History of Events
Summary and Conclusions
Summary of Tactics
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For approximately ten years prior to McDonald's arrival on the UFO scene there were attempts to get Congressional Hearings on the UFO problem in the hope that Congress could coerce the Air Force out of its unconcerned posture toward the phenomenon. The most persevering force behind this effort was NICAP under the leadership of Donald Keyhoe.

As a result Speaker McCormack's House Subcommittee on Atmospheric Phenomena, a part of the House Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration, held closed hearings in 1958. Also there were several aborted efforts in the early 1960s, most notably on the part of Representative Joseph Karth of the House Science and Astronautics Committee. The only public hearing occurred before Mendel Rivers House Armed Services Committee in April 1966. However, from the standpoint of those who wanted hearings, it proved unproductive because only the Air Force position was heard.

As we have seen, by early 1967 McDonald was uneasy about the situation in Boulder. Moreover, he favored a many pronged assault on the UFO problem to avoid putting all his eggs in one basket. It was at this time, for instance, that he began his approaches to the NAS and initiated a campaign to influence Representative J. Edward Roush of Indiana who sat on the House Committee on Science and Astronautics.

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Initial Contacts
Roush Speaks Out
Preparing for Hearings
The Symposium

Initial Contacts

For reasons which are not clear, but are probably related to some federally funded program at the UA, Congressman Roush went to Tucson in late February 1967. Somehow McDonald contacted him and they engaged in


a lengthy session on UFOs. Apparently Roush already had an interest in the matter because McDonald commended him in a note for his "fresh examination of the problem of the UFOs."

McDonald went on to criticize the Air Force and forwarded a critical statement on Blue Book which he recently gave to the Tucson Daily Citizen. He further offered his assistance to Roush and his staff along with a list of UFO references. Since he would be in Washington to address the ONR and possibly NSF and the NAS on the UFO problem April 17-19 he suggested to Roush that they get together.

Lastly, McDonald stated that his ten months of intensive investigation had convinced him that the UFO issue was a problem of highest scientific importance. He urged Roush to push for Congressional Hearings which would listen to more than just the official position. [1] 

While in Tucson, Roush also met with Gerard Kuiper, an internationally known member of the UA's Department of Astronomy, and asked him for his opinions on UFOs. Kuiper sent him a letter deprecating the subject and forwarded a carbon to McDonald. [2]  To this McDonald replied with a note to Kuiper. He told Kuiper that his letter to Roush put him in the camp of those scientists who dismissed the problem without studying it. He suggested that if Kuiper were to apply himself to the matter he would change his mind. He further stated that Kuiper's aid in obtaining his NASA intramural grant and his call for study of the UFO issue were helpful, but did not balance out the kind of statement made to Roush which, backed by the full weight of Kuiper's prestige, [3]  could prove damaging.

A few days later McDonald again wrote Roush reminding him of the upcoming Washington trip and reiterating the desire for hearings through


the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. In this communication McDonald presented a schedule with which he no doubt intended to impress Roush. While in Washington he planned to speak at the ONR, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention. He had a tentative appointment with the president of the NAS and had not yet heard from the AFOSR and NSF where he also wanted to speak. In addition, he intended to go over to NASA on an informal basis, and on his way back to Tucson would talk at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and see Lloyd Berkner, a member of the 1953 CIA-convened Robertson Panel on UFOs, at the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies in Dallas. In closing he included Roush in this impressive itinerary by asking if he might stop in and see him. [4] 

For the remainder of 1967 there is very little interaction, at least as reflected in McDonald's correspondence, between himself and Roush. In June Dr. Phyllis O'Callaghan, Roush's administrative assistant, told McDonald that Roush was out of the country, but interested in McDonald's work on UFOs and in particular the outcome of his UN talk. She closed by saying, "We remain very interested." [5] 

McDonald replied almost two months later because O'Callaghan's letter arrived while he was on his ONR sponsored Australia trip which will be discussed in the next chapter. He enclosed his statement to the UN Outer Space Affairs Group which he sent to all members of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and to sixty or seventy scientific attaches at embassies in Washington. Lastly, he outlined his efforts to convince various NASA bureaucrats of the seriousness of the UFO problem and again asked that Roush open hearings. [6] 


