Chapter Three

Political Developments
 

"The question is not whether you are right or wrong, sir. You are not even in the conversation."

- Dr. Carl Sagan to Dr. John Brandenburg, regarding Brandenburg's work on Cydonia.

Throughout the 1980s, though many NASA officials and prominent scientists expressed interest and curiosity about the results of Hoagland's independent research behind the scenes, the Agency's quarter-century-long position on Cydonia - as well as the position of its planetary scientists - was uniformly caustic.

 

While the official Agency position on the reality of Cydonia was far from encouraging, various NASA labs and facilities were often far more open and accommodating, at times even complimentary.


Yet as interest in the Cydonia issue began to reach unprecedented levels, NASA began to march out troops to try and quiet the unrest. One of these was Dr. Steven Squyres, Carl Sagan's protege at Cornell. In 1988, Hoagland and Squyres faced off in a nationally televised debate on the extraterrestrial artifacts issue on CBS's Nightwatch news program, hosted by Charlie Rose [Fig 3-1].


During the debate, Squyres made various erroneous claims, including the tired "disconfirming" photos charge, the notorious assertion that the measurements done by Hoagland and Torun had not been made on ortho-rectified versions of the data (they had) and that Cydonia did not meet established NASA standards for possible artificiality (no such standards have ever been published).

 

Hoagland, by now well-versed in the standard NASA diversionary tactics and misrepresentations, out-argued Squyres on each and every issue, until Rose finally pinned Squyres on one crucial point - he had never actually looked at a single Viking image from Cydonia!


That effectively ended the televised debate - but it did not quell the resistance from NASA to honestly examine the issues raised by the independent investigation. In fact, the results of this very public debate only seemed to harden that resistance in some quarters of the Agency.


As recounted by Hoagland in Monuments, he was invited on no less than five occasions by various NASA facilities to make presentations to the Agency employees on the subject of Cydonia.

 

One of these appearances, at Cleveland's NASA/Lewis (now NASA/Glenn) facility was videotaped and eventually released as Hoagland's Mars, Vol. 1.


Critics, like Skeptical Inquirer's Gary Posner (in a vicious personal attack published in that magazine in 2001) have, in the intervening years, downplayed the significance of Hoagland's appearances, claiming various individuals involved with them have now recanted their interest in Hoagland's work. Foremost among them is Dr. John Kleinberg, who now claims (at least according to Posner) that Hoagland's appearances were nothing out of the ordinary.


The reality is that Hoagland's initial NASA/Lewis presentation, on March 20, 1990, was quite significant.


Not only was the Center Auditorium filled with NASA engineers and scientists (even to the point of overflowing to the aisles), but special viewing rooms were set up around the complex to allow other NASA/Lewis personnel still on the job to view the presentation via closed-circuit NASA television.

 

There was even an official "charge number" for Lewis employees who came to the Auditorium to use so they could be compensated for the time they spent watching Hoagland's Cydonia presentation live.


Three video cameras (and cameramen) were in place in the main Lewis Auditorium to both broadcast the event live to all the other Center buildings as well as to officially record it for NASA's archive. Joyce Bergstrom, of NASA-Lewis's Public Affairs Office, had promised to provide subsequent broadcast quality copies of the presentation to ABC News, among others, due to requests from the media.

 

The night before the presentation, Bergstrom also set up a special NASA television interview for Hoagland - by Dr. Lynn Bondurant, director of NASA/Lewis' Educational Programs Office.


Not only did Bondurant personally conduct the interview, he also arranged to professionally record it for a later PBS broadcast. He requested that Hoagland come in after hours the night before his scheduled presentation, and proceeded to set him up in a teleconference room - with a huge backdrop of the official NASA/Lewis logo framed behind him, so that during the entire interview it would appear in virtually every shot.


Now, if Hoagland was "just another normal guest," with no more status than any other outside party that might get invited to speak at Lewis, why would he get such red carpet treatment (and we haven't even gotten around to mentioning the limousine service from the airport, the executive lunch with all the senior staff, and the full tour of NASA-Lewis before his Presentation in the afternoon ...)?

 

Did all of NASA/Lewis's guest speakers get brought in the night before, to be interviewed for a PBS special with the official NASA logo prominently featured over their shoulders?

 

And, if the presence of the NASA seal behind Hoagland during that extensive interview on his Cydonia research was not meant as a tacitly implied endorsement, why not conduct the interview in the visitor parking lot, or some other equally "unidentifiable" location?


Yet not only did Bondurant conduct the interview himself, from the actual interview tape it is obvious that he had read Monuments cover to cover.

 

The Director of the NASA/Lewis Education Office spent over two and a half hours asking a series of serious, sober and highly detailed questions, based on an obviously extensive knowledge of the work of not only Hoagland, but of the other Mars anomalies investigators as well.

 

He knew the details - some of them quite obscure - of almost a decade of research on Cydonia carried out by DiPietro, Molenaar, Carlotto and Torun. This hardly seems the behavior of someone just being a genial host and having no real interest in Hoagland's ideas or published works.


A few months after his appearance at NASA/Lewis, Hoagland was invited again to the facility by the same Dr. Bondurant who had so thoroughly interviewed him back in March. The intent this time was to hold a full briefing and educational workshop for representatives from various high schools and universities from around the country - and even NASA Headquarters itself - on The Monuments of Mars.

 

In Posner's article, he again tried to downplay the significance of this invitation, claiming that it was no big deal and was "only" attended by fifty people.


In reality, it was certainly a major event, as all the attendees were leaders in their fields, and the Workshop came complete with pre-printed workbooks and background references (prepared by NASA/Lewis). Since this was a special session for educators, rather than a general presentation for the whole facility, it was held in a room with a capacity of about fifty because that's how many educators from around the country were invited.


Posner actually didn't argue with any of this. He simply used a statement by NASA/Lewis' Director of Internal Affairs, Americo F. Forestieri (who wasn't even employed there when these events took place) to imply that Hoagland is "stretching it a bit" by claiming that his second appearance at NASA was a "major national NASA education conference" at "a packed auditorium full of teachers and scientists and engineers and educators."

 

He apparently bases this solely on the fact that "only" fifty educators attended the conference.

  • What's the implication?

  • That a conference cannot be "major" unless more than fifty people attend it?

  • And if those fifty people are top-flight educators, including from NASA Headquarters itself, then is it too much to assume that this is a fairly major event?

  • Is Hoagland wrong or self-serving to have described it that way?

Yet if we use Posner's standard, which is apparently that an event sponsored by a major NASA division is not "major" unless it is attended by more than fifty people, then isn't Hoagland's previous NASA/Lewis appearance, viewed by over a thousand NASA scientists and engineers in the NASA/Lewis Main Auditorium live and shown to literally thousands more via closed circuit television, to be considered "major?"


It can be argued that it was Forestieri, not Posner, who made the claim that Hoagland was "stretching it a bit."

 

Yet if Posner didn't agree with Forestieri's standard, why did he use it in his article? He clearly wanted to give the impression that Hoagland (at the least) exaggerates the importance of his frequent invitations to NASA/Lewis. The evidence would seem to argue to the contrary, that it is Posner that is "stretching it a bit" to try to make something disingenuous (on Hoagland's part) out of these events.


And, not only did Bondurant's NASA-Lewis Office of Education officially put on this Conference, but he also used it to announce to the assembled scientists, engineers and educators that this session and Hoagland's previously taped appearances (from March) were going to be part of an upcoming PBS miniseries to be called "Hoagland's Mars."


Bondurant had evidently been planning (obviously at the behest of his boss, Dr. Klineberg), since that initial "night before" interview in front of the NASA/Lewis logo, to create this program. Hoagland, along with everyone at the Conference, was surprised at this announcement, since they hadn't been in the loop on the plans at all.


Subsequent to Bondurant's announcement, the process of creating the series went forward with no input from Hoagland (other than providing some of his own Cydonia images and graphics); it was 100 percent a NASA/Lewis production and was being prepared for broadcast on January 6, 1991. Then, less than three weeks before the scheduled air date, on December 13, 1990, Bondurant called Hoagland with bad news.

 

Sounding (according to Hoagland) "like death warmed over," he somberly informed Hoagland that the plug had been had pulled on the planned "Hoagland's Mars" series, and he was to report to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. immediately with all the tapes, scripts and graphics for the programs.

 

When Hoagland asked what had happened, Bondurant told him that JPL had somehow "got wind of the series," and had absolutely "raised hell" back at Headquarters about it.

 

Later, Hoagland confirmed as much from another long-term source within NASA Headquarters itself. So what had happened?


The problems evidently began with something known as the original "Enterprise Mission." In early 1990, Hoagland had begun an educational project of his own in Washington, D.C, at Dunbar Senior High.

 

Drawing unabashedly upon the Star Trek motif of his friend Gene Roddenberry, the U.S.S. Dunbar was designed by Hoagland and colleagues to stimulate interest in science among the students at this 99% black inner-city school by focusing their research on various real space science issues and arguments within NASA - such as the Hubble Telescope; the Magellan Venus Mission; and Mars.

