Sunday, December 28, 2014

The United States Air Force vs. the UFO Witnesses

As I was completing my last UFO book, I ran into a number of things that were somewhat disturbing. Some of those were the ongoing Air Force attitude that these things weren’t alien in nature, those who saw them were somehow deluded, and it was the Air Force mission to convince people that UFOs were an illusion. It didn’t matter to them how honest the witnesses might be, how carefully they had made their observations, or what their level of education or expertise might be. The Air Force mission was to stop the UFO reports. If they had to lie about it, misrepresent the situation, hide evidence or smear witnesses, that was all for the greater good… though they don’t seem to have an idea what that greater good might be.

I have pointed out time and again, including the posting that preceded this, the clash between the Major Donald Keyhoe, he of the original NICAP and the Air Force in their discussions about what had happened in Levelland, Texas, in 1957. The short version is that Keyhoe, in the national press said there were nine witnesses to the UFO and the Air Force countered with there were only three who saw the object. The Air Force files carried the names of more than three witnesses and I now believe they were splitting a fine hair. They were saying only three had reported a craft and Keyhoe was talking about nine who had seen something in the sky including a craft. As I have said, repeatedly, both were wrong. More than three saw the craft (more than three names were available in the Blue Book files) and there were more than nine witnesses scattered throughout the Texas panhandle around the Levelland area who saw something strange that night.

This can be taken a step further, as I learned in working on the book. The Air Force sent a single NCO to Levelland to investigate. It seems he spent the lion’s share of a day there and returned to file a report that suggested a variety of answers that really explained nothing. By way of contrast, just days later when a fellow named Reinhold Schmidt told Nebraska authorities that he had been taken onboard a craft, the official response was officers from two separate command structures. They spent quite a bit of time with Schmidt and his clearly invented tale.

You have to ask yourself, “Why?”

The answer is simple. Schmidt was quite obviously making it up, the physical evidence he claimed was motor oil of a type found in his car’s trunk, and the public relations benefit for the Air Force was clear. “Look at the nonsense we have to investigate wasting time, money and personnel resources.”

At the other end, they do nothing to call attention to Levelland, dispute Keyhoe even though they knew that he was right based on what was in their own files, but that didn’t matter. Smear Keyhoe as someone just in it of the money and who had no worry about what the truth might be. That sort of outlines the Air Force position because, when Levelland is examined in a dispassionate light, Keyhoe’s report was much closer to the truth than that of the Air Force.

This isn’t the only time that the Air Force went after Keyhoe. A scientist in Australia, Harry Turner, produced a report that suggested there was something extremely strange going on Down Under and he believed it to be alien in nature. In his report, he quoted Major Donald Keyhoe, who, in his book Aliens from Space, had suggested that he, Keyhoe, was working from official and classified documents not to mention discussions with those in high places who had some of the inside information. Keyhoe was drawing his conclusions on what he had seen and what he had learned from various officials and Turner was basing his report on many of the claims made by Keyhoe.

The Royal Australian Air Force queried their counterparts in the USAF, asking about Keyhoe and his claim of access to important but classified documents and his access to important and high-ranking officials in the US government. The USAF response was that Keyhoe didn’t have the access to classified information he claimed, the documents from which he quoted did not exist, and his access to these important people was limited. He had exaggerated the information for the financial gain of a successful book. Keyhoe and his information were not to be trusted. The RAAF, believing they had received the straight information from the USAF, rejected Turner’s report because of the negative comments about it and ignored, as best they could, UFO sightings reported inside Australia.

The truth was that Keyhoe had not been overly exaggerating and the documents he claimed he had seen or used as reference did exist saying much of what he said they did. While Keyhoe might have engaged in some hyperbole, or slanted his take toward his bias, the USAF did the same thing in their attempts to discredit him. It turns out that Keyhoe was closer to the truth than the Air Force was which is sad state of affairs but also tells us something about the climate of the time.

And finally, though I don’t mean to keep harping on the November 1957 sightings, these cases offer some of the most compelling evidence of Air Force duplicity and showed that when they couldn’t find anything else, they attacked the witnesses themselves. The James Stokes sighting is a case on point. Everyone around him suggested he was an engineer. Even his bosses in the Air Force at Alamogordo referred to him as an engineer. But the Air Force couldn’t find a college degree and labeled him as a mere technician. That Stokes worked as an engineer and was called that by others in the Air Force made no difference. In the press, the Air Force investigators made it clear that Stokes couldn’t be trusted because he had been disingenuous in describing himself, or, at least that was the situation according to the Air Force.

The point here is that we just can’t take anything for granted when we look at the UFO files created by the Air Force. We can see that they were less than candid, and while it might be said, based on what I’ve presented here that this was limited to 1957, the truth is there are other examples scattered throughout the files, up to and including the letter that Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hippler to the Condon Committee explaining what the Air Force expected for their half a million bucks. I’ve explored that in earlier posts here.

Or, to put a point on it, everything the Air Force claimed should be verified because we have found the errors in their files. Some of those errors were simple mistakes, some of them born of incompetence, and more than a few were lies designed to hide the truth.


