2011-04-10

Air Force told FBI about recovered flying saucers?

When I first read the headline "FBI Releases Document Confirming Roswell UFO" on Slashdot this morning, my initial reaction was to chuckle and think, "Yeah, right. Were they Asgard or Ferengi?" However, I still followed the link and tried to suspend any disbelief. I wasn't disappointed.

Tracing the story back to its source on the FBI's website, I found a memo written by Agent Guy Hottel to the FBI Director on March 22, 1950 [FBI Vault]. In this memo, the agent details contact from "an investigator for the Air Force" who stated that "three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico" and that each was "occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall".

I've transcribed the body of the memo here:
The following information was furnished to SA [redacted text] by [redacted text], [redacted text]

An investigator for the Air Force stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico. They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots.

According to Mr. [redacted text] informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers.

No further evaluation was attempted by SA [redacted text] concerning the above.
As I said above, I wasn't disappointed. This is very intriguing information, but not something I considered so important that I should interrupt my day's plans -- as you may have noticed since I'm not writing or publishing this until almost 12 hours after reading.

Before we discuss further, let me make it clear, this document was certainly released by the FBI, officially, so I do not debate the document's authenticity. Now, let's look at the facts we can discern in the memo and consider their impact.

First, we know that some individual gave a Special Agent (SA) this information. We don't know who that individual was or how they came by the information themselves. (No, we cannot be sure that the individual is the "investigator for the Air Force". That is part of the information seen here, not necessarily the agent's source.)

Second, we know that a Special Agent chose not to evaluate the information further. This could mean any number of things, mainly that the SA either felt that the matter was of no concern to the FBI (e.g. jurisdiction) or that the informant (or information) was of questionable authority.

As you can see, a reasonable critique of the information can free us from sensationalism while still embracing the excitement of a notable document. Personally, I find the narrative enlightening. (At the least, as to the reporting and documentation of the FBI and its agents in the 1950s.) Regardless of whether all of the contents describe factual details of what may or may not have happened in Roswell, New Mexico, I think it's important to strive to always keep our priorities and goals in focus as we enjoy the excitement of each day and the community we share here on Earth.
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