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Volume 49

The Skeptics UFO Newsletter

Philip J. Klass

January 1, 1998

This volume is available as a PDF file. Download »

Philip J. Corso’s Roswell Book Is Riddled With Factual Errors As Well As Ridiculous Claim That Army Couldn't Figure Out How To Exploit (Alleged) ET Technology For 14 Years Until Corso Was Given The Task

“The Day After Roswell,” by former Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso (USA, Ret.), co-authored by William J. Birnes, which has been strongly endorsed by MUFON’s director of research and briefly made the best-seller list of the New York Times last summer, is the most factually flawed and self-contradictory book on the subject ever published—in SUN’s opinion. The many factual errors might be attributed to the aging recollections of the 80-plus-year-old Corso. But in the book’s acknowledgements, Corso thanks “eighteen various U.S. Army installations from which I requested historical and background information on details of projects and studies in which I participated.” Yet the book is riddled with factual errors, many of which are inexcusable.

For example, Corso states that the Roswell debris was “shipped to Fort Bliss, Texas, headquarters of the 8th Army Air Force...” [p. 23, 56] [Emphasis added.] Every other book ever published on the Roswell Incident has correctly located the 8th Air Force headquarters at the Fort Worth Army Air Field; Fort Bliss is located more than 500 miles to the west, near El Paso, as Corso should know since he was based there in late 1956. All other Roswell books correctly report that Lt. Walter Haut distributed his press release announcing recovery of a flying disk around noon on July 8 and that Gen. Ramey’s balloon-borne radar target explanation was not made until that evening. But according to Corso: “By the next morning, July 8, the suppression of the crash story was in full operation.” [Emphasis added.]

Even on military matters with which Corso should have had firsthand knowledge he goofs badly. For example, on page 234 he wrote that the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency “was founded in 1958.” On the facing page Corso wrote: “In 1958, when it was developing the concepts behind the particle-beam weapon, ARPA was only a year old. It was formed in 1957.” On page 197, Corso—who served as a commander of an Army anti-aircraft missile contingent in Germany—says that the Army’s Hawk anti-aircraft weapon is a “heat-seeking missile” for its terminal guidance. The Hawk is a radar-guided missile. The book claims that “the American public first heard about the existence of Stealth [aircraft] technology in President Jimmy Carter’s campaign against President Ford in 1976.” The first limited disclosure of the new B-2 stealth bomber did not come until four years later during the Carter-Reagan campaign.

Corso Claims U-2 Flights Over USSR Were To Test Air Defenses And To Spot Crashed UFOs

Corso’s book says that during the mid-1950s, he served as an Army intelligence officer for the White House’s National Security Council. He claims that Top Secret photos of the USSR taken by high-flying U-2 aircraft routinely crossed his desk but the very first U-2 flight over the USSR occurred on July 4, 1956, and Corso was transferred to Ft. Bliss less than four months later. Corso makes the ridiculous claim that the U-2 overflights had other objectives beyond monitoring the Soviet’s missile program progress. “We wanted to know how accurately their radars could track the U-2 and whether any of their missiles could bring it down. So we deliberately provoked them by making our presence known when we wanted them to fire at us.” Corso also claims, the U-2 flights were intended to “search for any evidence of extraterrestrial spacecraft landings or crashes....We also wanted to see whether the Soviets were harvesting any of the alien aircraft [sic] technology for themselves.” [Emphasis added.]

Corso erroneously claims that the Discover satellite program, which served to develop techniques for recovering film capsules from reconnaissance satellites, originally was a NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) program. From its inception in the late 1950s, the Discover program was a joint CIA/USAF effort which operated under the then Top Secret code name of Project Corona.