John Steiger said...

QUERY: What do you mean by "final UFO book"? You are retiring from writing(!)?
P.S. If so, will you continue this blog?

John's Space said...

After the Roberson panel the official policy of the U.S. government was to inform (or rather disinform) the public that UFOs don’t exist. That they are hoaxes or mistaken identification of natural phenomena. Yet as the Ruppelt era of Blue Book was ending who becomes the new Air Force Chief of Staff? Nathan Twinning who had stated in a classified memo in 1947 that flying discs were real things. All of the research that Ruppelt was ignored.

The policy almost certainly goes higher in the government that the Air Force. But, because of the nature of the phenomena and our very active Air Defense Command during that period, the Air Force became the point agency for dealing with the public dimensions of the issue. So naturally they would prefer to deal with obvious frauds rather than more credible witnesses in order to achieve their assigned goal denial.

What is amazing to me is the degree that this cover up has been successful. Of course this wouldn’t have been possible if the aliens chose to make their presence known in an irrefutable way. While they don’t shy away from being seen they haven’t made formal contact on a societal basis either. This has allowed the government to adopt a policy of “hiding the facts in plain sight”. We know a lot of the facts but mainstream society doesn’t take them as real. Movies, TV programs, and UFO documentaries have spun such wild tales as to make taking subject seriously laughable. It is almost a mythology like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

If as you have made the case in your books that the Roswell crash happened then elements of the government know for sure that UFOs are real. If it didn’t happen then it is possible that the phenomena has the government somewhat puzzled as well. This would help explain the success of the policy of secrecy as there isn’t anything definitive to reveal. There are many radar sightings, eyewitnesses, and perhaps some physical evidence but no bodies or definitive artifacts.

Anthony Mugan said...

Yes, the great concern to avoid Congressional hearings is quite interesting and suggest the view was this would be damaging to either national security or Air Force interests.
I don't know enough of the politics to assess how controllable such events would have been in the time period, but this concern by the AF suggests they were not confident of containing such a scenario and that the result may not have been a clear cut conclusion in their favour.
Indeed and impartial assessment of the publically available data for the time period may well have come out somewhere quite close to the Twinning Memorandum's conclusions from over a decade before.

The Air Force's concern to not put 'its money where its mouth was' is a pretty clear cut indication that bigger issues were at stake, as we all know. If it was confident of a positive result in its favour congressional hearings would have been a good way out of the UFO business, as the allegedly desired by the 1960's (when BB was no longer necessary...but evidently that way out was too risky to take.

Happy new year all...

David Rudiak said...

These series of events have a special emotional resonance with me. I was 8 going on 9 during the great UFO mini-wave of November 1957. Stories like the Levelland car stallings, Stokes, Trinity site, the Coast Guard Cutter Sebago, etc., were generally front page news, right by the Sputnik II stories, and were my first awakening to the greater outside world (the Rooskies and UFOs). My older sister picked up Ruppelt's book, which I finally read 3 years later for a school book report.

Note 1: The "etc." includes a great many other less-reported but often very significant UFO stories during this mini-wave, such as the multi-witness Pantex atomic ordinance facility sightings near Amarillo I mentioned in previous threads.

Note 2: The multiple Levelland sightings and car stallings started only an hour or so after Sputnik II was launched, or only one orbit, before the public in the U.S. was even aware of the launch, so "mass hysteria" over the new Sputnik had nothing to do with it. I have noted other spectacular UFO mass sightings in conjunction with major historical events, such as the outbreak of the Korean War, perhaps a hint to the powers-that-be that "they" are watching. (alternatively, amazing coincidences)

With the widespread reporting and high public interest at the time in anything space related, multiple tactics were used to try to kill interest in the stories, starting with stupid "explanations" (e.g. ball lightning for Levelland and the setting moon for Trinity) and downplaying the number of witnesses. A few days later, heavy-hitters like Menzel were brought out to debunk the reports as mirages.

And, of course, play up any hoaxes in a VERY big way to try to reduce the credibility of the very good cases. (Kevin mentioned the Reinhold Schmidt case of being taken on board a UFO getting tons of publicity and attention.) Hoaxes, hoaxers, and obvious loonies are always great to paint everything with a huge debunker ridicule brush. One rotten apple poisons the barrel.

(This is a debunking tactic used widely in the present day, such as mentioning a handful of Roswell hoaxers, inventing nonexistent credibility problems for a few others, and ignoring literally HUNDREDS of other Roswell witnesses whose stories have never been impeached, then claiming literally EVERY Roswell witness has been shown to have credibility problems.)

Kevin has written extensively how the more public Blue Book was eased out of the more serious UFO investigation after the 1953 Robertson Panel and the issuance of Air Force Reg. 200-2 by Twining in 1953 and 1954 that literally ordered Blue Book to reduce the number of unexplained UFO cases to a minimum. (Ruppelt admitted they were ordered to debunk cases and ridicule witnesses if necessary.) That's how you can go from over 20% being unexplained to typically only 1%/year. Simply claim they are "explained". Boy, that was easy.

