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Volume 29

The Skeptics UFO Newsletter

Philip J. Klass

September 1, 1994

This volume is available as a PDF file. Download »

FUFOR’s New Roswell Report By Karl Pflock Affirms SUN’s Criticism of Randle/Schmitt’s New Crashed-Saucer Book Scenario

Karl Pflock’s 189-page report “Roswell In Perspective,” recently published by the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR), might have been the definitive work on the subject were it not for Pflock’s long and strong desire to “believe in UFOs.” This prompts him to ignore hard evidence and take a few speculative leaps into the “wild blue yonder.” Despite this, his report generally is more factual and insightful than any major work previously published on the subject—in SUN’s opinion. Pflock characterizes it as an “interim report.”

Although FUFOR funded part of Pflock’s nearly two-year research effort, the report carries a disclaimer that “The conclusions, opinions and ideas expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Fund for UFO Research, its officers, or its board members.” A copy of the spiral-bound report can be obtained for $28, which includes postage, from FUFOR, Box 277, Mount Rainier, Md. 20712.

Pflock’s account of his personal interviews with Frank J. Kaufmann and Jim Ragsdale, two of the "first-hand witnesses” on whom Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt rely so heavily for their “new Roswell crash scenario,” provides convincing evidence that the two men enjoy spinning tall tales. [SUN #28/July 1994] Pflock’s report “almost concurs” with the conclusion of respected UFO-researcher Robert G. Todd, first disclosed in SUN #28, that the unusual debris found by rancher “Mac” Brazel resulted from the crash of a balloon-borne radar target involved in the then Top Secret Project Mogul program. Pflock says, “It is all but certain that at least the great majority if not all of what was found at the debris field...was the wreckage of a huge balloon [from the] Top Secret, highly sensitive Project Mogul.” (Emphasis added.)

Implausible Scenario: Both Balloon And UFO Crash Near Roswell

But Pflock is unable to resist believing the tales of recovered ET bodies told by two of Randle/Schmitt’s witnesses. This prompts him to speculate that some of the debris found by Brazel might have come from an extraterrestrial craft which either collided with the Project Mogul balloon or which may have made a violent maneuver to avoid a collision, causing both the balloon and the UFO to crash. SUN finds this Pflock scenario as flawed as the new one proposed by Randle/Schmitt (R/S).

Pflock has an impressive background and credentials. Following graduation from San Jose State University, where he majored in philosophy and political science, Pflock joined the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington in 1966 where he was employed until 1972. Pflock, who says he has had “a virtually lifelong interest in UFOs,” became active in NICAP, then the nation’s largest pro-UFO group whose headquarters was in Washington D.C. During 1983-85, Pflock served as a Special Assistant for Defense, Space, and Science & Technology on the staff of Congressman Ken Kramer, then a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. From 1985 to 1989, Pflock was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, serving as Deputy Director for Operational Test and Evaluation of new weapon systems.

Pflock is married to Mary Martinek, a senior member of the staff of Congressman Steve Schiff of Albuquerque, who in late 1993 asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to launch an investigation into the Roswell “crashed-saucer incident.” [SUN #26/Mar. 1994.] Before Martinek (and Pflock) moved to Albuquerque last spring where she now heads up Schiff’s local office, Martinek served as Schiff’s liaison with GAO for its Roswell investigation. It seems safe to assume that a copy of Pflock’s report has been supplied to GAO.

“Agnostic” In Crashed-Saucerland—With Preconceived Cover-up

Bias

In the introduction, Pflock says he began his Roswell investigation as an “agnostic,” but admits that he had “a strong suspicion that whatever was found was not the remains of a weather balloon and its radar target—the official ‘explanation'—and that military authorities who acted on the discovery apparently felt constrained to cover up the true nature of what was found.” Guess what: Pflock reports, “My research and that of others has confirmed these suspicions.” Pflock claims he “has uncovered important new information which lends additional support to the crashed flying saucer, unidentified flying object (UFO) hypothesis.” SUN challenges this claim.

