I rarely review other people’s reviews except of my own books. But I think I need to make an exception. Two very scholarly sounding experts have reviewed at great length Annie Jacobsen’s strangely inaccurate and misleading book “Area 51” on their site Washington Decoded. It supposedly tells all about the mysterious highly classified base not far from Las Vegas, In addition it provides an entirely new and totally unsubstantiated and unbelievable explanation for the Roswell Incident. I ,too, reviewed the book in one of my monthly columns and could frankly find nothing to support her extraordinary claim that beings manipulated by Joseph Mengele (in cooperation with Joseph Stalin) somehow piloted a German Horton Brothers flying wing vehicle to crash near Roswell to panic America..
In this instance two very formidable sounding professionals, Dr. Robert S. Norris and Dr. Jeffrey T. Richelson, recently published a very lengthy negative review of her book and also managed to somehow demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of the pseudo science of anti-ufology. They correctly note that she made no reference to a host of directly applicable sources and made loads of factual mistakes re Area 51 related matters. Then, amazingly, they commit many errors of omission and commission about Roswell and surprisingly some other items and also libel me. And frankly I am angry.
I was surprised at some gaps in their knowledge. For example, they noted that Annie three different times falsely referred to a hero of mine, Dr. Vannevar Bush, as head of the Manhattan Project. That distinction fell to General Leslie Groves for the Army Corps of Engineers and the technical director, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. But then they refer to Bush only as “Science Adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt and as such was chairman of a 3 member oversight committee known as the military Policy Committee, that usually rubber stamped decisions that Groves had already made.”. Their major source about Bush was G. Pascal Zachary, “Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century”. Zachary was a reporter for the Wall Street journal and as far as I could tell did not know much about Bush’s highly classified activities. One would think that the fact that VB was head of the Office of Scientific Research and Development during the war might have been noted. Thousands of engineers and scientists worked on projects funded by the OSRD. These included such important developments as that of the proximity fuse, radar, and indeed the Manhattan Engineering District. Their description is a bit like referring to Harry Truman as a Missouri haberdasher and ignoring his service in the US Senate and as US President.
They refer to only 3 Roswell books,(and touted debunkers like Phil Klass) none of them by serious researchers who searched for and interviewed first hand witnesses, visited archives and crash sites, etc There is no mention of such books as “The Roswell Incident” by Charles Berlitz and William Moore and to which I was a major contributor;“The Truth about the Roswell Incident” and ”The Real Truth about the Roswell Incident”, by Don Schmitt, and Kevin Randle, “Crash at Corona”,by Don Berliner” and myself and “Witness to Roswell” by Don Schmitt and Tom Carey .etc. They were aware of my existence as shall be noted later, but misrepresented my background and ignored a bunch of papers which I have published besides my books. They are upset that Annie repeats a nice comment about me by Larry King, but obviously couldn’t be bothered checking out me or my publications.
They state “Strewn throughout her story, moreover are numerous mistakes and questionable claims”. That is certainly true. But it is true of them as well. They blindly accept the 2 big Government Roswell volumes seemingly accepting everything in them as Gospel though many errors have been described for many years.
Here is how they describe the Roswell Incident ”… refers to some metallic debris that was found on 7 July 1947 at a ranch approximately 75 miles northwest of Roswell, New Mexico. The rancher who discovered it contacted the local sheriff who contacted Roswell Army Air Field. Several Intelligence officers were sent and collected portion of the debris and took it to Roswell AAF that evening. The next day, the public information officer released a statement saying that a flying disc had been recovered. The front page headline of the July 8 edition of the Roswell Daily Record was “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region”. The debris was then flown to 8th Air Force Headquarters at Fort Worth AAF in Texas and inspected. The conclusion was that the debris was the remnants of a weather balloon”. Later they said it was a balloon… since when are balloons made of metal??
