Saturday, June 15, 2013

Society for Scientific Exploration 2013 Annual Meeting, post five.

Still cruising across the military intelligence handling of UFOs problem.... here is a thumbnail on where we are in mid-1952:

1). The Air Force, despite public comment to the contrary,was quite concerned about these violations of American airspace about which we apparently can't even detect in a timely manner let alone do anything about;

2). The Pentagon was now full of highly placed officers who were taking this issue very seriously; this included the Assistant Director of Intelligence, who had seen a UFO himself, and the spooky Stefan Possony, the psychological warfare expert with an office desk right in General Samford's own DI spaces;

3). Hypotheses for the nature of these objects in the reports were: a]. they don't exist; everyone is making mistake after mistake; b]. these things are ours, but someone isn't bothering to tell The Pentagon about them, despite being directly asked; c]. these things are Soviet very high-tech devices of a completely unsuspected development, the breakthroughs required being very difficult to conceive; d]. these things are Soviet, but of technical capabilities less than what some of the reports might envision; they are tricky but more conventional than we think, and are likely some vast Soviet psychological warfare scheme; e). these things are exactly what they are reported to be and therefore beyond the current capability of Earth technology.

4). In 1952, despite some Pentagon analysts wanting to believe "a", the two prominent guesses were "d" and "e";

5). Top Pentagon operatives like Colonels Smith and Adams, Major Fournet, and several others [according to Ed Ruppelt] favored "e". General Garland favored "d", while fearing the small chance of "c". Stefan Possony rejected "c" completely, but worried about "d", while thinking "e" a real possibility. Over at Blue Book, the boys were keeping a low profile on hypothesizing. Members of the old dispersed SIGN group still thought "e", while Grudge persons still thought "a". Ruppelt was one of the most intriguing and misunderstood of the experts. He was certain that there were genuine UFO reports [that is genuinely mysterious and unidentifiable things in the sky] but absolutely refused to endorse that those things were "flying disks", whether some of the witnesses described them that way or not. Ed Ruppelt believed that if these things were truly disk-shaped flying objects with no technological accoutrements like wings, tails, rocketry-out-the-back etc, the they were extraterrestrial. But he would not cross that line in any conclusion, no matter how strong the case. His underlings [with one exception, Anderson Flues] were more like a bunch of goof-off college boys than analysts. They took nothing seriously except the next pretty girl they'd run into.

6). The general restrictive atmosphere within the military about spending essentially nothing on anything not related to nuclear warfare remained the firm "economic" background for all decisions.

It was into this exciting mush of mystery and concern that several important, linked things occurred. The consequences of these happenings changed UFO investigation and information manipulation forever, and not for the good. This sequence was, all too briefly, as follows:

A). The UFO phenomenon unleashed a tremendous flap which grew into such numbers that Edward Ruppelt fell a month behind in his logging/filing by mid-summer.

B). That flap culminated in a pair of "show-off" performances over the nation's capital almost as if thumbing its nose at us and the Air Force.

C). This uncontrollable airspace violation of the most sensitive airspace in the country had everybody alarmed right up to President Truman. Truman had been keeping tabs on the phenomenon for months through his main military advisor, General Landry. Landry gave Truman a briefing on UFOs each month. Without us knowing the exact orders, Truman gave Landry an urgent order to get CIA director General Walter Bedell Smith on the problem. What are these things and what can be done about them?

D). The CIA was interested in that very problem for several months, but now it had urgency. Wheels rolled the following day. The focus of the CIA activity was Dr. Marshall Chadwick, chief of the CIA's Office of Scientific Investigations. He, plus General Philip Strong, and rocket expert Frederick Durant became the three musketeers of this investigation, though other elements of the agency were involved.

E). On a separate track, MIT was getting extremely interested. Several heavyweight engineers, including people like Al Hill and George Valley, were trying to initiate a vast program of upgrading the radar detection technology and the national security network for detecting airspace violations. This project was to be part of the program of the Lincoln Labs. The unsolved UFO problem was looked upon as a widely obvious case of the complete failure of our current systems. Lincoln wanted to initiate or at least intimately support a new UFO research program entirely separate from the Air Force.

F). The none-higher-in-prestige Julius Stratton of MIT made direct contact with Chadwell to explore getting this done. Chadwell had begun his probe into UFOs believing that it was all smoke, but the more he learned, the more he became convinced that the phenomenon was not only real but potentially dangerous. Stratton and Chadwell reached common ground, and wheels were set in motion to get a preliminary meeting done which would establish this project under CIA auspices.