 

The prototype Dunbar experiment for a National program (located just off Capitol Hill) was to end by tackling the thorny issues swirling around the Face and Cydonia itself.


This educational project, with the able contributions of both national corporations and local community volunteers (including Keith Morgan, of ABC News, and his entire family), eventually received a nomination for a "Point of Light" award from President Bush's (41) own Point of Light Foundation. With the program catching the attention of the White House itself, and after several months of negotiating, the "U.S.S. Dunbar" got a chance to welcome its most important visitor in October, 1990-Barbara Bush, First Lady of United States.


Hoagland promptly sent a tape of her appearance (shot by the students themselves) to Bondurant, and suggested it be included at the end of his production of "Hoagland's Mars," because of the specific references to the Washington, D.C. "Enterprise" experiment that Bondurant had included in the "night before" interview months before.


However, that was when it literally "hit the fan" - It seems that the notion of the First Lady of the United States, the wife of the President of the United States, tacitly endorsing the notion of artificial ruins at Cydonia by her sheer presence at a Hoagland project, was just a bit too much for the folks at JPL.


Perhaps this is also why Klineberg's formal introduction of Hoagland, back on March 20, was somehow mysteriously excluded from the official NASA/ Lewis versions of the presentation video tapes (including those that went - very late - to ABC News). The cause, according to the Lewis technical department, was due to "simultaneous failure of all three cameras." Miraculously, they all came back online just in time for Hoagland to begin speaking.


In the end, Bondurant's proposed NASA-Lewis Mars series was reduced to a single half-hour program of "talking heads," featuring a "balanced response" from such unbiased figures as Michael Carr and his JPL cohorts (the same ones who, according to two "inside" NASA sources, had killed the much more extensive "Hoagland's Mars" series).

 

It had nothing to do with a "lack of technical quality," as the NASA Headquarters' Public Affairs Office would later claim.


The point of all this is that the actual events, as described in Monuments, and when viewed with any sort of objectivity, clearly support Hoagland's version of the events, rather than Posner's disingenuous characterizations. Hoagland certainly did not exaggerate the importance of his appearances at NASA/Lewis, and indeed it seems he was on track to a significant, official NASA endorsement of his work until "JPL happened."


It was shortly after this series of events; Hoagland's appearances at NASA facilities, the publication of "The Message of Cydonia," the curious endorsement of Hoagland's work by various entities connected with Bush Sr. that things began to turn ugly.


NASA and its various sub-agencies and facilities began to respond to increasing public and Congressional inquires on the Cydonia question with vitriolic rhetoric and even outright falsehoods.

 

When Hoagland and Erol Torun began making inroads in the United States Congress to make Cydonia an imaging priority for the upcoming Mars Observer program, the response began to get harried. NASA seemed intent on avoiding the simple testing of the Cydonia hypothesis at all costs. Various documents were issued, seemingly using Carl Sagan's Parade hit piece as a model, in response to letters and requests from (among others), Representative Robert Roe, Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

 

Besides the simple continuing misstatements concerning the existence of the supposed "disconfirming" photographs of the Face, several more extensive, formal responses were issued.


Foremost among them was an anonymous document from inside NASA titled "Technical Review of the Monuments of Mars."

 

This paper began to make the rounds of various NASA facilities and public affairs offices and was widely circulated by the Agency to individuals and government officials as a justification for not making re-imaging of Cydonia a priority.

 

Dr. Stanley McDaniel, Epistemologist and Professor Emeritus at Sonoma State University, had this to say about the memorandum in his book The McDaniel Report:

"This memorandum cannot be taken seriously as a responsible scientific evaluation. It refers only to a limited selection of claims in a single work on the subject (a popular book not intended as a strict scientific report).

 

The claims that are dealt with are taken in isolation, generally misrepresented, and the evaluations are cursory and significantly flawed. Although the paper is characterized as a technical review, it does not deserve the title by any reasonable standard.

 

The use of it in an official communication sent out by NASA in response to an inquiry by a United States Congressman raises a very serious concern about the integrity of NASA's treatment of the subject."

Eventually, McDaniel learned that Paul Lowman, a Goddard Spaceflight Center geologist, had authored the memo. As to why Lowman didn't have the guts to openly acknowledge his authorship, one can only speculate.


The cancellation of the "Hoagland's Mars" PBS series was the beginning of a new and much more acrimonious relationship between Hoagland, NASA and the independent researchers.

 

 Presumably, this had something to with a major new development on the horizon: NASA's follow-up to Viking, the Mars Observer Program.



Mars Observer

Mars Observer was announced in the late 1980s as the next generation follow-up to Viking.

 

The Mission would be the first new unmanned reconnaissance of Mars in over 20 years, with a host of vastly improved scientific instruments. However, initial specs for the spacecraft were highly disappointing to anyone seeking a resolution to the Cydonia issue, since the Mission was not originally designed to include a camera.

 

Eventually, the Mission Planners came to their senses, and it was decided fairly late in the game to include a one-meter-per-pixel resolution gray-scale camera. That, however, was where the problems actually began.


The man who would build, point and control the camera was a former JPL employee named Dr. Michael Malin. Malin, among other interesting affiliations, had once been part of a project to analyze the purported UFO photographs of infamous "contactee" Billy Meier.

 

In that capacity, Malin, then an associate professor at Arizona State University, had concluded that Meier's controversial photographs were not fakes.

"I find the photographs themselves credible, they're good photographs," he commented at the time.50

The Meier photo investigation had been organized by well-known UFO investigator Wendelle Stevens (Lt. Col., USAF, ret.) and also focused on similar prime cases.

 

From 1978-83, the person orchestrating photo testing for Stevens was Jim Dilettoso, a long time UFO buff himself and also the Director of Special Projects for APRO (the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization), the leading UFO research group of that era.


Dilettoso was something of a Renaissance man, dividing his time between developing high-end computer processing equipment and designing tours for the rock group the Moody Blues as a day job.

 

There were two primary missions for the photo testing activities:

  • first, develop a methodology for analysis of the photos (size, distance, hoax, mistakes, et. al.)

  • second, test photos using this process in association with recognized experts

Dilettoso went to dozens of manufacturers of image processing equipment, including government contractors like EG&G and TRW, government labs like the United States Geological Survey and JPL, and certain universities that were known for their image processing and analysis capabilities; USC and Arizona State University among them.

 

When he found someone of merit and interest that he felt might be able to contribute to the rather atypical projects he was directing for Stevens, he followed a very exacting protocol that included security considerations for both sides.


All selected scientists signed non-disclosure agreements (which later came back to haunt Stevens and Dilettoso when cynical "skeptics" contacted some of these people to verify their participation, and the scientists predictably denied they'd taken part). Lee and Brit Elders of Intercep Security, a leading firm of the time, handled the security.

 

The scientists that Dilettoso recommended for the testing were fully scrutinized by Intercep before any contact, briefing or testing could begin.


During the Voyager fly-by of Saturn, Dilettoso was at JPL as a contractor and it was there he met Richard C. Hoagland - who was also at the Lab working as a reporter covering the Voyager mission for American Airlines' American Way Magazine.

 

There he also met Dr. Michael Malin, the future "Principal Investigator" on the Mars Observer camera.


Dilettoso had already visited Bob Nathan (who had helped develop JPL's early VICAR imaging processing software)51 at JPL a few times to have him analyze four "legitimate" Meier photos and two "control pictures," and it was Nathan that steered him to Malin. Malin was working at JPL at the time, but was planning a move to Arizona soon thereafter to take a position as a professor and scientist in the Geology Department.

 

After making initial contact at JPL, Dilettoso made arrangements with Malin to meet up with him at ASU a few months later.


Malin was working on the study of volcanoes, earthquakes and other landmass spectacles and his imaging work included satellite images tiled on 3D topographic maps, and computer simulations of seismic events.


Stevens and Dilettoso went back to Malin's lab at ASU around 1980, with the same four Meier photos and two controls that they had taken to everyone else. Malin digitized them and did some preliminary analysis while they were there, and did further study in the weeks following. He told Dilettoso in a subsequent visit that he had spent quite some time with the photographs.

 

Simply put, Malin's findings were that he found no evidence of superimposition, or "dubbing," as he called it. He gave them no written report, as they had not asked for one.

 

They never went back to retrieve or erase the images, which were now digitized and in Malin's system, since they thought it would be good for him to have them and pass them around to his colleagues, which they assumed that he did.


In 1985, Gary Kinder was writing the book Light Years, about the Meier case investigation. Kinder interviewed Malin and included Malin's comments that were in the (skeptical) affirmative. (Also included were Malin's comments about Dilettoso, which were mildly supportive.)

 

Malin reiterated that he had found no evidence of a hoax, and he said so to Kinder, but he was not yet convinced that the objects in the images were extraterrestrial spacecraft.


It is interesting that Malin even admitted to Kinder that he had tested the Meier photos, let alone that he did not make a negative comment about his findings, given his later hostility to the notion of the Cydonia artifacts. If anything, the Meier case was significantly more "far out" than anything Hoagland ever proposed, and unlike the Cydonia investigation, was not inherently falsifiable. Malin later got a MacArthur grant and dropped from sight until he reappeared on the Mars Observer project as the man behind the camera.


