corrected evolution, and that they
were integral to the accelerated evolution of man.
"My tolerance for the intensive security rapidly diminished.
Because of the 24-hour telephone surveillance, they found out I was
having marital problems and told me the situation had made me a
candidate for 'emotional instability.' They then took my security
clearance and told me I could reapply in six months.
"Well, I knew the test schedule, and I couldn't resist, so one
night I decided to show some friends from a distance what I had been
working on. We all caravaned out into the desert where we watched a
test flight. We got away with it that time, so we started coming back
again and again.
"Anyway, the third time we got caught by the Wackenhut Security
guards out on the Bureau of Land Management land that surrounds the
range. They turned me in. Needless to say, officials at Nellis weren't
happy. I went through a debriefing and was threatened at that time. I
was scared and felt that I needed to break away from this before I
"Not only did I believe this technology should be given to the
greater scientific community, but I also believed my only protection was
to get the story out. A friend convinced me to talk to George Knapp at
KLAS-TV. I figured if they killed me, then it would simply prove that
what I was saying was true.
"There are many scientists who theorize that there simply cannot
be extraterrestrial discs here, that aliens could not possibly have come
here specifically, because the distance traveled is too great and the
energy required is too awesome, and that there's no relatively quick way
to go that distance even at the speed of light. What I reported is what
I experienced, though in some respects I regret going public. If I had
it to do over again, I might be more inclined to stay on as one of the
Update: In 1990, after Lazar says he was released from Project
Galileo, he accepted a freelance job setting up a database and
surveillance system for an illegal Las Vegas brothel. That gig
eventually garnered him six felony counts, including aiding and abetting
a prostitute, running a house of prostitution, and living off the
earnings of a prostitute. The charges were quickly dropped to a single
felony count of pandering. The one good thing that came out of the
resulting trial, Lazar says, is that he's not being followed anymore-at
least not to his knowledge. "I guess they figured the pandering
conviction discredited me," he comments.
Lazar currently earns a living from his two small companies, an
independent contracting firm that repairs nuclear devices, and a photo
lab. He also builds and races jetcars. And, every year since 1984, on
the weekend before July 4, he has staged Desert Blast, which he says is
the "largest illegal fireworks show in the West." This annual
pyrotechnic extravaganza features huge fireworks and assorted gas bombs
made by Lazar and friends as well as jetcar demonstrations and a little
semiautomatic weapons venting. Lazar recently sold his movie rights and
is working on a new home video.
Official Response: "The Air Force comment is that there is no
comment on anything that goes on at the Nellis Range," says Air Force
Master Sgt. J. C. Marcom of Public Affairs. Meanwhile, according to
Technical Sergeant Henderson of Public Affairs, "The Air Force has no
record that Lazar ever worked at Nellis Air Force Base, though we have
compiled an extensive list of inquiries as to his status."
The Critics Corner: "We've pretty well determined that Lazar
did work at Los Alamos, but it's been impossible to verify exactly what
he did," says Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of the Center for UFO
Studies. "As for element 115, physicists admit that such an element is
theoretically possible, but we don't know how to manufacture it or where
to get it. So, Lazar's claim to have worked with this element is not
necessarily insane, but it's completely unverifiable. Finally, he seems
to know enough to have really worked at Area 51 or Dreamland where secret
aircraft are tested, but his story remains a murky mystery. The bottom
line: It's impossible to verify. So far, we have not found anyone to
corroborate the essentials of what Lazar says."
Baffled at Bentwaters
Name: Col. Charles I. Halt, U.S. Air Force, retired
Claim: In late December 1980, while serving as deputy base
commander at Brentwaters Air Base in southern Englant, Halt witnessed
and investigated several anomalous objects in the skies over the
Rendelsham Forest, which separates the American installation from its
twin Royal Air Force base, Woodbridge. The sightings occurred on two
separate nights during the week after Christmas. Two, weeks later, Halt
sent a report about the strange encounters to the British Ministry of
Background: A career Air Force officer, Halt served in Vietnam
and on various bases before arriving at Bentwaters in 1980. He was
promoted to base commander in 1984. Halt later served as base commander
at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, and as director of the inspections
directorate for the Department of Defense inspector general. He retired
in 1991. Halt is the first USAF officer since Project Blue Book ended
to have filed a memo on unidentified flying objects and gone public with
The Story: "Just after Christmas, about 5:30 a.m., December 26,
1980, I walked into police headquarters and the desk sergeant started to
laugh. He said a couple of the guys had been out chasing UFOs.
Nothing, however, was in the blotter. I told him to put it in.
"When our base commander came in, we both chuckled. Neither of
us believed in UFOs, be we did decide to look into it. Before we had
the chance, two nights later, the duty flight commander for the security
police unit rushed in to a belated Christmas party white as a sheet.
'The UFO is back,' he said.
"I was asked to investigate. I changed into a utility uniform,
then headed out in a jeep to the edge of the forest. About a dozen of
our men were already there. Out light-alls (large gas-powered lights)
wouldn't work, and there was so much static and constant interference on
our radios that we had to set up a relay. There was increasing
commotion. I was determined to show them this was nonsense.
"I took half a dozen of the men and headed into the woods on
foot to a clearing where the initial incident had supposedly taken
place. We found three distinct indentations in the ground equidistant
apart and pressed well into the sandy soil. They were supposedly cause
by the object seen two nights before, but I didn't see anything sitting
there that night. Neither did anybody else there.
"Inside the triangular area formed by the indentations, one of
the men got slightly higher readings on the Geiger counter than he did
outside. He photographed the area, and I took a soil sample.
Meanwhile, I recorded this activity on my microcassette recorder.
"We knew the Orford Ness lighthouse beacon beamed from the
southeast. All of a sudden, directly to the east, we saw an unusual
red, sunlike light oval shaped, glowing, with a black center-10 to 15
feet off the ground, moving through the trees. Beyond the clearing was
a barbed-wire fence, farmer's field, house, and barn. The animals were
making a lot of noise.
"We ran toward the light up to the fense. It shot over the
field and then moved in a 20-to 30-degree horizontal arc. Strangely, it
appeared to be dripping what looked like molten steel out of a crucible,
as if gravity were somehow pulling it down. Suddenly, it exploded-not a
loud bang, just boomph-and broke into five white objects that scattered
in the sky. Everything except our radios seemed to return to normal.
"We went to the end of the farmer's property to get a different
perspective. In the north, maybe 20 degrees off the horizon, we saw
three white objects-elliptical, like a quarter moon but a little
larger-with blue, greed, and red lights on them, making sharp, angular
movements. The objects eventually turned from elliptical to round.
"I called the command post, asked them to call Easter Radar,
responsible for air defense of that sector. Twice they reported that
they did'nt see anything.
"Suddenly, from the south, a different glowing object moved
towards us at a high rate of speed, came withing several hundred feet,
and then stopped. A pencillike beam, six to eight inches in diameter,
shot from this thing right down by our feet. Seconds later, the object
rose and disappeared.
"The objects in the north were still dancing in the sky. After
an hour or so, I finally made the call to go in. We left those things
"The film turned out to be fogged; nothing came out. But a
staff sergeant later made plaster castings of the indentations, and I
had the soil sample.
"Around New Year's Eve, I took statements and interviewed the
men who had taken part in the initial incident. The reports were nearly
"Basically, they reported this: In the early morning hours of
December 26, one of the airmen drove to the back gate at Woodbridge on a
routine security check. He saw lights in the forest, specifically a red
light, and thought maybe an airplane had crashed. He radioed a report,
which was called into the tower, but the tower reported nobody was
"Eventually, a group headed out to the forest. They reported
strange noises-animals, movement, like we heard two nights later.
"As they approached the clearing, they reported seeing a large
yellowish white light with a blinking red light on the upper center
portion and a steady blue light emanating from underneath. The tower
again reported nothing on radar.
"A few of the men moved to within 20 or 30 feet. Each said the
same thing independently-a triangular shaped metallic object, about nine
feet across the base, six feet high, appeared to be sitting on a tripod.
They split up, walked around the craft. One of the men apparently tried
to get on the craft, but, they said, it levitated up.
"All three of the guys hit the ground as the craft moved quickly
in a zigzagging manner through the woods towared the field, hitting some
trees on the way. They got up and approached again, but the object rose
up, and then it disappeared at gerat speed.
"Finally, on January 13, 1981, I wrote a memo to the British
Ministry of Defense. Despite my efforts, to my knowledge, no one from
any intelligence or government agency ever came on base to investigate.
"I have never sought the limelight, nor have I hidden. I stand
to receive no financial benifit from this interview but consented becase
it's time the truth came out. I don't know what those objects were. I
don't know anybody who does. But something as yet unexplained happened
Update: In 1983, a copy of Halt's memo to the British MOD was
released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Shortly
thereafter, a copy of the 18-minute audiotape of the investigation Halt
conducted was given to a British UFOlogists by, Halt says, another Air
Force Officer. Both have made the rounds within the UFO community.
As a result, Halt says he has been "harassed" by UFOlogists and
fanatics. While half a dozen men assisted Halt's investigation and
dozens of others were near the scene, only a handful of witnesses have
come forward. At leat one of them, Halt says, is spreading
disinformation; consquently, media coverage has been inaccurate at best.
For instance, he says, "The stories about holographiclike aliens
emerging from their craft are pure fiction."
Official Response: "The Air Force stopped investigating UFOs in
1969 when Project Blue Book was completed," says Air Force spokesman
Maj. Dave Thurston, based in Washintgon, D.C.
The Critics' Corner: "The UFO you hear described on the
audiotape was almost certainly the lighthouse beacon in my opinion,
becase the peak interval between their descriptions of it getting
brighter, then dimmer, is the time of rotation of the beacon, which was
about ten miles away," says UFO skeptic Philip Klass. "Even though they
said they saw numerous lights in the night sky, one of ever three UFOs
reported turns out to be a bright celestial body."
"Bentwaters is a case of magical thinking-a situation where a
bunch of people got excited about different things they correlated in
their mind," says UFO investigator James McGaha, technical consultant to
the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the
Paranormal and a retired Air Force Pilot, who traveled to England,
surveyed the area, and interviewed various people. "Consider these
facts: On the night of December 25 to 26, at 9:10 p.m., Russian
satellite Cosmos 746 reentered the atmosphere over England and appeared
as a bright object. At 2:50 a.m., a fireball entered the atmosphere
over Woodbridge. At 4:11 a.m., a British police car with a blue strobe
light on top and other lights attached to the undercarriage responded to
a telephone report and was driving on the dirt roads through the forest.
"Halt's memo reports that on the second night, they saw two
objects in the north, one in the south. On that night, three of the
brightest stars were visible-vega and Deneb in the north, Sirius in the
south. And clearly, the strange red light mentioned on the audio tape
is the Orford Ness Lighthouse beacon. Beyond that, the morning after
the first night, British officers identified the indentations as rabbit
diggings. The Geiger counter readings were of background radiation.
Nothing appeared on radar that night, either, and no one in either base
tower reported anything unusual. Furthermore, no civilians reported
seeing or hearing anything."
The Great High-Rise Abduction
Whatever spin you put on it, it's definitely the case of the century
It was cold and clear, about 3:00 a.m., when the car stalled
near the South Street seaport in Manhattan. Glimpsing up, the
passengers-a major political figure, who will remain unnamed, and two
government agents-spied a glowing oval object hovering over a building a
couple of blocks away. As lights on the heavenly vision changed from
red-orange to a bright bluish-white, a woman in a nightgown floated off
a twelfth story window and hovered midair. The awe-struck witnesses
watched as the woman, surrounded by several small creatures, ascended
effortlessly into the bottom of the craft. The object zipped over the
Brooklyn Bridge and finally plunged into the East River. Or so the story
"It's an extraordinary case," says Budd Hopkins, a world-class
modern artist who has recently become known for his books, Missing Time
and Intruders, detailing his 18 years of investigation into claims that
thousands of people have been abducted by UFOs. A trip to Hopkins'
studio on Manhattan's West Side reveals the profound influence these
so-called abductions have had on his art. Scattered around the room are
colorful, profile-shaped paintings he calls "guardians" that evoke
nothing if not the aliens in question. Indeed, as Hopkins describes his
work, his dark, thick eyebrows dance with enthusiasm; these days, it is
the bizarre tales of UFOs and the nasty creatures who inhabit them,
plucking innocents from their homes in the middle of the night, that
consume most of his time.
If Hopkins seems excited, he explains, it's because he has found
a case that might convince the army of skeptics who have hounded him for
years. Unlike the thousands of other abduction cases on record, he
explains, this is the first time independent witnesses have come forward
claiming to have seen the event take place. Even more significant, one
of these witnesses is said, in the vernacular, to be a Very Import
Person. "The implication," Hopkins speculates, "is that this was
deliberate, a demonstration of alien power and intent."
Hopkins has never had trouble drawing dramatic conclusions about
UFO abductions, a phenomenon that emerged, it should be noted, without
him. The first bizarre story came to public attention in 1966 and
involved the now-notorious New England couple, Betty and Barney Hill.
