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Dummies in Space

test dummies
Dumb Luck: The Air Force has many logical answers for the Roswell Incident, such as the idea that what crashed in the desert were not aliens but parachute test dummies dropped from balloons. Of course.

Former National Security Council member Philip Corso charges the U.S. military with covering up extraterrestrial encounters and 'seeding' alien technology to unwitting defense contractors

By Christopher Weir

THOSE ALIENS WHO WIPED OUT near Roswell 50 years ago were pretty smart for a bunch of dummies. Just ask the government. In a recently published hallucination, retired Army Col. Philip J. Corso claims that the military harvested alien technology at Roswell and employed it for advanced weapons development. Meanwhile, the Air Force concurs that something indeed happened near Roswell, but that it was really nothing.

What next? The CIA admitting that the U.S. government methodically lied about UFO sightings for decades? Well, since you asked ...

First up in this whole mess is Col. Corso. In The Day After Roswell, Corso portrays himself as the protagonist in an elaborate alien conspiracy that emerged from the ashes of the alleged Roswell Incident. The record shows that Corso's illustrious 21-year military career included stints with President Eisenhower's National Security Council and the Army's Foreign Technology division. So why in the hell would he go off half-cocked and publish a preposterous memoir that will earn him a legacy of ridicule?

Good question.

The Day After Roswell is an engaging account of how Corso personally orchestrated the diffusion of alien technology into the military industrial complex, ultimately catalyzing a number of innovations--everything from stealth aircraft to the Strategic Defense Initiative--that have forced the aliens to think twice about abducting our wives, knocking up our cattle and attempting to kick our collective asses in a full-tilt war of the worlds.


But Corso doesn't fortify his claims with any hard documentation. Instead, he simply regurgitates, reformulates and repackages the apocrypha of UFO lore, including alien autopsies and the so-called "Majestic 12" high-level government UFO committee. Corso is no dope, and he spins a fascinating yarn.

Too bad the yarn is interwoven with illogic, inconsistency and outright balderdash.

It's probably just a matter of time before the United States Air Force takes a few swings at Corso. Basically, the Air Force is tired of this Roswell crap, and they're not going to take it anymore.

Thus, The Roswell Report: Case Closed, the second Roswell study issued by the Air Force in the past three years. The first, a 1,000-page investigation conducted under pressure from the General Accounting Office, said the "debris field" that prompted the Roswell Army Air Field's infamous "flying disk" press release was really just the aftermath of an ill-fated high-altitude research balloon experiment.

The Air Force's latest report confronts eyewitness recollections of a secondary saucer crash site littered with alien bodies. According to the Air Force, the so-called aliens were actually anthropomorphic parachute test dummies dropped from balloons over the New Mexico desert.

Upon release of The Roswell Report, a gaggle of mainstream media pundits erupted with righteous indignation, if only because it was an opportunity to take some shots at a government institution without having to actually read something: Whaddya mean, dummies?

Well, guys, you're way too late.

The Air Force figured it was time for someone to ask the hard questions you should have asked long ago.

And it actually provides some compelling answers.

Hyper Hick Imaginations

THE CORE PROBLEM with the Air Force's main hypothesis is that the dummies in question weren't cascading from the skies until 1953, several years after the Roswell Incident. However, the Air Force does a fine job of resolving this discrepancy by deconstructing eyewitness testimonies and ultimately revealing them as terminally incoherent.

In fact, several of the "star" Roswell witnesses were the first people to toss around the words "dummies" and "plastic dolls" to describe what they had seen.

Air Force cronies
The Spy Who Came in From the Sky: Air Force cronies stand beside what the government claims was really seen in the New Mexican desert during the dummy parachute test.

Strangely, the Air Force goes on to engage and explain every bit of minutiae associated with the Roswell Incident. The aliens' four-fingered hands? Well, those dummies frequently lost fingers when they bit the desert dust. Reports of scorched and stinky alien bodies at the Roswell airfield hospital? Probably the corpses of Army pilots killed in a 1956 aircraft crash.

All this has the unintended consequence of bestowing quasi-validation upon the Roswell witnesses. They're no longer liars or even rednecks with hyperactive imaginations. They're just confused. And isn't it odd that there are so many people around Roswell who are so confused about what they saw?

