Published in Steamshovel Press, January? 1995.
A: There's a claim by a widow and several anonymous workers at the secret base. The federal government had been burning highly toxic materials from the Stealth program in the 1970s and 80s. None of the usual environmental safeguards were observed. The materials which were used to coat the Stealth aircraft were dumped into pits and simply burned. Now the widow claims that her husband died as a result and other workers at the base claim that they were injured as a result. For all appearances, it's a standard hazardous waste case. What's unusual about this one is that the base doesn't officially exist. How can you sue a facility that isn't there? This is the challenge for the legal team right now.
Q: Who exactly are they suing? The Air Force?
A: It's a very complicated process. There's a strategy involved, apparently. They have sued the EPA for one thing. They sued the EPA for not enforcing the environmental laws. They have also sued the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of Defense and the head of the CIA and National Security Council. Apparently, it got a lot of attention in Washington. It is at the very early part of the process right now.
Q: CBS recently did a report on this in which it mentioned testimony to be given by some KGB agents concerning the base, probably trying to establish its existence.
A: We're in what is called "discovery", the process of exchanging information between the two sides of the legal case. The question now is: will the government admit that there is a base? If they do not admit that there is a base there, the lawyers filing the case have to trot out all this evidence showing that it does indeed exist and that would probably include Soviet satellite imagery, pictures that you can get of the base from public land, as well as testimony of witnesses.
Q: This report on CBS was a long report, an overview of what is known about Area 51, even to the point where it said that all of the major media programs have done something on the topic. It even showed Larry King, and I know you were on Larry King's program devoted to Area 51. But during the entire report, UFOs were not mentioned once. Do you expect in this legal action that any of this information or suspicion, or whatever you want to say about the UFO rumors, do you expect any of that to make it into court?
A: I doubt it seriously. The court environment, the legal environment is very conservative. You're going to be working with the status quo and working with normal legal procedures. Even if there are aliens or UFOs out there, that has nothing to do with the hazardous waste disposal here. This is strictly earthly law and earthy concern. Of course, everybody is interested in the UFO stories and that somehow gets into it somewhere.
Q: Let's get your perspective on all the UFO stories. These stories include claims by Bob Lazar, the scientist who supposedly defected from the program and told the world about back-engineering extraterrestrial craft, John Lear and Bill Cooper, all these people weaving stories about UFO activity there. What do you think about all that?
A: It's a fantastic soup of claims. Because no one really knows what is going on out there, the imagination tends to fill the void. Anything that you're seeking must in fact be out there. There are credible stories. There are a lot of incredible stories. The trick here is when someone like myself comes in to this mess and tries to sort it all out, what makes sense. Among the things that do seem to make some sense is the story of Bob Lazar. It's by no means proven and it's still very unclear whether he's telling the truth, but it's a story that holds together well. Bob Lazar claims that he, as a scientist, worked at the secret US government facility just south of Area 51. He helped dissect and reverse-engineered the propulsion systems of alien space craft. Now you can take this any way you want, but most of the frauds I have encountered in other circumstances tend to have much more expansive stories and their stories change with time. This is a nice, seemingly solid story that hasn't changed in five or six years. I don't know what to think.
Q: I know that Stanton Friedman has looked into Lazar's background and has real problems with many of the claims he has made. Lazar claims that his background has been systematically eliminated from the record.
A: I certainly don't believe that. He does claim to have gone to MIT and Cal Tech. There are no records and no one there can possibly confirm what he is saying. I believe that he has lied about his educational credentials, which certainly damages the rest of his testimony. I wouldn't say that it proves that it's false, however. A lot of people tend to support or reject Lazar based on really very trivial evidence that doesn't bear directly on the story. To me it's till an open case. I'm not willing to dismiss it. The questions is, what can you do with it? And you can't do much because it's just one man's story. I do seem to hear second-hand stories from elsewhere that confirm what he's saying, and that's what makes it intriguing.
Q: Of course, you have spent a lot of time doing field research and I guess with a regular routine, going out and viewing what's going on in the skies there. Have you seen anything like the dramatic right turn angles, or anything that defies the laws of physics?