In October Representative Wyman submitted a resolution to the Committee on Science and Astronautics calling for hearings on the UFO question. [7]  McDonald wrote Roush endorsing the resolution and urging Roush to bring it before the Committee. [8]  Roush answered by saying that he too favored the hearings, but it seemed a poor time. He felt the best witnesses would be those scientists on the Colorado Project, yet he did not think it appropriate to call on them before their research reached completion. [9] 

Therefore, it appears that McDonald made contact in 1967, but was unable to do much more than get in the good graces of Roush. Nevertheless, this proved very important in 1968 as the situation in Boulder, in McDonald's opinion, worsened and the need, again in McDonald's opinion, for Congressional Hearings prior to the termination of the Project increased.

As previously indicated in the chapter on the Condon Study, the fur flew in early 1968. McDonald forced the confrontation at Boulder which resulted in the termination of Saunders and Levine, lawsuits, Look and Science articles, and the resignation of Mary Lou Armstrong.

By the end of April, however, it seemed to McDonald that it was time to concentrate his attention on Roush. He told Hall that he now agreed with him that the only real hope lay with Congress. He intended to send Roush a copy of the Look article and planned to see him in Washington the following week. [10]  The same day he wrote Roush enclosing the Look expose and a copy of his 1/31/68 letter to Low which ignited the confrontation. He told Roush that it no longer seemed reasonable to "wait for Colorado," a by-word in Washington in 1966 and 1967 whenever the subject of UFOs arose. Congressional Hearings were necessary as soon


as possible. He claimed that for "those of us who knew its shortcomings waiting for Colorado was never adequate for the Look article represented only a partial disclosure of the scientific shortcomings of the project. He concluded that a Congressional inquiry could serve to put the matter "in a context amenable to scientific progress." [11] 

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Roush Speaks Out

Three days later Roush took to the floor of the House to ask for Hearings. He criticized the Air Force handling of the problem and also cited the Look article entitled the "Half Million Dollar Trick," which referred to the phrasing of the Low memo and the $500,000 budget of the Condon Study. Roush argued that the article raised questions of scientific profundity and objectivity. He said that as a result of his talks to, and correspondence with, most serious UFO researchers he proposed inviting them to Hearings conducted by the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. [12] 

The following day Roush took the floor again. He explained that if the Look article were incorrect it needed correcting and if it were correct it raised questions about the University of Colorado's approach to the federal contract process. To get some answers to these questions he said he wrote Secretary of the Air Force Seamans asking for comments and also the Comptroller General requesting an investigation of the use of public money at CU. Roush asserted that he was an agnostic with respect to UFOs, but wanted to get to the bottom of the riddle through the use of the scientific process. [13] 

This brought the pot to a boil again both for NICAP and McDonald. Don Berliner, an NICAP staffer, wrote Julian Hennessey, a subcommittee chairman in England, that McDonald's talks with several members of the


Science and Astronautics Committee indicated they were very upset over CU. He said, "We are sending over (to the Hill) gobs of material." [14] 

McDonald confirmed this in a note to Malone in which he said he spent May 3 talking with Roush's staff, William Ryan of New York, and D'Addario's assistant Tom E. J. Keena. He said he pushed for an investigation going back to 1947 with Roush and asked Malone to write D'Addario urging the same approach. He mentioned that he spoke with the assistants to Congressman Brotzman from the Boulder area who will ask the president of CU for a full accounting. [15] 

Although he recognized it was a poor year (election year) for trying to get a Congressional inquiry off the ground McDonald felt that the attempt should be made. He asked Hall to put the full weight of NICAP's 10,500-person membership behind a letter-writing campaign directed at Congressmen Roush, Ryan, D'Addario and Karth urging hearings. [16] 

