- [CNI News
thanks William J. Birnes, co-author
(with Col. Philip Corso) of the new blockbuster book "The Day After
Roswell," for this exclusive interview in which he discusses his
involvement with the book and his candid impressions of the man behind
the story, Col. Philip Corso.]
- CNI News: Please tell us
a little about your background: schooling, profession, military involvement,
other publications -- anything you'd like our readers to know about you.
- William Birnes:
I'm a 52-year-old writer, editor, book publisher, and literary rights agent
in New York and Los Angeles. I write mostly true crime, but have done some
celebrity books and sports biographies. By training, I'm an academic with
a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature and Linguistics from N.Y.U. I taught English
and Linguistics on both undergraduate and graduate levels for many years
at what is now called the College of New Jersey. When I taught there it
was called Trenton State College. I have been an NEH fellow and an NEH
grants judge. I've never served in the military.
- CNI: How would you
describe your orientation to the UFO subject? Prior to working with Corso,
were you familiar with UFO research and lore? Did you have a personal opinion
on the "reality" of UFOs as unusual aircraft of possibly non-human
- WB: I was a UFO literary
and movie"fan" with a cursory background into the research. I'd
read Kevin Randle and Stan Friedman, saw all the relevant documentaries,
knew the lore of Roswell and spoken with people in Roswell who had claimed
to have knowledge of the 1947 incident. I had heard "stories"
about a group called MJ-12 and, of course, read about it in books, but
had no direct knowledge of it. I'd spoken to some pilots who's claimed
to have had encounters and had heard stories about UFOs in Mexico and Brazil.
But I had no direct knowledge of any UFO encounters except through second-hand
or third-hand sources.
- CNI: How did you
come to collaborate with Col. Corso on this project? When did your collaboration
begin and how did it develop?
- WB: I was brought
to Col. Corso by a Los Angeles motion picture company that was working
with him on his World War II and Korean War Army Intelligence experiences.
I was particularly interested in writing a book with him on his tour of
duty in Rome when he managed to arrange for the escape of a Jewish displaced
war refugee camp from Rome to Palestine right under the noses of the British
and the Soviet NKVD units operating in Rome. But after developing a book
outline for this, I learned about Col. Corso's experiences as a member
of the U.S. Senate Internal Security subcommittee in 1963 and his investigation
of the Warren Commission (all of it documented) and I really got intrigued.
- It was only after we'd talked about what kinds of books
we wanted to do that [Col. Corso] confided in me that he'd had another
job when he was at the Pentagon from 1961-1963 which concerned the development
of U.S. weapons technology from "foreign" or "alien"
sources. Ultimately, he told me that he had information from the Roswell
crash that had been kept in the Army files since 1947 and gradually put
into development. When it became his time to take over the files, he was
in charge of the anti-missile missile, military applications for the already-in-development
laser, a night vision lens, and the high-energy kinetic electron beam.
The inspiration for all of these devices, he said, came from files the
Army kept on the technology of the devices retrieved from Roswell. The
cover for this "alien" technology development was the routine
Army weapons development program. He showed me the development histories
of these weapons and from what I could see, the cover worked perfectly.
Things just seemed to "appear" in development without any previous
history. Of course, nobody wrote down anything about Roswell.
- CNI: What else can
you say about Corso's background and overall credibility?
- WB: Phil Corso was
an Army Intelligence officer trained by the British. His records were covered
up by his bosses at the Pentagon because he had made intelligence discoveries
(not related to Roswell) that put his life in danger. I have seen some
of the classified information he developed and it amounts to nothing less
than a "secret history of the United States." I'm almost afraid
to talk [about] some of this stuff. But the man is as credible as they
come. He was responsible for POW exchanges, had sources deep inside the
KGB, fought a real battle for over fifteen years with the CIA, and saved
the life of House Speaker McCormick in the hours after JFK was assassinated
in Texas. I've even managed to confirm through columnist Paul Scott (now
in his 90's, I think) that it was Corso who leaked information about the
Soviet IRBMs [intermediate range missiles] in Cuba in 1962 because the
President wasn't going to do anything about them. Corso's as real as they
- CNI: While you worked
with Corso, was there any point at which your own sense of reality was
challenged by his claims? If so, what caused that to happen for you?