A: No, I have seen nothing unusual, nothing I can't explain. People from far away don't understand that where I am sitting now in Rachel, Nevada is under a major war zone. This is the Nellis range complex, where we have a lot of very intense war games and all the phenomena that you see in war, like flares and dogfights, and very extreme maneuvers are going to be demonstrated here. But I haven't seen anything that I would call a UFO and frankly I am not expecting to see anything, even if the stories are true.
Q: How so? If the stories are true then certainly you should see something.
A: We're talking about a very subtle phenomenon, something that has been kept essentially secret for forty odd years, since the Roswell crash. There is apparently some intelligence involved. If the these aliens don't want to be noticed, they seem to be doing the right things to not be noticed. I think that especially in a place like this that has been well publicized, they're certainly not going to do things the same way as if no one was here at all. I think these are intelligent people. If you believe the Lazar story that the government has alien craft, they're going to be intelligent about it. They are not going to put them on display.
Q: One countervailing theory is that people like Lear and Cooper and Lazar are actually operating as disinformationists, that there is a lot of terrestrial but very secret technology being tested out there and that these people inject all these stories of extraterrestrialism to try to make the whole thing look absurd, to keep people looking away.
A: I don't really believe that. I don't believe that there is this vast disinformation plot, even if there are saucers out there. I just don't think the government could pull off that sort of complex thing. I know many of these personalities involved here and I can see that they are not government agents. They are human beings doing their own thing and very often screwing themselves up. I don't see the government plot there. It could be. I assume the simplest theory and I have nothing at all to support any government intervention.
Q: Are you familiar with someone named Gordon Novel?
A: No, I am not.
Q: So when Bob Lazar is arrested for procurement...
A: He was arrested for some involvement with a brothel.
Q: You don't have any suspicion that it was a set up?
A: No. He says himself it was his won fault. People do this, this inquiry into UFOs is really a human inquiry because you're looking at witnesses, what you can believe and disbelieve about witnesses. The trouble with human witnesses is that they are imperfect. You look at anyone closely enough, you will see pimples, you will see flaws. And I think that certainly these flaws of Lazar's involving the brothel are his own doing. Perhaps government intervention might make him be prosecuted where he wouldn't otherwise be. But that's just the penalty of being in the limelight.
Q: How did your interest develop and how did you come to be in Rachel, Nevada?
A: I came here interested in the UFO tales. About a year before I came here I got interested in the UFO literature and read up on all these cases. There was a claim made that you could come to this lonely location on a remote highway near Rachel on any Wednesday night and see flying saucers on demand. This was just too specific to pass up. It's something that could be proven or disproven. So I made a junket out here to Las Vegas and spent some nights looking in the sky and saw some fantastic things which I came to understand were flares and other things connected to war games. They could be UFOs if you're looking for them. In the process, I became intrigued with the whole mystery and found that it was deeper than just seeing things in the sky. There indeed was a non-existent secret base out here. The Groom Lake base. That itself is a fascinating phenomenon, sort of like peering at the old Berlin Wall when there was one. I started writing the book, the Area 51 Guide, just the facts that I could pin down to help other people who were coming in my footsteps. That became a big project and eventually drew me out here to stay permanently.
Q: Where are you from?
A: From Boston. I used to be a computer programmer.
Q: Rachel is very small community.
A: A cluster of mobile homes in the desert. We're about 150 road miles from Las Vegas and that's how far you have to go for your grocery shopping.
Q: What do you have there, a little survivalist camp or what?
A: I live in the lap of luxury here. I've got a satellite dish and a mobile home and another one for my research center. I've got all the comforts of home. I've got an internet connection, too.
Q: You do an electronic newsletter called Groom Lake Desert Rat, and the internet address is email@example.com. You're right down the street from the Little A'Le'Inn.
A: Yes. The center of the UFO universe. A special part of the universe where all UFO stories are real.
Q: When I went out there with a news crew from one of the local television places, I ran into someone I guess you consider a nemesis, Sean David Morton.
A: Oh, evil, evil.
Q: In his defense, he saw some of things we saw that night and in every instance he was insistent that these were just flares, nothing extraterrestrial. Above and beyond that, Sean is one of those who takes people out there on tours. You have said in Groom Lake Desert Rat that he points to the landing lights of the commuter jets coming and he calls those saucers and he charges people $90 a pop for the tour. If this is true, do you begrudge him that, if people are that foolish?
