By John Kelly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 27, 2010; 6:14 PM
The cookies they serve at press conferences at the National Press Club are the same as the cookies we have in meetings here at The Post. I happen to like these cookies, and so as I cabbed it to the press club Monday I told myself that if the next couple of hours turned out to be a complete bust - if I remained unconvinced by the presentation on how UFOs have been systematically hovering over our country's nuclear missiles and occasionally disabling them, perhaps as a warning to humankind, perhaps as part of some sort of intergalactic anthropology project - I would at least be able to cadge some tasty baked goods.
I was already late when we arrived, so I threw some cash at the cabbie, grabbed a receipt, then legged it to the front door. I noticed there were police cars at every corner, their lights flashing, 14th Street NW strangely empty.
The press conference was open only to credentialed media and to congressional staff. I flipped through the legal pad on which we attendees were asked to write our names. One person from UFO Magazine. Two people from the Epoch Times. Someone from the Kyodo News of Japan. Representatives from Stars and Stripes, WTTG (Channel 5), the Daily Telegraph of London and The Washington Post (me).
And a "John Bailey" from the House Armed Services Committee.
UFO researcher Robert Hastings was behind a lectern, facing eight cameras. There were four men to his left, three to his right. These men were all retired from the U.S. Air Force and had all signed affidavits attesting to what they had witnessed. Their claims were strikingly similar: In 1967, Air Force ICBM crews, locked deep in their bunkers, received panicked phone calls from topside security guards who reported unusual lights in the sky.
Hastings said that because similar incidents had occurred in the Soviet Union - as attested to in declassified KGB files - it was not the Russians messing with us or us messing with the Russians.
"We can also rule out the Samoans," he added.
This was apparently a joke, but because his face remained stony, it was hard to tell.
Most of the witnesses had not seen anything, just spoken to someone who had seen something. ("I said, 'Make sure nothing comes inside the perimeter fence,' " said Robert Salas, who at the time was at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.)
But a few had. The UFO that Pat McDonough saw when part of an Air Force geodetic survey team in 1966 was round and about 300 feet in diameter. A light shone down from the craft, and McDonough was afraid he might be beamed up.
The UFO that Bruce Fenstermacher saw in 1976 near Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming was shaped like "a pregnant cigar." He said that the day after his sighting he approached an officer to ask what had happened.
"He said: 'It's Top Secret. It didn't happen.' I wanted to say, which is it? Top Secret or it didn't happen?"
When it was time for questions we stood in line at a microphone. I didn't catch where the first guy was from, but he said that he worked at "naval headquarters" during the Carter administration and remembered an officer telling him, "Do you know we have aliens on ice?"
The man said he had been contacted twice by aliens, both times in Santa Monica, Calif.
Another man got up to say that there is almost certain geological proof that two planet-wide nuclear wars have taken place on Earth.
"Do you have a question?" Hastings asked.
"Are you aware," the man said, "that the NSA was partially founded to monitor aliens?"
Hastings said he had heard the rumors about the NSA. And about the CIA.
A man who identified himself as "from Lancaster County" said the ability to combine human DNA with non-human DNA is not farfetched. Murder, he said, is the unlawful killing of a human being.
"Nowhere does it say it has to be 100 percent human," he said.
When my turn came, I addressed my question to Charles Halt, who in 1980 was the deputy commander at a U.S. base in the east of England. On Dec. 27, he was summoned to a forest near the base by a security team who had spotted strange lights. "Off in the forest was a bright glowing object," he said, "like a red, blinking eye dropping molten metal."
Was I right in hearing him say that he'd had a camera? What became of the photos?
The film came back fogged, he said.
I grabbed a cookie on the way out.