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Time to look at the DoE
How deep are the National Labs into the UFO secret?
“Welcome to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — your iris scan does not match the ones we have on file.”
In one of their final acts before summer break, lawmakers who attended three military veterans’ sworn testimony about the UFO coverup petitioned House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to form a Select Committee to investigate. “No governmental program, no matter how sensitive, can be outside the view of Congress. And yet,” wrote a bipartisan cast of Oversight and Accountability Committee members in their appeal, “the Executive Branch routinely redacts and entirely withholds information in other domains that we are entitled to, and is doing so here.”
Given the widespread coverage framed by sensational headlines, it’s obvious the media fail to grasp the true import of what went down last week in the Capitol. In fact, it’s safe to say that some grouches are incapable of losing the hyper-partisan politics they claim to abhor. Among the most notable offenders is Washington Post columnist and fellow progressive Dana Milbank. His rant titled “Aliens are among us – and they want to impeach Biden” shines a light on a rut so deep and abiding, Milbank has only stale leftovers to offer in his comparison between what happened on July 26 and in May of 2022.
Last year, when the Democrat-controlled Congress invited two know-nothing uniforms for a UFO discussion before a House Intelligence subcommittee, Milbank kept his invectives holstered. Now that Republicans are running things, however, the entire premise of the hearings is bogus. “The truth is out there,” Milbank concluded. “Just don’t expect to learn it from the alien life forms currently running the People’s House.”
This form of dishonesty – in which Milbank failed to mention that liberals like Jamie Raskin and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez pursued commonsense lines of inquiry with the witnesses – is also part of the great unmasking that necessarily accompanies surprising revelations. Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, showed us an authentic face we might not have seen had whistleblower Grusch not so directly challenged the defense establishment – and Kirkpatrick’s credibility – last week.
A company man with ties to the CIA, the DIA, the Air Force Research Laboratory and U.S. Strategic Command, the AARO boss busted decorum by getting pissed off in his personal LinkedIn response to Grusch. After having assured NASA on May 31 that hundreds of UFO cases in AARO’s files remain unresolved “primarily due to a lack of data,” Kirkpatrick lashed out at any notion that AARO might be part of the problem. He called Grusch’s allegations “insulting” to the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community and, without naming names, implied that Grusch was lying about his association with AARO.
Got dem ol’ A-bomb blues again, mama
Immediately thereafter, Mike Turner, chair of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence, hurled himself into the scrum. Probably just coincidence that his constituents include Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, long rumored to have been the stash house for Roswell’s alleged crash debris in 1947. The Ohio rep accused the military witnesses of bringing nothing to the table, and tacitly suggested they were paranoid. “I mean really,” Turner told Fox News, “this would take thousands and thousands of people for such an unbelievable coverup to be occurring.”
At one point, the Manhattan Project employed nearly 130,000 workers, and nobody was more surprised than Tojo when Japan got nuked twice. But it was a question posed by Rep. Andy Ogles, almost in passing, that triggered a full stop. “Is there any indication,” asked the Tennessee Republican, “that the Department of Energy is involved in UAP data collection and housing?” David Grusch demurred: “I can’t confirm or deny that in an open setting.”
Yep, because of Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” I’ve been thinking a lot lately about atomic bombs, and some of the film’s prophetic lines, like Matt Damon’s General Groves: “Compartmentalization is the key to maintaining secrecy,” and Cillian Murphy’s Oppie: “Compartmentalization is the protocol we agree to.” That was actually the ground-floor mantra of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1946 when it began developing and guarding America’s nuclear secrets. Its successor, today’s Department of Energy, has a more diverse reach. It officially counts 14,000 federal employees and 95,000 management/contractors working for 17 national laboratories scattered across the U.S.
Still, due to extraordinary information restrictions imposed by the Atomic Energy Acts of 1946 and 1954, many contemporary DoE projects are informally categorized as “born secret.” Meaning: don’t even ask. Atlantic magazine reporter Graeme Wood described the DoE’s secrecy rules as so wildly arbitrary, “sometimes it seems as if those best equipped to understand it are people with a background in obscure religious practices—say, Roman Catholic sacramental theology—rather than journalists or lawyers.”
And as former Deputy Assistant Sec Def for Intelligence Chris Mellon reminds us in an email, “Unlike DoD and the IC they (DoE) do not have an authorizing committee that reviews any of their black programs. Totally deep black, only a handful of appropriators might get an occasional peek but that is rare and cursory at best.”
White Sands Missile Range expects overflow, “Oppenheimer”-driven crowds to queue up in October for a one-day, six-hour glimpse of Trinity, the desert basin where the atomic bomb changed world history in 1945.
In 1987, I barely scratched the surface of this tight-sphinctered bureaucracy by pulling together an oral history of America’s atmospheric nuclear testing program. Dozens of participants or survivors on Florida’s Space Coast spoke out, some sharing stories of cancer, miscarriages, and genetic deformities. From the ruins of Nagasaki in 1945 to the Thor missile mishap at Johnston Atoll in 1962, whether getting soaked by hot rain in the Pacific Proving Grounds, marching through irradiated doom towns near the Nevada Test Site, or flying radiation samplers directly over mushroom clouds, a quarter million service personnel had come out the other side under a dubious new military category – atomic veterans.
The series was essentially a plea for Congress to order the VA to start awarding service-connected disability payments for radiogenic illnesses; fortunately, it worked. But there were a lot of off-the-record stories I didn’t print, like the guy who told me a number of detonations in Nevada, called “shots,” were delayed due to “range-fouling” UFOs. And some stories, I learned about too late.