Corso Claims Army Revealed Top Secret Satellites To Soviets

According to Corso, “We knew that the Soviets would very quickly find out about the [U.S. reconnaissance satellite] program... given the CIA’s penetration by the KGB....We added an additional incentive for the Soviets to discourage them from getting their friends in the CIA to leak the story to friendly journalists and blow the cover on the whole operation. We encouraged them [Soviets] to participate with us in the hidden agenda of Corona: surveillance of potential alien crash landings. Army Intelligence, upon Eisenhower’s and NSC’s express approval, let it be known to their counterparts in the Soviet military that any aerial intelligence... that revealed the presence of aliens on Soviet territory would be shared with their military....Our incentive worked and the KGB encouraged the CIA...not to leak the story."

If Corso had spent a few minutes reading my book “Secret Sentries In Space,” published in 1971, he could have learned that the “cat was out of the bag” by the late 1950s although the CIA did not reveal any details on the Corona program until 1995.

The cornerstone of Corso’s book is his ridiculous claim that debris recovered from the Roswell crashed saucer included such advanced extraterrestrial technology as semiconductor microcircuits, lasers, fiber-optics, night-vision devices and even particle-beam accelerator weapons, which the Army stored in a Pentagon file cabinet for 14 years because it didn’t know how to exploit them without revealing the Roswell secret, until Corso was given the task.

This despite the fact that Corso endorses the claim—now rejected by most UFO researchers—that President Truman had created a special top-level working group (MJ-12) in September of 1947 to investigate and exploit the Roswell technology. However Corso claims that MJ-12 was handicapped because "the group didn’t have the one thing most government committees had, the ability to draw upon other areas of the government for more resources.”

Shortly after Corso returned from duty in Germany, he was assigned to the staff of the Army’s director of research and development (R&D), Lt. Gen. Arthur Trudeau, in the Pentagon. Corso claims [p. 1] that “for two incredible years...[he was] heading up the Foreign Technology desk.” This claim is challenged by Corso’s military record which shows that he served only one year in the Foreign Technology div. (July 20, 1961 until July 18, 1962) and headed that operation only for the last three months before being transferred to another assignment. Corso retired less than a year later, on Mar. 1, 1963, with the rank of Lt. Colonel—a rank he had held for approximately 10 years. In view of Corso’s claim in the closing pages of his book that "what General Trudeau and I did helped change the course of history,” it is surprising that Corso’s military career ended so soon after his Roswell debris effort and without any increase in rank.

Although Corso had not previously worked directly for Trudeau, Corso claims that on his first day in the Pentagon Trudeau called him to come to his office where Trudeau (allegedly) revealed the “Army’s deepest and most closely guarded secret: the Roswell files” containing debris recovered from the Roswell crashed saucer [p. 2]. Corso claims that for nearly 14 years, the debris with its advanced ET technology had been sitting in an Army file cabinet in the Pentagon because the Army could not figure out how to exploit the ET technology without revealing that its source was an ET craft that had been recovered near Roswell. According to Corso, Trudeau said: “I need a plan from you. Not simply what this property [Roswell debris] is, but what we can do with it. Something that keeps it out of play until we know what we have and what use we can make of it” [p. 43].

Trudeau’s (alleged) choice of Corso for this task is surprising because Corso did not have even a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. (He had majored in Industrial Arts at a teachers college prior to being drafted in 1942.) One would expect Trudeau, or one of his predecessors, to have thought of turning the Roswell debris over to some of the many very competent scientists with Top Secret clearances then employed in Army research and development laboratories.

Corso said Trudeau warned him: “The Air Force wants it [the Roswell debris] because they think it belongs to them. The Navy wants it because they want anything the Air Force wants. The CIA wants it so they can give it to the Russians.” [p. 43] Corso offers another motivation for Navy interest on p. 54: “The Navy was struggling with its own problem of figuring out what to do about USOs—Unidentified Submerged Objects...[which] could plunge right into the ocean...and surface half way around the world without leaving so much as an underwater signature we could pick up. Were these UFOs building bases on the oceanic basins?” According to Corso, each of the services had been extremely secretive about its own cache of Roswell crash debris [p. 51] while actively seeking to enlarge its cache. Trudeau promptly arranged for the four-drawer file cabinet of Roswell debris to be transferred to Corso’s office. On p. 40 of the book, Corso says the transfer was accomplished by “four enlisted men,” but on p. 64 Corso claims the file cabinet was brought to his office by “two of the biggest enlisted men I’d ever seen.” [Emphasis added.]

