Do you, like me, enjoy taking long walks every day? And on those long walks do you, like me, enjoy listening to an NPR podcast, perhaps Fresh Air with Terry Gross, while taking those long walks? Of course you do! And don’t you, like me, find Terry Gross’ painfully NPR-y voice to be a soothing accompaniment to the sounds of nature, birds chirping and whatnot, that you encounter on your walks? Surely you do. I mean, who doesn’t?
So yesterday I was taking one of my long walks when I clicked on to the latest Fresh Air podcast, thinking that it’d be a discussion about wine, The Wire, someone’s autobiography, Mad Men, etc. — you know, the usual stuff — but it wasn’t and HOLY CRAP WAS I BLOWN AWAY!
Terry’s guest on the show was Annie Jacobsen, a national security writer for the Los Angeles Times, who was on to discuss her new book, “Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base.” Like she apparently does in the book, Jacobson spent the majority of the discussion detailing some of the amazing technological advancements the military and the CIA have made at the secret compound — so secret that the U.S. government doesn’t even acknowledge its existence — over the years. Having plowed through thousands of newly declassified documents and interviewed dozens of aging scientists who worked there, Jacbsen also delves into some of the shady, unethical nuclear experiments that she says have taken place at Area 51, including an experiment that led to a nuke being detonated near the earth’s ozone layer to see if it would make a hole in it (I mean, like, really U.S government?! Really?). But she notes that the work done there, though not for the faint of heart, “absolutely kept America safer and kept us out of nuclear war and kept us from a number of other incidents.” She also added that the research and development done at Area 51 moved “technology and science faster and further than any other nation.”
And then she got to the part about the “Roswell Incident” and WHOA! Are you sitting down? No, I’m serious…are you freaking sitting down?
Okay, so the best way to set this up is to say that, according to a former Area 51 scientist Jacobson insists is an unimpeachable source, there were these two German aerospace designers who were brothers, Walter and Reimar Horten, and those guys had developed a “flying disc” spyplane for Hitler during the glory days of the Third Reich. At some point either during or after World War II, the Soviets apparently came into possession of the German’s flying disc technology, and they’d also taken in Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Nazi “Angel of Death” infamous for his grotesque human experiments. Now I’ll let Jacobsen take it from there.
From the transcript…
…A flying disc really did crash in New Mexico. And it was transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and then in 1951 it was transferred to Area 51, which is why the base is called Area 51. And the stunning part about this reveal was that my source, who I absolutely believe and worked with for 18 months on this, was one of the engineers who received the equipment – he refers to it as equipment – and he also received the people who were in the craft. And so…
GROSS: Do you mean the remains of the people in the craft?
Ms. JACOBSEN: The people were – according to the source – the people in the craft who were child-sized pilots, and there’s a lot of debate about how old they were. He believes that they were 13, although other people believe that they may have been older … And what he says is that the child-sized aviators in this craft were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program, and they had been made to look like aliens a la Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.”
When the Orson Welles radio broadcast “The War of the Worlds” aired in 1938, people on the East Coast actually took actions based on their belief that Martians had landed in New Jersey and were attacking. And this fascinated the American military – I source all this in my book – and led to a lot of behind-the-scenes thinking about what it meant that American citizens could be so moved by something that was fictional – that was science fiction. And across the pond, Hitler also paid attention to “The War of the Worlds.” He referenced it in a speech. And according to my source, Stalin also paid attention to “The War of the Worlds” and was fascinated by American susceptibility toward science fiction. And so his plan, according to my source, was to create panic in the United States with this belief that a UFO had landed with aliens inside of it.
GROSS: Mm-hmm. So you’re saying that these children were surgically altered.
Ms. JACOBSEN: I am repeating what the source told me is that…
GROSS: Right. That he’s saying. I’m sorry. He’s saying that they were surgically altered.
Ms. JACOBSEN: Yeah. Or genetically. It’s unclear. What he is absolutely clear about is that the iconic images that we have now of aliens with the big head and the nose and the eyes, that is actually what the child-size pilots looked like. And what I asked my source over and over again, where my skepticism came in was, why, originally in 1947, when this craft supposedly crashed with these grotesque humans in it, why on earth didn’t President Truman hold a press conference to show what a horrible, evil, abhorrent man Joseph Stalin was, to be working with Dr. Mengele?
And the source’s answer – which took a very long time – was ultimately: because we decided to do the same thing. And that the head of the program – who my source says was a man named Vannevar Bush, who had also been in charge of the Manhattan Project, decided that it was important to figure out what the Soviets had done. And so we began our own rogue program with human experiments. And this, says the source, is why it’s all secret.
So, to recap: a flying saucer type thing really did crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 with alien-looking beings inside of it, except that they weren’t aliens but were genetically or surgically altered Russian agents, and the U.S. then kept it all a secret because it then began conducting it’s own human experiments there.
Got it? Mind officially blown, right?
Just go listen to the podcast. The whole thing is a goddamn rollicking trip.