May 20, 2001
By Billy Cox
Note: Daniel Sheehan, Steven Greer, and anyone else associated with the Disclosure Project, or Coast to Coast AM for that matter, is a total scam artist.
On one level, Daniel Sheehan's challenge before a packed house at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., last week was just the latest skirmish in his 30-year war against American covert operations. The 20 witnesses Sheehan vowed to protect with legal muscle had converged from across the United States - and Mexico, even - to press Congress to investigate high-level illegalities making an end run around the Constitution.
There was a retro feel to it. After all, the attorney from San Rafael, Calif., had assisted the prosecution of government spooks violating the Boland Amendment before the Iran/Contra scandal broke. During the Vietnam War, he defended the New York Times' access to the Pentagon Papers. In 1972, he represented Watergate burglar James McCord in tracing the plumbers' chain of command directly to the heart of the Nixon White House.
But this was different. With a battery of cameras rolling inside the Main Ballroom on this damp Wednesday morning, witness after witness - many of them retired military and government officials - stepped forward to accuse the government of erecting a 50-year cover-up through intimidation around unidentified flying objects. Among the most troubling scraps of evidence were documents and witness accounts of UFOs destabilizing advanced weapons systems, including the shutdown of nuclear missiles inside ICBM silos.
"We have existed in a national security state since 1947 with the creation of the National Security Act," said Sheehan, who went on to declare that former chief executive George Bush had sabotaged President Carter's efforts to access classified UFO files when the former still was CIA director. "What we need to do is disassemble some of those unique unconstitutional structures to move into an era of peace."
It was called the Disclosure Project, and it went on for nearly three hours, with each witness telling the media audience they wanted to submit open testimony to Capitol Hill under oath.
Such hearings, if conducted, would be the first since a brief investigation by the House Science and Astronautics Committee in 1968. If the odds are against it, an overview rendered by project founder Dr. Steven Greer sent smoke signals to potential special-interest allies for coalition resources.
Greer, a Virginia emergency-room surgeon who left his practice to explore the netherworld of UFOs full time three years ago, called for a ban on space-based weapons, claiming the proposed National Missile Defense shield really is targeting alien intruders. Furthermore, Greer said hardware recovered from UFO crashes has been reverse-engineered into "fully operational anti-gravity propulsion technologies" with the potential to end the world's reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
The problem, Greer said, is that these state secrets are buried inside such deep compartmentalization that not even the usual suspects have proper security clearances anymore. For instance, he told the crowd he briefed then-CIA director James Woolsey about the UFO gridlock in 1993.
But Greer also announced he and fellow investigators had identified 400 witnesses willing to violate their security oaths to tell what they know in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Roughly 100 already have been videotaped, and those who spoke up May 9, including John Callahan, appeared unconcerned about the consequences.
Callahan was the Federal Aviation Administration's division chief of the Accidents and Investigations Branch in 1986 when a Japan Airlines pilot flying a 747 off Anchorage, Alaska, reported radar and visual contact with a UFO roughly four times the size of his passenger jet. The object, described as a bright glowing sphere sporting a ring of running lights, also painted the scopes of ground operators, and mimicked the 747's evasive maneuvers for 31 minutes.
The result, Callahan said, was a subsequent meeting involving him, now-deceased FAA administrator Don Engen, members of President Reagan's Scientific Study Group and CIA agents.
"We brought everything we had, just filled the room with boxes of printout data, and we conducted a pretty detailed briefing," Callahan recalled. "And, I mean, these guys are drooling, they're all excited. Me, I thought maybe we were dealing with a Stealth bomber, but the CIA guy says, 'No, this is the first time we've ever caught a UFO on radar for more than 30 minutes.' "
When the meeting ended, Callahan said the CIA agent swore them all to secrecy, confiscated the material in the room, and said, "This meeting never happened, this event never happened."
But Callahan added that he never signed a compliance statement, and no one instructed him to turn over the copies he'd made of the data, including voice recordings synchronized with radar readings. He displayed a packet of material he said he hoped to show to Congress.
Michael Smith, a retired Air Force sergeant, said he was astounded by the capabilities of a UFO that showed up on his early-warning radar when he was stationed near Klamath Falls, Ore., in 1970. It hovered at 80,000 feet for 10 minutes, then reappeared 200 miles from its initial location within a single sweep of the radar scan. When he queried the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Smith was told, "you keep it to yourself."
On another occasion, Smith said NORAD reported it was tracking a UFO headed in his direction from the California coastline, but he was ordered to take no action and keep it off the logs. Later, while assigned to a military base in Michigan, Smith said UFOs were hovering so close to a landing strip that descending B-52s had to be diverted to avoid a collision.
Perhaps the Disclosure Project's most compelling testimonial was a 1967 UFO encounter recollected by Robert Salas. The retired Air Force captain presented documents declassified in 1996 to back up at least part of his story.
