Part of the reason for this drop over the last decade is meme management. In order for the public to be convinced the Warren Commission was right, it is important that the perception of competing theories spelling out conspiracy not only be made to appear incorrect, but absolutely ridiculous. Generally, the REM will use this by taking some aspect of the JFK assassination that the general public regards in connection with conspiracy, like the grassy knoll, and applying it to the latest controversy of the day where a conspiracy hypothesis can be disproved. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post did this recently, by correctly disputing the Benghazi hypothesis posited by Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media and former CIA officer Clare Lopez that the Obama administration "flipped our policy" and was arming al-Qaeda. (Really, Clare? Like you were completely unaware of any 'black ops' by your former employer at odds with the stated "policy" of previous administrations?) But then Milbank gilds the lily by describing their "lunacy" as being "around the grassy knoll." The clear implication is that the belief that a shot hit Kennedy from the front, all visual indications in the Zapruder film aside, should be disregarded as hallucinatory, otherwise noted journalists like Milbank will roll their eyes and say, "I've got an appointment back on Earth."
This sentiment expressed above has become a verbal shorthand among the REM and self-appointed "debunkers" hell-bent on pigeon-holing good conspiracy theories and bad conspiracy hypotheses into the same goofy trashcan of public perception. It is their go-to moniker for disrespecting any and all conspiracy research: 'tin foil hat'. The origin of this adjective is from mentally ill/traumatized people who believe that wearing tin foil on their head in the shape of a hat will prevent the transmission of voices into their head. While there is some scientific validity for the effectiveness of reducing radio wave radiation this way, it is the stated reason by a few unfortunate souls that this will prevent harassment by paranormal beings that has lead to the use of the phrase 'tin foil' for cheap laughs at the expense of any conspiracy theory deemed delusional by those who claim to speak for all things rational. Thus, in their mind, Grassy Knoll=Aliens.
I'll grant them the fact that many alien visitation/UFO incidents have been either disproved with earth-bound explanations or debunked as elaborate hoaxes. Unfortunately, many in the self-styled "skeptics" community and the REM seem unwilling to exhibit the same generosity regarding the possibility that some of the alien visitation/UFO incidents that have not been explained might possibly have an explanation that is 'not of this Earth'. George Carlin did a brilliant job of illustrating this contradiction in his clever book When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?:
You may have noticed that, in the media, UFO believers are usually referred to as buffs, a term used to diminish and marginalize them by relegating them to the ranks of hobbyists and mere enthusiasts. They are made to seem like kooks and quaint dingbats who have the nerve to believe that, in an observable universe of trillions upon trillions of stars, and most likely many hundreds of billions of potentially inhabitable planets, some of those planets may have produced life-forms capable of doing things that we can't do.
To my way of thinking, there is every bit as much evidence for the existence of UFOs as there is for the existence of God. Probably far more. At least in the case of UFOs there have been countless taped and filmed and, by the way, unexplained sightings from all over the world, along with documented radar evidence seen by experienced military and civilian radar operators.
This does not even begin to include the widespread testimony of not only highly trained, experienced military and civilian pilots who are selected for their jobs, in part, for their above-average eyesight and mental stability, but also of equally well-trained, experienced law-enforcement officers. Such pilots and law-enforcement people are known to be serious, sober individuals who would have a lot to lose were they to be associated with anything resembling kooky, outlandish beliefs. Nonetheless, they have taken the risk of revealing their experiences because they are convinced they have seen something objectively real that they consider important. All of these accounts are ignored by the media.
With this in mind, I would like to seriously entertain a goofy possibility: JFK was assassinated by space aliens. Notice I said possibility, not probability. Personally, I think the probability of this occurrence about as realistic as the probability that The Matrix is real, that Elvis is actually Sasquatch and that hedge fund managers really give a shit about the homeless. But rather than engage in the blithe eye-rolling dismissal that the so-called skeptics (I call them "septics") use to disparage in the name of 'debunking', I would like to give this subject a deeper examination to separate the smoke from the fire where real evidence of conspiracy in the assassination of JFK exists. To do that, that means a deeper examination of the roots of UFO and alien visitation possibilities where government involvement is alleged. That means looking into Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and Area 51. Yeah, Ground Zero where "tin foil hat" lunacy as determined by Our Trusted Authorities mentioned above are concerned.
To guide us through this terrain of High Weirdness, I am primarily using as my compass the research of Peter Levenda. Levenda is the author of Unholy Alliance, a book praised by no less than Norman Mailer (he also wrote the Foreword) for its "scholarly details" on the history of Nazi involvement with the occult. (You didn't think that plot detail from Raiders of the Lost Ark was something Lucas or Spielberg just made up, did you?) For this post I will be quoting from Levenda's Sinister Forces, a trilogy that he subtitles: A Grimoire of Political Witchcraft. In Book One: The Nine, he documents some strange UFO sightings in 1947 in Chapter 5: Bluebird. While most people are aware of the Roswell sightings on July 1, 2 and 3 culminating in the crash on July 4 and discovery of wreckage on July 5, 1947, there were a high number of UFO sightings preceding Roswell throughout the United States that are equally important. Levenda begins in Washington on page 168:
On June 21, 1947 - the summer solstice - six unidentified flying objects were seen over Maury Island in Puget Sound in the State of Washington. The observers were Harold A. Dahl, a harbor patrolman who was avoiding bad weather by anchoring in Maury Island Bay, his two crewmen, his teenaged son and a dog. The objects were doughnut-shaped and were hovering at about two thousand feet over the boat, according to Dahl. One of the six seemed to be in trouble, as it was losing altitude and was being circled by the other five. The objects seemed to be metallic, with a hole in the center (hence the idea they were "doughnut-shaped") and with portholes around the outer circumference. Each of the objects seemed to be about one hundred feet in diameter.
