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...

Paul Kimball


Stuart said...

A couple of "first reaction" observations.

If the American military didn't suspect they were doing wrong, then there wouldn't be a secret to cover up.

But, even though international law may have been clear on this point before 1947, those accused hadn't yet been convicted. That may have been considered a technicality then but if by some bizarre circumstance, they had been aquitted, that would then have placed a different light on events in New Mexico.

I think we should try and do what Nick has suggested we try and do - get into the mindset, as best we can, of the the people at the time. Two years after the war, the struggle with the personal morality of killing was still trying to bring itself back in line with the demands of civilian life. But even more importantly than that, the mad race with the Russians had already begun and that would have taken preference above anything. The consequences may have been "unbelievable" for anyone caught trying to do this sort of "work" but I think it was a chance they were prepared to take. If anything Paul, there is a way of looking at what you've written as making it even more expainable as to why this had to be buried as deeply as it was.

And don't forget, there is some documentary evidence, though not a great deal, that Nick has produced that shows comments about experiments with mutants.

Paul Kimball said...


That's exactly what I've done - get in the mindset of the people at the time. It is inconceivable to me that Barker's story about waiting until the end of the SS doctor's trial is anything other than bogus (note that Aug 1947 provides a pretty convenient date re: Roswell, however). The law has been settled well before then. That's what would have mattered.

There are two conceivable alternatives once the Indictment came down (assuming you have been experimenting up until that point):

1. You stop at that point.

2. You say, "screw it," and keep on going - in this case, the ultimate verdicts would be irrelevant, as you had already decided to cross the legal Rubicon by breaking the law.

Look at it this way:

A law is established that says spitting on the sidewalk is illegal. Someone is then charged with spitting on the sidewalk. Do you wait to see whether he is convicted before you stop spitting on the sidewalk? Nope. You'll either stop right then, or keep on spitting and take your chances, in full knowledge that what you're doing is illegal.

The August 1947 date is a red herring.


Kyle said...

Paul -

Could it be that the concern regarding the end of the trial was more related to the public's attention?

After the more heinous medical experiments became news, attention was naturally diverted from domestic issues. After the verdicts were handed out for these supposed Doctors who maimed and killed incredible numbers of people, the public attention would then turn back to issues at home.

I'm just speculating on the "mindset" questions. Perhaps those involved set the drop-dead date as sometime past "knowing it was illegal", but before the inquiring minds of the press and public would get a close look, or an accident tipped the accident like Roswell perhaps. The "end" of the sensational medical trials would have made a good "drop-dead" date under such circumstances.

It would also explain the rush to get such tests done...and consequently the mistakes (launching when bad weather is imminent, etc) leading to the accidents.

Just a thought. I just finished the book myself, and I find it cut from a sturdier fabric than most of the Roswell theories I've encountered.

And the holes seem smaller... :)


Stuart said...

If, for you Paul, the issue is whether the American military would have had the brass neck to continue with the 731 type of experiments as late as '47, then you need to remember that they certainly continued with experiments as far as into the 70s that might well have fallen under the Nuremberg cloak, and this time on American citizens. I quote below from Eleonar White's last posting to UpDates:

"This in spite of COINTELPRO's extensive record of stalking,
harassment, and life-destroying crimes (including murder) by FBI
agents, and MKULTRA's torture of children and adults for mind
control purposes, including electronic mind control. Or the
Tuskegee experiment in which some syphilis patients among poor
black men, _and_ some poor black men who were _injected_ with
syphilis deliberately, then _not_ treated but merely observed
for decades, up through the 1970s. Or the hundreds of people,
some retarded children, who were fed radioactive material for
"national security" reasons."

Even if you are not impressed with Eleanor's comments, we do know that such experiments, including experimemnts involving radiation and bio war fare chemicals were definitely carried out as per Clinton's apology during his tenure.

I don't think there is an issue of whether they dared or not back in '47. They obviously did. The end justified etc.........

On a general point, not necessarily connected with what you are arguing Paul, I have been disappointed by some of the rejoinders to Nick from subscribers who clearly haven't done their homework. While I acknowledge that there is a lot of detail to absorb and that I possibly have a slight advantage in that I've lived with the material a bit longer than most and had to type a long interview out word by word, so giving me a good grasp of the minutiae, the fact that Nick has had to repeat himself or offer factual corrections as often as he has to do is a bit of a let down.

In all fairness, for some, and I would include you here Paul too, there is a process to go through with this and it has its twists and turns. You are seeing it very sharply here at the moment with David Rudiak who has, understandably, jumped straight in without the degree of thought one normally associates with him. I'm sure his points and questions will get much more specific with time.

But, you will be in a different place with this in a few weeks from now, as you are now to where you were when you first read the book or the interview. It helps if you recognise that you are going through this, or at least, I found it so for myself. After that interview I did for example, I went into a fairly deep depression for at least a couple of weeks. I'm probably still in it now but at a much lighter level. For me, and I suspect for many others, it's not so much the explanation that does it so much as the consequences that flow from it that is the real killer. My mindset now is such that I question whether I have actually, in the transformation, become a sceptic. I find for example that I actually get quite impatient with people who still go on about "crashes" because to me it's "obvious", now, that none have ever occurred, that no alien contact has ever likely taken place and so on.

