Cruising the blogoshpere the other day, I happened on a site that told me that the Roswell case was basically over and for proof offered the fact that the debris in General Ramey’s (that is Brigadier General Roger Ramey, at the time the commander of the Eighth Air Force) office had not been switched. This was based on an interview that Jaime Shandera had conducted with Colonel Thomas DuBose.
For a little background, let’s review. In July 1947, seven pictures were taken in Ramey’s office of the material brought from Roswell. From the pictures, it’s clear that what Major Jesse Marcel, the Air Intelligence officer is holding, are the remnants of a rawin radar detector, launched by weather services to track winds aloft. In this case, the skeptics have suggested it was part of an array train that was used by the then highly classified Project Mogul.
The point is, if this is truly what Marcel found in the desert, and this is truly the stuff that he brought from New Mexico, then we have solved the mystery. Roswell was a weather balloon and for some bizarre reason neither Marcel nor the commander of the 509th Bomb Group, Colonel William Blanchard were able to recognize it.
But in all things Roswell there is a complication. Colonel Thomas DuBose (seen in an official photograph at the left), the Chief of Staff of the Eighth A
ir Force, the parent organization to the 509th , and who appears in two of the pictures, said that the real debris was switched and that what was left was the balloon material. If true, then what is in the pictures tells us nothing about what was found in Roswell, and the idea of a cover-up is planted. If it was a balloon, even a top-secret Mogul balloon, there was no need for a switch.
The debate over the events near Roswell have taken several subtle turns in the past and this latest posting is not the first time that these questions have been addressed. For those not familiar with them, arguments from the skeptical community can be convincing. The problem is that many of these arguments are founded, not in research, but in the semantics of the situation. With the debate reopened with the publication of The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell and now with that posting in the blogosphere, it is important to understand exactly what is being said. The arguments over the credibility of forty year memories and the events that took place in Brigadier General Roger Ramey's office on July 8, 1947 can be illustrative in attempting to understand this whole situation.
Philip Klass (self described as the smartest, Handsomest and sexiest of the UFO researchers seen at the l
eft), in one of his attempts to undermine the research being done into the Roswell case, has presented theories that can't be substantiated and which, like those on that blog, are only part of the story. He has taken rumor and speculation and attempted to turn it into a thought provoking piece on why the memories of witnesses and the testimonies of those witnesses should be ignored and centered it around Thomas DuBose and what happened in Ramey’s office. But Klass, in writing about this, has ignored the documents and the testimony that fly in the face of his beliefs which, all too often, is the tactic used in debate, but certainly not in scientific research.
Using the disagreements between Jaime Shandera and William Moore and me (as did the recent blogger) as the springboard, Klass writes, "The controversy [about what happened in Ramey’s officer] has served to demonstrate how fragile and uncertain are the 40+ year old recollections of surviving principals -- which is hardly surprising."
Klass continues, writing, "Seven different photos have been located which were taken in Gen. Ramey's o
ffice on the late afternoon/early evening of July 8, 1947, and two of them show Ramey and Col. DuBose examining the debris (seen at the left with Ramey kneeling and DuBose in the chair). All photos show the same debris. Moore/Shandera claim this is the same debris recovered by Marcel (Major Jesse A. Marcel) from the Brazel (W.W. Mack Brazel) ranch and that photos show the remains of a crashed saucer. Randle/Schmitt disagree and say the photos show the remains of a balloon-borne radar tracking device which Gen. Ramey substituted for the authentic debris."
To this point, Klass has provided the reader with an accurate account of the situation. The facts, as outlined are correct. However, Klass then makes the assumption that is not true. He writes, "The fact that all seven photos taken in Ramey's office show the same debris challenges the credibility of Maj. Jesse Marcel's 30+ year old recollections which form the cornerstone of the Roswell crashed saucer myth, at least for Moore, Friedman and Shandera."
These facts do not challenge Marcel's recollections, but Moore's reporting of those recollections. That is the subtle, yet real, difference here.