There was a small explosion, and one of the objects rained hot metal all over the boat, killing the dog, damaging the boat and injuring the teenaged son. Dahl quickly beached his craft and began taking pictures of the objects, which soon took off and headed towards Canada. Dahl tried to radio for help or to make a report, but his radio was jammed. Instead, bewildered, he headed back to Tacoma. He got some treatment for his son's injured arm, and then took his evidence - the camera, the film and some samples of the metallic slag - to his boss, a man known as Fred Lee Crisman.
This is a seminal event. No matter on what side of the Kennedy assassination one finds oneself - a believer in the Warren Report, or a believer in a conspiracy - the Fred Crisman element strains credulity. More than twenty years after this event, Crisman will be subpoenaed by District Attorney Jim Garrison as a suspect in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Crisman, a former OSS officer, a man with a CIA file, a man friendly with Clay Shaw... in at the birth of the twentieth century's UFO experience? Of course, this is not the full story. Who would believe the full story?
Crisman wanted to investigate the site where Dahl's boat was damaged, but the previous night a stranger visited Dahl at his home and advised him to forget the whole thing. The man was dressed in black, and what was unusual was the fact that the incident had not yet been reported outside of Dahl's and Crisman's circle. Regardless, the next day - on June 23, 1947 - Crisman went out to Maury Island and found what appeared to be molten glass or metal and foil, but not before another UFO passed overhead. Crisman returned to Tacoma, not knowing what to do at the moment with the information and evidence he had acquired, or so it seemed. So far, the UFO sighting was a localized event, a small town anomaly.
The next day, June 24, 1947, the world changed.
This was the day of the famous sighting of nine UFOs north of Mount Rainier by Kenneth Arnold.
One of the accusations leveled at UFO eyewitnesses is that their testimony is tainted by reason of their inexperience, lack of professionalism, lack of knowledge of astronomical phenomena, etc. In other words, they are not scientists or members of the military, police or government establishments, the people in charge of determining the contours of our reality. The problem with the Kenneth Arnold case is that he was the perfect witness. A successful businessman from Boise, Idaho, he was also a deputy federal marshal and an accomplished pilot who was a member of an Idaho Search and Rescue team. In other words, if Kenneth Arnold said that he saw UFOs, then he saw UFOs, not the planet Venus or swamp gas or weather balloons. This is not to say that what he saw was alien spacecraft, but what he witnessed was not conventional aircraft and the speeds at which he clocked them were not achievable by the types of aircraft he knew to be in existence at that time.
Just a side note, according to Joan Mellen's book on the Garrison investigation A Farewell to Justice, when Clay Shaw was arrested for the murder of John F. Kennedy, one of the first people he notified was Fred Lee Crisman.
Levenda delves into some details of Roswell, as well as the continuing story of the earlier sightings in the Pacific Northwest, on page 171:
On the Fourth of July, at about 11:27 P.M., the infamous Roswell crash took place, and the first newspaper reports called the device a "flying saucer"; thus reference was made to the Arnold sighting in which that term was first employed to describe a UFO. On that same day, however, there were no less than eighty-five sightings in the United States. The Roswell crash was only one instance of a "sighting." Clearly, interest was at an all-time high, and opinion was divided as to whether the craft were of Soviet manufacture, a captured Nazi secret weapon, an American secret weapon, or - and this was by no means the most prevalent concept - an alien spacecraft.
While the Army then changed its story to describe the Roswell debris as that of a weather balloon, events were proceeding apace. General Walter Dornberger, the chief of the Nazi space program at Peenemuende and, later, at the Mittelwerke at Nordhausen, and responsible for the deaths of thousands of concentration camp inmates as slave laborers, is sent to Wright AFB as the Roswell debris is being shipped there. Dornberger and Wernher von Braun - both of whom initial CIC reports describe as ardent Nazis - have been forgiven their past sins by the Army and are brought to the United States under Operation Overcast - renamed Paperclip - much to the irritation of Nuremberg prosecutors. They are now in a position to review the Roswell wreckage.
At the same time, the same month, the National Security Act is passed, thus paving the way for the establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency, which is finally chartered in September. James Forrestal is named as the first US Secretary of Defense. He will not last long.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Arnold arranges to meet Harold Dahl in Tacoma, Washington at the request of Raymond Palmer. The date is set for July 30, 1947. During the flight to Tacoma on July 29, Arnold sees yet another squadron of UFOs - this time nearly two dozen of them, and very small compared to the first squadron, less than a meter in diameter each - at LaGrande, Oregon. He attempts to film them, but the film only shows some small specks, and is disappointing as evidence.
