DESPITE DENIALS, SECRET UFO DOCUMENTS DO EXIST.
Outright Air Force censorship of a national televised program about UFOs occurred on January 22, 1958, when Major Donald Keyhoe ran into stiff Air Force opposition when he tried to discuss the letter and other hidden documents on CBS Television's special Armstrong Circle Theater program, "UFO: Enigma of the Skies."
"Don, we can't use that statement about hidden documents," said Irve Tunick, a program staff member, after rehearsal of the initial script in which the letter was mentioned. "Then the Air Force is censoring this program!", said Keyhoe. "No," said Tunick. "But they deny there ever were any such conclusions. If we let you say it, they'll stand up and deny it... They say they'll call the source a liar. We can't have any row on the program... Don, don't blame me, but we had to promise the Air Force there'd be no personalities."
During the broadcast of the program, Keyhoe deviated from the censored script and was promptly cut off the air. He referred to "official secrecy on UFOs," and the sound went dead. An announcers voice boomed: "Due to operating difficulties there has been an interruption in the sound portion of the Armstrong Circle Theater. Until difficulties are cleared, we will continue the picture portion." (Appendix D)
APPENDIX D: FLYING SAUCERS TOP SECRET - Major Donald E. Keyhoe, US Marine Corps, Retired Director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena published by Putnam.
CHAPTER XI - The Armstrong Theater Battle
For ten days, NICAP concentrated on the search for new clues, after the evaluation with Brennard. It was a relief from the November struggle. But a call I received from New York cut it short:
"This is Irve Tunick, calling for the Armstrong Circle Theater. We're going to do a UFO discussion and we'd like NICAP's advice."
I managed to hide my surprise.
"You can count on our help," I said. "Fine. We'd like you to appear on the program. So far, we have Captain Ruppelt, also Captain C.S. Chiles - he's going to describe that 1948 sighting. For the negative, we may get Dr. Menzel--"
"Have you asked the Air Force?"
"Yes. No success yet, but we'll keep trying."
"I couldn't believe the Air Force would consent to any wide-open UFO discussion. But several days later Tunick phoned that they had agreed.
"It's set for January 22. I'll give you the details after the holidays. Have a good Christmas."
The Air Force cooperation disturbed me. Why, after the intensive November debunking, would they expose themselves to a barrage of questions - especially from NICAP? There must be something I didn't know. The answer, when I learned it, was simple.
"No ad lib," Tunick told me. "They agreed only if they could put on their part separately and see your script. Of course, you can see theirs, too."
"I didn't think they'd risk being questioned."
"It's still a good setup," argued Tunick. "First, Doug Edwards gives a neutral roundup. Then Ken Arnold and Captain Chiles report their sightings. The Air Force man is next, then you, Ruppelt and Menzel, with a final one-minute statement by some top Air Force official."
"How much time do I have?" "Seven minutes." "How much for the Air Force and Menzel?" "Well - about twenty-five minutes."
"You call that a fair deal?" I demanded. "If I'd known it wasn't a panel discussion I'd have insisted on equal time."
"Don, it's too late now. But you can cram a lot into seven minutes."
"Are you showing that UFO formation film - the Utah pictures?"
"No. The Air Force said they were only sea gulls."
"That's not true. Air Force and Navy experts tried for six months to explain those UFOs. Their conclusion was "Unknown objects," and the Navy group said the UFOs appeared to be under intelligent control."
"But if we run the film, the Air Force will call them sea gulls."
"You told me this wasn't a censored program."
"It's not. But we can't buck them on those pictures."
In my script, I alternated key cases, tightly compressed, with contradictory Air Force claims. The latter included three points from Special Report 14:
Page 92, Air Force claim: With only twelve detailed descriptions in reports by about 4,000 people, it is impossible to make even a rough model of a "flying saucer."
NICAP answer, quoting the Air Force Project Grudge statement, December 30, 1949: "The most numerous reports indicate daytime observations of metallic disc like objects roughly in diameter ten times their thickness." With these details, accurate models of discs could be and had been made.
Page 4, Air Force claim: Sightings prior to 1947 were not reported to official sources.
NICAP Answer: The citing of numerous official World War II reports, like that of Captain Reida, and postwar reports like that of Captain Jack Puckett.