Under hypnosis, the Hills recalled being snatched from their car and
examined by small creatures aboard a flying saucer. But it would take
another decade, a few more headline-grabbing abduction tales, and,
finally, the television broadcast of the Hills' own story before tales
of alien encounters became embedded in the popular consciousness at
The stage was now set for Hopkins to emerge as the leading
authority on abductions. It happened in 1981 with the publication of
his book, Missing Time, in which he suggested that the abduction
experience was much more widespread than anyone had imagined. For
Hopkins, the plight of the abductee became a personal crusade, and
before long, he would be lecturing on the subject across the country,
appearing on one talk show after another, and finally writing Intruders,
a 1987 best seller that was turned into a television mini series in 1992.
Clearly, no one has done more than Hopkins to bring this strange
phenomenon to public awareness. Even more to the point, no one has had
greater success in getting scientists and mental-health professionals to
take a serious look at abductions.
So it's no surprise that when Hopkins began touting his latest
case as the strongest evidence yet for UFOs, their alien occupants, and
their systematic abduction of human beings, people listened. But as the
pieces of the puzzle were revealed, critics began charging that rather
than prove his point, Hopkins had fallen victim to the elaborate fantasy
of a bored housewife or a complex hoax. Indeed, said his detractors, so
outrageous was the tale and so fragile the evidence for it, it had
backfired, destroying his credibility and bringing down his body of work
like a house of cards.
The story certainly is a humdinger, with more twists and turns
than California's Highway 1 and more mystery characters than a Le Carre
spy thriller. "It's a crazy, endless saga," says Hopkins, including
such elements as secret agents, attempted murder, and two high-level
political figures, Mikhail Gorbachev one of them.
The central character in the case is Linda. She does not want
her last name revealed. She lives in Lower Manhattan, and on the very
hot spring day I went to meet her, I came to appreciate why the aliens
had decided to grab her through the windows. It certainly beats
penetrating a locked gate and the scrutiny of a guard, then taking an
elevator up 12 stories and winding your way through a corridor to her
place. When I knocked on the door, I was greeted by an attractive,
fortyish woman with brown, almond-shaped eyes and long, flowing brown
hair. We sat down on her couch, and as her air conditioner blasted
arctic air and she smoked a dozen cigarettes, I was treated to one
It started early in 1988. Linda had just bought Kitty Kelly's
biography of Frank Sinatra and another book, which she took to be a
mystery. The other book was Intruders by Budd Hopkins. By the end of
the first chapter, she was stumped: Aliens had left mysterious implants
in people's brains and noses, and that last little bit bothered her.
Thirteen years before, she had found a lump on the side of her nose and
had gone to a specialist who said it was built up cartilage left over
from a surgical scar. But she had never had any such surgery, even as a
child, she said. Linda then took my finger and put it on her nose: Yes,
I could feel a very slight bump on her upper right nostril. But there
had to be more than this, I thought. There was.
A year later, Linda finally contacted Hopkins, who decided to
explore Linda's past with his favorite tool-hypnosis. "It felt kind of
strange," Linda says. "I'm just a wife and mother. I'm just Linda.
Hopkins says he learned otherwise. He regressed Linda to age
8, enabling her to recall an episode in which she thought she glimpsed
the cartoon character Casper, of Casper the Friendly Ghost fame. But
under hypnosis, her memory of Casper turned out to be a large, top
shaped object that she'd seen flying above the apartment building across
the street from her childhood home in Manhattan. Hopkins came to
suspect that she had been abducted by aliens and by June of 1989 had
invited her to join his support group for abductees.
"I remember sitting there bug-eyed listening to these people,"
says Linda. "I felt strange the first time, but after that I felt
"Finally, on November 30, 1989, a very agitated Linda called
Hopkins to report she had been abducted again. She had gone to bed
quite late, at about ten minuets before 3:00 a.m., because she'd been
up doing the laundry. Towels and blue jeans for four take eons to dry
in her small dryer, she explained. Her husband, who normally worked
nights, was on jury duty that week and so was home and asleep in the
bedroom. She showered, got into bed, and lying on her back, clasped her
hands and began reciting "Our Father" to herself, a habit she carried
over into adulthood from her Roman Catholic upbringing. Then she felt a
presence in the room.
"I was awake but had my eyes closed," she recalls. "I was
afraid. I knew it wasn't my husband; he was snoring away. Then I lay
there wondering Did I lock the door? Is it one of the kids?" She
called out the names of her two boys and finally reached out for her
husband. "Wake up," she said, "there's somebody in the room."
He didn't answer, and she began to feel a numbness crawl up from
her toes. After months in the support group exploring her past
abductions, she recognized what that meant. It's now or never, she
thought and opened her eyes. At the foot of the bed, says Linda, stood
a small creature with a large head and huge black eyes. "I screamed and
yelled," she says, "and then threw my pillow. The creature fell back."
After that, she has only fragments of conscious memory-a white fabric
going over her eyes; little alien hands pounding up and down her back;
suddenly falling back into bed.
It was a quarter to 5:00 in the morning when Linda jumped out of
bed, ran into the kids' room, and discovered, she says, that "they
weren't breathing." Hysterical, she retrieved a small mirror from the
bathroom and placed it under their noses. Suddenly, a mist formed on
the mirror, she says, and she heard her husband snoring in the other
room. They were all alive. Linda, in shock, sat on the floor in the
hallway between the two bedrooms until dawn. Later she called Hopkins.
Under hypnosis, Linda revealed that there had actually been five
creatures in the apartment. They had led her form the bedroom through
the living room and out a closed window, she declared, where, floating
in midair, she saw a bright bluish-white light. She was afraid of
falling and embarrassed, thinking her nightgown had gone over her head.
She moved up into the craft and then found herself sitting on a table.
The creatures around her, she says, were scraping her arms-"like taking
skin samples," she speculates, and pounding with an instrument up and
down her spine-all typical abduction fare, to say the least.
Quite atypical is what allegedly happened 15 months later. In
February 1991, Hopkins received a typewritten letter from two people
claiming to be police officers. Late in 1989, the letter said, the two
had witnessed a "little girl or woman wearing a full white nightgown"
floating out of a twelfth-floor apartment window, escorted by three
"ugly but small humanlike creatures" into a very large hovering oval
that eventually turned reddish orange. The object, the letter added,
flew over their heads, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and plunged into the
East River. They wondered if the woman was alive, though they wished to
remain anonymous to protect their careers. They signed the letter with
first names only-Richard and Dan.
Hopkins was astonished. "I realized immediately that the woman
they had seen was Linda," he said. "The account seemed to corroborate
the time, date, and details of her abduction. Here, finally, were
independent, seemingly reputable witnesses to an abduction.:
When Hopkins first called Linda to tell her, she replied, "That
can't be possible." Then she wondered if she and Budd were the victims
of a cruel joke. But all suspicions vanished one evening a few weeks
later, she says, when Richard and Dan showed up at her door.
"Police," they announced. Linda looked through the peephole and
saw two men in plain clothes flashing a gold badge. "So I let them in,"
said Linda, "and they looked at me kind of funny. When they introduced
themselves as Dan and Richard, my stomach dropped to the floor." Both
were tall, well-built, attractive men in their forties, she says. Dan
sat on the couch, put his head in his hand, and said, "My God, it's
really her." Richard had tears in his eyes and hugged her, expressing
relief that she was alive."
"Budd had warned me not to discuss the incident with anyone,"
Linda says now, "so all I could do was tell them to talk to Budd."
In the year that followed, Linda claims, she had numerous
encounters with the mystery due-at the bus stops, outside her dentist's
office, even at church. Hopkins himself never had the pleasure of
meeting the pair, though, he says, he did eventually receive three more
letters from Dan and four letters and an audiocassette from Richard. In
one letter, says Hopkins, Dan explained his need to remain anonymous: He
and Richard were not New York City cops, he said, nor on that fateful
November night had they been alone. They were, in fact, government
security agents and had been escorting an important political figure,
who they would not name, to a downtown heliport; suddenly their car's
engine died and the headlights went out. They had seen Linda's
abduction unfold after they pushed the car to safety under the elevated
Dan and Richard just couldn't stay away. One morning, after
Linda had walked her youngest son to the school bus at 7:15, she claims
she was approached by Richard, who asked her to take a ride in his car.
She refused, but Richard's grip firmed on her shoulder. "You can go
quietly or you can go kicking and screaming," Linda claims Richard told
her. As he dragged her to the open rear door of his black Mercedes, he
tickled her, Linda states. "That's how he got me in the car."
"They drove me around for about three hours," says Linda,
"asking me all sorts of questions." Did she work for the government?
Was she herself an alien? They even demanded she prove herself human by
taking off her shoes. Aliens, they would claim in a letter to Hopkins,
lacked toes. She called Hopkins as soon as they dropped her off at
"Hopkins told me to call the police," Linda now explains, "but I
refused. Who would have believed me?" The notion of surveillance by
Richard and Dan eventually spooked her so much that she quit her
secretarial job and simply stayed home. To ease Linda's isolation,
Hopkins found a benefactor who paid for Linda's limited use of a
bodyguard so she could go out.
Unfortunately, the bodyguard was not around for what Linda says
was her second major encounter with Richard and Dan. On October 15,
1991, Linda reports, Dan accosted her on the street and pulled her into
a red Jaguar. As they drove along, he sometimes put his hand on her
knee-"to distract me," Linda suggests, "from following the rout to a
three-story beach house which I assume was on Long Island." Inside, Dan
started a pot of coffee and gave Linda a present: a nightgown, she says,
"the kind a woman might wear if she didn't have any children, especially
sons." Dan asked her to put it on so he could photograph her in it as
she appeared mid-abduction, floating over New York. She refused but
finally agreed to put it on over her clothes. As Dan's behavior became
increasingly strange, she decided to flee, running out the door and onto
"Dan caught me and picked me up, shaking me like a toy," she
says. There was mud on my face, so he dunked me in the water once,
twice, three times. I don't think he was trying to drown me, but he
kept me under too long." This behavior, which critics of this strange
tale have termed "attempted murder," finally ceased. Instead, Dan
pulled off Linda's wet jeans and she says, pulled her down on his lap in
the water, rocking her like a baby. Shortly after, Linda reports,
"Richard showed up, apologized for Dan, and drove me home."
Linda went straight to Hopkins. "She left sand all over my
house," Hopkins says. "A few weeks later, I received a half dozen
photographs of Linda, in the nightgown, running along the beach."
That November, the saga became stranger still. While lunching
with Linda, a relative who was also a doctor insisted she go to the
hospital to x-ray the lump in her nose. The x-ray Linda now presents
shows a profile of her head; clearly visible is a quarter-inch-long
cylinder apparently embedded in her nose.
"It was weird," says Hopkins' friend Paul Cooper, professor of
neurosurgery at New York University, who has examined the x-ray. "I've
never seen anything like it." But even Cooper admits the x-ray could
have been faked by taping a little something to the outside of Linda's
Moreover, as usually happens in UFO stories, this tantalizing
bit of evidence vanished as quickly as it had appeared. Soon after
getting the x-ray, Linda told Hopkins she'd awakened with a bloody nose.
Under hypnosis, Hopkins says, Linda revealed that the aliens had again
whisked her away. Later, with Cooper's help, Hopkins had further x-rays
taken, but the implant was nowhere to be seen.
Meanwhile, another alleged witness to Linda's spectacular
abduction came forward. That same month, Hopkins received a large
manila envelope from a woman living in upstate New York. On the
outside, in large letters, appeared the words, Confidential, Re:
On the evening of November 29, 1989, the woman-Hopkins calls her
"Janet Kimble"-Had been in Brooklyn at a retirement party for her boss.
When she headed home via the Brooklyn Bridge around 3:00 a.m., she told
Hopkins, her car came to a dead stop in the middle of the bridge and her
headlights blinked out. The same thing, she states, happened to the
cars coming up behind her. Suddenly, she saw what she thought was "a
building on fire" about a quarter of a mile away. The light was so
bright that she had to shield her eyes, she said. Then she realized
what she was seeing: Four "balls" had floated out of an apartment window
and, midair, unfolded into three "rickets-stricken" children and a
fourth, taller, "normal girl-child" wearing a white gown. "While I
watched," she wrote, "I could hear the screams of people parked in their
cars behind me." The "children" were then whisked up into the object,
whereupon it flew over the Brooklyn Bridge and disappeared when her view
was obscured by a walkway.
Hopkins says he telephoned "Janet Kimble" immediately and later
had lunch with her. The tale told by this "widow of about sixty who
once worked as a telephone operator" corroborates stories told by
Richard and Linda, he says, ruling out the possibility of a hoax.
In fact, if Hopkins is to be believed, another witness to the
Linda abduction was actually the first. That person, he states, is a
UFO abductee as well, a woman in her early thirties who claims to have
been abducted from her Manhattan bedroom in the middle of the night.
She consciously remembers being outside at some point, moving along the
streets involuntarily, and seeing 15 to 20 other women all moving
zombielike toward a UFO on the banks of the East River.
When Hopkins tells me this, I can't help but guffaw. He finds
my reaction perfectly understandable. "What can I say?" he says. For
Hopkins, who is in the midst of investigating another mass abduction in
New York City involving a hundred humans, this woman's story is only "a
little more bizarre than most."
In any event, says Hopkins, this woman at one point looks down
the East River and sees two other UFOs in the sky, one a bright orange
object at the southern end of Manhattan, ostensibly the one that
The two cases, if believed and taken in concert, shed an ominous
light on the humorous name that some critics have bestowed on the Linda
case: "Manhattan Transfer." Were the aliens out that night abducting
Manhattanites like Linda in droves?
