In 1950, the FBI told Director J. Edgar Hoover that three large flying saucers containing alien cosmonauts were recovered in New Mexico. The FBI has finally explained the memo about the saucer sent to Hoover — and, however inadvertently, provided a clinic in how to assess a secret intelligence report.
The FBI’s basic message in its recent explanation: Calm down. The FBI never discovered any evidence of extraterrestrial visitation. Hoover was a paranoid maniac willing to peddle wild accusations about secret hordes of communist terrorists, but even he stopped investigating UFOs four months after receiving the account from Washington-based Special Agent-in-Charge Guy Hottel. “Our Washington Field Office didn’t think enough of that flying saucer story to look into it,” the FBI’s new explanation reads. (Hat tip: i09.)
There’s a lesson in that explanation for how to assess intelligence reports. It starts with looking at what the report actually says — which is not the same thing as looking at what the report claims.
You can see why the FBI would feel the need to put this in context. “An investigator from the Air Force reported that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico,” Hottel wrote Hoover on March 22, 1950. “They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 meters in diameter.” Inside were Jawa-like creatures, “three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture,” which Hottel’s source analogized to test pilot blackout suits. And according to Hottel’s “informant,” whose name is blacked out, high-powered government radar arrays in New Mexico are “believed [to interfere] with the controlling mechanism of the saucers.”
Everything in that description gives you reason to disbelieve Hottel’s memo, even if it weren’t about flying saucers. Ignore the content. Imagine Hottel was writing about someone buying milk. It would still be a dubious intelligence report.
Here’s why. Hottel didn’t see the flying saucer or the Jawas within. His informant didn’t see the flying saucer. The informant isn’t the Air Force investigator. There’s no reason to believe from the memo that Hottel ever talked to the Air Force investigator — and the use of the passive voice (“had been recovered”) suggests that even if Hottel had, the Air Force investigator never actually saw the saucers himself. The explanation for why the mysterious radars caused the saucer to lose control provides no assessment of its credibility. Plus, Hottel was based in Washington, thousands of miles from where the incident allegedly took place, and concedes, “No further evaluation was attempted.”
There are lots of so-called “raw” intelligence reports like this. You can go through tons of them in the CIA’s reading room. (Whose website asks, incidentally, “Do UFOs fascinate you?”) On their own, many of them are as lurid as they are unverified. Sexy as secret intelligence reports sound, just because an intelligence or investigative agency writes up a report like that does not mean the agency vouches for the credibility of such reports. Former CIA analyst Nada Bakos recently recalled for Danger Room the shoddiness of intelligence ahead of the Iraq war that resulted in part from policymakers mining raw reports for evidence to suit their pet theories.
source - http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/04/fbi-ufo/