Once arrived in Tacoma, Arnold discovers that all the hotels are fully booked. Discouraged, he tries the most expensive places in town and finds, incredibly, that a room has been reserved for him by name although no one knows who made the booking.
The next day, he meets Dahl. Dahl, however, is still unnerved by his visit from the "man in black" the previous month and is hesitant to talk to Arnold. Arnold, motivated in part by the two hundred dollar advance from Palmer and partly by his own curiosity about the sightings taking place, presses Dahl for more information.
Dahl finally breaks, and tells Arnold the same story he told Crisman. Dahl's photographs are gone, of course: he has given his camera and his film to Crisman. He did, however, manage to keep back a few pieces of the "slag" that fell from the damaged UFO. He showed Arnold a piece of what seemed to be volcanic rock, not a very suspicious-looking fragment. Dahl also told Arnold about a letter he had received, which stated the UFOs were piloted by aliens who had become visible due to US atomic explosions, and that they were visiting the earth to help protect it from unspecified enemies. The letter writer was anonymous, and one can't help wondering if Crisman was behind this, as well.
At this point, Arnold felt he was being had. The whole story sounded very suspicious, very artificial. He asked a friend, another pilot - United Airlines Captain E.J. Smith - for his take on the affair. They came to the conclusion that either the story was a simple hoax, or it was part of an intelligence operation. They distrusted Crisman completely, and felt that he was trying to control the investigation. Either Crisman was a hoaxer, or a spy. Either way, Arnold and Smith felt that he had nothing to contribute.
Then, as if in confirmation of their suspicions, it was reported that United Press International had received verbatim transcripts of their interviews and discussions, the ones held at Arnold's mysteriously-booked hotel room! Suddenly, it was all becoming clear. Arnold's presence in Tacoma had been part of a larger plot; his room was selected in advance and bugged; the information he extracted from Dahl, and his conversations with Smith, were sent to the news agency (for what purpose can only be imagined). It seemed as if there was an operation underway to discredit the Maury Island UFO report and to do that with Kenneth Arnold, a much more credible witness than either Dahl or Crisman. Two birds with one stone?
At this point, Arnold was determined to bring in military intelligence. If nothing else, it would eliminate once and for all the possibility that the Maury Island affair was some kind of espionage plot, thus reducing it to the level of a simple-minded hoax by Crisman and Dahl. Crisman seemed to welcome the idea of bringing in the Army; Dahl was still frightened from his meeting with the man in black, and did not want to cooperate.
No matter; Arnold called the men who had debriefed him after his own UFO sighting, Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson. They agreed to fly out to Tacoma immediately to see what Arnold had. They arrived later that day, talked with both Arnold and Smith, seemed to dismiss the whole affair as a hoax, and returned to the airport for their ride home. Arnold was nonplussed. It appeared to him as if they had already dismissed the story in advance of their arrival. If so, then why bother coming out at all?
At the airport, an odd thing happened, one which has plagued UFO researchers for years. Crisman, the man the intelligence officers seemed to think was nothing more than an oddball hoaxer, turned up at the last minute and gaver the men a heavy box which he claimed was filled with the debris from the damaged UFO. To Arnold, who was there, the contents looked like a bunch of rocks. The men stowed the box in the trunk of their car and left for the airport, catching their flight.
They never made it back to base.
Both Davidson and Brown were killed. The enlisted men on board parachuted to safety after the left engine caught fire - according to the report of one of the survivors - and the two officers remained with the aircraft for a full ten minutes before the B-52 bomber crashed to earth. No one has any idea why the two intelligence officers would have remained with the plane and not parachuted themselves; or why they did not radio a distress call. The emergency fire-fighting equipment was inoperable, so there was no chance to save the plane. According to Major George Sander of the US Army Air Corps, the plane was carrying classified material. Was that a reference to the box of rocks carried on board by Davidson and Brown?
One of the men involved in the investigation of UFO reports in the American Northwest that year was none other than FBI Special Agent Guy Banister.
Quite a bit to digest, isn't it? What I appreciate about Levenda's account is that he does not place a definitive interpretation but allows for multiple possibilities to understand the events. I've certainly heard different interpretations regarding flying saucer inhabitants not being space aliens; that they are Earth humanoids from the future or extra-dimensional beings coexisting on a parallel space-time continuum. But the connection of Nazis Dornberger and von Braun with the Roswell crash is new to me, though I certainly have heard before about Operation Paperclip, which is a thoroughly documented and, in my opinion, thoroughly shameful part of our history. More about the Nazis later.
