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Volume 47

The Skeptics UFO Newsletter

Philip J. Klass

September 1, 1997

This volume is available as a PDF file. Download »

New USAF Roswell Report Relies Upon Questionable “Witnesses” To Support Its New “Dummy Explanation” For Tales Of ET Bodies

“The Roswell Report: Case Closed,” the USAF’s new 231-page report, may prove as embarrassing to the USAF as the press release issued 50 years earlier by the Roswell Army Air Field stating that it had recovered one of the “flying discs.” Not surprisingly, the new USAF report’s effort to explain a few accounts of seeing ET bodies was immediately dismissed as ridiculous by those who promote the crashed-saucer cover-up view and was challenged by much of the news media. But the new report also is viewed by some skeptics (but not all) as based on credulous conjecture which is likely to generate more allegations of "government cover-up."

The new Roswell Report was authored by Capt. James McAndrew, who helped research the first USAF Roswell Report released on Sept. 8, 1994, authored by Col. Richard L. Weaver, which provided hard evidence that the debris found by rancher “Mac” Brazel on June 14, 1947, was from a string of weather balloons, radar targets and instruments for a then Top Secret Project Mogul [SUN #30/Nov. 1994]. McAndrew co-authored with Weaver the follow-on USAF report in 1995 offering extensive details on the Project Mogul balloon program. McAndrew, now in his mid-30s and an officer in the Air Force Reserves, was assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force’s Declassification and Review Team.

During SUN’s first meeting with McAndrew in late 1994 following the release of the first USAF Roswell Report, he indicated that he then believed that a handful of (alleged) witnesses who claimed to have seen a crashed saucer and ET bodies were basically honest persons with flawed memories. McAndrew was convinced that their claims of having seen a crashed saucer and ET bodies in mid-1947 resulted from having seen “anthropomorphic” [human-like] dummies parachuted from high altitude balloons and recovered by the USAF in New Mexico in the mid/late 1950s. SUN challenged McAndrew’s view, pointing out that our own interviews with some of these alleged witnesses indicated that they were knowingly spinning tall tales. Still other alleged witnesses recently had been, or soon would be, exposed as spinners of tall tales by other Roswell researchers, as reported in SUN—copies of which were provided to McAndrew.


Discredited Gerald F. Anderson Is McAndrew’s Star Witness

In an effort to support the anthropomorphic dummy parachute test hypothesis, McAndrews provides a chart which lists 53 examples of some minor details, related by alleged ET-bodies witnesses, which seem to correlate with the appearance of one of the dummies or with USAF equipment or vehicles used to recover the dummies. Of these 53 examples, nearly two-thirds come from Gerald F. Anderson, who was a key witness cited in the book “Crash At Corona” by Stanton Friedman and Don Berliner, to substantiate their claim that a flying saucer crashed on the Plains of San Agustin—150 miles west of the Brazel ranch. McAndrew makes no mention of the fact that by early 1993, Anderson had been caught using counterfeit documents and falsehoods to support his crashed-saucer tale. (One of Anderson’s staunchest early supporters, UFOlogist John Carpenter, in an article published in the March 1993 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal, wrote: “One thing I know for certain, I can no longer trust anything my old friend Gerald Anderson wishes to tell me.” McAndrew seems far more trusting.)

McAndrew quotes Anderson as saying “they didn’t have a little finger,” and notes that sometimes one or more fingers on the anthropomorphic dummies would break off when they hit the ground. To reconcile Anderson’s claim that the creatures were no more than four or four and a half feet tall with the fact that most of the dummies were about 6 ft. tall, McAndrew rationalizes that the dummy’s legs broke off on impact. Yet none of his witnesses reported this notable detail. McAndrew cites Anderson’s account, that the creatures “were all wearing one-piece suits...a shiny silverish gray color,” as being similar to the flying suit worn by the dummies, and refers readers to Fig. 14 in his report. But McAndrew omits Anderson’s statement that he “saw no zippers, no buttons.” Fig. 14 clearly shows a large zipper running down the front of the dummy’s flight suit.


