The CIA’s Robertson UFO panel met during the last few days of the Truman administration. It ended the UFO discussion, and any plans for future UFO investigations, only days before Eisenhower took office. The report filed by the CIA committee was sent not to the Truman administration, for whom the study was done, but to the new Eisenhower administration. (It is found in an NSC file at the Eisenhower library)
Along with the CIA-sponsored report sent to the Eisenhower White House, came the revisionist opinions that had been arrived at by the panel. The panel had called for active debunking of UFOs in the public mind. It also called for surveillance of public UFO groups. "It is believed that such organizations should be watched because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. The apparent irresponsibility and possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind."
It appears from the available evidence that President Eisenhower chose to adopt the negative views toward public UFO groups, which had been recommended by the CIA. At least that appears to be the way President Eisenhower responded to the UFO mail that arrived at the White House.
In public, Eisenhower portrayed the good natured and trusted father figure. Behind the scenes he had targeted many people to be watched by the Secret Service and the FBI. One of the targeted groups were people who believed there was a UFO mystery, and had written the President for help or to make recommendations.
Documents inside the National Archives show that as of 1963, just shortly after Eisenhower left office, the Secret Service had a million names in its "threat" files. These were names of people who were seen as a threat to the President, and who had to be watched lest they harm the President. Included in this list was anyone who had dined at the White House, obtained a press pass, or anyone who had been introduced to the President on a trip.
The threat list included left wing types like Jane Fonda, and most black people up to and including Muhammad Ali, Joe Lewis, and Harry Belafonte. It also included UFO researcher Len Stringfield, flying saucer contactee George Van Tassel, and retired Vice-Admiral Herbert Knowles.
Len Stringfield’s threat to the President came first from the December 17, 1954-letter (mentioned above) to President Eisenhower following Eisenhower’s press conference statement on December 15, 1954 where he stated "the last time I heard this talked to me, a man who I trust from the Air Forces said that it was, as far as he knew, completely inaccurate to believe that they came from any outside planet or otherwise." Stringfield questioning of the opinion of the Air Force man who had supposedly advised the President on UFOs ended Stringfield on the "threat list."
A second letter written from Len Stringfield to the President on March 31, 1956 was also seen as a threat to the President and was also sent to the Secret Service. This letter has not been recovered yet, so we do not know what it said that was deemed a threat by the White House.
A third letter from Len Stringfield to President Eisenhower, dated June 10, 1960, was not acknowledged by the White House, but was forwarded almost a month later by an Assistant to the President to the Defense Department. For some reason it was not seen as a threat, and sent to the Secret Service.
The letter was an appeal to President Eisenhower to release "all vital information relative to UFOs" to the news services. Stringfield also proposed a system of dealing with UFO through the United Nations. "The United Nations serving in this new capacity," wrote Stringfield, "should remind man-on-earth he must forget his boundaries and ideologies and work together in this new era of challenge."
Springfield had sent similar two page letters to Prime Minister Harold MacMillan of Great Britain, President Charles DeGaulle of France, Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev, and both major wire services.
Another person whose UFO correspondence to the President seemed to go everywhere but to the President was George Van Tassel. Van Tassel was one of the major contactees of the 1950's. He claimed to have been in contact an alien by the name of Ashtar.
Van Tassel’s first letter to President Eisenhower was "critical of the proposed acquisition of additional land by the 11th Naval District." This letter was forwarded for action to the Department of the Interior.
The second item sent to Eisenhower was a telegram which is one of the five items the Eisenhower Library lists as part of its collection of UFO documents. It was written just after Ike’s famous February 1954 Palm Springs vacation, where it is rumored he slipped off to Edward’s Air Force Base on alien business.
The telegram was a report to the President about an April 4, 1954 space craft convention that Van Tassel had hosted at Giant Rock, California. Van Tassel had written to the President to tell him that the convention "had voted to recommend the transfer of UFO investigations from the military to the elected branch of government." As the Eisenhower library stated of this item, "the telegram was never answered and there is no evidence that the President ever saw it."
