Fact vs Fiction in Cyberspace: An interview with Col. Richard Weaver (Ret).
By Lee Nicholson.
When the United States Air Force published its first report on the Roswell incident in July 1994, reactions ranged from general acceptance among the mainstream media, to outrage and disbelief from the UFO community. The USAF investigation had been initiated by an enquiry from New Mexico State Representative Steven H Schiff to the General Accounting Office (GAO) (1). The final document, entitled; The Roswell Report: Fact Versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert, (2) was co-authored by Col. Richard L. Weaver, USAF and 1st LT. James McAndrew, USAFR.
The complete report is now widely available online and has been the subject of intense debate for many years. Charges of “whitewash” or “cover-up” are commonplace, and for many the Mogul hypothesis does not offer a satisfactory explanation for much of the available witness testimony. Col. Weaver, now retired, has kindly agreed to answer a few questions and address some of the controversy surrounding the release and conclusions of the report. His biography follows:
Rich Weaver is currently the president of a private security training company. Previously, he was a Colonel in the United States Air Force, from which he retired after a 28-year career as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). During his Air Force career, he served as the commander of four separate investigative field units, including the Region Commander of the largest and most diverse operational commands in AFOSI. His other noteworthy military assignments include: Director, Security Policy and Special Program Oversight, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force; Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Special Investigations; Director, AFOSI Forensic Science Program; and AFOSI Regional Forensic Consultant-Europe; among other Special Agent positions worldwide.
He has an executive level background in all aspects of Air Force security policy and Special Access Programs. He was a recognized expert in providing counterintelligence support to military force protection efforts. He was the leader and commander of AFOSI force protection assets assigned to support the investigation of the Khobar Towers bombing. As a mid-level officer, he authored the definitive Air Force study on countersabotage operations. He helped develop, implement, and operationally test a yearlong program of counterintelligence force protection support operations used in Western Europe. He also served as the commander of a protective services unit protecting 4-star commanders and distinguished visitors in Europe. He was the chief advisor to the Air Force Inspector General on investigative, counterintelligence, and security matters.
Currently he oversees the development and execution of training programs for countersurveillance, force protection, surveillance detection, firearms, tactical driver, and protective service operations for various U.S. federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, international corporations, and approved foreign country clients, worldwide.
He is an inductee in the AFOSI Hall of Fame; holds Bachelor of Arts and Master Of Forensic Sciences degrees; and is a Fellow in an internationally recognized forensic sciences organization
Disclaimer: “Any opinions I have or state herein are my personal ones alone and do not represent the official opinions or views of the US Air Force or Department of Defense. That point should be made clear in any attribution of my remarks.” - Col. R, L. Weaver
LN = Lee Nicholson
RW = Richard Weaver
LN – First of all thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I wonder if you could briefly explain the circumstances that resulted in you being chosen as co-author of the USAF Roswell Report?
RW--I ended up working on this project, like many things military, by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or, perhaps more diplomatically, by being in the natural bureaucratic position organizationally to be the action officer for this unique endeavor. To the point, the late Congressman Steven Schiff (D-NM) generated a request to the GAO for the latter organization to conduct a "GAO Survey/Review" of "...DOD's policies and procedures for acquiring, classifying, retaining, and disposing, of official government documents dealing with weather balloon, aircraft, and similar crash incidents. The review will involve testing whether DOD, the military services, specialized defense agencies, and others such as the National Archives, have systematically followed the proper procedures to ensure government accountability over such records." (NOTE: THIS GAO TASKING WAS NEVER, EVER, A SPECIFIC CHARTER TO INVESTIGATE EVERY CLAIM OR ALLEGATION EVER MADE ABOUT THE SO-CALLED ROSWELL INCIDENT!)
When any GAO request enters DOD, it goes to the DOD Inspector General (under DOD Directive 7650.2) as the central office for liaison for tasking, controlling, and monitoring GAO surveys, reviews and report activities. As per directive, this was subsequently tasked by the DOD IG to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (as well as the other DOD services and agencies). Within that office, it went first to SAF/FMPF (Director of Audit Liaison and Follow-up), who then in turn tasked it to SAF/AAX, Director of Plans, Programs and Budget for the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary--in this case, SAF/AA in the person of Robert J. McCormick. McCormick's position is arguably the most important non-appointed civilian position in the Air Force and carries the equivalent of 4-star rank, reporting directly and only to the Secretary (at the time Dr. Sheila Widnall). McCormick was also the Senior Security Official for the Air Force, where he oversaw SAF/AAI (Information Management) and SAF/AAZ, the Office of Security Policy and Special Program Oversight (me). Hence, I became the "stickee", since McCormick's office not only was responsible for all Air Force records of any type, if they were classified, including being involved in any Special Access Programs, AAZ had access to, and authority for, any and all of them. Not quite as exciting as being secretly raised in a dark cave by a sinister cabal of Air Force generals so as to be ready to assume the cover-up shield when the time was right, however.
