Bodysnatchers at Roswell

Nick Redfern. Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story. Paraview Pocket Books, 2005.

In what promises to be the most controversial UFO book for quite some time, Nick Redfern, who was once a strong proponent of the ETH, argues now that Roswell was not a crashed flying saucer after all, nor was it a Mogul balloon. Instead it was something altogether more sinister. He argues that the crash debris at Roswell were indeed those a balloon, but a massive balloon, based on Japanese technology, which carried a manned glider up to high altitude. This glider was crewed, if that is the right word, with a pilot and a group of handicapped people who were being used as human laboratory specimens in tests on human exposure to high altitude and radiation.

There were several crashes including the one at Roswell, and it was from these guinea pigs, who were Japanese suffering from conditions such as dwarfism and progeria, that the idea of small alien pilots came. They were brought over with Japanese scientists from the notorious Unit 731, a section of the Japanese military which conducted all sorts of exceptionally unpleasant human experiments, much in the fashion of the greatly more notorious Dr. Mengele.  There is more than a hint that much of the UFO corpus, particularly in the early years, has been constructed as a smoke screen to hide these highly unethical experiments, which remain a closely guarded secret even to this day.

Of course a claim like this requires some substantial evidence, and here is where Redfern's story begins to have difficulties. There is indeed documentary evidence for a variety of unethical experiments conducted in the Cold War years, both by the military and others, but nothing on this specific area. The evidence, if one can call it that, comes from a set of whistle blowers who have approached Redfern over the years. But really important and effective whistle blowers are the ones who bring with them mountains of documentation and hard evidence, these people just sidle up to Redfern at UFO conferences and the like and spin yarns, or so Redfern says. They are all anonymous of course.  Assuming that these people exist and are who they say they are, then the fact the people on two continents approach Redfern with more or less similar stories suggests either that rumours along these lines have been around for some time and are being used as the basis of stories; that the stories are to some degree at least true; or that Redfern is being set up by someone or other.

The story presented here raises some problems, for a start it isn't clear why it didn't come out years ago; the scenario is nasty, but not substantially nastier than the MK ULTRA affair or the infamous syphilis experiments, the open sterilisation projects, or the mass deportation of young British orphans to Australia and Canada for use as slave labour. By the 1970s it would have been just one more of the scandals which led young radicals to throw bricks at policemen. It would have been a horror from the past, to be atoned for by apologies and compensation.

One also wonders why whistle blowers would choose not a leading investigative journalist but someone like Redfern to off- load one of the biggest scandals of the post-war period, on the other hand it does seem as though similar stories were told to a reporter on Science and Mechanics. There is also the reliance on the notorious Roswell autopsy film, which I assumed everyone now accepted as a fake, (but never assume anything where ufologists are concerned) with its lack of precise scientific language, bizarre proceedings and general amateurishness.

This is not a story one should accept or reject out of hand. It is certainly worth properly qualified reporters and investigators looking into. It will gain in stature if other people, particularly outside ufology, indicate they have heard similar tales and can provide evidence for this, or if some whistleblower actually goes to the authorities, or if documentary evidence turns up. At the same time we should be aware of the dangers of dropping critical guard just because this story does not involve ETs and sounds not implausible.    |PR|

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