Sunday, August 31, 2008

CSICOP, now CSI: UFO Debunkers Kendrick Frazier and James Oberg

UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites
By Robert Hastings
© 8-31-08

From Robert Hastings’ new book
UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites


Robert Hastings Cropped (B)     (This is Part 2 of an earlier posting, titled, “Reporter Duped by UFO Debunkers”, in which I described how Albuquerque Journal reporter John Fleck was badly misled about the reality of UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites, by two of the leading UFO debunkers affiliated with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, who dismissed my own well-documented findings.)

Over the years, I have found that a great many of the debunkers in my UFO lecture audiences had one thing in common: they had read one or more of the supposedly objective articles on UFOs which routinely appear in Skeptical Inquirer magazine, published by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)—which has recently renamed itself the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

Although most of the debunkers I encounter tout Skeptical Inquirer as a source of credible, scientific information on UFOs—which it is not—when I question them, I find that virtually none of these UFO critics know anything about those responsible for publishing this “skeptical” magazine. I, on the other hand, made it my business long ago to find out exactly who was so intent on fervently debunking UFOs, year after year, decade after decade. I must say, what I discovered surprised me. At the same time, I was not at all surprised.

As noted in an earlier posting, the Executive Editor of Skeptical Inquirer is Kendrick C. Frazier. Many years ago, I discovered that Frazier was in fact employed—beginning in the early 1980s—as a Public Relations Specialist at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yes, the same Sandia Labs that has been instrumental to the success of America’s nuclear weapons program since the late 1940s, through its “ordinance engineering” of components for bomb and missile warhead systems.

In my opinion, Frazier’s affiliation with Sandia Labs—he recently retired after working there for over two decades—is highly significant, given the hundreds of references in declassified government documents, and in the many statements by former military personnel, which address ongoing UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites over the past six decades.

Considering these disclosures—which clearly establish a link between UFOs and nuclear weapons—I find it interesting, to say the least, that the longtime editor of the leading debunking magazine—whose pages routinely feature articles discrediting UFOs and those who report them—worked for over 20 years as a public relations spokesman for one of the leading nuclear weapons labs in the United States.

Interestingly, Skeptical Inquirer's publisher's statement, or “masthead”, which appears at the beginning of each issue, never once mentioned Frazier's employment at the highly-secretive, government-funded laboratory. Instead, the magazine merely listed, and continues to list, his profession as "science writer"—a reference to his having written several books and articles on various scientific subjects. Also curious is the fact that various online biographies on Frazier—including one written by himself—also fail to mention his two-decade tenure at Sandia Labs. An odd omission indeed.

Over the years, Frazier has been quick to dismiss the astonishing revelations about UFOs contained in government documents declassified via the Freedom of Information Act. He claims that researchers who have accessed thousands of U.S. Air Force, CIA, and FBI files have consistently misrepresented their contents. In one interview he stated, “The UFO believers don't give you a clear and true idea of what these government documents reveal. They exaggerate the idea that there is a big UFO cover-up.”

Just as Frazier strives to minimize the significance of the declassified revelations about UFOs, it is likely he will also attempt to downplay the relevancy of his former employment with one of the U.S. government's top nuclear weapons labs, as it pertained to his magazine's relentless debunking of UFOs. He will presumably assert that his skeptical views on the subject are personal and sincere, and were in no way related to, or influenced by, his public relations position at Sandia National Laboratories.

However, regardless of his response, I believe that Frazier’s long-term employment at Sandia is very relevant, and raises questions about his impartiality, if nothing else, given his long track-record of publishing stridently anti-UFO articles in Skeptical Inquirer.

One such article, an attempted debunking of the Big Sur UFO Incident, was earlier discussed at length. As noted, two former U.S. Air Force officers have unequivocally stated that, during a 1964 weapon systems test, a UFO disabled an experimental dummy nuclear warhead in mid-flight as it raced downrange toward its intended target. My own well-documented investigation of the dramatic incident has now thoroughly discredited the factually-inaccurate article by Kingston A. George featured earlier in Skeptical Inquirer. If one compares the first-person accounts provided by the two former Air Force officers with the badly-flawed, highly-misleading synopsis of the incident published by Sandia Labs PR Specialist Frazier, one might reasonably ask whether a cover-up of sorts—a disinformation scheme—was behind the debunking article. But the reader may judge for him- or herself.

Furthermore, the CSICOP-Nukes Connection does not end with Kendrick Frazier. James Oberg, one of CSICOP’s leading UFO debunkers, once did classified work relating to nuclear weapons at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, located on Kirtland AFB, less than a mile from Sandia Labs. From 1970-72, Oberg was an Air Force officer whose assignments with the Battle Environments Branch at the weapons lab involved the development and utilization of computer codes related to the modeling of laser and nuclear weapons—according to one of Oberg’s own online resumes.

Oberg had also been a “Security Officer” while at the weapons lab, meaning that he was responsible for monitoring the security procedures used to safeguard the classified documents generated by his group. As I discuss in my chapter on the Big Sur UFO Incident, Oberg once privately chastised Dr. Bob Jacobs—one of the former Air Force officers who leaked the amazing story—for releasing “top secret” information relating to the case. Once a security officer, always a security officer, I guess.

