Despite our recent posting of Dr. Ken Johnston’s credentials, certificates and awards, including his doctoral certificate from the Reform Baptist Theological Seminary of Denver, granted in 1985, NASA shill James Oberg has continued to attack Ken on several fronts. From the ridiculous accusation that Ken was not “in charge” of the photographs in his possession at NASA’s Lunar Receiving Laboratory, to attacking the doctorate itself, Oberg has been -- inexplicably for a guy who says he wants to “move on to other things” -- persistent. By his own account, Oberg has been burning up the phone lines trying to find something – anything – to discredit a man he has known for over 30 years, while continuing to pretend he’s never even met Ken Johnston.
The purpose of these vicious and personal attacks is multi-faceted, and designed to achieve several nefarious goals.
Any objective observer would have long-since concluded that Ken is exactly who he says he is, and that he has provided more than sufficient documentation verifying his resume. Yet, in his unrelenting attempts to assassinate Ken’s character, Oberg has hidden behind the lie that he is simply doing what any other journalist would do in his shoes. In reality, Oberg’s attacks have nothing to do with journalism. Oberg has no intention of ever writing anything for NBC or MSNBC on the questions raised by Dark Mission or the testimony Ken has given. He’s simply using this as an excuse to attack an honest American who served his country with honor in the Marines and at NASA in order to satisfy the blood thirst of the creeps who inhabit the CSICOP (now “CSI”) end of the spectrum, and to serve those at NASA who are threatened by Ken’s testimony.
This is clearly proven out by the pettiness and irrationality of the specific attacks themselves.
For instance, Oberg continues to argue that Ken was not “in charge” of the photographic datasets in his possession at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, despite the memo from NASA’s Dr. Jeffery L. Warner, which states that “the data and photo facilities in Room 105 that is run by Ken Johnston… is an order of magnitude better than when I left it.” It’s hard to understand how someone who “runs” a data and photo facility is somehow not “in charge” of the data and photos that he is given oversight of. Only a twisted agenda like Oberg’s can manage to turn this into some sort of “discrepancy.”
Furthermore, it wouldn’t matter if Ken had been merely the janitor at the LRL during the Apollo Program, much less “in charge” of anything. All that matters is that he was, in fact, in a position to have access to the official Apollo photographs he has now provided to the world (as Dr. Warner’s memo, among many other documents, clearly establishes); that he was subsequently ordered to destroy these photographs (a story we recount in “Dark Mission”), and that he chose instead to preserve some of the images -- to the ultimate betterment of mankind.
So given these indisputable facts, why is Oberg still pursuing a subject he claims he’d rather not be spending time on? Perhaps the answer lies in the legal entanglements which potentially arise from NASA’s original order.
One unspoken motivation for Oberg’s bumbling attempts at intimidation and highly invasive attacks on Ken’s character may be the desire to discredit him as a potential first-hand witness. Given the highly questionable legality of the order given to Ken to destroy key Apollo photographic data, a future courtroom appearance or Congressional inquiry is not out of the question. Several former NASA employees, all probably drawing pensions from their days at the Agency, are potentially implicated. That these same ex-NASA employees are now (according to Oberg anyway) denying that Ken Johnston was ever actually involved in the management of any LRL facilities or in charge of any photographs is hardly surprising. However, given their signed memos to the contrary (from over 30 years ago), it’s clear that they are most likely simply trying to cover their own rear ends, since they are directly threatened by Ken’s first person testimony regarding what they ordered him to do in those critical Apollo years.
This relentless smear campaign will also have a chilling effect on anyone else inside NASA thinking about coming forward. If they were to do so, as Ken has, and tell the truth about what they saw and did at the Agency all those years ago, they can expect the same sort of threats, intimidation and character assault that Ken has now experienced. Oberg, from his position as science reporter at NBC news, has already shown -- by getting Ken fired from his position as JPL Solar System Ambassador -- that he will use his power as a “journalist” to wreck the reputation of anyone who dares stand up to the NASA “family.”
