ADVERSELY AFFECTED THE ORDNANCE:
AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER ROBBINS, COAUTHOR OF LEFT AT EAST GATE
by Jim Martin
(Reprinted with the permission of Jim Martin. This interview was recorded at Crater Lake, Oregon, August 1997 and originally appeared in Flatland: A Review of Repressed and Secret Evidence, issue # 15, February 1998)
I won't divulge the details of what Larry Warren, as a young Air Force Security Police officer at Bentwaters USAFB in England, saw that night in December, 1980. Lots has been written about the incident, anyway. Most of the previous accounts are badly confused. As unbelievable as Larry Warren's story may sound, however movie-like, however dream-like, something happened, we know, since one of the commanders on duty at the base filed a report about the incident, which was subsequently released to the public by a Freedom of Information Act request. And yes, an audio tape recording of the scene was made public as well. Warren reports that video cameras were on site, but as yet, none of these have been released.
Larry Warren's story is replete with all the elements of zaniness: underground bases, Air Force officials in communication with aliens, men in black with dark sedans carrying New York plates (in England), lights in the sky, pagans in the woods, you name it. Besides all the bells-and-whistles, one government official admitted that the spacecraft witnessed by Larry Warren, and by scores of military officials, had somehow penetrated hardened nuclear missile bunkers and "adversely affected the ordinance." Don't you love militarese? "...Adversely affected the ordinance..."
Col. Corso's offering notwithstanding, Larry Warren and Peter Robbins' contribution, Left at Eastgate, remains the most important UFO book to appear in 1997. Unlike Corso's memoir of back-engineering the relics of Roswell, this book is fully documented.
The essence of this book is the process of investigation carried out by Warren's coauthor, Peter Robbins, as he tried to verify and analyze the evidence. I have respected Peter's work on UFOs for years, ever since I read his articles on "Wilhelm Reich and UFOs" when he gathered the published sightings, mostly multiple-witness or military incidents, those that the government affirmed as unexplained ever since the fifties. In those articles, Robbins showed that what Reich reported about UFOs was very similar to what everybody else was seeing, and reporting to the Air Force. Some of us feel that the Air Force had and has an interest in Reich's ideas about UFOs, energy and weather. It's not surprising, then, that Robbins found several people who attested to the use of Reich cloudbusters at Bentwaters AFB.
Left at Eastgate reveals the National Security Agency (NSA) as the main governmental entity behind the UFO cover-up, or, if you prefer, disinformation/collective fantasy/fairy tale. Peter Robbins soon found himself under the NSA's open scrutiny and covert harassment when he got deeper into the research. He also found himself a up-close and personal witness to strange doings at Bentwaters, and finally was forced to struggle with the fact that he was no longer an "objective observer." One of the most memorable passages of the book is the transcript of an audio tape of Larry and Peter, on a return visit to the site many years later, as they see and describe what appear to be UFOs buzzing around near Bentwaters. Peter just falls apart: the composed and objective UFO researcher gets his chance at direct observation and the experience leaves him speechless and gibbering.
Another big part of the book is the discussion of what happens to UFO witnesses who come forward and make public what they've seen, at great personal cost in terms of friends, job, and family. It's a stinging indictment of the ufological community and the "official" UFO interest groups, and you'll be wondering why anybody would bother to come forward at all.
Ten years in the making, Left at East Gate, an all-too-rare document in the lore of the alien visitation, has already gone through its first printing run.
Interview With Peter Robbins, coauthor of Left at East Gate
Conducted at Greensprings, August 10th, 1997
Q: Why do you consider the Bentwaters case more significant than the Roswell Case? What are the comparisons and what makes this a more clear case of alien contact?
A: Well, for starters, although I'm as convinced as most people are, that Roswell was a real event, there was indeed a crash of an unknown craft and that it was covered up, but as we sit here right now, Jim, it's fifty years since it happened. The principals involved are all deceased. All the witnesses are gone. The anecdotal material is compelling, but not definitive. The paper trail is not just cold, it's vaporized. The interference that's been run has been totally effective. And in a funny way, much like a bullfighter just moving the energy right past himself, the establishment has managed to so deeply acculturate "Roswell" as to negate its power and impact. It's part of American culture right now.