Answering the Report 14 brush-off of radar tracking, I cited a January 1953 statement given to me by ATIC: "In 35 percent of all radar tracking of UFOs, radar reports were confirmed visually by maneuvering objects or lights. Speeds indicated, from zero (hovering) to fantastic figures. In 60 percent of the cases there was only one UFO; in the rest, there were several, some in formation."
Combined with stated opinions of Senator Goldwater, rocket expert Hermann Oberth, William Lear and other authorities, the high point of the script was the hidden Air Force conclusion that the UFOs were interplanetary spaceships.
Except for minor editing, I expected this to be final. But when the Armstrong Theater revision arrive, I had a shock. All the important items were missing. I immediately phone Tunick. "we had to cut it," he said. "It was too long."
"It took just seven minutes, talking rapidly. Irve, I won't go ahead unless those main points are put back."
After an argument, Tunick gave in. "All right, phone me the changes Sunday night, so we'll be ready for rehearsals."
When I reached the loft like rehearsal hall in New York, on Monday afternoon, Tunick told me the new script was being mimeographed.
"By the way, Ruppelt has backed out. Also, Eastern Air Lines made Captain Chiles cancel."
"That sounds like Air Force pressure."
"I don't know." Tunick turned as Doug Edwards began rehearsals with the Air Force representative, a dark-haired, middle-aged officer with a big mustache. "That's Lieutenant Colonel Spencer Whedon. He's from ATIC."
I moved closer. In the tragic Mantel case, Whedon explained the UFO as "probably" a big research balloon. He made no mention of the key point in the April 1949 Air Force report: That Captain Mantel's wing man had searched the sky for one hundred miles after his leader's crash -- and had seen no balloon.
Following up, Colonel Whedon quoted the Air Force figure of 1.9 percent for unsolved reports, with no hint that this actually meant 4 3/4 unexplained cases. Then for six minutes he concentrated on wild "contactee" claims NICAP already had disavowed, showing art cards of a "bearded spacemen," and UFO hoax pictures faked from a lampshade, a hat and a copper ball. It was a systematic debunking job.
Just before Whedon finished, a messenger brought my script. I took a quick look.
"Irve, this isn't the right copy. Those changes aren't---"
"We'll get those afterward. Doug's waiting to rehearse you - just read it for timing."
"Okay, but those changes have got to go in."
As I read my lines, I saw Whedon listening. Only one vital point had been inserted, covering the hidden conclusions:
"There is an official policy, I believe in the best interests of the people, not to confirm the existence of UFOs until all answers are known.
"Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, former chief of Project Blue Book, has confirmed the existence of four important documents that should be noted. In 1948, in a "Top Secret" estimate, ATIC concluded the UFOs were interplanetary spaceships. In 1952, an Air Force Intelligence analysis of UFO maneuvers brought the same conclusion.... Interplanetary. In January 1953, a report by a panel of top scientists at the Pentagon reached this conclusion: There is strong circumstantial evidence, but no concrete proof that UFOs are spaceships. They recommended intensifying the investigation and telling the American people all the facts." (The other document the 1947 ATIC conclusion that the UFOs were real, had been deleted by Tunick, since the 1948 document covered this.)
As I finished this section, Whedon hurriedly went over to Producer Robert Costello. When the rehearsal was over, Tunick drew me to one side.
"Don, we can't use that statement about hidden documents."
I stared at him. "Then the Air Force is censoring this program!"
"No, but they deny there ever were any such conclusions. If we let you say it, they'll stand up and deny it."
"Let them. Their own former Project Chief confirmed it, and NICAP has other proof."
Tunick emphatically shook his head. "They say they'll call the source a liar. We can't have any row on the program.
"What about the other points cut out of my script? The secrecy orders, those Report 14 items, and the phony percentages?"
Tunick looked at me wearily; he had been up until 4 a.m. taking down the revisions I phoned him.
"Don, don't blame me, but we had to promise the Air Force there'd be no personalities."
"Personalities? These are official statements, already on record!"
"I know, but -- "
"How about the Far East sighting -- and that CAA radar report on tracking UFOs at 3,600 mph?"
"Unless you name the sources, the Air Force will claim you made them up."