After Bob Jacobs went public with the UFO shoot-down story, Oberg wrote to him, chastising Jacobs for revealing “top secret” information. In his MUFON UFO Journal article, Jacobs wrote that after he broke his silence, “I was contacted by a variety of investigators, buffs, cranks, proponents and detractors alike. James Oberg, a frequent ‘mouthpiece’ for certain NASA projects and self-styled UFO Debunker wrote to disparage my story and to ask provocatively, ‘Since you obviously feel free to discuss top secret UFO data, what would you be willing to say about other top secret aspects of the Atlas warhead which you alluded to briefly...?’ I told Mr. Oberg where to put his misplaced cynicism.”

Despite Oberg’s charge, Jacobs has correctly pointed out that because Major Mansmann had told him that the UFO encounter “never happened”, he had no personal knowledge of the classification level attached to the incident.

In any event, it is almost certain that Oberg would not have criticized Jacobs for exposing “top secret UFO data”, had he known that Jacobs would subsequently publish his remark. So, here we have one of CSICOP’s leading UFO debunkers—whose public stance is that UFOs don’t even exist—angrily asking Jacobs in a private letter whether he would also openly discuss “other” top secret aspects of the missile test…

I first became aware of Oberg’s “skeptical” stance on UFOs after he wrote an article for the December 1978 issue of OMNI magazine, in a column called “UFO Update”. A superficial review of Oberg’s comments in that article might lend the impression that he was even-handedly covering the UFO controversy. Far from it. A closer examination reveals Oberg’s subtle but persistent use of anti-UFO propaganda, not to mention his failure to identify himself to OMNI’s readers as an active-duty Air Force officer.

Fortunately, these tactics and omissions did not go unnoticed. In the following issue of OMNI, in a letter to the editor, Robert Barrow wrote, “C’mon James Oberg. If you plan to continue writing your skeptical UFO articles under the guise of proper scientific literature, please be fair. First, the OMNI readership should be aware that not only are you working with NASA but you are a U.S. Air Force officer in fine standing as well. In fact, while I knew you as Captain Oberg, I shouldn’t doubt you are now Major Oberg. As a former USAF staff sergeant, I can appreciate that and wish to congratulate you if you have achieved a higher rank...Your consistently skeptical articles are probably making some of your superiors far happier than anything you might write to the contrary...”

Not surprisingly, Oberg’s published response to Barrow’s letter rejected the inference that he was writing skeptical articles about UFOs to please his superiors. He wrote, “...I don’t have any idea what my Air Force superiors think about my UFO activity, since I have never had any directives, one way or another. It’s easy to reject any unwelcome opinions as part of a ‘government plot’, and you’re welcomed to that paranoia if it suits you. It also is a direct smear on my honesty and motives…”

Well, first, Barrow did not say that Oberg was a part of any government plot. He was merely pointing out that, given the longstanding controversy over the U.S. Air Force’s handing of the UFO problem, Oberg should have candidly acknowledged his affiliation with the Air Force in his OMNI article—in which he debunked UFOs, exactly as the Air Force had for decades. As such, Barrow’s comment was a perfectly valid criticism. I might also note here that Oberg’s failure to inform OMNI’s readers about his active-duty military status—until after it had been exposed by Barrow—is reminiscent of Kendrick Frazer’s own failure to inform Skeptical Inquirer’s readers of his two-decade-long affiliation with the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons program—in the magazine’s masthead, which appears in each issue—at the same time he was publishing article after article debunking UFOs, including at least one highly important sighting directly related to nuclear weapons.

Moreover, Oberg’s indignation over being “smeared” by Barrow is laughable, given his own countless public attacks on UFO proponents over the years, in which he frequently questions the sincerity and motives of those who report or investigate UFOs.

In another letter responding to Oberg’s article, journalist Terry Hansen, wrote, “How sad to see such a poor article on UFOs in OMNI’s first issue. James Oberg is certainly [not an objective] authority on the subject. His article tries to come across as unbiased, but even someone with a superficial knowledge of the issue can see that it is laced with distortion and innuendo...If ‘UFO Update’ is representative of the type of coverage controversial issues will receive in the future, then OMNI has little to offer a questioning mind.”

Years later, Hansen later went on to write an excellent book titled, The Missing Times: News Media Complicity in the UFO Cover-up, which I highly recommend to anyone wishing to better understand how the type of information contained in my own book could have been successfully kept from the American people—scientists and laypersons alike—for so long. In fact, I put Hansen’s book on my short list of “must-reads” as far as the official government cover-up of UFOs is concerned.

Part 3 of my examination of CSICOP/CSI will be posted in the near future.

1 comment :

  1. Dear Mr. Hasting,
    What a great article on the rag mag.the skeptical inquisition. I call James Oberg on my blog jumping jim. First to jump on a UFO story and first to make a idiot of himself. Of course in a country that could accept bush as the president four 8 years people could easily accept the nonsense he put forth.
    As one of the talking heads on TV, his "debunkers dumb statements list" are on the top of my list including quick answers on Stephenville case and O'Hare case
    What I think you realize and many of the other UFO information followers, who have been around I love the absolute nerve of Oberg calling the Kettle black. in fact I have been laughing all the way through writing this.


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