McDonald considered the remarks made by Roush on the House floor sufficiently important that he sent copies of them to "concerned people and scientific agencies inside and outside of the United States." He assured Roush that he would write to all of the members of Congress with whom he had spoken and had already asked Morris Udall of his own district to do whatever he could. He felt the best thing he could do was begin informal discussions with members of the Committee on Science and Astronautics and he wanted to know if the Subcommittee on Science, Research and Development would be the appropriate place to hold the hearings. If so, he would get colleagues from around the country to write the subcommittee letters of encouragement. [17] 

Dick Olsen, an aide to Udall suggested to McDonald that he prepare a letter which Udall might show other Congressmen when button-holing


them on the UFO question. After writing it McDonald told Udall he purposely composed it in a low-key fashion because he knew from experience that this was the best way to present the subject. In closing he said that he doubted anything short of a Congressional Hearing could get the issue out into the open. He had given up on his colleagues in the scientific community. [18] 

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Preparing for Hearings

Several days later O'Callaghan began giving McDonald instructions. She told him to write Congressman George P. Miller, Chairman of the Science and Astronautics Committee with a carbon to D'Addario. She said that the other scientists who McDonald mentioned were to do the same. Apparently Roush recommended hearings to Miller before, but Miller proved uninterested. Now interest existed, but he feared jurisdictional problems with the House Armed Services Committee. O'Callaghan felt the letter-writing campaign might make the difference. [19] 

She wrote again to tell McDonald that D'Addario's Science and Astronautics Subcommittee would be the body to hold the hearing. Somehow McDonald had failed to write Miller and she told him to do so, with the objective of impressing Miller with the urgency of the matter and McDonald's own professional competence and seriousness. She emphasized that McDonald needed to persist without becoming a nuisance and in this regard recommended that he personally visit Miller and D'Addario when in Washington. McDonald could feel free to use Roush's office to make appointments and get organized. [20]  In another note the same day O'Callaghan told McDonald that she assured two men from the Government Accounting Office that he could provide them with quotes from Condon's speeches illustrating his position in the early stages of the project. [21] 


When McDonald eventually got around to the letter to Miller, he wrote that as a scientist with two years of experience in the UFO field he wanted to support Roush's plea for hearings. The Look article suggested that it was no longer wise to "wait for Colorado" as the NAS, NASA, NSF, et al., argued. Furthermore, he told Miller that the UFO matter was essentially a scientific question and as such belonged under his committee and not the House Armed Services Committee. He said he intended to visit Miller while in Washington and enclosed several of his UFO talks. [22] 

In an effort to convince Miller that there existed a widespread interest within the scientific community in the UFO problem McDonald forwarded:

  1. two articles from the May 1968 American Engineer which stressed the cross section of scientifically trained persons investigating UFOs,

  2. an abstract of an article from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in which three General Electric scientists expressed their concern for the status of UFO studies and the public responsibility of the scientific community to establish the identity of the objects,

  3. a letter copied from the February 1968 Astronautics and Aeronautics written by Stanton Friedman representing a group of concerned Pittsburgh area scientists.

In addition, he mentioned Robert Baker's UFO article in the Journal of the Astronautical Sciences and assured Miller that there would be no shortage of participants if hearings were held. [23]  McDonald followed the letter with a very similar one to D'Addario who replied with a note saying that he would contact Tom Malone for advice as McDonald suggested. [24]  This in turn was followed by a letter to Miller from Levine in which he claimed that some UFO reports were of great scientific but not military interest. He


said the Air Force did a poor job analyzing sightings, the Look article raised doubts about the objectivity of the Condon Study and consequently he believed congressional hearings were in order. [25] 

From the last chapter we know that McDonald wanted ONR funding for those aspects of his UFO work which he believed related to his atmospheric physics research and, if possible, also for pure UFO studies. Roush, it would appear, attempted to do McDonald a favor by writing the ONR. He used Hynek for leverage in the discussion by prefacing his remarks with the statement that Hynek wrote to him to express concern over the significance of unexplained UFO reports. It would seem more than coincidence that Roush asked Admiral T. B. Owen, Chief of the ONR, what, in light of the lack of scientific concern for UFOs, ONR had done to research the problem? And, in anticipation of future hearings what research did ONR support on astronomical and meteorological hypotheses which might explain UFO observations? [26]  The latter was, in fact, what McDonald often claimed he did.

