UFO Spin in the UK
August 8, 2010
The British Government is declassifying UFO documents. But do they tell the whole story?
Last week, amid much media fanfare, the British government declassified another batch of UFO-related documents—the sixth such release in recent years—in response to ongoing public interest in the phenomenon. UK journalism professor Dr. David Clarke is a consultant to that country's National Archives and has more or less set himself up as an expert on what this, and the previous document-releases, tell us about the British government's knowledge of UFOs.
Regarding the latest batch, Dr. Clarke told the BBC: "Since the Freedom of Information Act arrived in 2005, this subject—UFOs—has become the third-most popular subject for people to write to the Ministry of Defence, saying 'please could you release this file, or papers that you hold on this particular case.' What they've decided to do is to be totally open and to say, 'look we're not holding any secrets back about this subject. We've got all these files and we're going to make them available to the public.'"
Well, Dr. Clarke may believe that the British government is being totally open on the subject of UFOs but many others, including myself, have strong doubts. A case in point is the U.S. Air Force's closure of Project Blue Book in 1969. The project's termination, and the eventual declassification of its files in 1974-75, left the impression—as was intended—that the military had lost interest in UFOs and was making public the sum of its knowledge about them. In reality, as U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests eventually proved, other groups within the Air Force, and other government agencies—including the CIA and the National Security Agency—had also collected information on UFOs for decades, especially in cases where the national security of the United States was potentially impacted.
Many of those highly-secret cases—involving ongoing UFO incursions at nuclear missile sites and nuclear weapons storage depots—had been kept from public view long after the U.S. government supposedly came clean on its knowledge of UFOs. Importantly, at least one nukes-related UFO incident occurred in the UK, at the American-run RAF Bentwaters airbase, in December 1980, something that has yet to be officially acknowledged by the British (or American) government.
These very relevant facts seem to be lost on Dr. Clarke, who has naively taken the British government at its word. According to his online bio, Clarke is "a senior lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University where [he teaches] media law and investigation skills. [His] Ph.D is in Folklore and was completed at the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition, University of Sheffield , in 1999."
Clarke's position statement on UFOs, again from his self-published bio, reads, "My approach to the subject of UFOs and UFOlogy is from the viewpoint of a journalist and a historian. Although I take a sceptical stance, I remain open-minded about the possibility that some 'UFOs' might have an exotic origin, most probably as UAPs—Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena …"
In response to a recent post by Dr. Clarke on the UK_UFO.org blog, regarding the supposed significance of the latest release of documents, I posted the following message:
Any new information is a positive development. Of course, the Brits are doing what the U.S. is doing: releasing the low-level stuff, when pressed, while keeping the really sensitive material classified—and unacknowledged. It's called "spin."
To illustrate my point that information relating to the "really sensitive" cases was still being kept secret—despite all of the hoopla surrounding the latest document-release by the British government—I then mentioned that the former Deputy Base Commander at RAF Bentwaters, now-retired USAF Col. Charles Halt, is on-the-record regarding his having witnessed a disc-shaped UFO hovering near the base's nuclear Weapons Storage Area (WSA), at which time the unknown craft sent down beams of light into or near the facility. No official record of that event has ever been declassified, by either the U.S. or British government.
Taking offense to my challenge, Dr. Clarke responded in a follow-up post:
The truth is exactly the opposite.
The real "spin" is actually coming from the other direction—from the people who are actively engaged in spreading the idea that there is "really sensitive material classified—and unacknowledged" about alien visitations that the government is with-holding for inexplicable reasons.
If people are disappointed with the contents of the files, presumably because they are full of "low level stuff", then perhaps that is because "low level stuff" is all that MoD ever received. I noted with amusement a note in this set of files from UFO desk officer Kerry Philpott, responding to a very similar statement from a correspondent—she said "this is as good as it gets."
It is impossible to disprove the existence of "really sensitive material" about UFOs that is being with-held. And there are people within the UFO industry who recognise this and realise they can keep repeating this claim indefinitely because no one can ever disprove it.
As I've argued on my blog, if such material existed, why hasn't someone sent it to Wikileaks? I'd make a substantial wager that no one will leak it because it doesn't exist.
