Someone's Watching Over Us
by Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe, USMC (Ret.)

TRUE Magazine, 1967, article cover pages



by Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe, USMC (Ret.)

Published in True Magazine 1966 Edition

Since January 1950, when TRUE published my first article on UFOs, there has been a tremendous change in the public attitude toward Unidentified Flying Objects. Before, the "flying saucers" were ridiculed by most Americans. Only a small number knew the dramatic evidence - confirmed reports by veteran pilots and other competent witnesses. Even fewer knew of the Air Force Top Secret Estimate of the Situation - that the Flying Saucers - officially Unidentified Flying Objects - were interplanetary vehicles engaged in a long observation of the earth.

Today, according to national polls, half of our population is convinced that the UFO's are real .Over five million people claim to have seen strange flying objects. Some newly convinced Americans, reluctant to believe we are being observed by a technically superior race, first ask if the UFO's aren't highly secret devices - American or Russian. But the massive documented evidence of tremendous speeds and maneuvers far beyond any earth made craft has proved this answer impossible. More and more millions now accept the long-hidden AF explanation: The UFO's are interplanetary probes from another world.

This great switch in public belief did not come about quickly. The January 1950 TRUE article put the first strong spotlight on UFO's, and hundreds of witnesses reported sightings they had withheld for fear of ridicule.

In 1952, a sudden outbreak of UFO sightings made front-page news, with hundreds of verified reports by military and airline pilots, control tower operators, expert radar trackers, and other reliable observers.

Early in 1953, one group of AF Intelligence officers connected with the UFO project planned to release their most baffling cases, also unexplained photographs of UFO's. No final conclusion was to be stated, though the released evidence would strongly point to the interplanetary answer. But at the last moment, fears of high-level officials caused the plan to be killed. Withholding of UFO reports and "explanations" to prevent public excitement steadily increased.

Despite this, many military reports leaked out because the pilots and others involved opposed this cover-up as a bad policy. In addition to UFO operations over the United States, thousands of similar reports came to light in foreign countries.

In November 1957, another outbreak of sightings further strained official withholding efforts, as a number of "touchdown" landings occurred in this country and abroad.

That same year, investigations were begun by NICAP - the National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena - a private fact-finding group with headquarters in Washington D.C. As Director of NICAP, I have seen it grow to a powerful organization, recognized as the largest scientific UFO research group in the world, with over 12,000 members. NICAP has nearly 300 scientific and technical advisers and special consultants on space operations, astronomy, communications, and other fields bearing on UFO investigations.

Because of its serious and thorough evaluations, and its determined efforts to expose the numerous frauds, opportunists, and deluded persons spreading wild tales about UFO's, NICAP is now accepted as the highest private UFO authority in the world. Our documented reports to Congress and the press have played a major part in making hidden facts public.

After the "marsh gas" fiasco in the spring of 1966, millions of citizens began to reject the AF UFO explanations. High officials, still honestly believing that explaining away the sightings was the safest policy for the country, were caught in an unenviable spot.

The result was a decision to have an independent scientific investigation made - with officials agreeing to a "hands off" policy. The University of Colorado was selected, and a number of recent sightings has already had on-the-scene investigations by one or more scientists from the Colorado project.

Even before the project began operations, NICAP played a vital part, at the request of Dr. Edward Condon, the project head, and his scientific colleagues. In addition to advice on field investigations and evaluations, NICAP has made available several hundred verified reports, including many duplications of cases in AF files.

As a result, the Colorado Project has added to NICAP hopes for a fair and impartial report to the public. Although this is not due until late spring of 1968 - and more time may be requested - public pressure for all possible answers is rapidly increasing.

With at least half the country now strongly interested, it is now more important than ever to re-examine the strongest earlier cases, to search for possibly overlooked clues. It is also extremely important that witnesses to sightings put their reports on record, to help complete the picture and also to help the already lessening ridicule.

The Robertson Panel’s report concluded, "reasonable explanations could be suggested for most sightings … By deduction and scientific method it could be induced (given additional data) that other cases might be explained in a similar manner."