Another Key McAndrew Witness: Jim Ragsdale

Another of McAndrew’s key witnesses, cited in 21% of the examples used to support his dummy hypothesis, is Jim Ragsdale, who was a key witness for Roswell researchers Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt until he drastically changed his crashed-saucer tale with a new sworn statement on April 15, 1995. McAndrew opts to quote from Ragsdale’s original (1993) account and ignore Ragsdale’s revised scenario. McAndrew quotes Ragsdale:

Still another of McAndrew’s key witnesses in Vern Malthais, who in late 1978 told Stanton Friedman about his friend Barney Barnett’s account of a crashed-saucer encounter on the Plains of San Agustin in the late 1940s. McAndrew cites seven examples of Malthais’ 40-plus-year-old recollections of Barnett’s tale, which seem to substantiate that Barnett might have seen USAF dummies. But Malthais first heard Barnett’s story when he visited Socorro in early 1950—at least several years before the USAF began it anthropomorphic dummy tests.

So far as is known, McAndrew made no effort to look for similarities between the tales told by his key witnesses and those shown on an “Unsolved Mysteries” TV program on the Roswell Incident, which was first broadcast in September of 1989 and rebroadcast in early 1990. This Roswell TV show was seen by tens of millions of viewers, including Gerald Anderson, who called in to report a major error in the show—that two of the ETs had survived the crash.

McAndrew’s conclusions: “When the claims offered by UFO theorists to prove that an extraterrestrial spaceship and crew crashed and were recovered by the U.S. Air Force are compared to documented Air Force activities, it is reasonable to conclude, with a high degree of certainty, that the two ‘crashes’ were actually descriptions of a launch or recovery of a high altitude balloon and anthropomorphic dummies....Since one witness, Gerald Anderson, described procedures consistent with the launch and recovery of high altitude balloons, it is likely that he witnessed both of these activities, with at least one that included an anthropomorphic dummy payload.” (Emphasis added.)

McAndrew’s Research Challenges Mortician’s Nurse/ET Autopsy Tale

The first account of ET bodies related to the Brazel ranch debris was reported by Glenn Dennis, on Aug. 5, 1989, in an interview with Stanton Friedman, and was first made public in mid-1991 in the Randle/Schmitt “UFO Crash At Roswell.” The book included a recreation of the nurse’s ET sketches, drawn by Dennis based on memory. Initially, Dennis’ story was strongly endorsed by Randle/Schmitt, by Friedman, and other crashed-saucer promoters because it seemed to rule out any prosaic/terrestrial explanation for the debris. According to Dennis’ account, a nurse-friend at the Roswell Army Air Field hospital confided to him that she had participated in the autopsy of three strange ET-like creatures, and she gave Dennis sketches of the creatures after extracting a “sacred oath” that he would keep the story secret. Immediately afterwards, according to Dennis, his nurse-friend was transferred to England and his letter to her was returned marked “Deceased.” He said he later heard that she had been killed in a military aircraft accident, although efforts by Roswell researchers failed to find any record of such an accident.

When Roswell researcher Karl Pflock published his report “Roswell In Perspective” in mid-1994, he challenged the veracity of many of the key witnesses endorsed by Randle/Schmitt and by Friedman. But Pflock strongly endorsed Dennis’ nurse/ET-autopsy story. SUN was the first to point out significant discrepancies in the nurse/ET autopsy story. [See SUN #31/Jan. 1995.]

Roswell researchers, including Friedman and Randle/Schmitt, hoping to locate the "missing nurse,” prevailed on Dennis to provide her name: Naomi Maria Selff. They were soon joined by another rigorous researcher, Vic Golubic, and by McAndrew. McAndrew’s research, which included the “Morning Reports” that list all military personnel at a base, revealed the following:

* Five Army nurses were assigned to the RAAF hospital in July 1947, but not one of them was suddenly transferred overseas or later killed in an airplane crash. None of the nurses was named Naomi Maria Selff—or any name resembling that. Search of files in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis failed to locate anyone by that name who had ever served in the Armed Forces. * One of the five nurses—1st Lt. Eileen M. Fanton—bore some resemblance to Dennis’ description of Naomi Maria Selff, including having been raised in a Roman Catholic family. She was transferred on Sept. 4, 1947, because of a medical condition, and admitted to the hospital at a base in Texas. Another of the Roswell nurses was transferred to the Fort Worth Army Air Field, but that occurred on July 23, 1947—not early July as Dennis claimed.

