Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lies and Moore Lies

Let the firestorm begin.

Yes, I have grown tired of the double standard applied to Roswell witnesses by nearly everyone. If the witness says what you want to hear, then he, or she, is believed. If not, then the smear begins.

Every little slip is suddenly a false claim or a lie or a slander, and the person is attacked, vilified, and left for dead. It doesn’t matter if the attack is accurate or invented, just as long as it is nasty.

I suggested that we cut Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. (seen here) some slack because what he said in an interview with Bob Pratt didn’t conform, perfectly, to what his military records said. There are those who suggest that Marcel engaged in nothing more outrageous than a little resume inflation. Others said that this proved he was nothing more than a despicable liar and if he told you the sky was blue, you had better go out to look.

What it really boils down to is that Marcel apparently told Pratt he had some advanced education and the records only seemed to bear out about a year and a half with no degree. The Pratt interview suggested Marcel said that he had a degree, or so it seems, but the transcript provided is a little garbled and the tape no longer exists. Attempts to verify an advanced degree for Marcel have failed.

I thought we could all agree that Marcel was who he said he was, that is, the Air Intelligence Officer of the 509th Bomb Group because the records proved that. We could see that he was respected by his superiors and that the "mistake" over the weather balloon had not damaged his career. When discussing the relevant portions of the Roswell case, Marcel hadn’t told any lies. He might not have told everything he knew, but he wasn’t lying.

I suggested that we could show that Charles Moore, of Project Mogul fame, had engaged in a little of the same thing, that is, what he said wasn’t reflected by the record. He had told people that he didn’t know the name of Mogul until Robert Todd told him. The record showed that the Mogul name was known to the participants in the project as early as 1946. A slip of the tongue or a lapse of memory. I wasn’t going to call him a liar over that.

It turns out that this wasn’t really a lapse of memory because I now have the full story on the letter Moore (seen here) sent to James van Allen. Moore, according to Brad Sparks, reviewed his files for James McDonald, and pulled out the letter. According to the annotations on it, Moore reviewed that letter in 1969. He was explaining who the Bob who signed the letter was, meaning R. B. McLaughlin. Moore clearly knew that he was being described as the chief engineer for Project Mogul.

To me, this is just as egregious as Marcel talking about his college education. If you are going to reject one, then you must reject the other. To do otherwise is to employ a double standard.

It does get worse for Moore, however. In 1995, he attacked the veracity of Frank Kaufmann, claiming that Kaufmann was lying because there was only a single SCR-270 radar at White Sands in 1947. It had, according to Moore, a range of only 39.7 miles (I really like these precise numbers because they have the ring of authenticity to them when you’re inventing details.)

But here’s what I know. In December 1941, the SCR-270 radar detected the Japanese attack force at 130 miles from Pearl Harbor. The operators there thought that it was a flight of incoming B-17s they had been told would be landing on that Sunday morning. The point is that they detected the enemy at more than 39.7 miles.

In fact, the radar could detect aircraft at more than 100 miles if they were flying high enough. According to the information I have, if the target is at one thousand feet, the radar would spot it about 20 miles away; at 5000 feet, it would detect the aircraft at 50 miles; and at 25,000 feet it would detect the aircraft at more than 100 miles. We have to assume that Moore just invented the 39.7 mile range as he wrote about Kaufmann or he wouldn’t have come up with the 39.7 mile figure, which is ridiculous, but certainly looks impressive.

However, in 1994, in his interview with Air Force investigators about the Roswell case, Moore mentioned the multiple radars that were at either White Sands or Alamogordo (entrance for White Sands seen here). So he knew the truth a year before he went after Kaufmann.
Brad Sparks tells me that he has copies of July 1947 teletype messages from Moguls AAF liaison group and the AMC Watson Labs that routinely report on V-2 launches where there were four radars listed at White Sands, including two, not one, SCR-270s, and that two of the radars, the CPS-4 and the CPS-5 tracked the V-2s up to a hundred miles.

To make it worse, according to a 1948 paper written by Moore, he tells us that they tracked the Mogul balloons up to 65 miles with the radar, not just to 39.7 miles that he claimed was the range of the SCR-270. And we know, that they could track the balloons to 110 miles if they were above 25,000 feet.

What all this tells me is that Moore had a vendetta against the military and the Army at Roswell, and I suspect it began when the Army refused to help them with their balloon experiments. I say this with confidence because I listened to him complain about the Army being too busy to help the "college boys" with their weather balloons. College boys was his term, not mine. After nearly 50 years, he was still annoyed with them and saw this as a way of payback. Make them look like idiots because they couldn’t tell the difference between an alien spacecraft and basic weather balloons with rawin radar targets.