There is an interesting sidebar here: over the years, Dilettoso kept regular contact with Malin's secretary/lab assistant from ASU, who would visit his Village Labs processing facility in Tempe, Arizona every few months in the 1990s.

 

She had actually become a major investigator in the arena of crypto-archeology, the study of possible ancient ruin sites on Earth. She frequently dropped photos of "artifacts" she had spotted in satellite images off to Dilettoso, asking for his comments.


It is easy to conclude that "Barbara" likely had no real scientific training of her own, and was being guided by Malin in these endeavors.

 

Since Malin himself was a geologist and had no experience in engineering or archaeology, using his secretary as a public surrogate would enable him to become expert in the techniques necessary to spot artifacts in the images set to be received by Mars Observer (and later Mars Global Surveyor) without arousing suspicion as to his true intentions regarding Cydonia. In fact, it was a perfect cover.


Malin chose to reserve judgment on the more spectacular aspects of Meier's story, but this early foray into such arcane territory showed that he was at least willing to consider unusual or even bizarre claims like Meier's.

 

But what the entire independent Mars investigation community wanted to know, circa 1992, was just what his position was on Cydonia and the Face.


Malin quickly asserted (Barbara's new hobby notwithstanding) that he had no interest in even testing the Cydonia hypotheses by merely targeting the formations with his new camera. In fact, he stated his outright opposition to making even a minimal effort to rephotograph Cydonia on numerous occasions.

 

Because the camera was a "nadir pointing" device, meaning that it could not swivel or aim at specific targets without the entire spacecraft being repositioned (and hence using valuable fuel), Malin argued that at best he might get "one or two" random opportunities to target a specific object like the Face or D&M during the regular science mission.

 

However, as the specs evolved, Mars Observer soon became a much more capable mission, with additional fuel added to the Mission Plan to enable an extension of the original two-year science acquisition phase of the project.


Hoagland and Dr. Stanley McDaniel began to dig into Malin's contentions, and quickly discovered that Malin's claim of at best "one or two" opportunities to target the Face was greatly understated. After consulting with Mission Planners at JPL and reviewing the technical specs, they found that there would be more on the order of forty plus chances to target the Face during the regular two-year science phase.

 

So why would Dr. Malin - if he was honest-underestimate the imaging opportunities by a factor of twenty? Hoagland and McDaniel smelled a rat, and they decided to try an end run.


Hoagland and the other researchers then began to lobby NASA and Congress to target the formations, only to make an extremely unpleasant discovery. Neither NASA nor Congress had anything to say about where Michael Malin had pointed his Mars Orbiter camera.


In an unprecedented move, NASA had decided to sell the rights to all of the data collected by the Observer to Malin himself, in an exclusive arrangement that gave Malin godlike powers over when, or even if he decided to release any data the camera collected.

 

This private contractor arrangement not only neatly absolved NASA from any responsibility as to what was photographed with an instrument and mission paid for by the taxpayers of the United States, but it gave Malin the right to embargo data for up to half a year, if he so chose.


This marked the first time in NASA history that data returning from an unmanned space probe would not be seen "live," as it had all throughout the preceding 30 plus years of Mariner, Lunar Orbiter, Surveyor, Apollo, Viking and Voyager Missions. The logic of the arrangement was tenuous, at best.

 

NASA claimed that in order to assure that private contractors would bid on future space projects like Mars Observer, they had to guarantee an "exclusive rights period" to the private contractors/scientists, so that they could write the first scientific papers from the data collected "without unfair competition from other, non-project scientists."


Of course, it was not required in any way to grant Malin the right to withhold some or all of the data completely, which he could, under a clause that gave him the right to delete "artifacts" from any or all of the images.

 

In essence, Malin could release a blacked-out image, and then simply claim the image had been filled with "artifacts." It also meant that for a period of up to six months, he could do literally anything at all to the images, and no one - not even NASA - would be the wiser.


Malin even moved his entire private company, "Malm Space Science Systems" (which held the actual Mars Observer camera contract) away from ASU in Arizona and JPL in California to San Diego (over 300 miles south of JPL in Pasadena). This effectively insulated Malin from the Mars planetary science community.

 

Visitors - other scientists within the community, or even co-investigators with Malin on Mars Observer - were quite unlikely to "drop in" unannounced if everyone had to drive four or five hours from JPL just to get to Malin's offices. And, when they did get there, if they didn't get directions beforehand, they'd be out of luck.

 

For some reason, Malin's company was never publicly listed on the shopping mall marquee where his offices were (and still are) actually located.


Curiously, however, the move did put him right across the street from one of the worlds largest "supercomputer" facilities... where he could literally hand-carry digital imaging tapes back and forth...


To Hoagland and the other independent researchers, this was an untenable situation. It was anathema to Hoagland that a publicly funded program could be subject to such an obvious sell-out of the public's right to know, and their faith in the integrity of the data. Instead, the total control was in the hands of a man who had expressed outright hostility to the idea of even testing the Cydonia hypothesis.

 

So the whole issue was subject to Malin - without oversight of any kind - having the scientific integrity not to alter or withhold data that might make him look like a fool.


By 1992, with the September launch of Mars Observer approaching, McDaniel entered the fray. Using various political and academic contacts, he put pressure on NASA and JPL from several directions, forcing them to address, on the record, just why they were not able to target Cydonia or the Face specifically. NASA responded with various contradictory, if not disingenuous (McDaniel's words) arguments, including those by Dr. Malin.

 

At every turn, McDaniel and Hoagland shot down the arguments, finally getting NASA Headquarters Public Affairs' spokesman, Don Savage, to officially admit (in a Headquarters letter) that the infamous "disconfirming photos" of the Face never existed.52


Mars Observer was a troubled mission almost from the very beginning. Besides the various political controversies swirling around the Cydonia question, it had a series of technical mishaps that made even casual observers wonder if the mission was cursed, or if somebody just didn't want it to succeed.

 

Then the Mission's Project Office described Mars Observer's journey to the Red planet as "traumatic."53


In late August 1992, during a routine inspection of the spacecraft on the launch pad, NASA technicians discovered severe contamination, inexplicably inside the protective shroud, consisting of "metal filings, paint chips and assorted trash." NASA publicly speculated that the damage was done when the spacecraft had been hastily unplugged from an outside air-conditioner and the payload shroud hermetically sealed, a measure actually designed to protect it from the imminent effects of Hurricane Andrew.

 

But the Agency never actually cited a specific cause for the contamination from its (brief) investigation. With an immovable launch window looming just weeks away, the Orbiter payload was hurriedly removed from the pad and taken back to the payload integration clean room - for disassembly, inspection and possible "aggressive cleaning."


It was there that Program technicians made a second, even more disturbing discovery.


According to Mars Observer Project Manager David Evans, during the inspection process NASA discovered the presence of an unspecified "foreign substance" inside the spacecraft's (Malin's) camera assembly that would have made the resultant images blurred and virtually worthless for resolving the Cydonia issue.54

 

According to Evans, since the camera was a sealed assembly, the mysterious contamination could only have been introduced into the camera in disassembly and check-out after it came assembled from Malin's facility, in the JPL clean room itself.


How such a basic "mistake" could have been made, given the nearly $1 billion price tag of the Mission, is hard to fathom. Checking the cleanliness of the camera optics is invariably the top priority for a mission that has a visible hght camera as its primary scientific instrument. Had this bizarre "Vaseline smearing" of the lens not been discovered at the Cape (serendipitously, because of a hurricane), Mars Observer would have been an embarrassment on the scale of the original Hubble Telescope debacle.55

 

Fortunately, NASA engineers at Cape Canaveral (the "honest" ones) were able to clean the spacecraft and get it back to the pad in record time for its September 25 launch.


Meanwhile, NASA management was no longer simply insisting that the terms of Malin's private contract with the Agency gave him the "right" to target or ignore Cydonia at his whim (as well as embargo the images and legally remove "artifacts" from the data); Program Scientist Bevan French was additionally defending the notion that the Face and other objects were "too small" to be effectively targeted by the Malin camera in the first place.

 

This was despite the fact that there was a defined Mission objective to target the sites of the two previous Viking Landers which, as opposed to the mile-wide Face, were each less than 15 feet wide.


They continued to insist, in correspondence and in open debate in various public forums, that Malin had the final say, and that they were powerless to influence him. Beyond that, they defended the practice of exclusivity as the only means of achieving scientific results; despite the fact that no prior mission - manned or unmanned - in the agency's history had utilized this private contractor status. In the past, the taxpayers who paid for the mission had always owned the data.
 

Now it seemed they were lucky to even see it.


As the launch date arrived, the political pressure was reaching a fevered level; Hoagland was live on CNN, reminding viewers of all this strange history even as the spacecraft lifted off. Fortunately, the actual launch itself seemed to go off without a hitch. Then, something truly bizarre happened: all contact was lost with Mars Observer and its still-attached second stage rocket, for almost 90 minutes.


