Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Nick Redfern responds to Part II

I've offered Nick the opportunity to respond to any of my posts re: Body Snatchers in the Desert. Here is his response to Part II, which I have edited only for spelling. Any comments I make will be added in the comments section, as I told Nick I'd let his response stand alone, which only seems fair - so here it is (my original comments are in italics)...

"Hi Paul

Just read your Body Snatchers Review Part 2 and have posted my replies to the various points below.

Best,
Nick

The family of Meyers Wahnee, a pilot and aircrew commander of the 714th Bomb Squadron, 448th Bomb Group, who, according to Nick, told Roswell researchers Don Schmitt and Tom Carey, that the Roswell incident was true, that he was involved, and that there were “decomposing body parts.” What Nick doesn’t mention – and what calls the story into serious question – is that Wahnee (an old man by the time he supposedly related his story) also said that there were three separate crash sites, which does not square with either the traditional "Roswell as an ET crash theory," or Nick’s.

I don’t agree here. As I point out in the book, there were three locations: (1) The crash site of the aircraft and crew; (2) the location of the balloon debris that Brazel found; and (3) the location of the single body, which the Colonel stated that Brazel found “a half mile from the debris field.” Arguably, that is 3 sites.

Paul Helmick and Albert Collins. What these men supposedly said is irrelevant, because they allegedly said it to Timothy Cooper, the purveyor of literally hundreds of phoney MJ-12 documents. According to Nick, they provided “important data that may corroborate… aspects of the Colonel’s account.” However, any corroborative evidence that comes from Cooper is, at best, suspect, and, in fact, is most likely as worthless as his MJ-12 documents (see. pp. 120 – 122).

The Cooper angle inevitably creates controversy – much of it indeed valid re the MJ12 documents. What I would say is this: that Cooper was doing his Roswell/crashed UFO/White Sands research many years before his MJ12 documents started surfacing. I have delved very deeply into the early work of Cooper (most people just concentrate on his later MJ12 document era – a mistake) and there is a clear distinction between his earlier involvement in the UFO subject and his later involvement in the UFO subject. The later involvement was almost exclusively with the highly controversial MJ12 documents that surfaced from him. But his very early work (late 80s onwards) was heavily interview-based with sources. As you know, Cooper claimed to interview a nurse who knew aspects of this story (page 122 of Body Snatchers). As you also know, I have spoken with that nurse (and provided you her name and location) and she was quoted accurately by Cooper. There are other examples of Cooper’s earlier interview-based investigations that check-out too, regardless of later, major concerns re the MJ12 documents that people have.

(d) Vicki Ecker, editor of UFO Magazine, is cited as corroboration by Nick (pp. 123 – 124). Why? Because, a decade ago, she wrote, “What if the Roswell crash was a failed nuclear experiment – either ours or somebody else’s… [What if] it wasn’t nuclear; but if it was, that aspect has been kept secret. Maybe it was still a test of some kind, using shaved monkeys – or even worse, captured Japanese prisoners, for instance – as experimental passengers on an ill-fated flight. Ergo, ‘alien bodies.’” This is not corroboration – this is speculation. The fact that Nick considered it to be worthy of inclusion in the “corroboration” section of his book is indicative of just how little real independent corroboration there is for the stories told by the "Big Four." Even more interesting is the fact that Ecker speculated about “shades of those hideous Nazi experiments” and “Japanese prisoners.” One must legitimately wonder if any of Nick’s four main “whistleblowers” ever read UFO Magazine – or other sources that made similar unfounded speculations?

Speculation maybe, and perhaps I could have come up with a better title for that chapter than “Corroboration” but I included it because it was so very similar to the statements of the interviewees.

(e) Dr. Jacques Vallee, Martin Cannon, and Karl Pflock are all cited as “corroboration” in chapter 11 (pp. 124 – 125). Why? Because each posited that the Roswell case may have been related to a secret government experiment of some sort. Again – a theory by one person does not qualify as corroboration of a theory by another person.