Corso’s Ingenious Strategy To Covertly Exploit ET Technology

After approximately a month of study of the Roswell debris and deep contemplation, Corso came up with an ingenious plan to exploit the ET technology without revealing the Roswell crashed-saucer secret: covertly provide pieces of the Roswell debris to defense contractors’ scientists or to Army laboratories for analysis and “reverse-engineering,” under the guise that the material was “Foreign Technology” which had been covertly obtained from the USSR or other countries—including our NATO allies. Curiously, Corso claims that 14 years earlier a similar strategy had been proposed by Lt. Gen. Nathan Twining and adopted by the USAF as a cover for its exploitation of ET technology. As a result, according to Corso, “by the late 1950s at Norton Air Force Base, at least two prototypes of alien craft had been fabricated, but neither had the power source of the craft that had crashed.” [p. 107] If true, the USAF had been rapidly exploiting its Roswell debris while the Army’s sat in a Pentagon file cabinet.

To assist in selecting companies capable of analyzing and reverse-engineering different pieces of Roswell debris, Corso came up with another ingenius idea: consult with top scientists, “like the rocket scientists from Germany then still working at Alamogordo and White Sands.” [p. 105] Corso’s list included Hermann Oberth and Werner von Braun. [Neither was then at either of the New Mexico facilities: Oberth had since returned to Germany and von Braun was now based in Huntsville, Ala., as director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Corso claims that “von Braun had gone on record in 1959 by announcing that the U.S. military had acquired a new technology as a result of top-secret research in unidentified flying objects,” but Corso offers no references to substantiate this claim.]

The (Alleged) Roswell Semiconductor Microcircuit

One piece of ET technology which Corso claims he found in the Roswell debris file cabinet was a 2-inch-diameter wafer containing a mass of conductors etched on its surface. “It was a circuit—anyone could figure that out by 1961, especially when you put it under a magnifying glass—but from the way these wafers were stacked on each other, this was a circuitry unlike any other I’d ever seen.” [p. 45] Corso claimed he learned from rocket scientist Oberth that he and von Braun had first seen the wafers in July of 1947 when they had flown to Roswell to examine the crash debris. Corso claims that von Braun promptly recognized the wafer to be a semicon-ductor device and suggested it be shown to Bell Laboratories scientists. In mid-1947 Bell Labs’ solid-state research was still under wraps for patent protection and the first successful operation of a transistor would not occur until Dec. 23, 1947.

“In effect, the reverse-engineering of solid-state integrated circuitry began in the weeks and months after the crash....In the summer of 1947, the scientists at Alamogordo were only aware of the solid-state research under way at Bell Labs and Motorola,” according to Corso. In reality, Motorola would not enter the semiconductor field until the early 1950s. More importantly, neither Bell Labs nor Motorola were pioneers in developing an integrated circuit chip. The pioneers were Texas Instruments, which filed for a patent on Feb. 6, 1959, and Fairchild Semiconductor, whose patent application was filed on July 30, 1959. These patent applications were filed two years before Corso claims he introduced the Roswell microchip to industry.

Corso’s Dubious Account Of His “Non-Roswell Debris” Pentagon Duties

After Corso was transferred out of the Army’s Foreign Technology division, he served as a staff officer in Trudeau’s Plans div. for eight months until he retired. There his responsibilities included monitoring the Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile (ABM) program then under development by Bell Laboratories. In Corso’s book he quotes from a memo he allegedly wrote to Gen. Trudeau—no date given—which cited alleged deficiencies in the Zeus design.

