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    Reinventing the Wheel

    A few weeks ago, the news outlets were all a buzz about the FBI's new website: The Vault. The Vault is the FBI's attempt at allowing easier access to files that were released through the Freedom of Information ACT (FOIA). The files that have garnered the most attention in the news have been the documents on UFOs.

    The 'Guy Hottel Memo' was causing the most controversy. The text of the controversial document is reproduced below.

    "The following information was furnished to SA …… by …, …. … . …

    An investigator for the Air Forces stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico. They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flying and test pilots.

    According to Mr … informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers.

    No further evaluation was attempted by SA … concerning the above".

    On the surface this memo appears to be a groundbreaking document-but let's take a few steps back and examine the memo itself and the media hype it has been causing.

    If you were to believe the majority of the news reports, this document is the final 'smoking gun' that many UFO buffs have been searching for their whole lives. Some have even had articles entitled, ''Aliens exist' say real-life X-Files (title taken from The Sun, a UK Newspaper comparable to the American National Inquirer). There are a few problems with this conclusion.

    The memo contains a conversation between Special Agent Guy Hottel and an unnamed special agent (SA). This unnamed agent spoke with an Air Force Investigator who related a fairly shocking statement. The Air Force investigator claimed that the Air Force had recovered a few UFO's and some apparent alien bodies. The Air Force Investigator also stated that the Government had a theory as to what caused the UFO crashes. So basically SA Hottel was hearing this story third hand and was simply reporting it back to Washington. As if that wasn't enough, the Special Agent who had initially heard the story from the Air Force Investigator didn't attempt any kind of follow up on the information. Was this because he was stopped by government agents? No, it's more likely that he realized that there wasn't anything that would come from researching this story.

    The unnamed special agent from the Guy Hottel memo wasn't the only one who thought there wasn't much to the information. After Dr. Bruce Maccabbee first received this memo in the 1970's through a FOIA request (see the information isn't all that new after all) he concluded that the document pertained to a hoax. The Guy Hottel Memo is an actual FBI document, however, the information within the document appears to be relating to the Aztec Incident. In Maccabbee's book, The UFO/FBI Connection, he discusses how he believes that the memo, while a valid FBI Document, actually discusses the supposed Aztec Crash that occurred in 1948 in Aztec, New Mexico. The provenance of the Aztec story appears to have been from two well known con men: Silas Newton and Leo GeBauer. Newton and GeBauer (who at the time was pretending to be a scientist named Dr. Gee) convinced columnist Frank Scully that there had been a UFO crash that had occurred in Aztec, New Mexico. Scully wrote about this a few times in the magazine Variety and eventually expanded the story into a book entitled Behind the Flying Saucers.

    The information contained within Scully's book came from stories that were told to him by Silas and the good Doctor. So let's review where we are at so far. First, we have a 'new' FBI Memo released on a Government site that is actually about 30 years old or so. Second, we have news outlets taking a story that discus Aliens/UFOs and even doing cursory research into the story. And lastly we have a proven 60 year old hoax showing back up in Ufology, really nothing new for this field that can never seem to catch a break or get its act together.

    It seems that every few years or so the same items seem to show up in Ufology. As an example, Paul Kimball has referred to Aztec as the Dracula of Ufology-no matter how many times it has been proven a hoax, it always seems to come rising back up from the dead.

    So the memo doesn't really add anything new to the Ufological field. The memo exemplifies the issue that has plagued this field for the last 60 some odd years. Ufology suffers from extreme short and long-term memory loss. We are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch with each new generation of ufologists. The 60 year old hoaxes are going to continue showing up unless we can move past some of these events and look for new information about what's currently happening. If we don't we are going to continue seeing these kinds of stories play out every few years.

    While it is sad that the media didn't do better research into these documents released through the FBI's Vault, it's not terribly surprising. What is depressing though, is how many people in the Ufological field also failed to do their homework before pouncing on the story and declaring that 'Disclosure is coming people'. Even a cursory glance at the history of the field would show that the Hottel Memo had been discussed and discarded numerous times in the past. If we ever hope to get some real answers about what is going on, we can't afford to keep revisiting issues that should have already been buried long ago.

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