Congressman Schiff Probing 'Alien Autopsy'
Film Allegedly Of Roswell Crash
Journal Staff Writer
It is either the scoop of the century or a very gruesome hoax.
After watching a grainy 15-minute film purporting to show the autopsy of a space alien captured in the "Roswell Incident" in 1947, U.S. Rep. Steve Schiff is unsure.
The New Mexico Republican isn't endorsing the footage, reportedly taken by a U.S. Army photographer on the Roswell Army Air Field in 1947. But he isn't dismissing it as bunk, either.
"There is one thing for sure," Schiff said Tuesday from Washington. "If this is a hoax, it was certainly elaborately done. It looked real to me."
If the footage is verifiable, it would be the first hard evidence that it was a UFO, not an Air Force experiment gone awry as the government contends, that crashed on the range between Corona and Roswell during a thunderstorm in 1947. If the film is a gory hoax, as some UFOlogists say, it would be another blow to the credibility of researchers who believe aliens landed on the Lincoln County plains.
Schiff, who has become Congress' point man on extraterrestrials -- "You've got to be known for something," he says, "but I'd rather it be the crime bill" -- was contacted last month by one of the partners who owns the film and invited to a private showing.
They popped a videotaped copy of the 16-millimeter film into the VCR in Schiff's office and showed a 15-minute segment.
Lying on a table was a short, stocky figure that appeared to be a female, Schiff said. It was bowlegged and had a distended abdomen, swollen legs and a large head. The figure had six digits on its hands and feet and large eyes covered by black membranes, according to others who have seen the film. Schiff said he did not remember those features.
"It appeared hairless," Schiff said. "And (the footage) was in black and white, but it appeared to be light gray or green in color. It had two arms and two legs. It was humanoid, as they say in the science fiction movies."
The cutting was done with surgical instruments by two people cloaked in protective covering, Schiff said. Schiff, a former Bernalillo County district attorney who has witnessed autopsies, said the cutting, from throat to groin, appeared legitimate although not as deep as he has seen in pathology labs.
The cloaked people removed several organs, which were not identifiable as human, Schiff said.
"I am, in general, skeptical of these things," Schiff said. "This could well be a hoax, but if it was a hoax it was put together with a great deal of thought. It wasn't a couple of people at a party saying why don't we fake an autopsy of aliens."
According to an article in the MUFON UFO Journal last month, Ray Santilli, owner of a London-based film production company, claims to have bought the film -- 15 canisters totaling 150 minutes -- from an Army photographer who was assigned to film the crash site and the autopsy. The man, now in his 80s, claims to have stolen the film.
The film's owner and a television producer who plans to use footage from the film in a documentary set to air in London next month, sought Schiff's counsel for help in verifying the film's authenticity, Schiff said. They told him they had confirmed the film stock dates from the 1940s but had been unable to verify whether the images were decades old or new.
Schiff said he is looking into government technology that might accomplish that.
"I would like to think that this film could be authenticated or debunked based on our technology," he said.
Debate over the authenticity of the footage has raged in UFO publications and in UFO newsgroups on the Internet. "Roswell Incident" researcher Kent Jeffrey, who wrote the MUFON article, says the film is obviously faked, with the autopsy being performed on a doctored human corpse.
Schiff said the subject didn't appear to be a mutilated corpse, although he acknowledged it could have been constructed of "various objects" that resembled tissue on film.
Schiff, who sits on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and is a member of the congressional space caucus, entered the UFO fray two years ago. After hearing from frustrated constituents who wanted answers from the Pentagon about the "Roswell Incident," Schiff asked the Air Force to declassify and provide him with all its relevant material. When the Pentagon referred the congressman to the National Archives instead, Schiff smelled a cover-up and called in the General Accounting Office to look for documents and investigate whether the Air Force kept adequate records relating to the incident.
Almost immediately, the Air Force issued a short report claiming the debris was part of Project Mogul, an experiment that used airborne balloons and sensors to detect future Soviet nuclear blasts by monitoring sound waves in the atmosphere.
Schiff said he expects the GAO report, which is overdue, to be released soon.
Meanwhile, the Fox television network has purchased the American rights to the purported autopsy reels and is bringing them to Roswell next week for a private viewing.
Walter Haut, the public relations man who wrote the original "flying disks" news release for the 509th Bomb Group and now heads the UFO Museum in downtown Roswell, will watch the film in a viewing room at the museum on Monday, he said.
Haut says he's open to viewing anything, although he doubts he can make any definitive conclusions.
"I don't endorse anything," Haut said. And, he says, that in years of viewing purported footage of alien spacecraft and aliens, "I haven't seen any film that is not challengeable."