Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For Paper Mountains Majesty: The Great Santilli

Unless you’re really into ufology, the name Ray Santilli probably won’t ring any bells. But if you can remember the 1980s, his impact on your life most likely still resonates.

As a wannabe rock star, producer and later entrepreneur, Santilli (left) worked with England’s biggest and brightest stars, among them the Thompson Twins, Boy George, Hot Chocolate, Leo Sayer, and the Tourists, two of whose former members, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, conquered the pop charts as The Eurythmics. In 1982, he formed AMP Entertainment, where he continued to promote, produce and manage rock and roll acts. Were he your typical rock hustler, we would probably remember him in the same breath as other astute music businessmen, people the likes of Malcolm McLaren, or Russell Simmons.

As it turns out, we will most likely remember his contribution to ufology for he, Santilli, brought the alien autopsy footage to light. He claimed that he came across the movie accidentally when looking for rare videos of Elvis Presley. He allegedly bought it from an ex-military cameraman named Jack Barnett, who had filmed the original in Roswell, and secretly made a copy of it. Santilli produced, as evidence, a written affidavit from this alleged cameraman to verify the film’s authenticity.

Odd. Barnett, an American GI, for some reason decided to write out the document in British English, with color spelled ‘colour,’ and phrases such as “in hospital” as opposed to “at the hospital,” as an American would tend to say.

Santilli claimed to have bought the film for $150,000 (US), with the intention of either distributing it commercially, or selling it to a major media outlet for a profit. Sure enough, he sold it to Fox, where it aired as Alien Autopsy: (Fact or Fiction?), a television special hosted by actor Jonathan Frakes (click here to see the entire program).

Tests indicated that the leader tape was manufactured in 1946, but Santilli, refused testing on any other content. My guess is that the rest of the film is of a much more recent vintage. In 2006, a Santilli associate, visual artist John Humphreys, admitted to the press that he created the two dummies used in the film (Foam sharply noticed the difference in the eyes between these two). The confession came amid a publicity blitz for the release of Alien Autopsy, a feature film about the clip's origins.

Around this time, Santilli gave what one might best describe as a half-confession. He insisted that he did, in fact, purchase an authentic movie of an alien autopsy. However, clumsy handling of the original over the years, and its poor condition resulted in the film's deterioration. Santilli said that he recreated the missing portions of the tape. What the viewer sees, therefore, is a blend of actual and recreated footage.

Okay. Sounds like a dog-ate-my-homework type of excuse. But if another autosy film existed (and we have good reason to think that it might), where did that one come from? What was it meant to accomplish?

I have read some rather dubious pieces hinting that sources close to Santilli stipulated that the tape actually came into the impresario’s possession by way of a man who seemed to them a CIA contract agent. The name of this putative spy? William Moore. Moore always claimed to have had deep intelligence connections, among them a mysterious USAF NCO named Master Sgt. Richard Doty, and/or his superior, codenamed FALCON.

Whether Moore had anything to do with Santilli or not, Sgt. Doty claims to have seen the authentic version many years before Santilli's airing of the fake one. And in both the “Alien Autopsy Film,” and in the MJ-12 Documents, we see a common modus operandi.

As one of the military personnel connected to MJ-12 in the present day, Doty poses a number of interesting questions. For starters, why does his name come up so often as a source for ufological information, especially those regarding potential UFO disclosures?

To answer this, we have to look at MJ-12 in context of other efforts to disseminate information about UFOs by government agents. You see, the documents received by Jaime Shandera didn’t actually originate the story of MJ-12. And from what other researchers tell us, the US military has shown considerable interest in shaping ufological thought.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

For Paper Mountains Majesty: Film School

Ironically, some of the items most commonly cited as evidence of the “Alien Autopsy” film’s fraudulent nature actually don’t prove anything, although they are suspicious. The “princess” model telephone and cord, for example, did exist in 1948, although one would have to wonder why the US Army would use one.

Otherwise, here’s a quick-and-dirty rundown of the most obvious errors, most provided by Captain Kevin Randle.

Inconsistencies noted by Randle

* The movie violates Army regulations requiring the filming of all autopsies in color. The footage here is in black and white. Inventory lists for July 1947 indicate that Roswell Army Air Force Base had a full stock of Kodak color film that month.