Klass continues, writing, "According to Moore's book [The Roswell Incident], when Marcel (now deceased) was interviewed in the late 1970s, he said that 'one photo (taken in Ramey's office showing Marcel examining the debris) was pieces of the actual stuff we found. It was not a staged photo. Later, they cleared out our wreckage and substituted some of their own. Then they allowed more photos.' Yet all of the photos taken in Ramey's office on July 8, 1947,
including two (not one) with Marcel (one of which is seen on the left), clearly show the same debris."
Moore, however, provides us with three versions of that interview, one published in his book, one circulated a couple of years ago, and another in Focus, his now defunct publication.
But we can take this one step farther. Marcel, when shown a copy of one of the photos printed in Moore’s The Roswell Incident, reported, "No. No. That picture was staged. That's not the stuff I brought home."
A disinterested third party, Johnny Mann, reported that. Mann, at the time, worked for a television station in Louisiana and was doing a series on UFO sightings. One of the segments was about Roswell and he interviewed Marcel in New Mexico. His interest was only in learning the truth and is not a party to the so-called dispute. The exchange between Mann and Marcel was witnessed by another man, Julian Krajewski.
In fact, Marcel said as much on audio tape. Linda Corley had a chance to interview Marcel in 1980. During that interview, Marcel told Corley that the photographs did not show the material that he had found on the ranch. They were staged photographs.
The point of the dispute is not Marcel's memory then, but the reporting of his testimony by others. Moore has yet to offer the true version of the statement. We do have testimony, from a variety of witnesses, including those who showed Marcel the pictures that refutes both Moore's claim and Klass' assumption. We should not, then, condemn Marcel's 30+ year memory for facts that come from third parties.
Switching gears, Klass moves on to Colonel DuBose, which addresses the argument in the blogosphere. Klass reports, "In Dec. 1990 issue of Focus, Shandera's article includes what he says are verbatim quotes from two interviews with DuBose -- one by telephone and one in person when he recently visited DuBose at his home in Florida. After asking DuBose if he had read the Moore/Shandera articles that Shandera had earlier sent to him, and if he had 'studied the (Ramey office) pictures', DuBose reportedly replied: 'Yes, and I studied the pictures very carefully.' When Shandera asked if DuBose recognized the material, DuBose reportedly replied: 'Oh yes. That's the material that Marcel brought in to Fort Worth from Roswell.'"
Klass continues, writing, "But Randle and Schmitt got a conflicting response when DuBose was interviewed earlier--on August 10, 1990. The interview was videotaped and hypnosis was later used to try to enhance DuBose's 40+ year old recollections. In this interview, DuBose said that the material photographed in Ramey's office was NOT the debris that Marcel brought, i.e. that bogus material had been substituted. But then Shandera visited DuBose and asked him if there had been a switch, DuBose reportedly replied: 'Oh, bull! That material was never switched.'"
Again, the controversy isn't about 40 year old memories of a witness but about the reporting of those memories by two separate groups. It is interesting that Shandera's reporting is in direct conflict with what was reported first in The Roswell Incident and later by me.
It is also important to point out that according to both General and Mrs. DuBose, Shandera neither recorded the interview nor took notes during the interview in Florida. We have Shandera's unsubstantiated claim (and Klass’s description of the verbatim quotes) that DuBose said the debris in Ramey's office was the real debris, which is consistent with the story that Shandera and Moore were pushing, but that is not consistent with the independent testimony of the witnesses, or with the documentation available.
We have supplied copies of the video-taped interviews to The J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, the MUFON UFO Journal and the Fund for UFO Research. We have quoted exactly from that tape. Shandera and Moore have yet to offer independent and disinterested third parties copies of their tapes, if they exist at all. If they would do so, then the question about the debris in Ramey's office could be cleared up.
We asked DuBose pointedly if he had ever seen the Roswell debris and he responded, "NEVER!" After the Shandera interview was published, we asked him again, if he had ever seen the real debris and again he answered, "NO!"
