Thursday, August 09, 2012

CSI and CIA: Hastings’ Hyperbole

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By Robert Sheaffer
     Robert Hasting’s recent wild flight of fantasy (July 2) is titled “CSI Skeptic Robert Sheaffer Doubts the U.S. Government Uses the Media to Debunk UFOs.” In it he suggests we skeptics are knowingly or not doing the government’s work debunking UFOs, and makes a major error in the very first sentence! He refers to me as “a leading spokesman for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI),” which is surely not the case (although he does spell my name correctly, a rarity in UFO texts). I do not speak for CSI(COP), nor does anyone else unless authorized to do so. The contents of my Blog, my column and book Psychic Vibrations, and all my other writings are mine alone. What I write represents only my own opinion, and you – as well as CSI – are free to agree or disagree.

Hastings says that I “apparently dismiss the idea that the U.S. government might be using the media to help debunk UFOs.” Let’s clarify this: I am quite explicitly dismissing the idea that the U.S. government is using the media, or any other sources, to help debunk UFOs. Let’s face it, there is no subject that the U.S. government shows less interest in and cares less about than UFOs. They’d rather give spare change to the homeless than deal with a UFO fanatic. In fact, when somebody approaches them with a sighting of a UFO, or a question or claim about one, the government official groans, squirms, and tries to ignore the matter as best possible. They – the “civil servants” – have been through this many times before. For any government official or agency that touches the UFO controversy in any way, it’s a no-win situation, as the Air Force found out the hard way. No matter what you tell the hard-core believers, if it’s anything short of “Martians are here,” they’ll accuse you of cover-up and conspiracy for as long as they live.

Hastings quotes Hansen saying “If the [CIA] had wanted to set up a front organization to debunk the UFO phenomenon, it could have hardly done a better job than to infiltrate CSICOP and encourage its media management activities.” This is laughable. There are only about a half-dozen active UFO skeptics in CSI(COP). If suddenly a group of government types turned up and wanted fervently to promote UFO skepticism, we would notice that at once! Besides, the Fellows and Consultants of CSI(COP) receive no payment. If the government were funding our activities, we would all be much better-off. I wouldn’t be driving a 20-year-old car!

Hastings refers to his own “exposé” of “Sheaffer’s ‘skeptical’ organization’s intriguing but almost completely unpublicized links to the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons program.” By which he means two people (out of dozens of Fellows, Scientific Consultants, and other officials). Kendrick Frazier, longtime editor of The Skeptical Inquirer, is described as having “worked for over 20 years as a public relations spokesman for one of the leading nuclear weapons labs in the United States,” Sandia Labs in Albuquerque. What Hastings doesn’t say is that Frazier was a science writer and editor of Skeptical Inquirer long before he joined Sandia. Perhaps this is an example of a skeptic infiltrating the military establishment, instead of vice-versa?

CSI(COP) Fellow James Oberg is also mentioned:
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. Oberg also served as a “Security Officer” while at the weapons lab and was, therefore, responsible for monitoring the security procedures used to safeguard the classified documents generated by his group.
Let’s see, that was over 40 years ago, years before CSI(COP) was founded. Since leaving the military, Oberg worked for a NASA contractor on the Space Shuttle program, and now is a full-time space writer for clients such as NBC. But he is apparently a government conspirator. Then there’s good old Uncle Phil, who was indeed on a first-name basis with many Washington insiders, and wasn’t shy about name-dropping when he wanted to boast. Klass knew these intelligence and military leaders because of his work on the magazine fondly known as “Aviation Leak.”

You forgot to mention James McGaha, who is very upset at being overlooked! Really, you are doing very sloppy research if you didn’t even turn up anything on McGaha. He is a retired Air Force officer and pilot who held a Top Secret clearance and worked in military operations that actually involved nuclear weapons. Of course, James has long been retired from the Air Force, but he must be part of the conspiracy, too.

And you also forgot to mention former intelligence-types John Alexander, Bruce Maccabee, Karl Pflock, etc. – but wait – they’re on the other side! Maybe the government has been paying them to promote belief in UFOs? Why did former CIA director Vice Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter join NICAP? To help promote UFOs?

