Thursday, August 21, 2014

General Exon and the Unholy Thirteen


When I began the Roswell investigation with Don Schmitt, I thought we’d find a solution quickly and that would be it. That didn’t happen, but as we talked with various witnesses, prowled various archives, museums and newspaper morgues, and found some limited documentation, it became clear that something had happened back in 1947.

When I interviewed retired Brigadier General Arthur Exon on the telephone on May 19, 1990, I began the discussion by saying that we were doing some research into the activities at Wright – Patterson Air Force Base. The discussion began with him mentioning that some outside agency would call, tell him they needed an aircraft for a mission, and then people would arrive by commercial air to be carried to the site of the investigation by an Air Force aircraft. This was all in the mid-1960s when Exon was the base commander. Seemed like a good way to disguise what you were doing.

Eventually we got around to the events of 1947 and Exon said:

As a result of that, I know they saw the one sighting and then where there… a good bit of the information came down. There was another location where it was, where apparently the main body of the spacecraft was… where they did say there were bodies there. I’ve been in… I’ve got special information but it may be more rumor than fact about what happened to those bodies although they were all found apparently outside the craft itself but were in fairly good condition. In other words, they weren’t broken up a lot.
I know what some of you are thinking. This doesn’t get us to Roswell and 1947 but it does mention bodies and does mention a spacecraft which means he wasn’t talking about an aircraft accident. He then said (after my question wondering if the bodies had come into Wright – Patterson which was simply “And they came to Wright – Patterson?):

Well, that’s my information. But one of them was that it went to the mortuary outfit… I think at that time it was in Denver [Lowery Field] where these people were being identified. But the strongest information was that they were brought into Wright – Pat. But whatever happened to the metal residue, I imagine it’s still there in the [unintelligible] some place.
But back in that ’47 time period, everybody was, it happened and why wasn’t there more information and who kept the lid on it. Well, I know that at the time the sightings happened it went to General Ramey who is now deceased, who was at Carswell AFB [Fort Worth] and he along with the people out at Roswell decided to change the story while they got their act together and got the information into the Pentagon and into the President.
Of course President Truman and General Spaatz, the Secretary of Defense [actually Secretary of War] who has now passed away, and other people who were close to them were the ones who made up the key investigative teams in relation to the released information. In one of my officers who did some research, who worked for me at Wright – Patterson, who had done some research on this part of his school came up with a deal that there was great concern at the time and there was fear that the people would panic if the sketchy information that they had such as what was it and where did it come from and what was their mission and so on and so on got out. So they decided to make it a national cover up. And that there probably wouldn’t be much released until everybody who was involved in it, including the thirteen people I’m talking about and their immediate staff who made up the, oh what was it, the twelve people who made up the investigative team had passed away. So they wouldn’t divulge information or information wouldn’t come out that they may or may not have been involved while they were alive.
That’s the logical thing and I know most of those people were around. I did know that they’re numbers one and two people were at the top of the staff including the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Staff and the intelligence circle including the President’s office, I never heard of any elected officials…
I cut in to ask a very basic question. I asked, “Now, is this personal knowledge that you have of this?” Exon said:

This is stuff that I’ve heard from ’47 on to the present time, really. About why wasn’t it… about who was responsible and it was no problem to find out who was in those positions in ’47 and ’48 and I just happen to remember them because the Air Force was being formed and I was in the Pentagon and worked around a lot between the Pentagon and the field so I knew these people.
Given this information, I wondered who would have been the controlling agency. Who had the overall responsibility for this? Exon said:

I just know there was a top intelligence echelon represented and the President’s office was represented and these people stayed on it in key positions even though they might have moved out to investigate all sightings and stuff and get pictures and get information and bring it into the central repository
From that point, the discussion shifted into who might be able to provide additional information. He did tell me of a man who had been in charge of the Foreign Technology Division at one time by the name of Cruikshank. I actually found him and called him. That conversation was very short and I could think of no way to keep him talking. He was too clever. He just told me that he didn’t know who I was, he didn’t know what was still classified and what wasn’t, and he had nothing else to say. While I didn’t appreciate the short telephone call, it made perfect sense to me. It was what I would have done in a similar circumstance.

I did ask about other crashes, but Exon said that the only one he knew about was the one in New Mexico. We finished our conversation with Exon saying, “…I’d be surprised if you found much in the records of FTD or like that because it was so closely held… If it originated there it ended up being part of the unholy thirteen group… people that I know who were involved in it, they were sworn to secrecy.”

Now here’s something that I came to realize later. We all assumed, and it is almost engraved in stone, that the modern UFO era began on June 24, 1947, when Ken Arnold made his sighting and report. We assumed that nothing else was going on in the world of the UFO, but as I was working on Government UFO Secrets, I learned that the UFO investigations actually went back to the Foo Fighters. There were the Ghost Rockets in Scandinavia in 1946 and finally the flying saucers of the US. But the intelligence networks had been looking into these things since World War II, and one guy’s name surfaced throughout this. Howard McCoy was the man and he was involved in the Foo Fighter investigation, was part of the US Ghost Rocket investigation and was then charged with investigating the flying saucers that were being reported prior to Arnold. And then in September 1947, when Twining’s letter was written, it was McCoy who wrote it for Twining’s signature.