By December of 1991, the end of Linda's saga was nowhere in
sight. She was now struggling with an obviously disturbed an persistent
human named Dan, who, according to Richard had been admitted to a "rest
home." At Christmas, she received a card and note from Dan. It was a
love letter actually. He told her he planned to leave the "rest home"
soon and asked her to pack her toothbrush-he was coming for her. He
wanted to learn her alien ways and her special language. "You'll make a
beautiful bride," he teased. Linda, however was not amused.
Dan apparently tried to get Linda in February of 1992, but she
was rescued from this dragon by Richard, who Linda now regards as a
knight in shining armor. Linda says that Richard, up on returning from
a "mission" abroad, had gone to visit Dan at the rest home, found him
missing, and had come looking for him in New York. When he learned that
Dan had prepared a passport for Linda and booked two tickets to England,
he immediately sought out Linda and managed to sweep her away just in
Linda's last contact with the aliens occurred a few months
afterward. On Memorial Day 1992, she, her husband, two sons, and one of
their guests all awakened at about 4:30 in the morning with nosebleeds.
Hopkins says he has subsequently confirmed, through hypnosis, that the
incident was UFO related. "I really don't try to convince anybody,"
says Linda, having come to the end of her story. "I don't expect anyone
to believe this because, to tell you the truth, if the shoe were on the
other foot, I wouldn't believe it either. But it happened. It
If it really did, I thought, the independent witnesses would
confirm it. The prize witness obviously was the VIP, and the word in
the UFO community is that Hopkins thinks it was Javier Perez de Cuellar,
secretary-general of the United Nations from 1982 to 1991. "I will not
deny or confirm that," says Hopkins. "I won't say who he is, but I can
say this: All the letters from Richard and Dan refer to the fact that
there was a third man in the car. And he's written one letter to me,
which was signed, The Third Man. I can't make the things he said
public, though clearly he's letting me know between the lines who he
Actually, rumor has it that this third party may be central to
the Linda case. According to anonymous sources close to Hopkins,
Richard, Dan, and their passenger were all abducted on that fateful day
of November 30, 1989, right along with Linda. Their delayed recall of
this event supposedly would explain why it took them 15 months for them
to write to Hopkins, why they were so interested in Linda, and why they
are so reluctant to come forward now.
But all that is certain about Perez de Cullar is that he was in
New York City on the days in question. Did he really witness the Linda
Joe Sills, spokesman for the secretary-general at the United
Nations, was nice enough to check with the security people but came up
empty handed. "No one that I spoke to," he says, "was aware of him ever
being in that part of town at that hour of the morning. It's just not
in the kind of schedule he kept." What's more, he added, Perez de
Cuellar could not have been heading for the heliport since he always
went to the airport via limousine. U.N. spokesperson Juan Carlos Brandt
checked with Perez de Cuellar directly. "He says he never witnessed any
incident," says Brandt.
And adding insult to injury, Hopkins can't even prove that the
two government security agents, Richard and Dan, are real. He has never
met or spoken to them, and all efforts to identify them have proven
fruitless. In March of 1991, for instance, Linda looked through six
hours of clips of news programs showing security agents at events in New
York City. The clips belong to one of Hopkins' contacts in the
government law enforcement. Near the end of the six hours Linda spotted
a man whom she identified as 'Dan.' Despite the fact that the images
were taken from a distance, involved crowds and the bustling chaos that
accompanies visiting dignitaries, she apparently had no trouble making
her identification. Those who have viewed the tapes have seen a man who
appears to be taking part in official business, and who is in no way out
of place or unusual.
In the months that followed, Hopkins and Linda made the rounds
with their pictures of "Dan" in hand. They went to United Nations
security and the State Department, Secret Service, and Russian
delegation offices in New York. At times, Hopkins and Linda would use a
cover story so as not to arouse suspicion: "Sometimes we said we were
husband and wife and that this was a friend we had met a couple of years
ago in Cape Cod and he had said to look him up here when we came to New
York," Hopkins explains. But the ploy didn't work. "I've been all
over with these pictures," says Hopkins, "and nobody recognizes him."
Then there is the woman on the bridge, "Janet Kimble." She is a
real person but apparently, after being ridiculed by her own family,
wants no part of Hopkins' story. When Hopkins tried to arrange an
interview for me, she told him, "I can't help you anymore with this."
The final independent witness is the woman up the East River who claims
to have participated in the mass abduction of women that very night.
But she's another abductee and not truly impartial in the matter.
With no independent witnesses willing to come forward, the case,
not surprisingly, has come under intense criticism. Curiously, two of
those most critical of the case initially became involved at Linda's
By early 1992, Linda was feeling so helpless at the hands of her
human kidnappers that she decided to seek additional expert help. At
the suggestion of New York journalist and UFO researcher Antonio
Huneeus, she contacted Richard Butler, a former law-enforcement and
security specialist for the Air Force and a fellow abductee, whom Linda
had met at Hopkins' support group. Butler met with Linda on February 1,
1992, and brought with him Joe Stefula, a former special agent for the
U.S. Army's Criminal Investigations Command and current head of security
for a drug company in New Jersey. During the meeting, Linda asked for
safety tips on how to protect herself from the dangerous duo, and Butler
and Stefula, in order to give useful advice, asked Linda a few questions
of their own.
Several months later, after Hopkins made the case public at the
1992 Mutual UFO Network annual meeting in Albuquerque, Stefula, Butler,
and a friend of theirs, parapsychologist George Hansen, decided the case
needed a thorough investigation and began poking around Linda's
neighborhood. They spoke to the security guard and supervisor at
Linda's building, went to the offices of the New York Post nearby, and
simply interviewed residents to see if they remembered anything amiss.
No one did.
Afterward, Hansen, already the author of a number of stinging
critiques of both psi research and its critics, wrote a lengthy
skeptical report. The central issue, say the skeptics, is the lack of
large numbers of witnesses to this spectacular event. After all, New
York never sleeps; there are people out and about even in the middle of
the night. Why did none of the truck drivers at the loading dock of the
New York Post just a short distance from Linda's apartment see this
blindingly bright object? Why haven't all those other people whose cars
were supposedly stalled on the Brooklyn Bridge come forward?
To such questions, Hopkins has a two-fold reply: "The
unwillingness of people to report such fantastic experiences is not
new. People do not like to be ridiculed," he says. Then there's the
invisibility issue, "which just seems to be part of the phenomenon.
Many people who you think should have seen these things just don't,"
But Hopkins can't explain everything. For instance, how could
"Janet Kimble" know that the words Brooklyn Bridge written on the
outside of her envelope would attract Hopkins' attention unless she knew
or was related to one of the the people in the Hopkins support group,
all of whom had heard about the case? The answer, replies Hopkins, is
ridiculously simple: "She saw the abduction from the Brooklyn Bridge and
thought that the others who had been stalled on the bridge that night
might have contacted me about it."
But Butler says the likelier explanation is that Linda
fabricated the whole story after reading Nighteyes, a science-fiction
novel by Garfield Reeves-Stevens published in April of 1989, just months
before her alleged abduction. The novel charts the abductions of an FBI
team staking out a beach house in California while a mother and daughter
undergo a series of abductions in and around New York City. It
concludes with an apocalyptic finale. Butler claims that Linda was very
intrigued when the book was brought up at the Hopkins support-group
meetings. "I guarantee you that's where she got the basis for her
story," he says.
Butler admits the book's storyline is different from Linda's but
says there are too many parallels to be coincidence. Both Linda and the
novel's Sarah were abducted into a UFO hovering over a high-rise
apartment building in New York City. Linda was kidnapped and thrown
into a car by Richard and Dan; one of the novel's central characters,
Wendy, was kidnapped and thrown into a van by two mystery men. Dan is
supposed to be a security and intelligence agent, while one of the
book's central characters is an FBI agent. Both Dan and an agent in the
novel were hospitalized for emotional trauma. Both Linda and the
novel's Wendy were taken to a "safe house" on the beach. The list of
such parallels goes on and on.
"But similarity does not prove relationship," replies Hopkins.
Without an important political figure witnessing the abduction-the very
essence of the Linda case, he notes-the comparison with the book is
Hopkins is not alone. Walt Andrus, international director of
the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON, is "absolutely convinced the case is
authentic." And David Jacobs, a history professor at Temple University
and another researcher on the abduction scene, says the critics
debunking the case have twisted the facts. "Over the past several
years, I have been a confidant of Hopkins' and, at times, of Linda's. I
can tell you that when Hopkins' report comes out, the inaccuracy of the
critics will be apparent and the case will stand or fall on its own
For Hansen, of course, those merits are slim. And, he says, the
hoaxing he believes occurred is the least of it. "For me," he says,
"the worst infraction is the reaction of the leadership of UFOlogy. I
think this has given us great insight into the mentality-and the
gullibility-of Budd Hopkins, Walt Andrus, and David Jacobs, the people
who really control much of what people actually read about UFOs."
Hansen is particularly upset that, given charges of kidnapping
and attempted murder, the leadership did not go to the police. "I
recognize there is government cover-up on UFOs," he says, "but covering
up a so-called attempted murder and kidnapping, as these guys apparently
say they've done-that's quite something else."
Hoping to right the wrong, Hansen has, in fact, sent a letter to
the inspector general's office, Department of the Treasury, requesting
that Linda's claims of kidnapping and attempted murder by federal agents
be investigated. In February of 1992, the SEcret Service contacted
Linda and she and Hopkins went down to their World Trade Center offices
to speak to Special Agent Peggy Fleming and her supervisor. Hopkins and
Linda told Fleming the story and explained that they didn't know who
Hanson was or why he was involved. Linda also objected to what she
perceived as Hansen's insinuation that she was against the government.
She was not, she said: "I'm a Bush Republican."
When I called the Secret Service about their investigation, I
was referred to Special Agent James Kaiser, media representative in the
New York field office. After reviewing the file on the case, titled
"Special Agent Alleged Misconduct, February 10, 1993," Kaiser told me
that Linda "was, in fact, interviewed at our office, and it was
determined that her allegations regarding U.S. Secret Service agents
having any contact with her whatsoever prior to that day were unfounded
and baseless. It never happened. She may have been mistaking us for
some other agency or organization. Case closed."
The case is also closed as far as Hansen, Stefula, and Butler
are concerned. They truly believe that Linda is involved in a hoax. "I
think she started out with a small lie," speculates Hansen, "a tall tale
that grew in the three years that followed. She's been a typist and
temporary secretary, so she has had access to a lot of different
typewriters undoubtedly. It would not surprise me if there were
someone else hoaxing Hopkins as well."
Hopkins flatly rejects the hoax scenario. "An efficient hoax
has a minimum of moving parts," he says. "You don't want to go into too
many details. This has more moving parts that one could possibly
As for Linda, when asked if she had made up this whole scenario,
she replied simply, "No. How could this be a hoax? There are too many
people involved. In fact," she added, "I take the suggestion as a
compliment. They must think I'm pretty intelligent to pull off such a
Some details of the case frankly do make me suspicious. For
one, the drawings of the abduction that Hopkins received from Richard
and the woman on the bridge not only look like they might have been
prepared by the same person, despite the stylistic and perspective
differences, which Hopkins has duly noted, but more importantly, both
were done in crayons and used the same colors.
What's more, to actually meet Linda and hear her talk is to be
transported to a world where reality is inverted, where all we have ever
known is flipped on its head. Strain your ears, and you can almost hear
the chords from Twilight Zone kick in as the underlying chaos of the
universe takes control. Fact is, outrageous as I find Linda's story,
Linda herself seems sincere. Her emotions-fright, anxiety, and
I'm not alone in these impressions. John Mack, a professor
of psychiatry at Harvard University MEdical School, whom Hopkins confided
in as the story unfolded and who know knows Linda well, insists that
"there is nothing unauthentic or devious" about her.
Gibbs Williams, a New York psychoanalytic psychotherapist with a
quarter century of experience, has tested Linda and also dismisses any
notion that Linda might be hoaxing the whole affair. "You would have to
have the kind of conspiratorial mentality of Richard Nixon and be able
to think sixty-two moves ahead," Williams says. "Quite frankly, Linda
doesn't appear to have that kind of mind; she does not have that kind of
abstracting capacity." He notes further that her emotive capacity-her
anger, crying, and tendency to get carried away-is not consistent with
the psychopathic cool mentality of the hoaxer and liar. "My
conclusion," he says, "is that from her perspective, she is telling her
Perhaps Jerome Clark, vice president for the Center for UFO
Studies (CUFOS) and editor of the International UFO Reporter, sums up
the controversy best: "This is an absolutely extraordinary claim, and
the evidence that you need to marshal to support such a claim simply is
Hopkins promises it will be when his book appears. Until then,
Linda stands alone, ambivalent about her fame. On the one hand, she
seems to revel in the notoriety. She attends national UFO meetings
obviously dressed to impress. "To tell you the truth, it wouldn't be
that bad if I didn't have a family," she admits to me.
Yet she also feels victimized. "There are a lot of Italian
Americans and Chinese in my neighborhood, and many of them even laugh at
joggers," she says. "Imagine if anyone in the area herd that I was
abducted by aliens."
