Depends on how you 'say' itYou can find some of the all-time great tombstones languishing in Key West Cemetery. They’re noted not merely for the pompous spectacles the deceased have created of themselves, but also for what appear to be posthumous darts leveled by their survivors.
By Billy Cox
By Billy Cox
Interjected here and there beneath the names and dates of the decedents’ lives are the selective and vaguely sardonic applications of quotation marks. There may be legitimate reasons for putting “Poet,” “Father,” and “Writer” in quotes to summarize a legacy, but to the cynical among us, those devices reek of insincerity.
That’s why insights into at least one aspect of a UFO case that’s been bugging North Carolina researcher Scott Ramsey for more than 20 years might come down to punctuation.
The issue is an Oct. 5, 1950, report generated by a district commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to his boss in Washington. Declassified in 1975, this one details an attempt to bust a guy offering to sell state secrets — in this case, photos from an alleged UFO crash scene at Aztec, N.M., in 1948.
The censorship on this two-page report, slugged “Purchase Offer of Flying Saucer Photographs,” is a joke from the get-go. Although the identities of the two principle characters are blacked out in the main body of the text, their names — L.D. McLaughlin and “an individual named Cline,” according to the report — aren’t redacted upon first reference.
Briefly, in September 1950, McLaughlin met Cline at a Denver hotel and offered to sell him UFO pix for $1,500. Cline then alerted authorities, who pounced on McLaughlin.
Government agents noted that “in spite of his denials, his manner indicated that he had some knowledge of the incident or may have taken pictures of it.” But the OSI evidently bought McLaughlin’s defense that he was drunk when he spoke with Cline. It appears as if the USAF let the matter drop.
But Ramsey wanted to know more about Cline’s role in this affair. After all, the document described him as from — and this part is in direct quotes, like “Poet” and “Father” in Key West — “The Baltimore Sun.”
Ramsey spent hours on the horn with researchers at the paper, hoping to understand how the story turned out, and why a reporter working on a project of this potential magnitude would blow his lead to federal agents first. Ramsey passed along different potential spellings of Cline’s name. His liaison at The Sun “went through every archive they could locate,” Ramsey reported in an e-mail. “Only Cline was Lawrence Cline, died 1929, and a Donald Klien that did not start until July 1957 and left in January 1969.” And there was no story, to boot.
Given the multiple bureaucracies aroused by McLaughlin, Ramsey, who’s completing a book on the Aztec mystery, is left with a legitimate question: “How did the FBI, Army CID, and the Air Force OSI get duped by one person?”
Well, just remember our large-scale intelligence failures in 1950. Even as Chinese artillery was pounding the hell out of U.S. positions across the Yalu River, the CIA was telling the White House that China had no plans to invade the Korean peninsula.
This “Cline” guy was probably just another “patriot.”