So, if what fell at Roswell was alien, the committee to study these things already existed. It might have been expanded at that point but it was not created in response to anything that happened in July 1947. This was the mistake that I think we were all making. The people who were going to study this were already worried about the national security implications of the flying saucers, though they wouldn’t have called them that until after Arnold. So this committee, these “Unholy Thirteen” as Exon called them, was already at work trying to determine what was going on. If we postulate that they were already in existence because of what had been happening before Arnold it changes the complexion of UFO history.

So, when Exon revealed what he knew, he was talking about something that existed prior to July 1947. When what he told me, and later amplified for Don Schmitt, is looked at in this context, we see something a little different. What he says makes a little more sense, when what we know today is added to what Exon said in 1990.

In the end here, we see Exon’s words with a little more clarity, and we understand a little more about what he was saying. That doesn’t diminish the importance of them, just changes the context slightly and gives us a better understanding of what he said. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

MJ-12, The Unholy Thirteen and Roswell


Since it has come up recently on Facebook, I thought that I would revisit the “Unholy Thirteen,” as named by Brigadier General Arthur Exon about two decades ago. It was Exon who brought this up in my first interview with him, it was he who described the committee, and it was he who linked it specifically to UFOs.

First, though, a little bit of background. Back in the late 1970s, when cattle mutilations were all the rage, I did an article about my investigations into them and the fact that I had found terrestrial explanations for these seemingly inexplicable events. I wrote an article for one of the half dozen magazines devoted to UFOs but the editor sent it back with a note that he, or the magazine, wasn’t interested in another discussion of cattle mutilations. Imagine my surprise when the next issue contained a long story about cattle mutilations. It seems he was not interested in solving the mystery, but rather in keeping it alive.

My lesson might not have been what he wanted it to be. I learned that if I was going to write an article explaining something, I had better find an alternative mystery. Or, if I was going to expose MJ-12, I had better find another mysterious committee to replace it. Exon provided that for me with his discussion of the “Unholy Thirteen.”

According to Exon, he had run into this committee while assigned to the Pentagon in the mid-1950s. He said that he was not a part of it, but he did know who some of the members were. He linked it to Roswell, but in today’s world, given what we know about the history of UFOs, the creation of this committee might have preceded the Roswell crash. The information about the debris was sent up the chain of command, and this oversight committee, whoever they were, would have been about the last stop on the journey. Exon didn’t know their official name and called them the “Unholy Thirteen.”

Exon said that the information about Roswell would have gone to Brigadier General Roger Ramey in Fort Worth because he was the next level of command. It would have been passed farther up the chain of command to Strategic Command Headquarters (Kenny) which was in Washington, D.C., to the Chief of Staff of the Army for Air (Spaatz), the Chief of Staff of the Armies (Eisenhower), to the Secretary of War for Air (Stuart Symington), the Secretary of War (Patterson, I believe) and finally to the President (Truman, if I need to point that out). Remember, this would have been the first word of the discovery, and today it doesn’t matter what you believe fell at Roswell, this protocol would have been followed because in July1947, these top people were worried about the identity of the flying saucers. They wanted to know what they were, who made them and if they were hostile… which is not the situation we find ourselves in today.

Exon also said, “I just know there was a top intelligence echelon represented (here I think he is referring to Colonel Howard McCoy who had been studying these things since the Foo Fighters of WW II and for more about McCoy see Government UFO Files: The Conspiracy of Cover-up which is a plug for my book but would provide the details of this for those who want it) and the President’s office was represented and the Secretary of Defense’s office [at the time, July 1947, Secretary of War] was represented and these people stayed on it in the key positions even though they might have moved out [Symington, for example, becoming a US senator].”

This is important because these guys who Exon named were not mentioned in MJ-12 document, but given who they were and what they were doing, they would have been tapped for this kind of committee… but then, if Eisenhower was on the committee, he already knew about Roswell and there would be no reason for the briefing given to him in 1952. Given the structure of the government in 1947, these are guys who would have been involved and that they are not mentioned in MJ-12 is just another indication that MJ-12 is not legitimate.

We know that this was going on because Edward Ruppelt, one time chief of Project Blue Book wrote, in his book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, (page 109 in hardback, 147 in Ace paperback), “The only people outside Project Blue Book who have studied the complete case of the Lubbock Lights were a group who, due to their associations with the government had complete access to our files [emphasis added]. And these people were not pulp writers or wide-eyed fanatics; they were scientists – rocket experts, nuclear physicists, and intelligence experts [emphasis added]. They had banded together to study our UFO reports because they were convinced that some of the UFOs that were being reported were interplanetary space ships and the Lubbock Lights were one of these reports.”

