The Two Deceptions

- by Don Ecsedy, April 1, 2014

(March 28, 2014. I’ve rewritten the Rhodes Photographs page, which can be gotten to from the Phoenix menu above. Images referred to here are to be found there)

Deception 1: The Cut Negative

Fugate’s report stating that there was only one negative available from Rhodes was received by AMC’s chief technical officer, Lewis Gust, with the negative. Gust noted that the negative had been “cut” and implies that what was cut from it might be “reference points” which would be the markers needed for the requested analysis. However, the Arizona Republic had published a print from the negative on July 9, 1947. It contained reference points. Fugate mentions reference points, but only for the second shot, for which he said there was only a print available. The reference points, which he wrote were on the second image, are actually found on the first (they appear to be there on the second as well, in the image used in the AF/Navy Analysis. Fugate does not refer to any “cut” negative.

Furthermore, in 1948, the Pentagon published (Top Secret) the Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the U.S. This included an image of the first photo showing all the reference points Fugate said were on the second (which has some treeline, as well, in the Pentagon print).

Fugate in 1949

When the Rhodes case was reopened in 1949, apparently on the advice of J. Allen Hynek, The CIC agent who interviewed Rhodes with the FBI agent Brower on July 29, 1947, was interviewed by AFOSI. Fugate was no longer in the military at this time.

“Mr. FUGATE said that the interview resulting in the Memorandum previously mentioned was a bit hazy in his mind. FUGATE said that he had been instructed to interview SUBJECT in the company of Special Agent BROWER of the FBI Office, Phoenix, Arizona.” (MAXW-PBB2-1262)

AFOSI requested and received Brower’s report from the FBI. His report contained information about Rhodes not found in Fugate’s report. Fugate’s report was focused on the sighting, but Brower collected personal information as well. His report includes Rhodes’ account of his employment by the Naval Ordnance Lab and Falcon Field, and his account of the interest in the sighting by the newspapers, radio stations, and wire services. None of this information appears in PBB own files. We have pages in the files from Brower’s report, but there is simply no indication anyone at project saucer read it. The CIC may have kept the information to themselves — or, as is evident, assign information in Brower’s report to Rhodes’ neighbors who, Aldrich reported, informed them about the NOL and Falcon Field, Fugate’s internal CIC report probably included all the information in Brower’s report, but we will never know. Note, as well, Brower did not report anything about an Honorary PhD. That is the one new thing AFOSI unearthed. It is also evidence the story did not exist before 1949.

Was Fugate’s memory so hazy as to occlude the disconnect between his report and what appears to be the actual case — that Rhodes delivered negatives to the Phoenix FBI office, not one negative and one print? Or was Fugate expecting something more in harmony with his report?

…Falls a Shadow

On August 30, the day after the interview, J. Edgar Hoover denies Lt Col Springer’s request for a joint interview of Rhodes (Springer had requested one to be held after the Labor Day weekend).

Whatever arrangements had been made by Brower and Fugate, Brower now had an over riding imperative, and Fugate would not know that. Besides Hoover’s order, there was the little matter of Fugate showing up at the FBI just like that, a day after Springer’s request. Fugate may not have known about that, either. Hoover’s “in spite of” comment indicates he thought there were odds the CIC would send an agent anyway ‘in spite of” his denial of the request, had it been received. As I”ve mentioned, Hoover had decades of experience working with army counter intelligence. Few if any civilians understood their behavior as well as he did.

Despite his hazy memory, CIC Special Agent Fugate remembered Brower’s name.

In 1950 Kenneth Arnold publishes a print of the first photo he wrote he had been given by A2 Hamilton Field and Lt Col. Springer in 1947 . This print is identical to the Pentagon’s in the Analysis. Some do not believe Arnold, but what were the alternatives to Springer? The Pentagon? One possibility is Rhodes himself. Another would be Palmer. I do not have evidence supporting either possibility. It doesn’t matter, though. What matters is these images are not cut.

I think the evidence is conclusive that a deliberately distressed copy of the negative was provided to AMC and to Project Sign.

Deception 2: The Photographic Specialties Letterhead

The evidence is circumstantial because I do not have the orders from Clingerman referred to by Captain Thomas Doyle in his cover to the 1949 CIC investigation of Rhodes’ “character”. He writes that Clingerman referred to the poor quality of the images, but that Rhodes’ letterhead refers to “photographic specialities”. The PBB files contain both Rhodes’ letterhead and business card. Neither refers to any kind of “specialities”. We note that Clingerman in 1948 had corresponded with both Rhodes and Larmore. Larmore owned a photo shop in Phoenix, Sunland Photo. If Larmore used Sunland letterhead, it may have included “photographic specialties” (Sunland’s ads did). Lacking both Clingerman’s orders and a Sunland letterhead, I have to label this deception’s evidence as circumstantial. The implication is that Clingerman through mischance or mendacity mixed together the Rhodes and Larmore letterheads with the result, along with the cut negative and poor processing, implied that Rhodes was something of a conman. I note, the CIC is involved in both deceptions.