The Panel also concluded that there was "no evidence of a direct threat to national security in the objects sighted" and that "the absence of any ‘hardware’ resulting from UFO sightings lends a ‘will-of-the-wisp’ nature to the ATIC problem. Although the panel members agreed that there was no evidence of direct threat from the sightings, it also agreed that dangers might be inherent from misidentification of actual enemy artifacts by defence personnel; overloading of emergency reporting channels with ‘false’ information and subjectivity of public to mass hysteria and greater vulnerability to possible enemy psychological warfare."

The Robertson Panel therefore recommended the following strategy be adopted to deal with the UFO phenomena. "The ‘debunking’ aim would result in reduction in public interest in ‘flying saucers’ which today evokes a strong psychological reaction. This education could be accomplished by mass media such (as) television, motion pictures and popular articles. Basis of such education would be actual case histories which have been puzzling at first but later explained. As is the case of conjuring tricks, there is much less stimulation if the ‘secret’ is known. Such a program should tend to reduce the current gullibility of the public and consequently their susceptibility to clever hostile propaganda. The panel noted that the general absence of Russian propaganda based on a subject with so many obvious possibilities for exploitation might indicate a possible Russian official policy."

The panel further recommended:

a) That the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired.

That the national security agencies institute policies on intelligence, training and public information designed to prepare the material defences and the morale of the country to recognise most promptly and to react most effectively to true indications of hostile intent or action.

We suggest that these aims may be achieved by an integrated program designed to reassure the public of the total lack of evidence of inimical forces behind the phenomena, to train personnel to recognise and reject false indications quickly and effectively, and to strengthen regular channels for the evaluation of prompt reaction to true indications of hostile measures."

This recommendation (paragraph 4a) was accepted and reflected the subsequent sceptical/debunking attitude towards UFOs since that time.

However Dr. Allen Hynek, an associate member of the Robertson Panel, expressed criticism of it later, stating: "I was dissatisfied even then with what seemed to me a most cursory examination of the data and the set minds implied by the Panel’s lack of curiosity and desire to delve deeper into the subject."

Another of those interviewed by the Robertson panel, was Captain Edward Ruppelt, Chief of ATIC’s Aerial Phenomena Branch and later head of Project Blue Book.

He stated that the CIA ordered the Airforce to debunk sightings and discredit witnesses. "We’re ordered to hide sightings when possible, but if a strong report does get out, we have to publish a fast explanation – make up something to kill the report in a hurry, and also ridicule the witness, especially if we can’t find a plausible answer. We even have to discredit our own pilots."

An example of ‘killing the story’ occurred on 29th July 1952 when Marine Corps photographer, Ralph C. Mayher, shot 40 feet of 16mm film of a bright object streaking over Miami in Florida, USA. Mayher contacted the Marine Air Station and later met with a Lt. Aldridge who left with the roll of film who took it to the Air Force for analysis. When Mayher later made enquiries he received a letter dated 13th April 1954 which stated "This is to advise you that a search of the ATIC files has failed to show that the Air Force has ever received the film you mentioned. It is our belief that since this film was originally submitted to a Naval Base, it must still remain with Naval Intelligence." 1st Lt. R. C. White signed the letter.

Mayher then contacted the Marine Corps Air Station in Miami where he was stationed as a service photographer the night he took the film of the bright object in the sky. He received a reply dated 19th April 1954 which stated "Saucer film turned over to Air Force, July 31, 1952." Colonel T. G. Ennis, Commanding Officer of the air station, sent the telegram.

Ruppelt had long since tired of official denial of the UFO phenomenon, and in his 1956 book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. He scorned the ongoing quest for proof asking, "does a UFO have to land at the river entrance to the Pentagon near the Joint Chief of Staffs’ Office? Or is it proof when a ground radar station detects a UFO, sends a jet to intercept it, the pilot sees it, and locks on with his radar, only to have the UFO streak away at a phenomenal speed. Is it proof when a jet pilot fires at a UFO and sticks to his story even under the threat of court martial."