In August 1952, a Florida Scoutmaster reported a close encounter with a UFO that had burned his arm. When a USAF investigation indicated that theScoutmaster’s tale was spurious, the USAF called the case a hoax. This prompted a strong protest to the USAF from the Scoutmaster’s influential Congressman. As a result, the USAF adopted a policy—never put in writing—that henceforth there would be no more “hoax” explanations. Suspected hoaxes would henceforth be included in the USAF’s “Insufficient Information” or "Other” categories.

Pentagon lawyers and public affairs officials who reviewed McAndrew’s manuscript insisted on a number of revisions—including a change in its original title from “Case Solved” to “Case Closed.” Although the reviewers probably were not aware of the 1952 Scoutmaster incident, they were wary of accusing any alleged witness of intentional falsehood. This may well have influenced the report’s treatment of the Glenn Dennis nurse/ET-autopsy story. If other alleged witness tales were the result of flawed memories, this might also explain the nurse/ET autopsy tale. Perhaps the autopsy did not occur in July 1947—but nine years later, on June 26, 1956, when a KC-97 aerial tanker had crashed nine miles south of RAAF, killing and badly burning 11 crew members. Their bodies had been brought to the base hospital for identification and autopsies on three of the victims.

In one interview, Dennis said that when he chanced to visit the base hospital in 1947 while the autopsy was under way, he had been harshly threatened by a “red-headed Colonel.” McAndrew’s research located a red-haired Colonel—Lee F. Ferrell—who had been commander of the base hospital starting in 1954—seven years after the Brazel ranch incident. In several other interviews, Dennis said he had been threatened by a “red-haired Captain.” McAndrew located a red-haired (former) Captain, Joseph Kittinger, who was briefly present at the RAAF hospital in May 1959 as the result of a balloon accident near Roswell. But in 1959, Dennis was no longer employed by the Ballard Funeral Home in Roswell. He was managing a drug store near Aztec, N.M., according to McAndrew’s report.

USAF Report Offers Dennis A “Flawed Memory” Option

The USAF’s new Roswell report concludes: “This series of actual events contains extensive similarities to the account provided by Dennis. The numerous and extensive similarities indicate that some elements of this actual event were most probably included in Dennis’ account. This aircraft accident provided an explanation for the following elements of the research profile—the very mangled, black little bodies in body bags, the odor, the two strange doctors, and the report of a red-headed colonel.” (The report avoids any mention of Dennis’ sworn statement of Aug. 7, 1991, in which he says the nurse told him that the doctors performing the autopsy said: “This isn’t anything we've ever seen before; there’s nothing in the medical textbooks like this.”)

A similar “flawed memory” explanation option was offered to Dennis by Roswell researcher Karl Pflock this past January when Pflock reluctantly concluded that the nurse/ET autopsy tale was not literally true and so informed Dennis by letter [SUN #43/Jan. 1997].


William L. Moore, co-author of the first Roswell crashed-saucer book, drops a major blockbuster in the August issue of Saucer Smear newsletter: In a letter to editor Jim Moseley, Moore admits: “After deep and careful consideration of recent developments concerning Roswell...I am no longer of the opinion that the extraterrestrial explanation is the best explanation for this event. I concede that it remains in the running as a possible explanation...” This is a remarkable admission from Moore, especially because of its implications for the “Top Secret” MJ-12 papers which Moore, Stanton Friedman and Jaime Shandera released in 1987. If no crashed saucer, then the MJ-12 papers MUST BE COUNTERFEIT. We predict that Friedman will join the growing number of crashed-saucer defectors when the sun begins to RISE in the WEST.

Dan Wright Provides The “Right Stuff” On UFO Abductions

While “Abdufologists” such as Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs, and Harvard University’s Dr. John Mack have achieved fame (and fortune) as experts on the UFO-abduction phenomenon, the efforts of little-known researcher Dan Wright have provided more scientifically useful insights into the true nature of the phenomenon than all other Abdufologists combined. Wright heads a MUFON committee which painstakingly transcribes the tales told by “abductees"—typically under hypnosis—which Wright then analyzes in a search for patterns. The results of Wright’s latest analysis were reported at MUFON’s recent conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. [SUN’s editor was unable to attend because of spinal surgery, so the following highlights are based on Wright’s paper in the conference proceedings.]

