Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit Summary - July 22, 1947

The other night as I was cursing the cable I blundered into another of those UFO programs filled with hysterical narration and a belief that nearly every outrageous claim is based in reality. In this case they were talking about the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit as if the documentation existed to prove that the Army had, at one time, investigated UFOs under that unit title. They flashed some documentation but in today’s world with nearly everyone and her brother creating UFO documents for fun and profit you would think that a little caution would be called for. But there was really nothing in the documentary to suggest that this wasn’t true other than a mention of the “controversial MJ-12” documents.

I had thought that it had been fairly well established that this IPU information had been discredited and was a little surprised to see it being used as evidence that MJ-12 was real, as was the Roswell UFO crash along with a similar event over on the Plains of San Agustin (or more accurately, a point to the southeast of Socorro, but more on that later). So I wondered just what do we know about the IPU and where did that information originate.

It seems that in 1977 Larry Bryant had filed a somewhat generic FOIA request with the Army asking about their gathering of UFO reports. Eventually, in response, the Army said that their records had been sent to the Air Force in 1962 so they no longer had anything related to UFOs. If you look at the timing here, you’d see that the Air Force was also attempting to get rid of the UFO investigation or relegate it to the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Information (SAFOI), so the Army, having the perfect place to dump their UFO material, did so. All this means that at the time no one wanted to get stuck with the UFO problem.

Bryant filed another request and in 1978 the Army came back with what they termed an “institutional memory,” which was their way of saying they’d asked an older member of the team what he could remember. He said that in 1958 the UFO reports were processed by the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit. This was set up in 1958 after the launch of the Soviet satellites in late 1957. According to the institutional memory, all the material gathered was sent to the Air Force in 1962. The IPU was abolished at that point.

Brad Sparks believed that the actual name was probably something like the Intelligence Processing Unit and the function was that of gathering all sorts of intelligence reports about all sorts of things to be distributed to the various commands and activities where that information could be exploited. According to Sparks, based on his review of various organizational charts and other documentation, he found the name of the IPU was actually Input Processing Unit, and if Sparks was right about its function, then this name makes more sense than the more exciting Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit.

And while you could argue that Sparks has gotten this wrong, though the evidence supports him, there seems to be one fact that is not in dispute. The IPU did not begin to function until 1958. There is no evidence that it existed prior to that.

But then documents from the IPU began to surface. They seemed to come from a man named Timothy Cooper who received them from a fellow named Thomas “Cy” Cantwheel which is a pseudonym so that he can’t be traced and his claims about his background can’t be independently verified. One of the documents that relates to the IPU is labeled Top Secret and it mentions only those with “Majic access may have access.” This strikes me as a rather wishy-washy way to say that “Access to the document is restricted to those with Majic clearance,” but then, that’s just my personal opinion.

The document is the “Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit Summary,” and it is classified as “Top Secret – Ultra.” There is a problem with this as well. A classified project known as “Ultra” existed during World War II. Ultra was an attempt to gather and decrypt Nazi communications at the highest level. By the end of the war this was an Allied effort that was of significant importance and certainly contributed to the defeat of the Nazis. But the point is, the classification for the project was Top Secret Ultra and that was for that specific project which has nothing to do with UFOs.

Overlooking this, the document lays out the “facts” about the Roswell UFO crash. The problem here is that investigations as outlined in these documents have been superseded by new and better information. It places a part of the crash at Site LZ - 2 (which I suppose is Landing Zone 2) some twenty miles southeast (that’s right, southeast) of Socorro, which moves it from the Plains of San Agustin to “Lat. 33 – 40 – 31, Long. 106 – 28 – 29, with Oscura Peak being the geographic reference point.” Overlooking the fact that the coordinates would have been listed as 33.40.31N and 106.28.29W (33° 40' 31" N, 106° 28' 29" W), those coordinates are not on the Plains of San Agustin, but southeast of Socorro. While the Barnett story is questioned and certainly does not relate to the Roswell crash, it was clear that he was talking about the high country meaning the Plains and not someplace to the southeast.

