There are times when premature disclosure can ruin an investigation and close avenues of research. Back in the last century (which is a line that cracks me up for some reason) Gerald Anderson burst on the scene with his tale of seeing the crashed saucer over on the Plains of San Agustin. Contrary to popular belief, I was the first to talk to him and found his tale interesting but in conflict with the information that Don Schmitt and I were developing. We didn’t understand how the Barney Barnett tale fit into the whole Roswell picture, especially if Anderson’s date and location were accurate. Anderson seemed to be corroboration of the Barnett story and it was from an alleged first-hand source.
Anderson told me that he could identify the archaeologists that Barnett had mentioned, said they were from the University of Pennsylvania, and the leader was a guy named Adrian Buskirk. Tom Carey, who had studied anthropology as both an undergraduate and graduate student, took on the search for Buskirk and found a guy named Winfred Buskirk, and given the identikit sketch of Buskirk provided by Anderson, looked like it was the right guy. But Buskirk denied that he had been involved and during the summer of 1947 was in Arizona working with the western Apache and on his dissertation.
The question became if Buskirk wasn’t on the Plains of San Agustin to have seen the crashed saucer, then how would Anderson know about him. Buskirk, who had taught high school anthropology in Albuquerque was as confused as the rest of us. He solved the problem by calling friends at the Albuquerque High School who looked at the records there. According to what they told Buskirk, Anderson had taken his anthropology class. Buskirk told me this and provided the names of three contacts at the school if I wanted to verify the information. This I did, and in fact, the man on the phone told me that he was looking at the transcript as we spoke. Anderson had taken Burkirk’s anthropology class. We had put the two of them together in the same class room at the same time.
I called Fred Whiting at the Fund for UFO Research and told him what I had discovered. Whiting, in turn, called Stan Friedman, who called Anderson. Anderson then called the school and threatened them with a lawsuit if they disclosed anything about his academic record. Anderson then sent me a letter with the same threats, but in the course of that, verified some of the information I had received. Anderson insisted he had not taken Buskirk’s class but had taken sociology instead.
The upshot of this was no one else would be able to verify the information. Had I not told Whiting and set that chain in motion, better evidence could have been obtained and Anderson’s tale would have been rejected much sooner than it was. I can now mention all this because those who helped me are not in danger of losing their jobs. Yes, I have documentation to back this up, including letters from Buskirk confirming this.
That was premature disclosure.
So, how does this relate to the Roswell slides?
In much the same way.
I first learned of the slides, not from my research partners, but through Rich Reynolds’ UFO Iconoclasts blog. He mentioned the information came from Nick Redfern. While I didn’t believe most of what Rich had published about the slides, especially about some sort of nondisclosure agreement, I emailed Nick about it. Nick suggested that I call him, so I did.
At that point he confirmed what Rich had published. Or, at least, it was what he had been told, including the names of some of those involved. I next checked with my research partners and learned that the information Rich had published was accurate. I just hadn’t been in the loop.
At that point, I suspended work on the slides because others were involved and that nondisclosure agreement bothered me. As much as I wanted to publish here what I knew, I also suspected that the man who owned the slides would think that they had told me. If the man with the slides wanted nondisclosure agreements, it meant that he was serious about this, and if I entered into the investigation uninvited, then he could invoke the agreements. The investigation would end there.
I had learned the name of the man, not from either Don or Tom. I had just enough information about him that it took me about three minutes to find an active telephone number for him. I’m not sure why I bothered with that because I had no intention of calling him. If I did that, he could take his slides and go home. The investigation would have been ended. To me, the end result, that is verifying the provenance of the slides and securing as much data about them as possible was the most important aspect of it. I could stand aside and let the investigation go.
Sure, I had ideas. When I was told that the coding on the edge of the slide film proved that it had been manufactured in 1947, I asked if they knew that the codes were recycled every twenty years, which meant the film could have been manufactured in 1927 or 1967 rather than 1947. I believed that the chemical composition of the film and a proper analysis of the chemicals used in developing the film might be important in dating the film. I wasn’t told if this was being done but have since learned, as has everyone else, that a Kodak official has verified the date… and no, I don’t know how that verification was done. If it is based solely on the dating code, then that doesn’t do much for us.
I didn’t want to wreck the investigation of what could be some of the most important evidence of the Roswell case just so that I could know everything that was going on immediately. I put my trust in Tom who had put his trust in Don. Or, in other words, I believed that when the time came, I would eventually have the information necessary.
The problem for me was that others were being brought in. Tom and Don got permission to ask questions of others but I was left out of the loop. In conversations and emails with various people, I learned a little more, but never anything that wasn’t already out in the UFO community… I suppose a more accurate way was to point out that I was getting corroboration of what I knew as opposed as getting anything from them. I wasn’t actively looking for the information but was getting it as a by-product of other work.
The real point is that there wasn’t much for me to do in the investigation. I made suggestions about what should be done, I harped on the provenance, and on chemical analysis as a way of dating the slides, but I wasn’t being told anything specific… Oh, I wanted to publish but knew that could destroy the working relationship between the source and Tom and Don.