A: I haven't seen him here in some time, in over a year in fact. He hasn't been here with his tours because I have done my best to shoo him away. With Sean, he could have some good information here and there. The problem is that he's like the boy who cried wolf. He sees UFOs everywhere and he has his finger dabbling into every New Age fad. He's not only, in his words, "the world's foremost UFO researcher", he dabbles in psychic phenomena, he's a prophet, he supposedly accurately predicts earthquakes and detects ghosts. I personally consider him a charlatan. That doesn't mean a charlatan can't have the truth some times. But when you spout so much nonsense, it's hard to find that truth.
Q: Do you have a chance to look at what he's saying and pull out from what you know, compare that to the reality you know, and actually learn something?
A: I have his books and read articles. I've read some of his recent articles on Area 51. I find them so rife with errors that even if there is a gem of truth there, he doesn't support, doesn't say where this information comes from, he doesn't give references. The UFO field is full of people who make fantastic claims and don't try to back them up. I don't begrudge them that. The people, for example, who have psychic access to certain information that I don't have--it may be true. As a scientist, I have to rely on things that can be confirmed. Although I'm looking for things that are alien that are probably beyond our current knowledge, that doesn't mean you can abandon the scientific method.
Q: What is the status of the land grab there, the 4000 acres they were trying to take away?
A: I predict that not too long after the new year, that particular land will be closed and you can't look down on the base so easily. There are still distant mountains you can climb and we'll be marking trails and putting that in the Viewer's Guide.
Q: Let me ask you about your legal case. Can you give me the particulars of that?
A: Sure. I tend to escort new crews and reporters around, that's kind of my job as public relations officer here, and I was out with a news crew from KNBC in Los Angeles. We went to the viewpoints, where they did not photograph the secret base, and on our way down we were stopped by the local sheriff's deputy, who sought to take our videotape based on a federal statute that says you can't photograph secret bases. I attempted to interfere with that process. I said, "No, you don't have a warrant. You can't seize our tape." And I reached over and locked the doors of the car when the deputy was trying to seize. That immediately got me arrested for obstruction. This case has been pending for about four or five months. It will eventually go to trial at the end of this month. I expect to defend myself and at least raise a stink. If I am convicted, we're talking about a few hundred dollars fine.
Q: What is your defense?
A: First of all, the seizure was illegal. One has a right to, for example, lock the doors of one's house if a deputy comes in to conduct a search and seizure. This is a fundamental right, to not suffer a search or seizure without a warrant. There are a number of other points in my defense. I think that in any real world court, in the outside world, outside of Lincoln County, I don't think this would ever get to court.
Q: I'm fishing around for the possibility that any of the legal cases that involve the base could somehow, directly or indirectly, bring some light to the rumors.
A: Certainly the hazardous waste case is the most powerful tool we've had yet. What you want to get at, and I think what all of America wants to get at, is to reduce the secrecy here. If everyone knows there's a secret base out there, the government should admit it and it should be at least subject to the same laws as the rest of the country. We're not saying that everything out there has to be exposed, but there just needs to be a little bit more openness. This is what this hazardous waste case will do. It will force the government to at least admit that there is a base there. And at that point some more of the normal democratic processes can take place. All this is going to eventually help the UFO problem. The problem with UFOs here is that no one talks about the place at all. If you were to get people, former employees that, say, worked there twenty years ago, saying they can talk about what they have done there. Then eventually if there is anything exotic there, that will come out as well. It's a long process of prying open the doors here. It's not going to happen overnight. I know of at least two workers who have talked about alien craft, or talked about something that directly implies alien craft. These are solid people, not out to make a show of themselves and I find that very interesting.
I have a feeling that if any of this is true, it will collapse in a big way, all of a sudden. I don't think it's a matter of just chipping away at it. After you've chipped away at it enough, you reach a critical mass where things just fall apart, sort of like how the Soviet Union fell apart almost overnight. I think the same sort of thing could happen to UFO secrecy.
Glenn Campbell's Area 51 Viewer's Guide is available for $15 plus $2 postage from the Secrecy Oversight Council, HCR Box 38, Rachel, NV 89001. Mr. Campbell also makes available a free catalog of Area 51- related materials and produces the electronic newsletter Groom Desert Rat, available for an e-mail subscription request sent to psychospy @aol.com.
[Posted with permission]