Pflock says he has “spent uncounted hours digging into the files of and consulting with researchers at the Center for UFO Studies, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the University of New Mexico’s Institute of Meteoritics, the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Smithsonian Institution, the Center for Air Force History, the National Personnel Records Center, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the International UFO Museum and Research Center at Roswell ...and many other institutions and organizations.”

Pflock makes only brief, cryptic reference at the end of his report to important once highly classified documents which deny his conspiracy beliefs:

Marcel’s 32-Year-Old Recollections As Fame Approached

One of the most insightful portions of Pflock’s report is a transcript of a tape recorded interview with Maj. Jesse Marcel, conducted by Bob Pratt on Dec. 8, 1979, for an article pub-lished in the National Enquirer on Feb. 28, 1980. (Marcel had accompanied rancher “Mac” Brazel back to the Foster ranch, which he managed, on July 7, 1947, to pick up the unusual debris Brazel had reported finding.) Two years prior to the Pratt interview, Marcel had been an obscure, retired TV repairman. Now, after having been "discovered” in early 1978 by UFO-lecturer/crashed-saucer researcher Stanton T. Friedman, Marcel was being interviewed for a major story in the National Enquirer, and would be featured in a soon-to-be- released movie “UFOs Are Real,” and in the upcoming book “The Roswell Incident,” co-authored by Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore.

Marcel’s description of the debris recovered in 1947 included the following: “We found some metal, small bits of metal, but mostly we found some material that’s hard to describe....small members, solid members that you could not bend or break, but it didn’t look like metal. It looked more like wood....perhaps 3/8 of an inch by 1/4 of an inch thick....None of them were very long....Weightless....just like you handle balsa wood....other stuff there that looked very much like parchment....It came to earth, but not from earth.”

Pflock points out one discrepancy in Marcel’s recollections when he told Pratt: “I wrote the very report President Truman read on the air declaring that Russia had exploded an atomic device.” Pflock notes that Truman did not broadcast the announcement, but that it was issued as a White House press release.

SUN Discovers Other Errors In Marcel’s Recollections

Apparently nobody thought to tell Marcel not to talk....Or he completely forgot. In 1978, when Marcel began to talk to Friedman, Moore, Pratt and others, nobody thought to tell him to seal his lips.

Pflock’s Ambivalent Speculations

In the next to last chapter in Pflock’s report, titled “The Bandwagon Effect,” he notes that high- profile UFO cases bring forth spurious tales from “publicity seekers and others who want to be part of the excitement.” He documents this “Bandwagon Effect” by analyzing the tales of two key “first-hand witnesses” in the new Randle/Schmitt book (R/S #2), having earlier demolished the credibility of the tales of two others, Kaufmann and Ragsdale. [Tens of millions of TV viewers saw a fanciful account of the Roswell incident on “Unsolved Mysteries."]

But Pflock accepts the tales told by two other R/S “first-hand witnesses” (former mortician Glenn Dennis and former Sgt. Robert Slusher) that “human-like but strange bodies” were recovered.” If Pflock had complete confidence in the tale told by Dennis and the description of the “strange bodies” allegedly given to him by a nurse who allegedly participated in an autopsy, he could have no doubts that the bodies were ET. Yet in the concluding pages of Pflock’s report he concedes “they may not have been of unearthly origin.” (Emphasis added.) But he offers no possible “earthly” explanation. [In a subsequent issue SUN will cite flaws in the tales of Dennis and Slusher which suggest they also are fanciful.]

What are Pflock’s conclusions? “Finally, if the U.S. Army Air Force recovered dead beings and wreckage not of this earth on New Mexico’s high desert in July 1947—and I believe there is a reasonable possibility it did—what became of them?....To date, no physical evidence, documentation, or credible testimony has been brought forward which reveals or even suggests a clue to what became of the Roswell debris and bodies. In fact, at least three official post-Roswell and formerly classified documents dealing with flying saucers specifically note a lack of physical evidence of their existence.” (Emphasis added.)