The Bentwaters/Woodbridge incident happened just over sixteen years ago. All the principals are still alive. There is a paper trail, a fair amount of which we were able to follow up and research for the book. There are multiple witnesses that have come forward with full or partial accounts. There are two new ones who have come forward since the book has come out, and four new civilians witnesses that I've spoken with in England since then as well. It is supported by physical evidence of several types that we've discussed. Ultimately the book is developed as the kind of case that you could bring to court. One of the greatest things that could come out of it is that it might serve as a springboard to re-convene a serious Congressional investigation; we haven't had one in decades. The book gives information about the case that could lead to subpoenas.
We're closer to the mark, there's less anecdotal and more real evidence than in the Roswell case. It's just waiting to happen.
Q: In the sense that this was much more of an international event than Roswell, how do you think the Bentwaters case affects US-British diplomatic relations?
A: In terms of the nuclear treaty violation, the children do not inherit the sins of the parents. This was a Carter-era incident, and it doesn't have anything to do with the current administration. Where there's a potential problem, it's with the National Security Agency. As we know, they are the most secret intelligence agency this nation has ever chartered. The actual charter is classified. Their mandate, their reason for being is classified. What their employees do is classified. The NSA's "black budget" is classified.
The way things stand now, with the break-up of the Cold War and the loss of the Soviet threat, a good deal of the NSA's perceived mandate has evaporated. That leaves them with a problem. They are still in England, sitting on several billion dollars worth of sophisticated listening posts, sharing certain facilities with British Telecom, and monitoring every bit of communication they'd like. There is no Congressional oversight, no British oversight. The President of the United States only knows what he is cleared to know about the NSA.
Q: Which wouldn't be much, right now...
A: Not much at all.... Sadly, this is emblematic of the fact that, our democracy - this amazing, flawed, wonderful 220-year-old experiment - is floundering. There is no question that secrecy has become the state religion of both countries. I am an optimist, but I don't know if it can be reversed. We the People are not in the equation.
Q: You document your experience of being surveyed and harassed by the NSA in your book. How did you move past that to continue the work. There's a lot of paranoia associated with this type of research; some people even get paranoid just buying a book about it. What resources did you draw upon, what changes did you go through, to push forward?
A: Boy, that's a good question. The changes gone through were manifest. I understood, as it started to hit me how deeply involved I had gotten myself, that I had free choice here. I could walk away from the project, and in fact, I did for quite a number of months in 1988. But a combination of things fused my resolve and made me to some degree just as headstrong as my coauthor, Larry Warren, who had a much more personal reason for being that way. One was, I mean, it's going to sound so corny, but I grew up to understand certain things about this country, and I love this country, and I hate certain aspects of what happens here and how it functions. Number one, I was irate when I realized that young American airmen had been, basically, mind-fucked, to keep them quiet. Number two, being a quarter-British by a quirk of fate, I do feel some real connection to that country, and there was a very real possibility of a nuclear tragedy over there, because of this incident. At the very least, we lied, we had a major amount of nuclear ordinance there in violation of our treaty with Her Majesty's Government, struck me as profoundly wrong. As readers will learn in the book, Larry had been approached several times by the NSA, and at the last time, we were already starting to work on the book, and he was informed that a fairly routine background check had been done on me, and they had no feeling one way or another, whether he should work with me. I was horrified, frightened and enraged that they had done this to me. It just all kind of melted down and I realized that my teeth were severely on this stick.
If there was an ultimate catalyst, it was seeing for myself with Larry, a multiple UFO incident, on location, on our first trip to England, about five miles from the original site at Bentwaters. I lost my objectivity at that point. My hope to write an objective non-fiction book just had the rug pulled out from under it. I was now going to have to deal with myself in the book as a character in the story. And it was about as comfortable to have to write about my own feelings and experiences as it was to pull my own teeth out with pliers. I was much more comfortable at the NY Public Library pulling out archival material.
I found a way to make it exciting again for myself, and realized that if I walked away from it, I don't know if I'd ever be able to take on another serious project without self-doubt. I don't advise this as a career track. It was reckless, it was imprudent economically, and it was isolating. I am a very social person and I'm lucky enough to have a lot of people in my life that I care about, and they really care about me. I isolated from a lot of them over the years. Some of them, irreconcilably, but most of them, thank God, not.
