PITTSBURGH (AP) — A researcher backed by cable television’s Sci Fi Channel plans to sue NASA for records she contends the agency has of a UFO that reportedly crash landed and was recovered by government workers in southwestern Pennsylvania in 1965.
The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the lawsuit to be filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Leslie Kean, a San Rafael, Calif., investigative reporter backed by the cable channel and a group called the Coalition for Freedom of Information.
“Our lawsuit is aimed at getting NASA to tell the public what it knew and when it knew it,” said Ed Rothschild, a lobbyist the Sci Fi Channel hired from the Washington firm PodestaMattoon, who is also identified as CFI’s executive director. Former President Bill Clinton’s one-time chief of staff John Podesta is a principle in the lobbying firm and has supported the cable channel’s effort to declassify the documents.
Bob Jacobs, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said he was unaware of the lawsuit and could not comment.
Tuesday’s filing will mark the 38th anniversary of the Kecksburg UFO incident, which occurred Dec. 9, 1965, in the unincorporated hamlet about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Witnesses described a “fireball” in the evening sky, and a metallic, acorn-shaped object about 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to 12 feet in diameter that landed in the woods, according to media accounts in the Tribune-Review of Greensburg and other outlets at the time.
Military personnel quickly surrounded the site, removed the object, threatened residents who tried to inquire about it, and left — later calling the object a “meteor,” according to media accounts.
James Romansky, 57, of Derry Township, was then a 19-year-old volunteer firefighter. He told The Associated Press on Friday that he was among those who drove to the landing site.
“Now, I’m prepared for a smashed-up airplane … and I’m thinking, ‘What in the hell is this?’ I’m looking for wings, propellers, motors, a fuselage — but there’s none of that,” Romansky said. “There’s no rivet marks on it, no weld marks on it, no windows, no doors — no possible way of getting in and out of this thing that I seen.
“There was writing on it, but not writing that you or I could understand. I always referred to it as something like the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. There was dots and dashes and circles,” Romansky said.
The cable network announced in June that it was backing the effort to research the Kecksburg incident in promoting a documentary, “Out of the Blue,” which examined various UFO reports.
“This should have been done a long time ago,” Romansky said. “The United States government has given us a snow job for the last God knows when. I can’t understand it for the life of me. They can’t come out and say it’s nothing because I was 10, 20 feet away from it.”
Sci Fi Channel officials said they’re looking for an explanation of what occurred. They’re also looking for viewers.
A November 2002 documentary on the suspected 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico, was the highest-rated special in the network’s 11-year history. It was seen by nearly 2.4 million people, or about 2 1/2 times Sci Fi’s usual prime-time audience.
The lawsuit contends NASA has thwarted Kean’s efforts to retrieve official files on the incident by sending her irrelevant information or nothing in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.
“Despite our serious effort to uncover the facts, NASA still refuses to provide the public with any information,” said Sci Fi Channel president Bonnie Hammer. “We are hopeful that our legal system will help us find out what really happened in the woods outside Kecksburg.”
Correction: Sci Fi Channel Lawsuit story
The Associated Press
Dec. 6, 2003
PITTSBURGH (AP) — In a Dec. 5 story about a lawsuit backed by the Sci Fi Channel over classified documents, The Associated Press reported erroneously that former White House chief of staff John Podesta is a principal in the lobbying firm hired by the channel.
Podesta supports the channel’s effort, but is not a principal in the PodestaMattoon lobbying firm, although his brother, Anthony Podesta, is.