PFLOCK OFFERS A POSSIBLE EXPLANATION: “After receiving the Roswell wreckage and cadavers, carefully selected teams of experts feverishly went to work, seeking to learn the origin of this earthshaking discovery and unravel the scientific and technological secrets it embodied as quickly as possible. Something went wrong and the wreckage was [completely] destroyed....Not wanting to risk being pilloried as incompetents or worse, those involved disposed of all record of their work and its unfortunate outcome.” (Emphasis added.)

What happened to the ET bodies? Pflock offers two possible scenarios: “Despite Herculean efforts to preserve the cadavers, they quickly decomposed. Since there was nothing unique about their chemical components, no proof of their extraterrestrial origin remained.” Pflock’s alternative explanation: “After the spacecraft wreckage was destroyed, the biological teams continued their work, but other than confirming the bodies’ extraordinary nature, nothing more was learned. The bodies were put in storage, labeled as anthropological specimens or the like, and those who worked on them went on to other projects. Over time, as those who knew of the bodies retired and died, institutional memory of what they were faded and winked out.” (Emphasis added.)

SUN suggests another explanation: There was no crash of an ET craft. Tales told by some persons, after widespread publicity given to the Roswell Incident on national TV shows, simply demonstrate the “Bandwagon Effect.” SUN admits its scenario is a bit “wild blue yonder.”

Pflock notes that Jerome Clark, editor of the International UFO Reporter published by CUFOS, has characterized the Roswell incident as the “most important case in UFO history.” Pflock notes: “If the wreckage of an alien craft and the bodies of its crew were recovered...Roswell is the event of the millennium....if it is proven a flying saucer and aliens were NOT involved, how UFOlogy deals with this disappointing outcome will have profound and lasting consequences for the field.” (Emphasis added.) SUN disagrees, because it is impossible to PROVE a NEGATIVE, and so much easier to believe in “Government Cover-up,” as Pflock himself demonstrates.

MUFON Official Admits 25 Years’s Research Has Yielded NO Answers

MUFON commemorated its 25th anniversary at its recent conference in Austin, Tex., and John F. Schuessler, MUFON’s Deputy Director for Administration, summarized the highlights of its quarter century of research. Schuessler noted that when MUFON was formed in 1969, its objective was “to seek answers to four basic questions:

Schuessler said that although MUFON has “amassed a vast data base of UFO information, studies, documents and firsthand accounts” during the past 25 years, he admitted that MUFON has not been able to find the answer to even one of its four questions.

SUN predicts: when MUFON celebrates its 100th anniversary, Schuessler’s successor will report still no answers. (One of the characteristic “fingerprints” of pseudoscience is that regardless of the amount of time and effort spent in research, there is no increased understanding of the alleged phenomenon and it forever remains an enigma.)

Hopkins Finds New Witness For Linda Abduction Case

One of the highlights of the recent MUFON conference was the presentation by Linda Napolitano ["Cortile"], the Manhattan housewife whose “Beam Me Up, Scotty” tale of abduction has been characterized as the most important UFO-abduction case of all time by abduction guru Budd Hopkins. [SUN #17/Sept. 1992] Linda revealed that Budd Hopkins had located another (alleged) witness to her (alleged) UFO- abduction. The woman’s account, Linda said, “suggests that while driving south on the FDR Drive with her companion, their car slowed and probably stopped. She saw a fire-red object hovering outside of an apartment near the Brooklyn Bridge in late November 1989 at about 3 a.m. She and her companion might have been switched off during my abduction.” Alas, Linda reported, three days before her MUFON talk, the new woman witness died. Linda also revealed for the first time that the three ETs who abducted her left behind two others who remained in her darkened bedroom until she returned.