"Worst of all," she continues, "those critics took away the
safety of my family by taking my real name and publishing it. We are
sitting ducks for any crackpot int he UFO community. They know where I
live. They know what I look like." She has already taken her name off
her intercom system, and she fully expects to move when Hopkins' book on
the case comes out. "I don't know what's worse," she says finally, "what
Richard and Dan did, what these three stooges from New Jersey did, or
what the aliens did." Or what Hopkins has done, I might add. After all,
he promised so much and has delivered so little. Poor Linda.
by James Oberg
[ The P/\NTHER - This guy is a suspected CIA disinformant and I have seen
him appear in numerous UFO specials/documentaries with different
credentials each time...This is the guy who said the 1991 Space Shuttle
UFO footage was 'SPACE ICE'... Beware!]
Day after day, the waves of UFOs returned to southern Russia.
Cossacks on horseback saw them high in the evening sky. Pilots aboard
commercial airliners and military interceptors chased and dodged them.
Astronomers at observatories in the Caucasus Mountains noted their
crescent shape and their fiery companions.
It was the fall of 1967, and the Soviet Union was in the grip of
its first major UFO flap. The extraordinary tales, described on Soviet
television, reported in Soviet newspaper, and analyzed in a private
nationwide UFO study group soon took on a life of their own.
In one detailed account, an airliner crew from Voroshilovgrad to
Volgograd, flight 104, insisted that a UFO had hovered and then
maneuvered around their plane. According to Soviet UFO enthusiast Felix
Zigel, who compiled such accounts, the plane's engines died and did not
start up again until after the UFO had disappeared, when the aircraft
was only a half mile high in the air.
These tales and others were repeated in Western UFO books and
presented as important evidence at UFO hearings in the United States
Congress and in Britain's House of Lords. Then, as suddenly as it had
started, the wave of Russian UFO sightings ceased. Private UFO groups
were banned by the Soviet government, and the subject was dropped from
the controlled media even as it spread wildly in the samizdat, the
underground Russian press.
But the phenomenon was not forgotten. Years later, astronomer
Lev Gindilis and a team of investigators from the Academy of Sciences in
Moscow assessed Zigel's UFO files, analyzing statistics from what they
said was "the repetitive motion" of the objects Ziegel described. In
1979, the "Gindilis Report" was released and distributed around the
world. It concluded that no known natural or manmade stimulus could
account for these "anomalous atmospheric phenomena." Something truly
extraordinary and truly alien must have occurred.
But it was too good to be true. Like many other official Soviet
government reports, the Gindilis Report turned out to be counterfeit
science. In effect, and probably in intent, it served to cover up one
of Moscow's greatest military secrets, an illegal space-to-earth nuclear
What the witnesses really saw back in those exciting days in
1967 were space vehicles all right, but not from some distant, alien
world. They were Russian missile warheads, placed in low orbit under
false registration names and then diverted back toward the planet's
surface after one circuit of the globe. As they fireballed down toward
a target zone near the lower Volga River, they seared their way into the
imaginations of startled witnesses for hundreds of miles in all
Of course, U.S. intelligence agencies had also been watching the
tests, and they weren't fooled by the UFO smokescreen. Pentagon experts
soon dubbed this fearsome new weapon a "fractional orbit bombardment
system," or FOBS. Government spokespeople in Washington denounced it as
a first strike weapon designed to evade defensive radars. Since Moscow
had recently signed a solemn international treaty forbidding the
orbiting of nuclear weapons, the existence of this weapon (whose tests
alone did not violate the treaty) was a glaring advertisement of
contempt. So when Russian UFO witnesses concluded that they had been
seeing alien spaceships instead of treaty-busting weapons tests, Soviet
military officials were all too willing to permit this illusion to
Twenty-five years later, with the FOBS rockets long since
scrapped and the Soviet regime itself on the scrap heap of history, the
now-purposeless deception has maintained a zombielike life of its own.
Russian UFO literature continues to issue ever more glorious accounts of
the 1967 "crescent spaceships." Mainstream Russian magazines,
newspapers, and even museum exhibits contain fanciful drawings of such
shapes. Zigel himself is revered as "the father of Soviet UFOlogy," an
icon of reliability and authenticity.
But Zigel's and Gindilis's crescent craft are just one example
of the ridiculous notions and outrageous fictions Russian UFOlogy has
spawned. In 1977, for instance, Tass, the official Russian new agency,
carried a dispatch from the northwest Russian port city of Petrozavodsk
titled "Strange Natural Phenomenon over Kerelia." Wrote local
correspondent Nikolay Milov, "On September 20 at about 0400 a huge star
suddenly flared up in the dark sky, impulsively sending shafts of light
to the earth. This star moved slowly toward Petrozavodsk and, spreading
out over it in the form of a jellyfish, hung there, showering the city
with a multitude of very fine rays which created an image of pouring
The "visitation" unleashed a torrent of rumors. People later
reported being awakened from deep sleep by telepathic messages. Tiny
holes were reportedly seen in windows and paving stones. Cars were said
to have stalled and computers to have crashed, and witnesses smelled
Soviet UFO enthusiasts rushed to embrace the case. "As far as I
am concerned," claimed science-fiction author Aleksandr Kazantsev, "it
was a spaceship from outer space, carrying out reconnaissance."
According to Dr. Vladimir Azhazha, "In my opinion, what was seen over
Petrozavodsk was either a UFO, a carrier of high intelligence with crew
and passengers, or it was a field of energy created by such a UFO."
Zigel, the dean of Soviet UFOlogists, agreed it was a true UFO: "Without
a doubt-it had all the features."
Sadly, the cause of all this mindless panic was a routine rocket
launching from the supersecret military space center at Plesetsk in
northwest Russia. The multiengined booster's contrails, backlit by the
dawn sun, seemed to split into multiple glowing tentacles.
In 1981, a midnight rocket launch from Plesetsk lit up the skies
of Moscow itself and sent the capital city's residents into a blitz of
unconstrained creativity. UFO expert Sergey Bozhich's notebooks contain
reports of numerous "independent" UFO encounters during this ordinary
launching. "Pilots of six civil aircraft reported either a UFO in flight
or a UFO [attacking] their aircraft," he wrote. "At 1:30 a UFO
attacked a truck along the Ryazan Avenue in Moscow." One witness even
reported walking from a deep sleep to see a "scout ship" with a glass
cupola and small alien pilot cruising down his street.
The pattern is clear. Time and again, secret launchings or
Russian rockets have unleashed avalanches of classic UFO perceptions
from the imaginative, excitable witnesses and their careless
interviewers. And consistent with its origins, Russian UFO literature
is still characterized by fantastic tales and an utter lack of research
into possible explanations. "I have no doubts" is the most common
figure of speech in the lexicon of Russian UFOlogists, and they are
doubtlessly sincere, if arguably deluded. "Are UFOs real?" one was
asked not long ago by American documentary filmmaker Bryan Gresh. "My
colleagues and I don't even think that's a question," he responded.
"Of course they are real!"
This sort of quasi-religious fervor just helps to fuel the
skepticism of the cautious observer. After all, if Russian UFOlogists
cannot or will not recognize the prosaic stimulus behind these phony
crescent UFOs of 1967 and the UFO "jellyfish" of 1977, they may be
incapable of solving any of the other hundreds of ordinary (if rare)
causes that account for at least 90 percent (if not 100 percent) of all
UFO perceptions. Dozens of major stimuli, and hundreds of minor ones,
are constantly giving rise to counterfeit UFO perceptions around the
world. Filtering out the residue of true UFOs from the pseudo UFOs
poses enormous challenges for investigators. Most Russian UFOlogists
appear unwilling to face this challenge.
And the writings of prominent Russian UFO experts give ample
ground for more anxiety. Vladimir Azhazha, probably the leading Russian
UFO expert of the 1990s, is an undeniable enthusiast of UFO miracle
stories. Some years ago, his favorite Western UFO story involved a UFO
attack on the Apollo 13 space capsule, which he "disclosed" was carrying
a secret atomic bomb to create seismic waves on the moon.
But it was carrying no such thing. The April 1970 explosion,
which disabled the craft and threatened the lives of the three
astronauts, was caused by a hardware malfunction. When challenged
recently by UFOlogists Antonio Huneeus, Azhazha made a candid admission:
"When I gave the lecture, I was a teenager in UFOlogy and was
intoxicated by the E.T. hypothesis and did not recognize anything else.
I would retell with pleasure everything I read."
Supposedly reformed, Azhazha then published a new book with a
glorious new Apollo astronaut UFO story based this time on forged
photographs published in American tabloid newspapers. The pictures show
contrast-enhanced fuzzballs, photographic images that had been sharpened
in the photo lab. A fabricated "radio conversation" in which the
astronauts exclaim surprise at seeing alien spaceships in a crater near
their landing site later appeared in another tabloid; it was patently
bogus, too, based on grossly misused space jargon. The story was long
ago abandoned by reputable Western UFOlogists, but Azhazha still loves
it and presents it as true.
At a UFO conference in Albuquerque in 1992, Azhazha told
astonished Western colleagues that he had proof that 5,000 Russians had
been abducted by UFOs and never returned to Earth. When asked to defend
this number, he disclosed that he took the reported number of ordinary
"missing persons" in the entire Soviet Union, plotted the regions over
which major UFO activity had been reported, and then allocated those
population proportions of "missing" to the UFOs. It was simple,
sincere, and senseless, but the embarrassed American hosts (who had paid
his travel expenses) couldn't disagree too publicly lest their waste of
money be obvious.
Russian UFOlogists claim to be careful. Azhazha himself has
written: "NOthing on faith! One must check, check, and eleven times
check in order to find an error!" But he doesn't seem to know how, and
neither do any of his colleagues. While their sincerity and enthusiasm
are not in doubt, their judgement, balance, and accuracy should be.
Why are people like Azhazha the best that Russia can offer?
Russians are heirs to a great, creative civilization, but they are also
emerging from a social era that has had profound effects on their habits
of thought. Today's Russians have lived in a reality-deprived and
judgement-atrophied culture for generations. Once they were
sufficiently brain be numbed by a repressive communist regime to accept
any and all propagandistic idiocies fed to them, they were
intellectually defenseless against infections of other brain bunk as
UFO enthusiasm prospers in this nurturing environment. And it's
not just UFO sightings that get conjured up by this fuzzy thinking.
Historical figures, preferably dead ones who cannot disagree, are now
constantly being portrayed as "secret UFO believers."
For example, in 1993, a slick new UFO magazine called AURA-Z
appeared in Moscow. Continuing the trend of tying now-dead space heroes
to UFO studies, the magazine featured two separate interviews with
contemporary experts concerning the role played by Sergey Korolev, the
founder of the Soviet missile and space programs. It didn't bother the
magazine at all that the two stories were utterly inconsistent.
In one article, rocket expert Valery Burdakov presented a
detailed account of how back in 1947 Stalin had ordered Korolev to
assess Soviet intelligence reports on the Roswell, New Mexico, UFO
crash. Korolev had reported back that the UFOs were real but not
dangerous, the article "revealed." Yet just seven pages earlier, another
expert named Lev Chulkov had written: "As early as the beginning of the
1950s, Stalin ordered Korolev to study the phenomenon of UFOs, but
Korolev managed to avoid fulfilling this task." Of course, both claims
can't be true. Besides, Burdakov was a recently rehabilitated political
prisoner in 1947 and was thus hardly the type of trusted expert that
Stalin would have consulted.
Behind all such distracting noise, the UFO problem remains a
fascinating and elusive puzzle, worthy of serious research. But weeding
out true UFOs from the overwhelming mass of "IFOs," or identified flying
objects, is a difficult, time-consuming task, as Western UFOlogists have
learned in the past half century. Their new Russian colleagues so far
show no indication that they have even begun.
"I haven't seen too much effort at that job," admits Antonio
Huneeus, one of the West's most perceptive pro-UFO observers of Russian
UFOlogy. "The Russians themselves keep knocking on my door," Huneeus
states. "They want to sell their stuff here." In fact, given today's
economic crisis in Russia, thousands of people of all classes, but
particularly from the military services, are desperately seeking-or
deliberately creating-anything they can sell to Western buyers with
bucks. UFO files are one of the few exportable raw materials with a
market in the West, so there should be no surprise that there are
suddenly so many bizarre items now available and so few Russians willing
to be cautious or critical about them.
If these Russian UFO delusions only affected their own research,
the silliness would do no worldwide harm. But the intellectual infection
has spread far beyond borders and polluted UFO studies in other
countries as well. These new commercial conspiracies between Russian
tall-tale sellers and Western tall-tale tellers in the entertainment and
pseudodocumentary industry will make it much worse.
The more serious Western UFOlogists, for instance, are
particularly embarrassed by their colleagues' naive, unbounded
enthusiasm for the 1967 "crescents" and the subsequent so-called
Gindilis Report, with Soviet thermonuclear weapons tests masquerading as
true UFOs. Dr. James McDonald, probably America's top UFO expert of the
1960s, testified that the crescents "can not be readily explained in any
conventional terms." Dr. J. Allen Hynek, dean of American UFOlogy in
the 1970s, reviewed the sightings and crowed, "It becomes very much
harder-in fact, from my personal viewpoint, impossible-to find a trivial
solution for all the UFO reports if one weights and considers the
caliber of some of the witnesses." They were scientists, pilots,
engineers, and fellow astronomers, and Hynek as absolutely certain they
couldn't have been mistaken.
