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Wilbert Smith and MJ-12 - Article

From: legion@werple.net.au
Date: Sun, 26 Jan 1997 13:02:26 +1100 (EST)
Fwd Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 09:47:04 -0500
Subject: Wilbert Smith and MJ-12 - Article

>From _UFO BRIGANTIA_,  July 1990



                    Christopher D. Allan

The older generation of UFO buffs may remember some articles in FLYING
SAUCER REVIEW during the period 1958-1962 written by the Canadian
ufologist Wilbert B. Smith.

    Wilbert Smith was a Canadian civil servant and engineer,
specializing in radio and telecommunications, who worked in the
Department of Transport.  He had a strong interest in UFOs from the
outset of the UFO era and was impressed by the first two books to be
published: FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL by Donald Keyhoe and BEHIND THE
FLYING SAUCERS by Frank Scully, particularly the latter for reasons we
shall see.  By 1950 he had become dedicated to the ETH.  Some years
later Smith became the founder and director of the Ottawa Flying
Saucer Club.  He died of cancer in 1962.

    Today Smith's name would be long forgotten were it not for the
release of some documents by the Canadian authorities in 1978.  Arthur
Bray, a Canadian researcher, had applied for the release of the papers
relating to two projects: Magnet and Second Storey, which had been
classified since the early 1950s.  Included among these was a top
secret memorandum, written by Smith; this revived interest in Smith's
work and, together with the Roswell affair, contributed to the big
renewal of interest in crashed UFOs and cover-ups in the 1980s.

_Smith's Memorandum_

    The memo was written on November 21, 1950 and is entitled
GEOMAGNETICS.  It is chiefly to do with the study of magnetic
phenomena but some 25% relates to flying saucers.  The fact that it
was classified 'Top Secret' for nearly 20 years has caused ETH
supporters to attach great importance to it; in reality its value to
ufology is practically zero, as we shall see.

    Smith had addressed his memo to the 'Controller of
Telecommunications' requesting that a project be set up to investigate
harnessing the earth's magnetic field and its possible use in the
design and construction of a flying disc.  This project was duly
authorized on December 2, 1950 and became known as Project Magnet.
There is no official return memo authorizing the project; only a
simple handwritten note on Smith's memo, from C.P.  Edwards, Deputy
Minister of Transport (Air Services) saying "LOOK, go ahead with it and
keep me posted from time to time".  For a supposed official top secret
project, it is surely most irregular for it to be authorised in this
disinterested, almost brush-off like manner.

    Whilst the project did have official backing, it was only a spare
time exercise.  However, Smith was allowed to use the facilities at
the Defence Research Board for his work.  The head of the DRB at the
time was Dr. O.M. Solandt, who is mentioned in Smith's memo.
Solandt had a passing interest in UFOs, of which more later.

    The Smith memo contains four short paragraphs which refer to the
U.S. government's interest in Flying Saucers.  One paragraph says
that the matter is more highly classified even than the H-bomb (this
was in 1950), while another says that a small group headed by Dr.
Vannevar Bush is making a "concentrated effort" to discover the modus
operandi of the flying discs.  It is these two remarks that form the
real hard core of the memo for dedicated ETHers, but their true
significance has been grossly overestimated, as I intend to show.

    We do not know how many people saw the memo in 1950, or how they
reacted.  What we do know is that it launched Project Magnet.  We also
know that it was kept hidden for nearly two decades, which may seem an
inordinately long time but is less than most of the early U.S.
documents released under the FOIA, some of which stayed under wraps
for 30 years or more.

    After the publication of the Condon Report in January 1969 (which
contains a brief section on official UFO study in Canada), Dr.  Peter
M. Millman of the National Research Council of Canada, who served on
Second Storey, recommended that the Magnet and Second Storey files be
declassified.  Following this, a Canadian government memo of Sept.
15, 1969 down-classified the files to the 'confidential' level, adding
that they would be made available to persons in a bona-fide
organisation, but that "at no time should it be made available to the
public".  It also said that the file "should not be destroyed until
such time as this subject has cooled off".  In other words, the
Canadian authorities wanted to allow a period for interested parties
to view the files before disposing of them; hardly the action of an
authority intent on covering up important UFO data.

    Whether anyone took advantage of this opportunity to view the
Magnet & Second Storey files we do not know, but the files were
obviously not destroyed.  A copy was eventually obtained by Arthur
Bray in 1978 as stated.  If Smith's memo was seen by anyone in the
period 1969-78 nobody thought it important enough to mention it or to
request a copy

    Stanton Friedman obtained the memo in 1979 and gave Bill Moore a
copy.  Portions of it appeared in the ROSWELL INCIDENT, published in
1980.  In due course others got hold of it and paraded it as strong
evidence of crashed saucers and official cover-up.