Now, none of this proves that anything extraordinary fell at Roswell but it does suggest that there was some kind of high power committee of mixed civilian and military that oversaw the collection of UFO information. Given the situation in 1947, and what we have learned about interest in UFOs that began with the Foo Fighters, continued to the Ghost Rockets and then to the flying disks, there is no question about this. The motivation for the formation of the committee seems to have begun before the Roswell crash (for a detailed look into this again see Government UFO Files: The Conspiracy of Cover-up).

Stan Friedman, to counter this “assault” on MJ-12, wrote that I had misquoted Exon in the magazine article and UFO Crash at Roswell. I sent transcripts, as well as tapes, of Exon’s comments to Don Schmitt and to me, on to him along with a copy of the book and asked what I had misquoted. He acknowledged that the quotes were accurate and then complained that I had given more emphasis to his words than they warranted… well, that’s sort of my job, deciding what was important in the interview. The important point is that the quotes were accurate.

So, where are we then? Well, the committee existed and we have documents other than Exon’s claims to back that up. Their purpose was to answer questions about UFOs. Exon tended to link them to Roswell, but given what we know it seems the committee was formed prior to anything happening at Roswell. It was very high level, it contained those you would expect to be on it, and this information tends to negate MJ-12, which was the purpose of my article published in the Spring, 1992. The point is, there is evidence for a high level committee, it was not MJ-12, and the documentation proves it.

Or maybe the point here is to show that the name, “Unholy Thirteen,” was just something Exon invented because he didn’t know the official name of the committee and to him it was a useful way to discuss them. He knew they existed and that they were charged with determining the national security threat of the flying saucers… especially in 1947 when no one knew much of anything about them... and that was about all he knew about that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Astronomers and Alien Spacecraft


It is sort of an ongoing belief that astronomers don’t see UFOs… or as some of those claiming this say, “Alien spacecraft.” Some astronomers have seen things that could be classified as UFOs, meaning unidentified flying objects as opposed to spacecraft. Clyde Tombaugh who discovered the now demoted planet Pluto, had a sighting, but it was of rectangular lights passing overhead which could have been some kind of spacecraft or might have been some misunderstood natural phenomenon so strange that he had never seen anything like it. The point here that could be debated was if Tombaugh was claiming to see something alien. He did file a UFO report but that still is not the same as saying it was an alien spacecraft.

In working on another project, I was looking at the November 1959 issue of The A.P.R.O. Bulletin, and found, under the “Recent Sightings” banner (page 10) the following:

Rio de Janeiro, 13 July, 1959 (oh my lord the hated Bill Moore dating format that might have contaminated the MJ-12 Eisenhower Briefing Document… You’re welcome Stan...) – Three Brazilian astronomers followed, for twenty minutes, the trajectory of a lighted circular object (the lights were green) which occasionally emitted rays. From 2210 to 2230 [meaning 10:10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.] Professors Luiz Eduardo, Mario Ferreira, and Silvio Vaz watched it from the Valondo Observatory of the University of Brazil. It evolved from the constellation of Alfa to the constellation of Paon after which it entered the southern triangle of the Southern Cross to finally disappear on the horizon. The trajectory was the arc of a circle. The mysterious object did not revolve about itself. According to the astronomers, it could easily be seen with the naked eye, being about twice the size of Venus. “I am persuaded that it was a Flying Saucer,” declared Professor Eduardo.
Okay, I know what you all are thinking because I’m thinking the same thing. But in the world of the Internet, I could check out some of this. I found a listing for Luiz Eduardo de Silva Machado (1927 – 1992) who could be the man mentioned in the report. He is listed as an astronomer who discovered asteroids, among other things. I found a couple of listings for the others but I’m not sure they are the right guys.

And, of course, there is a listing for the observatory. This tells me only that one of the men and the observatory wasn’t invented. This brief fact check was something that couldn’t be done when the story first appeared in 1959… and frankly, it is not all that great today.

However, if accurate, and I have no reason to doubt it at this point, it is just another sighting by astronomers. Instead of calling it a UFO, they gave a description and called it a flying saucer. It is the story of astronomers seeing a spaceship… and yes, I had to go to Brazil and 1959 to find this, but then I wasn’t really looking for it. I just stumbled across it and thought I would mention it. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Coyne Helicopter UFO Case


I have been working on a new book and so I have been reviewing some interesting older cases. One of those is the Coyne case in which the flight crew of an Army Reserve UH-1H helicopter spotted a UFO which might have caused a radio outage and then a sudden, mysterious climb when Captain Lawrence Coyne had entered a descent to avoid a collision.

Briefly, they were returning to their home station in Cleveland, Ohio, when Sergeant John Healy, seated in the left rear spotted an object or a red light off the left side of the aircraft. He thought it was brighter than the red navigation lights on an aircraft and he could see none of the other aircraft lights required by the FAA. This light disappeared behind the helicopter and Healy thought nothing more about it.

