Friday, April 22, 2011

A Slow Death in Washington (Part Two)

The urgent request issued among members to save NICAP's financial status from the brink in the spring of 1969 did little to comfort Maj. Keyhoe and what remained of his office staff. Bigger guns were required to gain further contributions vital to NICAP's continued operation.

On August 6, 1969, Keyhoe dispatched yet another plea for funds, and again the top of the letter reminded members that confidentiality was to be assured. In retrospect, I think these hush-hush attempts were extremely self-defeating. Indeed, the dire straits in which NICAP floundered should have been announced to the country with fervor; surely, somewhere in an informed cross-section of the U.S. there existed people who questioned the Condon report, knew that the UFO subject deserved real scientific scrutiny -- and would gladly have parted with a significant number of dollars to keep NICAP's private investigations going if they only knew of the need. But no, NICAP's declining, yet still impressive, membership was instructed to keep its mouth shut about the organization's inner trauma. Fund-raising in silence seldom goes well and, frankly, it was also a bit ironic that an organization aggressively dedicated to fighting government censorship would resort to asking its members to withhold crucial operational problems from the public.

Still, this letter was different from the last. This time, members of NICAP's board of governors joined in urging members to contribute. Unlike Al Chop -- who had exited the board long ago simply because he did not want his impressive duties as a NASA public affairs official to be confused publicly with his NICAP and UFO interest -- former Air Force UFO project monitor (Maj.) Dewey J. Fournet hung in there, endorsing the NICAP plea with two fellow board members, Keyhoe and assistant director Lore.

In the following months, NICAP experienced changes aplenty, upheavals which would come and go as times of apparent success and months of pending disaster rolled onward. The full NICAP story may be found in depth elsewhere, and as a member familiar with the situation only as a member, out of the mainstream, I can't fill in all the blanks -- but I can offer more documentation, and next time we'll share another letter to members.