What the FBI’s UFO Memo Shows About American Intelligence
In 1950, the FBI told Director J. Edgar Hoover that three large flying saucers containing alien cosmonauts were recovered in New Mexico. The FBI has finally explained the memo about the saucer sent to Hoover — and, however inadvertently, provided a clinic in how to assess a secret intelligence report.
The FBI’s basic message in its recent explanation: Calm down. The FBI never discovered any evidence of extraterrestrial visitation. Hoover was a paranoid maniac willing to peddle wild accusations about secret hordes of communist terrorists, but even he stopped investigating UFOs four months after receiving the account from Washington-based Special Agent-in-Charge Guy Hottel. “Our Washington Field Office didn’t think enough of that flying saucer story to look into it,” the FBI’s new explanation reads. (Hat tip: i09.)
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There’s a lesson in that explanation for how to assess intelligence reports. It starts with looking at what the report actually says — which is not the same thing as looking at what the report claims.
You can see why the FBI would feel the need to put this in context. “An investigator from the Air Force reported that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico,” Hottel wrote Hoover on March 22, 1950. “They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 meters in diameter.” Inside were Jawa-like creatures, “three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture,” which Hottel’s source analogized to test pilot blackout suits. And according to Hottel’s “informant,” whose name is blacked out, high-powered government radar arrays in New Mexico are “believed [to interfere] with the controlling mechanism of the saucers.”