My point here, however, is if we’re not going to cut some slack for Jesse Marcel, then I see no reason to cut any for Moore. It is clear that Moore wanted to attack the credibility of the Army and used this to do it. And this attitude calls into question all his work with the winds aloft data proving, in his mind, that one of their balloon got to within 17 miles of the Brazel ranch... never mind that he couldn’t prove there was Flight No. 4 to leave the debris, and forget that Crary’s diary said the first flight in New Mexico was number five. I think Moore knew the truth about this too but chose to obscure these facts because they didn’t fit into his agenda.

While I am sympathetic to Moore because of his current health problems, that doesn’t change the facts. He has been misrepresenting various aspects of the Roswell case from the moment he learned about it. And if Marcel doesn’t deserve some consideration, then neither does Moore.

As an aside, and as Brad Sparks mentioned, this doesn’t change the fact that Frank Kaufmann was inventing his role in the Roswell case. You can’t reject him because of his claims about the radars... but you certainly can because of other aspects of his tale. And if you are confused, I will say this. I still believe that we must reject Kaufmann because of all the other lies he told

Sunday, January 25, 2009

UFO Crashes and Meteors

For those interested, I have been checking out some of the latest UFO crashes and find that few of them actually suggest UFOs. We’ve looked at the Needles, California crash that was investigated by George Knapp in May 2008 which was probably of terrestrial origin. Now it’s time to look at some of the others which are of extraterrestrial origin, though not of alien origin. It seems that we’ve reached the point where everything in the sky is labeled a UFO, if it comes close to the ground and especially if it hits.

A couple of interesting reports come from Colorado. On January 12, 1998, according to an article written by Jim Hughes and published in the Denver Post, a bright light flashed over the front range, lighting up the ground and then disappeared with a deafening explosion. Sounds like we might have a UFO crash.

The director of the University of Colorado’s Fiske Observatory in Boulder, Katy Garmany, said that it could have been a meteor, except meteors typically burn up some 20 to 40 miles high and don’t emit sound.

And there are those that do hit the ground creating craters that are sprinkled around the United States including the huge Barringer Crater in Arizona and a cluster of smaller craters near Odessa, Texas (Seen here and just below).

And bolides, that is, very bright meteors, are often associated with a sound. A roaring like a freight train, or a series of detonations like sonic booms.
The Denver Post reported that the last big fireball that flashed over Colorado, in 1995, was recorded on video cameras. It seems that this latest one (well, later than the 1995 one) was recorded by that same camera.

There were those who were interviewed, such as a spokesman at Peterson Air Force Base who said that it was nothing from there that would have caused the sighting. Apropos of nothing at all, how many times have we heard this from an Air Force spokesman, or spokeswoman, only to have it retracted a day or so later? No, I’m not suggesting that this was anything other than a meteor, merely pointing out that the Air Force Public Affairs Officers sometimes shoot from the lip (yes, pun intended).

Commander David Knox of the U.S. Space Command at Cheyenne Mountain, told the Denver Post reporter that he didn’t want to say it was a meteor because he didn’t know but that his agency tracks some 8,000 objects in orbit and that it wasn’t one of those.

In a weird coincidence, and again according to the Denver Post, but this time written by Stephanie Sylvester on January 28, 1998, several people saw a "fiery object trailed by a plume of smoke crash to the ground..." near Breckenridge, Colorado

Witnesses in Breckenridge saw it as if fell, disappearing behind some trees near the ski resort, which is not to say that it fell close to the resort or that it landed behind the trees. A spokesman for the Los Alamos National Laboratory said that he thought it was a daytime fireball... which, I suppose would be a bolide, for those who like technical terms.

Then, hours later, more people reported seeing another bright object flashing overhead and falling toward the ground south of Breckenridge. One of the witnesses, Jon Sperber, was reported by Sylvester to have said, "It looked like an egg and was so bright that we could see smoke behind it."

In a strange twist to this story, others reported seeing a fireball about two hours before Sperber.

Doug Revelle at the Los Alamos National Laboratory was reported by the Denver Post to have said, "The key to this thing is the smoke. That means it was very big."

Bill Steigerwald told the Denver Post reporters that they had received a high number of reported meteor sightings that year.