Today's successor to McDonald and Hynek is retired space
scientist Richard Haines, American director of the joint United
States-Commonwealth of independent States working group on UFOs, the
Aerial Anomaly Federation. Concerning the 1967 sightings, he
confidently wrote that "the reports represent currently unknown
phenomena, being completely different in nature from known atmospheric
optics effects or technical experiments in the atmosphere."
Another famous Russian pseudo UFO case, called the "Cape Kamenny
UFO," has long been foolishly championed by Western UFO experts. Top
American UFOlogist Jacques Valle cited this encounter in a 1992 book as
one of the best in the world. His casebook coding scheme gave it the
highest marks: "Firsthand personal interview with the witness by a
source of proven reliability; site visited by a skilled analyst; and no
explanation possible, given the evidence."
A graphic account of this UFO was given by American UFOlogist
William L. Moore based on casebooks compiled by Zigel. "On December 3,
1967 at 3:04p.m.," wrote Moore, several crewmen and passengers of an
IL-18 aircraft on a test flight for the State Scientific Institute of
Civil Aviation sited an intensely bright object approaching them in the
night sky." Moore reported that the object "followed" the evasive turns
of the aircraft.
But years later I discovered that the aircraft, passing near
Vorkuta in the northern Urals, had by chance been crossing the flight
path of the Kosmos-194 spy satellite during its ascent from Plesetsk.
The crew had unwittingly observed the rocket's plumes and the separation
of its strap-on boosters. All other details of maneuvers were added in
by their imaginations. Yet this bogus UFO story is highlighted as
authentic by nearly every Western account of Russian UFOs in the last 20
Of course, not all Russian UFO reports spring from missile and
space events. Far from it! But those specific kinds of stimuli are
extremely well documented, unlike other traditional pseudo UFO stimuli
such as balloons, experimental aircraft, military and police helicopters,
bodice fireballs, and so forth. Thus, they can provide an unmatchable
calibration test for the ability of Russian UFOlogists to find solutions
for these pseudo UFOs.
The Russian UFOlogists have failed. The ultimate test of the
Russians' ability to perform mature, reliable UFO research is how they
treat "the smoking gun" of Russian UFOlogy, the Petrozavodsk "jellyfish"
UFO of 1977. The "jellyfish" was a brief wonder in the West before
being quickly solved (by me) as the launch of a rocket from Plesetsk.
Western UFOlogists readily accepted the explanation, but now it turns
out that Russian UFO experts never did. They have assembled a vast
array of miracle stories associated with the event, including reports of
telepathic messages and physical damage to the earth.
But all this proves is that ordinary Russians love to embellish
stories and that Russian UFO researchers haven't a clue on how to filter
out such exaggerations from original perceptions. If they cannot do it
for such obviously bogus UFOs as Petrozavodsk, how can they be expected
to do it for less clearcut ones?
If the UFO mystery is to be solved, there is adequate data from
the rest of the world outside of Russia. Serious UFOlogists will have
to quarantine the obviously hopelessly infected UFO lore from Russia and
disregard it all. Some valuable data might be lost, but the crippling
effect of unconstrained crackpottery would be avoided. Every decade or
two, the question can be reconsidered with a simple test: Do leading
Russian UFOlogists still insist on the alien nature of the 1967 crescent
UFOs and the 1977 "jellyfish" UFO? If so, slam the door on them again.
Yet the temptation may be too great, especially for those who
are into what I call the "fairy tale mode" of modern UFO study-those who
believe the best cases are ones that happened long ago and far away, and
thus are forever immune from prosaic solution. Russian UFO stories have
turned out to be exactly those kinds of fairy tales.
And if the purpose of modern UFOlogy is only mystery worship and
obfuscation, only mind-boggling tall tales and mind-stretching
theorizing, then it will continue to feed on the baseless bilge coming
out of Russia while being insidiously and unavoidable poisoned by it.
The reality test, then, is not of Russian UFOlogy, which has already
failed, but of non-Russian UFOlogy, where the issue remains in doubt.
COSMIC CONSPIRACY: SIX DECADES OF GOVERNMENT UFO COVER-UPS
Article by Dennis Stacy
Editor's note (OMNI Mag.): This is the second of a six-part series
ivestigating UFOs and government secrecy through the years. The decade
under scrutiny here is the 1950s.
Shortly before midnight of July 19, 1952, air-traffic
controllers at Washington National Airport picked up a group of
unidentified flying objects on their radar screens. Over the next three
and a half hours, the targets would disappear and reappear on their
scopes. They were visually corroborated by incoming flight crews. At
3:00 in the morning, the Air Defense Command dispatched two F-94 jet
interceptors, which failed to make contact with the targets.
The following weekend, the same scenario virtually repeated
itself. Unknown targets were picked up on radar and verified both by
incoming pilots and ground observers. This time, the hurriedly
scrambled jets did manage to make visual contact and establish a brief
radar lock-on, and the general public joined in the hoopla as well.
According to The UFO Controversy in America, by Temple University
historian David Jacobs, "So many calls came into the Pentagon alone that
its telephone circuits were completely tied up with UFO inquiries for
the next few days." In several major newspapers, the 1952 UFO flap even
bumped the Democratic National Convention off the front-page-headlines.
The so-called "Washington Wave" also resulted in at least two
events that have been debated ever since. On July 29, in an attempt to
quell public concern, the military held its largest press conference
since the end of WWII. Press conference heads Maj. Gen. John Samford,
director of Air Force Intelligence, adn Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey, chief of
the Air Defense Command, denied that any interceptors had been scrambled
and attributed the radar returns to temperature inversions.
In addition, the Washington sightings led directly to the
CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel, so named after its chairman Dr. Harold P.
Robertson, director of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group for the
secretary of defense. The Panel's basic mandate was outlined in a
document later retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In that crucial document, a 1952 memorandum to the National
Security Council (NSC), CIA director Walter Bedell Smith wrote that "a
broader, coordinated effort should be initiated to develop a firm
scientific understanding of the several phenomena which are apparently
involved in these reports, and to assure outselves that [they] will not
hamber our present efforts in the Cold War or confuse our early warning
system in case of an attack."
In line with this mandate, the panel that finally convened in
Washington, DC, in mid January of 1953 consisted of some of the best
scientific minds of the day. Members included a future Nobel Prize
laureate in physics, Luis Alvarez, formerly of Berkeley; physicist
Samuel Goudsmit of the Brookhaven National Laboratories; and astronomer
Thornton Page of Johns Hopkins University, later with NASA>
Yet for all of its scientific expertise, the Panel's major
recommendations fell mainly in the domain of public policy. After a
review of the evidence, the Panel concluded that while UFOs themselves
did not necessarily "constitute a direct threat to the national
security. . . the continued emphasis on the reporting of these phenomena
does [threaten] the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the
Panel members recommended that "national-security agencies take
steps immediately to strip the UFO phenomenon of its special status and
eliminate the aura of mystery it has acquired." Perhaps a
public-education program with the dual goals of "training and debunking"
could be implemented? In this context, the Panel suggested that the
mass media might be brought to bear on the problem, up to and including
Walt Disney Productions!
More interestingly, the Panel also recommended that pro-UFO
grassroots organizations be actively monitored "because of thei r
potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings
should occur." Mentioned by name were two organizations that had arisen
in the wake of the Washington Wave: Civilian Saucer Intelligence of Los
Angeles and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization of Sturgeon Bay,
Wisconsin, both now defunct.
Is there evidence that such surveillance was conducted or that
the Robertson Panel recommendations influenced government policies?
"The paper trail is sketchy at best," says Dale Goudie, a Seattle
advertising agent and information director for the Computerized UFO
Network, or CUFON, an electronic bulletin board specializing in UFO
documents retrieved under the FOIA. "What we know is that some agencies
tend to keep some old UFO files while throwing out or mysteriously
losing others. For example, we know the FBI kept a file on George
Adamski, a famous UFO 'contactee' of the Fifties, perhaps because they
thought he was a communist, and that the CIA had communicated with Maj.
Donald Keyhoe, later one of the directors of the National Investigations
Committee on Aerial Phenomena.
"When it comes to their own programs, however, the agencies are
a bit more absent-minded." An example, says Goudie, Project Aquarius.
"The National Security Agency [NSA] admitted in a letter to Senator John
Glenn that apparently there is or was an Air Force Project Aquarius that
dealt with UFOs," Goudie states. "Their own Project Aquarius, they
said, did not, but they refused to say what it did deal with. They did
admit it was classified top secret and that the release of any documents
would damage the national security. The Air Force denies the existence
of their own Project Aquarius, and the NSA now says it was mistaken.
They ought to get their stories straight."
"It's almost impossible to confirm that any individual action
was directly dictated by the Robertson Panel," agrees physicist and
UFOlogist Stanton Friedman, co-author of Crash at Corona, "but was the
subject defused at every available opportunity per its recommendations?
Friedman points specifically to a press release issued on
October 25, 1955, by the Department of Defense, chaired by secretary of
the Air Force Donald Quarles. The occasion was the release of Special
Report 14, issued by Project Blue Book, the Air Force agency publicly
charged with investigating UFOs. Quarles said there was no reason to
believe that any UFO had ever overflown the United States and that the 3
percent of unknowns reported the previous year could probably be
identified with more information.
As Friedman sees it, however, Special Report 14 was the best UFO
study ever conducted. Interpreting the report for Omni, Friedman says
it showed that "over 20 percent of all UFO sightings investigated
between 1947 and 1952 were unknowns, and the better the quality of the
sighting, the more likely it was to be an unknown. The press release
failed to mention any of the 240 charts and tables in the original
study," adds Friedman, "nor did it point out that the work had been done
by the highly respected Battelle Memorial Institute under contract to
the Department of Air Force. It's a classic case," Friedman says, "of
the government having two hands and the left one not knowning what the
right one is up to."
Whatever the truth about UFOs, however, the government tried
mightily to conceal information suggesting mysterious origins afoot.
For a population already shaky over nuclear arsenals, cold war, and
communists under ever bush, officials may have reckoned that the notion
of visitors from beyond, even imaginary ones, might just have been too
much to bear.
COSMIC CONSPIRACY: SIX DECADES OF GOVERNMENT UFO COVER-UPS
Article by DENNIS STACY
The third in a six-part series on government suppression of
UFO-related material, this article examines the 1960s.
The Sixties were marked by upheaval: street riots outside the
Democratic National Convention in Chicago, demonstrations against the war
in Vietnam, "free love," and psychedelic drugs. And according to
pundits, a "Big Brother" government intent on suppressing the winds of
change had extended its reach beyond the merely social or political to
the realm of UFOs. The result of this saucer suppression? Angry
congressional hearings and the closure of Project Blue Book, the Air
Force agency responsible for investigating UFOs.
The Sixties' "Saucergate" was triggered on March 20, 1966, when
a glowing, football-shaped UFO was reported hovering above a swampy area
near the women's dormitory of a small college in Hillsdale, Michigan.
Witnesses included 87 female students and the local civil-defense
director. The following night in Dexter, 63 miles away, another UFO was
spotted by five people, including two police officers.
The Michigan sightings provoked a national outcry; in short, the
public wanted an explanation. Addressing the largest media gathering in
the history of the Detroit Free Press Club, Project Blue Book spokesman
J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer with Ohio State University, finally
ventured an opinion. He said the sightings might be due to "swamp
gas"-methane gas from rotting vegetation that had somehow spontaneously
ignited. The explanation didn't wash, and both Hynek and the Air Force
found themselves the brunt of immediate and almost universal ridicule.
Newspapers had a field day as cartoonists, columnists, and editorial
writers nationwide lampooned the Air Force suggestion.
In a letter to the House Armed Services Committee, then-Michagan
congressman and House Republican minority leader (and later president)
Gerald R. Ford called for congressional hearings on the subject, arguing
that "the American Public deserves a better explanation than that thus
far given by the Air Force." The subcommittee subsequently held its
hearing on April 5, 1966, but only three individuals, all with Air Force
connections, were invited to testify: Hynek, then-Blue Book chief; Hector
Quintanilla; and Harold D. Brown, secretary of the Air Force. Brown
told the committee, chaired by L. Mendel Rivers, that they had no
evidence of an extraterrestrial origin of UFOs, nor was there any
indication that UFOs constituted a threat to national security.
Under scrutiny, however, the Air Force eventually agreed to an
outside review of Blue Book's files. Toward that end, the Air Force
awarded $500,000 to the University of Colorado at Boulder. The
major-domo of this extensive review was physicist Edward U. Condon,
former director of the National Bureau of STandards. His second in
command was the assistant dean of the graduate school, Robert Low.
Initially, critics of the government's UFO policy were happy to
see the matter out of Air Force hands. But it didn't take long for
their faith in the Condon effort to fade. If the Air Force had tried to
gloss over the UFO issue, said retired Marine major Donald E. Keyhoe,
director of the civilian National Investigation Committee on Aerial
Phenomena (NICAP), the Condon Commission was even worse.
The day after his appointment, for instance, Condon was quoted
in the Denver Rocky Mountain News. He was "no evidence," he said, for
"advanced life on other planets." Moreover, he explained, the study
would give the public a "better understanding of ordinary phenomena,
which, if recognized at once, would reduce the number of UFO reports."