Just twenty-four minutes into the Mission, with the spacecraft set to fire a second-stage rocket after separating from its first stage Titan booster and set out on its mission to Mars, all radio and telemetry went dead. Aircraft over the Indian Ocean reported seeing a brilliant red-orange flash - possibly the second stage firing, possibly the spacecraft exploding - coinciding with the timing of the critical rocket firing.

 

Given that the spacecraft had gone inexplicably silent, flight controllers assumed the worst. Imagine their relief when a little over an hour later, Mars Observer just as suddenly and inexplicably reappeared, apparently none the worse for wear.


So what exactly had happened during those lost eighty-five minutes?


It's impossible to know for sure, but on two subsequent attempts to retrieve the onboard telemetry, recorded during the "missing time" event, there was absolutely nothing to be heard.

 

Then, on a third attempt -several days later - suddenly, a completely normal data stream appeared. There was only one problem: the first two attempts had received a carrier signal and "timing code," indicating that a recording was made, but the tape simply contained no data.


How did the data from the missing-time episode suddenly find its way onto a tape that had been blank only days before? It was as if someone had erased the actual recording, then subsequently uploaded a manufactured "nominal" data stream a few days later.

 

The Deep Space Network (DSN) engineers were insistent that they hadn't simply missed something the first two times around.

"There was no data on that tape the first two times!" JPL's Deep Space Network manager angrily declared.

The news media, of course, had little knowledge or understanding of just how impossible the whole situation was, and quickly dropped the issue. It did, however, become considerably more relevant eleven months later.


By that time, after a relatively quiet trip to the Red Planet, Mars Observer was nearing its goal and the debate over Cydonia was once again gaining steam.

 

News stories mentioned Cydonia as a matter of course. Buoyed by the imminent publication of Dr. McDaniel's three-year long investigation into the Cydonia controversy, Hoagland and the other independent researchers had been very successful in pressuring the Agency through newly found political and media contacts.

 

Then, just weeks before Mars Observer's scheduled orbital insertion burn and the delivery of McDaniel's report to both Congress and NASA, the Agency suddenly decided to change plans.

 

NASA indicated a willingness to reconsider not only its position on the data embargo and the lack of live televised images from the Orbiter, but also announced that they were considering a radical new science plan.


Because the first few weeks of the planned mapping orbit period would occur during a solar conjunction and just before the beginning of dust storm season on Mars, there was a chance it could be months before any pictures of Mars were returned at all, much less targeted images of Cydonia. NASA's solution was to try a "power in" maneuver that would place the spacecraft in a mapping orbit some twenty-one days early.

 

However, in other documents and letters to Congress, NASA inexplicably added almost as many days to the "check out" and calibration phase upon reaching this science mapping orbit, meaning that no useful images of the planet could be expected until after the conjunction, at the least.


To Hoagland and McDaniel, the sudden lengthening of the unnecessary "calibration" phase was an obvious ruse. If JPL was going to take extra time to "calibrate" the instruments, effectively negating the advantage of the power-in maneuver, why bother "powering in" at all?

 

The answer seemed simple: by powering in, NASA could buy themselves twenty-one priceless days to secretly examine whatever Martian real estate they wished (obviously Cydonia) without any public or media pressure to release the data they were gathering.


Any and all of the images acquired in this time period could be "officially" denied - since the spacecraft was simply being "calibrated" and not really gathering science quality data at all.


Predictably, Hoagland and McDaniel raised a stink, and NASA suddenly found itself under additional pressure from various sources to provide live images of Cydonia. Hoagland upped the ante by scheduling a press conference for the day that Mars Observer was scheduled to achieve orbit around the Red Planet.

 

The briefing would be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and would be attended by many of the principals involved in the independent investigation, including Dr. Mark Carlotto, Dr. Tom Van Flandern, Dr. David Webb and architect Robert Fiertek.


And then, four days before Mars Observer was scheduled to make its orbital burn and commence operations, McDaniel delivered his final report simultaneously to NASA, Congress, the White House and the media. Mars Observer mission director Bevan French got a personal, hand-delivered copy.

 

The following Sunday, August 22, 1993, French was scheduled to debate Hoagland on national TV, on ABC's Good Morning America [Fig. 3-2]


Just as he had with Cornell's Dr. Steven Squyres, Hoagland destroyed French in the open forum. Having been given an astonishing six minutes, more than twice the usual time allotted for such segments, Hoagland used the opportunity to bludgeon French's weak and sometimes contradictory arguments.

 

Forced to defend an indefensible position - that NASA should willfully allow one man to have godlike powers over data paid for by the American taxpayers-French wilted under the pressure. The final insult came at the end, when the exasperated host.

 

Bill Ritter, finally just confronted French point blank.

"Dr. French, why don't you just take the pictures, immediately release them and then prove these guys wrong?"

French, unsurprisingly, had no real answer.


Then, at exactly 11 a.m. Eastern Time, just moments after Hoagland had creamed French on national television, AP science reporter Lee Siegel got a call from a JPL spokesman. The NASA rep informed him that Mars Observer had simply disappeared, some fourteen hours earlier!


The timing of this announcement, just moments after the Mars Observer Program Scientist had badly lost a very public nationally televised debate with the leader of a highly critical Agency opponent, seemed a bit too coincidental. Why hadn't French simply admitted that the Mars Observer was lost at the top of the segment? It is inconceivable that he, the Program Scientist, didn't know for over fourteen hours that "his" spacecraft had been lost.


French could have saved himself a lot of heat and needless embarrassment by simply announcing on Good Morning America that the Mars Observer was in trouble. This would have neatly changed the subject of the segment, and shifted any discussion of Cydonia and artifacts to the back burner.


In hindsight, it isn't difficult to figure out what actually happened - after other high NASA officials (and their bosses) watched French's lame Cydonia spin control fail miserably - and on live television - NASA went to Plan B.

 

They either pulled the plug on the Mission outright - out of fear of what uncensored images of Cydonia would reveal - or NASA (remember, an official "defense agency of the United States ...") simply took the entire Mission "black."


The extraordinary scrutiny the agency was under at the time would have made it nearly impossible to conduct a survey of Cydonia in secret. Under this pressure, the most viable solution was to either scrap the program, or come up with a way to conduct the preliminary reconnaissance in secret - not only from general public and the press, but from its own "honest" employees at JPL as well.


As it happened, NASA pulled off exactly that scenario, under rather suspect circumstances.

 

With Mars Observer officially "lost," they could conduct a highly detailed survey that could tell them either how to take future "public" images to ensure minimum political impact, or even how to whitewash the images believably.


A commission was formed to determine what had caused the spacecraft to cease operations. Unfortunately, the investigation was doomed from day one for one simple reason: there was no engineering telemetry to analyze.


NASA, in another unprecedented move, had inexplicably ordered Mars Observer to shut off its primary data stream prior to executing a key pre orbital burn. Resultantly, there was no data at all from the spacecraft's final few nanoseconds of existence (if indeed it had been lost).

 

This is crucial, since even if a chemical fuel explosion had taken place, it would obviously travel much slower than a speed of light radio signal, and the spacecraft's destruction sequence could have been recorded.

 

Such a recording could have been used to reconstruct those final moments in detail and make an educated determination as to exactly what (if anything) had gone wrong. Instead, because NASA had violated the first rule of space travel - you never turn off the radio - no cause for the probe's loss was ever satisfactorily determined.


Regardless, Hoagland and the others decided to go on with their press briefing the following Tuesday, as there was still a remote chance that communications could be re-established.


He was also able, on short notice, to put together a placard-waving, public demonstration against NASA's potential censorship of Cydonia. Through the overtime efforts of long-time friend, independent Mars investigation supporter and colleague on the West Coast, David Laverty, they managed to pull together a reasonable gathering right outside NASA's Mars Observer Control Center - three thousand miles away from Washington, at JPL.


The local and national TV shots of "the people" - vocally demonstrating against NASA's planned Cydonia secrecy, and for the first time in the Agency's decades-long history - dominated CNN (and other network) coverage of the "missing Mars Observer story" throughout the remainder of the day.


Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the Press Club briefing was also being extremely well received (for a room full of skeptical reporters...), with Hoagland later landing various network follow-ups - including in-studio conversations with Robin McNeil, on PBS' prestigious McNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and a couple days later with Larry King, on CNN's "Larry King Live."


Ultimately however, none of this changed anything, as Mars Observer stayed permanently "disappeared."


There is a curious postscript to this mystery.


A few days after returning from Washington and the Press Club briefing, Hoagland discovered several messages on his answering machine. There were four especially intriguing ones - from four separate individuals - each independently claiming to be "JPL employees." Each had a similar story to tell: Mars Observer was "still alive," but had been taken "black" by a cabal that was operating inside JPL.

 

The anonymous voices told Hoagland that he and McDaniel had placed "too much heat on JPL," and they (NASA) could not risk showing the real ground truth at Cydonia "live," without having a chance to preview what it might reveal first.

 

The plan, they said, was to miraculously "find" Mars Observer some months later and bring it back into public operation.