Soon thereafter, other bloggers began making snide comments about my post as well. My own rebuttal—which UK_UFO.org has refused to post—follows here:
"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." – Winston Churchill
As noted in my last post, the former Deputy Base Commander at RAF Bentwaters, now-retired USAF Colonel Charles Halt, is on-the-record as saying that one of the intelligently-controlled UFOs he witnessed, in December 1980, had sent down beams of light into the base's nuclear Weapons Storage Area (WSA).
If such a thing did indeed occur—regardless of the origin of those aboard the "elliptical-shaped" craft—would not such a provocative action be considered aggressive (warlike) with appropriate measures being taken by the officials involved—to suppress news of the incident? More to the point, would not official communications about the event been generated and shared between various groups within both the U.S. and British government? David Clarke claims that because neither the U.S. Department of Defense nor the British Ministry of Defence has released such paperwork (nor are likely to) it simply does not exist.
In my 2008 book UFOs and Nukes, I presented Halt's detailed testimony about the incident at the WSA—earlier published by journalist A.J.S. Rayl—as well as the statements of a number of other ex-USAF witnesses to UFO activity near the WSA, including USAF Security Policeman (SP) Robert "Charlie" Waters, who told me,
"There was some commotion in the WSA that night. Someone saw this object, I don't remember who, and called out to us. I think my ART partner was Rob Isbell, but I'm not certain. But we looked and saw this spinning light—a multicolored light, I can't really remember the colors—anyway, this craft was hovering and then slowly descended toward the forest. We ran up on one of the berms to get a better view of it. Then we reported it [to Central Security Control]. I remember I used a couple of expletives and was warned not to use profanity on the radio...The next morning, I talked to one of the operations officers who told me that [a small group of SPs] had gone out to the woods and had seen some burn marks on trees, about three feet off the ground. He said it looked like, whatever it was, had bounced from tree to tree coming down. The person who told me that wasn't our flight's shift commander. He was another officer, but I don't remember his name."
Seeking details about the spinning light, I asked Waters if its apparent diameter was larger than a dime held at arm's length. He replied, "Yes! I would say it was, when I first saw it, as large as a, uh, cantaloupe held at arm's length! It was big! It was spinning and, I think, had a light on the bottom of it, but I'm not sure. I also think I saw something sticking out on the bottom, uh, like a rod or something like that." I quickly asked Waters if he ever saw anything resembling a beam of light coming out of the UFO. "No, nothing like that, at least what I saw. Nothing coming out and going down to the ground, or anywhere else."
I asked Waters if the UFO had ever been over the Weapons Storage Area itself. He replied, "Not that I saw. It never came directly over our heads. It stayed just over the trees and moved [from our vantage point] slowly from right to left until it, I think, disappeared behind them. To be honest, I don't remember where it went, but it was descending when I saw it. It was pretty amazing. I didn't immediately think 'alien', you know, I was just perplexed. Also, I remember the animals were going crazy. There were cows mooing and, uh, farm animal noises in the distance. It was almost like they were screaming!"
Waters' testimony is corroborated, at least to some degree, by others who were directly or indirectly aware of the UFO's presence near the WSA. In fact, there is a strong suggestion that the UFO appeared near the facility on at least two nights during the week between Christmas and New Years Eve. Those tape-recorded statements may be found in my book's chapter "Beams of Light" the link to which appeared in my last post.
