By Michael Lindemann
[This story was updated on June 4, 1997 from the version published on June 1. Changes were made based on information provided by Steven Greer, Fund for UFO Research and others regarding disputed rights to the use of a document referred to as "Best Available Evidence."]
Many details of the April 9-10 Washington DC "closed briefing on UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence" hosted by Dr. Steven Greer's Project Starlight Coalition for members of Congress and invited press have recently been disclosed to CNI News. A participant at the briefings, who has requested anonymity, sent CNI News a complete set of briefing documents as well as a videotape of the closed press briefing and the videotape titled "CSETI Video and Photographic Evidence of UFOs, 1997."
From these materials it would be possible to disclose to our readers the names of many key UFO witnesses as well as the names of many Congressional personnel who attended the events. It is precisely this information which Greer and his organization have sought to keep confidential, on the theory that only such confidentiality at this stage will preserve the fragile but growing trust needed to bring witnesses and government leaders together on this highly sensitive subject.
CNI News believes there is merit in maintaining this confidentiality. After viewing the closed press conference videotape of April 10, it is our judgment that potentially important information was presented in a dignified and persuasive way to a small but significant group of people. We see evidence that Greer's organization is making good, at least to some degree, on its stated strategy. It is not our desire to derail their efforts through overzealous, untimely reporting.
However, many details of what took place can be reported, including a controversy over Greer's right to use one of the documents distributed at the briefings.
Although the two most-publicized events in this multi-day program were a closed presentation for invited members of Congress and other government officials on April 9, and a closed briefing for members of the press held on April 10, CNI News has learned that Greer conducted a large number of smaller private meetings with various government and press personnel who either could not or did not wish to participate in the higher-profile briefings. Thus, those who attended only the two main briefings were not in a position to know how many people Greer and his team actually met with.
CNI News has received a complete list of Congressional offices that indicated plans to attend, in most cases sending staff aides; but we have also learned that only a minority of those named were actually in the official briefing on April 9. Assuming Greer found other ways to meet with the no-shows, the list indicates contact with no fewer than 11 Senate offices, 25 members of the House, two state governors and one Clinton staffer. However, our sources at the briefing say that they can be certain of only three Congressional office staffers and one Clinton staffer being present, as well as one Congressman and eight other Congressional staffers "probably" in attendance. Two state houses were also "probably" represented by staff.
At least the following press organizations were represented at the April 10 closed press briefing: U.S. News and World Report, the Boston Globe, United Press International, News Channel 8 TV from New Haven, CT (an ABC affiliate), New View Films for UPN's "Strange Universe," Sources Journal and Paradigm Research Group. The Times of London was either at the briefing or met with Greer at a different time. Other press may have been present as well.
Videotape sent to CNI News shows the April 10 press briefing to have been a well-organized, no-nonsense affair. Steven Greer made brief opening remarks, then introduced a succession of witnesses, each of whom made a personal statement of several minutes' duration.
The first of these speakers was astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who has never claimed to be a UFO witness but is now on record as a strong supporter of the Greer organization's efforts. Dr. Mitchell stated that he has become convinced that a core of UFO incidents are real and highly important, and that it is time for official secrecy to end. He also stressed that a great deal of the UFO information in the public arena is nonsensical, at least some of that no doubt intentionally planted to promote the cover-up, and that this briefing was meant to help sort out the essential facts from the nonsense. In sum, Mitchell's opening statement was a strong start to a briefing that continued strongly thereafter.
In a printed "Summary of selected witnesses" participating in the DC events, Greer listed 15 people, but named no one in writing except Edgar Mitchell. At the press briefing, seven witnesses spoke following Mitchell. Each of these people was introduced by name. Since they were named in a press briefing, it would seem fair to assume that naming them here is permissible. However, CNI News chooses to err on the side of caution in this regard, for the moment.