For those of you who have seen Oliver Stone's JFK, you may recall a character played by Ed Asner in the early scenes of that movie, including one scene on the evening of November 22, 1963 where he drunkenly pistol-whips Jack Lemmon for stealing his files. Asner's character is Guy Banister. Levenda discusses him and his historical significance in greater detail on page 173:
Guy Banister's name is well-known among conspiracy aficionados as another one of the men implicated by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison in the Kennedy assassination. It was Guy Banister - by this time a former FBI agent - who rented office space at the same location stamped on Lee Harvey Oswald's "Fair Play for Cuba Committee" flyers. Banister was running an anti-Castro Cuban operation from his investigator's office, an operation that attracted the likes of former Eastern Airlines pilot and assassination suspect David Ferrie. Oswald was running a pro-Castro Cuban operation from the same address, an anomaly that could only be explained if one understood that Banister and Oswald were working together, and that the pro-Castro operation was a front for some other, even more nefarious, purpose. Further, while Banister was FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Chicago field office during World War II, one of his FBI subordinates was James McCord of Watergate "plumbers" fame, and another was Robert A. Maheu: the man who wold later become head of his own investigative agency and an employee of Howard Hughes, the man whose agency was started by money won from James McInerney, the assistant Attorney General who was involved in the Jack Parsons investigation. Maheu would go on to become the man in the middle between the CIA and organized crime in the assassination plots against Castro.
Banister was - during the time of the Arnold sighting, the Maury Island affair, and Roswell - and FBI Special Agent assigned to the Butte, Montana field office, which had responsibility for several western states, including Idaho (where Kenneth Arnold resided). A look at recently declassified FBI files for that period in 1947 show a number of telexes from Banister, some with his initials "WGB," all pertaining to UFO phenomena, as well as other FBI documents with the designation "Security Matter - X" or simply "SM-X," the origin - the author supposes - of the "X Files," which, at least in 1947, did exist at the FBI and was concerned with UFOs (as well as with the federal investigation of Wilhelm Reich, the pioneer psychoanalyst whose "orgone therapy" had run afoul of the medical establishment and who himself was a firm believer in the existence of UFOs).
Usually, when Banister is referenced in connection with the Kennedy assassination, he is mentioned as having been with the FBI in Chicago for many years, which is undoubtedly true, but the period in Butte put him in the middle of the seminal UFO event of the twentieth century.
Thus, the 1947 UFO sightings attracted two men - Crisman and Banister - who both would come under suspicion twenty years later for their supporting roles in the Kennedy assassination. The odds against this happening must be astronomical. It is the constant appearance of "coincidences" like these that leave most amateur conspiracy theorists apoplectic, speechless with disbelief and gazing on the world around them with haunted, suspicious expressions, as if reality itself were layered like an onion, a palimpsest on which numerous events were written over each other, all on the same page. In this case, we have Operation Paperclip, UFOs, and the Kennedy assassination all written on the same thin sheet of onionskin parchment. Nazis, aliens and political murder. At this point, we can almost sympathize with Pontius Pilate, who asked, "What is truth?" - and the temptation to wash one's hands of the whole matter is almost too strong.
I'd like to discuss my personal observation regarding the layered "onion" Levenda is describing. I've noticed where events of great historical importance within the last century have occurred - scandals, tragedies, controversies - some of the same characters crop up over and over again. I call this phenomenon Conspiracy Digressions; follow the characters and multiple conspiracies will often overlap. The Bay of Pigs is a great example as being the genesis for a number of other scandals. When President Nixon was attempting to cover up his administration's involvement in Watergate, his remarks about peripheral characters like Bernard Barker, Frank Sturgis and E. Howard Hunt was that not ensuring their loyalty (and silence) would open up "the whole Bay of Pigs thing." Nixon's Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman interpreted "Bay of Pigs" as Nixon's code for the JFK assassination conspiracy. But the Bay of Pigs also included a number of people, like Felix Rodriguez (a CIA officer also involved in the capture and execution of Che Guevara), Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero and convicted terrorist (and CIA agent) Luis Posada Carriles (whom I have written multiple posts regarding an ongoing trial that resulted in an acquittal on April 8, 2011) who were involved in the Iran-Contra affair.
How did the Iran-Contra affair first begin to unravel? It began on October 5,1986 when a cargo plane trying to deliver supplies to the Contras was shot down over Nicaragua. Against CIA orders, Eugene Hasenfus wore and used a parachute, survived and was captured by the Sandinistas. Though the media did report Hasenfus (his name in German means "rabbit's foot") was carrying a "little black book" with incriminating phone numbers, not many outlets detailed just how strange those phone numbers were. For that I would like to quote again from Peter Levenda's Sinister Forces, this time from Book Three: The Manson Secret. From page 245:
Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua during his mission to supply the anti-Sandinista Contras. He was part of a wide-ranging network of self-anointed patriots and right-wing zealots who were championed by General Singlaub and the various Republican Party ethnic outreach groups. (Incidentally, Clinton antagonist Larry Nichols was a self-admitted member of one of these groups). Hasenfus is the sort of man typified by "Jack D. Ripper," the commander in charge of an Air Force Base in the Peter Sellers comedy Dr. Strangelove, who believes fluoridation of water to be a Communist plot to deprive Americans of their "precious bodily fluids," and thus instigates World War III. In Hasenfus' possession were documents linking him to Area 51 in Nevada.
Area 51 is the scene of a great deal of controversy among the UFO enthusiasts, as they believe that captured alien spacecraft are taken there to be "re-engineered" by American engineers and scientists. Another engineer, one Bob Lazar, has insisted that he himself witnessed this procedure in operation at Area 51.