* If a cameraman misplaced the color stock, or couldn’t access the film for other reasons (e.g., physical damage, unintentional exposure) and had to shoot it in black and white, he'd still shoot it according to Army regulations, especially since President Truman would review it. Army rules state that the movie camera must be mounted from the ceiling, shooting downward from an angle of sixty degrees, and stationary. The footage here depicts a camera that’s on floor level and constantly moving.

* Army regulations also required a still photographer take pictures from floor level, yet we see neither the cameraman nor the flash of a bulb.

* There is no fourth wall, thus indicating a set.

* At the end of the movie, when examining the alleged alien artefacts, one panel with letters that seem like exotically alien writing (but are actually just highly stylized Roman letters) clearly spell out the word “video.”

* The doctors here use instruments that are for a living patient, not anything that a forensic pathologist would use. If you’ve ever seen an autopsy on The Discovery Channel, or live, then you would know that the doctor uses a heavy gauge knife to make a deep incision from the armpits to below the navel, called a “V-cut.” She does this to expose the internal organs to examination. The doctors in this pseudo-documentary use a scalpel for this purpose, thereby making one of the sloppiest V-cuts in the history of modern medicine.
Inconsistencies noticed by X. Dell

* This contradicts much of the lore associated with the Roswell autopsy. That’s not to say that the lore is correct. But both the lore and this tape cannot be correct. And since the lore has better evidence to support it, I’m not inclined to believe the video when the two disagree. One quick example: accounts place a number of other people in the vicinity, among them security personnel, and an assisting nurse named Naomi Sipes. The film only shows three doctors.

* In addition to not knowing what instruments to use, these doctors don’t seem to know how to do an autopsy. They fail to examine the clothes (either while on the body or off), or do the inch-by-inch inspection required to find small puncture wounds (mostly from hypodermic needles) scars, and other small body parts that could provide evidence of identity. Instead, they start with the naked corpse, play with a few body parts, and try to get it to say “ah.” Then they just cut stuff up.
Inconsistency noted by Foam (affirmed by Helene)

* The eyes don’t seem consistent from shot to shot in their focus.
Facts noted by many other researchers

* The people responsible for perpetrating the hoax came clean. One even produced a feature film about it.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For Paper Mountains Majesty: Flickers

Before you freak out at the sight of stage blood and plastic gore, let me assure you that the following clip isn’t real. It’s staged. You might have already seen it, perhaps on television, where a host presented it as factual or of undetermined veracity. In fact, I first saw clips of it on the local news, which posed the question of whether this was real or fake.

I reckon we can make a game out of this. How many things can you see wrong in this picture? How many clues can you spot that scream “HOAX!”?

No fair Googling. Just grab some popcorn, a drink of your choice, and enjoy the movie.

For the answers, click here. For earlier games, click here.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

For Paper Mountain’s Majesty: The Bubble Bursts

Obviously, the serious and talented men allegedly comprising the MJ-12 board added credibility to the documents received by Jaime Shandera. And they certainly looked legitimate. Upon hearing of them, the Federal Bureau of Investigation couldn’t initially tell weather or not they were real (click here to download the FBI’s file on MJ-12). The Bureau’s interest centered around the possible breach of national security resulting from the dissemination of classified material. If genuine, the MJ-12 documents could possibly constitute a threat to the defense structure. It could also provide vindication for ufologists.

Captain Kevin Randle (USAFR), in his 2002 book Case MJ-12: The True Story behind the Government's UFO Conspiracies, offered a compelling explanation of why the MJ-12 Documents were forgeries. He listed a number of reasons, but I’ll just mention a few of the most salient.

First of all, Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the alleged author of the Eisenhower briefing, seems not to know his own rank. On the header, he refers to (supposedly) himself as Admiral, when in fact he was only a Rear Admiral, a serious faux pas in front of a president who also happened to be the first five-star general in American history.

As for Truman’s signature, it had to have been copied or traced onto the photographed page. After diligent research, an exact duplicate of the autograph was found in a letter housed at Truman’s presidential library in Independence, MO. An individual will virtually never sign his name exactly the same way twice in his or her life. There will be countless variations, some microscopic. Here, we have an exact match. Moreover, Truman historians have noted that the president had a tendency to overlap his signature with the text of memos and letters. In the MJ-12 documents the signature appears considerably below the body of the letter, and does not touch the text.

