Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Washington National UFO Sighting Press Conference Part 2

Having told his first lie (well, maybe made his first distortion would be a better way to phrase it), that the Air Force had something called Project Saucer, which I point out because some skeptics, okay, CDA, seems to believe that these officers would breach security while standing in front of a bunch of reporters, the conference continued.

Samford: However, there have remained a percentage of this total [of sighting reports], in the order of twenty per cent [sic] of the reports, that have come from credible observers of relatively incredible things. And because of these things not being possible for us to move along and associate with the kind of things that we’ve found can be associated with the bulk of these reports, we keep on being concerned about them.

However, I’d like to say that the difficulty with disposing of these reports is largely based upon the lack of any standard measurement or any ability to measure these things which have been reported briefly by some, more elaborately by others, but with no measuring devices that can convert the manageable material for any kind of analysis that we know. We take some of these things and we try to bring to the good honest workmen of science a piece of material that has no utility because it doesn’t have the kind of measurements on it that he can use. And, as a consequence, he has to reject these things and say, "Until you can bring me something more substantial than that, I can’t make any progress."

So our need, really is to get the measurement value on these and, in the interim, lacking sufficient measure of these things to make them amenable to real analysis, we have to say that our real interest in this project is not one of intellectual curiosity but is in trying to establish and appraise the possibility of menace to the United States. And we can say, as of now, that there has been no pattern that reveals anything remotely like purpose or remotely like consistency that we can in any way associate with any menace to the United States.

To this point, Samford has said little of real value. He has admitted there is a problem and that they have studied it, but they found nothing for science to investigate. An examination of UFO sightings prior to this point reveals that such is not the case. There had been a number of photographic cases, including movie footage, which can be measured and studies in the lab. There have been a number of radar cases, including the Washington Nationals which spawned the press conference, in which measurements could be made and examined by science. Samford was being less than candid, assuming that he knew what was in the Project Blue Book files, and as the Director of Intelligence, he should have known, at least something about that. This might be construed as his second lie, though that is somewhat strong language. Once again, he is protecting the classified information. We can argue about the reason it was classified, but as classified information he would not be able to talk about it with those who were not cleared to hear it.

This statement also provides a clue as to the nature of the official investigation in the summer of 1952. The Air Force had attempted to learn if there was a threat and had convinced itself that flying saucers were not a threat to the security of the United States. Satisfied that alien invasion fleets were not about to land, the Air Force attitude was that flying saucers did not warrant any sort of investigation by them. Air Force officers had fulfilled their mission when they determined there was no threat to national security. Besides, there was nothing they could about them anyway.

Samford: Now, we do want to continue in the interests of intellectual curiosity or the contributions to be made to scientific measurements, but our main interest is going to have to continue in the problem of seeing whether the things have [the] possibility of harm to the United States, and our present dilemma of lack of measurement that can be turned to analysis and a complete lack of pattern in any of these things which gives us any clue to possible purpose or possible use, leaves us in some dilemma as to what we can do about this remaining twenty per cent of unidentified phenomena.
The volume of reporting is related to many things. We know that reports of this kind go back to Biblical times. There have been flurries of them in various centuries. 1846 seems to have had a time when there was quite a flurry of reporting of this kind. Our current series of reports goes back, generally, to 1946 in which things of this kind were reported in Sweden.

There are many reasons why this volume goes up and down, but we can’t help but believe that, currently, one of the reasons for volume is that man is doing a great deal more. There’s more man-made activity in the air now than there was, certainly, in Biblical times or in 1946. In addition to that, our opportunities to observe have been enhanced greatly.

The difficult part of it, as far as advancing the program is concerned, is that our ability to measure doesn’t seem to have advanced in any way as well as our opportunity to observe and greater recurrence of more disturbing things of this sort that are actually in existence from man-made air participation that we know about.

So our present course of action is to continue on this problem with the best of our ability, giving to it the attention that we feel it very definitely warrants in terms of identifying adequately the growing or possible or disappearing, if it turns out to be that, menace to the United States to give it adequate attention.

While General Samford is giving lip service to the idea that Air Force officers treat the subject seriously, the truth is that they didn’t. In less than a year, the staff of Blue Book, as it had existed in July, had been reduced to the point where it could do nothing. At its lowest, it was "commanded" by an airman first class, one of the lowest ranking of the enlisted grades. No officer was assigned.

Ruppelt himself wrote that in December 1952 he asked for a transfer. He agreed to stay with Blue Book until February 1953 so that a replacement could be assigned and trained but no replacement arrived. Ruppelt left Blue Book in the hands of a single officer and one enlisted man. By July 1953, the enlisted man was the sole soldier manning the office. When Ruppelt returned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base he learned that the investigation had collapsed.


cda said...

Kevin: Thanks for enlightening us on this conference.

A useful reference is "Flying Saucers from Outer Space" (Donald Keyhoe), chapter 5 entitled 'The Powder Keg'.

Keyhoe attended the conference and after Samford's rather vague 'involved sentences' in his opening remarks Keyhoe writes:
"Several reporters looked at each other blankly. The man on my right leaned over to me. 'If he's trying to befuddle us he's already got me' he whispered".

Quite an informative and amusing chapter.

Frank Stalter said...

"We know that reports of this kind go back to Biblical times."

That's a very curious statement to make considering the overall context of the situation. I wasn't aware Samford said that.

Thanks for posting this.

Randel Smith said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for this detailed posting. I am most familiar with it from the footage seen in the Green-Rouse 1956 film 'UFO'. It must have been edited for time.

I do think your assessment of General Samford is a bit harsh; I believe what the man is saying and agree with him generally. The statement both put the public at ease about fears of an invasion and still lent support to the idea that the Air Force was going to continue to look into the subject.

The Utah and Montana films did give them some footage to work with but it must not have been released yet; I'm not sure of the timeline on that. Even so, that film footage failed to reveal exactly what we were dealing with.

Looking at the subject objectively, I would have to also call most of the objects observed as 'unknowns'.

Socorro is one of those few cases that really seems to give us something solid. Wish I could have been there to investigate it too . . but I was only eight at the time!


Randel Smith