A few moments later, Specialist Five (E-5) Robert Yanacsek, seated in the right rear, saw a red light on the eastern horizon. He, at first, thought it was a red warning light on a radio tower, but the light wasn’t blinking and it seemed to be pacing the aircraft. Finally it seemed to turn so that it was coming toward the helicopter and when it did, he mentioned it to the pilot. Coyne glanced out the right window and also believed the light was coming at them.

Coyne took the controls of the aircraft and believing the object might be on a collision course, pushed down the collective (or technically, the collective pitch, that is a lever on the left side of the seat of the pilot or co-pilot) which changes the pitch of the rotor blades so that the aircraft will gain or lose altitude. He eventually pushed it all the way down to the stop. Believing that he was not descending fast enough, he pushed the cyclic (think of the yoke on an airplane) forward so that he would be descending faster.

At this point Coyne looked up and said the object was covering the front of the windshield. Coyne said that there was a red light at the front of the object, a green light that seemed to reflect off the rear of the object, and a green light, like a searchlight coming from the rear.

The object hovered there for what seemed like a long time and then took off toward the northwest. They could see the light at the rear of the aircraft was bright white. Coyne looked at the altimeter and realized they were at 3500 feet. Coyne said the collective was still full down and he couldn’t explain the ascent. Coyne then pulled up on the collective (which, of course, the opposite of what he should have done to stop an ascent but then the collective was full down so he couldn’t have pushed it any lower anyway) and at 3800 feet, they felt a bump and the climb ceased.

Philip Klass, when he heard about the case decided to take a look at it. He was on a television show with Healy, and he recorded another show that aired the next night that featured Coyne. Klass, in his book UFO’s Explained, wrote, “As I studied the transcript of my tape recording [of Coyne on the Dick Cavett Show] my attention began to focus on the possibility that the UFO might have been a bright meteor-fireball.”

He then spends a great deal of time reporting on his search for a record of a meteor at the time and place in question but failed. True, not every meteor is reported, but this one would have been spectacular enough that someone else should have seen it. No one did and no reports were filed. But that’s okay, because Klass is hung up on the meteor explanation and cited examples of many people being fooled by fireballs, miscalculating the distance to them, their altitude, their shape and the length of time they are visible, and some other UFO cases that were explained by fireballs which is all irrelevant here.

Klass mentions nothing of Healy’s sighting of the red object that was seen out the left side of the aircraft and that slide to the rear. If it was the same object, then clearly it wasn’t a meteor and Klass’ explanation fails at that point.

He mentions that the cockpit was bathed in green light as the object passed overhead and reports that there are two Plexiglas panels set above the pilots’ heads and these are tinted green. We called them, cleverly, the greenhouses, but they are directly over the pilots and are not part of the windshield. Klass seems to have confused these green tinted areas for something on the windshield much as cars used to have a green tint at the top of the windshield. The crew was not looking through the greenhouses and the light was not coming through them. Besides, the crew described other colored lights on the object which they were watching through the windshield.

Klass admits that the climb is the “real puzzler.” He discussed it with Dave Brown, an “experienced pilot with some hours in a helicopter [which tells me nothing and I wonder if those hours are as a pilot and if there are very many of them]. Brown suggested that perhaps the pilot or co-pilot might unconsciously have pulled back on the collective and or cyclic-pitch control(s) as he leaned back in his seat to view the luminous object overhead.”

Well, the co-pilot, Lieutenant Arrigo Jezzi would never have done that. How do I know? Because Coyne, Jezzi and I had all gone through the same flight training, though not at the same time. Had Jezzi felt the aircraft was in danger and he needed to take over the controls, he would have put his hands on them and said, “I’ve got it.”

Coyne would have relinquished control taking his hands off and said, “You’ve got it.”

This was done so that the pilots wouldn’t be fighting each other for control. In similar circumstances, meaning one of us in the cockpit saw something the other didn’t that might endanger the aircraft, this is what we did, and that includes combat assaults under fire, which can easily be as stressful as seeing a UFO. We followed the ritual even at times like that, so, we know that Jezzi didn’t take over control.

Could leaning back in the seat, trying to see the UFO above have caused Coyne to pull up on the collective (as opposed to have pulled back as Klass suggests)? Not really given the way the controls are configured. Could he have pulled back on the cyclic in such a circumstance? Maybe, but there would have been other consequences to that action, including a slowing of the airspeed and a change in the orientation of the cockpit. Or, in other words, that would have been noticed. Besides, given the circumstances, it is more likely that Coyne would have pushed the cyclic forward as he attempted to see the object, which would have increased the rate of descent.

Klass, continues his speculation about all of this, based on the information he has collected, some of which he fails to report, and he concludes, “…we should all be grateful for the instinctive, if unconscious, reactions of pilot Coyne or co-pilot Jezzi in pulling their helicopter out of its steep descent barely four hundred feet about the ground.”

So Klass has solved the case by creating a meteor where none was reported, ignoring the flight of the light when it doesn’t conform to his ideas, misunderstanding the configuration of the cockpit controls that doesn’t fit his belief and his failure to understand the flight procedures of Army helicopter pilots. His analysis is badly flawed and his speculations are not driven by facts.