More importantly, this document represents itself as an Executive Order, yet it’s unnumbered. Attachment “A” of the Truman/Forrestal memo cites the creation of MJ-12 as pursuant to “Special Classified Order #092447.” Yes, there is such a thing as a Special Classified Order, but it follows the same numeric sequence as ordinary Executive Orders. In other words, if presented with a list of Executive Orders, they should say something like “#092446 - Blah, blah, blah; #092447 - [Top Secret]; #092448 - Whatever.” Truman indeed changed the guideline for numbering in EO #10006. Still we would have to think that Truman came up with 82,441 more before he got around to creating this panel. That would barely give him time to play the piano. Worse still, the inaugural date listed fell before the change, and thus should have been in the old FDR numerical system, which would make it seven thousand and something.

The documents also contain formatting errors. The dates, as given, are not punctuated correctly in terms of military convention at that time. For example, the date when Brazel showed his UFO to Marcel was given as “07 July, 1947.” The correct expression of this date should be either “7 July 1947" with no comma and no zero, “07 July 1947" with no comma, or “7 July, 1947.” If you found one or two of those, you could simply chalk it up to a mistake on the part of a secretary who was new to the job; but not here where the error is repeated time and again. Also, each new president defines classification terms. Nowhere does the category of “Majic Eyes Only” ever come up as a restriction of any kind.

The documents were photographed on an angle, so it took awhile to figure out that the typewriter used was a Smith-Corona P102. Shandera and Moore quickly moved to find another expert to say that the typeface was actually a Ransmayer & Rodrian 664, or an Underwood UP3A. Sure enough, the fonts look pretty close to what you see in the documents, but only if you don’t account for the angle. When you do, the only one left standing is the Smith-Corona, first manufactured in 1966 -- fourteen years after these documents were supposedly typed.

Moore and Shandera set about to prove the existence of MJ-12. They went to the National Archives to document any precedents for the unusual formats, typeface, et cetera. It was there where they got their hands on some recently declassified material, Record Group 341. The Archives’ administration describes the contents of this record group as follows:
Record Group 341
Records of Headquarters U.S. Air Force (Air Staff)
Administrative History
Headquarters U.S. Air Force, also known as the Air Staff, was established September 18, 1947, under terms of the National Security Act of 1947. The Chief of Staff is directly responsible to the Secretary of the Air Force and presides over the Air Staff which is divided into five functional groupings each headed by a deputy chief of staff.
Records Description
Dates: 1948-1954
Volume: 74 cubic feet
Records from the Director of Construction, Southwest Region in Fort Worth), who reported t the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, Installations. The records relate to construction and maintenance of various air force bases and installations in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Included are correspondence, lists of property, and reports. Nontextual records include site maps.
Finding Aids
· Box contents list
· "Places" database in RG 269.
· Entries 505 through 511 in Helene Bowen, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of Headquarters, United States Air Force, NM 15 (1963).
One of the documents in this 74 cubic foot block contained a reference to Majestic-12, according to Jaime Shandera and William Moore. At first glance, that would seem to prove that such a group existed, especially since it exists among other material that might seem related (specifically, the construction and maintenance of air force bases), and dates from the correct time (1948-1954). But Randle argued that this would run counter to the standard, bureaucratic procedures involved with declassifying information. The Library of Congress evaluates whole volumes of documents before recommending that the issuing agency downgrade the classification status. So if there were a project operating under the name of, or tangentially related to, MJ-12, one would expect to find an entire series of documents pertaining to it, not just one. A lone reference to MJ-12 out of context, Randle figured, would very likely not seen the light of day if legitimate.

I’d bet good money that those arguing against the existence of UFOs took at least a modicum of joy in declaring the MJ-12 Documents fraudulent. Aviation Week editor and noted UFO “debunker” Philip Klass, who coordinated an MJ-12 report by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) called them “clumsy counterfeits.” CSICOP Committee chair Dr. Paul Kurtz (Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo) described them as “one of the most deliberate acts of deception ever perpetrated against the news media and the public.”

If we accept the documents produced by Shandera and Moore as fraudulent (though some, like Stanton Friedman, still insist that they aren’t), does that necessarily mean MJ-12 never existed? Does it disprove the notion that US military, intelligence services and civilian leaders met with scientific experts about the possibility of extraterrestrial visitation?