Again, Corroboration was probably not the best title for that chapter, with hindsight. But Vallee’s comments in particular are relevant to the story, which is why I included them.

(f) There is William Moore, upon whom Nick relies for various pieces of information. As with Cooper, Moore – he of MJ-12 / Paul Bennewtiz / AFOSI infamy - is hardly a pillar of credibility. At one point even Frank Kaufmann is cited as a reliable witness (p. 15)! This, needless to say, is not a good sign – as Stan Friedman has pointed out in his review of Body Snatchers in the Desert, even Kevin Randle, long the staunchest supporter of Kaufmann as a reliable witness, now admits that Kaufmann was a fraud.

Actually, I don’t support the Kaufmann story (he claimed that Roswell was an alien event, so how could I?). What I did was to write a chapter stating what had been said about Roswell, who had said what, what the researchers had been saying, etc. You’ll note that I also include the Glenn Dennis story, which I don’t support. But Dennis said what he said and – whether people support it or not – his story is part of the Roswell history. That’s all I was trying to do with that chapter: summarize the history of who had said what, when, etc., so people would have a background to the story, the players, the claims, etc., and then go on from there. In a similar fashion to Kaufmann, I included a chapter on the Air Force’s Mogul and crash-test dummy claims. As with Kaufmann, I don’t support the dummy and Mogul claims, but I included them because – like it or not - they are part of the Roswell history/story.

Silas Newton's diary – I believe Karl Pflock when he says he saw something that might have been Newton’s diary, but it has not been authenticated, nor has it been seen by anyone else. There is no way to tell if it is Newton’s diary, or a forgery. Some would argue, correctly, that there is, other than Karl’s word, no evidence that the document even exists. And yet Nick makes no mention of these facts. Instead, he accepts the “diary” as real, a “fascinating piece of documentary evidence… that may ultimately shed more light on the psychological warfare angle of the crashed UFO mystery.” The use of such an alleged document for this purpose is a-historical, to say the least. As Karl told me, in an e-mail last October, “With the Newton journal, I'm NOT relying on an anonymous source. I'm saying: This is what the source showed me. Can anyone help me with independent confirmation / refutation? BIG difference.” A big difference indeed; unfortunately, it is one that Nick, does not take into account, or note for his readers.

But Paul, you neglect to make mention of an important piece of data that confirms the diary. Turn to page 13 of Karl Pflock’s self-published report titled “The Day After Aztec” and you will see in the 7th paragraph down, the following: “In November 1998, I obtained from William L. Moore a copy of Newton’s holographic will, which I took with me to what turned out to be my last meeting with my source. The will unquestionably is in Newton’s hand, and while I’m certainly not a handwriting expert, the comparison left no doubt in my mind that he wrote the journal, too.” It is this very specific “no doubt in my mind” comment that led me to use the data. Knowing that Karl wrote that he is in “no doubt” that the diary was written by Newton based upon a comparison with the will, is good enough for me, even if right now we are not in a position to analyze the diary.

(b) Otis Benson memos - Benson, who at the time of the Roswell incident was chief of the Medical Research Division in the Office of the Air Surgeon stationed in Washington, D.C. (see Benson's full biography at www.af.mil/bios/bio.asp?bioID=4669 - Benson was a pioneer in space and aviation medicine, and rose to the rank of Major General), wrote a number of memos that Nick quotes from, and claims as corroboration. In fact, they corroborate nothing. They talk about various experiments the military was conducting, none of which fit the description of the types of experiments Nick's "whistleblowers" discuss, and all of which, at least in terms of subject matter, are now public knowledge. Further, one memo which Nick quotes from at length, dated 1 July, 1947, specifically contradicts Al Barker, who stated that there was a rush on to get the experiments done before the judgment was handed down at the SS doctor's trials in Nuremberg (which came in August 1947). The memo states that experiments dealing with the ability of the human body to withstand G forces would be "greatly extended in the next three months at higher speed utlizing a greater variety of aircraft" - meaning the experiments being referenced in this memo were actually being increased, and were projected to continue well past the "hush hush" date described by Barker. In fact, the memo makes clear that all of the work it described was proceeding apace, and was to continue (it states, for example, that "work is continuing on studies of cockpit cooling and the cooling of pilots employing airflow suits."). (p. 127 -128) Nick calls this document "intriguing;" in fact, it is wholly irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the experiments described by the "whistleblowers," and in fact describes the kind of cutting edge work - all of it perfectly legal - that was undoubtedly going on at the time, and was to continue going on for many years to come.