Owen referred the inquiry to James Hughes, McDonald's contract monitor, who explained that the ONR did not sponsor a program to investigate UFOs, but did look at the problem in terms of how it might affect aerial or surface reconnaissance. He went on to say that the ONR asked McDonald to look at extreme refraction and electrical phenomena invoked to explain some sighting reports, but the research remained in progress. [27] 

Congressman Miller received a late letter of encouragement from Roger N. Shepherd, noted psychometrician from Stanford. Shepherd said that he wanted to add his voice to those of his colleagues calling for hearings. In the past he had awaited the CU report but the seemingly


reliable reports of prejudice and gaps in the study had made him change his mind. [28] 

At this point Roush wrote Seitz at the NAS asking him to look into:

  1. the Look allegations and McDonald's objections to the Condon Study,

  2. significant cases recommended by Hynek, and

  3. the dismissal of Saunders and Levine. Roush stated that he would suspend his GAO review of the project until the completion of the NAS Review. [29] 

As it turned out Morris Udall eventually got McDonald an appointment to see Miller. On June 3 McDonald spoke to the Capitol Hill Burro Club made up of Democratic staff assistants. He so impressed Udall's staff that they convinced Udall to do a local Tucson TV spot on UFOs with McDonald. Then on June 19 Udall obtained an appointment for McDonald with Miller who gave tentative agreement for hearings. As McDonald put it to Saunders, "It went so easy a reversal would not surprise me." Remembering how Representative Karth withdrew his support for hearings in 1961 when Keyhoe made a premature announcement McDonald told Saunders to keep it quiet until Roush or Miller made a formal statement.

Through Roush, McDonald found that the GAO staff of lawyers and CPAs assessing the technical aspects of the CD study wanted to turn the problem over to the NAS. McDonald told Roush that he was of mixed emotions on the matter. The NAS was better equipped to do the scientific job but if it came to a fight in the Fall the financial data would be good to have. He suggested to Roush that GAO do the latter for purposes of Roush's own evaluation and leave the former for the NAS. [30] 

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The Symposium

On June 28 O'Callaghan phoned McDonald to ask him for his thoughts on a UFO seminar. Apparently McDonald discussed this idea with Roush as a precursor to actual hearings thinking that the issue could be


privately sanitized, while the event itself could serve to put the NAS on notice. McDonald provided O'Callaghan with the following list of possible participants.

He then discussed the pros and cons of each man and recommended that the publicity should be handled by Robert C. Cowen of the Christian Science Monitor who would "push the whole problem along more constructively and more energetically than would Sullivan of the New York Times." [31] 

Two weeks later McDonald received an invitation from Roush's office to appear at a July 29 Symposium on UFOs to be held under the auspices of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics. The participants were not to touch upon the past Air Force investigatory efforts or the situation at Boulder. "Our emphasis is to understand the technical and scientific facts surrounding these phenomena as the facts are understood by competent researchers in the field. Your presentation should reflect these views." [32] 


A week later Bob Wood of Douglas Aircraft canceled his appearance at the symposium. To illustrate the degree to which McDonald orchestrated the hearing he told O'Callaghan that Jim Harder of Berkeley's Engineering Department would be an effective substitute, wrote Harder telling him about it and prepared the wording of the invitation he wanted O'Callaghan to send. He noted that Congressman Miller represented the Berkeley area and hoped, therefore, that Harder's Berkeley affiliation might be able to sway him. [33]  Further orchestration evidence is furnished in a note from McDonald to O'Callaghan in which he stated that he had completed the bulk of telephoning on Roush's credit card to Hall, Baker, Wood, Sagan, Hynek and Harder. Moreover, because the participants did not have much time to prepare their papers he feared they had possibly neglected recommendations for future Congressional action. Therefore, he felt that Roush should take it upon himself to prepare a summary of the talks and in so doing infer from them the kinds of actions the Committee might see fit to take in the future. [34] 

The Symposium (which it was called rather than a hearing) took place on July 29 as scheduled*. The speakers were McDonald, Hynek, Hall, Baker, Harder and Sagan. McDonald expressed satisfaction with the proceedings in general, although he found Hynek's remarks said very little and Sagan, by contributing his Encyclopedia Americana statement, provided a negative note. [35]  Nevertheless, McDonald had managed to obtain a Congressional Hearing on UFOs which presented a pro-UFO bias, an unprecedented and unreplicated feat in the history of the UFO controversy.

