Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“Purchase Offer of Flying Saucer Photographs”

Depends on how you 'say' it

By Billy Cox
De Void

Bill Cox     You 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.

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.

Scott RamseyThat’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.”
Cline OSI Doc


  1. I believe the author of this article is mistaken, in that nowhere does it say McLaughlin tried to sell his photographs to Cline. It deals with McLaughlin claiming "Cline" (if that's his real name) offered him $1500.00. McLaughlin stated that he was surprised to find out that this guy even knew he had said photographs. There is more to this story, and I feel this article does not present it in the proper context.

  2. Mornin' Bob,

    I noticed the faux pas as well; however, I believe Billy's focus was more on some of the initial trials and tribulations that occurred (recently) in looking into the matter, rather then the doc itself . . . not making excuses, just offering an explanation for the mistake.

    Like you, both Scott and I feel that there is much more to this story!


  3. Thanks for the reply. Frank.

    When I first read this document, I am almost positive there was more info available, because I remember there being items such as the Army noting his rude, and angry threats that he was going to make the photos public...that it was this raving that led the Army to contact the Air Force, and Major Detwiler (AF Counter Intelligence)sending the info off the Air Force OSI-IG.

    I just wish I could locate the other data. I am still looking through my stuff.

  4. Bob,

    I have been re-examining docs (when time permits)I have tucked away to see if I can find anything that's connected . . . nothing so far.

    Interestingly, re the FOIA to OSI, and CID, the Cline/McLaughlin doc was sent in so they could see exactly what we were talking about--it "turned heads" in their office, and they were "very" curious as to how we came into possession of the document.

    Moreover, they addressed the request as "The Alleged Flying Saucer That Crashed or landed Near Aztec , New Mexico"--this is not how the request was framed at all; Scott and I both thought this amusingly interesting . . ..

    In the end, nothing takes the place of "persistence" . . . something additional will turn up!



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