G). This plan got out to the rest of the services prior to an uber-important meeting meant to sanction the establishing meeting that Chadwell/Stratton had hoped for. Somewhere very high up in the Pentagon, great powers were exercised to apparently blast CIA director Smith about this seeming takeover of military turf. Heads didn't exactly roll, but plans did. Chadwell was reduced to accepting the idea that instead of a project-establishing meeting, we would have a panel of scientists reviewing the UFO potential threat to national security instead.

H). Thus arose, almost out of nowhere, the infamous Robertson Panel of January 1953.

Much has been written about this panel of scientists who were tasked to [deliberately] do no science. I'll only set the most germane [to my current topic] facts before you here.

1). The panelists were a Who's Who of physicists. None was any expert on the subject to be "studied". Only Robertson and Page had even read anything on the subject, and they only an article from the New Yorker magazine. This alone reveals that this was a farce.

2). But even though it was not known either to the people who would present to the panel, nor most of the panel themselves, the true reason and outcome of these "deliberations" was already set. This was not to be a panel of science about the nature of UFOs, but a fancy shadowshow aimed at stating why the phenomenon was dangerous whatever it was, and where exactly that danger lay, and what should the policy be to address this.

3). People like Ruppelt and Hynek, naive to the bone, thought that they were being invited to present data, scientific evidence. Both left the proceedings trying to rationalize what just happened with their naive suppositions. Ruppelt never figured it out, and it took Hynek 15 years to do so. Their information was just politely waved aside with almost no comment. Dewey Fournet brought his motions study to the panel and got the same treatment.

4). The only things to elicit even a modicum of interest were the two motion picture films [Tremonton, UT and Great Falls, MT] and the panel reacted to them like childish kids going to the Saturday Afternoon Matinee. Displaying them on some ad hoc surface the boys gathered about making instant conclusions and wisecracker remarks. And then dismissed them. The NPIC film analysts [the finest in the nation] were there to present their data. Complete stonewalled ignorance of their ideas issued from the panel. These NPIC analysts had spent hundreds of hours showing to their satisfaction that the imagery was not birds [Tremonton] nor jet exhausts [Great Falls]. Nothing from the panel. Just birds; just exhausts. The top analyst at NPIC, the legendary Art Lundahl, was at NPIC when those films were analyzed, and saw the results. He agreed with Neasham and Woo the technicians. Both films were of unknowns. The panel ho-hummed. Lundahl and many others have boggled at this arrogance.

5). But it wasn't arrogance. This was merely the result of the shadowshow. The real purpose of the panel was the national security threat. Indicating to the servant-level staff [Hynek, Ruppelt, Fournet et al] that there was nothing much to UFOs was part of what had to be done to get to the real result. That result was the need to convince EVERYONE that there wasn't much to UFOs. Why? Because THE MERE IDEA OF UFOS WAS THE DANGER.

UFOs themselves, whatever they might be [even Soviet], seemed incapable of inflicting any real damage on anything, and apparently hadn't even tried to do so. It was the idea of unknown things in the sky which was addling the American public. During the mid-summer flap, the public was alarmed enough that their calls to airbases clogged communication channels up to 45 minute delays --- plenty of time to begin a good real onslaught by the Soviets.

Americans were judged panicky, just like with the 1939 Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds. Sadly the CIA and military were correct in this, as Americans proved many times in later instances to panic and immediately go for their guns. The UFOs could also be used to create phony invasion probes, which when proved wrong would make persons who SHOULD be reporting such things less likely to expose themselves to ridicule while a real flight of the enemy came the next time.

So, in the end, this became a psychological warfare national security issue afterall. As you read the Robertson panel materials you enter a mystery. All these guys are scientists or engineers... none of them seem to have psychological warfare in their portfolios.

.... except one. Sitting to the side as a "guest", his name added in very light ink so that it cannot even be read in most versions of the released panel report, was .... wait for it ....

Stefan Possony.

There is no mention that Possony addressed the panel in the records. The "conclusions" of the panel though are the thoughts of a man just like him.

Thus began the concerted efforts over the next 15 years to remove the feeling of reality surrounding the UFOs. Serious concerns about airspace invasions were gradually successfully replaced by an all pervading unconcern involving stupidity invasions. Now UFOs= popculture stupidity is everywhere; real attempts to extricate anything resembling truth are swamped in swamp gas laughter.

We'll follow this transition into the late 1950s and 1960s next time.



  1. If in 1952 they were undecided about whether flying saucers were one of the five possibilities described above then doesn't that suggest they never recovered a crashed disk and bodies?