LN – Did you have any personal interest in, or professional involvement with the UFO subject before, or after, this time?
RW--No. Other than occasional and routine FOIA requests for information about UFOs (which were routinely sent to Public Affairs for response) I had no prior interest or involvement in UFOs. There was no UFO office in the Air Force since Project Blue Book was closed down in 1969, that was responsible for such information--which is why most things got shuttled off to Public Affairs for response. (By the way, keeping up the sinister theme, Blue Book was closed down on the very day I received my accreditation as an AFOSI Special Agent--apparently because the secret cabal of generals thought that now that I was officially in place, I could now deal on my own). Actually, however, I had seen the “Unsolved Mysteries” show that Robert Stack had done on Roswell and was intrigued by the claims of secrets and cover-ups (every good investigator loves to find cover-ups), so I was actually looking forward to what our efforts would find.
The day after I turned in my report to the Secretary, I took over my new command for my final three years in the USAF, where I spent most of my time on Mideast counterterrorism issues, Latin American drug smuggling, general dirt-baggery in the Air Force, but did nothing more on “UFOs”. I did do the fifteen minutes of fame thing on various TV shows and magazines (as a retiree) in 1997 during the Roswell "50th anniversary" hoopla, but that was a basic regurgitation of the report I did in 1994 (No, I hadn't changed my mind about the findings in the interim).
LN - Conspiracy theories aside, did you ever at any time during your investigation feel any pressure, either directly or indirectly, social or institutional, to arrive at a conventional explanation for the 'Roswell event'?
RW-- No. To the contrary, both the Secretary of the Air Force at the time, Dr. Sheila Widnall, and her Administrative Assistant, Robert McCormick (see above for his role) gave us carte blanche and full support to provide GAO with a cooperative, detailed, (and by the way, truthful) response.
LN – It is stated in the report that Project MOGUL was a classified program and largely unknown at the time, while this is certainly true, would you agree that the materials used were essentially mundane and unremarkable?
RW--While certainly the materials themselves used in the Mogul were rather common at the time, the purpose of the Mogul Program (which, by the way, I knew nothing about until we did the research in 1994) was anything but mundane. To put it in perspective, the US Government was absolutely paranoid about the Russians in 1947 and they were frantic on knowing the state of their atomic bomb development programs. Since the USG had no human sources in place, there were no satellites, and over flights that deep into Soviet territory were still not possible at the time, the theory espoused by Mogul, as goofy as it seems today, made sense when put into perspective. The men dedicated to the project did an outstanding effort to try and make it work, albeit ultimately it did not.
LN – Considering the above would you also agree that Major Marcel should have instantly recognized Aluminum foil, and Neoprene, given that he received a diploma from the Army Air Forces Training Command in Radar technology (3) and had experience with Rawin targets, balloons and ML-307 reflectors?
RW--I can't speak for Major Marcel's abilities in this regard, and unfortunately, being deceased, he can't speak on his own behalf now; but the two persons still alive in 1994 who had seen and handled the same material as Marcel; Sheridan Cavitt, and Irving Newton, had no problems recognizing the source of the material as such. See both the printed transcript of Cavitt, and the signed sworn statement of Newton, that appear in my book as attachments.
LN - Your interview with the late Sheridan Cavitt was very interesting, I understand he denied that anything of significance had occurred. Yet, what is your assessment of the statements from William Rickett where he describes visiting the location with Cavitt, observing highly unusual material, and how they both agreed to tell people that they "Never left the office"? (4)
RW--I think if you re-read this section you will find that this conversation was based on me READING to Cavitt a specific claim about Cavitt and Rickett that Randle and Schmitt made in one of their books. After referencing their book, I state, by reading from their book: "RW...On page 63: as they prepared to leave the crash site the CIC agent told Rickett "You and I were never out here. You and I never saw this. You don't see any military people or military vehicles out here. Rickett agreed saying yeah, we never even left the office.' (Note: that's the quote from the Randle and Scmitt book) Now that's the little quote they have also out in the.."
To which Cavitt replies: ":SC: Now what page is that on?"