Yes, this research, of the type that Benson described, was continuing. But as the sources told me, it was the really controversial research involving the Japanese that was stopped. However, no one disputes that similar research continued – just not at such a controversial and illegal level. As an example, officially declassified documents from NEPA reveal that in 1948, NEPA was trying to get official permission to use “life prisoners” in “the experiment” (see page 157 of Body Snatchers). That was the point of using the document: to show that research was continuing, but not at such a controversial level. We know this because NEPA tried to get permission to use “life prisoners” rather than just “snatching” people.

(c) After the red herring of the Benson materials, Nick references a memo that he states is "a true smoking gun." This memo, titled "Analysis of Factors Contributing to 'Pilot Error' Experiences in Operating Experimental Aircraft Controls," unlike the aformentioned Benson memo, does indeed seem to be, at least on the surface, relevant. Written on 22 September, 1947, it talks of "recent air accidents at White Sands Proving Ground" and a report "dealing with mutant experiments of extreme altitude flight, capsule ejection, and decompression effects." The document also talks of "radio-biological hazard studies incident to the work of this project," and a crash on 4 July, 1947 of a "loaned S-Aircraft (PF). (pp. 128 - 130) The problems with this "smoking gun" should be readily apparent, however. For example, what about the "crash" of 4 July, 1947 that is described? The scenario as described by the Colonel et al deals with a Horten Wing type aircraft which was carried aloft by fugo balloons, and then crashed as a result of a catostrophic lightning strike. Certainly the military would have known, by the time this document was written, what the cause of the crash had been if it was a "catostrophic lightning strike." Instead, the document talks of "engine failure," and states that the Army Air Forces Scientific Advisory Group, and the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, could not fully agree as to the exact cause of the "engine failure," and were specifically looking into pilot error, and how to rectify the problem. Hardly a catostrophic lighting strike, which would have been, to put it mildly, "obvious."Of course, this is pretty much moot, because the document is almost certainly a fake.The source of the document (which can be seen at http://www.majesticdocuments.com/documents/pre1948.php - scroll down to "Lt. Col. Tucker to Office of Air Surgeon, 22 September 1947") is the "mysterious" Cantwheel, of MJ-12 infamy. This "retyped copy" of an alleged original was provided to Timothy Cooper by Cantwheel, who allegedly worked in "Army Counterintelligence."The Cooper - Cantwheel documents are bogus, as any number of researchers have shown. Even Stan Friedman, who believes that the original MJ-12 documents are authentic, labels the Cooper - Cantwheel documents as frauds. At best (and I'm being extremely charitable here), any information provided by Cooper is as highly controversial as the information provided by the Colonel et al. Nick should have known better than to rely on a document provided by this "source" (and I'll note again that the document doesn't even corroborate the Colonel's story anyway). At the very least, he should have noted this fact in the book, but he did not.