"I'm not going to put those men on the spot. But I'll show both you and Costello the signed reports, in confidence." As Tunick remained silent, I went on a little grimly, "If that won't do, then how can the Air Force object to cases they officially cleared for me in 1953?"
Tunick gave me an odd look; evidently he had not thought of this angle. I explained quickly: "The first--and it was in the script--is the Gulf of Mexico
B-29 case, where radar showed a mother ship taking small machines aboard; the UFOs also were seen by the crew. Second, the Haneda Air Force Base case in Japan; four Air Force tower operators saw a UFO at close range, and also watched a jet chasing it. Third, the Washington Airport sightings. They're all cleared, all officially labeled as unsolved."
Tunick's face had an unhappy look; I knew he was under pressure.
"Even if the cases were cleared," he said, "the Air Force will try to refute them now. We'd never get a final script."
"What it comes down to," I said, "is that I can't put on any strong evidence against the Air Force claims."
"That's not it," Tunick protested.
"All right, Irve, here are six items you agreed to: Statements by Senator Goldwater, Oberth and Lear, plus three cases not even involving the Air Force. The first case is a daytime 1954 sighting by Captain Don Holland, US Marine Corps -- a report backed by Major General William Manly. Holland saw a UFO come straight down over a missile range, obviously watching a shot. When he tried to close in for gun camera pictures, it streaked back up out of sight.
"The second was a daytime near collision reported by Lieutenant J. R. Salandin, Royal Air Force. He said the UFO was metallic looking, like two saucers pressed together, with a dome on top.
"The third is another foreign case -- no United States Air Force angle to it. In November 1954, a Brazilian airliner crew and passengers saw nineteen discs -- about one hundred feet in diameter -- streak past the plane. It caused a panic, and several people were hurt." I looked squarely at Tunick. "Well, how about it, Irve?"
Tunick silently shook his head.
"You agreed to all this on the phone," I insisted. "What happened?"
"Nothing. It's just too much to cover -- "
"With Ruppelt out, I have four more minutes. That's more than enough, so what's the real reason?"
"Don, I'm sorry. It's just too late."
I could see it was useless. The Air Force evidently had laid down strict conditions which gave them complete control. Since the Armstrong Circle Theater had accepted this control Tunick had no alternative. I tried to hide my bitterness as he crossed off the hidden documents paragraph in my script.
"You understand," he said, "you can't make any reference to this."
"What if I don't agree?"
"Then you can't appear. It's not my decision - the Armstrong Company won't stand for an open battle with the Air Force."
For a moment, I was on the point of walking out, taking the censored script to the newspapers. But it might seem a petty squabble, unless Tunick and Costello confirmed the Air Force pressure. And I couldn't count on that.
Over Tunick's shoulder I saw Ken Arnold watching me. From his expression, I knew he had heard our conversation. I glanced past him toward Whedon and Costello. Was it possible the Air Force had planned this ultimatum, hoping I'd quit rather than back down? If I did, they would have the whole show to themselves. They might make it seem we had no real evidence, and knowing it I had lost my nerve and ducked out.
I turned back to Tunick.
"I'll stay," I said curtly, "I'm not blaming you, Irve -- but it's outright censorship and you know it."
As Tunick went to tell Whedon, Ken Arnold came up to me.
"I heard the whole thing, and it's a raw deal. I'm having trouble, too; they won't let me make any changes."
For the next two days, as TV Guide and the radio columns announced the Armstrong Theater's "balanced presentation of the UFO problem," I doggedly went through the rehearsals. I felt no resentment toward Costello, or William Corrigan, the director. They plainly knew what had happened, and they tried to improve the delivery of my enfeebled script. But nothing could make up for all the suppressed evidence.
On Wednesday morning, I met Arnold in our hotel lobby. He told me he was quitting the program.
"You'd better quit, too. The way it's rigged, the Air Force will make you look like a fool."
When I got to the CBS theater, I told Costello. "that leaves a vacant spot," I said. "Let me see if I can get Admiral Hillenkoetter to fill in with a NICAP Board statement. His office is in New York."
"No, everything's on the TelePrompTer," said Costello. "I'll have Irve go on and quote Arnold's statement."
