In Annie Jacobsen’s new book, "Area 51," she reports than an anonymous source told her that the Roswell Incident was actually perpetrated by the Soviet Union in order to mislead US intelligence. According to Jacobsen, the source told her that deformed children created by Nazi scientist Dr. Joseph Mengele had been used in a craft of unexplained design that had been crashed near the Roswell Army Air Field for reasons that are not clearly explained in the book. Also unexplained is how the Soviets could have penetrated so deeply into American airspace with a small aircraft described. At the time, only the largest long-range bombers had sufficient range.

Ms. Jacobsen based her Roswell story on an "anonymous source," but UFO blogger Anthony Braglia was able to determine who he was and to interview him about why he would want to spread this story. According to Braglia’s research, the most probable source would have been 89 year old former EG&G Rotron scientist Alfred O’Donnell. Braglia writes in his blog that "O’Donnell is indeed exactly who he claims to have been. In the early 1950s he was at the "Nevada Test Site where atomic bombs were tested regularly." When Braglia interviewed O’Donnell by telephone, it became clear that he had identified him correctly. He first asked the man he had called if he was indeed the Alfred O’Donnell who had been with EG&G in the 1950s and received confirmation that he was speaking to the right man. O’Donnell then confirmed that he knew Annie Jacobsen, but he would not state outright that he was her source for the Roswell story. He did not deny it, however, when Braglia asserted it, and admitted that he had heard the story that the incident was a Soviet-engineered hoax. In his excellent blog on the subject, Braglia explains in detail how the "Soviet hoax" story got started.

Among the many authoritative voices that have spoken out regarding the Roswell incident, Col. Jesse Marcel and General Arthur Exon, the former commandant of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and an acquaintance of Whitley Strieber remain among the most credible. Colonel Marcel gathered the debris at the crash site, and described it on video tape as being extremely thin and yet completely impervious to harm. General Exon told Whitley Strieber personally that "Everyone from the White House on down knew that what we had found was not of this world within 24 hours of our finding it." He also gave an interview to Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt for their book UFO Crash at Roswell making similar assertions. As George Knapp pointed out on Coast to Coast AM on Sunday, May 29, the assertion that the material found at Roswell was a Soviet hoax involving bodies and a crashed vehicle does imply that bodies and a crashed vehicle were indeed found there.

It also raises a question about the authenticity of the "Alien Autopsy" video that was aired on television networks around the world in 1995. Could it be that the images, which do show actual corpses that appear to be afflicted with a genetic disorder, are actually from the Roswell site, as originally claimed? If so, then they are not human figures because they have five discreet fingers and a thumb on each hand, and human beings do not have the genetic encoding necessary to generate a sixth discreet finger. Even an individual with a genetic illness could only generate a sixth finger identical to one of the other five. Annie Jacobsen’s reporting has come under fire before.

In 2004 criticized her reporting about an incident she experienced aboard a Northwest Airlines flight when a number of what turned out to by Syrian musicians boarded the flight. She wrote an article about the incident for called "Terror in the Skies, Again" which was described by Salon writer Patrick Smith as "six pages of the worst grade school prose, spring-loaded with mindless hysterics and bigoted provocation." Area 51 contains many interesting assertions about what happened at the super-secret base, including one that experiments on children were conducted there, but the credibility of the book is seriously challenged both by its author’s background and the non-primary source she apparently used for her Roswell claims, a story that, if Alfred O’Donnell is indeed the source, he cannot have obtained firsthand.

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