Actually, this isn’t correct. If you go the link cited above by Paul at http://www.majesticdocuments.com/ , you will see that the documents in question have spelling errors and are just typed documents, nothing more. There is a lot of background data that is not included in the book, one piece being that in the same way that Karl Pflock got to see Newton’s diary and could take notes, I was in a similar situation with my sources. On one occasion at a Denny’s restaurant in Beaumont, Texas, the documents cited above were shown to me by the Colonel and I took word-for-word notes from the documents. However, while the text is the same as the Cooper-originated material, the documents I was shown were very different – the spacing was different, the typeface was different, they were on official, headed paper that identified the office they came from, they displayed no spelling errors, and they had a signature of an identifiable source whose family I am in touch with. I am in no doubt that they were actual bona fide, aged documents in photo-copied form. I am still looking into this and indeed much of the story is still on-going. It seems likely to me that Cooper’s “versions” were provided to him by someone else, who quickly typed them from the originals to look like the real thing and sloppily made spelling errors along the way (similarities here with the origin of the so-called “Aquarius” document provided to Bill Moore). But the important thing I want to stress is that Cooper’s document is just a “version” of an original that I was shown. Cooper’s is not “the” original. And it was from the copy I was shown that I made the notes, not from Cooper’s version. I still believe that the “smoking gun” document that details the crashes has relevance because there is a reference to “recent air accidents at White Sands Proving Ground;” the involvement of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project; and the involvement of the Atomic Energy Commission. I conclude that the reference to the March 25 event is likely one of the earlier experiments – that all of the sources told me occurred, even if they couldn’t remember the exact date(s). As for the 4 July event, and the reference to “engine failure,” my best estimate is that this was not the Roswell event but was one of the other tests that – again – all of the sources stated occurred in the vicinity of White Sands in summer 1947. As you’ll note on page 129, half way down the page, I was careful to note that the document was connected with “two crashes of experimental vehicles that occurred at White Sands and in the near vicinity.” I did not explicitly link it with the event at the Foster Ranch. What I did do was to specifically use this document to provide evidence that crashes of experimental aircraft were occurring in summer 1947 at and near White Sands. The crash cited in the document is referenced as having occurred on 4 July 1947. But the Colonel told me with respect to the Foster Ranch crash that: “…no one to this day really knows if this happened on July 1, or 2 or 3 or 4, or even sometime before, maybe.” This is the important point: the reference to the device that crashed on the 4th in the document re the “engine failure” comment was obviously not the one at the Foster Ranch. So it is not intended to be a “smoking gun” supportive of that crash, nor was it ever intended to be supportive of the Foster Ranch crash. But it is intended as a “smoking gun” in support of the testimony that a whole range of tests were being undertaken in that area in a clearly delineated period from early 1947 to late summer that failed with crashes. Again, this particular document was shown to me with official heading, signed, no spelling errors. Not the version that was provided to Cooper – even the typewriter was different.

(d) Lincoln LaPaz documents (pp. 134 - 136) - these documents cited by Nick as corroboration are, in fact, simply press releases from the University of New Mexico, where LaPaz was head of the department of Mathematics and the university's Institute of Meteoritics, which confirm that LaPaz had worked on wartime studies about Fugo balloons. Nick then links this to Lewis Rickett's statement that LaPaz was one of those people with whom Rickett worked in an investigation of the Roswell incident, and then asks, "If, as the Colonel has asserted, the key event that led to the legend of the UFO crash at Roswell involved 'a next generation of Fugo' balloon that was responsible for launching an experimental aircraft that catastrophically crashed, then who better to enlist into the study of how and why the Roswell experiment failed than an expert on those very same balloons?" (This sounds an awful lot like the Donald Menzel line of reasoning with respect to MJ-12, i.e. well, Menzel was involved in crytopgraphy during the war, so he was a natural to be on MJ-12 to decipher the "alien" symbols).Even if you believe Rickett's statement, however, there is nothing there to provide any corroboration to the Colonel's story. It is well known (and a quick search of LaPaz's name at http://www.bluebookarchive.com/ will confirm this, if confirmation is necessary) that LaPaz, while he may have worked on the fugo balloon problem in the Second World War, had moved on, and that his primary interest and expertise in the late 1940s was with meteors, green fireballs and other unidentified aerial phenomena. Studying these phenomena was the task for which he had been engaged by the military.Also, if you accept Rickett's account, you have to accept it all, including this part: "Before [LaPaz] went back to Albuquerque, he told me that he was certain this thing had gotten into trouble, that it had touched down for repairs, taken off again, and then exploded. He also felt certain there were more than one of these devices, and that the others had been looking for it. He was positive the thing had malfunctioned." This bears no resemblance to the Colonel's description of the incident.You also have to accept Rickett's explanation of why La Paz would have been involved, which had nothing to do with his wartime work on fugos, but rather his postwar work on meteors: "It was La Paz's job to try to find out what the speed and trajectory of the thing was. La Paz was a world-renowned expert on trajectories of objects in the sky, especially meteors, and I was told to give him all the help I could." (quoted in Friedman and Berliner, Crash at Corona, pp. 102 - 103)There is nothing here that is even remotely corroborative. It is another red herring.