This could be construed as just another debate between two factions, ours and theirs with no way to resolve it. However, we aren't the only ones to whom DuBose spoke. Billy Cox, at one time a writer for Florida Today interviewed DuBose for an article he wrote in the November 24, 1991 edition of the newspaper. Cox reported that DuBose told him essentially the same story that he told us. Here was a disinterested third party reporting on the same set of circumstances, but he didn't get Shandera's version of the events.
In a letter dated September 30, 1991, Cox wrote, "I was aware of the recent controversy generated by an interview he (DuBose) had with Jaime Shandera, during which he stated that the display debris at Fort Worth was genuine UFO wreckage and not a weather balloon, as he had previo
usly stated. But I chose not to complicate matters by asking him to illuminate what he had told Shandera; instead, I simply asked him, without pressure, to recall events as he remembered them...he seemed especially adamant about his role in the Roswell case. While he stated that he didn't think the debris was extraterrestrial in nature (though he had no facts to support his opinion), he was insistent that the material that Ramey displayed for the press was in fact a weather balloon, and that he had personally transferred the real stuff in a lead-lined mail pouch to a courier going to Washington ...I can only conclude that the Shandera interview was the end result of the confusion that might occur when someone attempts to press a narrow point of view upon a 90 year old man (DuBose with Don Schmitt seen on the left). I had no ambiguity in my mind that Mr. DuBose was telling me the truth."
Cox isn't the only one to hear that version of events from DuBose. Kris Palmer, a former researcher with NBC's Unsolved Mysteries reported much the same thing. When she spoke with DuBose, he told her that the real debris had gone on to Washington in a sealed pouch and that a weather balloon had been on the floor in General Ramey's office.
But the most enlightening of the interviews comes from Don Ecker of UFO magazine. Shandera had called Ecker, telling him that he would arrange for Ecker to interview DuBose. Ecker, however, didn't wait and called DuBose on his own. DuBose then offered our version of events. When Ecker reported that to Shandera, Shandera said for him to wait. He'd talk to DuBose.
After Shandera talked to DuBose, he called Ecker and said, "Now call him." DuBose then said that the debris on the floor hadn't been switched and that it was the stuff that Marcel had brought from Roswell. It should be pointed out here that Palmer called DuBose after this took place. Without Shandera there to prime the pump, DuBose told our version of events. It was only after close questioning by Shandera could that version be heard. It is not unlike a skillful attorney badgering a witness in a volatile trial. Under the stress of the interview and the close questioning, the witness can be confused for a moment. Left alone to sort out the details, the correct version of events bubbles to the surface.
It should also be noted that DuBose hasn't actually changed his testimony at all. The real confusion comes from his statement that the debris on the floor in Ramey's office was not switched. We had suggested that the debris Marcel brought to Ramey's office was switched with the balloon. Dubose said that the debris on the floor wasn't switched. That statement is correct.
What this means, quite simply, is that the debris Marcel brought from Roswell was never displayed on the floor in Ramey's office. Marcel unwrapped one of the packages containing the real debris and set it on Ramey's desk. The two officers then studied a map of the debris field in another room. When they returned, the debris had been removed from Ramey's desk and the weather balloon was displayed on the floor.
I could go into a longer explanation of the situation in Ramey's office on July 8, 1947, but have done so in the November/December 1990 issue of The International UFO Reporter and the April 1991 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal. Both publications provided detailed accounts of those critical hours, including a long listing of sources used in the preparation of the articles. It is interesting to note that Shandera and Moore quote sources but never supply copies of the tapes or transcripts to independent third parties. I have done both.
But Klass is not content to leave it there. He reports, "One indication of the 89-year old DuBose's flawed memory is that when Schmitt asked if Shandera had visited his home a few months earlier to interview him, DuBose said Shandera had not. But when Schmitt asked Mrs. DuBose, she confirmed that Shandera had indeed visited their house for an interview."
The conclusion, which Klass is so impressed with that he typed it in all caps, boldface, and underlined it, is, "Thus, while Moore/Shandera debate with Randle/Schmitt over which of DuBose's recollections of events that occurred more than 40 years ago is correct, DuBose demonstrated for Schmitt that he could not remember a visit and interview by Shandera which had occurred only a few months earlier."