However, as an obviously unintended consequence of Oberg’s one-man smear campaign against Ken, we now know that there were several other NASA photo labs, most notably “Building 8” at NASA’s (then) MSC in Houston, where early generation Apollo photographic prints and negatives were also stored and analyzed. So the question now arises, who was in charge of those official NASA photographs? And were they also ordered, as Ken was, to destroy their sets of photographic data from Apollo around the same time Ken was given his specific orders?
Perhaps someday (Congressional), inquiring minds will want to know…
But we must not lose sight of the most significant underlying reason for Oberg’s increasingly desperate efforts to attack Ken Johnston -- to distract readers of this blog (and anyone in the mainstream media) from the real, far more significant policy questions that are raised by Dr. Johnston’s disturbing first-person testimony. Namely, why was he told to destroy four priceless sets of lunar surface and orbital photography from the Apollo missions, and what was on them that NASA was so interested in hiding that they refused to allow the photos to be preserved or simply donated to academic institutions, to whom they would have been invaluable?
What Ken’s meticulously preserved first-generation prints showed was massive artificial “scaffolding” towering over the astronauts as they worked around the Lunar Module “Antares,” on Apollo 14. Later comparisons with Apollo 12 images from that landing site (only 122 miles away) confirmed these same towering glass-like structures, literally “over the horizon,” -- as seen from both landing sites. But without confirmation from NASA’s own image archive, some 30 years (and who knows how many photographic generations) later, Ken’s heroic act of disobedience might have gone unrewarded. As it is, thanks to the scanning efforts of NASA’s own archivists, we can now confirm that these artificial structures are clearly visible in NASA’s current database posted on its own official websites – even if they are degraded by the passing of more than a generation since Ken obtained his original prints and refused the orders by NASA Headquarters to destroy them.
So again, the issue is not “Ken Johnston,” an American hero who served his country when called and who was a true pioneer in the development of the Apollo program itself, but rather the data he preserved and showed the world.
As to Mr. Oberg, who, not satisfied with getting Ken fired from his well deserved position as a JPL Solar System Ambassador, has continued to attack Ken and complain about his own treatment in these pages, we have only one thing more to add. Oberg has continued to insist in both private emails and public forums that Ken -- and indeed our entire premise -- should be rejected, because in his mind we made an “error” in our second press release promoting the October 30th National Press Club event.
Forgetting for the moment that I had nothing to do with the composition of that press release (I was merely the contact person listed on it), Oberg has also attacked me personally because the press release mentions that Oberg was “a colleague of Johnston’s at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center during the Apollo Program in the 1970’s.” Note that the release never said that Oberg “worked on the Apollo program itself, or anything else implying that he was directly involved in Apollo when employed at NASA. Oberg, however, has continued to insist that he was never even at the (Johnson) Manned Spacecraft Center “during the Apollo program.”
Oberg buttresses his argument by writing that he started at JSC (the renamed “MSC,” in 1973) in late July, 1975 -- after the splashdown of the final Apollo mission, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). He actually states his “start date” at JSC as July 28th, one week exactly after the splashdown of the Apollo-Soyuz mission.
This is, at best, a Clintonian prevarication.
As anyone who has ever worked in aerospace well knows, programs don’t “end” with the splashdown of a spacecraft or final flight of an aircraft. They go on for months, and sometimes years, afterwards. There is data to be gathered, scientific and engineering reviews to be published, and lessons learned to be applied to the next program.
Apollo was no different. In fact, the Apollo Program Office continued to stay open well beyond the July 21st splashdown of the last Apollo spacecraft. This official NASA history (SP-4209) shows that the Apollo Program Office was still open as late as October, 1975, when it was refitted to accommodate the shuttle program, which Ken and James both worked on.
It is not surprising to us that James Oberg continues to make outrageous charges and false claims about Ken, or is deceptive about his own employment history in a lame attempt to cover up the simple fact that he and Ken Johnston, indeed, both worked together at Johnson “during the Apollo Program.” We implore our readers to cut through the noise created by Oberg’s ongoing fallacious claims, and focus instead on what’s really important here – the amazing Apollo lunar ruins that NASA has tried, and now obviously failed, to keep secret for so long.
And to focus on the courage of one real American -- who has dared to stand up to an unending barrage of personal attacks at the hands of one of NASA’s own “hit men,” for simply trying to tell everyone the truth.