Area 51 - known as Groom Lake, and Dreamland, and a host of other appellations - is without a doubt a top-secret US Air Force facility where, it is said, "stealth" bombers and other military aircraft are designed and tested. The facility is so secret that for years the government would not even admit it existed, even though its presence there was announced by the barbed wire fencing and the warning signs advising that anyone breaching security would be shot.
Why a member of the Contra supply network would have connections of any kind to Area 51 is a question that has not yet been answered. Hasenfus was a pilot and a mercenary; he was not an aerospace scientist with a top-secret classification. We are in the uncomfortable position of having two mysteries wrapped around each other, and neither giving us much room for deduction: first, we don't really know what is going on at Area 51, so we can't imagine what Hasenfus would be doing flying over Nicaragua for the Contras and having Area 51 phone numbers in his possession; in the second place, we don't know much about the background of Eugene Hasenfus himself, and details about the day-to-day operation of the Contra effort are shrouded in similar mysteries. If we knew more about Hasenfus, we might piece together some important information about Area 51; if we knew more about Area 51, we might understand why Hasenfus was linked to it. As it stands, we know virtually nothing about both pieces of this puzzle, for - as it is written - "not all things are to be said to all men."
We're getting pretty deep down the rabbit hole, aren't we? At this point, I suppose a "septic" would demand proof significantly less tangential that someone involved in the JFK assassination conspiracy was involved with Roswell and Area 51 with the perennial observation, "Someone would have talked!" Yet whenever someone does talk, the dismissive response by the "septics" is that the eyewitness to conspiracy is either lying, delusional or just mistaken. In some cases, they may be right. But where the JFK conspiracy is concerned, this response strains credulity when faced with a phenomenon known as the "Oswald double". These are incidents where someone looking like and identifying himself as Lee Oswald or Leon Oswald was spotted doing something, usually something attention-worthy like driving recklessly (the real Oswald couldn't drive) or fraternizing with anti-Castro Cubans, in a place that according to the Warren Commission Oswald couldn't have been because he was in Mexico or somewhere else. To try to dismiss the incident because the eyewitness is wrong misses the point: we know it wasn't Oswald! Who was impersonating him and why? The "septic" usually is tied in a pretzel at this juncture.
Amazingly, we do have an eyewitness account of an Oswald double that not only ties the assassination plot with Roswell, but also intersects with the top secret activities of Area 51. For this anecdote, I will be quoting from James W. Douglass' comprehensive and stellar book JFK and the Unspeakable starting on page 296. It's a long but fascinating story, so if you haven't already popped some popcorn, grab a bowl, sit back and prepare to have your mind blown:
I was especially aware of "the idea of two Oswalds" from the testimony of U.S. Air Force sergeant Robert G. Vinson of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). Vinson not only saw the second Oswald on the afternoon of November 22 soon after T. F. White did. He actually witnessed the Oswald double escaping from Dallas in a CIA plane. Sergeant Vinson was already on the CIA getaway plane when the second Oswald boarded it. Vinson also got off the plane at the same CIA base as Oswald's double did, a few moments after him. Robert Vinson is a unique witness to the CIA's secret movement of an Oswald double out of Dallas on the afternoon of the assassination.
On November 20, 1963, Sergeant Robert Vinson took a trip to Washington, D.C., from Colorado Springs, where he was stationed at Ent Air Force Base on the staff of NORAD. The thirty-four-year-old sergeant had decided for the first time in his sixteen-year military career to go over his superiors' heads. His purpose in traveling to Washington was to ask why he had not received an overdue promotion. Vinson's rise in rank had been delayed in spite of his having received outstanding job evaluations at NORAD, where he served as adminitstrative supervisor of the electronics division and held a crypto security clearance. Sergeant Vinson was known by his NORAD commanders as a mild-mannered subordinate who could be counted on not to raise uncomfortable questions. But after discussing at length the problem of his stalled promotion with his wife, Roberta, Robert Vinson decided now was the time to depart from his usual pattern of compliance.
On Thursday, November 21, in a basement office of the Capitol Building, Sergeant Vinson met with a Colonel Chapman, who served as a liaison officer between Congress and the Pentagon. While he looked over Vinson's papers, Chapman engaged in a phone conversation Vinson would not forget.
Col. Chapman told the person on the other end of the line he "would highly recommend that the President not go to Dallas, Texas, on Friday because there had been something reported." Chapman said the president should cancel his Dallas trip, even though an advance group of Congressmen whom Chapman was coordinating had already left the capital. Vinson did not hear what the "something" was that moved Col. Chapman to urge the last-second cancellation of President Kennedy's Dallas trip (that would have followed by less than three weeks the last-second cancellation of his Chicago trip, where a four-man sniper team and an assassination scapegoat had been discovered).
Col. Chapman referred Sergeant Vinson's promotion question to an office at the Pentagon. A personnel officer there scanned Vinson's records. The officer was puzzled at why he hadn't been promoted. He assured him their office would look into the situation.
The next day, November 22, Vinson took a bus to Andrews Air Force Base. He planned to hitch a ride home on the first available flight going to Colorado Springs or its vicinity.
