Sunday, August 12, 2007

Congressman Stratton and the Temple of Nevermind

Congressman Samuel S. Stratton (NY) played a dominant role with the House Committee on Armed Services in the 1960s. The October 14, 1966 letter displayed here references my concerns about hearings held in April about the UFO issue. Even Stratton admitted to certain aspects left hanging in the air, and like so many other members of Congress he looked forward to results of the Colorado University project. But by the mid-seventies, long after Colorado's highly questionable report -- though bulging with unsolved cases overlooked by members of the working press who had no interest beyond the negative tone and pronouncement by The Scientifically Credentialed -- UFO sightings and dramatic encounters persisted.

However, few UFO incidents were as troubling as a chilling series of incidents at several U.S. (and some foreign) military bases in 1975, covered superbly by researchers Larry Fawcett and Barry Greenwood in their book, Clear Intent. When I reviewed this book for the defunct journal Pursuit, I used considerable page space quoting from it, as it was and remains one of the best books about UFOs ever published. For much of the rest of today's entry and its relationship to Rep. Stratton, I'll reference the work of Fawcett and Greenwood. I urge you, the reader, to find a copy of Clear Intent and discover the dangers inherent in avoidance of a still-unrealized thorough scientific UFO investigation.

Parade Magazine (the weekly newspaper insert) on December 10, 1978 broke a story based upon government documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. The article disclosed several instances in 1975 of UFOs overflying and hovering low over key military facilities such as Loring, Malmstrom and Wurtsmith Air Force Bases. Further, the strange objects would hang directly over essential weapons systems at these SAC bases, including missile sites and launch control facilities, possibly affecting instrumentation. Base personnel were powerless either to intercept or communicate with the intruders.

Stratton, then Chairman of the Armed Services Investigations Subcommittee, saw the disturbing (to say the least) Parade article and shot off a letter on December 20, 1978 to Maj. General Charles C. Blanton, Director, Legislative Liaison for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Quoting from Stratton's letter, per Fawcett and Greenwood:

"The attached item from Parade magazine of December 10 reports that unidentified aircraft penetrated the airspace at several Strategic Air Command bases in the United States and Canada on several occasions during the period October 27—November 19, 1975. The article proceeds to quote from Air Force documents to the effect that the intruding aircraft had "a clear intent in the weapons storage area" at Loring Air Force Base. Those same documents reportedly refer to unsuccessful efforts of Air Force air-crafts to intercept and identify the intruder aircraft. This Subcommittee is concerned by the alleged ability of unknown aircraft to penetrate airspace and hover over SAC bases, their weapons storage areas, missile sites, and launch control facilities, and the inability of Air Force equipment and personnel to intercept and identify such aircraft. Accordingly, it is requested that all Air Force reports relating to each of the incidents described in this article be furnished to the Subcommittee. It is further requested that all reports of any similar incidents, either before or since the October-November 1975 events, be furnished to the Subcommittee."

Apparently, various Air Force divisions seemed unaware of the incidents mentioned, and in one instance the USAF Directorate of Operations and Readiness stated on January 8, 1979: "We have been unable to find any official information regarding the incidents described in the Parade magazine article. Contact with individuals assigned to operational units where the incidents were alleged to have occurred indicate some of these incidents may not have happened at all."

Again, referencing Clear Intent, the Air Force realized that some kind of more tangible response needed to be offered to Rep. Stratton, and therefore an official response to Congressman Stratton was sent on February 9, 1979, by Joseph J. F. Clark, Associate Director, Legislative Liaison for the Air Force:

"This is in response to your recent letter concerning an item from the Parade magazine of December 10, 1978 regarding unidentified aircraft penetrating the airspace at several Strategic Air Command bases in the United States and Canada on several occasions during the period October 27 through November 19, 1975. Attached is a partial compilation of available materials obtained in response to your request for Air Force reports pertaining and similar to the incidents described in the Parade magazine article. We have requested such reports from numerous Air Force organizations, some of which are outside of this Headquarters. Not all of this material has been received, and it will be forwarded when it becomes available to us. Please note that the attached material rarely includes formal reports as such; rather, it mainly consists of copies of documents such as messages, memoranda, and duty officer log entries. This is because unidentified flying object reports are of transitory interest to the Air Force and permanent files are not maintained. In addition, please note that much of the enclosed material has been released to various people and organizations under the Freedom of Information Act. We trust the information attached will be helpful and hope to get additional information to you as soon as possible."

And again this blog returns to Congressman Stratton himself. Did he, whose letter clearly told this writer back in 1966 that congressional UFO hearings left some things "unsettled," pursue this incredibly whitewashed situation for a public left stunned by the Parade Magazine article? No. Following are the words of Fawcett and Greenwood in Clear Intent:

"Any hopes that a Congressional hearing might have been convened were dashed because Stratton did not pursue the matter after receiving the Clark letter and attachments. Why? He pressed for various measures to close off the flow of information from the military to the public and even urged substantial penalties for those who might print more than what the Pentagon would allow them to print.

"Under these circumstances, it's obvious why Stratton said nothing more of the 1975 incidents. He avoided all attempts by investigators to contact him in his office, and no statements were given. His interest in 1975 is quite understandable, as any heavily pro-military person would be concerned over the Air Force's difficulty in dealing with the UFOs.

"The fact that some individuals managed to locate specifics about the sightings was a necessary evil that the Air Force had to live with. The hope was that the small number of people who had this information would not have enough of a voice to draw attention. This worked until Parade picked up the baton.

"Fortunately for the Air Force, Stratton was the only Congressman who asked weighted questions. He was friendly to the military and would not make waves. Politics did not enter into the 1975 picture in a serious way hereafter. The ball was definitely back in the court of the UFO researchers."

Curious, isn't it? Just as public officials who speak openly about UFOs become strangely silent about the subject once they become president, more than one member of Congress has assumed the same stance once the, shall we say, heat increases in the UFO kitchen.

So, dear reader, for today I give you the UFO-investigative legacy of former NY Congressman Samuel S. Stratton. Be not proud of this, one more feeble congressional attempt to tell the people the truth without actually delivering the truth. Next?