Thursday, August 23, 2007

How to Allay My Fears

This is one of my favorites, another instance where a government official is fed up with my UFO inquiries in 1966, and probably all the more because a Congressional inquiry dictates that actual effort must be expended for a response. Well, if you're going to be dragged out and condemned, it may as well be by an officer of high rank, not just some second lieutenant. This time around, I get nailed by a full bird colonel.

Pardon me if I don't get into the AFR 200-2 vs. AFR 80-17 issue again. While the colonel is correct in his views on the surface, make no mistake: These regulations (like the Navy's JANAP 146 series of regulations) effectively muzzled military personnel who encountered UFOs. The road to public relations and telling "all" involved a lengthy bureaucratic journey, not to be completed until the UFO report could be distilled into something devoid of mystery or, at the very least, something postured as easily explainable if only more information were available.

The Colonel Bryan referenced was Col. J. Bryan (USAF, ret.), at that time a member of the board of governors of the National Investigations Committe on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP -- see link above), and, like Maj. Donald Keyhoe, convinced that UFOs were real, guided by intelligence and likely of extraterrestrial origin.

As he continued the official dismissal for my congressman's eyes, Col. Mims assures Rep. James Hanley that the Air Force's contract with Colorado University for a UFO study will provide the impartial examination needed. "This should allay any fears which he (Barrow) has," stated Mims, "about whether scientific data are being ignored."

Col. Mims, of course, wouldn't realize in 1966 how upside-down prophetic those words were because, as it turned out, ignoring scientific data is precisely what the Colorado project did in the end. If I entertained any "fears," about the UFO issue, I feared the Colorado fiasco (to use Look Magazine's and author John G. Fuller's word) would turn out exactly as it did after warnings emerged from the project's own innermost circles.