When an airman at the check-in counter told him there was nothing scheduled that day going his way, Vinson still wrote his name and serial number on the check-in sheet. He said he was going for breakfast in the cafeteria and asked the airman to let him know "if anything should come through that you don't have a notice on." A loudspeaker paged him fifteen minutes later. He left his breakfast sitting on the table, grabbed his bag, and ran for a plane that was pointed out by the airman, who said it was about to depart for Lowry Air Force Base in Denver.
The plane down the runway that Vinson climbed aboard was a propeller-driven C-54, a large cargo plane. Unlike all the other planes Vinson had hitched a ride on, the C-54 bore no military markings or serial numbers. Its only identification was on its tail - a rust-brown graphic of an egg-shaped earth, crossed by white grid marks.
The plane's door was open. When Vinson got in the C-54, he found it empty. He took a seat over the right wing. Through the window, he could see two men in olive drab coveralls walking around under the plane. Their coveralls bore no markings.
In a minute, the two men got on the plane. They walked past Vinson without saying a word. The men closed the cockpit door. The engines started up, and the plane took off.
Looking out the window at the runway disappearing beneath him, Vinson reflected on the flight's strange beginning and his own anonymity. Whenever he had hitched a ride before with the Air Force, the crew chief had always asked him to sign the "manifest," or log. This flight didn't even have a crew chief, much less a manifest. Nor did the pilot or co-pilot (if that's what the second man in the cockpit was) give him the usual friendly greeting. His reception had been total silence from the two men now flying the C-54 due west.
At a location Vinson thought was somewhere over Nebraska, he suddenly heard an unemotional voice say over the intercom:
"The president was shot at 12:29."
Immediately after the flatly given announcement, the plane banked into a sharp left turn. It began heading south.
About 3:30 P.M. Central Time, Vinson saw on the horizon the skyline of a city he was familiar with: Dallas.
The plane turned and came in over Dallas in a southeast direction. It landed abruptly in a rough, sandy area alongside the Trinity River. It was not a runway. Vinson thought it looked like a road under construction. Dust blew up, as the C-54 taxied around in a U-turn and came to a stop. The engines kept running.
Through the window Vinson saw a tool shed of the type used by highway construction crews, perhaps four by six feet in size, in a large, open, sandy area. Low cliffs stood at a distance. Across the river to the north was the Dallas skyline. Two men were running toward the plane from a jeep, which then backed out of Vinson's sight.
One of the plane's pilots came back and unlatched the passenger door. The two men came aboard. Vinson watched as the men passed his seat without looking or speaking to him. They were wearing off-white, beige coveralls, the type used by highway workers. They carried nothing. The men sat down right behind the cockpit. They said nothing to the man who let them on the plane or to each other. To Vinson it was obvious they were following orders, which must have included keeping silent about what they were doing.
The taller of the two men, 6' to 6'1", weighing 180 to 190 pounds, looked Latino. Vinson thought he was Cuban. The shorter man, 5'7" to 5'9", weighing about 150 to 160 pounds, was Caucasian. When Vinson watched the televised events from Dallas later that weekend, he recognized Lee Harvey Oswald as identical to the shorter man he had seen board the plane.
Without ever having stopped its engines, the C-54 took off from the sandy area in a northwest direction. Carrying the man who looked like Oswald, the plane soon left Dallas - and the jailed, about-to-be-killed Lee Harvey Oswald - far behind.
A little after dusk, the C-54 landed on a runway. Going by what he was told at Andrews, Robert Vinson continued to think the plane's destination was Lowry Air Base in Denver.
As soon as the C-54's engines were shut off, the two men in the cockpit emerged quickly. They rushed past Vinson out the door of the plane. The two passengers from Dallas hastened after them. Vinson was left alone in the aircraft, just as he had at the beginning.
"That was strange, very strange," Vinson said years later in an interview. "I couldn't understand why they were in such a rush. They just bailed out."
Robert Vinson descended from the plane into the gathering darkness. There was no one in sight. Nothing looked familiar. Across the runway he could see a building with lights in it. Inside he found a lone Air Policeman on duty.
"Hi," said Vinson, "Can you tell me where I am?"
"You're at Roswell Air Force Base in New Mexico," the AP said.
"I thought I was going to Denver, Colorado. How can I get downtown and catch a bus?"
The Air Policeman told him he couldn't go anywhere because the base was on alert. No one could come in or go out.
Vinson thought that was strange because the C-54 had just come in. How had their plane managed to enter a base that no one was allowed to enter? It didn't occur to him that the arrival of their plane could been the reason for the base's closure to everyone else. That would explain why Vinson found the runway area deserted. At least one of the C-54 passengers was not supposed to be seen by anyone. But Vinson had seen him and had even flown out of Dallas with him, though he didn't know the significance of the man whom he had seen.
The AP said there was nothing for Vinson to do except take a seat in the waiting room until the alert was lifted. After a couple of hours, the AP told him the alert was over and gave him directions to a bus stop.
By the next morning, Saturday, November 23, Robert Vinson was at home in Colorado Springs, telling Roberta the story of his strange flight. Although they didn't understand what lay behind it all, they both felt it could be dangerous. They agreed not to discuss it with anyone else.