Two of these witnesses, however, have been public enough in the past that naming them here cannot be faulted. The first of these is Air Force Major (ret.) George Filer, who, among other things, is the Eastern Region Director for MUFON. Filer, the first to speak after Edgar Mitchell, briefly described three UFO incidents he had witnessed but emphasized an event that occurred in 1978 at McGuire Air Force Base and the adjoining Fort Dix in New Jersey. At that time, Filer said, he was Deputy Director of Intelligence for the 21st Air Force at McGuire. Early one morning he reported for duty only to find the base headquarters in an uproar over UFO sightings that had been happening around the base during the night. More important, he learned that shots were fired at Fort Dix at an intruder who was then seen running toward a runway at McGuire. A small body was soon found lying on the runway, Filer said. That body, evidently dead and not human, was soon picked up by a C-141 aircraft dispatched from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Filer did not know what became of it after that.
Another witness whose statements have been previously published was Commander (ret.) Graham Bethune, a Navy pilot and test pilot who witnessed an extraordinary UFO off the coast of Iceland in February, 1951. An account of this incident was published in "Above Top Secret" by Timothy Good. Bethune says he had been told by military personnel in Iceland that there had been many sightings of unusual aircraft, which were assumed to be some new Soviet weapon. However, Bethune and a crew of men were flying a Navy transport on the night of February 10 when they witnessed, first, a bright glow on the water at a distance of some 25 miles, then saw a large disk-like object move toward them at a tremendous speed, stopping only a few hundred yards in front of and below their own aircraft. The object, Bethune said, was at least 300 feet in diameter and had approached them at a speed well in excess of 1,000 miles per hour, then stopped and hovered for several moments before withdrawing to a distance of about five miles and pacing their plane for several more minutes before disappearing over the horizon at super speed. Bethune noted that his onboard magnetic compasses were spinning wildly while the mystery craft was nearby. He surmises it was lucky that his plane's control functions were mainly hydraulic rather than electrical. He said it was not until much later that he realized his sighting corresponded to the other unusual reports in Iceland, but he knew immediately that the object he saw could not have been a human aircraft.
Another male witness, now a successful attorney, told of attending a briefing while in the Army Signal Corps in which he was shown unusual metal fragments with strange embossed hieroglyphics, and another piece that could be bent but would always spring back to its original shape. He said he was also told that President Eisenhower was keenly interested in UFOs, and that the presidential bunker at Mt. Weather, Virginia was equipped to track UFO activity.
Another male witness told of tracking UFOs on radar as they performed extraordinary feats of speed and maneuvering. Yet another male witness, an Air Force Lt. Colonel (ret.), told of observing a number of luminous UFOs at Loring Air Force Base on the night of April 19, 1969.
The sole woman witness at this briefing told of her work at a NASA facility, where she was a technical illustrator for many years. On one occasion she observed a large black and white NASA photo which contained an obvious UFO. She pointed it out to a photo technician, who explained to her that "we always airbrush those out" before releasing them to the public. From this she surmised that this happened fairly often.
The last person to speak was a long-time professional astronomer who explained that the SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, using radio telescopes) had received a large number of signals of "unusual quality" -- meaning non-random, repeating, not generated by known human equipment or celestial objects. In this astronomer's view, "It is quite clear that there have been signals received. From where, from who, I do not know."
The combined impact made by this lineup of witnesses was extremely impressive. Each one came across as a highly credible, rational, articulate and concerned human being. Each one obviously understood that they were not providing proof of anything, but their stories could not fail to arouse interest in any open-minded listener.
With this in mind, CNI News finds it unfortunate and even somewhat odd that there was not more press reporting of this briefing. Nonetheless, we feel that the reporters who attended must have gone home with plenty of food for thought, and perhaps this will make them more ready to do responsible reporting on the UFO subject at a later time.
Along with the presentation of witnesses, Greer's team assembled and distributed a large package of printed materials and a videotape titled "CSETI Video and Photographic Evidence of UFOs, 1997." The printed package has recently been offered for sale to the public, but the video will likely not be widely distributed because of possible copyright infringement.