Stanton Friedman has stood by his original assertion of the MJ-12 documents’ authenticity. Taking his arguments (which I’ll get to later) into consideration, we are still left asking if the documents are in fact forgeries. Could there be an explanation for their idiosyncrasies?

Before answering those questions, I’d like to bring up something completely different. Hopefully, by series’ end, the connection between this and the following digression will become clear.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

For Paper Mountain’s Majesty: Rogues’ Gallery

The all-star panel allegedly formed by President Harry Truman and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal is an impressive one indeed. One need not be a ufologist, or even believe in the existence of extraterrestrial visitation to understand that this is exactly the panel a chief executive might convene in the case of first contact with beings from another planet. Each of these men was impressive in his own way, and well respected among his peers. They each held considerable authority in military, civilian or academic circles.

Here’s a list of the men in question, those cited as belonging to the secret panel known to lore as Majestic-12.

Dr. Lloyd Berkner (1905-1967)—An electrical engineer by training, and administrator by profession, Berkner headed Associated Universities, a group responsible for running the research content of Brookhaven Laboratories. As a naval officer during the 1920s, he helped design radar and navigational systems that would later be of use in the growing Army Air Corps. He later became the President of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, Acting Director of National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the Chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ Space Science Board. In 1963, he generated a theory of how atmospheres develop in the middle planets of a star system.

Dr. Detlev Bronk (1897-1975)—Although credentialed as a biologist, Bronk’s interests encompassed a wide range of topics within the natural and medical sciences. He taught medical physics at the University of Pennsylvania from 1929-1949, while serving as the Director of the Institute of Neurology. He left UPenn to become President of the Johns Hopkins University in 1949, and President of the Rockefeller University in 1953. As a scientist, he helped to innovate approaches to biological research. As an academic administrator, he stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy by refusing to fire Professor Owen Lattimore for suspected communist sympathies. He also advised Brookhaven National Laboratories and the Atomic Energy Commission.

Dr. Vannevar Bush (1890-1974)—Talk about a man ahead of his time, Bush became one of the world’s most foremost experts on the subject of computers during the 1920s. From World War I to at least the 1960s, he served as an official or quasi-official advisor on scientific matters. What you might call a scientific hardliner, he believed that technological superiority provided the key to US national security. He also served as the President of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and later sat on the board of such corporate titans as AT&T and Merck (pharmaceuticals).

His public statements would lead one to think that he had neither an interest in nor connection to UFO activities. In fact, he denied that he had any knowledge of UFOs or of any government investigation of them. But declassified documents from Canada’s Defence Research Board hint at his involvement in official ufological investigations from 1950-1951.

US Secretary of Defense James Forrestal (1892-1949)—The aforementioned Forrestal succeeded FDR friend Frank Knox as Secretary of the Navy in 1944. A sort of hands-on guy, James physically travelled to a number of hot spots during WWII (among them Iwo Jima in 1945) to get a better understanding of what he needed to do to bring the boys back alive. The War Department eventually became the Defense Department in 1947, with Forrestal serving as its first Secretary.

In addition to becoming the first Secretary of Defense, Forrestal might have also been the most controversial (Donald Rumsfeld notwithstanding). His opinion that partitioning Palestine might lead to anti-American sentiment on the part of oil-wielding Muslims, thus resulting in decades of Middle East instability, prompted scathing attacks from the likes of Drew Pearson and other pro-Israel factions within the US. Truman put up with the heat for a couple of years, but eventually sacked Forrestal (forced him to resign, actually) in the spring of 1949, only weeks before the former-Secretary's sudden death, which to this day is shrouded in mystery.

Gordon Gray, JD (1909-1982)—A North Carolinian whose immediate family headed RJ Reynolds for three generations (his grandfather, father and brother served as company CEO), Gray received his law degree from Yale and became involved with the legal issues surrounding national security concerns. During WWII, he rose through the ranks, starting out as a Private, and ending the conflict with the rank of Captain under the command of General Omar Bradley. President Truman appointed him Secretary of the Army in 1949, after he had served for two years as the Assistant Secretary. In 1951, he became the first Director of the Psychological Strategy Board, an intelligence organization that studied psychological operation (PSYOPS). President Dwight Eisenhower named him National Security Advisor in 1958.

Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, USN (1897-1982) --Hillenkoetter (known as “Hilly” to friends), remains one of the most pivotal figures in US Intelligence. Ironically, he’s one of the least discussed. As the third US Director of Central Intelligence (succeeding Lt. General Hoyt Vandenberg and Rear Admiral Sidney Souers) he took over as head of the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and helped to shepherd the transition between that bureau and the successor Central Intelligence Agency. Thus, he became the first DCI to serve as CIA director.

Hillenkoetter’s interest in UFOs is well documented, mostly by Hillenkoetter himself. He joined the Board of Directors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in 1957. Founded by physicist Thomas Townsend Brown, Major Donald Keyhoe (USMC) and Rear Admiral Delmar Fahrney (USN), NICAP’s goal was very similar to that of the current day Disclosure Project. Both organizations lobbied for the release of UFO evidence by the US government. As former DCI, Hillenkoetter would have known first hand whether such evidence existed or not. And he made quite clear that it did. In a 1960 speech covered by the New York Times, he said:

It is time for the truth to be brought out in open Congressional hearings….behind the scenes, high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about the UFO’s.

But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense….to hide the facts, the Air Force has silenced its personnel.

Jerome Hunsaker (1886-1984)—An early aviation expert who designed airships for the United States during WWI, Hunsaker taught aerodynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.* In 1918, he helped to create the US military aircraft program as a member of the Army Navy Technical Board. As an educator, he wrote a number of scholarly papers on the subject of aviation. In turn, later scholars have cited his work and written about him.

Dr. Donald Menzel (1901-1976)—An A-list academic teaching out of Ohio State University and Harvard, Menzel was a pioneer in the subjects of theoretical and radio astronomy. During WWII, he served in the US Navy as a cryptoanalyst. He concurrently consulted the US State Department on Latin American affairs during the 1960s, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Condon Committee, the University of Colorado based study on UFOs.

Menzel’s vocal denunciation of UFOs was legendary. In three seminal works—Flying Saucers, The World of Flying Saucers: A Scientific Examination of a Major Myth of the Space Age, and The UFO Enigma: The Definitive Explanation of the UFO Phenomenon—he savagely debunked the existence of UFOs, despite the fact that he himself had reported one in 1949.

Lt. General Robert Montague, USA (1899-1958)—After commanding the 83rd Artillery Division during WWII, Montague headed the Sandia Base in Albuquerque, NM. From 1946-1971, Sandia was the primary nuclear weapons installation in North America. Montague, a veteran and expert on nuclear weapons and missile guidance systems, spent his latter years overseeing the most cutting-edge technology that the United States military had to deploy.

Rear Admiral Sidney Souers, USN (1892-1973)—Assistant, and later Deputy Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) during WWII, Souers became the first Director of Central Intelligence when President Truman appointed him to the position in 1946. Adm. Souers, like Adm. Hillenkoetter, were both Navy men who played a critical role in the development of US Intelligence. A long-time advocate of UK plans to centralize US Intelligence, Souers helped Truman push through bureaucratic and territorial deadlocks in order to make the CIA a reality.

General Nathan Twining, USAAC/USAF/USN (1897-1982)—This West Point alumnus not only served in the Army and its nascent Army Air Force, but in the US Navy as well. A career soldier and commander, he orchestrated victorious air missions in the European theatre of WWII. After Germany’s surrender, Truman ordered him to serve in the Pacific in order to secure victory over Japan. On his watch, two bombers reduced the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to ashes and charred flesh. In 1953, he succeeded Hoyt Vandenberg as Air Force Chief of Staff.

Part of Twining’s involvement with UFOs is fairly well documented. As head of Air Materiel Command, he recommended the first official UFO study, Project SIGN. His precise actions during the Roswell incident of 1947 remain a subject of debate. Nevertheless, his now-famous letter (often referred to as the “Twining Memo”) written to Brig. General George Schulgen, then-Commanding General of the Army Air Force leaves little doubt that this was a topic that came up within the purview of his office.

General Hoyt Vandenberg, USAAC/USAF (1899-1955)—A graduate of the Army War College, and the nephew of a US Senator, Vandenberg served as Chief of Military Intelligence during WWII. He succeeded Rear Adm. Sidney Souers as DCI in 1946, and from then to 1947 served as Director of the Central Intelligence Group. In 1948, Truman appointed him Air Force Chief of Staff, in which capacity he served until succeeded by General Twining. A career insider, some of his papers are still classified.