Although Linda claimed to be ill-at-ease in public speaking, she so enjoyed the spotlight that she frequently departed from her prepared remarks with humorous ad libs. As a result, she exhausted her one-hour allotted time barely half way through her prepared talk. Although Linda kept her cool when describing her (alleged) abduction by ETs, her account of (allegedly) being abducted by two government agents evoked several tears and a handkerchief to dry them. One attendee commented: “She deserves an Academy Award for that performance.” Linda will be the keynote speaker at Tim Beckley’s conference on New Age, Alien Agenda and Cosmic Conspiracies to be held in Mesa, Az., Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

Stanton Friedman’s “Small” Oversight

This year’s MUFON conference proceedings were dedicated to UFO-lecturer Stanton T. Friedman. The honor is bestowed in recognition of “the person who has made the most outstanding contribution to the Mutual UFO Network during the past years (sic) in advancing the scientific study of the UFO phenomenon and demonstrating positive leadership, as determined by the MUFON Executive Committee.” In accepting the honor, Friedman said that “If I had been invited to speak at this conference, I would have spoken about fraud in UFOlogy...from [Dr.] Carl Sagan to Guy Kirkwood to Bob Lazar....I've talked about Phil Klass at the previous (conference).”

Friedman forgot to include Gerald Anderson, featured in Friedman’s book “Crash At Corona,” who claimed that as a small boy he and his family stumbled across a crashed saucer and ET bodies in New Mexico in 1947. As proof, Anderson provided Friedman with what he claimed was his uncle’s 1947 diary. Even when forensic analysis revealed that the ink used in the diary did not become commercially available until the early 1970s, Friedman continued to endorse Anderson’s tale. More recently, Anderson has admitted forging another document as claimed by Randle/Schmitt. [SUN #20/Mar. 1993]

Dr. Mack “Lets His Hair Down” At Rocky Mountain UFO Conference

Harvard psychiatrist and UFO-abduction guru Dr. John Mack, speaking to a sympathetic audience at Dr. Leo Sprinkle’s Rocky Mountain Conference on UFO-abductions and reincarnation, June 23-25, in Laramie, Wyo., candidly admitted that his recent book and his views have not been warmly received by leaders of the UFO movement. Mack said the “mainstream UFO community [doesn't] like the fact that I won’t stay with what they consider the nuts-and-bolts...UFOs [reports], photos, facts and implants and that kind of thing, but I get off into past-lives [reincarnation], alternative realities and that kind of thing.”

The problem, Mack explained, is that “I don’t know where to draw the line....Once you get into this phenomenon and you try to report...[what abductees say] it just doesn't seem to me to make sense to say ‘yeah, the hybrid thing [hybrid Earthling-ETs], that’s real. But their past life in which they went through death as a martyr, that’s not real.’ I don’t know how to do that so I tend to document the whole thing. So I antagonize the UFO community which is crazy to receive objective scientific legitimization...” Mack admitted that this also has led to “differences” with Budd Hopkins and his principal deputy, David Jacobs. Mack said: “David Jacobs will say the real thing is the hybrid program and sexual stuff, and the rest of this stuff—past lives and all that—that’s sort of far out. That’s not the real thing.”

Mack Reports Two Major Discoveries

Mack has made two important discoveries in the field of UFO-abductions. One is “Dual Identities"— that “abductees” can simultaneously be both Earthlings and ETs. He reported that one of his male abductees "was so upset because in his Alien self he was having a reproductive sexual encounter with a human who was taken against her will. His human self morally objects to that so he has this problem of integrating what his Alien self is doing with his human self....There are many situations where the people feel that they are both Alien and human...” But a much more significant discovery reported by Mack is that “the hybrid program isn’t going very well....They seem listless, they don’t do very well. Many of the hybrids die.”