Wright reported that his latest analysis is based on 906 taped transcripts of 254 abduction accounts obtained from 20 abduction researchers. These included David Jacobs but Budd Hopkins and John Mack did not participate. In Wright’s recent report, which occupies 48 pages in the conference proceedings, he provides many verbatim transcripts to show what he perceives to be significant patterns. Of the 254 subjects, 64% were female, 30% were male and 6% involved couples.

SUN Comment: As you examine the statistics from Wright’s analysis (below), recall the claim made by many Abdufologists that they accept the reality of UFO abductions because of the great similarity of abductee reports.

Wright’s Conclusions

Although Wright acknowledges his belief in the reality of UFO abductions, he offers a wise caveat: "Regressive hypnosis, the cornerstone of the Abduction Transcription Project, offers only evidence—not proof—of alien abductions. Some of the people in the study [subjects] might have a penchant for fantasies or a need to be part of an exclusive ‘club.’ Moreover, many were less than carte blanche subjects, having read one or more abduction-related books prior to undergoing hypnosis sessions.” (Emphasis added.)

What convinces Wright of the reality of UFO abductions are the “details, sequences, cause and effect. These to the author are the proofs of an alien abduction reality.”

He cites the following as an example: “Dozens of subjects said they were shown one or more infants or a room full of incubating fetuses. But, if these were only copycat images, how is it that each person placed the ‘baby’ presentation sequentially after—never before—procedures on an examining table. No book or TV documentary has emphasized that.” (Emphasis added.) [SUN suggests that Wright analyze the sequence in books and TV shows on UFO abductions and predicts he will find essentially all follow the traditional scenario: Examination comes first.]

Possibly Wright’s most significant commentary appears early in his MUFON paper: “Regressive hypnosis cannot irrefutably uncover truth stemming from significant events in one’s life. Whether such episodes entail emotional or sexual abuse, a fanciful personality, or some other prosaic explanation, the subjects in this Project nonetheless have concluded that unearthly beings are responsible for their recovered memories. Further, in that there are no conclusive means to discern fact from fiction in their recorded accounts, no greater weight is given to a particular case over any other.” (Emphasis added.)

Thus, it is impossible to determine FROM THE CONTENT OF THE TALES whether ALL 254 abduction accounts are literally true, or if some are true and some are fantasy, or if ALL are fantasy. No “abductee” claim is so wild as to prompt Wright to label it as fantasy.

New Report Claims Many UFOs Were Really Secret “Spy Planes”

A recent 17-page report which highlights the CIA’s involvement in the UFO controversy from the late 1940s, authored by historian Gerald K. Haines, erroneously claims many UFO reports in late 1950s and early 1960s which the USAF knew were generated by U-2 and SR-71 spy planes were falsely identified as "natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions.” Haines’ report, which appeared in the 1997 unclassified edition of CIA’s quarterly “Studies in Intelligence” publication, is entitled: “CIA’s Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90. The report was posted on Internet and its cover-up charge has generated wide media interest.

Project Blue Book records show that from the first U-2 flight in April of 1955 until its covert mission was revealed when Gary Powers was shot down over the USSR in May of 1960, the USAF offered "Mirages & [Temperature] Inversions” or “Clouds & Contrails” explanations for only 1.2% of all UFO sightings reported to Blue Book from 1955 through 1960. U-2 flights could more easily be “hidden” in the 2.3% of the UFO reports which were categorized as “unidentified,” i.e., unexplained. In the early 1960s before the SR-71’s existence and mission were revealed by President Johnson, the USAF offered “Mirages & Inversions” or “Clouds & Contrails” explanations for only 1% of its UFO reports while 3% were logged as “unidentified.”

Much of the generally accurate Haines article has been in the public domain since late 1978 when the CIA released about a thousand documents. (Their highlights are contained in my book “UFOs: The Public Deceived,” published in 1983, to which Haines makes frequent reference.) Additional material—primarily internal

memoranda revealing Agency concern that the USSR might exploit public interest in UFOs—was declassified in 1993-94 when CIA Director James Woolsey ordered a new review of the Agency’s UFO files. Haines confirms that CIA’s UFO interest and activities peaked in the early 1950s, as a result of a White House request prompted by the reports of "UFO blips” on the then-new radar at Washington’s National Airport. This led to the convening of the Robertson Panel in early 1953 to examine the USAF’s best UFO evidence. When the Panel found no evidence to indicate that UFOs were either extraterrestrial or Soviet spy vehicles, the CIA quickly lost interest, as reported in my book.