Vandenberg’s name comes up a lot in histories of ufology, especially in his memos on the subject in addition to the oversight, along with Twining, of Projects SIGN and BLUE BOOK. In a 2000 interview conducted by ufologist Brian Parks, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Harold Stuart (1949-1951) said that he often worked closely with Vandenberg, and seemingly affirmed both Vandenberg’s interest on the subject and the existence of MJ-12. His exact words: “I was not on the MJ-!2 Project Advisory Board and only have a faint recollection of the group.”

* I’m uncertain about Hunsaker’s status at MIT. Some sources list him as a Lecturer, others as an Assistant Professor.

To read earlier posts in this series, click here.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

For Paper Mountains’ Majesty: Moore, Moore, Moore

Editor's Note (4/13/09): Ray has brought up something rather important, namely the discrepancies in the various accounts of this narrative. At first I thought that I would give the account most often given. But then, I thought that I should mention conflicting accounts as footnotes. I'll try to adhere to that strategy from here on out.

Ufologist Bill Moore discussed with an associate, Charles Berlitz, an idea for a science-fiction novel based on a group of twelve men who were the only human contacts of an extraterrestrial race. Berlitz, who had just co-written the book The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility with Moore, thought this idea way too unbelievable, so he passed.

In the fall of 1984, another Moore associate, wannabe filmmaker Jaime Shandera, received a package. It had no return address. Nevertheless, it bore an Albuquerque postmark and cancelled postage, thus indicating that it travelled through the regular mail.

Upon opening it he found a folder bearing a “Top Secret Eyes Only” stamp. Inside the folder were the first of a batch of photographed documents he would receive purportedly about a clandestine government UFO panel codenamed Majestic 12.* Each page bore another stamp, “Top Secret/Majic Eyes Only.” Among the documents were a briefing memo to President Dwight Eisenhower, and an alleged memo from President Harry Truman ordering Secretary of Defense James Forrestal to set up the operation. At the bottom, was Truman’s signature. Shandera researched, and found that the signature was authentic.

Figure 1. Truman to Forrestal Memo

Figure 2. Eisenhower briefing document, first page

Shandera called upon Moore, whom he had met a few years earlier, to examine the documents and offer advice. The two men also received help from Stanton Friedman, a ufologist and physicist. These three men announced the findings of their research efforts at the 24th Annual UFO Conference in San Francisco in 1987. As it would turn out, that particular announcement would severely impact ufology, for if authentic, the MJ-12 Documents would provide smoking-gun evidence not only of alien visitation, but of a military/intelligence cover-up too.

Figure 3. Moore, Shandera and Friedman (respectively) at the 24th Annual UFO Conference in San Francisco

* As Ray points out, there are differences among accounts as to the form, number, and content of the documents Shandera received in this first batch. According to the source he cites, the documents arrived as film, which he and Moore subsequently developed. Some say they received two documents in this first batch, others say four, and still others say more.
The bottom line here is that Shandera received some type of post that held information, allegedly from a government source.
To read later posts in this series, click here.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

For Paper Mountains’ Majesty

After allegedly discussing the Roswell crash with his closest advisors, President Harry S Truman reportedly asked, “When do we tell the American people?”

The answer would apparently be, "Never."

If aliens had landed, Truman might have wanted to make some sort of statement. But concerned about potential panics, such as supposedly happened during The Mercury Theatre on the Air’s broadcast of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, some of the national security establishment might have had second thoughts about coming clean. But assuming that any of this is true (and trust me, that’s a big assumption), perhaps disclosure could eventually come, but only after carefully preparing the public for a paradigm shift greater than this race has ever seen.

In his book Project Mindshift: The Reeducation of the American Public Concerning Extraterrestrial Life, Michael Mannion hypothesized that the US government initiated a policy calling for a gradual education campaign. This would, in large part, entail the development of a culture that could integrate the supposed reality of alien existence into mainstream thought, and provide a framework for future human-ET interaction.

One can debate for or against the reality of ET visitation until he or she is gray in the face. But despite whatever side of the fence you’re straddling, the answer is unknowable at this time. After all, those who believe have never produced any aliens for us to examine completely. Conversely, those who disbelieve cannot exhaust all possibilities of alien whereabouts on Earth, especially since there are numerous areas where geographical, economic, legal and military reasons make exploration of them virtually impossible.