Dr. David R. Saunders, a member of the 1960s University of Colorado’s UFO Committee (Condon Report) also believed the Robertson Panel Report was no more than a cover story "conceived and executed for the dual purposes of confusing foreign intelligence and reassuring the cadre of our own establishment. There is ample precedent for the use of such double and triple layers of security in connection with really important projects. For example the mere existence of the Manhattan Project was a secret, but the nature and importance of that project was an even bigger secret."

Despite the Robertson Panel’s attempts to kill off the speculation, the matter could hardly rest as sightings of UFOs continued, with a hard core of UFO believers that the entire phenomenon was being covered up. The agencies themselves certainly didn’t help when trying to cast off this tag of a cover-up as a couple of well-publicised incidents in the 1950s demonstrate.

The first incident was triggered in 1955 when two elderly Chicago sisters, Mildred and Marie Maier, reported in the ‘Journal of Space Flight’ that they had tape recorded what appeared to be a radio signal from a ‘flying saucer’. It wasn’t, or at least, it probably wasn’t.

The OSI section of the CIA became interested and requested that the Scientific Contact Branch make further enquiries into the claims. Field officers from the Contact Division (created to collect foreign intelligence information from sources within the US) made contact with the sisters, however on examination of the tape it became apparent that the strange noises were nothing more than Morse code from a US radio station.

That really should have been the end of a rather innocuous incident that served little more than to add excitement to the lives of the Maier sisters who were reportedly "thrilled that the government was interested" in their story.

Yet the story did not end there, for an interested researcher, Leon Davidson, talked to the Maier sisters in 1957 about the episode. They advised him that one of the men they had talked to a Mr [Dewelt] Walker who claimed he was from the US Air Force.

Davidson then wrote to Walker, believing him to be a US Air Force Intelligence Officer from the now familiar Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and asked if the tape had been analysed at the ATIC. Walker duly replied that the tape had been forwarded to the proper authorities for evaluation however no results had been forthcoming.

Davidson began to suspect that Walker was actually a CIA officer and wrote to DCI Allen Dulles requesting information on what the tape had revealed and who Dewelt Walker actually was. The agency, wanting to keep Walker’s identity as a CIA agent a secret, replied that another agency within the government had analysed the tape and he would be hearing from the Air Force in due course. Sure enough, a few months later on 5th August, the Air Force informed Davidson that Walker "was and is an Air Force Officer" and that the tape "was analysed by another government organisation." The Air Force letter also confirmed that the signal recorded by the sisters was merely Morse code.

Davidson started to turn the screws when he wrote back to Dulles wanting to know the identity of the Morse operator and of the agency that had conducted the analysis. This left both the CIA and the Air Force in an impossible position. The CIA had already denied analysing the tape, but then by this time the Air Force had as well. From this it was only possible to conclude this "other government organisation" was some clandestine agency at work behind the scenes.

A CIA officer, under cover and wearing Air Force uniform, then contacted Davidson, tried to reassure him that there was no clandestine agency, and that the problem was that the Air Force had a policy that they were not in a position to disclose who was doing what. Davidson, however, continued to press for answers to his questions. Digging themselves deeper into a hole, the CIA officer then tried to claim that after a thorough check of records, the tape and notes made at the time had been destroyed to conserve file space on the grounds that the recording was known to be of US origin.

This was more than Davidson could stand and he accused the officer and his agency "whichever it was" of "acting like Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamster Union in destroying records which might indict them."

So how did the CIA respond this time? They didn’t, merely drawing a veil of silence over the matter by declaring that any more contact with Davidson would only encourage more speculation and that they would not respond to any further communications with him again.

Events of the night of 22nd January 1958 added to the growing perception of a cover-up. On that evening, CBS Television presented a programme devoted to UFOs on its ‘Armstrong Circle Theater’ show. Major Donald Keyhoe, Director of NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Arial Phenomena), was invited on to the show given his sources of information from within military circles. Keyhoe was a graduate of the US Naval Academy and a former Marine Corps pilot. He was also renowned for his frequently stated view that the US Government was withholding the facts on UFOs in order to avoid widespread panic.