"RW: that's on page 63."
Cavitt then states: "SC: "63? No. Now I could have said something facetious like that after we got back to the office, after I was convinced that it was a weather balloon, or some such contraption. I didn't know, naturally. I could have said after we got back to the office: "Rickett, this has been a big boondoggle. I don't even want 700 CIC Headquarters to know we wasted our time on it. Forget we ever did it. I mean I could have'..."
"SC: Said in a facetious way: 'Let's make out like it never existed, because we're wasting our time.' But I didn't say it in such a way that it would be so highly classified we won't have anything to do with it."
I didn't talk with Rickett because he had already died by the time of this research, so, therefore, any "statements" that he may have made (be they to Randle and Schmitt, as they claimed, or to Cavitt, as he related directly to me per above) were from others. It was obvious to me at the time (and still is) that if such a statement was actually made, it was as Cavitt claimed, "facetious" so they wouldn't look like dopes to other people.
LN - According to the report a number of "decimal files" were missing from the 509th Bomb Group records. (5) Could you clarify this please?
RW--Record keeping is not a science now and it certainly was not as good then when the system was all manual. There are probably literally millions of pages of government documents that are "missing" since the inception of government recording keeping in the 222-year history of the United States Constitution. "Missing", however, doesn’t necessarily mean destroyed or spirited away by sinister or evil forces. It includes misplaced, misfiled, destroyed by disasters, accident, (the St Louis Federal Record Center fire, for example), warfare, or simple negligence, as well as those inadvertently stored or moved to other locations etc. As I recall, the "decimal files" were mundane daily records, were not classified, and the inability to find them, was not a big deal to us because there was no reason to believe that they contained anything significant to Congressman Schiff's request.
LN - Were you aware of, and if so what level of significance did you attach to, the fact that General Thomas DuBose, (at that time a Colonel, and General Ramey's chief of staff), prepared an affidavit prior to his death in 1992 which included the following:
"The material shown in the photographs taken in Maj. Gen. Ramey's office was a weather balloon. The weather balloon explanation for the material was a cover story to divert the attention of the press. I have not been paid or given anything of value to make this statement, which is the truth to the best of my recollection. Signed: T. J. Dubose." (6)
RW--With all due respect to the deceased General, this "affidavit" doesn't say anything, and whoever took it should keep their day job and not play investigator, because they sure ain't one. The affidavit states this was "a cover story to divert the attention of the press". That’s it-- nothing else. The implication you seem to imply is that this, therefore, was some sort of UFO by definition. For the "rest of the story" the questioner should have fleshed out was the DETAILS of what this so-called "cover story" was trying to protect. The statement as it is written only specifically confirms what Cavitt (who saw the original material in situ) and Newton (who was at the same conference as DuBose) said--that this appeared to be part of a balloon device. To interpret anything else from what is written is conjecture and is in the mind of the beholder.
Perhaps the "statement" would hold a little more meaning for everyone if the following questions, among many others, had been asked of the General:
--WHO: directed the "cover story"? -else knew about this? -had possession of the "real" material"?
--WHY: was a "cover story" needed or directed? -was Ramey selected to give it? -are you waiting until know to announce this?
--WHAT: was being protected or covered up by the "cover story"? -happened to the material? -was your part in this "cover-up"?
--WHEN: was this covered story directed? -was the switch made?
--WHERE: did the "real" material end up? -was the "cover story" material sent?"
--HOW: was the "switch" made? -did the Air Force plan to keep the "real story" secret? etc. etc.
LN – Would you agree that this Affidavit calls into question the use of the ‘Ramey Office photos’ as evidence?
RW--No--That's a trick question. I don't think anybody ever said these photos were "evidence" of anything--other than what Ramey claimed was material recovered from the area near Roswell. The only thing you can say about the photos is that they depict damaged material that is consistent with a Rawin reflector of the type which was used on Mogul flights--as well as weather flights, and also for other purposes. Nobody I know claimed these definitively came from a Mogul flight, only that they were consistent with materials we learned were used on such flights that were known to have been in the area.
LN – It has been reported by several witnesses that they were tasked to ‘walk over’ areas of the Foster Ranch (and possibly other locations) in order pick up every last scrap of debris. Would you expect such a thorough clean up for a MOGUL balloon train?