Ultimately, one must ask why the Air Force would even bother with all this in the first place, especially since no one asked it to do so. Fortunately, the Air Force anticipated the question: "Some persons may legitimately ask why the Air Force expended time and effort to respond to mythical, if not comedic, allegations of recoveries of 'flying saucers' and 'space aliens.' "

The answer is simply that the Air Force is pissed: "The misrepresentations of Air Force activities as an extraterrestrial 'incident' is misleading to the public and is simply an affront to the truth."

Funny the Air Force should mention misleading the public.

According to a new CIA report in the agency journal Studies of Intelligence, the Air Force for decades made "misleading and deceptive statements to the public in order to allay public fears and to protect an extraordinarily sensitive national security project."

The project was an overhead reconnaissance program that enlisted top-secret U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird aircraft. Aware that many alleged saucer sightings were simply misinterpretations of the classified high-altitude spy planes, Air Force "Blue Book" investigators deliberately deflected attention from their classified technology by blaming the sightings on "natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions."

The spy-plane program, however, was initiated in 1954, a full two years after a "massive buildup" of unexplained saucer sightings "alarmed the Truman administration" and prompted the CIA to form a study group to investigate the UFO phenomenon.

This was followed by the Robertson Panel, a CIA-sponsored scientific committee charged with assessing the potential of UFOs to pose a national security threat.

Subsequent leaks regarding the Robertson Panel instigated an informational tug of war between UFO researchers who wanted a peek at the panel's findings and a CIA that wanted to deny any and all interest in the UFO phenomenon.

Increasing pressure from high-profile Freedom of Information Act requests eventually pried open the spigot of most--but not all--Robertson Panel documents.

Bungled Job in Spookville

BUT SAUCER ENTHUSIASTS, it seems, are never satisfied. Says the CIA study, "No matter how much material the Agency released and no matter how dull and prosaic the information, people continued to believe in an Agency cover-up and conspiracy."

If you cover up your inquiries into the UFO phenomenon, conspire to keep related documents from the public eye, then involuntarily dole out a steady stream of "dull and prosaic" information while withholding several dozen documents "on national security grounds and to protect sources and methods," what do you expect?

Of course, no bungled job goes to waste in Spookville. Having clumsily fueled the very conspiracy theories that thrust the UFO ranks into overdrive, CIA analysts subsequently occupied themselves with "concerns that the Soviets and the KGB were using U.S. citizens and UFO groups to obtain information on sensitive U.S. weapons development programs."

After eventually losing interest in the scientific ramifications of UFOs, concerned CIA agents moved on to more sensible matters. Namely, they "shifted their interest to studying parapsychology and psychic phenomena associated with UFO sightings."

Standing bemusedly on the sidelines of this entire alien carnival are the authors of the just-released UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth. These anthropologists quite cogently argue that the Roswell Incident isn't merely some 20th-century anomaly, but rather an elaborate myth wired to behavioral impulses that can be traced through the millennia.

The authors also comprehend the Roswell Incident not as just another ghost story, but as a funhouse mirror reflecting pre-millennium America. Alluding to the emboldened militia movement and other hallmarks of anti-government sentiment, co-author Charles Ziegler writes, "The Roswell myth appears to be ... an indicator of a deep and widening rift in our society between the government and the governed."

Noting as well the time and expense invested by congressional staffers, the General Accounting Office, the Defense Department and the Air Force to ultimately produce the ponderous 1994 Air Force report on Roswell, Ziegler continues, "These expenses, of course, are taxpayer dollars--spent because of a myth. Therefore, the government investigation is, in itself, evidence that this particular myth has tapped powerful undercurrents in our society."

As for the aliens, they're once again getting a bum deal. They've finally earned our respect, but only at the very moment when they seem least likely to exist. It's all fun and games for them to spook our skies, mutilate our farm animals and give the CIA something to cogitate. But until they carve a crop circle on the South Lawn of the White House, all their shenanigans and a nickel aren't worth a 5-cent cup of squat.

The Day After Roswell by Col. Philip J. Corso (Ret.) with William J. Birnes; Pocket Books; 341 pages; $24.

The Roswell Report: Case Closed by Capt. James McAndrew, Headquarters United States Air Force U.S. Government Printing Office; 230 pages, $18.

CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90 by Gerald K. Haines; CIA Studies of Intelligence; www.odci.gov/ csi/studies/97unclas/

UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth by Benson Saler, Charles A. Ziegler and Charles B. Moore; Smithsonian Institution Press (Aug. 27); 194 pages; $24.95.

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From the Sept. 4-10, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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