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*EDITOR'S NOTE: The Record of the Roush Symposium is online at the NCAS web site.



The strategy which McDonald adopted with respect to the Roush Hearings is now a familiar one. He intended the Hearings as a tactic to obtain legitimacy for the study of UFO data. He wanted hearings from as early as September 1966, but he would not take action until the Colorado confrontation of February 1968, with the concomitant firings of Saunders and Levine, convinced him of the low probability of a positive Condon Report. Once he reached this conclusion he turned most of his energy toward the House Science and Astronautics Committee as a means of laying bare the substance of the phenomenon to Congressmen who could eventually conduct an investigation of their own which, he hoped, would catapult UFOs from obscurity to national prominence.

Throughout this episode in the politics of science McDonald depended on a number of different tactics. First he convinced Roush of the efficacy of the Hearing, then he presented his case to other influential Congressman, along the way he used various Congressmen for his own ends, and finally he orchestrated the symposium itself.

Between March 1967 and April 1968 McDonald made several attempts to convince Roush that UFO Hearings were in order. He used his usual discussion of past investigative experiences, the significance of the problem and his credentials in an initial letter to Roush. In a second letter he tried to counteract the negative influence of a communication from Gerard Kuiper to Roush. In a third note, while setting up a Washington meeting, he conveniently scheduled Roush amongst numerous scientific agencies and luminaries he intended to visit, to impress the Congressmen with the importance of the problem. In late 1967 McDonald endorsed Congressman Wyman's resolution for Hearings and when


they did not materialize waited for the Boulder confrontation to develop before taking further action. When it did, in April 1968, he forwarded Roush the Look article and his 1/31/68 letter to Low which ignited the confrontation. Three days later Roush asked for UFO Hearings on the House floor.

This did not end the lobbying effort, however, for McDonald needed to convince other Congressmen of the efficacy of the Hearings. He spoke with Congressman William Ryan of New York and D'Addario's assistant in early May. To increase the pressure he asked Hall to get the NICAP membership to start writing to the House Science and Astronautics Committee, particularly Roush, Ryan, D'Addario and Karth. Then at the insistence of Roush's assistant O'Callaghan, McDonald wrote the committee chairman George Miller supporting Roush's plea for hearings and enlisted other scientists to do likewise. Moreover, he enclosed several articles intended to give Miller the impression that widespread interest in UFOs existed within the scientific community. Lastly, he spoke to the Burro Club, a group made up of assistants to Democratic Congressmen, in a further attempt to spread the UFO word in Congress.

He also urged other Congressmen to aid him. He encouraged Congressman Brotzman from the Boulder district, who already asked for an accounting from the CU president with respect to the UFO project, to continue his efforts. Morris Udall, McDonald's representative, also agreed to help. For this purpose McDonald wrote him a low-key letter on the UFO problem which Udall could show to any Congressman whom he could button-hole. Finally, Udall obtained McDonald an appointment to see Chairman Miller, who then agreed to hold the Hearing.


In several instances McDonald's guidance in the planning of the Hearing is evident. He provided O'Callaghan with the names of the speakers and alternates. He also proposed that Robert Cowen of the Christian Science Monitor be used for publicity. When Robert Wood of Douglas Aircraft could not participate McDonald first recommended Jim Harder, and then invited him to take part, arguing that it could prove useful in swaying Miller to have the testimony of one of his constituents. And a week prior to the Hearing, when McDonald realized that no provisions existed for future more intensive investigations, he wrote O'Callaghan explaining how Roush could summarize the papers in his closing remarks which McDonald thought should point toward further Hearings.