Several Air Force spokesmen were also due to appear on the programme, however they would only agree to do so if they were allowed to see Keyhoe’s script in advance along with an assurance that he would not deviate from it during the programme. Keyhoe duly forwarded his script, only to have it returned with most of the points he wanted to make removed. Even the statement Keyhoe retained was later forbidden from being aired:

There is an official policy, believed in the best interests of the people, not to confirm the existence of UFOs until all the answers are known. Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, former chief of Project Blue Book, has confirmed the existence of four important documents that should be noted.

In 1948, in a ‘Top Secret’ estimate, the [Air Technical Intelligence Center] concluded that UFOs were interplanetary spaceships. In 1952, an Air Force Intelligence analysis of UFO manoeuvres brought the same conclusion… interplanetary. In January 1953 a report by a panel of top scientists at the Pentagon reached this conclusion: There is strong circumstantial evidence, but no concrete proof that UFOs are spaceships.

The show did go ahead, but was not exactly the programme originally planned. After the Air Force spokesmen had reeled off a number of anecdotal stories designed to ridicule the UFO belief, Keyhoe came on for his agreed piece. However, after a few moments, he suddenly veered from the script on the teleprompter and managed to squeeze in "and now I’m going to reveal something that has never been disclosed before… for the last six months we have been working with a congressional committee investigating official secrecy about UFOs…" before the audio was cut, taking Keyhoe off air. The public never heard his planned concluding statement that "if all the evidence we have given this committee is made public in open hearings it will absolutely prove that the UFOs are real machines under intelligent control. (33)"

NICAP later received a statement from the CBS Director of Editing, Herbert A Carlborg, confirming that Keyhoe was cut off the air, but only in the interests of national security. "This programme had been carefully screened for security reasons", Carlborg wrote, "therefore it was the responsibility of this network to ensure performance that was in accordance with predetermined security standards. Any indication that there would be a deviation from the script might lead to a statement that neither this network nor the individuals on the program were authorised to release."

However, the damage had been done, and the idea of a cover-up began to be securely planted in the minds of those who wanted to believe in it and others who had been more ambivalent up to that time.

Slowly, those involved in the alleged cover-up started to ‘leak’ information. Former CIA Director (1947-50) Vice Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter decided to go public when he made the following signed statement to Congress dated 22nd August 1960:

It is time for the truth to be brought out … behind the scenes high ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about the UFOs.

But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe that unknown flying objects are nonsense … I urge immediate Congressional action to reduce the dangers from secrecy about unidentified flying objects.

Victor Marchetti, a former Special Assistant to the Executive Director of the CIA also acknowledged the phenomenon was real in an article written for Second Look entitled ‘How the CIA Views the UFO Phenomenon.’ In this article Marchetti states "We have, indeed, been contacted – perhaps even visited – by extraterrestrial beings, and the US government, in collusion with other national powers of the Earth, is determined to keep this information from the general public."

Colonel Joseph J. Bryan III, founder and first chief of the CIA’s Psychological Unit and former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force as well as aviation advisor to NATO, confirmed that information was being covered up in a letter to Donald Keyhoe dated 1960. "Information on UFOs, including sightings reports, has been and is still being officially withheld. This policy is dangerous, especially since mistaken identification of UFOs as a secret Russian attack might accidentally set off war."

That the CIA does not hold a good track record on honesty and integrity is a matter of public record. Captain George Hunter White, a Narcotics agent, wrote of his CIA escapades in a letter to Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. "I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun… where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the all-highest?" (White ran ‘Operation Midnight Climax’ - a project run in the 1950s in co-operation with the CIA and the Army Chemical Corps, wherein unsuspecting male bar patrons in New York and San Francisco were given cocktails spiked with LSD, and thereafter taken by prostitutes to designated hotel rooms with their sexual acts filmed by U.S. intelligence agents from behind a two-way mirror.)

