Donald E. Keyhoe:
In February 1954, plans for a (unknown) satellite search were described in an article for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Quoting Dr. (Clyde) Tombaugh, it said that special telescopic equipment would be used. The article had been written before the project began, and there was no hint of giant spaceships. The operation was called a search for natural objects. But the press quickly sensed a hidden story. At White Sands, Army Ordnance officials were deluged with questions. Were there actually unknown satellites? Where had they come from? How many were there? Had this ever happened before?
At first, the censors started to cover up, but Dr. Tombaugh persuaded them this was unwise. On March 3, an official explanation, approved at the Pentagon, was released at White Sands.
The armed forces, Army Ordnance stated, were searching for tiny moons or "moonlets," natural objects which had come in from space and were now orbiting the Earth. They had not been tracked or discovered sooner, a spokesman said, because they were following orbits near the equator and the scarcity of observatories there made them harder to locate. Also, special automatic-tracking cameras moving at the satellites' speed would be required, because such fast-moving objects gave off very little light and ordinary telescopic cameras would not reveal them. The armed forces' intention, the spokesman explained, was to locate suitable "moonlets" which could be used as space bases and for launching missiles for the country's defense.
There was no hint that the unknown satellites might be intelligently controlled craft. The official statement implied that they were objects like asteroids and nothing serious was involved.
It was a preposterous explanation. For several asteroids to come in from space and, without any control, to assume the precise courses necessary to go into such orbits, would be impossible.
For the first few days there was fear at the Pentagon that this debunking claim might be publicly rejected. At AF Headquarters there was an added worry. If the "moonlet" cover-up failed, the true spaceship answer might emerge as the only alternative. If it did, this could revive a disturbing article on possible alien migration to our world.
The AF had good reason to fear any such spotlight. For the article had been written by a high AF Intelligence officer, Col. W. C. Odell. Why it had ever been written was a puzzle. Even more mystifying, it had been cleared by AF Security and Review, at a time when the great sighting wave of 1952 was still fresh in many minds.
Entitled "Planet Earth-Host to Extraterrestrial Life," the article began with these words:
Granted that superintelligents in another solar system are looking for a suitable planet for a second home, why would Earth be singled out?
Colonel Odell had avoided melodramatics, but his quiet suggestions had a powerful impact. According to his theory, alien beings from a dying planet were considering and surveying our world as a new home, a planet similar enough to their own so that they could survive here and perpetuate their race. Colonel Odell did nothing to indicate a violent occupation of Earth. But if his evaluation was right, then planet Earth might become, peacefully or not, a "host to extraterrestrial life."
When this surprising article was shown to me at the Pentagon I was amazed that it had been cleared for publication. At the request of AF UFO spokesman Albert M. Chop, I had a New York editor friend read the manuscript. But the AF stipulations disturbed him. Odell was not to be identified as an AF officer. Also the clearance by AF Security and Review was not to be mentioned. What bothered the editor most was this official clearance when the AF was still debunking UFOs in public statements. He finally decided not to risk being involved in some power play at the Pentagon, although the article would undoubtedly get national attention.
In the next few weeks Colonel Odell's manuscript was shown to a few selected members of the Washington press corps. Apparently the AF restrictions worried them too; so far as I know, it was never published, at least not by any national news service or magazine.
But headquarters censors, who had been bypassed by Security and Review, knew Colonel Odell's migration article had not been forgotten. If the growing evidence of giant spaceships became public, the Intelligence colonel's conclusion would probably be tied in, adding to the risk of hysteria.
Source: "Aliens From Space", pages 1958-1960.