Ignoring the fact that long term memory is better than short term, and that the elderly often display perfect memories of long ago events while being unable to remember what they had for breakf
ast, let's examine that whole statement by Klass.
First, DuBose remembered the interview, but not the name of the interviewer. That's a far cry from Klass' claim that DuBose didn't remember the interview.
Second, the real question is not which of DuBose's recollections of the events are accurate, but which version reported by others, is correct. DuBose's recollections have not changed. Once again, I have made copies of the tapes available to disinterested third parties for review. Shandera/Moore have yet to do that. While I prove our claims, we must accept what they say without corroboration.
Klass does give us an answer, of sorts, to the question of which version is correct. Klass points out, "Randle/Schmitt managed to locate and interview the reporter for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram -- J. Bond Johnson -- who had taken at least several of the photos in Ramey's office. According to their taped interview, Johnson said he then doubted that he had photographed the authentic recovered debris. But several months later, when Johnson was interviewed by Shandera, he changed his account and said that he was confident that his photos did show the actual debris that Marcel brought to Fort Worth."
Here is an opportunity to examine the methods and techniques used by Shandera. There is a wealth of documentation that can't be altered. Johnson left a legacy of writings in the newspaper so that we can compare his original story with what he is saying today.
What we learn is that Johnson's first version of the events, that he saw and photographed the bogus debris, and that the cover story of a balloon was in place before he arrived at Ramey's office, is correct. After talking to Shandera/Moore, Johnson's story changed. (For a complete analysis, see the November/December 1990 International UFO Reporter.)
It boils down to Shandera's version of events against that given and documented by outside sources. Shandera's version is at odds with both my tapes and the newspaper articles written (including one by Johnson and published the next day in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in the right time frame.)
In fact, further evidence of Shandera's altering facts appears in Shandera's published version of what Irving Newton, one of Ramey's weather officers, said and did in Ramey's office. Shandera, writing in the MUFON UFO Journal suggested that Newton had changed his story after I had interviewed him, but a complete review of his testimony published in The Roswell Incident, shows that Newton's testimony is consistent throughout all interviews with the exception of the new data written by Shandera. (For a complete analysis, see the MUFON UFO Journal, April 1991.)
So Klass seizes on the changes in testimony, condemning the witnesses, claiming that forty year old memories are flawed. The problem is not the memories of the witnesses, but the reporting of their testimony by third parties. In fact, it is a single individual, Shandera, who is causing the trouble. It is Shandera who is saying that I have been wrong. It is Shandera who has altered and misreported DuBose's testimony, it is Moore and Shandera who have created the controversy over the Marcel interview, and it is Shandera against Newton. I offer copies of the tapes, the documentation, and the transcripts to independent third parties to prove my veracity while the others offer nothing other than their opinions and versions of the events.
Klass, trying to prove that Roswell was something mundane, probably a balloon, reports everything that raises the remotest question, but never tells the full story. He stops short. Klass, it seems, is treating this as a debate and not as a search for the truth.
At the end of his discussion of the Roswell events, he writes, "As reported in the July 9, 1947 edition of the Roswell newspaper, Brazel was quoted as saying, 'when the debris was gathered up the tinfoil, paper, tape and sticks made a bundle about three feet long and 7 or 8 inches thick, while the rubber made a bundle about 18 or 20 inches long and about 8 inches thick. In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe some five pounds.' Brazel was quoted as saying there was 'considerable Scotch tape and some tape with flowers had been used in the construction. No strings or wire were to be found but there were some eyelets in the paper to indicate that some sort of attachment may have been used.' (Curious construction techniques for a very advanced ET society to use in building spacecraft intended to traverse jillions of miles.)"
But what Klass never reports, though I have told him about it repeatedly, was that Brazel was escorted to that interview by Army officers. There are six separate witnesses who saw Brazel in downtown Roswell. They were surprised by Brazel's refusal to acknowledge them, and the fact that there were three officers with him.