Oh, and he does mention the report from someone on the ground who might have seen the UFO, but he never found him and for our purposes as well as those of Klass that witness does not exist. There are two other witnesses who saw the UFO from the ground and they have provided statements about what they saw corroborating, after a fashion, the sighting by Coyne and his crew.

In the end, this is a case that screams to be labeled as “unidentified” because there is no a valid explanation for it. Klass was simply wrong in his analysis and his speculations should be ignored because of his manipulation of the evidence and his lack of understanding of the flight characteristics of the helicopter. There is no easy solution here and sometimes that is about all that can be said about a case.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The James Stokes UFO Sighting, November 1957


As should be obvious, I have spent some time looking into the November 1957 UFO sightings, especially those in the desert southwest. I have been through what I can find, including the original reports that appear in The A.P.R.0. Bulletin, the NICAP UFO Investigator, the Project Blue Book files, and the skeptical end of these cases including Watch the Skies! by Curtis Peebles.

What I find interesting is how the Project Blue Book investigators seemed to miss basic facts, made allegations that were never corroborated (which is a nice way to suggest they just made up stuff), and wrote off cases based not on the evidence but on their own personal bias. The James Stokes case of November 5, 1957, proves the point.

What prompted this is what I read in Watch the Skies!. The information is right out of the Project Blue Book files, reported as if this was an unbiased search for the truth, the only credible source for information and dismisses Stokes as a liar. That allegation is based on trivia, much of it coming from the mistakes made by the Air Force which could have been corrected if they had cared anything for the truth.

The first point is the claim that Stokes, after his sighting and before he did anything else, called the media, in this case the Alamogordo radio station to describe what he had seen. But the evidence, available at the time, is that Stokes first called his superior, Major Ralph Everett, at Holloman Air Force Base to ask if he could talk about the case. When he received the affirmative, he didn’t call the radio station. He called his friend, Jim Lorenzen. But the radio station news director, Terry Clarke, having learned Stokes’ name from Everett, was looking for Stokes so that even if Stokes hadn’t called Lorenzen, who then called radio station, the story would have gotten out. So, Stokes story can’t be criticized for his the media contact.

Much is made by the alleged misidentification of Stokes as an engineer. The Air Force suggests that we can reject Stokes because of this resume inflation. But the idea that he was an engineer is again traced to Holloman and his superiors who identify him as such. Even the base PIO, in a statement released that is in support of Stokes’ credibility and is not part of the Blue Book file, identifies him as an engineer. Of this, Michael Swords in UFOs and the Government wrote, “the pettiness of part of this attempt at personality assassination is a little disturbing.”

From there we move into the real trivia. According to the Air Force, Stokes changed the number of cars along the side of the road from ten to several and finally settling on six. But in that first interview, in the radio station, Stokes didn’t give a number. He just said several.

Or the idea that he made contradictory statements. This apparently revolves around the “severe” sunburn that Stokes reported. Terry Clarke, in his December 1957 magazine article (written within weeks of the sighting) mentioned the sunburn, but didn’t call it severe. There are several newspaper clippings in which it is described as severe, but in the documentation from the time frame, and from Clarke’s description of it, the sunburn was mild. It had faded by the next morning and by the time the Air Force investigator arrived, there was no sign of any sort of burn. To the Air Force, this observation, days later, and the change from severe to mild is evidence of Stokes changing his statements. This is the second contradictory statement noted in the Blue Book file, the first being the number of stalled cars.

As those of you who visit here regularly know, I try to get to both sides of the controversy. I published information that refutes some very interesting Foo Fighter sightings based on evidence I found in the ship’s deck logs that do not confirm the sightings. I believe that Chiles and Whitted, who said they saw a cigar-shaped craft with a double row of lighted, square windows, saw a bolide, a very bright meteor. I have corrected inaccurate information with the latest data, and have taken heat for being a debunker and an anti-abduction propagandist…but the real search should be for the truth, whatever that truth might be.

But here, in the Stokes case, I say the skeptics have it wrong. Those who had looked at the case, used the Project Blue Book files as their source of information, ignoring other sources such as Clarke’s 1957 article (or probably not locating it during their research which isn’t quite the same as ignoring it) don’t have an accurate and complete picture. If we are going to learn anything about these UFOs, the very least we can do is make sure that our sources of information are accurate, that they are not biased, and most importantly, that these sources use the best information available. Repeating a conclusion created by someone else because you like it is not doing research, it is merely following the party line, whichever party line that happens to be.