“In recent months it has come to our attention that the Soviets can change the trajectory of an ICBM after launch once it is on its way to a target....Therefore a technical proposal must be drawn up as soon as possible for an antimissile missile [ABM] that will be able to lock onto an incoming ICBM and stay locked on through all evasive maneuvers and destroy it before it reaches its target.... Present systems cannot remain locked onto an incoming ICBM or find the target to destroy if it changes trajectory.... Our spy satellites will be able to locate the Soviet warheads once they are launched but the Soviets are also developing the capability to disable our surveillance satellites...”

Corso was dead wrong in claiming that our photo reconnaissance or early warning satellites, then under development, could “locate Soviet warheads once they are launched.” Corso also erred in claiming that the Nike Zeus radar could not track a Soviet maneuvering ICBM war-head. More than a year earlier, on Dec. 14, 1961, a versatile new phased-array radar had demonstrated such capability at the Army’s White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.

Corso also claims he recommended a major redesign of the guidance systems used in our own ICBMs—apparently forgetting that responsibility for all ICBMs and their guidance systems had earlier been assigned to the USAF. Corso proposed that the ICBM guidance computer be divided into two halves, each performing a different guidance function, and that the two be connected via a low-frequency radio link instead of being “hard-wired” together. If Corso’s proposed design had been adopted, it would have made our ICBMs vulnerable to being jammed by high-power radio signals.

Corso claims [p. 127, 268] that in May of 1974 the U.S. shot down “an alien craft over Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany,” using an anti-aircraft missile. “The craft was retrieved and flown back to Nellis Air Force base in Nevada.” Corso offers no further details. Although such an act could be expected to trigger a hostile ET response, it was not until nine years later that President Reagan launched his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)—whose major objective was to defend against UFO attack, not Soviet ICBM attack—according to Corso. He claims [p. 273] that “we can knock these guys [ETs] down tomorrow with high-energy lasers [HELs] and directed particle-beam weapons....These missile-launched HELs...are a direct result of President Reagan’s courage in pushing for the Strategic Defense Initiative....And that SDI was a direct result of the work General Trudeau and I did at Army R&D in 1962.” [Emphasis added.] CONTRARY TO CORSO'S CLAIM, THE U.S. HAS NO MISSILE-LAUNCHED HIGH-ENERGY LASERS NOR ANY DIRECTED PARTICLE-BEAM WEAPONS.


The source of Corso’s strong dislike for the CIA, which is quite evident from his book, is not known. Beyond his frequent claims that the CIA had been infiltrated by Soviet “moles” and that CIA officials knowingly cooperated with the Soviet KGB, Corso claims that CIA agents monitored his movements during his four-year assignment in the mid-1950s on the National Security Council, and did the same when he returned to the Pentagon during the early 1960s. He offers no possible reason for this (alleged) CIA monitoring. But on p. 70 of his book, Corso briefly mentions his friendship with a Soviet KGB agent—a strange relationship for an Army officer dealing with highly classified matters.

Instead of reporting the (alleged) CIA “tailing” to Gen. Trudeau and requesting top level Pentagon intervention, Corso says he visited the CIA’s director of covert operations—Frank Wiesner, whom Corso characterized as “one of the best friends the KGB ever had.” Corso says he threw a pistol on Wiesner’s desk and said that unless CIA agents stopped tailing him “they'd find him [the agent] in the Potomac the next day with two bloody holes for eyes.” (Corso says Wiesner subsequently committed suicide.) Corso claims one of Wiesner’s associates later explained that the tailing was “part of an elaborate recruitment process to get me into the CIA after I retired from the Army.” Instead, Corso went to work on the staff of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC).

(At Corso’s request, Thurmond agreed to write an introduction for Corso’s new book, which was tentatively titled “I Walk With Giants.” When his book was published last June, Thurmond’s office issued a harsh denunciation of the book and withdrew permission to use Thurmond’s foreward in subsequent printings. Thurmond said that in the original outline for the book’s contents submitted by Corso, “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 #47/Sept. 1997]

Despite the foregoing—which cites but a few of many factual flaws in Corso’s book—Dr. Robert M. Wood, MUFON’s director of research, strongly endorsed the book in his review published in the August 1997 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal. Wood’s lengthy review concluded: “I predict this book will wind its way into the list of very important books on UFOs in the next few years. No U.S. history or UFO library should be without it, since it is the first to describe a very believable reverse engineering process for alien parts.” (Emphasis added.)