Just over a year ago, this whole thing had a minor detonation. Information got out and people asked me about it. I felt the information was proprietary. Some of the things I knew, I didn’t think should be shared widely because I believed that could damage the work being done. I answered questions by saying that I was not part of the investigation, which was true. I used that to dodge the question so that I didn’t have to lie about it. I wasn’t involved in the investigation and had done no real work beyond the preliminaries when the information first surfaced but that was what everyone else already knew. It wasn’t the exact truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but it wasn’t false either. Some took offense at that, the very thing I had attempted to avoid. My statements were misinterpreted and twisted and not what I had said, but that happens quite a bit in the world of the Internet and all too often in the world of the UFO.
The leaks in this weren’t coming from Tom and Don. Nick had learned of all this from a source in Midland, Texas, but it was never clear to me how that source learned about this. Nick had told me, so long ago, that the slides were discovered in a box of slides as a woman was cleaning out a house after the owner had died. The slides were taped to the underside of the top of a box and didn’t seem to be part of the slides filed in the rest of the box. The other slides were of the same era, meaning 1947, which suggested a date, but certainly wasn’t evidence of it.
The name of the woman who had cleaned the house and the name of the now deceased owner were known, but that still didn’t tell anyone who had taken the slides or how they had gotten into that box. There was speculation about who had taken them, but, at that time, no one knew for certain. And there was no way to connect them to Roswell, other than there just couldn’t be that many UFO crashes. It was deduced that they were from Roswell.
As we know from what Tom has said lately the slides were dated as 1947 and that a historian at Kodak verified that. Tom’s specific words were, “It’s 1947 stock. From the emulsions on the image, it’s not something that’s been photo-shopped like today. It’s original 1947 images and it shows an alien who’s been partially dissected lying in a case.”
I can dissect that statement but I wasn’t in the room to ask the specific questions which means that someone probably didn’t ask them. I would have asked had there been a chemical analysis done, which might have provided an accurate date. It is a question that will come up. Yes, the image on the slides is a real image, but that doesn’t mean it was a real alien. I know that the slide holder was from the proper time frame and I know the code could be from 1947 but the code is not definitive.
Tom also said that the creature is “three and a half to four feet tall, the head is almost insect-like. The head has been severed and there’s a partial autopsy. The innards have been removed, and we believe the cadaver has been embalmed, at least at the time this picture was taken.”
A question that comes to my mind is how does this affect the Glenn Dennis story. The illustrations that he supplied of what the alien supposed looked like is not insectoid. They more closely resembled the heads described by Betty Hill at one point and the arms and hands look like the Martians from the 1953 War of the Worlds. Does this mean that they now reject the Glenn Dennis testimony? Oh, it wasn’t that strong in the first place because the descriptions he offered were second hand at best.
There is an indication that they have a witness who is over 90 years old who said that the creature on the slides looks like the creatures he saw. Given what I know about Tom, I’m sure that he has verified that this unnamed source was assigned to the base at Roswell in 1947 (or to one of the other commands in the proper time frame) so that he could have seen the creatures recovered there. That would tend to tie the slides to Roswell but that still doesn’t tell us who took them and how they ended up in Midland, Texas.
There are a couple of other points. In the pictures, the alien’s midsection is obscured by a hand lettered sign that could provide some information. Unfortunately it is turned at a sharp angle to the camera so that it can’t be read. Yes, there have been attempts to read it, but it is more obscured than the Ramey Memo.
At the moment, from what I know, there doesn’t seem to be an answer to the question of who took the slides. There is speculation, and even if that speculation is accurate, the man can’t be interviewed because he is long dead. That, I think is going to be a stumbling block.
I will say, however, that this isn’t really an investigation in the scientific arena. Areas of science can be used such as the chemical analysis of the slide stock and the chemicals used to develop the film, but this is actually an historical investigation. Given what is in the hands of Tom and Don, history is a more appropriate arena. The case needs to be put together as historical research with a dash of documentary evidence thrown in and a little bit of scientific analysis.
But the real point here is that premature disclosure could have wrecked the investigation and there wouldn’t be any controversy if some of the information hadn’t leaked too early. That information didn’t come from Tom or Don and I don’t believe they had any reason to disclose what they knew in the very beginning. They had made no public claims about the slides and while there were those who wished to know more, neither Tom nor Don had an obligation to supply that information. In fact there could be legal ramifications if they did.
That situation has changed with the information released at the press conference. Tom announced officially that they had the slides and that some research had been done. Once he did that, then questions that have been asked for the last two years should have been answered. No evidence was offered… it was sort of a presumption of evidence to come. It was “Here is what we have and we will let you know about it soon.”
Tom said that everything would be revealed after the first of the year, but the trouble with that is that he was sitting at the table telling the story now. If he was not prepared to share the evidence, then he shouldn’t have been talking about this in the way he was at the forum where he was. The issue of premature disclosure was over… he had ended it with the announcement.
Oh, I’m willing to wait a few more weeks for the detailed information but if he, and Don, were not prepared to provide it, they should have waited. After all the turmoil over the last eighteen to twenty months, that was what should have been done… But, of course, that wasn’t my call, I had no hand in making the decision, and have no inside information contrary to what some believe.