For those keeping score at home and who don’t have Google Earth on their computers, those coordinates, along with Oscura Peak, are on the White Sands Missile Range near the Trinity site. It’s difficult enough to get onto the debris field found by Mack Brazel since it is private property surrounded by BLM land. No one is going to drive out onto the missile range to dig on that site, let alone get near the Trinity site without permission. As far as I know, no one has been there to see what might have been left behind.

In fact, that leads to another question. Why is it that they have the coordinates for LZ – 2, but not for the Brazel ranch site? I suspect the reason is that when this document was created, the coordinates of the Brazel site were known to very few people and if the document had the wrong coordinates, that would call its legitimacy into question. The hoaxer just didn’t know those coordinates.

These few things should be enough for those paying attention to reject this document as fraudulent. It should be enough to prove that this document is a forgery and a not very clever one at that. It does nothing to support the idea of the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit because the document is an invention created in the 1990s, after the publication of the various books about the Roswell crash, but the forger didn’t seem to have looked at a map, which proves the forgery. (Or maybe I should say he did look at a map and picked the location because of its highly restricted access. He didn’t have to worry about someone going there to see what they might find.)

In fact, I can date it even better than that because it does mention Mogul and no one was talking about Mogul until the early 1990s. It is unlikely that a report created in 1947 would refer to the balloon project by that name. It probably would have referred to it as the New York University balloon project or the constant level balloons rather than Mogul, if mentioned it at all. More likely it would have just mentioned weather balloons if it was felt necessary to make that connection. All that does is allow us to date the time of creation for the document and point to another flaw in it.

But, remember, the IPU, by whatever name, didn’t exist in 1947 and wouldn’t exist for another decade according to the best information available. This document does nothing to prove that the name of the organization was the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit because the document is a fake.

In fact there is no real documentation confirming the existence of such an organization at all. It was the “institutional memory” who created the name based on what he remembered. That “institutional memory” was Craig Hunter who, some two decades after the fact, mentioned all that he remembered about the IPU. There is no official document with the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit name on it…

Oh, I know what you’ll say. There are letters to researchers that prove the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit existed, or exists, because it is referred to as the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit in these official communications. In one of those, written by Lieutenant Colonel Lance R. Corine, it says, “As you note in your letter, the so-called Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit (IPU) was disestablished…”

In other words, Corine is not actually confirming the existence of the IPU as the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit because that is the name of the unit used by William Steinman in his letter to the Army. Steinman gave them the name. Yes, the IPU existed but it was not the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit. It was the Input Processing Unit, which certainly isn’t the same thing.

And, yes, this is splitting a fine hair, but the point is, other than the “institutional memory” of the name, the letters cited as proof seem to be responding to information included in the FOIA requests. I’d like to see a document from a government source (other than MJ-12, of course) that uses the name Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit on it. Brad Sparks said that he’s seen organizational charts with IPU on them, but not that particular name.

The evidence for the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit is one man’s memory that seems to be contradicted by the documentation from official sources, which you all are now free to reject because it is from official sources and is all part of the bigger conspiracy. Everything, including to those letters to researchers, points to the creation of the IPU in 1958 which means that a document that was allegedly created in 1947 using the name Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit is a fake. And if it is a fake then those using it in a documentary to support another aspect of the UFO phenomenon have failed to prove their point. A fake document proves absolutely nothing and shouldn’t be used as evidence for the existence of something else.

Oh, I do get it. Those producing documentaries don’t have the comprehensive knowledge needed to understand what is going on. They must rely on the “experts” to understand what they are being told… and too often there are competing points of view. Sometimes the information is easily available and the evidence of fraud is almost overwhelming but they still use it to bolster their case. They want to believe just as badly as some of those in the field want to believe so the negative evidence is reduced to a single sentence or phrase that is almost mumbled. The “controversial” comment is misunderstood by many, suggesting that there is still an open question. In this case, with this organization, the IPU, and this particular document, there is no real controversy. The results are in and the document is a fake. 


cda said...

Timothy Good writes in his books that the IPU was instigated either in 1945 by Gen MacArthur or in 1947 by Gen Marshall. It was disbanded in the 1950s.

