[CNI News thanks William J. Birnes, co-author (with Col. Philip Corso) of the new bombshell book "The Day After Roswell," for this exclusive interview in which he discusses his involvement with the book and his candid impressions of the man behind the story, Col. Philip Corso. Story dated June 16, 1997.]
CNI News: Please tell us a little about your background: schooling, profession, military involvement, other publications -- anything you'd like our readers to know about you.
William Birnes: I'm a 52-year-old writer, editor, book publisher, and literary rights agent in New York and Los Angeles. I write mostly true crime, but have done some celebrity books and sports biographies. By training, I'm an academic with a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature and Linguistics from N.Y.U. I taught English and Linguistics on both undergraduate and graduate levels for many years at what is now called the College of New Jersey. When I taught there it was called Trenton State College. I have been an NEH fellow and an NEH grants judge. I've never served in the military.
CNI: How would you describe your orientation to the UFO subject? Prior to working with Corso, were you familiar with UFO research and lore? Did you have a personal opinion on the "reality" of UFOs as unusual aircraft of possibly non-human origin?
WB: I was a UFO literary and movie"fan" with a cursory background into the research. I'd read Kevin Randle and Stan Friedman, saw all the relevant documentaries, knew the lore of Roswell and spoken with people in Roswell who had claimed to have knowledge of the 1947 incident. I had heard "stories" about a group called MJ-12 and, of course, read about it in books, but had no direct knowledge of it. I'd spoken to some pilots who's claimed to have had encounters and had heard stories about UFOs in Mexico and Brazil. But I had no direct knowledge of any UFO encounters except through second-hand or third-hand sources.
CNI: How did you come to collaborate with Col. Corso on this project? When did your collaboration begin and how did it develop?
WB: I was brought to Col. Corso by a Los Angeles motion picture company that was working with him on his World War II and Korean War Army Intelligence experiences. I was particularly interested in writing a book with him on his tour of duty in Rome when he managed to arrange for the escape of a Jewish displaced war refugee camp from Rome to Palestine right under the noses of the British and the Soviet NKVD units operating in Rome. But after developing a book outline for this, I learned about Col. Corso's experiences as a member of the U.S. Senate Internal Security subcommittee in 1963 and his investigation of the Warren Commission (all of it documented) and I really got intrigued.
It was only after we'd talked about what kinds of books we wanted to do that [Col. Corso] confided in me that he'd had another job when he was at the Pentagon from 1961-1963 which concerned the development of U.S. weapons technology from "foreign" or "alien" sources. Ultimately, he told me that he had information from the Roswell crash that had been kept in the Army files since 1947 and gradually put into development. When it became his time to take over the files, he was in charge of the anti-missile missile, military applications for the already-in-development laser, a night vision lens, and the high-energy kinetic electron beam. The inspiration for all of these devices, he said, came from files the Army kept on the technology of the devices retrieved from Roswell. The cover for this "alien" technology development was the routine Army weapons development program. He showed me the development histories of these weapons and from what I could see, the cover worked perfectly. Things just seemed to "appear" in development without any previous history. Of course, nobody wrote down anything about Roswell.
CNI: What else can you say about Corso's background and overall credibility?
WB: Phil Corso was an Army Intelligence officer trained by the British. His records were covered up by his bosses at the Pentagon because he had made intelligence discoveries (not related to Roswell) that put his life in danger. I have seen some of the classified information he developed and it amounts to nothing less than a "secret history of the United States." I'm almost afraid to talk [about] some of this stuff. But the man is as credible as they come. He was responsible for POW exchanges, had sources deep inside the KGB, fought a real battle for over fifteen years with the CIA, and saved the life of House Speaker McCormick in the hours after JFK was assassinated in Texas. I've even managed to confirm through columnist Paul Scott (now in his 90's, I think) that it was Corso who leaked information about the Soviet IRBMs [intermediate range missiles] in Cuba in 1962 because the president wasn't going to do anything about them. Corso's as real as they come.