The thing here is that all these events have been put on some lists of UFO crashes and there really doesn’t seem to be much question about what they really were. Most of the witnesses said that they thought, originally, that an airplane was crashing, but then identified the meteor for what it was... a natural phenomenon.

Meteors of this size (bolide over the Teton Mountains), especially those visible during the day are rare, but there are many examples of them. There have been pictures taken, and, in some cases, the remains have been found. For me, these things are interesting, but for others, they are just one more story that clutters up the newspapers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Project Mogul, Personal Attacks and Me

Well, it’s happened again and I find myself in the middle of a controversy that I seemed to have started but didn’t mean too... well, not completely. I did send out the original question, but I thought the tone of my missive was reasoned and restrained but some of the responses have been, shall we say, overheated.

Here’s the deal. We have learned that the name of Project Mogul was not the big secret we were lead to believe. It was known to project members as evidenced by the Air Force when they reprinted the notes from Dr. Albert Crary’s diary that mentioned Mogul more than once.

Brad Sparks has a copy of a letter that he got from Charles Moore in which Moore is introduced to Dr. James A. van Allen as one of the engineers for Mogul. Moore, however, said that he hadn’t even known the name until Robert Todd told him it was Mogul in 1992.

In the course of all this, I asked a couple of people if Jesse Marcel, Sr. didn’t deserve the same courtesy they were extending to Moore. Marcel had said some things that didn’t agree with the record and he was immediately labeled a liar of the first order. Moore said some things that didn’t agree with the record and it was just that he didn’t remember, or if he had heard the name, it didn’t penetrate into his stream of consciousness. He wasn’t a liar, just forgetful.

I had thought that I had made it clear that I didn’t believe Moore to be lying. I thought he had forgotten the name until reminded by Todd. If I was on the other side of the fence, or rather Moore was, I would have smeared him as a liar and the proof was in the documentation. In UFO research there is no room for mistakes. Everything is a lie or a fraud, a slander, or some other crime.

Anyway, I didn’t really think Moore lied about this, though I do believe his memory is colored by the reception he and his fellow "college boys" received when they traveled to Roswell to solicit the help of the Army. Payback is a bitch.

I also suggested that Todd had received the entirety of Marcel’s service record illegally because there were things in it, sure as his evaluations that aren’t part of the public record, and are should not be released under FOIA. I pointed out that the Privacy Act trumped FOIA.

And I had suggested that Karl Pflock had interpreted the transcript of the Bob Pratt with Jesse Marcel interview one way, but that it could be interpreted in others. The changing of a comma in one sentence, for example, changed the meaning.

There were those who thought it unfair that I attack two people who were dead and one who was critically ill and couldn’t respond. I believed that their writings were still open to interpretation and was still fair game. I expect to be attacked long after I’m gone, though I do plan to live forever or die in the attempt... but I digress.

So, Todd was a vile man who respected no one who didn’t agree with him and wasn’t above writing nasty letters to let those people know what he thought of them. He believed that he was right on every point and everyone else was wrong. When he died, I posted a note to this blog acknowledging his good work and ignoring his lack of personality and his other many flaws. I make no apology for suggesting these things now and anyone who has been at the far end of a Todd attack knows what I mean.

I will point out that Americans often have a bad reputation in the rest of the world. I believe that we should be respectful in our communications with those in other countries. I thought we all should act as good will ambassadors, and if we disagreed, we could word our responses in a diplomatic fashion.

Not so Todd. He was an arrogant man who hammered at everyone who disagreed with him no matter what their location. His was not the image we should embrace when communicating with our colleagues in foreign nations.

One of his letters was so nasty that I sent an apology to the man, letting him know that not all Americans were that vulgar. Some of us could act civilized.

Todd deserves no respect, and if I offended anyone by saying the above, sorry, but it is the truth and you know it. It shouldn’t matter that he held up your end of the debate. You should recognize him for what he was.

Karl, on the other hand, was a colleague and when he died, I was asked to provide an obituary for him. We had also worked on a couple of projects together, including a suggestion that Barney Barnett hadn’t been a part of the Roswell events and his description of seeing the crashed saucer had more to do with Aztec than it did with Roswell. The only tie we could find was that of Fleck Danley, Barnett’s boss who wasn’t sure when Barnett had told him about the crash. A diary kept by Barnett’s wife seemed to eliminate July 1947 as the proper time frame.

Karl and I disagreed on a number of things, but I believed him to be intellectually honest about most, something I can’t say about Todd. Karl and I had planned another project together, but his illness prevented it.