Take it or leave it, that is the gospel according to Timothy Good.

But there are an awful lot of gospels according to Good, so beware.

KRandle said...


And the documentation that is available from official sources suggests that the IPU didn't begin until 1958 and that it was an intelligence gathering operation rather than a UFO organization.

Frank Warren said...

Mornin’ Kevin,

It was actually Dick Hall who performed the FOIA request on Sept. 6 1980. Dick was requesting “all of the Army’s records pertaining to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s June 2, 1980 teletype message describing a Peruvian Air Force / UFO Encounter.” The request was made to the Army’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence.

In the response, dated Sept. 25th, 1980 not only was the acronym used (IPU), but so was the full title: —“Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit.” It stated:

“Please be advised that the interplanetary Phenomenon Unit of the Scientific and Technical Branch, Counterintelligence Directorate, DA was disestablished during the late 1950's and never reactivated. All records pertaining to this unit were surrendered to the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations in conjunction with operation ‘BlueBook.’”

As one would expect, Dick did a follow-up FOIA request after hearing of this Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, and in that response (Nov. 29th), they played it down stating:

“The unit was formed as an ‘in-house’ project by the Chief of the Scientific and Technical Branch, as an ‘interest’ item for the ACSI. It was never formally organized or reportable as such. It had no investigative function, mission or authority. The transfer of any records, if they formally existed, occurred through the Office of the Adjutant General, DA, during the late 1950's. The establishment of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) absorbed the functions, mission and personnel of the Scientific and Technical Branch, and institutional memory recalls the transfer of the unit files to the U.S. Air Force BlueBook" office. No transfer record exists in the files of this office."

Steinman’s FOIA request (re The Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit) was dated May, 8th, 1984. (The response to him was almost word for word as the one to Dick).

If memory serves, CUFOS later sent in FOIA requests re the IPU and discovered they were getting “cookie cutter responses.”


KRandle said...

Frank -

Actually it was Larry Bryant whose request went in in 1978... he turned his material over to Hall to see what Hall could learn about it.

And yes, the name is used, but it seems to be based on the memory of the "institutional memory" which is what some guy called it... but there doesn't seem to be any documentation, outside of MJ-12 with that name on it.

Terry the Censor said...

"Timothy Good Fact-Check"

That would be a blog project that never ends.

Frank Warren said...


Larry's FOIA request (re the IPU) for CAUS was sent in '79, to "USAF Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI)," not the Army. Larry writes, (Just Cause Sept. 1979) "acting on a lead provided by W. Todd Zechel's acquisition of information pointing to the existence of a now-defunct U.S. Army "Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, CAUS has dispatched a Freedom of Information request . . .."

Their response (June 6, 1979) states:

"A review of the Defense Central Index of Investigations and inquiries to the appropriate offices of this headquarters have failed to disclose any information regarding the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit. If AFOSI had performed the function described in your letter, any existing records may have been incorporated in the Project Blue-book [sic] files which have been transferred to the National Archives."

CAUS appealed and threatened a lawsuit and the second reply contained a copy of the Defense Central Index of Investigations . . ..

According to Larry (MUFON Journal Jan. 1981), Dick’s original FOIA request “to the Army” had nothing to do with the IPU . . . it was however (curiously) mentioned in their response. As mentioned above, his request was for “all of the Army’s records pertaining to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s June 2, 1980 teletype message describing a Peruvian Air Force / UFO Encounter.”


KRandle said...

Frank -

My point here is that this particular document is fraudulent. It contains any number of red flags. It has inaccuracies and you have to wonder why there are grid coordinates for that crash over near the trinity site and none for the Brazel ranch site.

The real name of the IPU, whatever it might be, isn't that important to this particular discussion. It is about the document, how it was used to promote the reality of other documents, and that the best evidence is that this document is a fake.

Larry said...

Kevin asked:

" have to wonder why there are grid coordinates for that crash over near the trinity site and none for the Brazel ranch site."