There was, however, one condition: if what Hoagland and the independent researchers suspected were down there (i.e. genuine ET artifacts) could be reasonably confirmed, "You'll never hear from Mars Observer again," one of them promised.


Hoagland was never able to verify their identities, but each of the men seemed to be unaware of the others and beyond that, each had the technical expertise and inside knowledge of the JPL system and facilities to be who they claimed to be.

 

One piece of information later turned out to be quite interesting: one of the men claimed that since the Deep Space Network was being used to look for Mars Observer, JPL could not risk sending the "missing" spacecraft data back to Earth over the conventional DSN antenna network This source claimed that "they" would use "alternative methods" to get the data back to Earth, without elaborating.


A few months later, another anonymous source told Hoagland that the Hubble Space Telescope was being used to "photograph UFOs" using a light gathering device called the "high speed photometer," and that the (then) imminent "Hubble Repair Mission" was going to secretly bring back a load of videotapes of the event.

 

Then another caller, a couple days later, called with an even more extraordinary tale... that Hubble was to be used in a future,

"New World Order 'laser light display in the clouds... to fake the Second Coming!'"

Hoagland had little faith that these reports were true, but it did get him thinking.

 

If his supposed JPL sources were right, then how could Mars Observer send surreptitiously obtained images of Cydonia back to Earth without being detected? If the DSN was too "hot," then could a different data transmission really be used?

 

After a little digging, he realized that the spacecraft had carried a second instrument, a laser altimeter that was the precursor to Mars Global Surveyor's MOLA instrument.

 

This powerful laser could, indeed, be used to send a data stream over a very narrow infrared beam, literally millions of miles back to Earth, where one very special instrument could secretly detect and relay the signal to the appropriate "audience" on Earth: the Hubble's high-speed photometer.


Hoagland never got any proof that this was done, but there was one more curious side bar. Months later, when STS-61 was sent up to rendezvous with Hubble and repair the telescope's crippled optics, the crew only brought one piece of equipment back with them when they returned to Houston - Hubble's suddenly, curiously "obsolete," high-speed photometer.


All of this may seem cloak-and-daggerish, but the facts are there to support the idea that something very fishy was going on with the Mars Observer from the beginning.

 

From the inexplicable pre-launch "sabotage" to the mysterious loss of signal for over an hour (when an alternative set of instructions could have been uploaded to the spacecraft unbeknownst to the regular spacecraft launch crew or flight controllers), to the ill-conceived "power-in" deception, followed by the bizarre behavior over the loss of the spacecraft (withheld by the project head until minutes after he had lost a crucial debate with Hoagland), nothing seemed normal about this mission.


And the reality is that the question at hand - are there the remains of an ancient, extraterrestrial civilization now visible on the surface of Mars - is only the most crucial question in the two-million-year history of the entire human race.


The idea that NASA, or its Pentagon handlers, might go to the trouble and expense of fiddling with two highly visible missions just to have a surreptitious "first crack" at the ground truth of Cydonia only seems preposterous when taken in isolation. In the context we are about to put it in, it becomes not only plausible, but perhaps even imperative.


In the end, the whole Mars Observer debacle had been enough to convince Hoagland that the "honest but stupid" model of NASA's behavior was simply no longer tenable. He gave up any notion that there was a logical, non-conspiratorial explanation for the Agency's erratic and unethical behavior, and gave himself fully to the concept of an out-and-out cover-up of the whole Cydonia question.


But he paid a price. For simply publicly admitting what any logical person would conclude, given the same evidence, Hoagland was forever ostracized from the independent Mars research community he played such a major role in creating.

 

His decision to go it alone, in the face of opposition from all his previous colleagues, left him with one now-overwhelming question to confront - why had they done it? What was so crucial, so destabilizing about Cydonia, that NASA would take such enormous political risk?


It would take the better part of the next decade to find that answer.



The Brookings Report

"I'm sure you're aware of the extremely grave potential for cultural shock and social disorientation contained in the present situation, if the facts were prematurely and suddenly made public without adequate preparation and conditioning.

 

Anyway, this is the view of the Council... there must be adequate time for a full study to be made of the situation before any thought can be given to making a public announcement.

 

Oh yes... as some of you know, the Council has requested that formal security oaths be obtained in writing from everyone who has any knowledge of this event..."

- Dr. Heywood Floyd, 2001: A Space Odyssey

In mid-1993, Professor Stanley V. McDaniel was seeking additional documentation for his then-ongoing study into NASA's new imaging and data policy surrounding the Mars Observer program.

 

As we have shown, The McDaniel Report played a key role in pressuring NASA to abandon its position that the principal investigator holds all data rights from future space probes.


In the final stages of his study, McDaniel asked Richard C. Hoagland for some assistance in locating difficult-to-find historical NASA documents and research papers relating to its SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. Hoagland advised McDaniel of the long-rumored existence of an official NASA report - supposedly commissioned by the space agency in its early years and relating to prospective NASA censorship of SETI evidence if it was ever discovered.
 

At McDaniel's urging, Hoagland began actively searching for the document, polling various contacts and eventually having a conversation with former police detective Don Ecker.

 

Ecker, a consultant to UFO Magazine, called in a couple of favors and not only confirmed the existence of this highly controversial study - but came up with the actual title: "Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs."


Hoagland then called upon another friend, Lee Clinton, who after considerable effort tracked down an actual copy of the several-hundred-page NASA Report in a Federal Archive in Little Rock, Arkansas.

 

Clinton made several copies of the 300-page study, and duly forwarded sets of the complete document to Hoagland, as well as McDaniel, who featured it in his final Report as strongly indicating a long-standing potential NASA policy of "cover-up" on this specific issue.


The Brookings Institution was probably the world's foremost "think-tank" of its day, and the contributors to the NASA study were a veritable "who's who" of the leading academics of the time. MIT's Curtis H. Barker, NASA's own Jack C. Oppenheimer, and famed anthropologist Margaret Mead were all consulted for contributions to the final Report.


After scouring the document, Hoagland and McDaniel found several passages that they felt were particularly relevant - and potentially explosive - to their recent experiences with NASA over Mars Observer.

 

The most stunning remarks came on page 215, where the Report mentions the possibility that artifacts may be found by NASA in their coming explorations:

"While face-to-face meetings with it [extraterrestrial intelligence] will not occur within the next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit Earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon, Mars or Venus."

Later on the same page, the document considers the implications of such a discovery:

"Anthropological files contain many examples of societies, sure of their place in the universe, which have disintegrated when they had to associate with previously unfamiliar societies espousing different ideas and different life ways: others that survived such an experience usually did so by paying the price of changes in values and attitudes and behavior... the consequences of such a discovery are presently unpredictable..."

It then suggested, obviously, that further studies were needed, and that NASA must consider the following questions:

"How might such information, under what circumstances, be presented or withheld from the public? ...the fundamentalist (and anti-science) sects are growing apace around the world...

 

For them, the discovery of other life - rather than any other space product - would be electrifying...

 

If super-intelligence is discovered, the [social] results become quite unpredictable... of all groups, scientists and engineers might be the most devastated by the discovery of relatively superior creatures, since these professions are most clearly associated with mastery of nature." (p. 225)

The Report then references an obscure work by psychologist Hadley Cantrell, titled The Invasion From Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic (Princeton University Press, 1940).

 

The Rockefeller Foundation under a grant to Princeton University commissioned this little known book. Its subject was the 1938 Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast (which it is estimated that more than a million people in the northeast United States panicked over). The implication is that the broadcast was a warfare psychology experiment, and that America dramatically failed the test.


It isn't difficult to interpret the Brookings Report. Among its wide-ranging analysis and conclusions are the following:

  1. Artifacts are likely to be found by NASA on the Moon and\or Mars.
     

  2. If the artifacts point to the existence of a superior civilization, the social impact is "unpredictable."
     

  3. Various negative social consequences, from "devastation" of the scientists and engineers, to an "electrifying" rise in religious fundamentalism, to the complete "disintegration" of society are distinct possibilities. The War of the Worlds broadcast provides an excellent example.
     

  4. Serious consideration should be given to "withholding" such information from the public if, in fact, artifacts are ever discovered.

So here we had the proverbial smoking gun.


Not only was NASA advised - almost from its inception - to withhold any data that supported the reality of Cydonia or any other discovery like it, they were told to do so for the good of human society as a whole. Most especially, they should withhold the data from their own rank and file engineers and scientists, since they were the most vulnerable members of all of human society.


It didn't take a proverbial rocket scientist to conclude that NASA took these recommendations and transformed them into policy at the highest levels. Nor would it be surprising if the whole question of "artifacts" were considered a national security issue - given (again) NASA's founding charter position as "a defense agency of the United States."


Although the document itself is fairly obscure, it has had a major social impact.

 

The Brookings Report was the basis for Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick's seminal film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

In fact, according to a 1968 Playboy interview, Kubrick could quote from the Report chapter and verse. In the interview, he quoted the exact passages shown above, and declared that the whole question of covering up the discovery of artifacts to be the central theme of his groundbreaking film.


