Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Washington National UFO Sighting Press Conference, Part 1

I have been advised, by a friend, Tim Banse, who seems to understand these things, that some of my postings are waaaaaaaay too long. He suggested that I break them up into smaller bites. In keeping with what I believe to be sage advice, here is the first part of the entire transcript, with my editorial comments, of the Air Force press conference about the Washington National UFO sightings in 1952.

This came about after the second round of Saturday night radar and visual sightings, and after a number of failed intercept attempts. The Air Force believed it necessary to call a press conference to explain the situation, at least as they saw it. Ed Ruppelt called the conference the largest and longest that had been held by the Air Force since the conclusion of the Second World War. Ruppelt also suggested that the cards had been stacked again Major General John A. Samford, the Director of Intelligence, who was the senior officer at the conference. Because Samford had to "hedge" on many of the answers to questions because the investigations had not been concluded, it seemed, to many of the assembled reporters, that the Air Force was attempting to hide the truth.

The press conference was held at the Pentagon, in room 3E-869, to be precise. Also attending for the Air Force was Major General Roger M. Ramey, then the Director of Operations for the Air Force and the same Roger Ramey who had been at 8th Air Force Headquarters in Fort Worth during the Roswell UFO crash briefings in July, 1947, as our old friend CDA thought to advise me, as if I didn’t know. Others there for the Air Force included Colonel Donald L. Bower, of ATIC, Captain Roy L. James, an expert in radar operations and also from ATIC, Ed Ruppelt, the chief of Project Blue Book, and Mr. Buroyne L. Griffing, a civilian from ATIC.

Conspicuous by their absence were Major Dewey Fournet, the military liaison officer between the Pentagon and Project Blue Book, Al Chop, the official Pentagon spokesman on UFOs, and Lt. John Holcomb, the Naval officer who was an expert on radar and electronics. Since all three had been at Washington National during the second set of sightings, their inclusion would seem to be a natural event. Apparently the Air Force had other ideas because none were there to answer questions even though all were assigned to the Pentagon in Washington.

The press conference began with an introduction by a civilian Pentagon press relations official who said:

Ladies and gentlemen, let me remind the military that, while they are welcome here, this is a press conference and let’s be sure that the press is all seated before the conference begins.

This refers to the fact that many military officers who had no role in the press conference were in the room to listen to it. They were being told to sit down and shut up.

Let me introduce General Samford, Air Force Director of Intelligence, and General Ramey, Director of Operations. General Samford.

Major General Samford: I think the plan is to have very brief opening remarks and then ask for such questions as you may want to put to us for discussion and answer. In so far as opening remarks is [sic] concerned, I just want to state our reason for concern about this.

The Air Force feels a very definite obligation to identify and analyze things that happen in the air that may have in them menace to the United States and, because of that feeling of obligation and our pursuit of that interest, since 1947, we have an activity that was known one time as Project Saucer and now, as part of another more stable and integrated organization, have undertaken to analyze between a thousand and two thousand reports dealing with this area. And out of that mass of reports that we’ve received we’ve been able to take things which were originally unidentified and dispose of them to our satisfaction in terms of bulk where we came to the conclusion that these things were either friendly aircraft erroneously recognized or reported, hoaxes, quite a few of those, electronic and meteorological phenomena of one sort of another, light aberrations, and many other things.

It is important to note that there never was a Project Saucer in a real sense. When the Air Force created its first investigation, code named Sign, it publicly called the project by the name of Saucer. Later, after the code name Sign was compromised, the Air Force announced that it had ended its investigation, but, in reality, continued it as Project Grudge. Eventually Grudge evolved into Project Blue Book, but when speaking with civilian officials and members of the press, the unofficial name of Project Saucer was often used.

The actual press conference began then and will be noted in the next installment of this posting.


Erich Kuersten said...

A common feature I note in all of these military press reports is that the truth is there if you want it. i.e. read between the lines and he's saying "We consider it important to identify all this stuff... and most of the time we can, to our satisfaction."

What does this mean? It means the Air Force considers it first and foremost their job to protect the public "consciousness" from enemy manipulation, i.e. to avoid a panic. No air force chief wants to say "we're completely powerless against these beings" so they just hint at it in such a way that if your ears are working right, you'll pick up on it. In other words, when you can handle the truth, you'll realized it's already been handed over.