Because the Trinity site had been the subject of a highly important construction project--i.e., the tower, the roads, all the bunkers, and the control room for the Trinity shot, etc. I presume that all of that construction was conducted with at least the same level of professionalism that would be used in the construction of, say, a small housing tract or office building. That would include a surveyor laying out the location and orientation of all the main elements. It was actually quite important from the standpoint of understanding the physics of the shot to know how far away the main elements were from each other and which way they were facing.

I interpret the non-standard terminology for describing the latitude and longitude as deriving from someone (ostensibly an Army CIC agent) who was not a professional surveyor attempting to describe the surveying process for location of a site relative to known landmarks. So, instead of the term "benchmark" he used the term "geographic reference point". Instead of using periods to delimit degrees, minutes, and seconds, he used dashes, etc.

Almost certainly the crash site near Roswell had not undergone any professional surveying.

I will remind everyone that among professional document authenticators, use of non-standard terminology (such as for dates in the header, and so on) can be an indicator of authenticity, not necessarily falsity.

So why didn't the July 22, 1947 document just come out and say that LZ-2 was at (or very close to) the Trinity test site? In July of 1947, ALL data related to nuclear weapons was classified under the Atomic Energy Act as being Restricted Data, under the sole control of the civilian Atomic Energy Agency. The July 22 document purports to be an Army Top Secret document (presumably scooped into the Majic-codeword compartment, after that compartment was created a few months later). It has no original markings on it indicating that it has the authority to contain or disclose Restricted Data. To have explicitly stated that there might possibly be a connection between "Interplanetary Phenomena" and atomic energy could have been equivalent to the leaking of Restricted Data. That would have been considered a serious security breach in 1947.

Referring to the Trinity Site by numbers instead of by name could be interpreted as a way whereby the CIC agent could point to a linkage between UFOs and atomic energy in the report to his Army superiors, without technically violating the Atomic Energy Act.

BTW, it would STILL be considered a serious security breach today, since Restricted Data is "born classified" and remains so until and unless the original classifying authority declassifies it.

With regard to the "Ultra" caveat on the document: It is true that the term originated in WWII to refer to a specific category of signals intercepts intelligence that was so sensitive it was only available to Churchill, Roosevelt, and a handful of flag-ranked officers. It is my understanding, however, that after the War the term became generalized to refer to ANY category of information that was treated with the same level of exclusivity. Kind of like how the name "Coke" starts out referring only to a specific soft drink made by a single manufacturer but comes to be a generic term referring to any product with similar characteristics.

KRandle said...

Larry -

The reason the location for the Brazel ranch didn't include grid coordinates was because the forger didn't know the location, but knew that some of us did. Rather than make a guess, he just didn't bother with it. And, it doesn't take a professional surveyer to read grid coordinates off a map. Any Army officer or NCO should be able to do it. There is no secret to it.

There is no evidence that any other document anywhere has been classified "Top Secret Ultra" that didn't pertain to the original project. Anyone with a security clearance is going to know better than to slap a code word on a document that doesn't relate to that specific event.

Does it bother you that the IPU didn't exist in 1947? Everything that has be found, outside of this "leaked" batch of documents, shows the IPU created in 1958.

At what point do you say this is one mistake too many? I looked at only those on the first two pages. The use of the term "Mogul" is wrong... in 1947 it was the University of New York balloon project or the constant level balloons as but an addition example. True, the name was known to project members, but the mention of Mogul is unnecessary and the first reports didn't indicate that as the document claimed.

The details of Twining's trip to New Mexico, as detailed in the document are wrong. There is no other reports from the "Trinity Site" or LZ-2, meaning no eyewitnesses have been found.

When you look at the next document (which I will in next, there are additional errors and contradictions that argue against authenticity, not the least of which is the addition of a third site.

At some point, without a provenance, with the parade of errors, the documents must be rejected.

Al12 said...


am i right in saying that this document isnt classified top secret ultra as the top secret marking has a line going through it

which indicates its marking would be Ultra only.

KRandle said...