The facts indicate that this is much less than accurate. In the first place the rancher had found the debris within a few days prior to Saturday, July 5, when he went to Corona and showed some to friends at the General Store there. The Rancher did not get a newspaper and had no phone and had not heard about flying saucers until the people in Corona told him about them and that there was a reward out for pieces. They suggested he go to the Sheriff in Roswell. He took a small portion of what was on the huge debris field to Sheriff Wilcox on July 6. The sheriff contacted RAAF and spoke with Major Jesse Marcel who actually handled the wreckage and was ordered by his boss Colonel William Blanchard to take a Counter Intelligence officer with him and follow the rancher to his place out miles from any road. They spent the night, viewed the debris field the next day, and brought back a small portion in their vehicles. Colonel Blanchard then ordered Major Marcel to have one of their B-29s take him and the wreckage to Wright field making a stop at their headquarters in Fort Worth. Somehow not only are the dates and sequence fouled up, but no mention is made of the fact that the Roswell group, the 509th was the most elite military group in the world having dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 and 2 more during Operation Crossroads in 1946. Blanchard went on to receive 4 more promotions and was a 4 star general serving as Vice-chief of Staff of the USAF when he died of a massive heart attack at the Pentagon. He had served as Operations office for the Strategic Air Command when it had thousands of nuclear warheads at its disposal. Marcel was the intelligence officer of this most elite group. Both Marcel and Blanchard were very familiar with weather balloons since they were launched every day at the base,and would have immediately recognized the wreckage as such. Marcel handled the strange wreckage in Roswell. He would never have been sent out without noting that the material was very strange. Norris and Richelson praise highly, “The Roswell Report: Truth Versus fiction in the Roswell Desert” (by Disinformation specialist Colonel Weaver) without noting all the fiction supplied by the Air Force. For example, it claims it was Project Mogul, a Top Secret Program, launched 4 June. The fact is that the original newspaper accounts (the story appeared and grew in evening papers from Chicago West.) say the wreckage was found “last week” .The rancher had been in the area just days before. Outstanding research by Dr. David Rudiak showed it could not have been that Mogul launch. The program was not TOP secret. Only the purpose was TS. If it had been TS, there would have been a chase plane along at each launch and the balloons and equipment would never have been allowed to remain in the desert.
The foolish claim was made that the huge report was a declassification effort. It was a propaganda effort.
Norris and Richelson foolishly state the balloons were made of special material. They were standard neoprene weather balloons. They speak very enthusiastically of the Air Force report and seem not to have caught any of its many mistakes. For example it states a National Enquirer article about Marcel appeared in 1978. It was actually in 1980 and was a result of my putting outstanding journalist Robert Pratt in touch with Jesse Marcel because the first Book “The Roswell Incident” was due to be published.
The report makes it sound as though I worked separately from Berlitz and Moore and got my ideas from the Enquirer, when I actually worked very closely with Moore for years. I told Moore about Roswell. They mention a strange grossly misleading book by three professors which also insinuated that Marcel was paid by the Enquirer. Of course none of these debunkers give any information about my background. To the USAF I am a UFO researcher. To Norris and Richelson I am “a UFO conspiracy Theorist.” No mention that I am a nuclear physicist, that I worked on classified advanced technology programs for 14 years for GE,GM, Westinghouse, Aerojet General Nucleonics etc. or that I have visited 20 different Archives , many times they claim that any ”positive reputation Friedman has is apparently restricted to those who believe in UFOs and Extraterrestrials.”
No source is given for these nonsensical charges. They might have mentioned that I belong to the American Nuclear Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Physical Society. No mention that I have lectured on topics such as “Flying Saucers ARE Real” and or “Flying Saucers and Science” to more than 700 colleges and professional groups in all 50 states, all 10 Canadian provinces and 18 other countries. I have had loads of favorable comments from these institutions. Are all of these “believers in UFOs and Extraterrestrials?” There is no mention of all the evidence I have provided such as dozens of TOP Secret almost completely blacked out CIA UFO documents, or 156 almost completed whited out NSA UFO documents. Seemingly they are unaware of the comments made by USAF General Carroll Bolender “Reports of UFOs which could affect national security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or USAF Manual 55-11 and are NOT part of the Blue Book System” and “Termination of Project Blue Book would leave no official federal office to receive reports of UFOs. However, as already stated, reports of UFOs which could affect national security would continue to be handled through the standard Air Force procedures designed for this purpose.” I located and spoke with General Bolender. I would bet these guys never heard of him. Obviously the USAF has been lying ever since his October 20, 1969, memo which resulted in the closure of Project Blue Book. The USAF has since then falsely claimed there is no national security concern with UFOs and they have been doing nothing about them. They don’t mention the Congressional UFO Symposium of July 29, 1968, which involved 12 presentations by scientists including me, or the biggest study ever done for the USAF, Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14. Of course, like Jacobsen they are guilty of “authorial malpractice.”
Norris and Richelson also buy into the 2nd foolish USAF volume “The Roswell Report: Case Closed”. “The aliens observed in the New Mexico desert were probably anthropomorphic test dummies that were carried aloft by high altitude balloons. Some 43 high altitude balloon flights were launched and recovered throughout NM between June 1954 and February 1959.” Considering that the Roswell Incident occurred in July 1947 (Time travel, I guess) and the bodies, one of whose pictures is in the USAF Report, were 6’ tall and weighed 175 pounds, and was in a uniform and could not possibly have morphed even with time travel into a 4’ tall alien with a big head, one is astonished at their naivety. I talked to the head of the program, Colonel Madsen. Of course, he isn’t mentioned by them, nor did the USAF talk to him though they showed an old picture of him and one of the dummies.
In short, we have erudite people saying false and misleading things. I, of course, cannot know whether it is out of laziness, bias, ignorance or because they were conspiring to protect the reputation of the USAF. They owe us all an apology.