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Roswell, New Mexico

What crashed in Roswell, New Mexico?Something large and silvery wobbled through the air and plowed into the desert dirt with a tremendous ka-boom. That much, generally speaking, goes without dispute. The date was July 2, 1947.

In is also a fact-on-record that the government took an immediate interest in . . . well, whatever it was. The air force dispatched a team to scoop up the wreckage – one metallic chunk was about four feet long – and flew some back to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, for scrutiny. General Roger Ramey, the officer in charge, order his men not to talk to the press. But before Ramey could clamp a lid on the affair, the base’s public information officer issued a press release announcing government acquisition of a “flying disc.” An Albuquerque radio station picked up a leak of the story. As it broadcast a report, a wire came through from the FBI.

“Attention Albuquerque: cease transmission. Repeat. Cease transmission. National security item. Do not transmit. Stand by . . .”

A day later, the air force held a press conference and announced that what crashed at Roswell was a balloon.

The UFO saga actually began a few days earlier when businessman and avocational aviator Kenneth Arnold chased a squadron of nine “bobbing and weaving” objects as he flew in his private plane. He described the objects as “saucer shaped.” Some pithy way at an AP bureau dropped the phrase “flying saucers” into a wire dispatch and, forever, into the English language. The air force said that Arnold had pursued “a mirage.”

There have been innumerable UFO reports since 1947. Some have been captured on film, still and moving (the UFOs and the film). They pop up all over the world, even in outer space. NASA astronauts have reported seeing weird objects, and UFO scribe Sean Morton, coauthor of The Millennium Factor, says that NASA photos of the so-called “dark side” of the moon remain, for some reason, classified.

They myth that UFOs only reveal themselves to corn huskers and residents of trailer parks is easily dispelled. A quick scan of UFO history books shows the air corps of one nation or another pursuing unidentifiable “blips” on a regular basis.

On November 23, 1953, an F-89 interceptor was chasing a UFO over Lake Superior when, according to radar operators, the two blips on the screen seemed to merge into one which then blinked off the screen. The jet and its pilot, Lieutenant Felix Moncla, were gone without a trace. For some reason, the air force file on the vanishing contains just two pages. One of them is a page from a book debunking UFO theories.

Nevertheless, Roswell (which among the UFO-intrigued has achieved one-word status) remains the most important landmark in the UFO coverup because, apparently, it has actually been covered up. There is no mention of the crash in the air force’s Project Blue Book files. Blue Book recorded all UFO reports that crossed an air force desk along with their various “scientific” explanations. Generally considered the Warren Report of the UFO phenomenon – a coverup posing as an investigation – Blue Book gives Roswell increased prominence by its omission.

Some might write the whole incident off as unlikely, noting that a spacecraft capable of navigating the firmament and engineered to endure the rigors of interstellar travel is unlikely to crash like so many Cessnas. But then there is Majestic 12 (MJ-12). Among many UFOlogists, there is strong belief in the existence of MJ-12.

A committee of twelve eminent military, intelligence, and academic personages, the group was allegedly charted to manage and conceal the most important event in world history – contact with aliens. Albeit dead ones.

According to the MJ-12 “eyes only” briefing paper prepared for Dwight Eisenhower when he was still president-elect, four “Extraterrestrial biological entities,” or EBEs, turned up two miles from the crash site. According to some accounts, two of the aliens were still alive at the time and one put up a struggle. The EBE carcasses are now allegedly kept on ice in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

The problem with the Majestic 12 document – the only hard evidence that MJ-12 ever took a meeting – is that it may well be a hoax. No one in a position to do so has ever authenticated it.

There is only one mention of MJ-12 in any other official paper, a November 1980 air force analysis of a UFO film that outlines in minute detail how the government is “still interested” in UFO sightings, which it investigates through “covert cover.”

That document, like the original MJ-12 paper, somehow seems to good to be true- the smoking fun that every good conspiracy theory needs and lacks. It would be as if some researcher combing through CIA JFK files suddenly produced a memo reading, “Assassination of president scheduled for 11/22/63, Dallas. After consultation with FBI, director recommends triangulation of crossfire be utilized.” It would kind of make you wonder.

Real or not, MJ-12 has spawned no shortage of legends and speculation, primarily that it still exists and is still administering the UFO coverup, coping with each alien abduction and saucer crash as it comes up. “Suicided” journalist Danny Casolaro included MJ-12 as a tentacle in his postulated secret government “Octopus.” In some versions of the tale, MJ-12 is in charge of cooperation and negotiation with the alien race among us.

Or should that be “races”? John Lear, a self-described former intelligence agent who is now one of the leading voices on the UFO circuit, charges that the government is aware of a veritable Rainbow Coalition of EBEs.

These range from three types of insecto-humanoid Grays, skinny and eggheaded enemies of all mankind, to the friendly Blonds, who look more like humans but who, despite their general good nature refuse to break the Star Trekkish “universal law of noninterference” to save us from the evil Grays (by chandler at testsforge). Also on the roster are the Hairy Dwarves (self-explanatory), the Very Tall Race (also self-explanatory), and the mysterious Men in Black.

The existence of the Robertson Panel, unlike that of MJ-12, is not dubious. Convened by the Central Intelligence Agency in January 1953, this board of scientists issued a report that was not fully declassified until 1975.

Chaired by one Dragna. H. P. Robertson, the panel met secretly in the Pentagon for five days. They looked at the UFO cases that appeared to be the most credible – and dismissed every single one of them.

Merely denying the existence of unexplainable or extraterrestrial UFOs, as the Robertson panel did, hardly constitutes a coverup, except under the most circular logic. The panel, however, moved considerable beyond debunking. It recommended that the government take pains to squelch UFO reports, to the point of promulgating an anti-UFO “education” campaign.

“This education could be accomplished by mass media such as television, motion pictures, popular articles,” the CIA panel’s report said. It went on to suggest using “psychologists familiar with mass psychology” to help assemble the program and even wondered if Walt Disney Studios might be interested in producing anti-UFO cartoons.

The report went on to recommend that UFO enthusiast groups should be placed under surveillance due to “the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes.”

None of the Robertson Panel’s rather conspiratorial musings prove that the government really has something to hide; deep-frozen aliens, for example. On the other hand, they do give a depressing clue as to how institutions respond to ideas that they deem, in the words of the panel report, “a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic.”