For the rest, as long as we're tied up wondering if the reports are real or not, even if we're 99% sure, the govt. has to leave us that 1% as an escape hatch, to prevent a societal collapse.

I believe that IF there is ever full disclosure, our whole reality will change and probably not for the better, and we may wake up with history re-written and our minds re-programmed so that memory vanishes and we can't remember ever thinking aliens weren't amongst us.

But that's just my thing. PS - great blog!

David Rudiak said...

Concerning Gen. Roger Ramey's participation in the Washington National press conference, the press called him the Air Force's "saucer man" and labeled both he and Samford the top two saucer experts.

He was relatively quiet at the press conference (Gen. Stamford did most of the talking), but had a lot to say before and after the press conference, generally trying to downplay the significance of UFO sightings as "non-material" and talking a lot out of both sides of his mouth.

The day before the press conference, INS reported that there was a "shoot down" order in effect, which an Air Force spokesperson confirmed, but which Ramey denied and talked around.

Similarly, 3 days after the press conference, he went on a CBS TV news show and proved to be very clever and evasive in answering reporter questions. Nonetheless, he still had some interesting things to say, such as "There are some reports of incredible things from credible people," he "did not rule out the possibility that the objects were interplanetary visitors, but he was exceedingly skeptical," and "he was convinced at least that the saucer's had no hostile intent"

Ramey's debunkery of UFOs actually precedes the Roswell incident, starting only a few days after Kenneth Arnold's sighting.

Details at:

Lance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lance said...

Rudiak's page on Ramey contains his trademark unsupported assertions combined with his willful misrepresentations of the facts.

For instance Rudiak states that the Ramey telegraph "unequivocally" mentions "victims".

In Rudiak-speak, "unequivocally" simply means that he used his own crackpot methods and theories to determine this "fact" and even though many, many folks disagree with his conclusion (not just hard core skeptics like me), he see this as "unequivocal".

In other words when you are talking to Rudiak, English words no longer have the same meaning that they have among sane people.

But that said, I am sure that many of true believers are dazzled by the sad show.

Rudiak keeps the UFO community firmly in the realm of unintentional comedy.


Doc Conjure said...

@ Lance,

I think that comment about Rudiak was uncalled for.

It would be one thing to criticize someone's theory, it's another thing to dismiss and make ill-mannered jesterings toward.

Your wide brush of debunking and basically calling him a nut isn't proper and does nothing to further your stance.

If you have issue with Rudiak's claims, then take issue. Slyly calling him crazy doesn't count.

Philosopher's Mess said...

Great blog. I am glad I found your page, and hope to pick-up your books. I can't wait for the next installment, very interesting and worthwhile coverage.

cda said...

To continue with Ramey,
I put this to Kevin: Who exactly among the AF spokesmen at that press conference knew about the Roswell ETSs? We know Ramey did. Did Samford? Did anyone else? We know the Blue Book guys were in the dark, so who did know?

We also know the Battelle scientists and the Robertson committee were in the dark. And why was the actual hardware (in the form of bodies, documents and wreckage) withheld from all these investigators when this, more than anything else, was what they needed and wanted to study the phenomenon?

So Kevin: who knew and who did not? I put it to you that your scenario is totally unrealistic and false.

To David Rudiak: Ramey was using the very words ("incredible things seen by credible observers")in that CBS interview that Samford had already used at the start of the press conference, (see 3rd paragraph of transcript of Samford's speech).

KRandle said...

Lance -

Please limit your remarks to evidence and discussion and not accusations. Let's keep the discussion civil.

You must know that I do not agree with all of Dr. Rudiak's claims about his investigations but I respect his right to publish what he believes to be the truth. If you wish to counter his position please do so with thoughtful response and without personal attack.


You seem to have no grasp of the way the classified world works. You seem to believe that what one officer of high rank knows that another of similar rank should also know. Simply not true. This is compartmentalization. This renders your questions and points moot in this case.

Whatever fell at Roswell, Ramey knew the truth... Had it been Mogul, then Samford would have known the truth as well... Had it been something else, Samford might not have known... Whatever Roswell was, Ruppelt did not know and might not even have been aware of the case given the status of Project Blue Book. There is no reference to Roswell in Blue Book, other than a single newspaper clipping in which one short paragraph refers to Haut being reprimanded for the press release.