A retired agency caseworker with twenty years experience stated of his work, "I never gave a thought to legality or morality, Frankly I did what worked."

William (Wild Bill) Donovan, President Roosevelt’s Co-ordinator of Information (Appointed 11 July 1941 by Roosevelt to this post, and later as Director of Strategic Services, 13 June 1942. Placed on active duty and appointed Brigadier General in US Army, 24 March 1943; Promoted to Major General, 10 November 1944), recruited a Cornell graduate from Boston named Stanley Lovell. Lovell described his work as follows: "What I have to do is to stimulate the Peck’s Bad Boy beneath the surface of every American scientist and say to him, ‘throw all your normal law-abiding concepts out of the window. Here’s a chance to raise merry hell. Come help me raise it."

Even President Truman went on record as stating about his own creation: "I think that it was a mistake. And if I’d known what was going to happen, I never would have done it … but it got out of hand … now as nearly as I can make out, those fellows in the CIA don’t just report on wars and the like, they go out and make their own and there is nobody to keep track of what they are up to. They spend billions of dollars on stirring up trouble so they will have something to report on. They’ve become … it’s become a government of all its own and all secret. They just don’t have to report to anybody … The people have got a right to know what those birds are up to. … You’ve got to keep an eye on the military at all times, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s birds in the Pentagon or the birds in the CIA."

The CIA has also been linked to a number of incidents that indicate that involvement in the UFO phenomenon is a risky and unhealthy business. Consider the case of the late Dr. Morris K. Jessup, a professional astronomer and author of books on UFOs who suggested that there were UFO bases under the oceans. On 20th April 1959 he was found dead, having apparently committed suicide.

Then there was Dr. James E. McDonald, a senior physicist at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and Professor at the Department of Meteorology, University of California. He became a speaker and writer on the subject of UFOs and was noted to be critical of the US Air Force’s handling of the situation. In an article in Saga Magazine it was claimed that McDonald "privately discussed, in his last years, the possibility that alien beings were not only present on this planet but were systematically taking over top posts in the government and military."

On 13th June 1971, McDonald’s body was found in the desert north of Tucson, Arizona, having allegedly committed suicide.

Then there was Professor René Hardy, a world-renowned scientist and inventor with over 250 patents to his name in the fields of electronics, radio, television, ultrasonics and optics. His interests included Ufology and interstellar navigation.

On 12th June 1972, the Professor was found dead with a bullet in his head, and a revolver in his hand just two days, it is claimed, before he was to announce an important announcement in the field of space phenomenon (41). At his funeral, six tall men attended that no-one appeared to know and although photographs were taken of all present, these six men did not appear in the photographs (42). (Being an astronaut has also proved dangerous, with an incredibly high figure 11% of all astronauts that had worked for NASA being dead as of 31st March 1997 (43).)

Events at Maury Island also give us a clue to CIA involvement in the UFO phenomenon. Indeed the incident’s critical player, Fred Crisman had a mysterious background. It is believed that he worked for the OSS (the forerunner to the CIA) during the Second World War. He was also a veteran of Operation Paperclip.

Intelligence sources also confirm that he was a member of a secret fraternity of former intelligence officials. Other sources claim that he was involved in gunrunning and had strong links with organised crime; two activities which held a mutually inclusive relationship at the time.

According to FBI records on Crisman, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act and on file at the Assassination Archives & Research Centre (AAC) in Washington, D.C., Crisman was a Captain in the Army Air Corps and had seen active service during the Second World War. From 20th March 1946 to 31st March 1947 he was employed as a ‘special investigator’ on veteran’s matters for the State of Washington.

At some point between 31st March 1947 and 21st August 1947, Crisman was either appointed as a Harbour Patrol worker, or more likely as there are no records of him in this position (although this is not to say he didn’t hold that job) he collected and sold salvage.