Critics felt that the discovery of the Brookings document didn't really change anything. They argued that the document was too old to be relevant.


the passages dealing with extraterrestrial artifacts were too small a part of the overall Study, and that there was no "proof - despite NASA's well-documented and duplicitous behavior (via McDaniel's meticulously referenced study) - that the recommendations had ever been implemented.


However, the notion that a forty-year-old document is "too old" to still be relevant would come as a great surprise to constitutional lawyers and scholars, who regularly debate and actively argue the merits of our Founding Document - which is now over 230 years old.

 

As to so little of the document actually dealing with the question of artifacts, it is true that the report is a vast, far-sweeping overview of the future of space exploration, but that hardly makes any one part of it irrelevant. The First Amendment to the Constitution is only a small portion (just 45 out of 11,713 words) of the overall document, yet no one would rationally argue against it being the most important section of the entire manuscript.


The Brookings Report itself recommends that the key questions we cite should be "further studied," but as yet no one has uncovered such a formal study, even though one presumably took place.

 

As to the question of the actual impact these recommendations may have had, read on...



John F. Kennedy's "Grand NASA Plan"

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.

 

We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it."
- President John F. Kennedy, April 27, 1961

One of the criticisms we have endured in referencing the Brookings Report is that we can't "prove" that the document was ever implemented, other than to continually point out NASA's conduct which is consistent with the passages we cite.

 

The argument is that there is no other evidence that it had any impact on the realpolitik of the day. We will now argue that this is not the case, and that Brookings may have had a great deal of influence on one of the seminal events of the twentieth century.


As we cited in the introduction, President John F. Kennedy had made a proposal shortly before his death that the United States and the Soviet Union should consider merging their respective space programs. Not only was this idea a radical one for its day given the deep suspicions both countries held of each other, but it may have been the last straw that ultimately got him killed.


On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space aboard a Soviet spacecraft. Six days later, NASA finally delivered a report they had commissioned on the proposed plan for space exploration - the aforementioned Brookings Report - to Congress. The delivery of the Report, which had been languishing on the desk of the NASA Administrator since November 30, 1960, suddenly had a new urgency.


Just about two weeks later, as if he was responding directly to the calls in the Report for NASA to consider suppression of the discovery of ET artifacts, Kennedy made a speech in which he signaled that he intended his administration to be an open one.

 

He took the opportunity of a speech before the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City to make the comments cited above.


His speech, titled "The President and the Press," 56 was clearly an attempt to reach out to the assembled publishers and editors in order to not only protect official secrets whose revelation might harm the national security of the United States, but to also help him in revealing secrets that were unnecessarily being kept.

 

His opening comments, speaking of "secret societies" and the dangers of "excessive and unwarranted concealment" of things he felt the American people had a right to know, was an unmistakable shot across the bow of these secret societies, and we take it as a direct reference to the recommendations contained in the Brookings Report. It is also very obvious from his statement that he considered these dark forces of "concealment" to be very powerful.

 

Why else would he ask for the press's help in fighting this battle?


Within a little over a month of drawing this important "line in the sand" Kennedy addressed a Joint Session of Congress and issued his ringing call for "landing an American on the Moon" before 1970:

"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish," he said on May 25, 1961 [Fig. 3-3].

This sequence of events implies that his "President and the Press" speech may have been influenced by the Brookings Report.

 

Gagarin's flight obviously sent Shockwaves through the U.S. space and security agencies. They'd known that the Soviets were ahead in space technology, but the U.S. wasn't even remotely close to being able to put a man in orbit. The immediate reaction was to finally send the report to Congress for review, as the game plan for the U.S. response.


The inclusion of the key phrases, about withholding any discoveries which may point to a previous and superior presence in the solar system, might have easily prompted Kennedy's speech just a few days later.

 

It was by then a foregone conclusion that the U.S. would enter into a manned space race with the Soviets, but Kennedy was practically begging the press to help him make public the discoveries NASA might make.


Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's son, Sergei Khrushchev (now a senior fellow at the Watson Institute at Brown University) has stated that after the May 25th public call to "go to the Moon," Kennedy then did an extraordinary thing: less than ten days later, he secretly proposed to Khrushchev at their Vienna summit that the United States and the Soviet Union merge their space programs to get to the Moon together.57

 

Khrushchev turned Kennedy down, in part because he didn't trust the young President after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and also because he feared that America might learn too many useful technological secrets from the Russians (who were, clearly, still ahead in "heavy lift" launch vehicles - useful in launching nuclear weapons).


Although the offer was not made public, it's easy to imagine the consternation it might have caused at the Congressional level if it had leaked. Powerful congressmen, like Albert Thomas of Texas (a close political ally of Vice President Lyndon Johnson and a staunch anti-communist) who was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives, might have blown their tops if they had known about it.

 

Thomas quite literally controlled all of the purse strings for the NASA budget and, along with LBJ, later got the Manned Spacecraft Center located in his home district in Houston.

 

It is hard to imagine him, just a few weeks after receiving the Brookings study which called for keeping certain discoveries from the American people, agreeing to share these same discoveries with our Cold War enemy.


For that matter, it's hard to imagine Kennedy supporting such an idea. He had always spoken of the space race in stirring, idealistic, nationalistic terms:

"... Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the corning age of space.

 

We mean to be a part of it - we mean to lead it For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the Moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.

 

We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

"Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading spacefaring nation."

The situation was surely made worse in 1962 by the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which both nations stared down the barrel of nuclear annihilation and carefully stepped back from the brink.

 

Far from discouraging him, these events may have emboldened Kennedy to try again.

 

In August 1963, he met with Soviet Ambassador Dobrinyin in the Oval Office and once again (secretly) extended the offer. This time, Khrushchev considered it more seriously, but ultimately rejected it. On September 18, 1963, Kennedy then met with NASA Director James Webb.

 

This is how NASA's official history describes that meeting:

"Later on the morning of September 18, the president met briefly with James Webb.

 

Kennedy told him that he was thinking of pursuing the topic of cooperation with the Soviets as part of a broader effort to bring the two countries closer together. [Webb would have been unaware of Kennedy's previous two offers to Khrushchev, as they were made in private talks with the Soviet premier.]

 

He asked Webb,

'Are you sufficiently in control to prevent my being undercut in NASA if I do that?'

As Webb remembered that meeting,

'So in a sense he didn't ask me if he should do it; he told me he thought he should do it and wanted to do it...'

What he sought from Webb was the assurance that there would be no further unsolicited comments from within the space agency. Webb told the president that he could keep things under control."

Kennedy obviously wanted to avoid criticism from inside NASA on his new proposal.

 

Selling the idea to the Soviets would be hard enough, but selling it to the American people and the Congress if there was "dissension in the ranks" might make it near impossible. If Webb couldn't hold discipline from inside NASA, the whole effort would collapse.


Kennedy then surprised the entire world when only two days later he went before the United Nations General Assembly and startlingly repeated his offer of cooperation, this time in public:

"Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity - in the field of space - there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space.

 

I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the Moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply.

 

Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the Moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction and expenditure?

 

Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries - indeed of all the world - cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending someday in this decade to the Moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries."59

It is unclear what NASA Director Webb thought of the President's idea, but NASA insiders - as the President had feared - immediately expressed public doubts that the technical integration problems could be overcome.60 The Western press was also very cautious.

 

Many articles appeared resisting the idea of cooperating with a Cold War enemy that barely a year before had pointed first strike nuclear missiles at most of our major cities and sent our Nation to the brink of war. The Soviet government themselves did not make any official comment on the speech or the offer, and the Soviet press was equally silent.


But by far, the strongest objections came from within the U.S. Congress. One of these objections came from a predictable source - Republican Senator
Barry Goldwater of Arizona. But, as foreshadowed earlier, another, even stronger protest came from a close political ally of the President and Vice President - Democratic Congressman Albert Thomas of Texas.

 

Thomas made such a strong objection to the President that Kennedy personally wrote him on September 23, 1963 (just three days after his UN speech) to reassure him that a separate, American space program would continue, regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the Soviets:

"In my judgment, therefore, our renewed and extended purpose of cooperation, so far from offering any excuse for slackening or weakness in our space effort, is one reason the more for moving ahead with the great program to which we have been committed as a country for more than two years."61

Within a couple of weeks, the lack of public support, even within the U.S., seemed to have scuttled the idea permanently, and Kennedy began to publicly back away from his own proposal.62 Then, strangely, the idea abruptly resurfaced.


On November 12, 1963, Kennedy was suddenly reinvigorated about it and issued National Security Action Memorandum #271.

 

The memo, titled "Cooperation With the USSR on Outer Space Matters," directed NASA Director Webb to personally (and immediately) take the initiative to develop a program of "substantive cooperation" with his Soviet counterparts in accordance with Kennedy's September 20 UN proposal. It also called for an interim report on the progress being made by December 15, 1963, giving Webb a little over a month to get "substantive" cooperation with the Soviets going.


There is a second, even stranger memo which has surfaced, dated the same day.