Stokes deserved better than he got from his own government. He had served in the Navy for 24 years, he had served in World War II, and there is no evidence in the accounts gathered at the time that he changed his story, recanted part of his story, or that he invented it out of whole cloth. This doesn’t mean he saw an alien spacecraft, only that he saw something he couldn’t explain and reported that to his superior the first chance he got. But there is nothing to prove that he made the thing up for the publicity that he received and nothing to validate the claim that it was a hoax. This should have been marked “Unidentified” by the Air Force, not “Mirage and Psychological.” 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Air Force Character Assassination and On Bullshit


It seems that there are those out there who didn’t understand that when I mentioned “On Bullshit,” I was referring to a philosophical argument by a Princeton professor. They apparently didn’t read the article so that they didn’t understand that bullshit and lying were different and that with bullshit you could be telling the truth, part of the truth or none of the truth but the point seemed to be that the one slinging the BS just didn’t care. Such is the case with some Air Force explanations and investigations into UFOs and those who see them.

We’ve already talked about William Rhodes, the man who took those pictures in Phoenix, Arizona in July 1947. The Air Force had to know much more about the man than they let on, but focused their annoyance on his grandiosely named Panoramic Research Laboratory and that he said he had a Ph.D. They suggested he was a third-rate musician who lived off his wife’s earnings as a school teacher and wasn’t reliable as a witness.

Well, he did have a lab in his backyard and the letterhead said that he was the director of the Panoramic Research Laboratory. He did claim a Ph. D, which might have been the result of his work as a civilian in the Navy in World War II, according to what he said. (And in the fairness of full disclosure here, he apparently left that Navy position within weeks of the beginning of the war and no one seems to know why.)

It was also true that the only source of income found by the Air Force for him was his work as a musician and his wife did teach school. What they didn’t bother to mention, but should have been able to find easily, was that Rhodes held a number of patents, he was considered a genius by friends, and that he had something of an abrasive personality.

In the realm of bullshit, what we see here is the Air Force making much of those things that would discredit Rhodes as a source and never mentioning those things that would suggest there might be something to what he said. Their mission was to explain the pictures and that was exactly what they did, without regard to other pertinent facts or that Rhodes didn’t deserve the treatment he got.

Rhodes isn’t the only one subjected to this kind character assassination. Four soldiers at White Sands Proving Grounds (White Sands Missile Range today) faced the same sort of charges after they reported seeing a UFO on November 4, 1957. The Air Force noted they were all young, between 17 and 21, though the youngest was really 18 (though that is not much different) and that one of them was “ingenuous, na├»ve and impressionable,” which isn’t all that bad, though it calls his reliability into question, which was the point.

According to the Air Force, three of the witnesses had been interviewed by the press prior to the Air Force investigation and this had an adverse effect on their reliability. The Air Force investigator, Captain Patrick Shere, made it clear that he believed that the press interest in the case had “magnified [it] out of all proportion to its importance…”

The Air Force noted, “Sources very young (18 20) impressionable & on duty in a lonely, isolated desert post. Interviewer agrees statements were magnified out of proportion.” Or, in other words, these young guys didn’t see what they thought they did because they were young, impressionable and out in the desert. Because of that, we don’t really have to do anything else to understand what they saw. Case dismissed.

No, that’s really not a complete character assassination, but for this discussion, it is BS. The facts of their ages, their assignments, and their educational backgrounds which were also mentioned, suggest that they were not reliable observers and if such is the case, then their observations can be dismissed as unreliable. No further investigation warranted.

James Stokes, who saw something in that area, meaning White Sands, the next day, that is November 5, 1957, was not so lucky.  The Air Force went after him for a variety of sins including claiming to be an engineer, failure to correctly estimate the number of stopped cars on the highway, disappearance of sunburn-like effects on his face, immediate contact with the media and other bits of trivia.

Stokes said he had seen an egg-shaped craft and that the close approach caused his radio to fade and his engine to stall. He got out of the stopped car and, along with several others, watched the object as it flew overhead. Once it was gone, he was able to start his car and continued his trip to El Paso, Texas. When he got there, he checked with his boss in Alamogordo to be sure that there were no restrictions on his reporting the sighting but since Stokes was off duty and not on the military reservation, his boss told him to go ahead.

This he did, calling Jim Lorenzen of APRO and telling him about the sighting. Coral Lorenzen called the local radio station and took Stokes there for an interview. So, contrary to the Air Force, Stokes hadn’t called the media first, but called his boss first and then Lorenzen. He never did call the media himself.

Stokes had also mentioned that once he returned home, he found a slight sunburn. According to the Lorenzens, and to Terry Clarke of radio station KALG, when Stokes arrived at the station, he had a slight reddening of the face. So, there are witnesses to this, and by Tuesday morning, and by the time the Captain Patrick O. Shere, the Air Force investigator arrived to officially interview him, the reddening was gone. Noted in the Air Force report was a handwritten, “Hospital shows no traces of sunburn as alleged by Stokes.”

The Air Force was also annoyed that Stokes was identified as an engineer, pointing out that he was only a technician. Although, and according to the Air Force, Stokes had two years of college, he was not an engineer. The trouble here is that even the officers at Holloman, including his boss, Major Ralph Everett, referred to him as an engineer.