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Persuasion of Roush

  1. Emphasized his academic credentials.

  2. Emphasized his investigative work.

  3. Indicated the significance of the problem.

  4. Scheduled Roush among scientific luminaries.

  5. Countered Kuiper's remarks.

  6. Endorsed Wyman's resolution for Hearings.

  7. Forwarded the Look article and Low letter to Roush.

Persuasion of Others

  1. Spoke with Congressman Ryan and D'Addario's assistant.

  2. Got NICAP members to write Roush, Ryan, D'Addario and Karth.

  3. Wrote to Miller supporting Roush.

  4. Had other scientists write Miller.


  1. Enclosed articles to Miller leaving the impression of widespread scientific interest in UFOs.

  2. Spoke to the Burro Club.

Manipulation of Others

  1. Urged Congressman Brotzman of Colorado to look into the situation at CU.

  2. Used Udall as a means of access to Miller.

  3. Drafted a letter on UFO Hearings for Udall to use in button-holing Congressmen.

Symposium Orchestration

  1. Provided the speakers' names.

  2. Suggested how the publicity could be handled.

  3. Acted as an intermediary for Roush with the speakers.

  4. Provided a substitute speaker.

  5. Suggested to O'Callaghan the form a summary of the papers should take.

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  1. McDonald to Roush, 3/3/67, McDonald Letters, hereafter M.L.Back To Text

  2. Kuiper to Roush, 3/20/67, M.L.Back To Text

  3. McDonald to Kuiper, 3/30/67, M.L., cc. Roush, Udall, M.L.Back To Text

  4. McDonald to Roush, 4/3/67, M.L.Back To Text

  5. O'Callaghan to McDonald, 6/27/67, M.L.Back To Text

  6. McDonald to O'Callaghan, 8/29/67, M.L.Back To Text

  7. Wyman Resolution, 10/17/67, House Resolution 946, 90th Congress 1st Session.Back To Text

  8. McDonald to Roush, 11/14/67, M.L.Back To Text

  9. Roush to McDonald, 11/21/67, M.L.Back To Text

  10. McDonald to Hall, 4/27/68, Hall Letters, hereafter H.L.Back To Text

  11. McDonald to Roush, 4/27/68, M.L.Back To Text

  12. Congressional Record, 4/30/68.Back To Text

  13. Congressional Record, 5/1/68.Back To Text

  14. Berliner to Hennessey, 5/6/68, NICAP files.Back To Text

  15. McDonald to Malone, 5/8/68, M.L.Back To Text

  16. McDonald to Hall, 5/8/68, H.L.Back To Text

  17. McDonald to Roush, 5/13/68, M.L.Back To Text

  18. McDonald to Udall, 5/14/68, M.L.Back To Text

  19. O'Callaghan to McDonald, 5/16/68, M.L.Back To Text

  20. O'Callaghan to McDonald, 5/20/68, M.L.Back To Text

  21. O'Callaghan to McDonald, 5/20/68, M.L.Back To Text

  22. McDonald to Miller, 5/23/68, M.L.Back To Text

  23. McDonald to Miller, 5/27/68, M.L.Back To Text

  24. McDonald to D'Addario, 5/28/68, M.L.Back To Text

  25. Levine to Miller, 5/29/68, M.L.Back To Text


  1. Roush to Owen, 6/6/68, M.L.Back To Text

  2. Hughes to Roush, 6/12/68, M.L.Back To Text

  3. Shepherd to Miller, 6/17/68, M.L.Back To Text

  4. Roush to Seitz, 6/20/68, M.L.Back To Text

  5. McDonald to Saunders, 6/25/68, M.L.Back To Text

  6. McDonald to O'Callaghan, 6/28/68, M.L.Back To Text

  7. Roush to McDonald, 7/10/68, M.L.Back To Text

  8. McDonald to O'Callaghan, 7/16/68, M.L.Back To Text

  9. McDonald to O'Callaghan, 7/17/68, M.L.Back To Text

  10. McDonald to Hall, 9/5/68, H.L.Back To Text

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