Haines concludes: “Like the JFK assassination conspiracy theories, the UFO issue probably will not go away soon, no matter what the Agency does or says. The belief that we are not alone in the universe is too emotionally appealing and the distrust of our government is too pervasive to make the issue amenable to traditional scientific studies or rational explanation and evidence.”

(Once) Respected Army Officer Leaps Onto “Tale Tales Bandwagon”

A very revealing commentary on the new book “The Day After Roswell” and the modus operandi of its author—former Army Lt. Col. Philip Corso—was a press release statement issued on June 5 by Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) which read: “I am deeply disturbed that the foreward [written by Thurmond] which appears in ‘The Day After Roswell’ by Philip Corso was originally, and expressly, written for a book which was supposed to be entitled ‘I Walk With Giants’ and recounted the wartime activities and recollections of a retired Army officer.

“I did not, and would not, pen the foreward to a book about, or containing, a suggestion that the success of the United States in the Cold War is attributable to the technology found on a crashed UFO. I do not believe in UFOs, do not believe that the United States is in possession of such a vehicle, and do not believe that there has been any government cover-up of a UFO crash. (Emphasis added.)

“The outline of ‘I Walk With Giants’ provided me by Mr. Corso [who was employed as a member of Thurmond’s staff in 1963-64 and again in 1973-74] indicated he was writing a book of his recollections and observations on topics such as World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnamese Conflict, intelligence, espionage, and counter-espionage operations. There was absolutely no mention, suggestion, or indication that any of the chapters and subjects listed dealt with Unidentified Flying Objects and government conspiracies to cover-up the existence of such space vehicles."

SUN suspects that Corso was unable to find a publisher for his book based on its original theme and perhaps his agent (or co-author) suggested the change to exploit the 50th anniversary of the UFO era and the Roswell Incident. Although Corso seemingly remembers many details dating back 50 years, he “forgot” to inform Sen. Thurmond of the new theme.

Thanks To Corso, U.S. Decipher ET Technology And Won The Cold War

Corso’s book, co-authored by William J. Birnes, claims that the debris recovered on the Brazel ranch in 1947 included microchips, optical fibers, lasers and particle-beam accelerators. No such items were ever mentioned by any of the persons known to have seen the original debris, including rancher Brazel, Maj. Jesse Marcel (who had expertise in electronics), or by Marcel’s son. According to Corso, for more than a decade much of the Roswell ET debris remained under wraps in the Pentagon and its scientists were unable to comprehend this advanced technology—UNTIL 1961 WHEN CORSO WAS ASSIGNED TO THE ARMY'S FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT DESK IN THE PENTAGON. CORSO WISELY DECIDED TO COVERTLY “LEAK” THE ROSWELL DEBRIS TO INDUSTRIAL SCIENTISTS AND THEY SOON MASTERED ET TECHNOLOGY. THIS ENABLED THE U.S. TO WIN THE COLD WAR WITH THE USSR, ACCORDING TO CORSO.

In fact, the transistor—which is the cornerstone of the microchip—was invented by Bell Laboratories scientists and first demonstrated on Dec. 23, 1947—less than six months after Maj. Marcel recovered the Brazel ranch debris and more than a decade before Corso was assigned to the Army’s foreign technology R&D desk. The invention stemmed from earlier research in semiconductor diodes for radar in the early 1940s. The first published report that U.S. scientists had created primitive microcircuits by fabricating multiple transistors and resistors on a single silicon chip appeared in the April 8, 1957 issue of Aviation Week magazine. (I myself wrote that article as well as many subsequent articles on advances in microcircuit technology. Contrary to Corso’s claims, it was the USAF, not the Army, which took the lead in sponsoring advances in microcircuit technology—primarily for use in its new Minuteman ballistic missiles.)

Roswell researcher Karl Pflock demolishes many of the other wild claims in his review of Corso’s book, published in the July issue of the MUFON UFO Journal.

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.