Klass, when I pointed that out, said that maybe it was easier for the officers to drive Brazel into town than for them to give him directions to the newspaper office. Three military officers drove Brazel into town so that he could be interviewed because it was easier than telling him, "Drive out the front gate, stay on Main Street, and the newspaper office will be on the right."
Paul McEvoy, an editor at the newspaper said that Brazel was obviously under duress as he told his "new" story. Friends commented on Brazel's lack of friendliness while he was in town. No, Brazel was taken to the office to tell a new story. The one that the military wanted him to tell.
But even so, Brazel slipped in a statement that was duly reported in the Roswell Daily Record, but ignored by Klass. In it, Brazel said, "I am sure what I found was not any weather observation balloon."
Klass completes his report asking, "How would Ramey (who never talked to Brazel) know what kind of bogus material to use to replicate the description that Brazel would give to the Roswell newspaper? And how would Ramey be able to find and obtain such 'look-alike' material so quickly??"
But Klass again overlooks the testimony of others. DuBose suggested that debris had been in Fort Worth at least two days before Ramey made his press release. Ramey was in communications with Colonel Blanchard in Roswell, as well as SAC Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Orders from the top had trickled down through the chain of command. Ramey knew what to say, and probably obtained the balloon from his own weather station. It didn't matter what Brazel had seen because Brazel's statements to the newspaper the next day were fed to him by the military. He repeated what he had been told because the military was there watching him.
The answer to the first part of the question is that Ramey knew what Brazel would say because he had read the script. It wasn't Brazel telling the truth at the newspaper office, but telling the reporters what he had been told to tell them.
And the answer to the second part is that they had been working on this for more than three days. The craft and bodies had been found before Brazel walked into the sheriff's office. Ramey, as well as many others, had already seen the debris, and he may have seen the craft and the bodies. Remember, DuBose was in charge in Fort Worth because Ramey was off station on Sunday, July 6.
The major problem is that Shandera, and at times his partner, Moore, are trying to confuse the Roswell issue. They publish statements that are in direct contradiction with statements they have published in the past. They have reinterviewed witnesses and then claim that there are changes in the testimony.
Klass, wanting to destroy the Roswell testimony, uses these supposed discrepancies to refute the good work being done. He claims that witnesses can't be relied on to remember accurately events of more than forty years ago. In fact, Klass has admitted that his job is to debuke UFO reports. Not investigate them to learn the truth, but to debuke them regardless of what that truth might be. This is, of course, in direct conflict with the supposed by-laws and purpose of CISCOP (or as it is now called CSI). Klass headed their UFO subcommittee. Just how scientific are their investigations if Klass's expressed purpose is to debuke?
Klass also reports that "If a crashed saucer had been found 40 miles south of the debris field found on the Brazel ranch, the 'retrieval team' surely would have spent many days searching along the 40-mile flight path between the two sites, looking for more debris and perhaps even an ET who might have parachuted to safety. Yet no such search effort is reported by R/S's 'witnesses.'"
Klass is assuming that because we, or our witnesses, reported no such effort, it is a flaw in the story. It is true that none reported such an effort immediately after the event, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen, only that those we have interviewed were not participants in it. The only legitimate conclusion to be drawn is that it hasn't been reported, not that it didn't happen.
We are treated to his analysis of the facts, but as we've seen, the conclusions drawn are not accurate. He leaves out that which doesn't conform to his opinions, and attempts to discredit testimony by claiming the memories are nearly fifty years old and can't be trusted to be reliable.
Which brings us back to the blogosphere of today and a continuation of this debate. The blogger reported only what Shandera had found and said nothing about the controversy. The blogger might have been unaware that this whole thing had been studied in the past and that Shandera’s version of events has been seriously challenged.
Which leads to the final point here. To understand the Roswell case, it is necessary to review all the relevant material and not just that which supports a single point of view. Nothing in this case is easy, as I have just demonstrated. There is an immense amount of information out there, much of it in conflict... but the conflict often centers around divergent points of view of the researchers and not the testimony of witnesses. To understand this means you have taken a step in understanding the Roswell events.