David Rudiak said...

To David Rudiak: Ramey was using the very words ("incredible things seen by credible observers")in that CBS interview that Samford had already used at the start of the press conference, (see 3rd paragraph of transcript of Samford's speech).

So....???? AF Chief of Staff Nathan Twining said something very similar 2 years later (quoted later on in my Ramey and UFOs essay): "Some very reliable people have made reports. They aren't all screwball reports by any matter or means. We're vitally interested and are studying the matter."

Get the point? Highly reliable, credible people were seeing things that couldn't be explained. Further, they required study, by the military no less, not civilian scientists, like simple natural phenomena would be. Generals like Samford, Ramey, and Twining were all acknowledging this, while at the same time usually trying to publicly downplay the defense significance of UFOs.

Why continue studying UFO reports even if you had a crashed saucer? For the same reasons the Air Force continues to collect air intelligence even if they have a downed MIG in their possession. E.g., numbers, performance characteristics, origins, distribution, present and future intent, psychology of opponent, rules of engagement, etc., etc.

There is little or nothing you can learn about such things from the wreckage of a single craft or bodies of the crew.

starman said...

David Rudiak:

"For the same reasons the Air Force continues to collect air intelligence even if they have a downed MIG in their possession."

In fact on at least two occasions the USAF received intact MIGs, one from defector Belenko in 1976 and others (MIG-23s) from the Egyptian Air Force. Of course they didn't stop gathering intelligence, for in addition to the reasons you gave, those types soon became obsolete and were supplanted by the SU-27/30 etc, which they did not obtain AFAIK.

Keep up the great posting, and don't let anyone get you down. :)

Lance said...

"Some very reliable people have made reports. They aren't all screwball reports by any matter or means. We're vitally interested and are studying the matter."

Of course!. And this was the scientific thing to say and do at the time. (Mostly) honorably they did so.

Ignoring that in the early days, UFO's did have and deserve the attention of the government shows a lack of historical context.

But over the many years of study it became apparent that, instead of coalescing into a viable theory, UFO's as a topic of scientific study remained elusive.

Eventually the government and the scientific community abandoned all study due to a stark lack persuasive results (incidentally, exactly the kind of results even now obtained by civilian UFO researchers).

Things have remained just so for the past 50 years. But since everyone loves a good story, UFO's pervade the public consciousness and have become part of a modern mythology. And that is where the entire topic (which admittedly I find fascinating) remains: zero scientific credibility, but much belief among the public.


cda said...

To David Rudiak & Kevin:

By all means the USAF, or any military or scientific body, would and should continue to collect and study UFO reports even if they had a captured UFO in their possession.

But such bodies would never carry out such research by 'compartmentalising' it so that only a very select few knew about the vital physical evidence and withheld this knowledge from the other interested parties.

What Kevin & DR are, in effect, saying is this: there were (in 1952-53) several branches of the USAF researching UFOs, there were at least two outside bodies (Battelle Institute & Robertson committee)officially charged with doing further extensive research & enquiry into UFOs, yet the very hard evidence they would so dearly like to examine is Top Secret and thus barred to them. Only the 'select few' know about it (like Gen Ramey!).

KR says I do not realise how the "classified world works". I realise that some officers know things others do not, but you are never going to convince me that any UFO investigations, particularly where you are looking at the possibility of extraterrestrial life, would be done in this way. Vital information is pooled. Important documents are shared. A serious scientific discovery, such as one involving ET life, is likewise pooled. Otherwise all these separate 'investigations' become pointless.
What a way to carry on!

It is like one group of astronomers engaged on SETI being TOTALLY UNAWARE that another group had already come across physical evidence of ETs visiting earth. The whole science of astronomy would be a laughing stock and look ridiculous.

Kevin: never mind all this compartmentalisation you talk about; your beloved ET scenario is looking very shaky indeed. But I suspect that deep down you realise this. Otherwise you would not have used the phrase "whatever fell at Roswell...". Why the slight element of doubt? You have been telling us non-stop for two decades what happened at Roswell!

Ramey knew all right, and he knew it was not an ET craft. What he really thought of the Washington radar episode we cannot say.

Sarge said...