Low, Condon's chief administrator, seems to have prejudged the
reality of UFOs, too. In a telling memo written to University
administrators, Low noted that "the trick would be, I think, to describe
the project so that to the public it would appear a totally objective
study but to the scientific community would present the image of a group
of non believers trying their best to be objective but having an almost
zero expectation of finding a saucer."
Condon soon fired the two senior staffers he blamed for leaking
the memo to the press. Two weeks later, Mary Lou Armstrong, his own
administrative assistant resigned, citing low morale within the project
as a whole. "Low's attitude from the beginning," she wrote, "has been
one of negativism. [He] showed little interest in keeping current on
sightings, either by reading or talking with those who did." At one
point, Low left for a month, ostensibly to represent the Condon
Committee at the International AStronomical Union in Prague. Staff
members suggested he use the opportunity to meet with veteran UFO
researchers in England and France. Instead, Low went to Loch Ness,
claiming that sea monsters and UFOs might share some similarities since
neither existed. Even so, there is no record that he filed any written
notes on his investigations.
The Condon Report was published in August of 1968 as the
Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. In all, 30 of the 91
cases analyzed remained unidentified. Examining the famous McMinnville,
Oregon, UFO photos, for example, project investigators opined that this
was "one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated,
geometric, psychological, and physical, appear to be consistent with the
assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disc
shaped, flew within sight of two witnesses." Of a radar/visual UFO
sighting that occurred over Lakenheath, England, in August of 1965, the
study concluded that "the probability that at least one genuine UFO was
involved appeared to be fairly high."
Yet these suggestions that an unidentified phenomenon might
indeed be afoot were buried in a bulky 1,500-page report. More readily
accessible to the media was Condon's conclusion, published at the
beginning of the study rather than at the end, as was standard
scientific procedure. Essentially, Condon concluded, "further extensive
study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that
science will be advanced thereby."
The Air Force seized the opportunity to withdraw from the
minefield of UFOs, and on December 17, 1969, called a press conference
to announce the closing of Project Blue Book. Citing the Condon report,
acting secretary of the Air Force, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., told reporters
that Blue Book's continuation could no longer "be justified on grounds
of national security or in the interest of science."
Critics contend that Blue Book never mounted a thorough
scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon to begin with, and that
during its 22-year involvement with the issue, it had functioned as
little more than a public-relations program. The charge, it turns out,
was made by Hynek himself. In his last interview, granted this reporter
shortly before his death from a brain tumor, Hynek avowed that while th
Air Force always said it was interested in the study of UFOs, officials
regularly "turned handsprings to keep a good case from getting to the
attention of the media. Any case they solved," Hynek added, "they had
no trouble talking about. It was really sad."
As the Sixties came to a close, the Air Force finally got what
it wanted: It officially washed its hands of UFOs. Condon continued to
deny the subject was "shrouded in secrecy." Overall, he said, the Air
Force had done a commendable job.
Hynek agreed, though for reasons of his own. "The Air Force
regarded UFOs as an intelligence matter, and it became increasingly more
and more embarrassing to them," he said. "After all, we paid good tax
dollars to have the Air Force guard our skies, and it would have been
bad public relations for them to say, 'Yes there's something up there,
but we're helpless.' They just couldn't do that, so they took the very
human action of protecting their own interests."
COSMIC CONSPIRACY: SEX DECADES OF GOVERNMENT UFO COVER-UPS
Article by Dennis Stacy
This is the fourth in a six-part series on alleged UFO-related
government cover-ups. This segment covers the 1970s. Todd Zechel knows
how David felt the day he marched out to take on Goliath. Early in
1978, in otherwise out-of-the-way Prairie due Sac, Wisconsin, Zechel
helped found Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, or CAUS. The group's
mandate: to take on the behemoth of the U.S. government, which had kept
thousands of documents relevant to UFO researchers under lock and key
In the past, getting to those documents had been virtually
impossible. For the most part, they were buried within a paper labyrinth
of agencies within agencies, each employing its own unique form of
"bureauspeak" and filing. What was an "unidentified flying object" in
one agency might be an "incident report" or "air space violation" in
another. The reports might be in the form of a carbon copy, micro film,
or rapidly degrading thermal fax paper, barely legible in the original.
Other files were lost or routinely destroyed on a regular basis.
Still, one had to start somewhere, and CAUS was determined to
track down and make public as many of the existing documents as it
could. In its quest for truth, the new group would put out a newsletter
called Just Cause, and, with the help of UFO researcher Brad Sparks and
attorney Peter Gersten, tread legal waters no UFO group had entered
before. "We were full of fire," Zechel now recalls. "We had served the
government notice; we weren't going to take their stonewalling anymore,
and if necessary, we would haul them into court."
The euphoria was not misplaced. As the Seventies unfurled, most
UFOlogists felt that all they needed in the battle against the
governmental Goliath was one good slingshot. Any now that slingshot, in
the form of the newly enacted Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, was
Signed into law in 1966 by a Democratic Congress under President
Lyndon Johnson, FOIA (affectionately called "foya") was created so the
public could access all but the most highly classified government
records. Nine categories of information were originally exempted from
scrutiny, beginning with those affecting national security and foreign
policy and then trickling down into fairly mundane materials like maps.
UFOs, of course, weren't mentioned at all.
Then, in the mid Seventies, the Nixon administration gave FOIA
more muscle still. Time limits were imposed on agencies receiving FOIA
requests. Affordable fees for the search and reproduction of requested
documents were established, and courts were empowered to decide whether
or not specific documents fell within the act's guidelines.
In the real world outside the halls of Congress, however, the
soldiers for CAUS found land mines strewn across the battlefield. The
first CAUS celebre, Zechel states, occurred before the Wisconsin group
was officially formed. It was 1977, and Zechel, Sparks, and Gersten
made their stab at wielding the FOIA through the auspices of the now
defunct Ground Saucer Watch, a UFO group based in Phoenix. In 1975, it
turns out, the Phoenix group's director Bill Spaulding, had written the
CIA complaining it had withheld a vast quantity of information on UFOs.
"It wasn't an official FOIA request as such," Zechel says, "but
more like an accusatory letter. Surprisingly, the CIA responded."
Specifically, Spaulding had referenced the case of one Ralph
Mayher, a marine photographer who claimed to have filmed a UFO over
Miami Bay in July of 1952. Mayher went on to become a celebrated news
cameraman with ABC news in Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, under the
circumstances, he also signed on as a consultant to one of the more
prominent UFO organizations of the day-the National Investigations
Committee on Aerial Phenomena, or NICAP. Only years later did Mayher
learn that, unbeknownst to him, his original film had been turned over
to the CIA for analysis.
Looking into the matter, the CIA's response to Spaulding was
expected: Its interest in UFOs was virtually nonexistent, the Agency
declared, and had been ever since 1952, when a panel of scientists met
in Washington to declare the phenomenon a public-relations problem,
nothing more. But much to Spaulding's surprise, the spy agency also
released two documents relating to the Mayher case. "The Agency had
blacked our about 70 percent of the documents," Zechel states, "and
also referred to three other related documents still in their
Zechel retained Gersten, who in 1977 filed a suit seeking full
release of all five documents. The case wound up in federal district
court as GSW vs. the CIA under the jurisdiction of Judge John Pratt.
After protracted legal maneuverings, lawyers for both sides finally met
with representatives of the attorney general's office in Washington in
July of 1978.
"At that meeting," according to Zechel, "I had threatened to
have the CIA prosecuted for making false replies under the FOIA.
Ultimately, the Agency agreed to search all of its files for UFO records
and to stipulate which ones it would release and which it wouldn't. As
the FOIA was structured at the time, the CIA was also obligated to
account for any deletions on an item-by-item basis."
As Zechel recalls, the CIA missed its original 90-day deadline
by 88 days. "Then they dumped a stack of documents on our desk about
two to three feet thick, heavily blacked out, and with none of the
deletions accounted for," Zechel states. "We now had 30 days to try to
identify and contest the deletions, which was humanly impossible."
Instead, Gersten filed a motion claiming the CIA stood in
contempt of court and clearly had not acted in good faith. The motion
was filed after GSW's own 30-day response deadline had expired, however,
and Judge Pratt summarily dismissed the suit. "We were one day late,"
Zechel recalls, "and that effectively ended the suit."
But when all was said and done, the CIA decided to release some
900 pages of UFO-related documents. Indeed, like the CIA, many
agencies decided to release documents even when courts did not force
their hands. A request for UFO files from the FBI, for instance, netted
almost 2,000 pages. By scrutinizing documents obtained from the FBI and
CIA, moreover, CAUS researchers were able to identify witnesses. They
could also pinpoint relevant incidents likely to be described in
documents on file with a host of other government agencies.
Ultimately, CAUS would be responsible for the release of between
7,000 and 8,000 UFO-related documents from a who's who of official
entities, including the Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, Defense
Intelligence Agency, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal
Aviation Administration, and others.
Among the major tidbits revealed were a series of sightings
reported from October through November 1975 by the northern tier of Air
Force bases from Montana to Maine; several of these sightings involved
personnel stationed at Minuteman silos. CAUS also uncovered a September
1976 file on an Imperial Iranian Air Force jet that reportedly locked
its radar onto a bright UFO only to have its electronic weapons system
CAUS's most celebrated suit, however, was the one it launched
against the supersecret National Security Agency (NSA) in December 1979.
The case was not fully resolved until March 1982 when the Supreme Court
refused to hear Gersten's appeal. Although the agency admitted to
having approximately 57 documents pertaining to UFOs in its files, it
successfully refused to release them, citing national-security concerns.
Despite the progress, Zechel can't help wishing that CAUS had
been able to do more. "I felt we could inflame the public and marshal
tremendous popular support," Zechel says, "but we never got beyond four
or five hundred members. We were constantly hampered by a serious lack
of funds and the usual personality conflicts."
As for Gersten, he expresses disappointment that not every known
document was turned over to SAUS, especially those from the CIA and NSA,
but concedes that "they were probably witheld for legitimate reasons. I
suspect they were protecting their own intelligence sources and
technology." Gersten performed all of his work for CAUS pro bono, but
estimates that his fees would have come to nearly $70,000. "And that's
in 1970 dollars," he says.
As the decade of the 1970s came to a close, Zechel left CAUS and
has since founded the Associated Investigators Group. CAUS, meanwhile,
continues under different officers and still puts out its publication,
Just CAUSE on a regular basis.
"What's changed most is the FOIA itself," says Barry Greenwood,
the newsletter's editor and current CAUS director of research. "The act
was essentially gutted by Executive Order number 12356, signed by
President Ronald Reagan. Among other changes wrought by Reagan's
general secrecy order," according to Greenwood, "is the fact that
agencies are no longer required to respond within a reasonable period of
time. Searches, when they do them at all now, routinely take between
six months and two years. The fees have gone up, too," Greenwood
complains. "One agency cited us the enormous search fee of $250,000.
It's very discouraging."
Pennsylvania researcher Robert Todd was also involved with CAUS
early on, but his experiences have left him disillusioned with both
David and Goliath. "The UFO community won't be satisfied until the
government admits it's behind a vast cover-up," says Todd. "Is there a
lot of material still being withheld? Without a doubt. But does that
prove the government is engaged in a massive conspiracy, or that it's
merely a massive bureaucracy? I can't state this strongly enough: I
don't believe there's a cover-up at all."
A spokesperson with the CIA's Freedom of Information office in
Washington, DC, refused a telephone request to talk to someone regarding
the agency's Freedom of Information Act policy, explaining that all such
inquiries would first have to be submitted in writing to John H. Wright,
information and privacy coordinator. Following agency guidelines, Omni
has submitted a written request for explanation of CIA policy as well as
UFO documents, past and present. The request is still pending but
remained unanswered at press time. Results of our inquiry will have to
wait for a future edition of the magazine.
As far as the UFO community is concerned, the work of CAUS,
Zechel-style, remains undone. These days, says Todd, "getting any kind
of document out of the government is a lengthy, time consuming process.
First, they consider the FOIA an annoyance; after all, they're
understaffed and saddled with budget constraints. Second, the nature of
any government is to control the flow of information."
COSMIC CONSPIRACY: SIX DECADES OF GOVERNMENT UFO COVER-UPS
Article by Dennis Stacy and Patrick Huyghe
This is the fifth piece in a six-part series on government secrecy
and UFOs through the decades. Here we look at the 1980s.
From their vantage point 22,300 miles above the earth's surface, a
fleet of supersecret military satellites monitors our planet for missile
launches and nuclear detonations. On a clear day, these satellites can
see forever, so it's no surprise when they also pick up erupting
volcanos, oil-well fires, incoming meteors, sunlight reflections off the
ocean, and a host of other head sources, including those that still
Since 1985, all this data has been beamed down in near real-time to
the U.S. Space Command's Missile Warning Center, operating from within
Cheyenne Mountain, near Colorado Springs. The purpose: coordinating
satellite-based early warning systems for the army, navy, air force, and
marines. Whether harmless or threatening, the information has always
been a guarded national secret. But suddenly, in 1993, with the Cold
War over, the Defense Department agreed to declassify some satellite
information not related to intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
launches and nuclear events. Since then, scientists ranging from
astronomers to geophysicists have rushed to get their hands on this
motherload of data.