That is probably part of my process and I may have a different state of mind in another month or so. It's a frigging pain quite frankly.

Kyle said...

Stuart -

It would appear from reading the List archives, that many of those commenters you describe have not actually read the book. That would explain the more obviously uninformed questions.

I think it is reasonable to ignore posts that begin with, "I haven't read the book, but from what I've gathered from the discussion...".


Anonymous said...

"And don't forget, there is some documentary evidence, though not a great deal, that Nick has produced that shows comments about experiments with mutants."

See and scroll down to "Lt. Col. Tucker to Office of Air Surgeon, 22 September 1947" for what at least appears to be the source of the quotes on pp. 128-130. According to this Web site, this is a "retyped copy" of an original provided to Timothy Cooper by one Cantwheel, who worked in "Army Counterintelligence." Cantwheel also provided a memo authored by himself on the "S Aircraft" referred to in that document; according to this, one of these (although it's unclear whether it's one of theirs or one of ours) was recovered at Socorro on July 5, 1947. At the time the US was evidently also flying aircraft "reconstructed" from these, based on ET craft recovered in Missouri and Louisiana in 1941 and 1942 respectively. This can be found via, and scroll down to "S-Aircraft Drawing and Memo by Thomas Cantwheel." There are some very broad similarities between this document and the theory that Redfern presents in the book -- both involve radiation hazards, ejection problems, and flight tests at White Sands.

Now, personally, I regard all of this Majestic stuff with a very jaundiced eye, and so I don't regard anything coming through the Ryans or Cooper (or, for that matter, Moore or Doty) as "documenting" anything. Redfern may not agree, but it would be at least nice if in his footnotes he gave the actual source rather than just referring to this as "Memorandum, Office of the Air Surgeon" in his notes on that chapter, and letting the reader assume he got it through the FOIA. (Which I certainly did until, puzzled by the references in it, I tracked it down.) Now I have to wonder where he got some of his other documents, like the one written by Otis Benson and also referring to "S Aircraft" cited on p. 127.


Paul Kimball said...


You wrote:

"Could it be that the concern regarding the end of the trial was more related to the public's attention?

After the more heinous medical experiments became news, attention was naturally diverted from domestic issues. After the verdicts were handed out for these supposed Doctors who maimed and killed incredible numbers of people, the public attention would then turn back to issues at home."

One might think so, except:

a) it makes no sense, re: the law, which is what was important, and

b) after the IMT of the major war criminals ended with their sentencing (and for some execution) in October, 1946, the various other trials slipped off the front pages of the newspapers (at least in the United States) once they began. Most of the Nazis convicted in these trials were given significantly reduced prison terms on appeal (save for the ones sentenced to death), and even after that were released early, as public attention shifted from punishing the Nazis to fighting the Soviets. There simply was no significant (by which I mean widespread) public awareness of the subsequent trials that would have worried anyone conducting these kinds of experiments.


Paul Kimball said...


I agree that people who are commenting on the book without having read it are out to lunch.

However, it is equally out to lunch to assume that anyone who disagrees with Nick hasn't processed the book yet. I've read it carefully, cover to cover, twice now, and chatted with Nick at length about aspects of the book a couple of times (as well as e-mails). I've read the interview at your site, and listened (post facto) to the radio interview.

I don't have much time for "believers" - that includes people on both sides; Roswellites like Gildas Bourdais, and people on the other side who simply accept Nick's theory as the final answer. Heck, not even Nick accepts it as the final answer.

You need to process the critiques of Nick's book and theory. For example, I never said that the US wasn't capable of conducting the kind of experiments that Nick describes (although I maintain that, in this instance, he hasn't proved that these things happened as he describes). Canadians are well aware of the kind of "research" the CIA conducted, for example.

What I said - and what I still say - is that the story told by Barker makes no sense, for a very logical reason of which Nick, at the time, would not have been aware, given his lack of in-depth knowledge of the post war trials. These might seem like trivial details to some, but they aren't - it is a very significant detail that goes to Barker's credibility.

I would suggest you re-read my original post, and follow-up comment, carefully again. I'm no Roswellian (which makes it odd to be on the same side as someone like David Rudiak, or Bourdais), but I do think Nick's overall theory is seriously flawed, even as I find particular things in the book that ARE interesting, and with which I agree, and which I'll be detailing here in the days to come.


Anonymous said...

Well For give me for falling into the "I haven't read the book" camp but I just have not had the time to get to it. I have a question along the same lines of logic. I keep reading about the expeimental flight of this aircraft with the small Japanese pilots. Now my understanding is that more than one pilot was included into the flight. Now this may sound kosher to the outsider but I can not understand any test flight series that would have included an entire crew? Why would you need to suspend the body of the craft from the balloon with an entire crew onboard. Would you not be able to use test dummies instead of real people. Just from the outside looking in this seems to be a case of someone trying to make up a theory to fit the witness statements. Now as I said I have not read the book and I am not passing total judgement on the idea but I have more trouble believing this story than I do that an Alien craft crashed!