The third item sent to Eisenhower was the most interesting. It was an item dated May 25, 1957, signed by George Van Tassel and three other members from the College of Universal Wisdom, Yucca Valley, California. It was transferred by someone within the White House to the Secret Service on June 4, 1957, and the Eisenhower Library has no record of what the correspondence was about.
Fortunately, based on an interview that George Van Tassel did about this time in 1957 on the Long John Party Line Show on WOR Radio in New York City, we know what the letter was about, and why it may have been sent to the Secret Service.
According to what Van Tassel said on the show, he had written President Eisenhower telling him that he would be in Washington, D.C., on June 22, 1954, and would be stopping into the White House for a visit. This was a very strange request, even for 1954, when most people knew that a special appointment was needed to see the President. Further, it was common knowledge that Eisenhower was so busy, that very few people actually got to see the President.
Van Tassel, however, claimed to have been "close enough to him (Eisenhower) the time he came to Palm Springs to know what was going on." It appeared, therefore, that Van Tassel had some connection with Eisenhower, or someone inside the White House, that he thought all he had to do was send a letter telling the President that he was coming.
"I wrote the President for a meeting on the 22nd at his convenience," said Van Tassel. "I have not so far received an answer from the White House, which leads me to believe that the way I wrote the letter, led them to believe that I would be there in Washington anyway, and upon a phone call will be fitted into his schedule sometime that day. Because of the (President’s) recent sickness, I suppose all our schedules were upset. They certainly had time to answer my request and tell me no, if they were going to turn me down. I don’t feel that I am being brushed off or ignored. In the event that I am, I will certainly publish that."
Appointment calendars stored at the Eisenhower library show that the meeting didn’t take place. At this point we still don’t know how Van Tassel did about the rejection.
The final UFO letter transferred to the Secret Service was one written by retired Vice-Admiral Herbert Knowles who had written to President Eisenhower in early May 1954. The letter remained in the White House for one month, till early June 1954, when it was transferred. In the letter Knowles notified the president of a woman by the name of Frances Swan who lived in his town of Elliot, Maine.
Knowles told the President that Mrs. Swan had exhibited the ability to answer scientific questions well beyond her education, and claimed that the questions were being answered for her by an alien by the name of AFFA. Knowles further notified Eisenhower that the Navy, and the Canadian government were investigating the strange powers being exhibited by Mrs. Swan.
The timing of the Knowles letter to President Eisenhower is critical to understanding why the Knowles letter may have been moved out of the White House, and why it took one month to move it to the Secret Service. It might also explain why the FBI, USAF, and the CIA joined in on the investigation of the strange case of Mrs. Swan and AFFA the alien.
The UFOs that had invaded the Capitol in 1952, forcing the largest news conference since World War 11, were back. The CRIFO Newsletter for June 4, 1954 described the situation in a front page story:
The first sighting in the new Washington wave, was reported by radio journalist Frank Edwards, who received information about a May 13 sighting from a number of the electronic specialists who were involved. Edwards was living in Washington at the time, and some of the specialists involved in the sighting were friends of his. Edwards described the sighting:
At 12:45 the same afternoon, another two objects were sighted by two police officers at the National Airport. The two large glowing objects which approached the airport and flew over the airport and Washington across the Potomac river. The two objects continued to be seen intermittently for the next hour and fifteen minutes. Newsmen at the Pentagon questioned the Air Force spokesman about the object, but the Washington Post only mentioned the objects flying over the White House in only their first edition. In the second edition of the next day, the story had disappeared. As Edwards described it "The lid was on." Edwards carried the story on his nation wide broadcast from Washington that evening.
There is no doubt that President Eisenhower was aware of the objects flying over his office and home.