_PROJECTS Magnet and Second Storey_

     Magnet was essentially a part-time effort headed by Smith to
understand the principles of UFO propulsion and, if possible, to build
a working model.  Smith seemed to invest it with an aura of high
secrecy and, with the Canadian government understandably not wanting
the publicity over a project they regarded as akin to borderline
science, little or no news of it appeared.  The Shirley's Bay
observatory, set up in 1953 as a UFO 'detecting station', seems to
have come to an early demise.  The names of the other scientists
involved appear in ref 1. Magnet gradually petered out in 1953-54
without ever achieving much.  Certainly no working flying disc was
ever built.

    Second Storey was under the chairmanship of Dr. Peter Millman.
This ran concurrently with Magnet for about two years and Smith served
on its committee.  It was essentially a UFO investigation project but
it too seems to have become dormant and came to an end in about 1954.
The only public report we know of is one written by Smith, containing
the analysis of 25 sightings in 1952, all in Canada.  The majority of
these relate to night lights.  Smith's final report on Project Magnet,
which included the results of the second Storey investigations, was
not accepted by the Dept. of Transport and must have been a big
disappointment for him.  There is no mention of Vannevar Bush, no
mention of a secret U.S.  project of any kind in Smith's report; nor
is there any indication in the report itself that it was ever
classified, although it was held in a classified file until 1969 and
released, as said earlier, in 1978.

_The Sarbacher Connection_

In his 1950 memo Smith makes the startling statement that UFOs are
classified "higher than the H-Bomb".  He learned this, he says,
through "discreet enquiries he made at the Canadian Embassy in
Washington." What happened was that Smith was Canada's representative
at a radio & broadcasting conference in Washington D.C.  in September
1950.  During this period he had visited the embassy and raised the
subject of UFOs.  Scully's book had just been published, with its
stories of crashed discs, little green men, and revelations about UFOs
being powered by unusual magnetic forces.  This caused quite a stir
and the book was undoubtedly the talk of the town.  An official at the
embassy (Lt. Col. Bremner) knew Dr. Robert I. Sarbacher, a prominent
U.S.  scientist who was a consultant in guided missiles and who
participated in the joint U.S./Canada project known as DEW Line
(Distant Early Warning).

    Bremner knew that Sarbacher was also keenly interested in UFOs and
may have read Scully's book.  Bremner therefore arranged an interview
whereby Smith could put several questions to Sarbacher, via Bremner.
It was during the course of this that Sarbacher made the statement:
"Yes, it is classified two points higher than the H-bomb.  In fact it
is the most highly classified subject in the U.S.  government at the
present time."  Sarbacher declined to say more, and revealed
absolutely no names.  Smith made some handwritten notes of this

    Smith did not meet Sarbacher direct, so his notes are second-hand,
but these notes, which were finally obtained from Smith's son by Bray
in 1979, and appear in ref.2, started crashed disc buffs off in a hunt
for Dr.  Sarbacher in the early 1980s.  One researcher, William
Steinman, who pestered Sarbacher many times with letters and phone
calls during 1983, eventually had a reply dated Nov.  29, 1983.  This
has also become known as the "Sarbacher letter", later widely
published and also shown in ref.2.  It gives the impression of
providing further proof that the U.S.  authorities had crashed discs
in their possession.  Steinman had suggested the names of about ten
scientists who he thought had been involved in crashed UFOs and wanted
Sarbacher to confirm these names.  Sarbacher said that Vannevar Bush &
John von Neumann were "definitely involved".  The first point to note
is that Sarbacher did not volunteer these names; they were suggested,
repeatedly, by Steinman first.  The second point is that some 12
months earlier, in summer 1982, both Bill Moore and Stanton Friedman
had also tracked down Sarbacher; both had long 'phone conversations
with him and Friedman had met him in person in early 1983.  In view of
Moore & Friedman's very strong pro-ETH bias there is no telling how
much Sarbacher had been indoctrinated with crash saucerology before
Steinman contacted him.

    In 1985 other ufologists, including Jerry Clark and Bruce
Maccabee, also met with Sarbacher; but some of the facts he told them
do not tally with what he wrote to Steinman, and do not in any way
support the Roswell story, still less MJ-12's existence.  For example:
in his 1983 letter he says he had "no connection with any people
involved in the recovery", yet he told Clark in 1985 that Bush and von
Neumann were involved and that they _told him_ about the recoveries
(see FATE, March 1988).  Concerning an alleged recovery of a UFO:
Sarbacher, both in his letter and in his 1985 talk with Maccabee,
refers to the aliens as "like insects".  None of the crash/retrieval
stories (Roswell, Aztec, etc) mentions insects, and it seems clear
that Sarbacher is merely recalling office discussions of long ago on
Gerald Heard's _Is Another World Watching_, published soon after
Scully's book (ref.3).