That night, while watching the TV coverage from Dallas, Robert shook his head in disbelief. He said to Roberta, "That guy looks just like the little guy who was on the airplane."
"Are you nuts?" she said. "It couldn't be him. He's in jail."
"I swear that's the little guy who got on the plane."
"Well," she said, "keep quiet about it."
After Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered the following day, Robert Vinson kept quiet for thirty years about the little guy he saw get on the plane in Dallas. However, his silence could not erase the name and serial number he had given the airman at the Andrews check-in counter the morning of November 22. No doubt the two men who got on the plane in Dallas, and the two men in the cockpit, were thoroughly debriefed. They would have referred to the other member of their team, a man as silently obedient to the plan as they had been, who was on the C-54 before any of them got on and until after they got off. One can imagine the debriefer's shock: What other man?
The subsequent discovery that it was Air Force Sergeant Robert Vinson who was the unauthorized passenger in the flight from Dallas led, the Vinsons suspected, to further developments in their lives.
In the spring of 1964, after Vinson was promoted to technical sergeant, a friend told Robert and Roberta that their neighbors were being questioned by the FBI about what kind of people the Vinsons were and what they talked about. Not long after, Robert was ordered by his commanding officer to sign a new secrecy agreement. Roberta was also asked to fill out a personal history statement and sign a secrecy agreement, the first time she was ever required to do so as an Air Force wife.
On November 25, 1964, Robert Vinson received orders to go to Washington, D.C., and report to a telephone number "in conjunction with a Special Project." When he arrived in D.C. and phoned the number, he received instructions that resulted in his spending five days at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The CIA put him through a series of psychological and physical tests. At their conclusion, he was interviewed in a conference room by a half-circle of men in semi-darkness. They asked Vinson to work for them. He refused, saying he wanted to retire from the Air Force and take a job in Colorado Springs. The CIA men offered him lucrative inducements, which he again refused. They finally let him go.
As it turned out, they had not let him go at all.
Three months later, Robert Vinson was again ordered to report to a telephone number for the CIA, this time in Las Vegas, Nevada. The difference was he was no longer being asked to work for the CIA. He was told to work for the CIA. The Air Force had reassigned him to a top-secret CIA project, the Blackbird SR 71 spy plane, at an air base hidden in the Nellis Mountains, forty miles northwest of Las Vegas. In more recent years, after the base was closed especially because of radioactive contamination from the Nevada Test Site, this former CIA testing area was identified as Site 51.
On his new assignment, Vinson would soon learn that the CIA's projects out of Site 51 included experimental aircraft shaped like saucers. The same was true at the CIA's other base at Roswell, New Mexico, where the C-54 carrying the second Oswald had landed. Both Site 51 and Roswell were home to the "flying saucers" that people saw periodically in the area. They in fact came not from outer space but from the CIA, which encouraged the flying saucer reports as a convenient cover story for U.S. experimental aircraft.
For the final year and a half of his Air Force enlistment, Vinson served as the administrative supervisor for base supply of the CIA's SR-71/Blackbird spy plane project at Site 51. It was obvious to Vinson he was not so uniquely qualified for this position that the CIA would for that reason alone pluck him out of the NORAD staff in Colorado Springs, only eighteen months before his retirement, and insert him into their Nevada project. The Agency had other reasons for asking the Air Force to reassign him. He and Roberta agreed the CIA was keeping both of them under close observation, while paying Vinson off for his continuing silence with the CIA's monthly cash payments as a bonus to his Air Force salary. Nothing explicit, however, was ever said to him about his inadvertent presence on the flight from Dallas.
While Robert Vinson was working at Site 51, he saw a C-54 like the one that flew the second Oswald out of Dallas. On its tail was the same rust-brown graphic of an egg-shaped earth, crossed by white grid marks, that he had seen on the C-54 he boarded at Andrews. An Air Force sergeant at Site 51 confirmed the source of the plane he was looking at.
"CIA," he said.
Robert Vinson's CIA employment ceased with his retirement from the Air Force on October 1, 1966. Although the CIA paid him well to keep silent, he and Roberta "felt as if they'd been freed from a plush prison."
Out of fear for his life and concern for his military retirement benefits, Vinson maintained his silence during the twenty years he worked in Wichita, Kansas, first as an accountant, then as an administrative assistant and supervisor in the Wichita Public Works Department. In 1976 when he asked a lawyer friend in Wichita if he should reveal his secret, the lawyer said, "Don't tell a soul. For your own safety." Yet Vinson's conscience continued to push him toward speaking out on what he knew.
After Congress passed the JFK Records Act in 1992, mandating the disclosure of government records on the assassination, Vinson consulted with his member of Congress. Representative Dan Glickman of Wichita said to his relief that the new law freed him from his secrecy agreement when it came to assassination information.
As incredibly as this story confirms a connection between the JFK assassination conspiracy and Roswell/Area 51 activity, it would also appear to invalidate the original hypothesis pinning responsibility on space aliens. I suppose the point could be made that perhaps Vinson's security clearance wasn't high enough to permit him to know about space aliens. I can't prove or disprove that. I can only go where the evidence leads me and at this point, the evidence I've uncovered on Roswell and Area 51 where it concerns the JFK assassination lends itself toward a much more terrestrial explanation.