 

Found by UFO document researchers Dr. Robert M. Wood and his son Ryan Wood (author's of "Majic Eyes Only: Earth's Encounters With Extraterrestrial Technology") the document is titled "Classification Review of All UFO Intelligence Files Affecting National Security" 64 and is considered by them to have a "medium-high" (about 80%) probability of being authentic.

 

The memo directs the director of the CIA to provide CIA files on "the high threat cases" with an eye toward identifying the differences between "bona fide" UFOs and any classified United States craft. He informs the CIA director that he has instructed Webb to begin the cooperative program with the Soviets (confirming the other, authenticated memo) and that he would then like NASA to be fully briefed on the "unknowns" so that they can presumably help with sharing this information with the Russians.

 

The last line of the memo instructs an interim progress report to be completed no later than February 1, 1964.


Whether this second memo is genuine or not - and it certainly is consistent with Kennedy's stated plans - what is quite clear is that something dramatic happened between late September 1963, when Kennedy's proposal seemed all but dead, and mid-November, when it suddenly sprang back to life. What could have possibly occurred to motivate Kennedy to begin an unprecedented era of cooperation with America's Cold War enemy?


To put it simply, "Khrushchev happened."


Sergei Khrushchev, in an interview given in 1997 after his presentation at a NASA conference in Washington, D.C. commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Sputnik, confirmed that while initially ignoring Kennedy's UN offer, his father Nikita changed his mind and decided in early November 1963 to accept it.

"My father decided that maybe he should accept (Kennedy's) offer, given the state of the space programs of the two countries (in 1963)," Khrushchev said.65

He recalled walking with his father as they discussed the matter, and went on to place the timing of his father's decision as about "a week" before Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, which would date it right around November 12-15. Later, in a 1999 PBS interview, he repeated the claim:

"I walked with him, sometime in late October or November, and he told me about all these things."66

We feel it is important to emphasize that Sergei Khrushchev has a unique perspective, if not bullet proof credibility as a first-hand witness to this virtually unknown - but absolutely documented - twist in space history.

 

He is a well-respected and acknowledged scholar, serving at one of the most prestigious Ivy League universities in the United States. He has no motive to "make up" such history, as doing so would destroy all the credibility as a scholar he has spent a lifetime building.


So what logically happened is that sometime in early- to mid-November, Nikita Khrushchev communicated in some way that he was willing to consider Kennedy's proposal. Kennedy responded by ramping up the bureaucracies at his end, as reflected in the two November 12 memoranda.

 

Unfortunately, there are no declassified documents to this point which confirm that the two men had any communication during this period. Still it seems quite unlikely that Kennedy would suddenly resurrect a seemingly dead policy without some hint from Khrushchev that it would be positively received.


One event we do know that actually happened, which may have finally tipped the balance in Khrushchev's mind: another very disappointing Soviet space failure had recently occurred.

 

A Mars-bound unmanned spacecraft code-named "Cosmos 21" failed in low Earth orbit exactly one day (November 11) before Kennedy's sudden "Soviet Cooperation Directive" to James Webb.


All we can say for certain is that as of November 12, 1963, John Kennedy's "Grand Plan" to use NASA and the space program to melt the ice of the Cold War - and to share whatever Apollo discovered on the lunar surface with the Russians - was alive, vibrant and finally on its way to actual inception -
 

And, ten days later, Kennedy was dead.



The Third Rail of Conspiracy Theories

Whenever anyone brings up that fateful day in Dallas, November 22, 1963, and includes it in any dialog on any other subject, then that subject immediately becomes subject to scorn and ridicule. If you bring the Kennedy assassination into the conversation, you'd better be ready to have half the audience throw the rest of your ideas on to the trash heap of history.

 

The Kennedy assassination is - to use a common political axiom - the "third rail" of conspiracy theories.


It is for this reason that we reluctantly began to look at the events of that morning in Dealey Plaza. We felt compelled to review the events surrounding John F. Kennedy's murder because so much of what we had uncovered pointed to a conspiracy to remove him from office.


By late 1963, Kennedy's personal popularity with the American people had grown stronger, and his chances of re-election in 1964 looked increasingly good.

 

While he was generally unpopular in the South, he was actually more popular in Texas because of Lyndon Johnson, his showdown with Khrushchev over Cuba, and the dollars the space program was bringing to Texas.

 

So there is the specter of a young, vigorous leader with rising popularity, who had openly declared his intention to reveal secrets he felt the American people had a right to know (thereby ignoring the cautions embedded in the Brookings Report), and who just happened to be threatening to bring this Nation's greatest enemy into the fold as an ally in our most technologically sensitive arena - and add to that the possibility that he was going to share "UFO secrets" with them as well.


Probably the hidden powers behind the scenes, the "secret societies" that Kennedy spoke of in "The President and the Press," were quite willing to abide his radical ideas as long they could count on the Russians rejecting them.

 

But, when Khrushchev abruptly changed his mind, and there was a possibility that the merged space programs might actually happen, Kennedy became far too much of a liability to tolerate. If indeed these forces of "unwarranted concealment" actually existed, they'd have had little choice but to eliminate him once he started issuing orders to begin the actual transfer of information and technology to the Soviets.


It makes little difference really whether it was a military-intelligence cabal that decided Kennedy had to go, simply because he was going to share our highly sensitive space secrets with the Russians (as the NSAM #271 makes clear) or if it was another, shadowy "secret society" that had other reasons for keeping any space discoveries from leaking out (as we shall document later).

 

What matters is whether or not there is any credible evidence that Kennedy was killed by anything other than a single lone-nut gunman. By definition, if there was a second gunman in Dealey Plaza that sunny fall morning, then there was a conspiracy. Period.


Let us start by saying that we have little doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald was in Dallas that morning, that he was in the Texas School Book Depository sixth floor window, that he certainly fired at the President and that he may have even fired the fatal shot. That established, what evidence exists to support the idea of a second gunman, and therefore a true conspiracy?


In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations conducted an exhaustive analysis of tape recordings made around the time of the shots fired in Dealey Plaza, and concluded that they contained evidence of two overlapping shots.

 

They determined that four shots were fired, the first, second and fourth shots by Oswald, and a third near simultaneous shot from another location. Experiments conducted by the Committee in Dealey Plaza concluded that the third shot came from the direction of the infamous "grassy knoll." 67

 

This acoustic evidence has been called into question over the years, but rebuttals and counter arguments have left the question open, despite the official findings of the Committee.


The whole issue of a second gunman on the grassy knoll could be settled if there was just one photograph or segment of film footage that showed him there. Over the years, most of us have been led to believe that no such evidence exists. As we found out, that's not necessarily true.


In the early 1990s, the A&E cable network showed a nine-part series called The Men Who Killed Kennedy. It focused on a wide range of conspiracy theories and theorists, eventually concluding that Kennedy had been taken down by a French hit squad hired by Fidel Castro and endorsed by Nikita Khrushchev.
Later episodes placed the focus on Vice President Johnson.


None of this was too impressive to the authors, except for the story of one (then) new witness, Gordon Arnold.

 

Arnold gave the A&E show his first on-camera interview since first coming forward in the late 1980s. He claimed to have just arrived in Dallas from basic training in the army, and while on leave in Dallas (on his way to his station in Alaska) had decided to go down to Dealey Plaza to film what he thought was a parade. He had no idea until he arrived that President Kennedy was in town.

 

When he tried to get a vantage point on a freeway overpass, a man in a business suit flashed a CIA ID and ordered him out of the area. He then made his way down to the picket fence area of the so-called grassy knoll, where he stood and waited for the President's limo to come by.


According to Arnold's story, he was in full uniform, including his pointed overseas army cap, and was filming using his mother's camera, which he had borrowed for the day. As the Presidential motorcade drove by, he suddenly felt a bullet zip past his ear very close, and heard a shot ring out. He hit the ground as quickly as he could.

 

The next scene he described is completely bizarre.


According to Arnold, as he rolled back over amid the chaos, a man in a Dallas police officer's uniform confronted him, kicked him and ordered him to surrender his film. Since the officer was carrying a rifle and pointing it at him, Arnold complied.

 

Arnold also noticed three other strange things about the man: even though he was wearing a uniform, he wore no policeman's hat, which would have been standard issue for a Dallas police officer.

 

Arnold also testified that the man's hands were dirty, and that he was crying. According to Arnold, he walked away with the film behind the fence and off in the direction of the railroad yard behind Dealey Plaza. He evidently shortly met up with another man Arnold described as a "railroad worker." Arnold was so shaken by this experience that he never discussed it until the late 1980s.

 

He figured no one would believe him anyway, since he had no proof of any of it.


But the A&E program was interested in testing Arnold's story against known photographs of the grassy knoll area. They decided to interview two researchers (Jack White and Gary Mack) who had done some work on one of the few known photographs taken of the grassy knoll area at the time of the assassination.

 

The photograph they studied is known as the Mary Moorman photograph because it was taken by a witness named Mary Moorman, who was standing on the lawn just opposite the grassy knoll [Fig. 3-5].


Earlier in the same episode, A&E interviewed a witness who claimed to be the "babushka lady," so named because she wore a distinctive headscarf on that fateful day. In 1970, Beverly Oliver came forward to say she was the babushka lady, and that she had been filming the President when he was shot. She went on to claim that she gave her film to FBI agent Regis Kennedy, and that it was never returned.