This obsession by Conspiracy Theorists with the CIA is especially humorous because, as John T. Carlson points out:
" . . . the CIA would never commit such an act without legal precedence -- and the CIA just doesn't have it in regard to U.S.-based organizations. They deal entirely with foreign intelligence gathering and distribution. Only the NSA and FBI act in regard to U.S. undercover assignments. The CIA simply couldn't justify such an act under any conditions, and all three branches of the government would pounce on them hard, Shere Kahn-like, for even suggesting such internal interference within a U.S.-based organization, regardless of international membership. They'd produce and star in their own little C-SPAN production, featuring the Justice Department on lead guitar, and the Supreme Court on drums supplying the back beat. Do these guys ever take into account federal law? The fact that they ALWAYS blame the CIA leads me to believe that they don't know what the hell they're talking about."
Indeed. And for those wishing to see ‘the other side’ of the wild “UFOs zap missiles” claims made by Hastings and others, see:
Echo Flights of Fantasy - Anatomy of a UFO Hoax

Did UFOs Disable Minuteman Missiles at Malmstrom AFB in 1967?

The Malmstrom AFB Missile/UFO Incident, March 1967


  1. I am puzzled by Hastings' invocation of Hansen. I have checked my copy of Missing Times and nowhere does Hansen say the CIA set up or infiltrated CSICOP. Hansen simply says CSICOP acts like a propaganda/front group of the CIA if it had set one up.
    Hastings takes out all the qualifiers and reads Hansen as making a direct allegation.
    How can ufology become a science if its adherents can't exhibit basic litaracy?

  2. Mornin' Terry,

    Thanks for taking time to make comment.

    You wrote:

    "I am puzzled by Hastings' invocation of Hansen. . . ."

    Although I don't pretend to speak for Robert (either one), I'll offer this:

    Hastings' thesis as illustrated by its title i.e., CSI Skeptic Robert Sheaffer Doubts the U.S. Government Uses the Media to Debunk UFOs and content is about the CIA's infiltration into mainstream news organizations and the complicity in suppressing UFO information; Hansen's book in part defines this activity. Citing the book is completely logical and appropriate in support of his argument.

    You wrote:

    How can ufology become a science if its adherents can't exhibit basic litaracy? [sic]

    Admittedly, I have an impish grin on my face given your criticism and at the same time misspelling "literacy." That aside, your comment is nonsensical; you may disagree with Robert's dissertation; however, his penscript is–as always well-written and constructed.

    I can't help but wonder if you're confusing this article with his last one, published on 8-21.


  3. Robert Hastings writes in:

    Terry the Censor's comment above indicates what a careless reader he is. In my first article on Sheaffer, I wrote:

    "Significantly, Hansen discusses in detail information *suggesting* a government infiltration of Sheaffer’s own group by persons whose motives are other than their publicly-stated skepticism of UFOs. CSI (formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, or CSICOP) has a well-established track record of attempting to influence media coverage of the phenomenon, ostensibly for 'rational' and 'scientific' reasons."

    Please note my use of the word *suggesting* above. In short, I was very careful to qualify my comment, despite Terry's bogus claim to the contrary.

    In my more recent article on Sheaffer, I wrote:

    "Highly relevant to this discussion is my research into Sheaffer’s affiliation with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) which was previously named The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). As journalist Terry Hansen has *argued* in The Missing Times, the historical role of CSICOP (now CSI) *strongly suggests* it has been performing as an intelligence community “front organization”—pumping anti-UFO propaganda into the media without revealing its true source or motivation."

    Again, my comments are thoroughly qualified, as the words within the asterisks confirm. In fact, I sent Hansen my second article to review before I posted it, and he approved the wording above.

    "The Censor" emailed me over the weekend, to inform me that an earlier comment of his posted at this website had not yet appeared. Given that I have nothing to do with the operation of The UFO Chronicles, I forwarded that email to Frank Warren, who promptly located the comment and posted it.

    Further, being familiar with the Censor's other off-base comments at one blog or another, I responded to his email by saying that a few persons in this world devote their lives to research while a vastly larger number devote theirs to posting uninformed opinions. Of course, this did not please Terry.

    To preclude a further waste of my time, I blocked future emails from the Censor--just as I have done for years when contacted by wild-eyed UFO enthusiasts, on one end of the spectrum, as well as self-satisfied anti-UFO ignorami, on the other.

    Rather than continuing to respond to Terry's perpetually-oblivious "insights" here or on other blogs, I will simply get back to work. I have a new source, a retired USAF colonel, who has very intriguing things to say about an incident he was involved in at Minot AFB in 1980, when a UFO apparently hovered over and shut down one of his missiles. Once my investigation of this lead is completed, I will post something on this website.


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