We cannot debate that we have come to a general understanding of what ET mythology consists of. But here’s the real surprise: we also cannot deny that the main source of information (or misinformation/disinformation, depending on your point of view) on the topic of UFOs is Uncle Sam, either directly or indirectly.

The disclosures already made by the likes of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper, Bomb Intelligence Group Commander Maj. Jessie Marcel, NASA consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek, NICAP founder Maj. Donald Kehoe, one-time BLUEBOOK commander Capt. Ed Ruppelt, former-Apollo astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Lt. Col. Philip Corso, US Representative Steven Schiff (R-NM), and others proceeded under the quiet blessing of their superiors. Either that, or these people took reckless actions that might have threatened their jobs, many of which required them to be of sound mind. Perhaps each took a measured risk. Maybe they weighed the protection of powerful friends against the wrath of powerful enemies before making the decision to discuss the taboo topic in public. In this vein, we might envision a massive struggle between two sides to determine public policy. Perhaps that constitutes a major reason why discourse on official disclosure seemed so haphazard and confusing. Some within officialdom drop hints saying, in effect, “They’re here.”

Figure 1. Former White House Chief of Staff (Clinton) John Podesta on UFOs

Others plainly say, “You’re nuts if you believe that.”

Consider, for a moment, that the discussion of the topic by isolated public servants isn’t really taboo. What if all of the alleged disclosures were part of a psychological operation? One that could have many possible purposes, only one of which would be to conceal extraterrestrial activity on Earth? Then again, what do these cosmic whistleblowers want the rest of us to believe, and why?
Thorny questions. For now, let’s go over a couple of examples of well-known (at least within ufological circles) hoaxes. Although one can demonstrate very tenuous ties between government and these deceptions, it might behove us to look a little deeper to see who’s behind them.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Rats! Ordered to Cease and Desist

Well, it was bound to happen. When you post the kinds of things I do for any appreciable length of time, someone’s bound to give you a cease and desist order. And that’s just what happened to The X-Spot. Along with the order came a blistering missive written on official letterhead from the person filing the complaint:

Bob Costas
NBC Sports
The National Broadcasting Co., Inc
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10036

March 16, 2009

Dear X. Dell (if that is indeed your name):

A casual observation of your web page, The X-Spot, left me little doubt as to the veracity of the information therein. Given your posts about alien abductions, the Da Vinci Code and tinfoil hats, I have come to the conclusion that you, sir, are one wacky conspiracy theorist. I, as do other serious journalists, respect your First Amendment right to publish anything you want, but only to a point. When you defame me, and members of my family, I cannot stand idly by.

You have put me in the unenviable position of exposing a rather painful personal secret in order to protect the good name and reputation of my sister. I call your attention to the April 1, 2006 post where you erroneously claim that the late rock star Robert Palmer and Linus van Pelt of Peanuts fame were one and the same. This is clearly incorrect, for I am, or I should say was, Linus van Pelt.

My physical resemblance to van Pelt is unmistakable. Had you researched your post more thoroughly, you would have discovered we were both born in 1952--three years after Robert Palmer. Furthermore as a British subject growing up in Malta, Mr. Palmer had a pronounced foreign accent that I have never effected, either in my childhood days as van Pelt, or currently as a sports anchor for NBC.

I might have overlooked this particular inaccuracy had you libeled only me. My battles with childhood steroid addiction and my conversion into three dimensions have become a source of trauma and shame for me, and those I love. Personally, I would be happy to have these events associated with someone else, especially a deceased person who cannot offer any form of rebuttal. You, however, felt it necessary to include malicious gossip insinuating an incestuous relationship between my sister Lucy and me. And this is where I must draw the line.

For those few friends and family members who know only part of the story, the false rumors created considerable confusion. The very thought was not only embarrassing, but tremendously devastating. Although the damage done by your post is perhaps irreparable, I can only ask you to withdraw the offending material. My lawyers will contact you shortly with a formal cease and desist request.

Robert Q. Costas
In my own defense, I only came to the conclusion that Robert Palmer and Linus van Pelt were the same person after exhaustive field research that seemed quite compelling at the time. But to be fair, I did, in fact do more research.