- WB: I was frankly
amazed at the matter-of-fact way in which Corso recounted the day-to-day
operations of slipping alien technology into the R&D units of large
corporations. His facile way of dealing with large companies through the
offices of General Trudeau showed me just how narrow the line is between
the military and corporate America. Maybe it's different today, but back
in the 1960s, while JFK was talking about idealism and altruism, the military
was fighting its own war both within government, with the Soviets and their
satellite nations, and with some alien presence that the military believed
was hostile. It was as if there was an entire universe during the early
1960s that was completely invisible unless you knew it was there. More
than ever, Phil Corso's revelations pointed me in the direction of a "secret
American history" that is still unfolding today.
- CNI: Turning now
to the specifics in the book, does Corso state as fact that alien (i.e.
off-world, non-human) artifacts have been acquired by the U.S. government?
- WB: Yes. Said artifacts
were part of the Roswell debris delivered to the Pentagon from Wright Field
and were stored in R&D files for over ten years before anyone tried
to harvest them. Corso handled some of these artifacts, especially the
cracker-sized IC wafers, a fiber-optic harness, and some kind of metallic
headband, and tried to determine what use they had.
- CNI: And does Corso
state as fact that alien bodies have been acquired by the U.S. government?
- WB: Corso saw one
of the alien bodies floating in some kind of gel in a casket at Fort Riley
in 1947 and reviewed the Army autopsy of an alien body while he was at
the Pentagon. He describes what the Army pathologists speculated upon in
- CNI: In your understanding,
why is Corso writing this book now?
- WB: Corso says that
now that everybody is dead, especially his boss, Arthur Trudeau, he feels
comfortable talking about the Foreign Technology section of Army R&D.
Five years ago, he wouldn't have compiled this manuscript or dared to describe
what he did. But, now, he says, there really is no reason to keep these
facts hidden. Besides, he believes he's part of the disclosure.
- CNI: Do you think
Corso has put himself (his reputation, his military pension, his life)
at risk by publishing this book?
- WB: Although his
pension is not at issue, nor is his life, there are people -- friends of
his from his military days -- who've suggested that the public really shouldn't
be entrusted with this information and it's better left unspoken. Also,
very few people currently in the government want to be identified with
the Roswell story because of the ongoing controversy. Clearly, Phil Corso
has opened up some of this controversy to public scrutiny, and it's bound
to cause some waves.
- CNI: Senator Strom
Thurmond, who wrote the foreword to the book, told the Associated Press
on June 5 that he was not properly informed on the content of the book
and now wants to distance himself from it. According to the press statement,
Thurmond was told that the book was to be a memoir titled "I Walked
with Giants: My Career in Military Intelligence," and that there was
"'absolutely no mention, suggestion or indication' that the book dealt
with UFOs and a government conspiracy to hide the existence of such space
vehicles." On learning the actual content of the book, Thurmond stated
that "I did not, and would not, pen the foreword to a book about,
or containing, a suggestion that the success of the United States in the
Cold War is attributable to the technology found on a crashed UFO."
Mr. Birnes, how do you respond to these statements?
- WB: I want to set
the record straight on this. I've read a number of articles in which Thurmond's
staff has cited a book entitled "I Walked with Giants" as the
book for which the senator claims to have written the foreword. This is
patently incorrect. The truth is that the foreword the senator wrote for
Phil Corso's first manuscript "I Walked with Giants" was returned
to him by Col. Corso, who requested that he write a NEW foreword for his
book "The Day After Roswell." Col. Corso spoke to Senator Thurmond
in person in DC and told him what he was writing in "The Day After
Roswell," and that he was even including an anecdote about [the senator]
in the book. Senator Thurmond agreed to write the new foreword -- which
he did -- and sent it to Corso. I have copies of both forewords as well
as Thurmond's signed release to use his new foreword in "The Day After
- It's quite possible that, for whatever reason, Senator
Thurmond's staff never realized that the senator had agreed to write a
foreword for a book about UFOs and the military's harvest of alien technology.
But the senator did agree, and we have his signed release.