I don’t think I said anything particularly negative about Karl, other than suggesting that his interpretation of the Pratt interview with Marcel wasn’t black and white, but shades of gray, which is the point about the comma makes.

For those who are interested, here is what I mean. Karl interpreted various unclear parts, and once again, I have pointed this out to others. Marcel was talking about having been shot down and that he bailed out. Pratt asked, "Everyone survive," and Marcel said, "All but one crashed into a mountain," which suggests that only he and one other survived. However, if I insert a comma, Marcel said, "All, but one crashed into a mountain," which could mean all survived but one who crashed into a mountain.

Here’s where we are. I believe that Charles Moore was playing a little "catch up" with the Army by suggesting that they couldn’t tell the difference between a balloon and an alien spacecraft. His thinking was colored by his treatment back in 1947. But I don’t think he was lying about anything and the discrepancies between what he said in the 1990s and the records of the 1940s say more about the human memory than it does about Moore’s truthfulness.

Todd, on the other hand, wasn’t above name calling and distortion and I can think of no reason to defend him now. His record speaks for itself and it isn’t a good one. He clearly didn’t understand interpersonal relationships and if he did, he simply didn’t care.

Karl, I count as a friend and if we disagreed on some points UFOlogical, we agreed on many more. He made mistakes in his Roswell book and I see no reason not to say that just because he’s no longer with us. We all make mistakes, we all believe people we shouldn’t and we all have our opinions colored by our own beliefs. (Yes, one of those Karl believed was the witness he named reluctant who was Walt Whitmore, Jr. who radically altered his story over time.)

So, I don’t really understand the venom directed at me about this. I don’t understand why it is necessary to resort to personal attacks rather than just state the facts. If I don’t believe in your pet case it is because, to me, the evidence isn’t as persuasive as it is to you. Doesn’t make me right or you wrong, it just means that on this point we disagree.

I have been on the receiving end of many of these attacks recently. I ignore most simply because they are borne of ignorance and mean little in the grand scheme of things. But sometimes I simply do not understand them, especially when I believe I have been fair in my assessments.

Anyway, this will suggest another side to the debate and maybe suggest that we can elevate our discourse to a civilized level. If not, well, I won’t be very surprised.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Jim Moseley, Saucer Smear and Me Part 2

Jim Moseley was annoyed at me for the recent posting I made and sent me a note correcting me about who had the oldest continuingly published 'zine. I that thought there was a British magazine that pre-dated Moseley and I was, of course, right about that.
Moseley has now sent me a note dated sometime after December 12, 2008, from Denis Plunkett that said, "Thank you for your letter of December 12th, 2008, which was welcome. Regarding your letter, I am pleased to inform you that, as we no longer publish a magazine, you therefore have the deserved title of 'the oldest UFO publication in the world.' Wishing you all the best for the New Year and beyond..."
So, you all now know that Moseley has the oldest publication, but he only recently gained the title.
Thought I would set the recrod straight and I'm sure someone will pass this along to him in the next few weeks.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

IUR DVD and Levelland, Texas

Not long ago I received my copy of the DVD that contains the entire run of the International UFO Reporter. It includes the Center Investigators Quarterly and an issue of Probe. In other words, there nearly everything from the Center that you could want on this disk and I have found it extremely valuable.

Today, I was looking for some information about Barney Barnett for a long term project and in the issue (Spring 2003) with the Barnett material, I found an article by Don Burleson about the Levelland, Texas sightings of November 1957. Yes, this is another old case, but Burleson did something that I advocate. He conducted his own on-site investigation. True, it was nearly fifty years after the fact, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t turn up some interesting stuff. And yes, I’m sure the skeptics will dismiss everything he found as being the result of fifty-year-old memories.

For those unfamiliar with the case, this started on the evening of November 2, 1957 as people in the southern panhandle area of Texas, around Lubbock, began reporting a UFO. Not only that, as the craft approached, their cars would stall out, the radios fade and the headlights dim.

During the official Air Force investigation the single investigator interviewed only three witnesses. Major Don Keyhoe, at the time the director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena had said there were nine witnesses. The Air Force challenged this publicly, saying that Keyhoe was wrong and implying that he was overstating the case for the publicity he could gather... In te world of Air Force UFO investigations, if they didn’t talk to a witness, then that person, or persons, simply did not exist regardless of the information they might have or the documentation they could bring to the table.