Crisman’s activities can then be traced to 21st August 1947 when the FBI carried out a security check on him for an unspecified position with the Atomic Energy Commission – although Crisman never took up the post according to the files. (Note: There was an alleged UFO crash on the Mexican side of the Texas/Mexican border on 6th December 1950. The object hit the ground at such high speed that very little wreckage could be found but what was found was taken to the Atomic Energy Commission.)

His life then became something of a confusing puzzle. He was involved in a government programme helping gypsies, (and it is interesting to note that some of the scientists brought to the US under Operation Paperclip had used gypsies for experimentation.) He was later listed as the president of a car lot and an official of at least half a dozen companies that could not be traced to any given addresses; he held a right-wing talk radio show on KAYE Radio in Puyallup, WA, under the pseudonym Jon Gold (the same name he used to write a semi-autobiography novel ‘Murder of a City’). He is recorded as having been an industrial psychologist for Boeing and he was a bishop in the ‘Universal Life Church’, a shady organisation which seems to have had ties with the CIA, and whose members included old Bay of Pigs veterans such as David Ferrie. (Jim Garrison, District Attorney of New Orleans, believed this ‘church’ and others was merely a front for the CIA, a theme he expanded upon in a memo he wrote to Jonathon Blackmer, an investigator for the select House Committee in the 1970s into Kennedy’s assassination.)

In 1968, Garrison, subpoenaed Fred Crisman for his investigation into President Kennedy’s death. Garrison strongly believed that Crisman was connected in some crucial way to the men Garrison was trying to indict for Kennedy’s assassination.

This subpoena identified Crisman as a radio announcer in Tacoma and its associated press release stated "Our information indicates that since the early 1960s [Crisman] has made many trips to the New Orleans and Dallas areas in connection with his undercover work for that part of the warfare industry engaged in the manufacture of what is termed, in military language, a ‘hardware’ – meaning those weapons sold to the US Government that are uniquely large and expensive."

When Gary Cornwell, Bob Buras and Mike Ewing for the Select Committee on Assassinations interviewed Garrison on 11th August 1978 at his office at the Federal Courthouse in New Orleans, Garrison stated that he viewed Crisman as an important figure, who he would like to investigate further. He stated that Crisman had apparent CIA connections, as well as important right wing connections – and money.

Crisman was later interviewed for four hours by Garrison’s team. In the 95th Congress at the hearings into select committee on assassinations it was suggested that Crisman was one of the three tramps at Dealy Plaza (46).

Garrison later recorded his conclusions about Crisman in a lengthy hand-written memo to Blackmer. "I suggest the only reasonable conclusion is that he was (and probably is, if still around) [he wasn’t, having died on 10th December 1975], an operative at a deep cover level in a long-range, clandestine, intelligence mission directly (in terms of our national intelligence paranoia) related to maintaining national security… Crisman emerges as an operative at a supervisory level … acquired by the apparatus to carry out the menial jobs that are needed to push a current mission forward, a middle man - in the final analysis – between the mechanics who eliminate, and the handy men, who otherwise support a termination mission, on one hand, and the distant, far removed, deep submerged command level on the other."

Operation Paperclip did not become public knowledge until 1973, but Garrison almost compromised it when he arrested a contact of Crisman’s, Clay Shaw, on charges of conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Major Clay Shaw, formerly of the OSS (the forerunner of the CIA), the spy who went on to become general manager of New Orleans’s International Trade Mart, an import-export concern with a number of former European war criminals on its board of Directors.

Shaw, who after the Second World War rose to deputy chief of staff at a detainment camp for Nazi POWs, met Werner von Braun after von Braun abandoned Peenemünde and travelled south to join the American forces in Germany close to the French border. Clay maintained his relationship with von Braun over the years through their mutual connection with the ‘Defence Industrial Security Command’ (DISC), an operational arm of the counterespionage division of the FBI and his involvement in Operation Paperclip.

At Shaw’s trial Garrison was unable to provide clear evidence that he had ties to the CIA, and also had his star witness, David Ferrie found dead just before he was to testify. Shaw was subsequently acquitted on 1st March 1969 by a Grand Jury. He died on 14th August 1974, in what Garrison considered mysterious circumstances.