Generated by Strategic Air Command, a report indicates that 10 Minuteman missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana "lost strat(egic) alert within 10 seconds of each other" on March 16, 1967. Although power eventually was restored, "no apparent reason for the loss of 10 missiles can be readily identified (and) is cause for grave concern," it states. An accompanying telex mentions "numerous reports" of "UFO sightings" and even a landing in the Great Falls area.
Salas said he was the missile launch officer at a nearby SAC facility code-named Oscar Silo early that morning when security personnel above ground phoned in a report of a glowing, oval-shaped UFO hovering outside the base gates. "Within minutes of getting (a second) phone call, my weapons started going down one after another," Salas said. "We lost between six and eight weapons that morning."
Within half an hour, he added, they received a report of a similar incident at SAC's Echo Silo complex - except that all 10 of Echo's missiles were deactivated from launch readiness. Salas later said he'd searched Project Blue Book, the official Air Force study of UFOs, and could find no mention of the encounter. He also said he has 12 witnesses who can substantiate the SAC report.
In Indian Harbour Beach, retired Air Force colonel and erstwhile Blue Book spokesman Bill Coleman said he suspects the Malmstrom incident wasn't archived because he theorizes Salas was rattled by a routine SAC shakedown.
"SAC was famous for running all kinds of tests to challenge security systems - they did it all the time," said Coleman, who went on to become the Air Force's chief public relations officer during the early 1970s. "It could easily have been a test created by the SAC commander to neutralize the weapons site to gauge the response measures.
"These are the kinds of things SAC does routinely. This captain should've known it was a test. Either that, or he's lying about it."
As the official USAF repository for UFO data from 1947-69, Blue Book collected 12,618 cases and lists 701 reports as unidentified. The Air Force's written conclusions haven't budged since: "No UFO reported, investigated and evaluated by the Air Force was ever an indication of (a) threat to our national security."
Coleman said he was asked by Greer a year ago to discuss his 1955 encounter, during which he gave chase to a disc-shaped vehicle over Mississippi while piloting a B-25. Coleman has no explanation for why this incident isn't posted in the Blue Book files. But he says he declined to cooperate with Greer.
"They need to get off of this crap about accusing the Air Force and the CIA of lying. That's not going to cut it with Congress," Coleman said. "Look, if these (Disclosure Project) people were talking about classified information, they've already violated their security oaths under Title 18, which means they can be prosecuted for what they've done. This law wasn't created by the military, it was created by Congress."
Besides, Coleman added, UFO witnesses often present credibility problems. "This business," he said, "attracts a lot of kooks and nuts."
An attempt to raise a show of hands among Disclosure Project witnesses who'd violated their security oaths was pre-empted by Sheehan. "I don't think all the people are necessarily in a legal position to adequately answer that," he said.
Greer said he was satisfied with the screening process.
"This field is filled with hoaxes and scams," he said. "But it doesn't mean that all of it is. In fact, after eight years of research, we have found the documents and insiders willing to testify under oath before Congress that this is true."
Among the highlights from those who wanted to share even more details with lawmakers:
Former Lockheed "Skunkworks" engineer Don Phillips said technology gleaned from recovered extraterrestrial vehicles has long been incorporated into U.S. weaponry.
Retired Col. Dwynne Arneson said he worked classified projects with the Air Force, and that while at Malmstrom AFB, he read a message about a metallic UFO hovering near missile silos and shutting down nuclear ICBMs.
As Wernher Von Braun's spokeswoman from 1974-77, Carol Rosin said the rocket pioneer warned her space was going to be militarized ostensibly to guard against enemy nukes and asteroids, but that space-based pickets really were aimed at exraterrestrials.
In 1979, Navy veteran and ex-National Security Agency employee James Kopf was aboard the USS JFK, laden with nuclear weapons, when a UFO buzzed the vessel and scrambled onboard communications systems.
Donna Hare, who worked as a display designer for Johnson Space Center contractor Philco-Ford, said NASA had a "protocol" to airbrush UFO images off photos scheduled for public release.
One time zone to the west, in Houston, NASA spokeswoman Eileen Hawley categorically dismissed Hare's allegation: "We do not doctor photos. I am unaware of any such policy."
At any rate, the gathering ended on a burst of applause from audience sympathizers when Greer declared all national security oaths regarding UFOs "null and void," adding: "There will be no legal repercussions - we have counsel to represent (whistleblowers)."
Looking quite pleased with the proceedings was the Disclosure Project's National Press Club sponsor, 90-year-old veteran Washington political reporter Sarah McClendon.
From her wheelchair venue on the front row, McClendon found nothing particularly exotic about the issue of UFO secrecy. Said the woman whose first assignment was the Roosevelt presidency in 1944, "I've been around long enough to know they'll cover up anything if they think they can get away with it."