In addition to the new sighting wave over Washington, D.C., the month before had featured many media stories about the very close approach to the earth of the planet Mars.
It was known by most UFO researchers that in 1954 that since 1948, every 26 months Mars had made a close approach to earth, and that with every approach there was an increase in UFO sightings. Also being reported by astronomers were mysterious clouds and color changes which many interpreted as vegetation.
In 1954, as Mars closed in on earth, an International Mars committee was established with the cooperation of the National Geographic. It was headed by Dr. E.C. Slipher, the world’s greatest authority on Mars, from Lowell Observatory. The "Mars Patrol" increased the public consciousness about the unresolved question of whether or not there was life on Mars. The committee with it experts from 17 countries, according to Keyhoe, gave the Air Force great concern.
Dr. Slipher , speaking for the committee was asked in a news conference what he would do if they found proof of life on Mars. He quickly stated, "I’ll announce it to the world." He further stated that the committee would put out Mars Patrol Bulletins to inform the public of the twenty-four hour a day watch on Mars. The bulletins would be put out every day if required.
Having gone through a massive wave of sightings in 1952 when Mars last approached, daily bulletins could not have made the UFO censors happy. So it appears from the evidence that they took matters into their hands and did something about the situation. Not one Mars Patrol bulletin was ever published!
The number of articles about Mars in early1954 publications increased, and again the UFO sighting numbers started to rise. The type of articles that were being printed also did not please the Air Force. The normally conservative Readers Digest for example came out with an article in April 1954, only two months before the closest approach of Mars.
Rather than debunking the alien angle, the Digest suggested that Martians might actually be creatures similar to humans. The article stated that it appeared Mars was a dying place, but suggested that they might have learned to manufacture oxygen. Most unnerving to the Air Force censors according to Keyhoe was the statement;
The earth had already gone through one "War of the Worlds" during a close approach of Mars in 1939, so suggestions about Martians choosing our planet was not music to the ears of those who controlled the UFO data. Most disturbing was the fact that not only was the number of UFO sightings increasing in 1954, the sizes of the objects being seen were increasing.
The prime example was the tracking of two objects that were reportedly revolving around the earth in early 1954. It is one thing to file a sighting that involved a 20-foot saucer with maybe six aliens checking out the local vegetation. It was another thing to talk about objects miles across just outside the atmosphere that could contain thousands of invading Martians. Major Keyhoe through his government sources had confirmed that U.S. authorities were closely monitoring the objects.
For this reason, the military pushed to put the spin on the revolving satellites as non existent — or if existent, as only "moonlets," or natural asteroids that had become captured by the earth’s magnetic field. The alternative would be an apparent large scale migration by Martians or some other alien force to the earth.
The two large orbiting objects discovered in early 1954 had to be a fact that was known to President Eisenhower. Therefore, when Vice-Admiral Knowles wrote in May 1954, that he had a local woman who was in contact with an alien who was commanding one of these two orbiting objects, it must have startled the White House.
May 1954 was also a critical month to receive a letter in light of two other major events that were occurring in that month. Firstly, whether orchestrated by Eisenhower or the Air Force, Eisenhower’s friend, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Nathan Twinning, made a surprising digression in a speech in Amarillo, Texas, less than forty-eight hours later to talk about the UFO problem. "The best brains in the Air Force are working on this problem of Unidentified Flying objects," he stated, "trying to solve this mystery."
Secondly, in a more conspiratorial note, just before the Eisenhower White House transferred the Knowles letter out, Ike’s CIA Director, Walter Bedell Smith, along with Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, David Rockefeller, and many of the world’s top financiers convened for the inaugural meeting of the Bilderberg Group. Rumored as one of the items on the agenda of the organization in the early days was "extraterrestrial contact."
The Knowles letter was held for a month till the White House could plan what was happening, and what it should do. It was then transferred over to the Secret Service, and a major investigation of Mrs. Swan was started by a number of federal agencies.
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