Al12 -

There is no security classification known as "Ultra." It is a code word that limits assess. While many have top secret clearances, to see the Ultra material, they need to be code word cleared. Technically, the entire code word should have been blanked out because it was classified... of couse, with the end of the war, Ultra was no longer critical and it was still decades before the material was released.

What is correct to say now is that the document is declassified and no longer requires the proper clearances and code word access. It is available to anyone who wants it.

Al12 said...


Can i also ask that you say Nathan Twinings wasnt ther as it says on the report.

The report says he was ther on 7th July, if he wasnt there then where was he?

Ive seen another report ( valid )saying he cancelled a trip to a Boeing factory on the 17th July ''due to a sudden matter that developed here'' where is here?

Larry said...

Part 1.
Al12 Wrote...
“…am i right in saying that this document isnt classified top secret ultra as the top secret marking has a line going through it…which indicates its marking would be Ultra only.”

To which Kevin replied:

“…There is no security classification known as "Ultra." It is a code word that limits assess. While many have top secret clearances, to see the Ultra material, they need to be code word cleared. Technically, the entire code word should have been blanked out because it was classified... of couse, with the end of the war, Ultra was no longer critical and it was still decades before the material was released.

What is correct to say now is that the document is declassified and no longer requires the proper clearances and code word access. It is available to anyone who wants it….”

To answer these questions we need to be able to consider two opposing and mutually exclusive possibilities at the same time. One possibility is that the disputed document is exactly what it purports to be: a field report written by a CIC agent on July 22, 1947 and submitted to Army headquarters. The various stamps on the document purport to show what happened to the document after it was first filed. For example, the copy that has made it to the public has a notation on it that it was the file copy of the J.C.S. (Joint Chief of Staff).

The other possibility is that it is a fake. Kevin no longer holds open the first possibility because he considers it an established fact that the Interplanetary Phenomena Unit came into existence in 1958. And it’s true, that if 1958 was the first origin within Army Intelligence of “the Interplanetary Phenomena Unit” (as opposed to “Input Processing Unit”, for example) then the IPU document could not have been produced in 1947. I don’t consider that premise proven yet.

So, as for question 1: The IPU document has the structure of a multi-page field report with a cover page. That is consistent with the way classified documents are constructed. The idea is that an individual—even with a security clearance--happening upon the document should be able to tell, without opening it up, whether he/she is cleared to read the contents. For that reason, the most currently operational classification(s) needs to appear on the cover page. An authentic classified document will also contain a stamp indicating the authority under which the classification took place. The IPU document contains both pieces of information—the current level of classification and the authority.

Larry said...


Over time, a document can (and often does) get its classification level reviewed. One trigger for a review is when a document changes hands. For example, when the Atomic Energy Act took effect in January, 1947, a huge body of technical information went from Top Secret compartmented within the Army to Restricted Data within the Atomic Energy Commission. Another trigger is time; some relatively insensitive information gets automatically reviewed at 20 year intervals and is downgraded if the original motivation for classification no longer applies.

In summary, when a classified document is created, one of 4 things can happen to it; 1) it can continue at its original level of classification indefinitely. 2) it can get re-classified (to a higher or lower level of classification within the organization that originally had authority to classify it. That re-classification could include totally de-classifying it, in which case it can be released to the public. 4) it can get transferred to another organization in which case it gets re-classified under the authority and rules of the new agency.

Whenever the reclassification of a document occurs, the old classification is lined out and the new one stamped in. This not only keeps the classification level current, it shows the classification path that the document took. The questioned IPU document shows this path in what appears to be consistent manner, as near as I can tell.

First, the report claims to have been filed with Army HQ on July 22, 1947. This is indicated by the field in the upper left hand corner (which appears to have been typed, not stamped) and gives the date, the office having authority to classify the document, and the initials of the occupant of that office (S. J. C.). Stamps right next to the signature block indicate that the initial classification level was Top Secret and that the report originally went into the files of the War Department Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (A. C. of S., G-2) using the correct terminology of 1947. The little time of day rotary stamp in the upper right hand corner (also authentic for 1947) shows the report was processed shortly after 4 PM.