But that isn’t the end of it. Stokes, who had been a GS-11 (a Government Service grade that is equivalent to a company grade officer in the military) was promoted and moved into the upper grades as a GS-12 only weeks after the event. His qualifications as an engineer seemed to be based on a combination of education and experience as applied by his employers and not a “resume” embellishment by Stokes. It seems he was employed as an engineer at Alamogordo rather than a technician.

On November 15, the Air Force issued a press release and in it suggested that the Stokes’ sighting was a hoax. Later they would decide, because this was high desert, that mirages were a possibility. Their official conclusion would become, “mirage and psychological,” which was their way of calling the sighting a hoax without using that word and that avoided branding Stokes a liar.

The Air Force was saying, in this case, you don’t have to believe Stokes because his first action was to call the radio station, he wasn’t an engineer, and we didn’t see the reddening of his skin. And they didn’t bother to correct their errors, or modify their statements about the case which would have been simple to discover had they actually cared about the truth rather than slinging BS.

Even worse was the treatment of First Lieutenant Joseph Long who reported that his car engine had been stalled while on the road in Nevada as I have noted in other writing. His report was described in the Project Blue Book files. It said:

He walked for several minutes until he was to within approximately fifty (50) feet from the nearest object. The objects appeared identical and about fifty (50) feet in diameter. They were disc-shaped, emitting their own source of light which caused them to blow brightly. They were equipped with a translucent dome in the center of the top which was obviously not of the same material as the rest of the craft. The entire body of the objects emitted the light, they did not seem to be dark on the underside. They were equipped with three (3) landing gears each that appeared hemispherical in shape, about two (2) feet in diameter, and some dark material. Source estimated the height of the objects from the ground level to the top of the dome to be about ten (10) to fifteen (15) feet. The objects were equipped with a ring around the outside that was darker than the rest of the craft and was apparently rotating. When SOURCE got to within fifty (50) feet of the nearest object, the hum, which had been steady the air over since he first observed the objects, increased in pitch to a degree where it almost hurt his ears, and the objects lifted off the ground. The protruding gears were retracted immediately after take-off, the objects rose about fifty (50) feet into the air and proceeded slowly (about ten mph) to the north, across the highway, contoured over some small hills about half (½) mile away, and disappeared behind those hills. As the object passed directly over SOURCE, he observed no evidence of any smoke, exhaust, trail, heat, disturbance of the ground or terrain, or any visible outlines of landing gear doors, or any other outlines or openings on the bottom. The total time of the sighting lasted about (20) minutes.
The solution of the Long sighting was handled in fashion similar to that of those others we’ve been talking about. According to a report dated February 11, 1958, and entitled “Analyst’s Comments Regarding Possible Reasons for Source Manufacturing Story, Captain George Gregory, then chief of Project Blue Book wrote:

…Officer has reserve status. Will be eligible for discharge in near future.

…His academic training and education appears to be speech, dramatics, etc. for TV work.

…It is assumed that upon completion of his prescribed “Reserve Tour” he will associate himself with TV work – either as a writer, editor commentator, etc.

…If he has kept his thumb on TV’s pulse, he knows the great public interest in “flying saucers” and “UFOs” – and the number of TV presentations on this subject.

…Interrogation brought out that he is familiar with names of prominent “saucer” and science fiction writers, authors which [sic] the average reader would not know. The arguments the Source gave on page 11 of IR [Intelligence Report] are almost word for word argument given by a number of these authors regarding “flying saucers” or their attempts to prove that they are not earth-made vehicles.

…SOURCE is therefore not considered to be unaware of the lucrative opportunity and the sensational interest in his suddenly appearing on a TV presentation as a commentator or observer (a la Kenneth Arnold), as a writer of a “flying saucer” eye-witness first person story, or as guest lecturer or star for Keyhoe, Davidson’s or other TV programs. He cannot be totally unaware that there would be no better way to enter his chosen civilian profession than with the dramatic announcement that he is only unimpeachable, completely reliable person, a qualified observer, an Air Force pilot to have seen and made an actually near contact with flying saucers – recently discharged from the service, etc. etc. ---

…Therefore there may be other motives for SOURCE manufacturing such a story, but on the basis of the above known facts, this is one motive that cannot be disregarded. Investigators broke a cardinal rule in handling this case…: although they went to great lengths and pains to interrogate source and obtain detailed statements and opinions, not a single check was made of all local facilities to determine if aircraft or operations were in the area at that time, as prescribed by par 5, AFR 200-2.

It is fairly clear from Gregory’s “analysis” that he has no respect for a “reserve officer,” and that Long’s college background, meaning his major area of study, suggests that Long might have invented the tale so that he would be able to find work in television after his discharge from the Air Force. Although Gregory writes about “known facts,” much of it is supposition on his part, based not on what Long might have said to the “interrogators” but because Gregory knew there are no “flying saucers” and therefore anything that suggested otherwise must be wrong. He postulated that Long would seek some kind of job in television and that Long might have hoped that this sighting would, if not secure a job outright, might put him in touch with the right people as he recounted the case for the newspapers, magazines, books and television. There is, however, no evidence that such was the case.

