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Tuscaloosa (AL) News 10/23/1996

 [From the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News, 10-23-96, page 1A(!)]
 By Richard Powell
 Staff Writer
 TUSCALOOSA -  If you're one of those people who believe only mentally
 unstable people see flying saucers, you're just a victim of a
 40-year-long "debunking" campaign by the government of the United
 States, a UFO researcher said here Tuesday night.
 Robert Hastings, a laboratory analyst with a semiconductor manufacturer
 in New Mexico and an amateur UFO researcher, has obtained hundreds of
 what he describes as previously classified government documents on
 flying saucers.
 His program, "UFOs: The Hidden History," was sponsored here by the
 Emphasis division of University Programs.
 Hastings said his interest in UFOs began in 1967, when he was present at
 an air traffic control tower at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.  He
 said he witnessed the tower track five UFOs for several minutes.  When
 jets were dispatched to intercept them, the UFOs climbed away at an
 enormous speed.
 Despite repeated public denials by officials that flying exist,
 "officials at the highest level of the government not only believe UFOs
 exist, in fact, they deem them to be a threat to our national security,"
 Hastings told a packed house in Ferguson Theater.
 "I am not a missionary, I'm not trying to convert skeptics into
 believers," said Hastings.  He said he was offering his program on a
 "take it or leave it basis."
 "What you are about to see and hear may seem like science fiction, a
 delusion or an elaborate practical joke," Hastings said.  "I assure you
 it's none of these things.
 There followed a 30-minute slide show of government memos and findings
 that tell of sightings and close encounters all over the world since the
 late 1940s.
 Hastings said government officials have kept their findings under wraps
 for fear of spreading panic among the populace like that experienced
 after Orson Wells broadcast his "War of the Worlds" radio hoax.
 Hastings showed slides of documents obtained under the Freedom of
 Information Act that seem to show the government has had a "debunking"
 campaign in effect since the 1950s.
 Other documents, projected on the theater's movie screen, told of UFOs
 repeatedly being spotted hovering over America's nuclear weapons sites.
 He even had documentation of an F4-Phantom jet engaging in a sort of dog
 fight with a cylindrical, silver UFO over Iran in 1976.
 Documents were shown that indicated that, while the government laughed
 off the subject, people in the highest level of power were aware of UFOs
 that could travel at 7,000 miles per hour in our atmosphere and perform
 high speed maneuvers that would destroy any man-made aircraft.
 Hastings said his documents are just the "tip of the iceberg" of all the
 documents the government has on UFO sightings, but they are being
 withheld, Hastings said, because officials claim their release would be
 a threat to national security, exempting them from the Freedom of
 Information Act.
 There is simply not enough information to draw conclusions about what
 the UFOs are up to, Hastings said, other than that they seem to like to
 nose around nuclear weapons sites and power plants.
 He said he has interviewed 21 retired military people who manned nuclear
 missile sites and they told him of numerous incidents they personally
 observed.  Discs of various colors were seen hovering over the sites, at
 which time all electrical systems at the sites went dead.
 Missile maintenance personnel told him all their efforts to restore
 power and get the missiles back on line failed.  The systems would
 eventually come back on, seemingly of their own accord, Hastings said.
 "The majority opinion was that someone who is technologically superior
 to us was demonstrating that they had the power to shut down our nuclear
 weapons," Hastings said.
 He said a colonel in the former Soviet Union told him of similar
 occurences at that country's nuclear missile sites.
 In September 1976, when the Shah of Iran was still in power and the
 United States had good relations with that country, Hastings showed a
 document sent from the American embassy in Tehran to Washington.
 It told How two F-4 Phantoms were dispatched to intercept a luminous
 disc flying not far from Tehran.  One jet lost all instrumentation and
 communications when it got within 25 miles of the disc, Hastings'
 document said.
 Power was regained when the jet turned away, according to the document.
 The second jet tried to fire a missile at the disc, but it, too, lost
 all instrumentation.  A smaller UFO was dispatched from the disc and it
 tracked the jet for several miles.  As the jet attempted to land, it
 came within 30 feet of the jet.
 At that moment, the base where the jet was landing lost all electrical
 power, the document said.
 "A coincedence?  I don't think so," Hastings said.
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