A key source was Pat Broudy, the diminutive but feisty widow of a Marine major who died of lymphatic cancer in 1977 at age 57. Charles Broudy clung to his security oath until his deathbed, when he confessed to radiation exposure during desert maneuvers in a test sequence called Operation Plumbbob. Determined to make his suffering count for something, Pat Broudy dedicated her life to the National Association of Atomic Veterans in hopes of getting better health care and compensation for the troops who got screwed.
In 1998, as she combed through government files to assist another atomic widow with VA paperwork, Broudy discovered a UFO entry in the deck logs of the USS Curtiss. Shortly after Shot Koon shook Bikini Atoll in 1954, the warship reported that a yellowish-orange, “unidentified luminous object” passed low and fast overhead, “from bow to stern.” The logs had been declassified in 1982 by the Defense Nuclear Agency. Broudy publicized the news, and UFO researcher Dan Wilson followed up on UFO websites in 2000.
Having accessed the Curtiss incident in DoE’s database, Wilson notified fellow investigator Robert Hastings in 2005 with an email link to the report. Hastings clicked on and discovered the Curtiss’s UFO log entry on page 341 of the file. He went on to locate and interview several old Navy hands about the incident, and collected additional details about the object’s oval shape and zig-zag maneuvers.
However, as he reported in UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites in 2008, when Hastings doubled back and tried to directly view the logs in the DoE archives without using Wilson ‘s email link, page 341 was missing — along with 50 subsequent pages. Hastings theorized that the UFO info had been scrubbed following the publicity splash, and “it would’ve been too suspicious to delete just that one page.”
What to make of this? A one-off clerical error by DoE? Something more systemic? Raise your hand if you’d like to volunteer to go through those records, page by page, and look for patterns.
Anyway, in 1988, the American Legion recognized the series with its Fourth Estate Award, and invited me to address its national convention. I asked an Army veteran who tumbled onto the periphery of ground zero during an airborne jump in 1952 if there was a message he wanted to deliver to the Legionnaires. He said it was too late, the damage was done, his health was shot. But without a trace of sarcasm, he said a medal would be better than nothing.
I almost had kittens when I saw the speakers’ lineup, and it wasn’t over Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or Michael Dukakis. I was scheduled to talk immediately before Manhattan Project physicist Edward Teller, architect of the hydrogen bomb.
Meeting Dr. Strangelove
Cofounder of the AEC’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1952, Teller’s legendary presence loomed large over my research and reporting, and the more I learned, the more the comparisons to “Dr. Strangelove” seemed on target. The bombs produced by LLNL were typically more efficient than those rolling out of Los Alamos National Lab, and often exceeded their projected yields. Experimental testing on Teller’s fusion bombs was supposedly restricted to the Pacific. However, a 74-kiloton blast in Nevada — Shot Hood, the most powerful explosion ever to rock the continental U.S. — is largely regarded as a thermonuclear device. Pat Broudy’s husband was there for that one.
During the Eisenhower years, with the fallout contaminating milk, permeating lakes and streams, silting onto food supplies and ruining camera film, Teller warned Congress that a ban on atmospheric nuclear testing “would give away the future of this country.” He envisioned a world where nukes could be used for dredging harbors, drilling for oil, and mining Helium-3 on the moon.
In 1988, Teller was still a consultant to LLNL and, as a member of the White House Science Council, was a staunch advocate of Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars. But when he told the administration that a space-based, nuclear-triggered X-ray laser missile-killer was entering the engineering stage, the alarmed head of the program at LLNL told anyone who would listen that the project hadn’t even passed theoretical muster yet. For his candor, whistleblower Roy Woodruff was demoted and eventually resigned.
After making my pitch for atomic veteran medals, I settled in for the main event. Then out he came, to address the Legionnaires, Edward Teller, 80, walking slowly over to the podium, the cane that enabled him, eyebrows thick and gray as splayed wiring. His gravely Hungarian accent unspooled in an oracle’s cadence of dramatic pauses. And his sense of presence seemed sharp as a diamond blade.
“Your job,” he told the old warriors, words suspended in mid-air by the auditorium acoustics, “was defense . . . My job was . . . and my job remains . . . knowledge.”
Afterwards, offstage, he was swamped by local reporters lobbing softballs. He looked tired, and I was at the end of the line. I’d be lucky to get one question in, so I had to choose: Something conventional, or . . .?
In 1949, with Los Alamos and Sandia National Lab under apparent surveillance by UFOs commonly dubbed “green fireballs,” Teller was among the brains assembled to take a look at the phenomena. At the time, given the noiseless nature of the intrusions, he ascribed the sightings to “electro-optical” quirks devoid of mass. By 1966, however, he had made a shift. Or maybe he was just being glib.
“The human soul needs miracles,” he told “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And in a scientific age, what is more proper than that the miracles should be scientific miracles?” Asked who was creating these “miracles,” Teller shrugged. “They are miracles. How do I know whose miracles?”
Chasing Dr. Edward Teller at the American Legion’s national convention in 1988.
I was the last reporter left. Looking back, I made the wrong call:
“Dr. Teller, in your speech, you said you were worried that Reagan had been too optimistic about SDI, but wasn’t it in fact your optimism that started the controversy that caused Dr. Woodruff at Lawrence Livermore Lab to resign . . ?”
He didn’t let me finish. “X-rays we are developing,” he interrupted, “but they were not the main SDI objective and they are not of immediate interest today. I have a plane to catch.” With that, assisted by two escorts who never smiled, Teller left the room and vanished into memory.
The good news: In 2022, just 34 years after the American Legion convention, the Pentagon unveiled the Atomic Veterans Commemorative Service Medal. Some of the guys who’ve earned it are actually still alive.
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