Among researchers hoping to glean some truth from the declassified
data are UFOlogists, long frustrated by the critic's classic retort: "If
UFOs are real, why haven't they been detected by our satellites?" Well,
some UFO researchers are now saying, they have been. With access to the
most sophisticated space data ever generated, say some UFO researchers,
they may finally find the Holy Grail of their profession: bona fide,
irrefutable, nuts-and-bolts proof of UFOs.
As this series of articles explains, UFO researchers have been
searching for such evidence in government vaults for years. In the
Fifties and Sixties, some UFOlogists claimed, the military kept alien
corpses and a ship under wraps. The search for proof was fueled
throughout the Seventies by the Freedom of Information Act, which
yielded thousands of pages of government documents, but no hard,
technical, incontrovertible evidence of UFOs. Finally, in the 1980s, a
supposedly explosive memo revealed the existence of a top-secret group,
dubbed MJ12, made up of high-level government officials devoted to the
secret reality of UFOs. Only problem is, according to most UFO experts,
the memo was a hoax. Of course, data from crude detection systems like
gun cameras and radar were available. But they merely confirmed the
obvious: that military and goverment personnel, like many other sectors
of the population, saw and reported mysterious lights in the sky.
If they could ever prove their theories, UFOlogists knew, they would
have to tap the most sophisticated information-gathering technology
available: Department of Defense spy satellites, like the Defense
Support Program (DSP) satellites, in geosynchronous orbit above the
earth. In face, rumor had it, heat, light, and infrared sensors at the
heart of the satellites were routinely picking up moving targets clearly
not missiles and tagged "Valid IR Source." Some of these targets were
given the mysterious code name of "Fast Walker."
Unfortunately for UFOlogists, few secrets in this country's vast
military arsenal have been so closely guarded as the operational
parameters of DSP satellites. Even their exact number is classified.
"That shouldn't surprise anyone," explains Captain John Kennedy, public
affairs officer with the USAF Space Command Center at Peterson Air Force
Base. "It's an early ICBM launch detection system, and we have to
protect our own technology for obvious reasons. If everyone knew what
the system's capabilities were, they would try to take steps to get
around it." But in recent years, thanks to a loosening of the reigns, a
few tantalizing tidbits of information have managed to seep under the
satellite secrecy dam, allowing UFOlogists a small glimpse of some
surprising nearspace events.
The first issue for UFOlogists to examine, explains Ron Regehr of
Aerojet General in California, the company that builds the DSP sensor
systems, is whether the satellites could detect UFOs even if we wanted
them to. According to Regehr, who has worked on the satellite sensors
for the last 25 years and even wrote its operational software
specifications, the answer to that question was revealed in 1990, during
Operation Desert Storm. "As we know," says Regehr, "the satellites
picked up every one of the 80 Iraqi Scud launches, and the Scud is a
very low-intensity infrared source compared to the average ICBM."
Pursuing the matter further, Regehr turned to an article published in
MIJI Quarterly, "Now You See It, Now You Don't," which detailed a
September, 1976 UFO encounter near Teheran. The incident nivolved two
brilliantly glowing UFOs first seem by ground observers. One object, or
light source, an estimated 30 feet in diameter, reportedly went from
ground level to an altitude of 40,000 feet, and was visible at a
distance of 70 miles. An Imperial Iranian Air Force F-4 jet fighter was
sent aloft and managed to aim a Sidewinder AIM-19 air-to-air missile at
the target before its electronic systems failed.
"Apart from the visible light factor, there's the indication that the
UFO gave off enough infrared energy for the Sidewinder's IR sensor to
lock on to it," says Regehr. "You can do a few simple calculations," he
adds, "and conclude that teh DSP satellites of the day should easily
have been able to see the same thing. Of course, I can't say they did,
or if they did, whether or not it was recorded in the database."
Part of the problem, according to Regehr, is the sheer mountain of
data that the DSP satellites generate. On average, an infrared portrait
of the earth's surface and surrounding space is downloaded every ten
seconds. All of the data is then stored on larget 14-inch reels of
magnetic tape, "the kind," says Regehr, "that you always see spinning
around in science fiction movies, and which fill up in about 15
minutes." The tapes are eventually erased and reused.
Technicians visually monitor the datastream on a near real-time
basis, but only follow up a narrow range of events-those that match up
with what the air force calls "tamplates." Based on known rocket fuel
burn times and color spectra, the templates are used to identify
ballistic missile launches and nuclear explosions. But the system also
picks up other infrared events ranging from mid-air collisions of planes
to oil-well fires and volcanoes.
"I would say that rarely a week goes by that we don't get some kind of
infrared source that is avalid, or real, but physicist and consultant to
the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California, a nonprofit air
force satellite engineering contractor. "But once we determine it isn't
a threat, that's basically the end of our job. We aren't paid to look
at each and every one."
Tagliaferri and a handful of colleagues are among the few civilian
space scientists who have thus far been allowed access to the Department
of Defense database. Their research, based on spy satellite data
declassified in the fall of 1993, is part of a chapter in Hazards Due to
Comets and Asteroids, from the University of Arizona Press. "I think
the air force finally agreed that the data had scientific, as well as
political and global security value," says Tagliaferri.
What Tagliaferri and his collaborators were able to confirm was that
between 1975 and 1992, DOD satellites detected 136 upper-atmosphere
explosions, a few equivalent in energy to the atomic bombs that
destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Unlike the three-to ten-minute burn
periods of an ICBM, these previously unacknowledged "flash events"
typically take place in a matter of seconds. They are attributable to
meteorites and small asteroids. "Most of what we see are objects that
are probably 10 to 50 meters in diameter, about the size of a house, and
packing 300 times the kinetic energy of dynamite," Tagliaferri says.
The ramification, however, is that nervous governments might mistake
these flash events for nuclear bombsaimed in their direction and trigger
a like response. One of the brightest unknown flash events occurred
over indonesia on April 15, 1988, shortly before noon, exploding with
the approximate firepower of 5.000 tons of high explosives. A slightly
less powerful detonation shook an uninhabited expance of the Pacific
Ocean on October 1, 1990, in the midst of Operation Deser Shield.
"But what if the latter event had exploded a little lower in the
atmosphere, and over, say Baghdad?" Tagliaferri warns. "The
consequences could well have been disastrous. Ground observers would
have seen a fireball the brightness of the sun and heard a shock wave
rattle windows. Given the mindset of the Iraqis, Israelis, and the
other combatants in the area at that time, any of them might have
concluded that they were under nuclear attack and responded
The argument that some UFOs might be capable of triggering a similar
false alarm ahs been made many times in the past by, among others, the
Soviets. An article titled "UFOs and Security," which appeared in the
June, 1989 issue of Soviet Military Review, states: "We believe that
lack of information on the characteristics an dinfluence of UFOs
increases the threat of incorrect identification. Then, mass transit of
UFOs along trajectories close to those of combast missiles could be
regarded by computers as an attack."
But when asked if some unknowns detected by satellite sensors might
represent real UFOs rather than incoming meteorites, Tagliaferri
chuckles. "Personally, I don't think so," he says. "But who knows?
How can you tell? I'm a scientist, a physicist, and to my mind the
evidence of UFOs is just not convicing. On the other hand, I've been
UFOlogists, meanwhile, think that proof might be lurking in the stacks
of printouts from the DSP system computers. But the only material of
this sort likely to see the light of day will probably have to come from
inside leaks. And that may have already happened. One UFO researcher,
using sources he won't reveal, has turned up evidence of what he
believes mihgt be a UFO tracked by satellite. Last year, aJoe Stefula,
formerly a special agent with the army's Criminal Investigation Command,
made public on several electronic bulletin boards what purports to be a
diagram of an infrared even detected by a DSP satellite on May 5, 1984.
"I haven't been able to determine that the document's absolutely
authentic," says Stefula, "but I have been able to confirm that the DSP
printout for that date shows an event at the same time with the same
According to Stefula's alleged source, now said to be retired from the
military, the offical code name for unidentified objects exhibiting
ballistic missile characteristics is Fast Walker. "But what makes this
particular Fast Walker so peculiar," says Stefula, "is that it comes in
from outer space on a curved trajectory, passes within three kilometers
of the satellite platform, and then disappears back into space.
Whatever it is, it was tracked for nine minutes. That doesn't sound like
a meteorite to me."
Regehr agrees: "It was there too long. It was going too slow. It
didn't have enough speed for escape velocity." But escape it did.
The May, 1984 event allegedly generated a 300-page internal report,
only portions of which are classified, though non of it has yet been
released. "I don't think they would do a 300-page report on everything
they detect," says Stefula, whose efforts to obtain the report have so
far been unsuccessful, "so there must have been something significant
about this that led them to look into it. My source told me that they
basically looked at every possibility and couldn't explain it by natural
or man-made means."
Nor was this apparently an isolated event. According to the unnamed
source, such Fast Walkers are detected, on the average, "two to three
times a month."
Even longtime arch-UFO skeptic Philip J. Klass, contributing avionics
editor to Aviaton Week and Space Technology, admits that the military's
DSP satellites could detect physical flying saucers from outer space-but
with one very large proviso: "If you assume," says Klass, "that a UFO
traveling at, say 80,000 feet leaves a long strong plume liek a space
shuttle launch. But we know that isn't the way UFOs are usually
Part of the problem, according to Klass, who has written a book on
military spy satellites titled Secret Sentries in Space, is that the DSP
system has performed better than spec. "It's too good, or too sensitive,
if you prefer," he says. "In fact, it was so good that it was sent back
to research and development for fine tuning, in order to eliminate as
many false alarms as possible. Obviously, we didn't want a fuel storage
tank fire next to a Soviet missile silo to set off a launch alarm," he
explains. "Nor did we want the system to track the dozens or hundreds of
Russian jet fighters in the air every day."
Klass's best guess is that the mysterious May, 1984 Fast Walker even
uncovered by Stefula probably represents nothing more than a classified
mission flown by our own SR-71 high-altitude Blackbird spyplane. "it's
admittedly too long a duration to be a meteor fireball," he concedes,
"but the Blackbird typically flies at an altitude of 80,000 to 100,000
feet, which makes its afterburner trail easily visible to the DSP
In the same context, says Klass, Fast Walker might be a code name for
the recently retired SR-71 itself, or, conceivably, its Soviet
counterpart, assuming the Soviets had one at the time. Either way,
Klass concludes, "It's no surprise that the air force would want to keep
much of this information secret."
Apparently, keep most of it secret they will. Despite the success
Tagliaferri and a few others had in getting past the military censors,
don't anticipate a flood of similar studies, especially one in search of
UFO reports. "I don't see the air force declassifying a whole lot more
of the DSP data to other scientists, not without an incredible amount of
cleanup," says Captain Kennedy. "And it's certainly not accessible to
requests through the Freedom of Information Act."
Even if some unknowns turn out to be UFOs, the Air Force Space Command
isn't going to hand UFOlogists-or anyone else-that information on a
silver platter. Meanwhile, the dividing line between what might
constitute extraterrestrial technology and our own twentieth century
equivalent grows increasingly narrow and blurred with every new device
sent into space. Somewhere out there, no doubt, is a sensor system that
already knows whether we are being visited by UFOs or not, but the
owners of those systems aren't talking.
COSMIC CONSPIRACY: SIX DECADES OF GOVERNMENT UFO COVER-UPS
Editor's note (Omni Mag): In the final installment of our six-part series on
alleged government cover-ups and UFOs, we look at the most controversial case
of the 1990s.
The sun sinks beyond the jagged Groom Mountains like a bloated
red basketball. As temperatures plummet in the thin desert air, we make
our way up a narrow arroyo to the base of White Sides, a towering jumble
of limestone ledges overlooking the super-secret air base below, our
hiking boots making crunching sounds in the growing darkness.
We've been whispering and walking side-by-side. Now our guide, a
young mountain goat by the name of Glenn Campbell, takes the lead.
"Damn!" he suddenly hisses, "They've erased them again," referring to
the orange arrows spray-painted on the rocks a few days earlier. "They"
are the anonymous individuals Campbell refers to as the "cammo dudes."
Thought to be civilian employees of the Air Force, they patrol the
perimeter of the unacknowledged base in white all-terrain vehicles,
monitoring electronic detectors and, by the way, erasing signposts like
those on the rocks. When interlopers cross the military boundaries or
haul out their cameras, it's the cammo dudes who call in the local
constabulary, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, to confiscate the
Campbell assures us that we don't have to worry, though. For one
thing, we all agreed to leave our cameras locked in our cars at the
bottom of White Sides. For another, we're still on public property,
well outside the restricted zone which comprises part of the vast Nellis
Air Force Range complex and stretches more than halfway from here to Las
Vegas, 100 miles away. "Besides," he says cheerfully, "it'll take the
sheriff 40 minutes to get here. By that time we'll already be on top,
and he'll have to wait for us to get down."
Still, White Sides is no cake walk. Beginning at about 5,000 feet, it
rises in altitude for another 1,000 feet. From here, however, you can
peer down on one of the world's longest runways and one of the Cold
War's most isolated inner sanctums. It was here, variously known as
Groom Lake, Area 51, Dreamland, or simply the Ranch, that sophisticated
black-budget (that is, off-the-record) projects like the U-2, SR-71
Blackbird, and F-117A Stealth fighter first earned their wings in
secrecy. And it was 15 miles south of here, at an even more clandestine
(and controversial) base of operations known as Area S4 at Papoose Lake,
that shadowy physicist Robert Lazar claimed to have helped study
captured flying-saucer technology.