>>I realise that some officers know things others do not, but you are never going to convince me that any UFO investigations, particularly where you are looking at the possibility of extraterrestrial life, would be done in this way. Vital information is pooled. Important documents are shared. A serious scientific discovery, such as one involving ET life, is likewise pooled. Otherwise all these separate 'investigations' become pointless.
What a way to carry on!<<

You have proven Kevins point
That is exactly how the military works. Only those assigned to a project have access to that project's files or information.
The military may issue directives that require all information be gathered and sent to an address but that is a one way street.
CIVILIAN scientists live in the world of the published paper and the peer journal, once they have enough information they publish it. But they do not release every step as it may alow another researcher to get an edge, they wait until they are sure.
The military publishes only that which is needed for technical or tactical advantage. Not that still being researched, but that which has been deployed. The rest stays in the vault.
Security requires that as few as possible know all parts of any picture. That is the norm in the military.

Gilles Fernandez said...


CDA, as Lance Moody, point or have pointed several things here, or on Roswell other topics.

When I was asked some years ago as cognitive psychologist cause informal discussions producing my "immersion" to investigate Roswell in order to publish a "skeptic" book cause in France we have only two (the last in 1995 !), I was first very disapointed how some investigators evacuate false memory (Loftus) or restrospective falsification (Rawcliffe) processes to understand this affair.

For example (but it needs a full topic or book ^^), as CDA remarked in another topic I think, as Lance Moody in our longuer discussion some weeks ago (the records !), Marcel approached first by Friedman en 1978 didn't remember the date of the event, never have collected a 1947 newspape, a photo or something for a event of this magnitude in a man life. Lance Moody pointed the existence of a Daily Roswell Record photo published in 1947 with him (he never have in a part of his house), but he is sure the pictures he is are with Foster wreckage, however the others Johnson pictures with other protagonists are with substituted wreckage ! Some invoke that Marcel cant ignored radar target, because, in example, he have an intelligence radar officer diplome in 1945 (ML 307 aren't not in production^^). And as Todd demonstrated, or Tim Printy, never the course of this stage included meteorological deflector presentation. And several other points.

In a sociological point of view, a study of the 853 case of 1947 wawe point how Flying Saucers were though by people (ie Kottmeyer work) show you that extraterrestrial semantic was out the matter, litteraly flying saucer probably closer of what people have in mind.

We have all element for False memory and retrospective falsification proceedings to explain Roswell scientificaly.

But, back to the the topic, some pro HET, without offense, needs to argue ad hoc explanations to maintain the thesis. They are plenty (it is why Book are needed, no place here and not my tong, it is a pity). Recently, for recent "cases", mimestism and elusivity are invoked when scientist demonstrate mistakes, perception error, etc.

Another one this ad hoc explanation is the famous "compartimentation". Finaly, the absence of one tangible proof for 63 years is the proof of hight compartimentation, then complot ! It was done for example with the battelle progress report n°2 exhumed by A. Bragalia. There is no one proff or mention of something concerning Roswell, so it is the proof the compartimentation well worked ! Or, there is nothing in this report, so this is the proof all is in the progress report number one !

If compartimentation was done in 1947 concerning an ET craft or Bodies, as for H Bomb or dunno what "secret", 60 years later, it cost big money and we have tons of papers and documents, witnesses whith pictures, daily journal, scientific reports, for Atomic Bomb or Manahan project, it isn't etc...

Despite FOIA request, MUFON, CUFOS and many serious investigation like Randle's, Carey and Scmitt (hum...) and taking into account the big machine should be a study of this magnitude, the signal/noise ratio for 30 years of Ufologist study could maybe help some of us to change and revisite opinion even if this is not consonant and it isa pity.

A pity cause many scientists would be enjoyed by an ET proof. But better : if they were 0.00001 % chance all of this was right, they will allocate 100 % their time on the subject, as Tim Printy pointed or Carl Sagan (dont remember correctly).

I wanted to mean that maybe and probably "compartimentation" invokation is one other those ad hoc explanation in order to find a little consonance to the big dissonance that to have found nothing tangible or as proof in a scientific semantic concerning ET craft visiting us.


Gilles F.

KRandle said...


Please do not attempt to read my mind. I tried to mention the Roswell case in neutral terms simply to avoid moving this discussion into the realm of Roswell. I was not attempting to revise my position on the Roswell case, but to suggest the military mind set on classified material... something you refuse to understand.