The case file, or rather the witness interrogation and statements were forwarded to a psychologist, who without benefit of speaking with Long wrote that:

Officer had a background and studies in Speech and related subjects for TV work.

Was familiar with names of well-known science fiction and “flying saucer” writers.

Advanced the same classic arguments of “saucer” believers that the objects were space ships, i.e. did not resemble any design known to him, etc.

He is a reserve officer, with the possibility that he may complete his tour of duty with the Air Force in the very near future, and would probably enter into TV work.

He just completed the very rigid USAF Survival Course at Stead AF Base the day before; left immediately, and drove all night enroute to Las Vegas.

Checks show no UFO’s or any report of unusual objects from radar, GOC, military and civil flight and other operations from that area. No reports from any other persons in the locality…

The case file was submitted to a well-known psychologist who had previously evaluated UFO sightings. His comments paralleled those of ATIC, but with recommendations that the officer be discreetly investigated with view of obtaining certain pertinent information to resolve the case. This would require the services of the OSI.

The damage and embarrassment to the Air Force would be incalculable, if, this officer allied himself with the host of “flying saucer” writers, experts, and others who barrage the Air Force with countless charges and accusations. In this instance, as matters now stand, the Air Force would have no effective rebuttal, or evidence to disprove any unfound charges.

What they had realized is that they couldn’t have an Air Force officer, even a reserve officer, saying that he had seen a landed alien craft. There wasn’t much they could do, but then he was only a lieutenant and would be off active duty soon. Rather than attempt to learn what he had seen, they decided that it was a hallucination that came about because he had just finished a rugged school and had been driving all night. These sorts of things happened all the time, as the psychologist noted in his report.

All of this points out a pattern in the Air Force that suggested that the best way to ridicule a case was to attack the witness credibility. If the source seemed to be unreliable, then anything he or she had to say could be dismissed. The facts for that dismissal didn’t have to be accurate. They just had to suggest there might be a problem with the witness’ reliability. That was enough.

In fact, there is an interesting article that was just published that seems to underscore all this. It explains how information is “massaged” to bring about a specific point of view, which is the point that I’m making here. Some information is simply left out of the reports so that a witness is deemed less than credible. Mark Chesney provided this link:

http://www.dailycensored.com/hit-piece-happens/

Additional information about this sort of propaganda, also provided by Mark, can be found at:


Say what you will about UFOs, this demonstrates that some of the information was manipulated to promote a specific point of view. It demonstrates that some of the attitudes about UFOs are based on faulty information. It suggests that maybe we should look at all this once again because we have been peppered in BS.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On Bullshit and the Air Force


In the last posting about “Lies and More Lies” Larry suggested that it wasn’t actual lies the Air Force was spreading, but bullshit as defined by Harry G. Frankfurt. Larry wrote:

Back in 2005 there was a little (and I do mean little) book published by a retired Princeton Philosophy professor—Harry Frankfurt. The book was titled “On Bullshit” (which I will hereafter abbreviate as “BS”). It purported to be the first scholarly treatment of the subject of BS, even though the term BS is commonly utilized by everyone speaking the English language. If you haven't read it already, I would recommend getting your hands on a copy.

One of the main ideas (and the relevance to this posting) is that BS is a category of behavior distinct from lying. In lying, there is at least respect for the distinction between truth and fiction. In BS, there is contempt for this distinction; the motive is to get the one receiving the BS to form a particular opinion about the one dispensing the BS in some way. This is why we often associate BS with, for example, politicians. It is a common perception that politicians will say anything to get elected. I think that the Air Force Blue Book operation was—technically speaking—BS. The whole idea was to get the public to believe the message: “we’re not worried folks—no national security issues here!” They would put forth any statement that advanced that meme—sometimes even the truth.
Which is an interesting position to take on all this. So I looked this paper up and found it on line at:



Although this is a somewhat esoteric argument to make, it seems that what is being said is that the Air Force wasn’t engaging in lying so much as it was engaged in bullshitting. Frankfurt wrote:

What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensable distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.
Or, when we look at what Hector Quintanilla said about certain UFO cases, or when he offered explanations that don’t seem to fit the facts, he wasn’t necessarily lying to us. He was bullshitting us. Frankfurt is telling us that Quintanilla’s (or any other UFO spokesman) aim is to impress us with words that are favorable to his position with no regard to the truth.

And what I find interesting in all this is that the person spreading the manure isn’t even worried about the tales remaining consistent with what they have said, what they are saying or what they might say in the future. He just doesn’t care about any of that. Quintanilla, when he offered multiple explanations, or when any of those in the Air Force offered multiple and sometime contradictory explanations, they didn’t care as long as there was an explanation floating around out there that someone would believe.

This little discussion gains us nothing in the long run. All we really have done is engage in semantics. Is the person lying to us or engaging in bullshit? In this particular case, that is the Air Force and UFO explanations, the ultimate purpose is to convince us to expend our time and effort in another arena and let the Air Force worry about UFOs… or to not worry about them as they would have us believe today.