Note: Brad is one of the foremost authorities in the field having been one the founders of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy in 1977 and the person who conceptualized the name. He was also one of the prime resources in the initial lawsuits against the CIA and NSA. Brad's assistance was one of the main reasons the CIA had no choice but to release the 900 pages of documents in 1978.--Peter Gersten
Thank you for asking my opinion on the Roswell mess. Basically, I tend to believe the first-hand testimonies of eyewitnesses to the Roswell debris, the earlier accounts the better -- and only after critical evaluation accounting for witness perceptual error and memory defects, especially the processes of folklore generation after passage of many years and the contaminating effects of publicity.
The first-hand Roswell witnesses say that what was found was foil-like foil, balsa-like balsa sticks, rubber-like rubber sheets, paper-like paper parchment, plastic tape-like tape, with symbols on some of the material, plus some filaments or threads -- all of which added up to a total of about 5 pounds of material (according to Mac Brazel who was the discoverer). This does not sound like an alien spacecraft. There is no mention of dead alien bodies, laser devices, silicon microchip wafers, kevlar-like fabric, computers, etc., by any of the first-hand Roswell witnesses. As Moore and Friedman have stated, "Marcel, Haut, and the seven Brazel family members say that as far as they are aware, there were NO BODIES FOUND."
It is still an unshakeable fact that until Moore and Friedman came along in 1979 and mistakenly connected the apparently Scully-inspired undated Barney Barnett story in WESTERN New Mexico to the 1947 Roswell story in EASTERN New Mexico, no one had EVER thought of Roswell as involving dead alien bodies or an alien spacecraft with advanced machinery (beyond of course what the term "flying disc" used in the original 1947 news accounts might have implied to the imagination). Barnett himself was never interviewed by investigators as he had died many years earlier, so his story is only known from admittedly "hearsay" retellings literally decades after he told the story (or stories).
For more about Frank Scully and the story of the Aztec UFO,
No one can find a published account of Roswell prior to 1979 that mentions bodies or a sophisticated craft.
Moore and Friedman felt compelled to "abandon" the Barnett story in 1982 as "hearsay" and "circumstantial" but it was too late, the damage had been done. Roswell was forever stamped as a crashed alien ship-with-bodies in their book The Roswell Incident (1980) despite the fact it was a mistake of investigator "hypothesis." As Moore-Friedman candidly confessed in 1985, "We freely ADMIT that earlier attempts to tie it [the Barnett story] to the Roswell incident were somewhat overzealous and DEFINITELY PREMATURE."
They "freely admitted" a "MAJOR RETRENCHMENT" of their "whole scenario" connecting the Barnett "claim" to Roswell, which was based "ONLY" on the "HYPOTHESIS" of giving the Barnett story a 1947 date which had "INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE" and may well be "SUBSTANTIALLY IN ERROR." (Of course there was more to it than just force-fitting the date. They also had to force a connection of Barnett with Roswell geographically, somehow bridging the 150 miles or so stretching clear across the State of New Mexico, and then the details of the two completely inconsistent or different stories had to be forced together.)
But this clarification or retraction was all but ignored by UFOlogy.
History was indeed rewritten, as you said Peter.
In short, the Roswell debris seems to consist of balloon-and-radar-reflector-like balloon-and-radar-reflector debris. When one looks at the points of information conflicting with this conclusion they are all hearsay data, or subject to serious question due to memory problems or folklore influences. For example, I haven't been able to find any first-hand statement from anyone who PERSONALLY supposedly tried to use a sledgehammer on the recovered Roswell material -- a ridiculous tall-tale story that in reality would have been a court-martial offense had any military man actually tried to damage or destroy remains of a recovered alien spaceship or US Government property in such a manner. But it's a classic of folklore embellishment to add in superlative made-up details of the biggest, strongest, tallest, most powerful, most sensational, strangest, scariest, etc.
The alien transistor story -- that the 1947-8 invention of the transistor at Bell Labs was really due to analysis of Roswell UFO crash material -- is absolute nonsense. No one in 1947 had the equipment to discover that a MICROSCOPIC size component on an alien microchip was a transistor or anything else. And because nondestructive testing did not exist in 1947 they would have to destroy the component in order to discover what it was. And if they did figure it out, they would have to make copies to simulate the function of the circuitry in order to avoid destroying more of the alien original -- and if they made microchip copies in 1947 why did it take two decades to make the first microchips?
Does anyone seriously think labs would burn up precious alien materiel in destructive testing thus ruining the function of the circuit or the equipment? Is there any evidence that anyone had microscopic electronic equipment and probes in 1947? Show me how anyone on earth had the microassay equipment even capable of figuring out the chemical composition and the microscopic structure of a microtransistor in 1947.
Five pounds of foil, balsa wood, rubber, paper, scotch tape and thread sounds like something made in a garage, not in an alien laboratory.