    Even Sarbacher's 1950 "higher than the H-bomb" statement can be
interpreted as a reference to the Air Force Project (which was
certainly highly classified) plus data picked up from the Keyhoe &
Scully books, boosted by a few office rumours.  There is _no mention
whatever_ in Smith's 1950 Sarbacher notes of any project remotely
resembling MJ-12, _no mention_ of crashed discs or alien bodies, and
_no mention_ of Bush or anyone else.  Neither is there the slightest
chance that Sarbacher, had he known of a genuine recovery of a UFO
that was classified Top Secret, would have passed on any indication of
this fact to Smith, a Canadian citizen with no "need to know".

   In summary, everything in Sarbacher's 1950 answers to Smith can be
accounted for by his obvious enthusiasm over the early UFO literature,
conversation among work colleagues, plus a good dose of the Washington
rumour machine.  As I have said, Scully's book was the talk of the
town.  His 1985 statements are based on shaky 30-year old memories,
together with repeated 'name planting', suggestability and undue
pressure from eager crashed disc addicts in the early 1980s.
Sarbacher died in 1986.

_The Bush Connection_

    One unresolved question is: from whom did Smith learn about Dr.
Bush leading a team to discover the modus operandi of the saucers?  No
one will ever know for certain, but it was almost certainly someone he
met on his Sept.  1950 Washington visit, either an embassy contact, or
maybe Donald Keyhoe.  Keyhoe had met with Smith several times during
this visit; they discussed UF0s at length and even prepared a joint
article which they hoped to publish in TRUE magazine (ref.4).  The
article was based on Smith's current ideas on the propulsion of UFOs.
Smith hoped his work, soon to be launched as Project Magnet, would
give him access to similar work he was led to believe was being done
by Bush in the U.S.  More important, if Bush could be persuaded to
give some seal of approval to Smith's work, obviously Smith would gain
considerable recognition as a scientist/engineer.  Remember that Smith
was at this time hoping to construct a working flying disc based on
the principles outlined in his joint paper with Keyhoe.

    Further official papers, released with Smith's memo, reveal that
Keyhoe had been entrusted by the Canadian embassy to take the joint
Smith/Keyhoe paper to Dr.  Bush for his views, but there is nothing to
indicate this was done.  Bush never saw it, the paper did not get
beyond the draft stage and was never published.  Smith later told
Keyhoe that his work was now classified and he could discuss it no
longer.  Keyhoe, in ref.4, wisely omits all mention of his connection
with Bush.

    There is no doubt in my mind how Dr.  Bush came to be linked with
UFOs in 1950.  He was a top engineer specialising in electricity and
magnetism, who had a high security clearance and served on numerous
committees.  Both presidents Roosevelt and Truman thought very highly
of him.  He had shown a definite interest in UFOs and had even made an
early public statement about them; he may have well considered their
mode of propulsion.  His name also appears in Scully's book.  Had
there been any small group, official or private, engaged in the design
of a flying disc propelled by electromagnetic means, Bush was an
obvious person to lead it.

    Someone had clearly dropped Bush's name to Smith, who then
assumed, wrongly, that Bush was engaged on something very similar in
the U.S.  and would co-operate with, and give encouragement to, Smith
over Project Magnet,

    Bush's name only came to be involved with crashed disc retrievals
long afterwards, in the early 1980s.  Certain UFO buffs seized on
Smith's 1950 memo, misinterpreted it, then took the Sarbacher letter
at face value, and hey presto: Bush had recovered a crashed saucer and
seen alien bodies.  Eventually, of course, Bush became the principal
scientist and organiser of MJ-12.

_Smith's writings and theories_

    Wilbert Smith had, along with Keyhoe, been a staunch proponent of
the cover-up hypothesis.  This is apparent throughout his writings,
but is noticeably absent from his Magnet report, for obvious reasons.
He also had bizarre ideas about physics and the properties of matter.
He once invented a device called a 'binding meter' to measure certain
areas of 'reduced binding' that he believed existed in the atmosphere
and which were the cause of some unexplained airplane crashes that
Smith had studied.  Smith obtained this information, he says, from
various contacts he had with "people from elsewhere".  Smith was in
fact an early contactee, and had been engaged in such contacts from
about 1953.

    His ideas on UFO propulsion have already been dealt with.

    Some more of Smith's strange utterances are given in ref.2.  He
claimed to have been allowed to examine fragments supposedly shot down
from a Navy Jet over Washington D.C., but then had to return them to a
"highly classified group".  He also claimed his research group had
recovered one and a half tons of "unidentified metal" in Canada in
1960.  (The Condon Report deals with both cases on p.90-92; the first
was fictitious, the second was a chunk of ordinary foundry waste).  So
much for Smith's reliability and credibility.  Smith further claimed
that official contact with aliens had been established, and in a
letter to one researcher even said that "every nation on this planet
has been officially informed of the existance of space craft and their
occupants from elsewhere" (ref.2).  Emotive words for the late 1950s,
but mild compared with the ravings of certain fringe types 30 years

    In his terms of reference for Magnet in 1950 Smith wrote: "It is
intended to classify this work in its entirety until such time as it
can be assessed for its impact on our civilization."

