JOHN KELLY'S WASHINGTON
UFO visits? Hmmm. Cookies? Yummm.
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.