Summary Skeptic Objections to Authenticity

The Special Operations Manual SOM 1-01 was mailed from LaCrosse Wisconsin to Don Berliner, an author and UFO researcher, in 1994 in the form of undeveloped 35 mm film. Upon development, it turned out to be a manual entitled “Extraterrestrial Entities and Technologies – Recovery and Disposal” dated April 1994. Clearly the purpose was to provide instruction to recovery units about the background of this program and how to handle the parts, while deceiving the public that nothing important had crashed.

Immediately skeptics came forward and offered numerous claims of fakery, ranging from ad hominem attacks to the typical position that if it didn’t follow the security procedures in detail, it must be phony; three of the critics claimed to have been involved in classified work and expected that they would have known about it.  Rejecting these largely non-constructive aspects, and some erroneous claims such as the use of the War Department logo on the title page being an anachronism, there were still several authentication issues raised that warranted attention. Overall, about twenty objections (they are discussed in the FAQ) were raised, of which five have some logical merit, as summarized below:

  1. There was no document control page, missing for a top secret document.
  2. Personnel were encouraged to tell onlookers that it might have been a “downed satellite” but the first satellite was not launched until 1957.
  3. It alludes to “Area 51”, which is claimed to not exist in 1954.
  4. The document reports on shape and size measured by radar, and the old dish radars could not have accurately measured shape and size.
  5. There is a classification “Restricted” along with “Top Secret”, which is incompatible.

“Where is the document control?”

Actually, as Don Berliner and Robert Wood were making copies of the negative, there was one that was so hard to read that Don had not run a copy. When a copy was made and studied, there was the document control page! It showed eight entries over nearly three years replacing or removing pages from the document. Each of these actions was accompanied with a time and date typed in, and the authority of either MJ/04 or MJ/01, and the initials either EWL or JRT. In addition, facing the control page is the back of the cover page without a security caveat, but it does have the equivalent of a control, in that it identified “Unit KB 88, Bldg. 21 from Kirtland AFB, N. MEX.” This is also significant in that the present abbreviation of New Mexico as NM for address did not occur until much later. In 1954, “N. Mex.” was common.

“The ‘downed satellite’ is a possible anachronism.”

In the first place, the entire strategy is that of deception — it is even the title of the paragraph! Deceptive statements are not usually true. Furthermore, it was just one of five choices offered to keep nosy people away. The big argument, though, comes from those who say, “Why would anyone be impressed by a known false statement?” Actually, most people were aware of our plans for satellites in April of 1954, as a result of enormous coverage of this new space thinking. There are eight references to satellite discussions before this date, including a Time Magazine article just the previous month speculating on whether a satellite had already been covertly launched. So, satellites were on the public’s mind and “downed satellites” were a very credible concept.

The third objection that warrants discussion is the claim that Area 51 did not exist in 1954, and therefore the Manual must be a fake.

Interestingly, early responses to the SOM 1-01 by the Air Force that claimed it to be a fake had the paragraph discussing this issued blacked out, as if it was still so sensitive they didn’t want to touch the topic. Actually, there is evidence that this facility was started in 1951, probably for the express purpose of having a good place to send the EBEs recovered. We have a copy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal for January 5, 1951, describing a massive construction project near Indian Springs of $300 million 1951 dollars. This is easily enough money to build this kind of a complex. Furthermore, accompanying the article was the testimony of a local witness of the time who described the large number of construction actions going on at the time.

The fourth challenge was that the description of the vehicles included details on the shapes and lengths with precision not possible with 1950s kind of dish radars.

Two of the shapes (cigars, triangles) specifically referred to radar as the source of the size and shape information. Although dish radar puts out a rather wide angled beam, the returns from the target are quite precise in time (and thus, distance) although angles are poorly estimated. The return from the nose of the object provides the mark at one end, and the last return before the signal drops is the end of the vehicle. Therefore, if you have several measurements, especially if you do not ignore the obvious visual information, one can make quite good estimates of distances. Furthermore, the critics assume that these measurements are using ground-based radar. Aircraft had radar, too, and could have measured lengths with great accuracy. There is no reason to doubt the sizes and shapes reported in the Manual.

The final challenge was that the “Restricted” caveat on the cover page is not consistent with the use of Top Secret.

Although the classification of Restricted at one time existed and was lower than Confidential, it was eliminated in about 1953. The word “restricted” can have a generic meaning too — access to this information is restricted to those who have both the clearance and the need to know. While this is officially true, the publisher of the Manual clearly thought about making it very clear than this Manual was to be of extremely limited distribution. Examples of the use of restricted together with Top Secret exist. A great example of one is a July 14, 1954 memo from Cutler to Twining changing the meeting arrangements for an MJ-12 Special Studies Project meeting of the National Security Council. This memo came from the National Archives and is one of the few Archival confirmations of the existence of MJ-12. Its classification is “Top Secret Restricted Security Information.”

Other critics have shot at the authenticity early and often, but hardly a single critic has ever asked for a high quality copy of the Manual. Critics claim that if the evidence is not available in the archives, this suggests that it does not exist. It is well known that the Archives have a declassification procedure that is charged with not releasing information that would be unfavorable to National Security. It should be evident to anyone that if the Government really wants to keep a secret, they would have no compunction about lying about the existence (or non-existence) of documents. Even “making them disappear” would clearly be expected.

In the history of questioned documents, one can only establish a trail of evidence pointing to fakery. One cannot prove they are genuine, but one can prove they are fake, using the techniques outlined earlier. Therefore the onus in on him who claims “fake” to find the evidence for fakery, rather than to say, “You haven’t proven them to be authentic.” Failing all the tests for fakery is about as close as you can come to proving authenticity. All the claims for fakery fail the tests for the SOM1-01

All these exposures to claims of fakery have led the investigation team to create one summary list of phony claims of fakery, shown below:

  • “Government says they are fake”
  • “There is no provenance”
  • “Archives cannot locate them”
  • “Anything can be faked today”
  • “Content is the theme of science fiction”
  • “Such secrets would have leaked out”
  • “Why would governments keep ET life secret?”

There are many major clinchers for authenticity, however, below are examples of just two.

The first is the etymology or word usage for that decade but not for later. Kraft (tape) was capitalized. Screw driver was two words, and First Aid was initial caps. Now they are kraft tape, screwdriver and first aid. This use of the language of proper language for the time is extremely powerful. The second clincher is the fact that a careful inspection of the text shows that the lower case text font was Monotype Modern, used on hot lead printing presses. Sometimes some of the “z”s would not seat properly because they were so seldom used, and the “z” would be raised in the text. Our copy has three raised “z”s, telltale evidence of the use of a hot lead printing press. Knowing to fake such an anomaly and then actually faking it with software available before 1994 are virtually impossible. These clinchers are called “zingers” and essentially make the SOM 1-01 a rock solid production of circa 1954.