The perpetrators of these deceptions appear to have targeted Rhodes himself rather than the photos. They did render the negative useless to AMC and Sign, and did keep the sharper second negative from them altogether, but do not imply anthing against them. Instead, they attack the photos through an attack on Rhodes character and skills, and that is how their opinion the case is a hoax is supported. I think this is strong evidence some unit in the USAF did not think this case a hoax.

We can also dismiss John A. Clinton’s opinion:

“…it is unreasonable to assume that sharp outlines such as appears on the negative, could be secured from an object at 2,000 feet, traveling 400 to 600 mph.”

The speeds, which had nothing to do with either photo, were taken from Fugate’s report. According to Rhodes the object in that photo was traveling approximately 100 mph, not 400-600 mph.

We can dismiss Dr Irving Langmuir’s opinion because it was preconditioned by the information from the two deceptions noted. Langmuir was a long time debunker of science quackery.

I think we can dismiss almost entirely the Project Blue Book case files on Rhodes except for Lewis Gust, and the correspondence involving Rhodes, Larmore, McCoy, and Clingerman, both of which are incomplete in the files and appear to have been cherry picked, not simply missing random pages. The FBI files from Brower and the Phoenix FBI office are suspect if they touch on what Rhodes is supposed to have been told by them regarding their disposition of his negatives. I have more faith in the work of news reporters and “witnesses” who do not appear to be involved in such devious shenanigans.

A Deception by Rhodes? The Mokler Sighting

- by Don Ecsedy, April 4, 2014

If you type: ‘”Harve Mokler” ufo’ in google search it will return one hit, which is to David Rudiak’s website:

Harve Mokler, El Paso City Building Inspector, and four others in his car reported seeing two “flying discs” just above White Sands Proving Ground while driving back to El Paso. Mokler said he happened to look back while driving through the Organ Mountain pass to see them hovering over the Proving Ground. They appeared almost to be almost stationary for a minute, then darted out of sight. He added, “They were shiny and appeared to be about as large as an office desk.” White Sands officials said they had no disc experiments there. (El Paso Herald-Express, 7/7; El Paso Times, 7/8) Thanks to Graeme Woods for this, El Paso Herald Post, July 31, 1947:

We have to revisit Rhodes’ comments from a month later as recorded by FBI Agent Brower. “Mr also related that he did not associate the appearance of this ship with the numerous reports of flying discs.”

But, it looks very much like he did.

The question mark is there in the section title because there is so very little about the sighting or photos that comes directly from Rhodes, and that one thing is a few sentences in his letter to Col. McCoy. Everything else is handed to us by news reporters, FBI agents, CIC agents, and various staff of project saucer and AMC. Even the letter is not complete, being a copy absent date and signature (Rhodes had a strong and distinct signature). Keeping that in mind, and the serious issues about the veracity of the accounts already noted… In the contacts with the authorities Rhodes establishes his credentials based on his knowledge and experience, but he does not refer to his accomplishments in astronomy or photography, but his expertise in identifying aircraft. As reported by Brower, Rhodes’ disassociated his experience from the common run of saucer stories in the press at the time and from the way the newspapers, radio, and wire services had treated his account, including “local” news stories. None of this appears in Fugate’s report. It does not appear at any time that AMC or project saucer knew the photos and sighting account had been published. Of interest as well, is the photo, which does not appear to be a wirephoto, as its orientation does not match those and the article refers to a “copy of the photograph” sent with the letter. Thus, we know Rhodes had prints, and not prints published by the Arizona Republic, although there is some uncertainty because in the several photocopies of this story I found online, the image is not crisp or clear, and I want a better example of it for certainty.


“He also related that after the newspaper release over Radio Station KTAR, wherein statements were made that he, [Rhodes], had stated Army officials were studying the photographs, and that it was a top secret, he attempted to determine the source of this release and the Radio station finally told him that it was a United Press release from Washington, D. C.”

We know Williams Field had access to the photos through the Arizona Republic the day before publication, but the “a top secret” part is new. The following year, they were included in a top secret document, the “Analysis”, possibly in June, when Colonel McCoy quotes the Espionage Act to Rhodes in a letter. Such a classification a year earlier is unsupported, although it might possibly explain some of the “shenanigans”, already noted, if it were.

I haven’t found a news report based on a UP release (or any other) with such a story, but here is an AP account: 1947-07-09 AP Walla Walla Washington

This story differs from the local account in the Arizona Republic the same day. The AP has it the aircraft recognition experts were officers from Williams Field, and attributes to Rhodes a statement the photos might be one of the “flying saucers”. Attributions like that appear to be what Rhodes, in Brower’s report, denied having made.

The evidence grows that Rhodes had embarked on an investigation into the saucers and especially his sighting. It is the subject of his correspondence with McCoy and Clingerman; Rhodes information about Larmore is ‘work product’ from that investigation. If Rhodes wrote to Mr Mokler, it is worth looking about to see whether he wrote to anyone else among the “witnesses”. or whether they wrote to him. Kenneth Arnold comes to mind, if Brown and Davidson by telling Arnold about Rhodes photos and Springer giving him a set, was an encouragment for Arnold to make contact with Rhodes. They seemed to have engineered the encounter between Arnold, Smith, and Johnson at the Boise airport, and to have encouraged them to inform on each other. Perhaps they intended Rhodes to join up with what I’ve called the band of brothers.