RW--We found no records or documentary evidence of any type that anyone was sent out to collect any material from the so-called Roswell site. The only ones that everyone agree on who were on the scene were Cavitt and Marcel. As for "cleaning up" a Mogul balloon train, there was also no evidence that procedure was regularly done, either, since merely findings pieces of it was not important and the equipment itself was neither expensive nor classified. Again, it was the PURPOSE that was important-not the equipment. Most balloon devices, to the best of our knowledge from our research, be they weather, Mogul, or other, were not recovered and no great effort was expended to do so--although some of the equipment was marked with placards that citizens could get a small reward for its return.
LN – Several first hand witnesses such as Earl Fulford (7), Jesse Marcel Jr (8) and June Crain (9) have reported handling a “Aluminum foil like” material which was extremely light, durable, and apparently had incredible ‘memory metal’ like properties. How do you reconcile these reports with the Mogul hypothesis?
RW--What's to reconcile? After much searching, we actually found a vintage ML-307C/AP, Rawin device still in existence. It was in my office for six months, so I am very familiar with the materials. The metallic parts of It (it is NOT tinfoil like you find at the grocery store) is extremely light and durable. I don't know what "amazing memory metal" really is. When you Google that term, you generically get a definition made by pro UFO buffs of "a material found at Roswell"--so the term becomes, in effect, what we call a "self-licking ice cream cone". In this case, one made up by people who have never seen the actual material to self-validate what they want validated. Convenient.
LN – Perhaps a more accurate term may have been "shape memory alloy", a good example of such material is a Nickel-Titanium alloy known as Nitinol. Several witnesses clearly describe a material which spontaneously returned to its original shape, without any noticeable damage such as creases, after distortion. Does this sound consistent with the material used on the Rawin devices of that period?
RW--Based upon the description I found in Wikipedia for the material " Nitinol", I would say that the foil-like material used in the Rawin targets, while flexible, did not meet the description of the characteristics for the alloy Nitinol--which is not the same thing as me affirming that a Nitinol type of material is what the alleged latter day "witnesses" claimed to have seen in earlier days.
LN – During our interview with Earl Fulford he describes how his friend George Houck, “returned from the crash site” driving a tractor with a flatbed trailer - on the back of which was a covered object, and of how he refused to talk about what was under the tarpaulin.. Did you investigate the use of a flatbed trailer that day?
RW--I'm a little confused on this one. First, to reiterate what I said previously, there were no records located of any type to substantiate that anyone was on the property where the material you question was located (including Marcel and Cavitt), but at least pertaining to the latter there were public statements linking those two to being at the area in July, 1947. As to the claims by others made well after the fact, you'll have to draw your own conclusions as to their motivations for "coming out" later in life. As for seeing a "tractor with a flatbed trailer", with a covered object on it--so what? Have you ever been on an Air Force Base? Do you know how many tractor-trailers hauling objects ranging from aircraft engines, to maintenance gear, to food for the commissary are on an Air Force Base at any given time? It is perfectly normal and it proves nothing--so there is nothing to investigate. For our specific task, see the quote above I previously gave from the GAO document.
LN – Did you attempt to locate any of the physical artifacts recovered from the Foster ranch, in addition to the obvious search for records?
RW--While the tasking only specifically mentions records, the researchers (all of whom were research and records professionals from the Air Force Declassification Review Team) were on the alert to identify anything (including objects or artifacts) that would help with the GAO inquiry. This is how, for example, that we came into possession of original Rawin target and balloon debris contemporary with the time in question. We did not locate any materials that were specifically identifiable with those pictured in the Ramey photos (or anything else identified as being recovered) or any documents that mention or discussed the recovery of such materials, its accession, or ultimate disposition.
LN - Are you familiar with the 2002 affidavit from Walter Haut, which was sealed until his death and includes the following:
“(12) Before leaving the base, Col. Blanchard took me personally to Building 84 [AKA Hangar P-3], a B-29 hangar located on the east side of the tarmac. Upon first approaching the building, I observed that it was under heavy guard both outside and inside. Once inside, I was permitted from a safe distance to first observe the object just recovered north of town. It was approx. 12 to 15 feet in length, not quite as wide, about 6 feet high, and more of an egg shape. Lighting was poor, but its surface did appear metallic. No windows, portholes, wings, tail section, or landing gear were visible.
(13) Also from a distance, I was able to see a couple of bodies under a canvas tarpaulin. Only the heads extended beyond the covering, and I was not able to make out any features. The heads did appear larger than normal and the contour of the canvas suggested the size of a 10 year old child. At a later date in Blanchard's office, he would extend his arm about 4 feet above the floor to indicate the height.” (10)
RW--I am personally not familiar with that document/claim by the late Mr. Haut, and have never seen it until you sent it to me.
