The subject of this blog is a new book by Larry Holcombe, "The President and UFOs: A secret history from FDR to Obama." St Martin's Press. New York. ISBN 978-1-250-04051-0.
How did he come to write the book?
In the introduction, we learn that Holcombe became interested in the subject in 1960, by reading Donald Keyhoe's books and seeing him on television. "Since that night in 1960 I have watched from the sideline's as the UFO story unfolded and the evidence mounted." (p.3.)
In 2008, working on a UFO based novel, led Holcombe to "..study a great amount of UFO-related material that included declassified documents, leaked documents, new stories, articles and TV documentaries."(p.4.)
By 2011 Holcombe had met and discussed his interest with a number of well known researchers. From an initial idea ...for a book on the background of making the documentary with Bob Emenegger...the idea for developing a complete history of presidential involvement in the UFO issue evolved." (p.19.)
What are the aims of the book?
Speaking of Stephen Bassett. "For his continuing and tireless efforts towards disclosure, my hat is off to him. It is also one of the purposes of my work with this book." (p239.)
The format of the book:
Chapters deal with one US presidential administrations (the exception being chapter one which covers both the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.) In a chapter, we learn information about each president; set against the issues of their day. In addition, the author provides details of the more interesting UAP cases from those years. As an example I will illustrate this by taking a look at chapter 10 which covers the Clinton administration.
Assistant Attorney General Webster Hubble in his book "Friends in High Places" in part reads "...states that early in his administration Clinton asked him to look into two things: who killed John F. Kennedy and what the government really knows about UFOs." (p.211.)
The author cites the November 1995 Clinton visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland and his reply to a young man who inquired about Roswell. "Clinton's reply, made with a humorous tilt was, "Now Ryan if you are out in the crowd tonight, here's the answer to your question. No, as far as I know, an alien spacecraft did not crash in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. And Ryan, if the United States Air Force did recover alien bodies, they didn't tell me about it, either, and I want to know." (pp211-212.)
Clinton's 2005 Hong Kong interview about Roswell and UFOs "...he stated that he thought Roswell 'an illusion, I don't think it happened." (p.212.)
Also recounted, is the initiative by Laurence Rockefeller to "...have the government, or in particular, the Clinton administration, to disclose closely held UFO secrets." (p.213.)
The chapter goes on to discuss the 1997 Phoenix Lights; the 1994 Ohio sightings, and the 2000 southern Illinois sightings.
Research and analysis:
Unlike some researchers, Holcombe has conducted his own research into particular aspects of the phenomenon. Examples include one where Dr Bob Wood relayed a story that a Douglas test pilot called May had taken up an X-15 aircraft with 15 minutes of fuel but didn't land until three hours later. "In checking this story, I found that Gene May was a Douglas test pilot from 1941-1952, but never was involved in, or flew the X-15." (p.171.)
Holcombe visited various Presidential Libraries, but this research actually failed to substantiate a lot of the rumours and speculation which he writes about in this book, for example:
"Nixon's interest in the UFO phenomena has been rumoured for years but really had little solid data to back it up." (p.147.)
"Johnson's deep interest in space is unquestioned but little of consequence has been uncovered by my research, or the research of others in the Johnson library in Austin." (p.143.)
On George H W Bush. "I spent two days at the Bush Library in College Station, Texas, and with the help of an archivist, could not find a hint that President Bush was on the inside of UFO-related issues." (p.185.)
"It is well known that a number of well-reported flying saucer events took place during the Truman administration. However, memos and correspondence from or to the White house on the subject are difficult to find to the point of being all but non existent." (p.34.)
While I acknowledge Holcombe's sections where he has conducted his own research, there are numerous instances where even he admits he is speculating. Examples are:
In chapter four, the Johnson administration, the author of the power "...of the presidency over UFO issues...taken over by the intelligence community, the military and the military-industrial complex." (p.117.)The author then goes on to say "This shift in power, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of the entire and complex UFO story. Although it is pure speculation..." (p.117.)
Referring to the Kecksburg incident "One of these teams may well have been involved in the Kecksburg incident with Blue Book personnel playing an unwitting role. Of course, this is all speculation." (p.143.)
On the Phoenix lights. "It is also possible that NORAD could have been aware of the Phoenix objects and the military was alerted. This, of course, is all speculation." (pp 219-.220.)
Speaking of Robert Bigelow. "More recently, Bigelow has become more deeply involved in UFO issues and may have been brought into the loop of UFO insiders, although that is speculation." (p.319.)
What are Holcombe's own views?
"It has been proven through the release of FOIA documents that the government has in fact remained deeply involved in the UFO issue." (p.154.)
"In looking at the Ford administration, we must also take into account that once becoming vice-president and then president, Jerry Ford, a man who had seven years prior been a moving force in congress to investigate what the government knew about UFOs became a clam on UFO issues. Is there a pattern here with Ford, then Carter and Clinton?...With Carter and later Clinton they were most likely considered risks by the keepers of the secret and kept out of the loop of UFO government intelligence."(p.180.)
Speaking of the 2006 O'Hare airport sighting, "This is yet another example that fuels the conspiracy theorists' belief that somewhere deep within the government, out of reach of even the president of the United States, there exists a powerful group that has an iron grip on the disclosure of UFO events." (p.202.)
On the involvement of science in the subject. "We must have increasing participation within the scientific community and reasonable scientific discussion, putting aside the stigma that UFOs are voodoo science before any real advances can be made in understanding the real nature of the UFO phenomenon." (p.210.)
"...one basic thesis of this book that discuses a paradigm shift with control of extra-terrestrial secrets from presidents to a select small group of government bureaucrats and certain leaders within the military-industrial complex." (p.213.)
On the subject of "Disclosure." "Disclosure would not be a pretty picture to a number of powerful people and a reason, I believe, that presidents are gently, or if necessary, forcibly told to stay away from the issue." (p.215.)
"Not being a scientist, I personally still embrace Occam's razor, which directs me to the ETH." (p.271.)
On the subject of a UFO information "control group." There was or is a control group buried within CIA counterintelligence or a part of CIA counterintelligence that has operational control over UFO issues." (p.272.)
"My great disappointment is in the realization that my government, or rather a small group that consists of high-level government bureaucrats and a select few in industry, have taken control of this scientific phenomena and have been successful in concealing it from the public with disinformation, threats and lies." (p.276.)
"I am advocating that our government discloses the existence of an extra-terrestrial presence..." (p.277.)
Chapter 13, "The Abduction Phenomenon" seems to have no link at all to the theme of presidents and UFOs at all. In fact most of the chapter presents the views of one researcher, MUFON's Kathleen Marden.
I was hoping that this book would present volumes of new information, based on personal research. Instead, I found many of the same tired stories which have been circulating for years, with little hard data to back them up. In instances where Holcombe visited libraries and conducted his own research he found almost nothing to back up the hypothesis he was building up in the book. This doesn't seem to deter him. If there is no hard evidence, it must be buried deeper still, out of our reach.
Like many American researchers, Holcombe fails to acknowledge that there is a Ufology outside of the USA. If there is a conspiracy to control UFO information there should be evidence on a global level, yet he fails to take a look at countries such as France and Chile, both of whom have a long list of excellent cases and open government involvement.