I don’t agree that it is a red-herring. It is a fact that La Paz worked on the Fugo Balloon angle during the War. We don’t know for certain how many of Rickett’s recollections were directly related to the event at the Foster Ranch and how many were related to – potentially – other crashes of these prototype devices that La Paz might have been involved in analyzing. For example, the Colonel stated (quoted on page 113): “There is a reference in the file that was never really confirmed from an interview with a White Sands guy about a similar accident on the Range in May 1947 in which another of these aircraft flown by balloon crash-lands but with a surviving crew.” So this is the problem: there was not just one definitive event that has led to the legend of Roswell. A lot of people want it straight forward and one event, one location, etc. But that isn’t what happened. In reality, there were a number of experiments, a number of crashes, a number of body recoveries, some events with balloons, some not, etc., etc., all in pretty much the same general locations (in aviation terms) and same time frame. Therefore, it is not impossible that some recollections – such as those of Rickett – that appear related to one event, might have been related to another. On this point: La Paz was deeply involved in the Fugo situation in the War. If there was more than one Fugo-related test at White Sands in summer 47 (as seems to be the case), then arguably La Paz would have been involved in all of them and not just the Foster Ranch event. So again, we cannot definitely say which memory relates to which event. It’s just not that clear cut and black and white, much as people want it to be."

2 comments:

Paul Kimball said...

Some remarks about Nick's response:

1. I'm sorry, but anything from Tim Cooper must be viewed with extreme suspicion, precisely because of the MJ-12 stuff. If a person has a credibility problem in one respect, he has it everywhere - that is the very essence of "credibility." As for the nurse that Nick refers to, I don't recall him mentioning her name to me, but he may have. The fact is that it doesn't change Cooper's massive credibility problems even if he did get some things right.

2. Nick's explanation for the "smoking gun" - and I didn't say it was an original at the MJ-12 website, but clearly noted it was a re-typed copy - just doesn't wash, and makes me even more convinced that someone is pulling his leg / disinforming him here. Why was he not allowed to have a copy of the original document? Surely that would have answered any questions? Until the document itseld, and not a re-typed version or a version that Nick got to look over in Denny's, can be examined, it certainly can't be cited as corroboration of anything. The whole thing smells, frankly, particularly as Cooper was provided with a retyped version of the same document.

3. With LaPaz, it is about as clear cut as you can get. With respect, there is no indication anywhere that he continued his work on Fugo balloons after the war, and the fugo threat, was over. There is plenty of evidence (again, www.bluebookarchive.com) that he WAS working on unidentified aerial phenomena with the military. This is indeed a red herring - at BEST it is completely unsupported speculation.

4. Newton's "diary" - I neglect to mention Karl's "verification" of Newton's handwriting because it is irrelevant. First, we do not have the original document so that a proper verification can be done. Second, Karl admits in his paper (properly) that he is not a handwriting expert. The key phrase in the passage Nick cites is "while I'm certainly not a handwriting expert." The fact that Karl was in "no doubt" is hardly definitive evidence, as even Karl admitted in his e-mail to me, when he said he would not use the diary as proof of anything.

Paul Kimball

Jack Rousseau said...

Paul - Using Cooper as a cource does provide significant credibility problems, as you suggest. While I think you are correct about LaPaz, and it certainly isn't corroboration, Redfern's remarks there do have at least a hint of plausibility, even if they are highly speculative. Then again, I think that sums up his book - a hint of plausibility, but highly speculative, which just about covers all of the various Roswell theories, doesn't it? - JJR