That night, as I watched Colonel Whedon's performance, I could guess the impact on the millions who were tuned in. Without a hint of the censored evidence, why shouldn't they accept the official claims?
During the commercial before Act Three, I took my place at a table near Doug Edwards. As I waited, I thought of the censored script, a few yards away in my open dispatch bag. What would happen if I held that crossed-out page up to the camera? It could be done with a few quick words;
"The Air Force ordered this cut from my script - their secret conclusion that the 'flying saucers' are spaceships! This whole program has been censored to hide the truth from the public." But I couldn't do it. I had promised Tunick.
Just before the director's signal, Doug Edwards leaned over toward me.
"Now get in there and fight!"
But even a fiery delivery couldn't have put life into the skeleton of my story.
For several minutes, I forced myself to read the lines on the TelePrompTer. But as the yellow strip slowly unreeled, all the frustration of the past three days suddenly boiled over. I stopped, looked straight into the camera:
"And now I'm going to reveal something that has never been disclosed before...."
Back in the control room, as I learned later, there was instant bedlam. Caught without warning, Costello had to make a lightning decision. Should he cut the show off the air -- or silence me and try to save it? Swiftly, he ordered my microphone switched off.
But the camera was still on me. Unaware that I had been silenced, I went on:
"For the last six months, we have been working with a Congressional committee investigating official secrecy about UFOs. If all the evidence we have given this committee is made public in open hearings...."
Abruptly, the cameraman began to rack the TelePrompTer tape up and down, in a frantic signal for me to stop. Still not certain I was off the air, I finished the sentence:
"... it will absolutely prove that the UFOs are real machines under intelligent control."
Since Doug Edwards' mike was on, some listeners caught the last words by turning up their volume controls. But the majority did not, and within minutes CBS switchboards all over the country were swamped with complaints. Why had the sound been cut off? What were the final words?
In that one impulsive act, I seemed to have offset the Air Force claims more than anything I had said on the program. Inevitably, many believed the Air Force had ordered the cutoff, and Secretary Horner's denial of secrecy, a few minutes later, had a hollow sound.
But in spite of this, I quickly regretted the action, as Producer Costello struggled to defend himself.
"I had to do it," he told the press. "Nobody knew what he was going to say."
In the midst of this, a call for me came through from J. B. Hartranft in Washington: "I saw you, and it's plain you were cut off. What's going on?"
I explained about the censored script.
"Well, stand by your guns," said Hartranft "don't let them push you around."
In the next few moments, I thought of exploding the whole story. For now I knew that the New York papers and presswires, nowing the nationwide interest, would run my statement about the deleted paragraph and probably my claim of Air Force pressure. Ken Arnold would gladly back me up, and it could have led to the long-hoped-for showdown.
But it would have put Costello and Tunick squarely on the spot, whether they admitted or denied the orders from the Air Force. And knowing they, too, were victims of official pressure, I reluctantly gave up the idea.
To clear Costello, I gave him a statement that he had had no alternative when I deviated from the script.
But nothing could stop the effect of the cutoff. Millions now were convinced that the Air Force was hiding the facts.
After returning to Washington, I had full proof of the Air Force control of this program. Answering a NICAP member's complaint, the CBS Director of Editing, Herbert A. Carlborg, made this surprising admission:
This program had been carefully cleared for security reasons. Therefore, it was the responsiblity of this network to insure a performance that was in accordance with predetermined security standards. Any indication that there would be a deviation from the script might lead to a statement that neither this network nor the individuals on the program were authorized to release. As a consequence, public interest was served by the action taken in deleting the audio on Major Keyhoe's speech at a point where he apparently was about to deviate.
Now it was out in the open. Both CBS and the Armstrong Theater staff must have been warned by the Air Force: Don't permit any startling NICAP revelations, even if they have proof.
The CBS statement raised one question the Air Force never answered.
If there was nothing secret about UFOs, why did the program have to be cleared for security?
Months later, I realized what the Air Force feared -- that NICAP had proof of what lay behind the secrecy.
But at that time I only suspected.
WILL IT EVER END???? Look how long ago that happened and it is still going on today. Don't they realize that millions of people have seen UFOs so there is nothing to hide any more? We believe without their disclosure! - Aileen