For anyone familiar with the dozens of UFO videos on today's market, the video assembled by Steven Greer would hold no surprises. In fact, it appears that his tape contains no original footage but is composed entirely of clips from otherwise available tapes. Many of these clips, more than 80 all together, are classic stills, some of them enlarged or enhanced. Many others are video clips from Mexico and assorted other places. A few are highly dubious (for example, a long version of the infamous "Guardian" UFO video from Carp, Ontario is labeled "ARV," meaning human-built "alien reproduction vehicle," a quite improbable claim), while some others are simply indistinct (a video clip from the Canary Islands contains nothing resembling a UFO, as far as we could see). As an exhibit of evidence, CNI News believes this video might have been more effective at one-fourth the length, showing only the most classic and impressive footage.
The printed briefing package, titled "Comprehensive Briefing Document: CSETI Project Starlight," is massive at over 400 photocopied pages, and is divided into three parts. Part One consists of 17 CSETI documents and position papers mostly authored by Steven Greer. This part runs a total of 49 pages. Part Two, running 28 pages and titled "Best Available Evidence [BAE], Executive Summary," is a scaled-down version of a document previously published by the UFO Research Coalition of MUFON, Center for UFO Studies and Fund for UFO Research. Reportedly, Greer had permission to use this BAE Executive Summary from the UFO Research Coalition. Part Three, titled "United States Government Documents Related to UFOs," contains 117 separate documents running a total of more than 300 pages. Most of these documents are in the public domain and will be familiar to any well-read UFO enthusiast. Nonetheless, it is a quite thorough presentation.
However, a controversy has erupted over Greer's replication and distribution of another document, a 118-page draft version of the UFO Research Coalition publication "Unidentified Flying Objects Briefing Document: The Best Available Evidence." This document, originally published in 1995 with the financial backing of philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, was mainly written by Don Berliner of the Fund for UFO Research, with Antonio Huneeus and Marie Galbraith listed as co-authors. Greer put his own cover on the draft text and distributed it as a CSETI publication.
Greer's version of the document credits Berliner as author but deletes all reference to the other UFO organizations, the co-authors and Rockefeller, and instead states on the replacement cover: "Concept, Title and Strategy: Steven M. Greer, M.D.; Case Selection: CSETI Project Starlight Team."
The content of Greer's version is more than 90% identical to the version published by the UFO Research Coalition. Greer claims he has the right to distribute his version because he participated in the early stages of its creation along with Marie Galbraith, Don Berliner and others but was later cut out of the project and given no credit for his contribution. He claims he is distributing a draft of the document acquired by him before the final published version was copyrighted, and that his draft is not covered by the copyright.
CNI News has now explored the history of the "Best Available Evidence" document with many of those who contributed to its creation. Steven Greer and several members of CSETI/Starlight Coalition did participate in the original discussions about the document. However, Greer's proposal for the document was far different than the document that was eventually published by the UFO Research Coalition, and his removal from participation in the document was a consequence of a general falling out with Marie Galbraith and Laurance Rockefeller.
Greer apparently received bad legal advice leading him to the erroneous belief that he can duplicate and distribute a draft version of the "Best Available Evidence" document without violating copyright. But, according to the UFO Research Coalition, Greer's action makes him guilty of piracy and copyright infringement. And for putting his own cover on the document, which implies that the document is a CSETI publication and that author Don Berliner wrote it under CSETI auspices, Greer's accusers say he is also guilty of unfair competition, false advertising and false designation of origin. [In the June 1 version of this article, CNI News accused Greer of plagiarism. That charge was incorrect and is hereby retracted by CNI News. However, the other charges just noted are correct.]
CNI News has learned that the UFO Research Coalition has initiated legal action against Greer.
CNI News considers it highly unfortunate that the Project Starlight Washington DC briefing process has been marred by this infraction on Greer's part. We believe the effort undertaken during April in Washington shows promise of bearing good fruit in the future. We call upon Steven Greer and all CSETI personnel and supporters to hold to the highest standards of integrity in the future, so as not to further compromise their own best intentions and good potential.
CNI News will continue to report on this story as further information becomes available.
Original file name: CNI - Greer DC
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.