|From Left: Nick Pope, James Penniston, John Burroughs (Credit: CHD|
Anatomy of a farce
|By Billy Cox|
As a member of base security for the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, retired USAF veteran John Burroughs held a security clearance designated "Secret." But he had no idea, back in late December 1980, that when he traipsed into a surrounding forest to investigate what British intelligence labeled an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon incident, he had embarked upon a classified mission. And yet, inferentially, judging from the controversy attending his military records, that appears to be what exactly what happened.
|Could John McCain's efforts to retrieve an Arizona veteran's medical records put him on a collision course with The Great Taboo?/CREDIT: huffingtonpost.com|
Completely omitted was Burroughs’ initial Air Force hitch, which included time served at Woodbridge air base in Suffolk, England, site of the UAP encounter. He joined the USAF on March 12, 1979.
This was big-time weird, because Burroughs had formerly appealed for help from now-retired Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl. Kyl’s staff couldn't get his papers, either. They were informed Burroughs’ elusive medical records — which Burroughs needed to make his case for compensation — might be languishing in a classified section in the Department of Veterans Affairs; indeed, a VA letter informed Burroughs “A claim must be filed with the VA before classified records can be requested.”
As Burroughs would eventually discover thanks to an assist from Sen. John McCain’s office, his discharge papers had been deliberately altered. “It took a yeoman's job to get your DD214 corrected,” wrote a McCain staffer, “but we may never be able to gain access to the missing USAF medical records from 1979 to 1983.”
Taken out of context, you might chalk this one up to a routine VA snafu, especially in Arizona, where bureaucrats are running for cover in light of the unfolding “wait time” scandal. But Burroughs’ military partner during the early hours of Dec. 26, 1980, retired Sgt. Jim Penniston, can’t get his records released, either.
Only in retrospect would both learn of an investigation by the British Defence Intelligence Service, which reported how radiation levels at the UAP scene were “significantly higher” than normal background levels. More specificly, during a cold-case review in 1994, the Defence Radiological Protection Service determined those readings were seven to 10 times stronger than normal. Furthermore, the UK’s formerly classified Project Condign acknowledged, if not disparaged, alternate explanations for its weather-plasma explanation for Burroughs' injuries: "Some of the extreme postulations is that these UAPs are, in fact, genuine constructed air vehicles, which use scientific and engineering principles which are beyond current applied knowledge. Thus they must have some sort of propulsion systems which would provide the extraordinary range of velocities and accelerations frequently reported." After filing a FOIA petition for additional information on 18 redacted UAP documents, Burroughs was denied “because," wrote the Brits, "it may consist of detailed information relating to the defence of the UK.”
You can get a bigger picture in Encounter in Rendlesham Forest, a Burroughs/Penniston accounting of lives upended, authored by former MoD official Nick Pope. Pope says he submitted the manuscript to the Defense Department’s Office of Security Review as well as the MoD’s Press Office for prior review. “While I’m aware that this can sound sinister and smacks of government censorship,” he writes in an email to De Void, “I should say that it’s an essentially fair system to ensure that people who’ve had access to highly classified and/or sensitive information don’t inadvertently disclose it. This would arise, for example, in relation to nuclear issues. John, Jim and I take our security oaths and loyalty to our countries seriously.”
In fact, Encounter rips the scab off a number of unresolved questions on the Bentwaters/Woodbridge sticky wicket, not the least of which is the matter of whether or not nuclear weapons were stored on base during the Cold War era. Between the Yanks and the Brits attempting to bounce responsibility for the conundrum off on each other, lost radar records, on-site photos of the UAP that just didn’t develop properly, inaccurately recorded dates that confounded FOIA efforts, having the story break in News of the World's scandal rag, and Condign’s surprising concessions about UAP roles in health effects, Encounter is the anatomy of a farce.
“It’s written for the mainstream public in America; it’s a well known event in Britain but not so much in the U.S.,” says Burroughs. “And I don’t know the whole story, either. That’s the problem. I have a right to see my own records. And McCain’s aides can’t get them.”
After months of VA inertia, Burroughs says McCain was instrumental in getting him to the front of the line for open-heart surgery in December. What comes next isn’t exactly clear. “Senator McCain's office has a strict no staff interview policy, especially in regards to casework,” states press secretary Rachel Dean.
That might work for now. But if Encounter in Rendlesham Forest gains traction with sales and publicity, McCain could find himself under pressure to take this thing farther than he ever intended.
Continue Reading . . .
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