Aside from the witnesses at the WSA, I was able to track down and interview the two USAF air traffic controllers who had been in the Bentwaters tower that week, James H. Carey and Ivan "Ike" R. Barker, both of whom report tracking a high-velocity object during the period of the UFO activity at the base. Barker also admits to seeing the object momentarily, as it briefly hovered over the base, describing it this way:
"I saw it out the window. It was basketball-shaped, and had sort of an orangish glow. Not bright orange, uh, sort of dim, maybe like the full moon would look behind a thin layer of clouds. There seemed to be something across the center of it, lighter-colored shapes like—don't laugh—like portholes or windows, or even lights, in a row left to right, across its center. Maybe six or eight of them. They were stationary, not moving across the object. But it seemed spherical, not flat like a flying saucer. I couldn't hear any noise. It wasn't huge, but I think it was bigger than an airplane. I would say it was maybe twice the size of an F-111. Now, there's a water tower at Bentwaters. If you were in the air traffic tower, facing the runway, the tower is almost behind you. [From my vantage point] the object was directly over top of the water tower, or just past it. The object [appeared] larger, maybe twice as large, as the tank on the water tower. It stopped in mid-air for a few seconds, probably 500-feet, uh, maybe a 1000-feet above the tower, then it left. I didn't see it turn, uh, rotate or anything like that before leaving. But what impressed me most was the speed this thing had. I have never seen anything so fast in my life! It was zoom, gone!"
Both Barker and Carey estimated that the object covered 120 miles in 8-12 seconds, based on the 60-mile tracking radius of their "Bright 2" radar scope.
According to Dr. Clarke's logic, the UFO sightings at the WSA, and in the air traffic control tower, never really took place because neither the Ministry of Defence nor the Department of Defense has ever released documents relating to them. (And, yes, according to Col. Halt, members of [the British Intelligence group] M-15 were indeed snooping around on the base following the UFO incidents. Dr. Clarke would presumably contend that such a thing never occurred because—to my knowledge—no official record of their involvement in the post-event investigations has ever come to light.)
Importantly, it should be noted that the incident at the Bentwaters WSA was hardly unique. Over the years, I have secured witness testimony from several former/retired USAF personnel, including one squadron commander, which supports the reality of UFO incursions at WSAs at several U.S. Air Force bases, as early as 1949—at Killeen Base, Texas—and as recently as 2004—at Nellis AFB's Area 2. These sources' verbatim statements may be found in my book, although I would be happy to post them on this forum.
Moreover, the Soviets apparently had the same problem. Declassified KGB documents confirm that a UFO hovered over the "rocket weapons" storage facility at the highly-secret Kapustin Yar base on July 28, 1989. One excerpt, based on eyewitness' accounts, reads:
"One could clearly see a powerful blinking signal which resembled a camera flash in the night sky. The object flew over the unit's logistics yard and moved in the direction of the rocket weapons (nuclear warhead) depot, 300 meters away. It hovered over the depot at a height of 20 meters. The UFO's hull shone with a dim green light which looked like phosphorous. It was a disc, 4 or 5 m. in diameter, with a semispherical top. While the object was hovering over the depot, a bright beam appeared from the bottom of the disc, where the flash had been before, and made two or three circles, lighting the corner of one of the buildings...The movement of the beam lasted for several seconds, then the beam disappeared and the object, still flashing, moved in the direction of the railway station."
In short, the type of incident that Col. Halt witnessed at the Bentwaters Weapons Storage Area, although bizarre, has also been observed in the U.S. and the former Soviet Union , on many occasions. These were obviously important events, having no prosaic explanation, which would have been discussed in classified communications. The fact that those documents have not yet been released to the public, with rare exceptions, changes nothing.
But some journalists will never get it, no matter how much data is placed before them. Rather than actually seeking out and interviewing the UFO sighting witnesses in these cases, to attempt to learn the facts, they will instead wait patiently for carefully-selected hand-outs from the government—in whatever country—which they will then use to form their opinion about what has or has not occurred behind the scenes. Unfortunately, many people will fall for these "expert" opinions and go on their merry way, none the wiser about the reality of the situation.
As retired USAF Lt. Colonel Robert Peisher once told me, "Most people just want to keep everything on an even keel and live happily ever after by not investigating the unusual." Peisher was the commander of the helicopter unit at Malmstrom AFB, Montana , in 1975. In 2004, he confirmed to me that his crews had once chased a UFO away from the base's Weapons Storage Area. The silent and extremely bright craft eluded the choppers by racing to the nearby town of Belt , leaving the pursuers far behind, before looping back to the base and again hovering over the WSA. And guess what, Dr. Clarke, no documents about the incident have ever been declassified by the U.S. Air Force. So, I guess it never took place, right? Too bad the good colonel didn't have a Folklore specialist on his staff, to explain to him what really happened.