Documents that became available in 1977 confirmed that Shaw had worked for the CIA since 1949. He had also been in business with former Nazis and European fascists involved in several CIA-supported covert operations throughout Europe. As noted above, there is strong evidence that he had been a member of the OSS, and he certainly worked for a senior OSS officer who was involved in Operation Paperclip.

It appears that Crisman and Shaw knew each other well. Certainly that is what Garrison believed. One of Garrison’s informants stated that Crisman was "the first person Clay called after being told he was in trouble." The same source claimed that Crisman "flies to New Orleans steadily. 1964, eleven times. 1965, 17 times, 199, 32 times, 1967, 24 times ... he seems to have no income and certainly spends a large sum of money on air travel."

It seems remarkable that a man who was working for the forerunner of the CIA, then a special investigator for the State of Washington, reduced to scavenging for salvage, then was almost employed by the Atomic Energy Commission (which had covert UFO connections), before becoming involved in other covert CIA activities, and later being seen as having a role in the assassination of President Kennedy, could have been an innocent bystander to the alleged UFO incident at Maury Island. More likely he used his information regarding Paperclip to get back into the covert intelligence operation. It is likely that it was Crisman who was contacting the press to alert them to Arnold’s presence and the nature of his enquiries.

UFOs continued to be reported throughout this period. Then, during the first three nights of August 1965, literally millions of people in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and neighbouring states witnessed one of the most spectacular wave of UFO sightings ever recorded.

These events were not only observed in the sky, but were also tracked by radar and witnessed by jet liners. Of course the official debunking strategy was swiftly set in place: the sightings were merely "four stars in the constellation of Orion (4." Unfortunately, this explanation was cobbled together too hastily for, as astronomers pointed out, Orion was not actually visible at that time in the Western Hemisphere. Oh.

Then the lights went out over an area of 80,000 square miles, followed by another blackout on 9th November 1965 termed the ‘Great Northeast Blackout.’ UFOs had already been reported that night over Niagara, Syracuse and Manhattan, and it was subsequently muted that this activity might have tripped the relay at the Ontario Hydro Commission.

In January 1966, the USAF continued to make expensive credibility mistakes. There had been a sighting of a UFO over Wanaque Reservoir in New Jersey. "A special Helicopter with a bright light on it" explained the Air Force. "A special helicopter with a bright light on it?" challenged the press. "No." The Air Force admitted, actually there hadn’t been any helicopter – let alone one with a bright light on it - in the Wanaque area that night .

The Air Force’s credibility continued to slump, with increasingly obscure explanations being offered for reported incidents. On one occasion on 25th March 1966 a truck driver, Frank Mannor, and his family witnessed seeing an object with pulsating lights hovering over a swamp behind their house. Patrolman Robert Hunawill arrived at the scene and confirmed that a "strange lighted object" hovered over his patrol car before joining three other "objects" moving across the swamp. The object was then observed by 52 independent witnesses, including a dozen police officers.

Project Blue Book sent in its top scientific advisor, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, to investigate. "Its swamp gas [known as ‘foxfire’]" he declared. Mannor retorted "I’m just a simple fellow, but I seen what I seen and nobody’s going to tell me different. That wasn’t no old foxfire or hulla-billusion. It was an object." (Hynek later stated that this contrived explanation marked the lowest point in his career.)

This episode fuelled growing concern at all levels that the Air Force and the CIA were conspiring to conceal the truth about UFOs from the American public. One of Michigan’s state representatives in Congress, minority leader Gerald Ford, later to become President on the impeachment of Richard Nixon, returned to Washington in March 1966 and demanded a ‘full-blown’ congressional investigation of events. The ‘Christian Science Monitor’, a journal with no previous involvement in the UFO phenomena considered that the Michigan sightings had "deepened the mystery" of UFOs and it was "time for the scientific community to conduct a thorough and objective study of the ‘unexplainable’".

of the
Flying Saucers

Site Meter

Condon Study Falls Short

Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects conducted by the University of Colorado, edited by Daniel S. Gillmor
April 14, 1969

Reviewed by Robert M. L. Baker Jr.

