Our third case elaboration, the Senator Richard Russell affair, makes one uncomfortable in other ways.139 This event, whatever it was, and the (deliberate?) confusion which attended it, indicate that many forces were at work in government at that time, and their relationship to the handling of the UFO mystery still is not at all understood. First, what we know. The new Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Richard Russell of Georgia, was travelling by train in the Soviet Union. With him were his Air Attaché, Lieutenant Colonel E. U. Hathaway; an “aide,” Ruben Efron; and a “businessman” (never identified). They were en route between two towns (Atjaty and Adzhijabul) in what used to be called the Transcaucasian Federated Republics, U.S.S.R. On the evening of October 4, Russell, not feeling well, was alone in one compartment, and the other three men were next door. Out of the window of the moving train, Russell saw something and rushed next door to tell his companions. The others caught a glimpse of what Russell saw, and then, perhaps a minute later, they saw another object similar to the first. Days later the group came to Czechoslovakia, where Colonel Hathaway made a report on October 13. The Air Intelligence Information Report, taken by Air Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Ryan, was sent to the Pentagon the next day. In the report Hathaway described to Ryan that the men had seen a disk with a revolving middle area and a non-revolving top. The disk, bearing two stationary lights, ascended slowly and generally vertically, reached a height of approximately 6000 feet, accelerated sharply, and then moved away. About a minute later, another object seemed to rise low out of the dark fields and repeat the same maneuver. Two searchlights pointed generally skyward in the distance. Sparks or some flame seemed to be emitted from the “craft.” Hathaway said to Ryan that as far as he Senator Richard Russell UFOs and Government 228 was concerned, the travelers had witnessed something “your people” (Air Force Intelligence, supposedly) tell us does not exist: flying disks. Well, strange enough, but, in some ways, straightforward.
The story became convoluted after Russell returned to the U.S. (apparently ahead of his companions). He was immediately interviewed (within a day or two) by the CIA in a TOP SECRET meeting. This story (via Ryan’s report) had apparently aroused interest in the entire national security community, and CIA director Allen Dulles called an IAC executive committee meeting for October 18, with the report on the agenda. Dulles stated that Russell told them that he could distinguish no shape for the “plane” that he saw. Later, in a second CIA interview with OSI chief Herbert Scoville, Russell said that he saw a greenish-yellow ball rise rapidly, and that it was followed by a second one. This significantly more vague account diffused concern at the IAC, who decided that the event should be kept in secret so as not to upset the Russians, who might then restrict travel!
Finally, a third party of the group was interviewed (Russell’s aide Efron?), and that interview described an elaborate story of the launch of a triangular shaped object by ejecting it and spinning it upwards from the ground. This assisted take-off was shortly followed by another one. How are these discrepancies possible? Three intelligent and highly-placed (presumably extremely security-minded) individuals telling three wildly differing stories? One cannot easily fall back on flawed human sense preceptors—Hathaway’s and “X’s” descriptions are too detailed. Plus, these men had to have talked extensively to one another about what they had seen. At some time between the Caucasus and Czechoslovakia there must have been a far greater consensus than what we read. Is there any solution to this? With our level of documentation, no. Hathaway’s early report seems clear, detailed, and fresh; the sort of report one would expect after a puzzling encounter. Both Russell’s and “X’s” accounts occurred after someone in Washington could have “talked” to them. Why would Russell “dumb down” his report? As Chair of the Armed Services Committee, one of the Senator’s subcommittees had just derided President Eisenhower’s defense policies as being responsible for an air-power gap with the Soviets.140 Was Russell “playing cute” by making the incident seem more like a plane than a flying saucer—a more credible possibility to be disturbed about? Was LeMay with his ferocious anti-saucer position lurking behind all this? We do not know. All we know is that when the story leaked to the press a few months later, Russell said that the affected agencies of government had told him not to discuss the matter.141 And what of “Mr. X’s” ejection-assisted vertical take-off triangles? One of these two people (Hathaway or X) had to be lying, and not to the public (which is the norm, as we have seen), but to elements of the intelligence community. What then is that about? Whatever was going on, it was going on far above the “heads” of the UFO documents we have been allowed to see.