The problem here is that Keyhoe was, in fact, wrong. There weren’t nine witnesses. When I looked into the case, I found witnesses at thirteen different locations who had reported the UFO interacted with the environment. This was a case that demanded serious, scientific investigation, but instead, found only two opposing camps arguing trivia with one another. One saying that this suggested an alien presence and the other arguing for misidentification of natural phenomena... I have no idea what nature phenomenon they thought might explain the case other than a bunch of liars and some kind of mass hysteria (which, by the way, I think they attempted to suggest at one point. At another point they attempted the old ball lightning argument.)

The Levelland sheriff in 1957 was a man named Weir Clem (seen here) who was described by those who knew him strong and fearless man who would enforce the law regardless of the consequences. A man of integrity and quiet intelligence and who was trustworthy and truthful. He had suggested that he had seen the object himself while out with a deputy Pat McCulloch. In those early descriptions it was a streak of red in the distance. Some researchers paid little attention to Clem’s sighting and the Air Force certainly thought nothing of it, though he was a sworn peace officer.

There were some who reported that Clem had said he was considerably closer. He described the object he saw as an oval "like a brilliant sunset." He said that it passed over the road about three hundred yards in front of his car. In other words, he wasn’t all that far from it.

Donald Burleson, a man living in Roswell, which is not all that far from Levelland, only about three hours over the modern roads, found the daughter of Sheriff Clem when he was doing some research into these sightings. Burleson had heard some interesting things about the case and he decided to follow up on it.

Burleson reported, "Aided by the Chamber of Commerce, we [meaning Burleson and his wife Mollie] were able to find one of the late sheriff’s daughters and I interviewed her twice."

According to Burleson, "She [Ginger (Clem) Sims] described her father having tried to drive close to an airborne object, and having his engine and lights die."

That, of course, put him much closer to the object than had been reported before or to the Air Force. If he was close enough to the object that it would stall his engine, he was close enough to get a good look at it.

Burleson also said that "She said that she remembers his being called out to a ranch northeast of town to see a ring-shaped spot burned into the ground. The ranch owners had called the sheriff about the burned area.

Burleson found and interviewed a witness named Carolyn Reno who said that she had been a child living in the area in 1957, and that her father had taken her out to see a burned spot in the prairie grass that was something over twenty feet in diameter. Burleson said that the description and the location he received independently from Reno matched that given by the sheriff’s daughter. He also pointed out that the two women didn’t know one another yet provided similar descriptions.

The real question is if Clem was so involved in this in 1957, why didn’t he say anything at the time. Again, according to Burleson and to Clem’s daughter, "The Air Force visited him after his sighting(s) and advised him to ‘drop it’ and forget that he had ever seen anything."

Skeptics will point out that the record in 1957 showed that Clem was only reported to have seen the object, or lights, in the distance, some 900 feet away and they’ll reject, out of hand this new information. It is, after all, from the sheriff’s daughter, a second-hand witness, and was told nearly fifty years after the fact. In today’s world, it is interesting, but there is no way to verify it. Clem’s daughter’s reports should be noted, but the weight given to these should be fairly light.

About the same time that Clem was out chasing the light, two highway patrol officers and Constable Lloyd Bollen saw the UFO in the distance. They were unable to get very close to it and reported the same sort of thing as Clem did officially, that is, a red glow in the distance. That meant there were five law enforcement officers who thought they had seen the object that night in 1957, though none reported they got very close to it and none saw much more than a streak of light in the distance. Remember, that was officially. Clem, remember had gotten closer and saw an oval-shaped object.

Remember too, that ball lightning, which has been suggested by the Air Force, is an extremely rare an short lived phenomenon. It wouldn’t have persisted for several hours, flitting from one location to another, and certainly wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the police officers, sheriff’s deputies and others who went in search of it to find it.

Besides, the thunderstorms that supposedly caused the hysteria that resulted in so many people believing they had seen a flying saucer, had ended before the sightings started. There seems to be no causal relation.

Also in that vicinity about that time was Ray Jones, the Levelland Fire Marshal. He was searching for an explanation for the many UFO reports that were being made that night. He saw a streak of light not far from him. His lights dimmed and the engine sputtered until the object was gone. Suggesting, once again that ball lightning was not the culprit here.

In the IUR article, Burleson lays out all his evidence and takes us through the entire sighting which I have abbreviated here to get to the meat of the story which is that the sheriff experienced the same sort of effects that so many others reported on that night. This is another case that deserves a longer examination.

For those interested, the DVD with the IUR on it is available from CUFOS and you can order it at their website It one hundred dollars but it is well worth the money. I have found it to be an extremely valuable resource.