At 85, Laurance Rockefeller Looks to the Heavens, Funding Bootsie Galbraith's Flying Saucer Tome: "We're Only Giving It to Really Top People..."
"You know, there are 200 billion star systems in the galaxy, and there are 200 billion galaxies in the universe," said Marie Galbraith, a trim blonde woman in her 50's, as she reclined in her sun-dappled, sparsely furnished office on Madison Avenue, her diamond bagatelle rings flashing. She lifted here blue eyes heavenward. "We're just a little zilch."
But some zilches have deeper pockets than others. Last year, Mrs. Galbraith, who is married to Evan Galbraith, the investment banker and former Ambassador to France, went to Laurance Rockefeller, the 85-year-old environmental activist and venture capitalist, and got him to fund a 169-page document titled "unidentified Flying Objects briefing Document: The Best Available Evidence." The report was co-authored by Mrs. Galbraith and Virginia-based aviation writer name Don Berliner, who is affiliated with a group called the Fund for U.F.O. Research.
Mrs. Galbraith said she is distributing her report to "leaders of the world."
"We're only giving it to really top people," said her co-author. Mr. Berliner. "Not ordinary people like you and me. I guess the only reason I have a copy is I wrote the thing."
A copy of the report was obtained by "The Observer." It is a perfect-bound document with a sky-blue cover stamped in silver. In the acknowledgments page, Laurance Rockefeller is listed first, "for his vision and support, financial and otherwise." Underneath the second heading, thanks is given to "Marie (Bootsie) Galbraith, for fine original ideas."
Fraser Seitel, Mr. Rockefeller's spokesman, confirmed that Mr. Rockefeller funded the report at a cost of around $30,000. But he said that Mr. Rockefeller did not endorse the findings. "He is interested in Government disclosure of reported activities in this area," said Mr. Seitel. "Laurance's feeling is that he is not convinced one way or the other. But he is interested in learning what the Government has on file...He's really quite an eclectic person."
Mr. Seitel said Mr. Rockefeller would not comment on the report.
In an interview in her office, the aforementioned, cashmere-clad Bootsie Galbraith discussed Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein., Westinghouse and General Electric, secret weather balloons and photographs of alien autopsies on the Internet. "We have to challenge basic assumptions," she said. Then she opened the report and pointed to a dark oval-shaped blob, hovering in a reproduction of a painting of the Madonna and John the Baptist by a follower of Fra Filippo Lippi, which hangs in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
She turned the page, to two magnifications of the blob, which looked a lot like a squashed bug the artist didn't bother to wipe off the canvas. The caption read: "Further enlargement shows an oval or discoid craft radiating gold spikes of light painted around its perimeter. In other words, what today would be called a U.F.O."
"This is as dramatic as Copernican theory," Mrs. Galbraith said. "I mean [Giordano] Bruno was burned at the stake for this!"
MR. ROCKEFELLER'S JY RANCH
While Laurance's father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., rescued New York City during its bleakest moment in 1929 by pumping $1.35 million into the city's economy to erect Rockefeller Center among the flophouses, the son prefers a less tangible product. In recent years, Mr. Rockefeller has become known as a supporter of eclectic ventures. He funded embattled Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack, whose work with alleged alien abductees was loudly criticized last May by his colleagues at Harvard. In fact, from 1993 to 1995, Dr. Mack's Cambridge-based, nonprofit research institute, the Center for Psychology and Social Change, received about $250,000 a year from Mr. Rockefeller.
"It made Harvard remember Timothy Leary and made people think of Harvard in terms of the crackpot fringe," remarked C.D.B. Bryan, author of "Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction U.F.O.'s and the Conference at M.I.T."
According to Michael Luckman, director of the New York Center for UFO Research, Mr. Rockefeller has financed at least two recent meetings of a group called the Starlight Coalition, which Mr. Luckman said is "composed of former intelligence officers and military officials from the Pentagon who are prepared to talk about extraterrestrial contact."
Mr. Luckman added that Mr. Rockefeller once funded a group that tried to make contact with alien visitors. "You know that scene in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," where they use music as a way to make contact?" asked Mr. Luckman. "It's just like that, except Rockefeller uses these big halogen lamps."
Mr. Luckman said Mr. Rockefeller has also held a U.F.O. conference on his JY Ranch in Jackson Hole. Wyo.
"Laurance Rockefeller has been a quite influential person in the background on this kind of research," said Mr. Bryan, form his home in Connecticut. "Him and the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein."
Mr. Rockefeller hit the headlines twice last year, with Dr. Mack's work, and as a fall guy in the bankruptcy of the Radmor, Pa. based Foundation for New Era Philanthropy. Mr. Rockefeller lost $11.3 million when the foundation, which raised money from churches and independent institutions of higher learning like the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, declared bankruptcy, drawing scrutiny from the F.B.I. and Securities and Exchange Commission.
"He's primarily interested in conservation and the environment, and venture capital," said Mr. Seitel. "He's also interested in the whole area of spirituality." Mr. Rockefeller majored in philosophy at Princeton," Mr. Seitel pointed out.
As the sons of John D. Rockefeller Jr., the brothers -- Laurance, John D. III, Nelson, Winthrop and David -- strode the earth as business and political titans, Nelson served as Republican governor of New York; David ran the Chase Manhattan Bank. Now, only two brothers remain; David, who is in the process of buying back Rockefeller Center from Mitsubishi, and Laurance.