This half-million-dollar, 965-page report probably represents the ultimate case against the UFO "cult" – in fact, it was to be the last scientific word on that controversial subject. But, paradoxically, the report contains some evidence suggesting that the UFO phenomenon should be studied further.

It is an unfortunate feature of the report that the most provocative and unexplained UFO sightings are virtually hidden between extensive discussions of explained cases and often superfluous technical background material. For example, it is not until page 164 that the first detailed study of a truly interesting, unexplained sighting appears. In fact, the very intriguing sightings made by several astronauts are buried behind 85 percent of this section, most of which is concerned with irrelevant details of astronautics.

Scientific reports are seldom burdened with detailed studies of those blind alleys that produced little or no useful data - yet the Cordon report shuffles explained and unexplained cases at random, in what seems to be an almost contrived manner - and this tactic confuses or diverts all but the most dedicated reader.

If after a preliminary investigation it appeared that some UFO observations could not be easily explained, they should nevertheless have been highlighted in some way Then the explained cases should have been appended in order to show how an unexplained case might be rationalized through its similarity to one that is already understood.

The real crux of the matter, finally, would be the analysis of W. K. Hartmann, who discusses the question "Are misinterpretation and mis-reporting sufficiently common as to make credible the assertion that the entire UFO phenomenon, or at least the residua of unidentified cases, is the result of these processes (plus deliberate hoaxes)?"

But where is Hartmann's crucial question finally treated? It is practically lost in mid-volume - on pages 567 to 590. A critical conclusion is made there: that the truly unexplained sightings total less than 2 percent of all UFO sightings. This, at least, is a factual basis for many of Condon's preliminary remarks. But Hartmann's analyses should have been expanded within the context of unexplained sightings - not in the context of explained cases.

Furthermore, there is presumably somewhere in this study a detailed quantitative verification of Condon's contention that "... no intelligent life elsewhere outside of our solar systems has any possibility of visiting earth in the next 10,000 years." But so far I have been unable to find any comprehensive analysis to support that figure. It should have been recognized that the 10,000-year quarantine on the earth and Hartmann's statistics are both vital aspects of this study as long as there are still unexplained UFO sightings.

One can appreciate R. V. Jones's remark (page 932) that "they [UFOs] were either a fantasy or an incorrect identification or a rare and unrecognized phenomenon and while I commend any genuine search for new phenomena, little short of a tangible relic would dispel my skepticism of flying saucers." However, the counter-argument is that an incorrect identification of a rare and unrecognized phenomenon may be the clue to the discovery of a new phenomenon. These "new phenomena" need not necessarily be classified as flying saucers transporting intelligent extraterrestrial life; they could be some new form of atmospheric plasma, entering comets, or similar oddities.

Indeed, it would seem to be of basic scientific value to determine if there were a reasonably high probability that some new phenomena are at work in the unexplained UFO observations. The next logical step would be to see if a consistent pattern to these observations exists, and then to provide a set of hypotheses that might explain them.

Of course, the Condon group was not expected to provide such hypotheses - but in view of its claim of insufficient data it might have suggested new data-collection techniques for closing this data gap.

In sum, the veracity of most of the study seems to be beyond question - the Condon group has gathered and analyzed a significant subset of the significant facts bearing on the UFO question. Moreover, the group has presented important (although hard to find) evidence that seems to justify scientific investigation along many general and specialized frontiers. Therefore, it is not the facts that are subject to criticism, but rather their organization and interpretation.

Robert M. L. Baker Jr., teaches at the University of California at Los Angeles and is a senior scientist at Computer Sciences Corp. His specialty is aerospace dynamics.

Condon, Dr. Edward U. Final Report of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects Conducted by the University of Colorado under Contract to the United States Air Force (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1969). Online version.