[SUN Comment: If UFOs have been abducting Earthlings for many decades to produce a superior race of hybrid creatures, but their efforts have been such a failure, SUN recommends that ETs try another populated planet for their genetic experiment.]

“A Credulous Man Is A Deceiver” — Sir Francis Bacon

The April 25 issue of Time revealed that Mack had credulously accepted as fact a tall tale of abduction told to him by Donna Bassett, while seemingly under hypnosis. Bassett “recalled” that during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, she had been abducted and taken aboard a flying saucer where she found President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. [SUN #28/July 1994.] Bassett reported that Khrushchev was so distraught at the prospect of nuclear war that he was in tears, so she sat on his lap and consoled him.

At the recent Rocky Mountain conference, Mack said the Time article “claimed that she [Donna Bassett] hoaxed me by pretending she was an abductee and that I believed her. Now, she was wrong on every count. First of all, I’m not convinced that originally she was a hoaxer. I think originally she was an abductee.” But Mack commented that Donna Bassett’s “husband used to work with Philip Klass,” implying that SUN’s editor was involved in the hoax.

THE FACTS: Ed Bassett and I did work in the Washington Bureau of Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine in the late 1970s where he was employed for about a year before being named to head our Paris Bureau. In the early 1980s, Bassett left for greener pastures. Until Ed and Donna Bassett called me on Jan. 9, 1994, to inform me of their involvement with Mack, I had never once spoken to Donna and had talked with Ed only once in the last dozen years, when he called to consult me for an article he was writing dealing with radar.

Whitley Strieber Plans A Comeback

Hold onto your hats—Whitley Strieber hopes to stage a comeback into the UFO-abduction field with a new book. Strieber’s book “Communion,” published in early 1987, made him a millionaire and helped launch the UFO-abduction cult. But his follow-on book “Transformation” was far less successful, and the movie “Communion” bombed. His decision to bow out of the field in early 1991 was prompted by the fact that the leaders of the UFO movement treated him as a too-far-out pariah and embraced his arch-rival, Budd Hopkins.

When Strieber closed down his quarterly “Communion Letter” in 1991, he wrote a bitter editorial blast: “The so-called UFO-ologists (sic) are probably the cruelest, nastiest and craziest people I have ever encountered. Their interpretation of the visitor experience is rubbish...The ‘abduction reports’ that they generate are not real. They are artifacts of hypnosis and cultural conditioning.” Strieber wisely observed: "To have a ‘typical abduction encounter’ you must almost certainly first be exposed to UFO stories and literature and/or be hypnotized by an ‘expert’ who has himself been exposed to, or advocates, this belief system....Hypnotism by UFO experts and the psychologists who support them does not open the door to the truth. It opens the door to fantasies based on the modern folklore of the alien and the flying saucer—and it opens the door to fear.” (Emphasis added.)

Then Strieber lapsed into ambivalent mysticism akin to that of Dr. Mack: “Ironically, if aliens are here, we are not going to find them in the sky. Our own minds are where we will find them, for the mind is the door to their world....It is perfectly possible that they are from the future, from within us and from another world all at once.” [SUN #11/Sept. 1991]

Persons who recently have written to Strieber have received a form-letter reply saying he plans to publish a new book next year, titled: “Beyond Communion: The Coming Moment of Contact.” In the letter Strieber says: "On my last television appearance, I said that I didn’t think the visitors were aliens, but that didn’t mean that I thought they were some sort of dream....What the visitors are is unknown, and we are never going to move this ahead unless we can learn to face them with empty minds.” (Emphasis added.)

Short Shrift:

NOTE: Opinions expressed in SUN are those of its Editor—unless otherwise noted—and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which he is affiliated—or his spouse. We thank Dr. Gary Posner for help in proofreading.

Philip J. Klass

Phil Klass was a UFO researcher with a background in electrical engineering. He was author of seven books on UFOs, including UFOs Explained and UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game. He was also editor of the SUN newsletter, a UFO-related publication.