Q: There was a sense of anger against the forces that were working against the completion of this book...
A: It's a very compelling force to get the job done. It really is. You realize that the myth that a lot of us were taught, that society and culture and history is changed by mass movements - certainly that has truth to it, but individuals in their own ways do impact on great social change and perception shifts. What Larry and I accomplished in this book was beyond the wildest imaginings of either of us. The results are what we begin to see now as this book begins to move out American and English readers.
Q: One of the most interesting parts of the book was what happened to Larry Warren when he initially came forward with his story, and how he was treated by the UFO "experts" -not the debunkers, but the buffs. What happens to a person who comes forth with a story like that.
A: Folks don't get into UFO research because they earn a degree from a university in UFOs. There one of two reasons they become involved: either it intellectually captivates them, which is as good a reason as any, or because they have had a sighting or experience, or somebody close to them has. It's had a real impact on their lives. There are no rules or bylaws to investigate UFOs. Those of us in the field approach it in two different ways. Some join organizations, subscribe to newsletters, and work out of an organizational structure. Others of us do it independently. There's no such thing as total independence, of course. As the acknowledgments in our book attest, there is a long list of individuals who helped me as a researcher and helped us as we moved forward, and without whom this book would not be what it is. But it was not done in tandem with any organizational assistance.
I have a very solid code of ethics that governs my behavior as a person and my behavior as a researcher. I'm proud to say that in a decade's worth of investigation on this one case, I did not betray a single confidence or break a single agreement with one outstanding exception which is discussed at some length in the conclusion of the book. It has to do with character. If you approach this in a skeevy or squirrely way and you put the case first, above people, the fact is that you may get more information, you may produce a more compelling article or book, but somebody will suffer for it and it won't be you. Unfortunately there's a tendency among many researchers who think of people who come forward, and have the courage to say "this happened to me, I'm willing to talk to you about it, here's my story" - these people are a bit disposable.
There's sort of a double ethic here. Some researchers will run a facade of serious interest in witness, but on the other hand they categorize people, like, "here's another abductee, this one saw a deltoid over his house - how many have you got?" "Oh, yeah I got one of those too." They don't put the people first.
I put people first. The book could have been stronger, if I had been maybe a little bit less ethical. Boy, there were several episodes that came to me that I honestly I would have been willing to commit a felony if I could have gotten these people to allow me to publish what they said. One of them in particular absolutely took the top of my head off with an amazing aspect of this phenomenon at Bentwaters.
Now, when Larry got involved in this, we were in another time when MUFON, for example, and I can't say that it was a party-line, but the prevalent feeling, underscored by their administration, was that yes, UFOs are real, they come and they go, they're machines under intelligent control, but let us not really get into what is really going on inside of them. The beings who are piloting these machines, that's far out. Any organization can rigidify. I like Walt Andrews as a person, he seems like a nice man. As far as I know he's never said anything against me, and sent me a note or two of encouragement when I started. But I wonder why Larry Warren was cut off at the MUFON conference of 1987. You just can't censor someone because of their style, or their attitude, or that they're not a comfortable person to be around. That's what I sensed happening. MUFON has never addressed this case in the last ten years. They have not reviewed our book. I would rather have an honest, unflattering review than be ignored. It's not that way with the affiliate organizations. I was graciously received by many local groups and told to continue fighting the good fight. It hurt Larry and it made me angry to be treated this way. It makes no sense, because supposedly we're all in this for the same reason.
Organizations, if they're going to serve their members, need to be flexible and adjust as things move forward. As we know, organizations - and I'm not just aiming this at MUFON, for the record - are as capable of pathology and neurosis as individuals. If we lived in a perfect world, where an organization, be it a political party, a corporation, a study group or what have you, could self-perceive that it was going off its original principles and dreams, it should dissolve or reorganize. Unfortunately it hasn't worked like that. It's human nature.