LN – If this Affidavit had been available in 1994 do you think it would have affected your conclusions?
RW--If it was a signed, sworn statement given to a Federal investigator in 1947, or shortly thereafter, and located in government records, you bet. Otherwise, given the chronology of events regarding this topic that transpired between 1947 and 2002, I will just leave it at "no".
LN – Am I correct in thinking that the USAF Report did not discover any evidence to conclusively connect the material recovered at the Foster ranch directly to any of the ‘lost’ Mogul flights, and therefore must remain as a hypothesis only?
RW--That is correct. We never represented in the Report that the Mogul theory was the definitive answer, only as the one that was the most logical from all the information available. The report itself also details the other hypotheses we considered, so I won't re-address them here.
LN - Would you be willing to consider the possibility that the Roswell event may indeed have involved the recovery of an extraterrestrial craft, and that it might have been possible for all relevant documentation to have been removed from the standard military filing system, therefore making it inaccessible to your investigation?
RW--In a word, "No". Having said that let me try and explain one more time. We found absolutely nothing to indicate that anything "extraterrestrial" or even untoward happened near Roswell in July 1947. This includes tracking all sorts of records from the most routine and mundane, to tracking down diaries and schedules of major DOD leaders who would have to be involved if this was such a major event in human history.
As to your supposition or question that somehow a complete government bureaucracy could be created, at first ad hoc, and then, later, on a highly structured and systematic basis, and subsequently control all manner of discreet pieces of information and eliminate them from every sub-system everywhere, shows a serious misunderstanding of how bureaucracies, particularly US government bureaucracies, actually work; and more importantly, how ineffective and inefficient they really are.
Of course governments can keep secrets and go to great lengths to do so (which is one of the reasons I had that particular job at that particular time in the first place). And, in order to do so, the government has spent literally billions of dollars over the years to protect such secrets. Ironically, the very bureaucracies that keep secrets in the process also create massive amounts of information about the secrets, how the secrets were kept, and who knows about them. Also in this process, other extraneous document systems, innocent by-products on the surface, such as travel vouchers, receipts, requisitions, manifests, etc, etc, are also created which the overall security system has no control over (or in many cases, even knowledge of).
Sitting above this security system overlooking it all is something even more threatening--the accountability for the money spent! Even the most lightly guarded secrets require massive amounts of money to maintain. Where does this money come from? You'll have to trust me that the Air Force doesn't hold secret Pentagon bake sales to come up with the cash to keep the secrets secret. The money comes, as it always has, from Congress, that font of all things monetary. The fact that many of these elected officials are as inept as their staffs are arrogant is no matter; they rightly demand accountability for and access to the information that is being protected; notwithstanding that they are potential security leaks in their own right. There is no program too secret to be kept from Congress, and if someone tried to do it, the money would very quickly cease to flow and the hearings start. From a Constitutional standpoint, this is how it was designed and, as it should be.
Don't get me wrong, here. I would have loved for there to have been a giant conspiracy to uncover; and I went into the entire research process with an open mind (Remember: Robert Stack said it was true on "Unsolved Mysteries" and Eliot Ness doesn't lie). I would have much preferred to be the guy famous for disclosing the "Roswell cover-up” to the world rather than the one being remembered as a "disinformation specialist" (good grief!), hack, co-conspirator, devil, UFO anti-Christ, the person most likely not to be appointed Director of Tourism for the City of Roswell, or any of the other of a myriad of names I have been called over the years. But, alas, it was not to be.
Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". In this case, Roswell didn't have enough substance to even be a cigar.
LN – We understand that you are currently working on a book regarding your involvement with the USAF Roswell investigation, could you tell us what motivated you to write the book, and when you expect to see it published?
RW--Motivation: Money, and the desire to tell "the rest of the story"; since I doubt that the former will be coming in huge buckets. Date of expected publication: TBD, but about 2047, at my current rate of progress. (I heard Centennials are great for book sales!)
LN – Col. Weaver, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us. Would you like to say anything else in closing?
RW--You're welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to address the issue.
Originally published on American Chronicle
References: 1. http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/roswell.pdf
2. http://contrails.iit.edu/history/Ros...fullreport.pdf (998 pages. 40.5 MB)
3. Witness to Roswell by Tom Carey and Don Schmitt pg 85.
4. Witness to Roswell pg 207.
5. Roswell Report pg36.
9. http://www.majesticdocuments.com/pdf...ninterview.pdf (61 pages 744 KB)