If in fact the origin of these "flying saucers" is human, is there any other documentation as to which humans are responsible? For that story, we return to Levenda's Sinister Forces Book Three: The Manson Secret and again we return to Roswell and the Nazis. From page 267:
The Germans had come closest to the dream of space travel during World War II. The rocket factories were cranking out missiles like the V-1 and V-2, but designs on the boards covered everything from jet aircraft to "flying saucer" prototypes. In the immediate postwar years. various Germans approached American intelligence (CIC) officers in Germany professing to have details of the saucer effort, including the Horten brothers who were part of Operation Paperclip, and the bizarre case of Guido Bernardy. On August 5, 1947, Bernardy approached the US Army in Frankfurt in an attempt to see General Lucius Clay to warn him about Nazi secret weapons, the development of flying saucers by Hitler's scientists, Hitler's survival in a submarine sailing in the Southern Hemisphere and about to launch these weapons against the US and Europe, and the appearance of "two gentlemen, with no special talents in their lives, [who] discovered they did have extraordinary powers and capabilities which made it possible for them to communicate and contact the spirit world." The agent who interviewed him, one Albert Goldstein, added, "Subject seemed entirely sincere, and the strong possibility that he is merely a crackpot is not apparent." A few months later, the Horten brothers became an issue once again, as the Roswell case and the multiple sightings of "flying saucers" in the United States caused the Deputy Director of Intelligence, European Command to send a memorandum - dated 21 October 1947 - to the American Chief of Staff about information received from Wright Field "concerning the flying saucers recently sighted over the UNITED STATES.
"For your information, the Air Materiel Command at WRIGHT FIELD is making a study of this subject and is constructing models to be tested in a wind tunnel.... The Air Materiel Command is of the opinion that some sort of object, such as the flying saucer, did exist" (Document declassified 5 July 1994). It would seem from the context of the accompanying documentation that the Horten brothers were assisting the US government in this assessment. It is known that the Operation Paperclip scientists had been sent to Wright Field (which would become Wright-Patterson AFB) in July 1947 at the time of the Roswell incident. Although Roswell is not mentioned in the declassified documents, it is nonetheless remarkable that the engineers and scientists of Wright Field were testing models of flying saucers in a wind tunnel there a few months after the incident (which the military had ridiculed as being mistaken identification of a weather balloon, and which later researchers identified as artifacts of Project Mogul) and that this testing involved de-Nazified scientists under Paperclip, and that their preliminary conclusion was that a flying saucer "did exist."
Hitler kept waiting to the very end for the coveted "secret weapon" that would decide the war, and he would remain disappointed, but Wernher von Braun and Walter Dornberger fled to the United States with the designs in their files and in their heads, and eventually with hundreds of their fellow scientists in tow managed to fill in the gaps and create the American space program, a military endeavor which later became NASA.
Aside from certain refutable aspects of this account, such as Hitler making out like Captain Nemo in the aftermath of World War II, (wouldn't that have made a chilling Twilight Zone episode!) this documentation corroborates the previous stories. What does this mean in terms of assigning ultimate responsibility for the murder of JFK? Perhaps Mae Brussell is correct in her theory pointing the finger of blame at the Nazis. Personally, I think that Oliver Stone, James W. Douglass and others are correct in pinning responsibility on the Military-Industrial Complex.
But consider this: what is the Military-Industrial Complex? Collins English Dictionary defines it in the United States as the combined interests of the military establishment and industries involved in producing military material considered as exerting influence on US foreign and economic policy. In other words, the merger of government (military establishment) and corporate interests (military material producers) decide what the policies of our country is. Now the Nazis had a fascist government. What is fascism? Though attribution of this quote is disputed, some say Giovanni Gentile, others say Benito Mussolini, here's the basic definition: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." Sounds almost synonymous with our MIC, doesn't it? I believe Oliver Stone acknowledged this obliquely in the closing argument as presented by Jim Garrison in JFK:
“Treason doth never prosper,” wrote an English poet. What’s the reason? Well if it prosper none
dare call it treason. The American public has yet to see the Zapruder film. Why? The American
public has yet to see the real X-rays and photographs of the autopsy. Why? There are hundreds of
documents that could help prove this conspiracy. Why are they being withheld or burned by the
government? Each time our office or you the people have asked those questions, demanded
crucial evidence, the answer from on high has always been ‘national security.’
dare call it treason. The American public has yet to see the Zapruder film. Why? The American
public has yet to see the real X-rays and photographs of the autopsy. Why? There are hundreds of
documents that could help prove this conspiracy. Why are they being withheld or burned by the
government? Each time our office or you the people have asked those questions, demanded
crucial evidence, the answer from on high has always been ‘national security.’
What kind of national security do we have when we have been robbed of our leaders? What
national security permits the removal of fundamental power from the hands of the American
people and validates the ascendancy of invisible government in the United States? That kind of
national security, gentlemen of the jury, is, when it smells like it, feels like it, and looks like it,
you call it what it is: FASCISM!