By Dr David ClarkeThe Oxford English Dictionary defines spin as: "[US Politics]: a bias in information, to give a favourable impression...make (a story, money, etc) last as long as possible."
As such "spin" accurately describes Robert's own writings on this subject. He says that "I have naively taken the British Government at its word" that no documentation exists concerning a UFO/nuclear-related incident at Rendlesham.
Apparently the "relevant facts" about the case are lost on me. According to Hastings my position is that UFO sightings around the Weapons Storage Area at RAF Bentwaters-Woodbridge never took place because MoD and DoD "has never released documents relating to them."
Hastings could not be more wrong. The facts speak for themselves.
If anyone is guilty of being "naive" then it is Hastings. He says that Col Halt "is on record" as saying he saw a disc-shaped UFO hovering near the WSA. But when did Col Halt go on record to this effect?
What Hastings does not mention is that Halt actually made this claim decades later.
His original report to the British Ministry of Defence, dated 13 January 1981, makes absolutely no mention of a disc-shaped UFO or any mention of an incident in the Weapons Storage Area.
By Halt's own account - not mine - this one page report is the single and only document he ever sent to the Ministry of Defence.
Also by his own account, not mine, he expected a follow-up from the MoD and never received one. These facts are confirmed by the British Base Commander, Don Moreland, and by Halt's own commanding officer, Col Ted Conrad.
These are Halt's own words. If he did not write any follow-up account, and never received a response from the MoD - who we know did not interview Halt or his men - then it is quite reasonable to conclude that no further documents exist other than those already released into the public domain.
Conspiracy theories are no replacement for hard facts.
The Halt memo was unclassified. None of the papers on the case were ever secret or top secret. There is not a shred of evidence that any such paperwork exists either at MoD or at the Department of Defence in the US.
This is confirmed by Halt's boss, Col Ted Conrad, who carried out a brief on-the-spot investigation at the time and concluded - after discussing the events with Gen Gordon Williams - there was no hard evidence to support Halt's story.
Col Conrad was present on base whilst the incidents described by Halt were taking place and remained unconvinced that anything of defence concern took place. He has said, in writing, that "no written report was sent forward from Bentwaters to USAF higher headquarters." Halt's own report to MoD did not ask the British to take any action either, which explains why none was forthcoming.
So who do we believe? Is Col Conrad lying?
Or should we simply believe everything Col Halt says without questioning?
UFOlogists like Hastings will chose the latter option. They then turn around and accuse journalists of naively accepting what the authorities tell us without question. How ironic that statement is.
Hastings says journalists "never get it." But anyone who appreciates even the most basic rules of investigative inquiry will know that primary documents - as the Halt memo is - are far more revealing than statements made 20-30 years after the events they purport to describe, filtered through the distortions of media, spin and UFOlogical legend-making.
Halt's original statement simply described "unexplained lights" - but as the years have passed the basic story has clearly and evidentially grown in the re-telling, like a snowball rolling down a hillside. A film script and movie are next. How is it possible to separate fact from fiction given the exponential expansion of the story. As such the description of "spin" as "a bias in information, to give a favourable impression...make (a story, money, etc) last as long as possible" sound very appropriate indeed.
I notice from Robert Hastings biography that he is qualified as a photographer and a lab technician. He has no track record or training in investigative questioning, as is evident from his rambling and unfocused account of the events at Rendlesham.
If he had any idea of how to ask critical questions then he might not have naively taken Col Halt's statements at face value.
Obvious questions which cry out for an answer include:
(1) Why did he wait for 2 weeks to make an official report of the incident to the British MoD if he felt there was a genuine threat to the WSA?
(2) If the incident was so important and significant why did he give incorrect dates for both events in his memo to the MoD?
(3) Why did he fail to mention or highlight the alleged incidents in the WSA in the text of his memo to the MOD?
(4) Why, after pursuing UFOs around the forest for several hours, did he fail to persuade either his superior officer Col Conrad or the RAF to take his reports seriously enough to launch air defence aircraft to investigate further?
If Hastings would like to see how a really effective piece of investigative journalism should be conducted I would recommend that he reads Ian Ridpath's webpages here:
Neither he nor any of the other UFO spin-doctors have addressed or even attempted to answer any of the key questions raised by Ridpath's investigation which began in 1983.
For the record, my own position on the case is quite simple and straightforward:
a) I am convinced that a number of airmen at RAF Woodbridge, including Col Halt, underwent a real, extraordinary experience on the nights in question. It is possible for a human being to have "a real, extraordinary experience" without the source being of extraterrestrial or supernatural origin.
b) Some of these experiences can be accounted for by the usual explanations found - by long experience - as the source of many UFO sightings, i.e. space debris, celestial objects and misperceptions - both of man-made and natural phenomena. A few experiences remain unexplained. But unexplained does not mean "extraterrestrial."
c) All the known facts suggest that no further official documentation, of either UK or US origin, exists relating to this incident, either classified or unclassified. The UK government, at least, has said this on the public record. If they are lying then that lie will be exposed. However, I am 100% confident that no document exists or ever existed that concludes the Rendlesham incident was caused by an ET visitation to the UK.
And I challenge Robert Hastings to answer this question:
Can he define the nature of the government evidence he would be willing to accept as conclusive proof that there was no cover-up of an alien visitation at Rendlesham?
One final point. Hastings quotes Winston Churchill to the effect that in wartime "truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
In 1964 Churchill was asked about flying saucers by the artist Bernard Hailstone during a visit to his Westerham home. The Prime Minister's response was: "I think that we should treat other planets with the contempt they deserve." (Daily Telegraph, 26 January 1965).