CNI: While you worked with Corso, was there any point at which your own sense of reality was challenged by his claims? If so, what caused that to happen for you?
WB: I was frankly amazed at the matter-of-fact way in which Corso recounted the day-to-day operations of slipping alien technology into the R&D units of large corporations. His facile way of dealing with large companies through the offices of General Trudeau showed me just how narrow the line is between the military and corporate America. Maybe it's different today, but back in the 1960s, while JFK was talking about idealism and altruism, the military was fighting its own war both within government, with the Soviets and their satellite nations, and with some alien presence that the military believed was hostile. It was as if there was an entire universe during the early 1960s that was completely invisible unless you knew it was there. More than ever, Phil Corso's revelations pointed me in the direction of a "secret American history" that is still unfolding today.
CNI: Turning now to the specifics in the book, does Corso state as fact that alien (i.e. off-world, non-human) artifacts have been acquired by the U.S. government?
WB: Yes. Said artifacts were part of the Roswell debris delivered to the Pentagon from Wright Field and were stored in R&D files for over ten years before anyone tried to harvest them. Corso handled some of these artifacts, especially the cracker-sized IC wafers, a fiber-optic harness, and some kind of metallic headband, and tried to determine what use they had.
CNI: And does Corso state as fact that alien bodies have been acquired by the U.S. government?
WB: Corso saw one of the alien bodies floating in some kind of gel in a casket at Fort Riley in 1947 and reviewed the Army autopsy of an alien body while he was at the Pentagon. He describes what the Army pathologists speculated upon in his book.
CNI: In your understanding, why is Corso writing this book now?
WB: Corso says that now that everybody is dead, especially his boss, Arthur Trudeau, he feels comfortable talking about the Foreign Technology section of Army R&D. Five years ago, he wouldn't have compiled this manuscript or dared to describe what he did. But, now, he says, there really is no reason to keep these facts hidden. Besides, he believes he's part of the disclosure.
CNI: Do you think Corso has put himself (his reputation, his military pension, his life) at risk by publishing this book?
WB: Although his pension is not at issue, nor is his life, there are people -- friends of his from his military days -- who've suggested that the public really shouldn't be entrusted with this information and it's better left unspoken. Also, very few people currently in the government want to be identified with the Roswell story because of the ongoing controversy. Clearly, Phil Corso has opened up some of this controversy to public scrutiny, and it's bound to cause some waves.
CNI: Senator Strom Thurmond, who wrote the foreword to the book, told the Associated Press on June 5 that he was not properly informed on the content of the book and now wants to distance himself from it. According to the press statement, Thurmond was told that the book was to be a memoir titled "I Walked with Giants: My Career in Military Intelligence," and that there was "'absolutely no mention, suggestion or indication' that the book dealt with UFOs and a government conspiracy to hide the existence of such space vehicles." On learning the actual content of the book, Thurmond stated that "I did not, and would not, pen the foreword to a book about, or containing, a suggestion that the success of the United States in the Cold War is attributable to the technology found on a crashed UFO." Mr. Birnes, how do you respond to these statements?
WB: I want to set the record straight on this. I've read a number of articles in which Thurmond's staff has cited a book entitled "I Walked with Giants" as the book for which the senator claims to have written the foreword. This is patently incorrect. The truth is that the foreword the senator wrote for Phil Corso's first manuscript "I Walked with Giants" was returned to him by Col. Corso, who requested that he write a NEW foreword for his book "The Day After Roswell." Col. Corso spoke to Senator Thurmond in person in DC and told him what he was writing in "The Day After Roswell," and that he was even including an anecdote about [the senator] in the book. Senator Thurmond agreed to write the new foreword -- which he did -- and sent it to Corso. I have copies of both forewords as well as Thurmond's signed release to use his new foreword in "The Day After Roswell."
It's quite possible that, for whatever reason, Senator Thurmond's staff never realized that the senator had agreed to write a foreword for a book about UFOs and the military's harvest of alien technology. But the senator did agree, and we have his signed release.
Original file name: CNI - Birnes on Corso
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