    And for fun, a Gallup poll from summer of 1947 on what the saucers are said:
    33% - don't know
    29% - imagination, mirage, etc.
    10% - hoax
    15% - U.S. secret weapon
    3% - weather forecasting device
    1% - Russian secret weapon
    2% - searchlights on airplanes
    9% - other explanations

    And a Gallup poll from spring 1950:
    32% - don't know
    23% - army or navy experiments, new weapon, etc.
    16% - optical illusion, pipedream, hoax, etc.
    6% - some kind of new airplane
    5% - comets, shooting stars, something from another planet
    3% - Russian weapon, something from Russia
    1% - weather devices
    3% - miscellaneous
    6% - no such thing
    6% - haven't heard about them

    1. The response to the Roswell enigma question requires one to understand a lot more about closed-box secrecy projects than your question implies. Even relatively "open" black projects like Skunk Works things were routinely held out of the awarenesses of all but a close group of technologists and their CIA overseers. Eisenhower ran a twenty-something person secret group think-tanking about Soviet War Strategy that even his National Security Council wasn't in on. The point is that secrecy occurs at all levels of tightness. It's up to you to decide whether something like the crashed disk would be so potentially Earth-shattering that almost no one but a handful would be "in" on it. It's your choice. One should not be too quick to make assumptions on this matter, given the ignorance we all have on the matter.

      I have very little difficulty imagining a very dark hole with this project in it, overseen by very few "handlers". Even then, the number of claimed leaks from the Black Box has been fairly constant over the years. Were they "real" leaks or bogus? Most of them were never followed and probably could not have been. If there was a Black tight Box, then quite a few people I've been talking about [almost 100% ] would not have known. Such a project would have a very small need-to-know list. In fact, rather than trying to use this line of reasoning to eliminate Roswell, one could just as easily say that powers very high up knew what the phenomenon was almost from the beginning and that's why they saw no need to spend dollars and personnel finding out what it was. When the phenomenon continued to fly and cause no threat, even the few who knew exactly what it was relaxed. They knew there was nothing they could do about it anyway, and breathed easier that we'd lucked out.

      I'm not selling the Foster Ranch for that scenario, but I am demonstrating that easy rejections of various hypotheses are more a product of our own lack of imagination than facts.

      Concerning the Gallup polls: what they show to me is a public naive and "clean" about extraterrestrial imagery, but still reporting what the USAF analysts found to be Earth-impossible things. Rather a nice supporting datapoint for the ETH.

  2. I'm with you, Mike, in maintaining a committed tolerance for ambiguity in regard to the Roswell incident. The official explanation -- which hasn't changed all that much since 1947 (it was a weather balloon, and everybody on site, being blind and stupid, failed to recognize it) -- begs too many questions to be taken seriously. The ET-crash interpretation has its own set of problems, though at least it is consonant with the testimony. But as far as I can tell, no development in post-World War II history (UFO-related or otherwise) requires the recovery of a crashed disc and bodies to account for its occurrence.

    I like the approach "UFOs and Government" takes: Roswell is certainly interesting, and questions remain, but it is not part of any narrative we can trace subsequently. Perhaps partly to maintain what little sanity is afforded me in my dotage, that is how I, too, understand the official history. I have yet to see, a small library of conspiracy-oriented books notwithstanding, a compelling contrary reading.

    1. Amen, my friend. Would you please get feeling really well so we can get together in September and then we'll grill Don on this again. After he has two Bell's Oberon's he'll tell all. Of course you'll probably have had three by then and won't be accurately listening.

      Ah well, such are the rigors of UFO research.

  3. "THE MERE IDEA OF UFOS WAS THE DANGER" so basically the US Gov found out these UFO phenomena are not doing anything to endanger USA in themselves but their effects (like clogging phonelines during wartime/attack) is the REAL danger ? I understand Ruppelt and Hynek are just pawns in this game, but is the 'dumbing down of UFO' / 'making believeing in UFO a stupid pastime' the motivation ?

    Seems to work well nowadays you dont see many USAF aircrews saying anything about UFOs. Are they bound by law not to say anything ? Did they still encounter unknown flying objects nowadays just as in the 1950s ?

  4. Prof do you know / have / seen the Theodolite UFO photo from White Sands that Ruppelt mentioned in his book ? IIRC Ruppelt said the 3 photos/movies that considered very good as an UNKNOWN is the Theodolite Photo from Whitesands, Tremonton and Montana photos/movies.

    1. I don't believe so. Early photos tend to be poor quality gun-camera things.

      Tremonton and Great Falls are totally different things... because the naval photo analysts at NPIC studied the best freshest film for the most intensive time and care and that's what they concluded. Anyone objecting to that is pretty arrogant to my mind.



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