Leading Japanese UFOlogist, Who Discovered More EvidenceThat MJ-12 Document Was Typed By Bill Moore, Dies

Jun-Ichi Takanashi, director of the Japan UFO Science Society and whose rigorous investigations often turned up prosaic explanations—most recently for home-video camera shots of UFOs—died on Oct. 18 at the age of 74. SUN’s editor spent several interesting hours with Takanashi in Osaka during our lecture trip to Japan last April. One of Takanashi’s little-known contributions to UFOlogy was his eagle-eyed discovery of additional evidence that the “Eisenhower Briefing Document” of the MJ-12 papers—released in mid-1987 by William L. Moore, Stanton Friedman and Jaime Shandera—had been typed by Moore himself.

The very unusual format of dates used in the MJ-12 Eisenhower Briefing Document (EBD) was first brought to my attention by British UFOlogist Christoper Allan shortly after the documents were made public. While the traditional civil format, for example, is “June 24, 1947,” the standard military format is "24 June 1947.” Because the day of the month is separated from the year, no comma is needed or used. But EVERY date that appeared in the EBD has an unsual hybrid combination of civil-military with a "superfluous comma"—"24 June, 1947.” Allan’s letter prompted me to recall that this unusual civil-military date format was one I had seen in numerous letters from Moore which were retained in my files.

Another unusual aspect of the format used in EBD, which allegedly had been written in late 1952, was that a zero was used with every single-digit date—"07 July, 1947.” My Exam-ination of numerous military and CIA documents of the 1950s era revealed that it was not then the practice (as it is today) to precede a single-digit date with a zero. Turning to my file of letters received from Moore, I discovered that he had started adding the zero before a single digit date in late 1983—roughly a year before he claims that Shandera received the MJ-12 papers on a roll of undeveloped film. This “curious coincidence” was reported by me in late 1987 in an article in Skeptical Inquirer, published by the Committee for the

Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). However, the article did not flatly accuse Moore of typing the document himself.

If someone else had typed EBD and used Moore’s unusual date format style in an effort to try to incriminate him, Moore could be expected to write and thank me for calling this to his attention. Moore did not. But he did promptly change the date format he used in his letters, eliminating the superfluous comma or at other times he used the traditional civil format.

Moore Unwittingly Provides More Incriminating Evidence

In 1983, Moore offered for sale a lengthy report entitled “The Mystery of The Green Fireballs,” containing declassified documents dealing with the many unusual fireballs reported in the southwest in the late 1940s. Because some documents were poor-quality carbon copies, Moore retyped portions for improved legibility. Takanashi, who purchased a copy of the report and had read my Skeptical Inquirer

article about EBD’s unusual date format, noted that the same unusual date format appeared in several of the Moore-retyped documents. Takanashi was curious to know whether this unusual date format had been used in the originals.

Takanashi wrote to Barry Greenwood, editor of the Just Cause UFO newsletter on May 8, 1990, enclosing photocopies of the Moore-retyped documents. Greenwood painstakingly searched his microfilm copy of all of the USAF’s Project Blue Book UFO files to finally locate the original documents. As Greenwood later reported in the June 1990 issue of his newletter: “In all four cases where the documents were retyped, Moore had changed dates from the proper standard format to his own style by adding not only an extra comma to the dates but, in the case of the 9 February 1949 memo, a preceding zero before a single digit date where none had existed before!” [Emphasis added.] Takanashi will be sorely missed.