Really, we have been ignored by UFO groups and publications in the United States, and it's a shame because it's an important book. Part of the reason is that we have had the audacity to co-write a book where the first time, a fully-authentic military witness who is articulate and intelligent, who knows how to write has written a very moving and solid account of what happened to him - and had the nerve to add extraneous material that's not strictly UFO stuff. It's the old Jack Webb line, "Just the facts, Ma'am." There are the facts, but it's also who this person was when the incident happened. We get to meet him growing up, have some idea of who he was as a kid, how he matured as a teenager, and we follow along after and see how this impacted on relationships. If anything, Jack Webb is me. I'm the neutral voice of information and I weave my way throughout his account. It's not until half-way through the book that you meet me as a character, so there are three voices in the book. It goes against all the rules of a so-called "UFO book." The fact is, we didn't write it for people who are UFO buffs. We hope everyone that's interested in UFO studies, researchers or folks who just want to learn more about it, gets our book and reads it. But we wrote it for your mother, my uncle, for the janitor, for the junior high school student, for the retired person. We wrote our book for people. Unfortunately, that has made it an "outsider" book in the field of UFO studies.
Q: Do you ever get the sense that people who are heavily invested in the UFO scene are somehow defending themselves against something, defending themselves against, I don't know what, maybe a touch with the cosmic? Or defending themselves against the reality of UFOs?
A: In specific areas of study, individuals use intellect as a defense either against feeling or against something that is undisclosed. First of all, if we get to the bottom of this mystery, and there is "an answer" it means Ufology is out of business. So there's a real problem with pursuing problems fully through to closure. Second, if you actually leave yourself open to what the hell this really represents, and your not a terribly armored person, you're in for a real emotional roller coaster. If what we're dealing with is real as I maintain it is, as millions of people do from either an intellectual point of view or an experiential one ..... number one, we're bugs. Tiny specks in the great cosmos of things. It makes you feel, especially if there's a little insecurity in you, it's enough to sweep you off the map. However, if you are in contact with the fact that we're all part of this extraordinary sweep of life, of creation, and I'm not mystifying here, just talking points of physics, it's terribly exciting and it's anxiety-provoking too. Dealing with your own anxiety without dumping it on someone else is crucial to this work, to do it properly.
Q: You work with Budd Hopkins, and it's my understanding that people like John Mack and Budd Hopkins are using some type of "orgone therapy" as far as I can tell, or something related to Reich's therapeutic technique. They elicit a kind of catharsis to work through repressed memories. Do you think there is a relationship the way Budd in particular handles abductees?
A: I can only speak about Budd Hopkins, since I only met John Mack a couple of times. No, I don't think there is any connection. Budd is not a therapist, and he's the first one to say so. His methodology is such that he's got a great intellect, he cares about people, he's tremendously curious and he's a remarkably ethical and straightforward regressive hypnotist who knows how to walk that line - and this is an area where I have heard him so irrationally and inappropriately criticized and I stake my reputation on what I'm about to say here as far as my perception of his work - what he does is explore in terms of interview a person who feels they may have had an abduction experience as we call it. If the person wants to pursue it on a deeper level - and many of these people come to him with complete memories of what happened and a majority have partial memories - I cannot imagine a method that is more above-board, un-mystical, with questions that do not lead the individual than Budd's. This is something I have seen violated over and over again among pseudo-therapists, irresponsible practitioners who have an agenda.
If there is something therapeutic in following through and exploring what may be a very frightening episode in your life, in an atmosphere where you feel safe and you are respected, there is a therapeutic by-product, but that is up to the individual taking more responsibility for their life, coming through the fear, realizing that no matter what has happened or what may happen again, it's not going to get in the way of them living their life, and moving forward. That for me is transformational, and inspiring. Again, the therapeutic result is a by-product. I would expect somebody at Dr. Mack's level of the game, a psychiatrist, to practice therapy as such, but Budd is a natural. He cares and he really does a lot of good for a lot of people. He doesn't take any money for it.
Q: I still have questions about this whole area of hypnotic regression and alien abductions, not so much skepticism but I'm curious about the idea of "repressed memory". When somebody has a traumatic experience there is a tendency to forget it. I believe that you had a similar experience when you were growing up.
A: I had a sighting when I was fourteen years old at a time when there was no peer acceptance of this at all. It was 1961, for goodness sakes. All I knew was if I talked about this I would be laughed out of my junior high school. All I wanted when I was fourteen was some cool clothes and to get my hands on a girl. My ticket was going to be cancelled if I said I saw flying saucers over the neighbor's house. Can it be that simple? Yes, sometimes it can.