Because of its remoteness, spying on alleged Area S4 is out of the
question, which leaves Groom Lake as the next best UFO mecca, assuming
the many rumors surrounding these remote outposts are rooted even in
half-truths. We break out our binoculars and sweep the runway, clearly
outlined by a string of small red lights. At one end, backed up against
the base of the Groom Mountains, squats a collection of radar arrays and
giant hangars, feebly illuminated on this Saturday night by fan-shaped
rays of yellow light. "Looks like they're shut down for the weekend,"
Still, the thrill of visually eavesdropping on this country's most
secret air base sends a certain chill up the spine, where it mingles
with the growing desert chill and the memory of the signs at the bottom
of White Sides authorizing the use of deadly force. All remains eerily
silent, however; not so much as a cricket, cammo dude, sheriff, or UFO
disturbs the night. After a few hours of fruitless surveillance,
fingers and toes numbed by the cold, we start back down.
Campbell, a retired computer programmer, explains why he left the
comfy confines on his native Boston and moved lock, stock, and Mac
Powerbook to Rachel, a hardscrabble community of 100 smack in the middle
of the Nevada desert. "You go where the UFO stories are," he says, "and
in the fall of 1992, when I first came here Dreamland was where they
were." Campbell had read an article published the year before in the
monthly journal of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) detailing some of the
exploits of Lazar, who claimed to have actually been aboard one of nine
recovered flying saucers sequestered at Area S4 while helping
reverse-engineer their apparent antigravity propulsion system. In a
series of November 1989 interviews with then anchorman George Knapp of
KLAS-TV, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate, Lazar went public with his claims.
Dreamland, at least, was now in the public domain.
Though Lazar's credibility has recently taken a nosedive, even with
UFO insiders, Knapp, now senior vice president with the Altamira
Communications Group, an independent video production company, notes
that "stories of captured or acquired alien technology have circulated
in the area since the mid 1950s and the very beginning of the base."
His best source, among the 14 he has interviewed to date, is a member of
a prominent Nevada family who will not allow his name to be used,
although he has supposedly videotaped a deposition to be given to Knapp
upon his death. According to Knapp, his source occupied a position of
senior management at Groom Lake during the late Fifties and early
Sixties, and admitted that at least one extraordinary craft was being
test flown and taken apart. "It's the totality of the accounts, not any
specific one, that I find convincing," says Knapp.
Spurred by the local lore following his first visit, Campbell returned
to Boston, packed his belongings in a rickety Toyota camper, and in
January of 1993 moved to Rachel, setting up shop in the dusty parking
lot of the Little A-Le-Inn, a combination bar and restaurant turned UFO
museum, joint jumping-off point, watering-hole headquarters, and
sometime conference center for UFOlogists hoping to repeat the earlier
Lazar sightings. Campbell began his own investigation and was soon
desktop publishing the Area 51 Viewer's Guide, of which he estimates he
has now sold more than 2,000 copies.
As reports of UFOs in the area soared, so did Campbell's reputation as
de facto onsite guide. In the last year alone, virtually every major
media outlet in the country, from CNN, NBC, and ABC News to the New York
Times, Despite the temptation to turn tabloid, Campbell seems to have
kept his head on straight. "I am still interested in the UFO
phenomenon," he says, "but the evidence has to speak for itself. I've
been living here night and day for over a year now and still haven't
seen anything that couldn't be explained." He's also seen satisfied
believers come and go. "But most of what they report," Campbell warns,
"is ordinary military activity, from Russian MiGs to parachute flares.
You pretty much see what you want to see, depending on what kind of
expectations you bring to the table."
A case in point is so-called Old Faithful. In the wake of Lazar's
allegations, observers were soon reporting a brilliant UFO adhering to a
rigid schedule at 4:50 every weekday morning. Campbell, a UFOlogists
who readily admits he likes his sleep, nonetheless routinely roused
himself-until he became convinced that what he was seeing was nothing
more than the landing lights of a approaching 737. Methodical by
nature, Campbell purchased a radio scanner and began monitoring flights
outside McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. It turned out that Janet, a
private charter airline, routinely flies into Groom Lake from Las Vegas,
transporting workers as Lazar had previously alleged. Old Faithful was
their early morning flight, and in the next release of his Viewer's
Guide, Campbell published the airline's complete schedule.
But stories of alleged alien involvement at or near Area 51 continue.
On the evening of March 16, 1993 William Hamilton, director of
investigations for MUFON Los Angeles, and a companion were parked
alongside Highway 375 near the popular Black Mailbox viewing area when a
bright light winked into view to their right. "I looked at it through
binoculars," Hamilton remembers, "and it seemed to be on or near the
Groom Road and casting a beam [of light] on the ground." As it drew
nearer, according to Hamilton, "the light appeared to be an object the
size of a bus with square light panels lifting off from the ground. The
panels appeared to glow amber and blue-white."
A bus does travel the dirt road leading into Groom Lake, transporting
civilian workers who gather every morning at nearby Alamo for the 30- to
40-mile ride, returning in the afternoon. But this bus was clearly out
of the ordinary, says Hamilton. As he watched, "the lights rapidly
resolved into two glowing orbs or discs of brilliant blue-white light,
so bright they hurt my eyes." The two baby suns rapidly approached the
parked car and confusion reigned. When Hamilton looked at his watch,
approximately 30 minutes of time were missing. Hypnotically regressed
later, both Hamilton and his companion had memories of being abducted
aboard a UFO by now-traditional little gray beings with large dark eyes,
the leader of whom in this case referred to himself as Quaylar.
Campbell was at the Little A-Le-Inn when the couple returned. "I can
attest they were both visibly shaken," he says, "but neither had any
memory of an abduction at that time. I don't know what to think. I've
spent many a night in Tikaboo Valley, where the sighting occurred, and
as far as I know nothing like that has ever happened to me. I've never
seen or experienced anything that I couldn't explain."
It may be that the remote desert interface between alleged
extraterrestrial technology and known or suspected terrestrial
technology predisposes or inflames the human imagination to see flying
buses where only earthly ones exist. Light can play tricks in the thin
air, making determination of distance and brilliance doubly difficult at
best. Or it could be that the latest generation of Stealth and other
secret platforms being test flown out of Groom Lake demonstrate such odd
performance characteristics that they are easily misidentified at night
as one of Lazar's reputed H=PACs-Human-Piloted Alien Craft. Rumors have
long circulated of a hypersonic high-altitude spyplane, code named
Aurora, designed to replace the recently retired SR-71 Blackbird. Both
the Air Force and Aurora's alleged manufacturer, Northrop's secret Skunk
Works facility at Palmdale, California, deny any knowledge of such a
platform. Another potential candidate is the TR-33A Black Mantra, an
electronic warfare platform widely rumored to have flown support for the
F-117 Stealth fighter during Operation Desert Storm. Other advanced
airforms could be in research and development, too, their operating
expenditures buried in the Pentagon's estimated $14.3 billion per year
Even with the Cold War apparently successfully concluded-and the
strategic necessity of much of our black budget presumably obviated-the
Air Force can't be happy campers at Groom Lake. They certainly don't
relish the prospect of a growing number of UFOlogists and media types,
increasingly armed with sophisticated video cameras and night-vision
equipment, all on the prowl for H-PACs or UFOs, stumbling across a plane
which they've gone to a great deal of trouble to keep secret from both
Russian and American citizens, presumably in our own best interests.
But previous attempts to seal off Groom Lake from public scrutiny have
met with just partial success. In 1984, the Air Force seized (or
withdrew, in their vernacular) some 89,000 acres on the northeast
quadrant of the Nellis Test Range in order to provide a better
buffer zone for the base. Due to a surveying error, White Sides and a
few other vantage points were overlooked. But then, in the wake of the
Lazar story, Campbell and other UFOlogists began making the trek up
White Sides, triggering security perimeter alarms and forcing the cammo
dudes out of their white vehicles.
Subsequently, on October 18, 1993, the Air Force filed a request for
Federal Register seeking the withdrawal of an additional 3,7982 acres,
presently public property under the control of the Bureau of Land
Management. Not surprisingly, White Sides is contained within the new
acreage, as is another lookout point discovered by Campbell and dubbed
Freedom Ridge. The additional land was needed, the Air Force claimed,
"to ensure the public safety and the safe and secure operation of
activities in the Nellis Air Force Range complex." No mention by name
was made of Groom Lake, the air base that doesn't officially exist.
By now, Campbell had become a professional prickly=pear int he Air
Force's exposed side. He formed the White Sides Defense Committee and
publicized the public hearing the Bureau of Land Management was required
by law to hold. The Air Force request is currently on hold, awaiting
an environmental assessment and final approval. In the meantime,
Campbell formed Secrecy OVersight Council to market his Viewers Guide
and an assortment of Area 51 souvenirs, including topographical maps,
bumper stickers, and a colorful, self-designed Groom Lake sew-on patch.
More recently, he took out an address on the electronic highway and
began publishing a series of regular digital updates, "The Desert Rat,"
including a map detailing the location of known magnetic sensors. And
he tweaked a few local noses with a defiant fashion statement, updating
his own apparel to match the desert camouflage suite of the cammo dudes,
shade for shade.
Such pranks aside, Campbell insists he's a serious civilian spy. "The
difference between me and the Air Force is that I don't have any
secrets," he says, "and everything I do is legal." On at least two
occasions Campbell and visiting journalists were buzzed by low-flying
helicopters called in from Groom Lake, both times while clearly on
public property outside the restricted zone. "The rotor wash throws up
a tremendous amount of dust and debris," he notes, "endangering us and
the helicopter crew, too." Indeed, the Secrecy Oversight Council
tracked down the appropriate Air Force regulation and found that pilots
are restricted to a minimum of 500 feet altitude except when taking off
But if the Air Force is peeved or perplexed by Campbell's activities,
they aren't saying so in public. "We know who Mr Campbell is," admits
Major George Sillia, public affairs officer at Nellis AFB, Las Vegas.
"He keeps us informed as to what he's up to. Beyond that, what can I
say? He's an American citizen, and they have a right to certain
activities on public property." The Air Force is more mum about the
existence of Groom Lake itself. "We can neither confirm nor deny the
existence of a facility at Groom Lake," Sillia adds, "and if we can't
confirm its existence, we certainly can't say anything about it."
A more vocal Campbell critic is Jim Bilbray, a Democratic congressman
from Las Vegas who sits on both the House Armed Services Committee and
the Select House Committee on Intelligence. Without mentioning Campbell
by name, Bilbray says that "these people are persistent, and if they're
taking pictures, they're breaking the law. But that really isn't the
problem; there's even a Soviet satellite photo of Groom Lake in
circulation. The problem comes when you have to shut down operations
and secure the technology, which is time-consuming and costly, and which
they have to do every time someone is up on the mountain. And believe
me, they make sure they know when you're up there."
Bilbray also doesn't subscribe to the argument that now that the Cold
War is apparently over there is a concurrent corollary that reduces the
need for secrecy in general and secret high-tech technology in
particular. "The Nellis Range is one of the few secure areas in the
country where you can test these new technologies," he says. "And most
people in the intelligence community will tell you that the world is a
more, not less, dangerous place, now that the old system of checks and
balances between the two superpowers has seriously broken down."
Still, Bilbray admits that he, the Air Force, and other government
agencies are caught in a classic Catch-22 situation vis-a-vis
UFOlogists. "I can't name them," he says, "but I can tell you that I've
been on virtually every facility in the Nellis Range and that there are
no captured flying saucers or extraterrestrial bodies out there. I've
heard all the rumors. But the minute I say I've been to one valley, the
UFOlogists are going to ask, what about the next valley over, or claim
that everything has been moved. Well, what about the next valley over?
We used to test atomic bombs above ground here and some of the valleys
are still so hot that a Geiger counter will start spitting the moment
you turn it on. Doesn't sound like a very good place to test flying
saucers or hide alien bodies to me."
But researchers like Campbell say they're in a Catch-22 as well,
because they know the Air Force routinely denies things that do exist,
beginning with the big secret base on the edge of Groom Lake. If it
didn't exist, why would they need more space to keep you from seeing it?
And if Groom Lake exists, then why not Aurora, the Black Mantra, and
possibly even a UFO or two?
Nature abhors a vacuum, and where a lack of openness and penchant for
secrecy persists, rumor and rumors of rumors are sure to flourish, even
in the middle of the desert. "You just keep shaking the secrecy tree,"
and unperturbed and determined Campbell advises, "and, hopefully,
something drops out."
That may prove increasingly difficult to do, at least from White Sides
or Freedom Ridge. Bilbray, who supports the latest withdrawal of land
around Groom Lake, advises that Congress, while it has the opportunity
to object and call for a review, does not have to give approval, and the
Bureau of Land Management will most assuredly approve the Air Force's
request, "probably within this year."
Watch for future editions of the UMF MAG...
We are still collection lots of new & interesting information
that you might not hear about from your everyday news.. Issue
# 6 is around the corner and we have most of the articles..
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