UFO Group Leader, Accused Of Plan To Kill Local Government Officials, Sent To Mental Institution After His Two Partners Plead Guilty

John Ford, the 49-year-old founder of the Long Island (N.Y.) UFO Network (LIUFON), who in mid-1996 was charged with plotting to kill several local government officials because he believed they were covering up three crashed-saucer incidents on Long Island, has been found to be “delusional” and has been sent to a New York state psychiatric center. If/when Ford is judged competent to stand trial, he faces the prospect of a 25-75 year jail term. Two of Ford’s partners in the plot to poison Suffolk county officials by inserting radium into their food and toothpaste earlier pleaded guilty to participating in the plan. Joseph Mazzuchelli was sentenced to 3-9 years. Edward Zabo, a Defense Dept. employee who obtained the radium, is slated to be sentenced in early March [SUN #40/July 1996]. The evidence included a tape recording of Ford and associates discussing their plan which was covertly recorded by a person who had been asked to participate but who instead gave the tape to law enforcement officials.

Ford claimed that in 1989, the U.S. had forced down and recovered an ET craft near Moriches Bay, L.I., that in 1992 an alien craft had crashed in Southaven Park, and that a third had crashed later near the Pine Barrens area. He publicly accused local government officials of collaborating with the federal government to cover up the incidents.

In an article in the November 1996 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal, Ms. Elaine Douglas charged that Ford was the “first UFO investigator to be seriously persecuted by the authorities.” (Douglas is MUFON’s state director for the District of Columbia and co-director of “Operation Right To Know.” The latter, which periodically stages public demonstrations, describes itself as “the only UFO organization with guts.” It has scheduled a march on the White House to “End UFO Secrecy” for July 5, 1999.) In her MUFON article, Douglas announced the formation of the John Ford Defense Committee and sought contributions. SUN eagerly awaits the reactions of Douglas and MUFON to recent events.

Some of Ford’s own comments, contained in a 102-page handwritten “Statement to the Media,” were quoted in a lengthy feature article recently published in the Jan. 11 issue of The Washington Post. Ford claims he had been a CIA agent for the last 30 years, but was not paid so there would be no record of his employment in the agency’s files. Further, that Mazzuchelli was an officer of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Another Ford claim is that the AIDS and Ebola viruses were brought by ETs to kill off peoples of sub-Sahara Africa. In a letter to LIUFON vice president Steve Iavarone, Ford predicted that after a few months at the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center he would return and that all charges against him would be dropped. Ford concluded his letter with UFOlogy’s popular slogan: “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE....”

Book By President’s Friend Makes Dubious Claim About UFO Request

The recent book by Webb Hubbell, long-time friend of President Bill Clinton, who recently emerged from jail after pleading guilty to bilking his Arkansas law clients out of $482,000 and resigning from his high post in the Justic Department, claims that when Clinton earlier named him Associate Attorney General he asked Hubbell to find out the truth about UFOs and the assassination of President Kennedy. Hubbell claims the President said he had “looked into both but wasn’t satisfied with the answers [he] was getting."

Hubbell’s claim is very dubious. It may have been suggested by his publisher as a means of attracting media attention to an otherwise rather dull book. If there were an ultra-top-secret government UFO cover-up—so covert that even the President could not be informed—the Justice Dept. would have no need-to-know. If the President was really seeking “the truth” about UFOs, he should have given the task to Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutch when

Clinton appointed him Director of Central Intelligence in 1995. Deutch was in the unique position of having access both to Pentagon secrets and those of all U.S. intelligence agencies.

If Hubbell’s claim is true, Roswell researcher Kent Jeffrey provided the President with a great "window of opportunity” last July—on the 50th anniversary of the “UFO era.” Jeffrey delivered to the White House his International Roswell Initiative document, signed by more than 20,000 persons. It called on the President to issue “an Executive Order declassifying any information regarding UFOs or extraterrestrial intelligence.” If Clinton had done so he could have resolved the UFO question as well as greatly boosted his popularity. BUT CLINTON DID NOT, PERHAPS FEARFUL THAT HE WOULD BE ASSASSINATED BY AGENTS OF MJ-12.

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.