The other tactic was to secretly pass off investigation of the vast majority of really good cases with national security implications to agencies the public was unaware of being involved, such as the newly formed 4602d Air Intelligence Squadron (AISS) within the Air Defence Command, created literally days before the Robertson Panel. The fix was probably in even before the Panel convened.

That way, the public BB ended up with mostly the "toilet seat" cases that could be ridiculed and explained away while serious study was going on elsewhere. The exceptions were when some cases like Levelland got traction and were widely reported in the press in a serious manner. BB had to get involved whether they liked it or not.

Bob Koford said...

Happy New Year.

I noticed that you mentioned Gregory Alexander in a previous article. He represents the ugly side perfectly, as he suggested that ALL people who report UFOs should be locked up, and declared insane. I dont ever recall reading any rebuttles from his superiors.

Daniel Transit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John's Space said...

The Twining memo was declassified in May 1978 and Gen. Twining passed away in 1982. Does anyone know of any questioning of him in that interval as to what he meant by his comments in the memo? Did he ever make comments on why said that UFOs were real and then supervised policies as Air Force Chief of Staff that denied their reality?

cda said...

Two matters arise from the above:

If the memo was declassified in May 1978, how did the Condon Committee get a copy of it 10 years earlier in 1968 [see Condon Report]?

I believe Stan Friedman tried to contact Twining during the period post-1978 but his housekeeper told him he was verging on senility (Alzheimer's?) and could no longer give interviews.

John's Space said...

If the memo was declassified in May 1978, how did the Condon Committee get a copy of it 10 years earlier in 1968 [see Condon Report]?

Yes. So the date I was referencing must have been the data of processing on a FOIA request rather than a declassification date. So that means there was another decade of opportunity for the general to have been questioned about this.

John's Space said...

On another matter, the senility question really comes in view of the interesting conversations between Dr. Eric Walker and a couple of UFO researchers (Steinman and Azadehdel) in the 1987 to 1991 period. Perhaps senility is not quite right be he was getting on in age and it doesn’t sound like someone who has all of his wits protecting highly classified information nor a distinguished non-believer being asked about some UFO nonsense either.

He seems to acknowledge MJ-12 or some similar organization. Then in a later interview he says that he can’t remember the code words. He gets exasperated asked, “You are delving into an area that you can do absolutely nothing about. So why get involved with it or concerned about it? Why don't you just leave it alone and drop it? Forget about it! “ That doesn’t sound like the questioner is completely missing the mark. Wouldn’t something, “I have no idea what you are talking about?” be what we’d have expected.
In the January 1990 interview Walker is somewhat playful with Azadehdel rather than defensive. As a result he doesn’t give anything more away. It could argued that he was just playing with the questioner.

In the March 1990 interview on the topic of MJ-12 now seem to contradict what he had said in 1987 claiming that he had nothing to do with MJ-12 while before he said that he had known them for 40 years. Then when asked if the MJ-12 documents are authentic he says, “I don’t think so.” Then when asked if such a group is still active he changes the subject to “How good is your mathematics?” Indication that one needs a mind like Einstein’s to understand the subject. He indicates that it is an elite group that is involved in the study. When Walker is asked if he is a member he says that he can’t answer that. He seem to give away the answer to this question when he indicates that if the questioner was invited into the group Walker would know. How if he is not a member would know who was? Then he shifts to asking Azadehdel how good is his sixth sense. ESP. Is he implying that some group of humans is in telepathic contacts with ETs?

What is important is that he was in the right position to be involved in the analysis of Roswell or other crash recoveries (if they occurred) and he seems to give away a lot of knowledge about it.

What does anyone make of this? Do we believe these interview are really happened?

KRandle said...

John's Space -

Condon and his committee had access to the Project Blue Book files and a copy of the Twining letter is in those files. The files were declassified in 1976 (and I managed to see them prior to their transfer to the National Archives and before they were redacted). Given there were more than 12,000 sightings in the files and many of they ran for many pages and there were thousands of pages of administrative material in them as well, it was a while before the Twining Letter surfaced from that arena.

John's Space said...


I think that the Sarbacher and Walker material is some of the most evidential in the crash recovery scenario. Both of these individuals are rather distinguished experts that were on the Defense Research Board at the correct time period. Sarbacher’s letter is supported by the contemporaneous Smith memo and notes. Sarbacher leads to Eric Walker. Walker was a senior member of the DRB and unlike Sarbacher whose information was second hand from other board members, Walker was direct involved.

Getting Walker to talk would seem to be very important. One would likely expect a flat denial but instead we have a series of rambling comments which seems to reveal that something concerning flying saucers was on the DRB agenda in the 1950-1951 period. Many of his responses are contradictory, confusing, or evasive. However, he seems to reveal he was involved in UFO investigations and perhaps more involved than we might have suspected. What is your take on this?

At first it seem that he might have been going senile but the more I think about it that doesn’t seem to be the case.