Saturday, July 23, 2005
Body Snatchers in the Desert - Part I
Nick Redfern’s new book, Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story (New York: Paraview Pocket Books, 2005), has created quite a stir within the UFO research and commentary community.
Here is Nick’s theory (pp. 207 – 208):
“In May 1947, an experimental aircraft that was borne out of the revolutionary aviation research of the Horten brothers of Germany was test-flown from White Sands, New Mexico. The flight was part of a larger project begun in 1946 to examine the feasibility of both constructing and flying a nuclear-powered aircraft. On board the vehicle were a number of physically handicapped people who had been found in the remnants of the Japanese military’s Unit 731 laboratories and who were used in this dark and disturbing experiment – the purpose of which was to try to better understand the effects of nuclear-powered flight on an aircrew. The experiment ended in disaster when the aircraft crash-landed at White Sands, killing some of the crew. Two months later, in early July 1947, a second and similar vehicle was, once again, flown to White Sands. In this particular instance, the aircraft was affixed to a huge balloon array that was based upon advanced Fugo balloon designs developed in the closing stages of World War II by Japanese forces. The aircraft was piloted by a crew of Japanese personnel who had been specifically trained for the task and crashed near the Foster Ranch after being catastrophically struck by lightning. The lifting-body-style aircraft, the balloon materials, and the bodies of the crew were retrieved under cover of overwhelming secrecy and – either deliberately or unintentionally – hidden behind a smoke screen of crashed flying saucer stories. It is these two incidents that led to the legend of Roswell.”
What Nick has done is replace one super-secret government cover-up with another. Unfortunately for those who would like nothing better than to solve the Roswell Incident once and for all, Nick’s theory, to me, has significant flaws (it should be noted that, unlike many UFO authors who have their research critiqued after a book is published, Nick has been the model of civility and reasoned discourse over the past month or so, which, for those of us who know him, comes as no surprise) .
Nick’s theory relies primarily on the testimony of four people – Al Barker, Bill Salter, and two unnamed persons, whom Nick has called “The Colonel” and “The Black Widow.”
To me, with my background studying the Nuremberg Trial (and international war crimes law in general), the most apparent problem is Al Barker. Barker worked with the Army’s Psychological Warfare Center in the 1950s, and describes in detail the alleged experiments at the center of the Roswell Incident. However, he also claims that there was a great deal of pressure to shut down this research prior to the end of the Nuremberg Trial in August, 1947 (conveniently, just after the Roswell Incident).
“People were getting tense about using bodies and handicapped people in ways that went against Nuremberg and other things,” he told Nick. “Right or wrong, we tried to make these advances in the early years, but then it all gets blown away when everyone starts backing away with Nuremberg, so it’s back to the beginning and trying to get permission – official permission – to do these things, and not as they had before, kind of under the table, nothing in writing and unofficially… But after Nuremberg, everyone’s getting jittery and it all comes to a halt.” (pp. 144 – 145)
The problem is that this makes no sense.
Barker is referring to the trial of the SS doctors, which was conducted after the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which tried the major Nazi war criminals, was concluded on 1 October, 1946 (Nick, at p. 61, gets the details of the various trials conducted after the war confused).
The subsequent trials were set up on December 20, 1945, by the Allied Control Council, under Control Law No. 10, which established the basis for "the prosecution of war criminals and similar offenders." Each of the occupying authorities was authorized, in its occupation zone, to try persons suspected of committing war crimes. The Military Governor of the American Zone subsequently enacted Ordinance No. 7, establishing military tribunals with the power to try and punish offenders.
Unlike the IMT, which featured lawyers and judges from the US, USSR, UK and France, each of the subsequent tribunals was comprised solely by American lawyers and judges; the judges were recruited by the War Department (one of the best books dealing with these trials is Justice at Dachau by Joshua Greene, which tells the story of William Denson, a young American lawyer who led the prosecution of war criminals at the "Dachau trials").
The "Doctor's Trial", which ran from December, 1946 until August, 1947, was "Case 1" of 11. But the law was clear at the time the proceedings were authorized, and the defendants charged, as follows, from the Indictment handed down in October 1946 [source: Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuremberg, October 1946–April 1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O, 1949–1953]:
“The United States of America, by the undersigned Telford Taylor, Chief of Counsel for War Crimes, duly appointed to represent said Government in the prosecution of war criminals, charges that the defendants herein participated in a common design or conspiracy to commit and did commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, as defined in Control Council Law No. 10, duly enacted by the Allied Control Council on 20 December 1945. These crimes included murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhumane acts, as set forth in counts one, two, and three of this indictment.”
According to the Indictment, the illegal activities included:
“Medical experiments upon concentration camp inmates and other living human subjects, without their consent, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed the murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts… [and] in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Such experiments included, but were not limited to, the following: (a) High-Altitude Experiments. From about March 1942 to about August 1942 experiments were conducted at the Dachau concentration camp, for the benefit of the German Air Force, to investigate the limits of human endurance and existence at extremely high altitudes. The experiments were carried out in a low-pressure chamber in which atmospheric conditions and pressures prevailing at high altitude (up to 68,000 feet) could be duplicated. The experimental subjects were placed in the low-pressure chamber and thereafter the simulated altitude therein was raised...”
There were ten other types of experiments listed in the Indictment.
The point is this - if there had been any doubt before the Indictment was handed down in October, 1946, that these types of experiments and methods were considered illegal and punishable under international law, there could be no doubt after. The only question remaining was whether the particular Nazi defendants on trial were guilty (of the 23 defendants, 16 were found guilty – seven were sentenced to death, and the other nine were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, most of which were later reduced on appeal. The other seven defendants were acquitted).
This was prior to the alleged experiments described by Barker and others that were supposedly conducted in the New Mexico desert in 1946 and 1947. No-one in the United States government would have been unaware of what was going on in Germany at this time, and the implications for anyone caught conducting this kind of “research.” It is simply unbelievable, therefore, that these people would have been working under the assumption, as Barker suggests, that, “gee, if only we get these experiments done by the end of the Doctor’s Trial in August 1947 (and one can never predict when a trial is going to end), we’ll be all right, but once that trial is over, we’re in trouble, so we’d better stop.”
This is the kind of detail that someone who is not telling the truth (for whatever reason) would insert in their story. It seems plausible on its face, particularly if the listener / reader doesn’t know much about the post-war trials – but it does not stand up to logical scrutiny.
At the very least, it calls into serious question Barker's credibility as a source.
To be continued...