Born in 1910, Laurance was a pioneer of venture capital in the 1940's. In the 1950's and 1960's, he was a champion of environmental causes, serving as the director of the Outdoor Recreation Resources and Review Commission under President Kennedy. In 1965, Mr. Rockefeller traveled the country with Lady Bird Johnson on her "beautification bus" as part of the Task Force on Natural Beauty. But he began to draw criticism from environmentalists in the late 1960's for developing resorts in the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Vermont and Yellowstone National Park, under the cloak of conservation.
RESEMBLING AN EGG
Mrs. Galbraith said she approached Mr. Rockefeller last year to provide the backing for her report. As an early supporter of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, Mrs. Galbraith saw her role in the U.F.O. debate as a promoter of "frontier science," which she described as "science that is on the cutting edge, like cold-fusion study, unified field theory, anything that has to do with people working on integrative devices," She paused. "It is a science which is heavily challenged, so it has to prove itself more dramatically."
The report is indeed a dramatic document, with a somewhat chilling echo of the thinking that drives paramilitary types to hole up behind the barbed wire. "Secrecy, like power, lends itself to abuse," reads the opening chapter, title "Government Secrecy." "Behind the shield of secrecy, it is possible for an agency or service to avoid scrutiny and essentially to operate outside the law. Accoutability to the taxpayers and to the Congress can be conveniently avoided."
The second part of the report consists of case histories of U.F.O. sightings around the world: "'Foo Fighters' Over Europe and Asia" in the 1040's; "U.F.O. Dogfight Over Tehran"; the "U.F.O. Sighting Wave in Belgium" in 1989-90.
In a chapter titled "1989: Multiple Witness Case at Russian Missile Base," a first lieutenant named Klimenko recounts his brush with a U.F.O "There was a flying object, resembling an egg, but fatter. It shone brightly alternating green and red lights. This object gathered great speed. It accelerated abruptly and also stopped abruptly, all the while doing large jumps up or down."
In the third part of the report, government spokesmen and politicians are quoted on the subject of U.F.O's. "I can assure you that flying saucers, given that hey exist, are not constructed by any power on earth," Harry S. Truman is quoted as saying on April 4 1950, at a White House press conference. Former President Ronald Reagan, in an address to schoolchildren: "...if suddenly there was a threat to this world from some other species form another planet outside in the universe...We'd forget all the local differences that we have between our countries and we would find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on earth."
The report concludes, "When studied as a group, these case histories exhibit clear patterns which strongly suggest that they belong to a distinct new class of phenomena, rather than being a formless collection of disparate observational errors... It is this large quantity of evidence of the existence of something completely baffling which motivates many of us to urge the governments of the world to release all they know about U.F.O.'s so that the people of the world, and especially scientists, can begin to come to grips with a mystery that has far too long been subjected to secrecy and ridicule."
"Our goal is to have elected officials decide what is secret and what is not," said Mrs. Galbraith. "Because now the bureaucrats keep all the secrets. They don't even keep the Congress and the President informed."
Mrs. Galbraith decried what she believed are disinformation tactics by the United States Government. "Treating this information in a nonserious way is a very intelligent disinformation technique, something that the Government has done with all those alien autopsies you see in "The Enquirer."
However, Mrs. Galbraith, added, "think to be skeptical is extremely healthy because I was, when I started out. Only because I've just been with the head of the Belgian Air Force and the head of French intelligence do I take it seriously now... I don't expect any reasonable person or anyone who's reasonably intelligent to take this too seriously."
Who are the lucky recipients of the report? The "New York Post" reported Feb. 26 that the document was going to Henry Kissinger, Colin Powelll, Walter Annenberg, Jacques Chirac and 1,000 others. "That's total boloney," said Mr. Seitel.
"It's already in the hands of various people here an in Europe," said Mrs. Galbraith. Mr. Berliner said he had sent his list of "100 people of Capitol Hill" to a mailing service. And Mr. Luckman insists that the document is "being presented to a thousand of the world's movers and shakers, as much as possible through personal channels. That's what makes it so different."
UFO OVER YONKERS
Even if the group parenting the U.F.O. document is upset that its contents are being divulged, at least Mr. Rockefeller can take comfort in the thought that his report is at the center of the pop culture Zeitgeist. Night club denizens wear T-shirts adorned with visitors from outer space, Fox Television's popular show "X-Files" has convinced an entire generation to take the possibility of extraterrestrial life seriously, and the Governor of Nevada is inaugurating a 98-mile "Extraterrestrial Highway" on April 18. The road "has achieved fame for frequent U.F.O. sightings according to the Governor's press release.
"Evidently, as we approach the ends of millennia, people see crazy things, or think the see crazy things," explained Mr. Bryan. "In 1995, for example there was an enormous rash of sighting of U.F.O.'s in California," Mr. Bryan paused. "I think the last one was seen floating out over Yonkers," (The Yonkers sighting was reported in April 1987).
Of course, U.F.O. society, like high society, has its rules. "We just want the right people to know," said Mrs. Galbraith of her quest to keep the document from the wrong hands. "It's like your children are going to announce their engagement and they haven't even told their mommies and daddies." And then their mommies and daddies read about it in the newspaper. They would be upset, wouldn't they?"
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