    Those who read Smith's later attacks on official UFO secrecy were
not to know that it was Smith himself, not the Canadian government,
that had requested Project Magnet to be kept under strictest security.

    Smith contributed various philosophical and fringe science
articles to FLYING SAUCER REVIEW and ROUND ROBIN (a few are reprinted
in ref. 5) up to his death in 1962.  It has been alleged that he died
of a brain tumour and that this tumour caused the apparent mental
derangement affecting his later writings; however Mr. Grant Cameron
of Winnipeg assures me that Smith in fact died of stomach cancer; thus
there is no reason to put any of his bizarre writings down to a
tumour-caused mental disorder.

    Because Smith had won a posthumous award for his services to
broadcasting I asked the Canadian High Commision in London if they had
any record of him in their reference material.  I also asked if they
had any record of Dr. Solandt.  They replied saying they had no
record of a Wilbert B. Smith, but they supplied a 5-inch column entry
for Omond M. Solandt from the Canadian 'Who's Who'.  I then wrote to
Solandt, asking what he knew about Smith and Project Magnet.  He
replied in August 1989.  Solandt had a low opinion of Smith as a
scientist, saying that Smith's experiments on Magnet were later shown
to be quite worthless.  He also said that Smith was all along obsessed
with the idea of an 'Establishment' suppression of UFOs (surprise,

    Interestingly, Solandt confirmed that he knew Dr.  Bush quite well
and that they often discussed UFOs.  There is nothing the least
remarkable in this, as plenty of senior scientists in the early
post-war era were interested and curious about what was then a new
phenomena (many of course still are).  Solandt also said that although
he was chief of the DRB, and therefore with a far higher security
clearance than Smith, he had never heard of any top secret UFO
project, despite his friendship with Bush.  One other piece of
information he told me, which I had _not_ asked for, is most
illuminating; "Incidentally, most, if not all, of Smith's work was
never really classified top secret or anything else.  He never had any
institutional base which gave him authority to classify a document.
He just put "Top Secret" on his personal papers".  Solandt ended by
saying that all the others associated with Project Magnet were now

_THE MJ-12 Connection_

    I think the rest of this story speaks for itself.  The Smith memo
was the starting point for the MJ-12 forgery.  The forger decided that
if any documentary evidence of crashed saucers existed, the most
likely place was in the formerly classified files of Dr.  Vannevar
Bush.  He accordingly then made a thorough search of these files in
the various archives.  Not finding such evidence, but nevertheless
finding a great many names of top military people and civilian
scientists, he then began a search of some of their papers.  The
Sarbacher letter then came along 'confirming' his hopes.  Still the
crucial evidence eluded him.  He then decided to manufacture a hoax,
with Vannevar Bush the obvious scientist-in-charge of a project that
never existed.

    Further research gave the forger what he needed, the appropriate
dates, places and people.  MJ-12 was thus born.  The forger, of
course, had to ensure all the persons he had chosen for MJ-12 were
dead before the December 1984 date when the film was allegedly sent to
Jamie Shandera.  The rest is now public knowledge.

    If any impartial, motivated person were to go through Dr.  Bush's
files, I am willing to bet a lot of giveaway evidence would show up.
I would also bet that the forger had never heard of the word
"compartmentalised" until he saw these papers.  Yet, there it is,
right on page 1 of the Hillenkoetter briefing paper.

    What an irony it is that a top secret fictitious project was born
out of an innocent bit of name dropping by an insignificant Canadian
scientist of long ago, in a document he wrote, which, we now have
every reason to believe, should never have been classified 'Top
Secret' in the first place. #



1.  'The Truth About Flying Saucers' Aime Michel (1957) cap 3 of part
3.  The other scientists involved were: Dr.  James Watt, Mr. John H.
Thompson, Prof.  J.T.  Wilson, Dr.  G.D.  Garland; with support from
Dr.  Omond H. Solandt and Mr.  Dean Mackenzie.  We do not know what
proportion of their time was actually spent on Project Magnet or
Shirley's Bay.

2.  'Above Top Secret' Timothy Good (Sidgwick & Jackson, London 1987),
Chapter 8.

3.  'Is Another World Watching?' Gerald Heard (London, 1950).  Heard
postulated the UFOs were piloted by a race of intelligent insects.

4.  'Flying Saucers From Outer Space' Donald Keyhoe (1953) Chapter 8.

5.  'The Wilbert B. Smith Collection' Some collected papers of W.B.
Smith; W.L.  Moore publications (no date).




                    |... legion@werple.net.au ...|