 

On the A&E show, she gave an interview in which she claimed to have heard a shot come from the grassy knoll, and when she looked up from her camera she saw a puff of smoke in the area of the fence.

 

There are other films which show what may be a puff of smoke coming from the picket fence area of the grassy knoll.


In one film of the assassination, known as the "Marie Muchmore" film, you can certainly see both the babushka lady and Mary Moorman using their cameras at the instant the President is struck with the fatal shot. In frame by frame analysis, you can even see the first spray of blood from the president's fatal head wound.

 

This would seem to be inconsistent with the medical evidence that dictates the head shot came from behind [Fig. 3-4].



The Mary Moorman Photograph

In any event, when White and Mack began to enlarge and enhance sections of the Mary Moorman photo, looking for any sign of Gordon Arnold, they got quite a surprise.

 

An odd figure quickly stood out, right near the area Arnold said he was standing.


The figure appears to be a man in uniform, with a policeman's badge and shoulder emblem visible. His arms appear to be in a sniper's position, elbows out, as he would be if standing behind the fence and holding a rifle. Where the rifle should be is a bright flash of light, reminiscent of a muzzle flash, caught in an instant on film.

 

In the enhancements, you can also clearly make out a receding hairline, prominent eyebrows and the fact that while the "badgeman" appears to be wearing a Dallas policeman's uniform; he is not wearing a hat [Fig. 3-6].


Just like the man Gordon Arnold had described, four years before this A&E program aired. Later enhancements revealed another figure in the photo, just to badgeman's right. The figure is wearing an army summertime uniform, complete with the pointed overseas cap that Arnold said he was wearing.

 

There is a bright spot where the unit pin on the hat would have been placed, and the figure seems to be holding something in front of his face - perhaps the movie camera Arnold had said he was using?


Oddly, the figure is also leaning to his right, as if he is just beginning to react to the muzzle blast behind and to his left.

 

This is also consistent with what Arnold said he did that day. Later, yet more work revealed a third figure in the image, behind and to the right of the badgeman, wearing a hard hat and looking off to the frame right, as if scanning for anyone who may have been looking in their direction.


So here, finally, was visual evidence confirming not only the presence of a second gunman on the infamous grassy knoll - as so many witnesses testified to - but also of a witness who gave very specific details about both the gunman, his accomplice and his own disposition that day. There is flatly nothing in the Moorman enhancements which contradict Arnold's story, and assuming the techniques are valid, every reason to conclude it is a credible eyewitness account of a true event.

 

To this day, while many have nitpicked Arnold's story (one debunker claimed it lacked credibility because on one occasion he mentioned the policeman's "dirty fingernails" as opposed to "dirty hands"), no one has yet repeated and challenged the photographic enhancements.


There are other details, too numerous to mention here, which support Arnold's story. But most compellingly, when he was shown the "badgeman" photo for the first time (on camera) he became very upset, teared up and said he wished he'd never brought the whole thing up. Not exactly the reaction of a publicity seeker, in the authors' opinion.


There are some that have pointed out a striking resemblance between the visible facial features of the badgeman and slain Dallas police officer J.D. Tippet.

 

While we find these resemblances intriguing, we cannot say here that we endorse them. Tippet, according to the official cannon, was killed in the line of duty by Lee Harvey Oswald a short time after the assassination, and it is for that crime that Oswald was originally attested in a nearby movie theater.

 

What we do find interesting is if somehow Tippet, by all accounts a loyal police office and an admirer of Kennedy, was convinced to participate in the assassination out of some sense of higher duty to his country, then very conveniently, both "shooters," Oswald and Tippet, were dead within twenty-four hours of the assassination.


It might also explain why the badgeman was crying when he confronted Gordon Arnold.



The Wink of an Eye

So, satisfied that we now had evidence of a conspiracy in Dallas, the next question became: who was behind it?

 

The plans for Kennedy to go to Texas had been made the previous spring, when Vice President Lyndon Johnson stated that Kennedy might visit Dallas in the summertime. It wasn't until September that a letter from Johnson aide Jack Valenti announced the Texas campaign swing. The trip centered around a special testimonial dinner for none other than Congressman Albert Thomas, the man who held the NASA purse strings and who Kennedy, by all accounts, adored.

 

Thomas was dying from terminal cancer, and Kennedy was greatly relieved that he had decided to run for reČelection and had avoided having an open seat in Congress to contest.

 

Originally proposed as a one-day trip for November 21, by October Lyndon Johnson had become involved in the planning and a second day was added, November 22.


Kennedy was in a festive mood the evening of the 21st, pointing out Thomas' many contributions to the space program (which he was now about to hand over to the Russians!) and declaring him to be a good friend [Fig. 3-7].

"Next month, when the U.S. fires the world's biggest booster, lifting the heaviest payroll into... that is, payload..." Here the President paused a second and grinned.


"It will be the heaviest payroll, too," he quipped. The crowd roared.


"The firing of that shot will give us the lead in space," the President resumed in a serious vein. "And our leadership in space could not have been achieved without Congressman Albert Thomas. Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men will see visions, the Bible tells us. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Albert Thomas is old enough to dream dreams and young enough to see visions..." 68

Kennedy departed after his speech, followed soon by Thomas and Vice president Johnson.

 

They both accompanied him to Dallas the next morning on Air Force One.


After the shooting, Kennedy was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, but was obviously already dead. Doctors tried in vain to revive him, and the Houston Chronicle noted that Congressman Thomas waited outside the emergency ward until word came that Kennedy was dead.

 

Vice President Johnson was whisked away to an undisclosed location. Later that evening, once Kennedy's body was aboard Air Force One, Johnson took the oath of office.


We've all seen the iconic photo, with a somber Johnson, his hand on the Bible, standing next to a dazed Jacqueline Kennedy as various aides looked on [Fig. 3-8]. One of the most prominent men in the background is a distinguished, bow-tied gentleman who is watching the proceedings very closely. Of course, it is Congressman Albert Thomas.

 

What most of us have never seen is the next photo [Fig. 3-9], taken immediately after the oath was completed. In it, LBJ has turned immediately to his right. His facial muscles appear to be contorted into a broad smile as he makes eye contact with Congressman Thomas.

 

Thomas, also smiling, returns the gesture with - of all things - a wink. While everyone else remains somber, Thomas and Johnson are the only two people in the picture who are smiling.

 

The unspoken message between the two men could not be more clear:

"We got him!"

Over the next few weeks, Johnson made a show of arguing to continue Kennedy's plans for Soviet cooperation in space.

 

But in December, Congress, led by Representative Thomas, passed a new NASA funding bill expressly forbidding the use of NASA funds for cooperation with Russia, or any other nation:

"No part of any appropriation made available to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by this act shall be used for expenses of participating in a manned lunar landing to be carried out jointly by the United States and any other country without consent of the Congress."69

The same provision was repeated in subsequent NASA appropriations, continuing until the death of Congressman Thomas in 1966.


Keep in mind that Johnson had enormous political capital to continue any initiative of the martyred Kennedy that he so chose in those days and weeks following the assassination. Obviously, continuing the space cooperation initiative wasn't much of a priority, or he could have easily had it passed.


There are a couple of curious postscripts to this story.

By most accounts, Johnson should have still been President by 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the Moon. He was constitutionally able to stand for re-election in 1968, but his great unpopularity because of his mishandling of Vietnam convinced him to forsake a second elected term and retire from public life.

 

You would have thought, after being the head of the space program for so many years as Vice President and then continuing Kennedy's vision after his death, that Johnson would have been keenly interested in the events of July 20, 1969.

 

But, as reported by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Johnson not only didn't watch the Lunar Landing himself, he refused to let anyone at his Texas ranch watch it either, and ordered all the TVs to be turned off.


Perhaps, in the twilight of his life, with ample time to reflect on his own actions, the space program was no longer a source of pride for him, but of shame.
Recently, Saint John Hunt, the surviving eldest son of E. Howard Hunt - an infamous CIA operative actively involved with Watergate and long-rumored to have also been a key player in the Kennedy assassination - released a "deathbed confession tape" from his father.

 

In a story published in Rolling Stone magazine, Saint John Hunt stated his father admitted to being one of the famous "three tramps" in photos of Dealy Plaza taken after the assassination and detailed specific players involved in the Kennedy assassination.

 

The tape contains a remarkable "confirmation" in light of the completely independent evidence presented here that, above the CIA operatives (and contractors) who actually planned and carried out the plot to kill Kennedy, including E. Howard Hunt himself, they were all directed by one "top man." Lyndon Baines Johnson.


We are left to contemplate our own accusations here.

 

If men like Johnson and Thomas were willing to go so far as to orchestrate the murder of the President in order to protect the United States' own, singular (and singularly expensive) space program, then they must have expected to find wonders beyond imagining over the course of their voyages.


The only question for us was what, in fact, did they find, and was it worth the price that that the country (and History) ultimately paid?
 

 


Chapter Three Images


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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