Costas mentioned a number of items that seemed plausible. For instance, I had always known that the date on Palmer’s birth certificate listed him as born in 1949. But in my off-the-record conversation with Maltese intelligence agents, I learned that local immigration officials routinely backdated birth certificates for British-born nationals destined to become rock stars. This seemed to me a reasonable explanation at that time, despite the fact that the records I had were written in red crayon. And it’s true that both men were born in 1952, although in different months: Costas’ in March, van Pelt in September. I also had to admit that van Pelt and Costas really did look alike.

Figure 1. Bob Costas (c. 1999)

Figure 2. Linus van Pelt (c. 1958)

Two biologically unrelated people can look alike, of course. So before undergoing the arduous task of deleting a post, I decided to head out to Sebastopol, CA to get to the bottom of this. Only moments before stepping into the taxi to catch my flight, I received another cease and desist order:

Matt Damon
1314 Boulevard of Broken Dreams
LaLa Land, CA 90210

March 18, 2009

Yo X,

I’ve been reading all this s[@#$!] you got up on your blog about, like, Linus and Robert Palmer. Man, you couldn’t be more [@#$!]ing wrong if you [@#$!]ing tried. Everybody out here knows I’m [@#$!]ing Linus. Like, if you’d open your eyes, you’d see that even as a kid I couldn’t get my hair [@#$!]ing straight. And I oughta know. I’m [@#$!]ing Matt Damon.

My lawyer’s gonna, like, ream you’re a[@#$!] if you don’t, like [@#$!]ing cease and desist.

Figure 3. Matt Damon (c. 2007)

When I first read this letter, I immediately said to myself, “That’s strange. Wasn’t [@#$!]ing Matt Damon Sarah Silverman’s job?” Then I looked over the eight-by-ten glossy photograph he sent me with his letter (Figure 3), and something hit me.

You see, I immediately dismissed Damon’s claims with considerable ease. After all, Matt was born in 1970. Linus had already appeared in countless comic strip panels, several television specials, and a feature film by that time. So Damon and van Pelt couldn’t be one and the same. Moreover, Damon’s two years older than van Pelt’s younger brother, Rerun (born December 1972). So he can’t be him, either.

I decided to take that trip to California after all. Borrowing the cab driver’s laptop, I searched JSTOR to find a psychological basis for these two, very puzzling letters, both written by men with vibrant, active careers in entertainment. I then came across exactly what I needed in The Journal of Psychiatric Stuff that You Won’t Find in Respectable Academic Literature, volume 94, Spring 1998. On pages 157-196, a Dr. Marcie Johnson writes about a little known disorder that the DSM IV meant to include, but had forgotten: Van Schultz Syndrome.

Van Schultz Syndrome is quite understandable when you compare it to similar psychoses. I’m sure you’ve heard about Jerusalem Syndrome, where tourists travelling to the holy city suddenly think that they’re Biblical figures. You’ve also probably read about people who sincerely believe they are a specific celebrity, either living or dead. Van Schultz Syndrome is a psychosis in which male celebrities with certain physical features come to the belief that they are Linus van Pelt. Writing about actor Stephen Rea and musician Paul Simon, Dr. Johnson concludes:

These two men, the paragon of fame and fortune, dreaded the prospect that money and public adulation would suddenly, one day, no longer come. They sought a security blanket, as it were. And in so doing, they psychologically identified with the very person who invented the security blanket, Linus van Pelt.
To allay any further doubts about my research methodology, or the accuracy of the information here on The X-Spot, I went to Sebastopol to interview the one person who could put to rest all the counterclaims of this particular conspiracy: Linus’ sister, Lucy van Pelt Schroeder. Ms. Schroeder angrily dismissed the allegations by both Damon and Costas. However, she refused to comment about her relationship to Robert Palmer, saying, “Good grief! Why bring all that up now?” Although she vehemently resisted at first, I finally persuaded her to undergo DNA testing to settle the matter once and for all. A local police chief conducted the swabbing.

Figure 4. Van Pelt Schroeder’s DNA Swab

The results confirmed my earlier deduction that Robert Palmer was indeed Linus van Pelt. I feel badly for Costas and Damon, for I’ve greatly enjoyed the work of both over the years. I can only hope they get the help that they so desperately need. As for the cease and desist order, the April 1, 2006 post will stay right where it is.

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