The lower left corner contains a stamp “J. C. S. FILE COPY”, indicating that a copy of the report was subsequently forwarded from the Army to the Joint Chief of Staff, which I think, would be standard protocol.

Each page of the report itself contains the typed words “Top Secret” at the top and the bottom of the page, as does the cover page, in accordance with standard operating procedure. However, in all cases (cover page and report pages) the classification “Top Secret” has been lined through, indicating that that is no longer the operating classification level. In all cases, the “Top Secret” classification has been replaced with the “ULTRA” classification level. It is clear that this is supposed to have happened on September 4, 1960, when the document was transferred from the Joint Chiefs to “Majestic Intelligence and Security” (or “MAJIC”), whatever that is or was.

Again in accordance with standard classification policy, the new owners of the document indicate the authority by which re-classification occurred, the office holders who did the approving (Allen Dulles, director of CIA; John Samford, director of NSA). And yes, I looked, and they did hold those offices at that time.

So, to explicitly address the original statements: the classification level of the document purports to be “ULTRA” only; “TOP SECRET” no longer applies. And, contrary to Kevin’s statement, the document is not “declassified”. If (as Kevin thinks) the document is a hoax, then it never was classified to begin with; therefore it can’t have been declassified. If, on the other hand, the document is authentic, there is no indication it has ever been declassified, so it should be assumed to still be classified. This would put the document in exactly the same category as some of the documents supposedly leaked by Edward Snowden.

More on the "ULTRA" designation later...

Al12 said...


Thanks, so i was correct, that document was an still is classified ULTRA.

Your last paragaph summoned what i was going to ask next, that this document hasnt to this day been declassified an remains ULTRA.

If its real then the fact its leaked doesnt change any if that since its not beed declassified for official public release.

KRandle said...

A12 -

Bad example... Twining was in Alamogordo and his pilot's log showed they had toured parts of New Mexico... However, the material about what they did in relation to the UFO crash is pure speculation and not based on any evidence yet presented.

Larry -

The line through the Top Secret indicates that it had been reviewed and the classification was then downgraded or removed. On the cover sheet, you see it marked secret with a line through that as well, meaning it was downgraded again. On the following pages you see the line through the Top Secret but none through Ultra. Since Ultra is not a classification but a code word, that makes sense.

You are correct that if the document is bogus, then it was never classified in the first place and therefore couldn't be declassified.

So, the question is how many errors are they allowed before you decide the document, without a provenance is bogus? On the cover page it lists John A. Samford as a lieutenant general but in 1947 he was only a brigadier general. He was not promoted to three stars until 1956. BTW, the NSA was formed in 1952, so it shouldn't be listed on a document coming from 1947.

Finally, are there any documents, other than MJ-12 documents, that show the IPU in existence prior to 1958? Shouldn't this bother you, especially when the available evidence suggests that the 1958 date is a good one?

Fred Jones said...

Kevin says-

"So, the question is how many errors are they allowed before you decide the document, without a provenance is bogus? On the cover page it lists John A. Samford as a lieutenant general but in 1947 he was only a brigadier general. He was not promoted to three stars until 1956. BTW, the NSA was formed in 1952, so it shouldn't be listed on a document coming from 1947."

In a 10-second overview of the document, I was able to deduce that it appears the re-classification was done in 1960, (as seen in the date at the bottom of the cover page) and therefore would have been approved by Samford when he was a Lt Gen as the document shows and 8 years after the creation of the NSA. Also, there are other documents that HAVE been formally declassified that use "Ultra" as the classification term, after the war that I have seen.. they slip my mind at the moment.. but overall that doesn't seem to be a strong argument to debunk this document.

Lastly, if people are familiar with the lengths the government goes to protect secrets throughout every decade, especially the number one secret of all time- it stands to reason that they would do their best to destroy any evidence of a secret unit that proves their interest and knowledge of proof of the UFO phenomenon.. it surprises no researchers that finding "official" documents are like finding diamonds in a quarry.

To further authenticate (or debunk) this document, one could try and search for radar records at the sites listed on page 3- but as stated in my above paragraph if the government didn't want any loose ends these may have been taken/destroyed as well.