Return to Fast-Breaking News & Updates Archive
An NHNE News Flash:
Steven Greer BAE Controversy
Sunday, June 8, 1997
We had planned to include an edited version of the following CNI NEWS Special Report in tomorrow's NHNE NEWS BRIEF. So many important points were made though, that we felt it best to pass the complete Special Report on to all of our subscribers. The CNI Special Report that follows is a follow-up to a CNI article that we emailed out to subscribers on 6/6/97 (NHNE News Flash: Washington UFO Briefings).
We will probably have more to say about this unfortunate situation in the future.
With Love & Best Wishes,
CNI News -- Special Report -- June 10, 1997
Global News on Contact with Non-human Intelligence
CNI News is a twice-monthly electronic newsletter addressing UFO phenomena, claims of human-alien contact, space exploration and related issues, including the cultural and political impacts of contact with other intelligent life. CNI News is edited by Michael Lindemann and distributed by the 2020 Group.
CNI News is a subscription newsletter. First-time recipients may receive two free issues before subscribing. UFO/CNI researchers, educators and organizations may qualify for a complimentary subscription. For more information on how to subscribe, please see the notice at the end of this issue. Questions and comments may be addressed to: Editor, CNINews1@aol.com.
The subject matter of CNI News is inherently controversial, and the views and opinions reported herein are not necessarily those of the editorial staff.
DR. GREER CLAIMS RIGHT TO USE "BEST EVIDENCE" DOCUMENT,
BUT UFO RESEARCH COALITION DECLARES HIS ACTION ILLEGAL
CNI News Answers Criticisms of June 1 Story on DC Briefings
The lead story in the June 1 edition of CNI News recounted details of the April 9-10 Washington DC "closed briefing on UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence" hosted by Dr. Steven Greer's Project Starlight Coalition for members of Congress and invited press. In the June 1 story, CNI News claimed that Greer had improperly duplicated and distributed a copyrighted document referred to as "The Best Available Evidence" or BAE.
CNI News has been severely criticized for this story on several counts, not only by Greer but by a number of other readers.
The first criticism is that CNI News did not report Steven Greer's side of the story. This criticism is valid and is corrected below.
The second criticism is that CNI News mixed personal opinion statements of writer Michael Lindemann in with factual reporting, which is considered unacceptable journalistic practice. This criticism is valid. CNI News and its writers are entitled to express opinions in clearly designated Editorials, not in other stories. An editorial statement concludes this special report.
The third and most important criticism is that CNI News defamed Steven Greer by making blatantly false and libelous accusations. The main purpose of this special report is to answer this criticism. CNI News agrees that some details in the original June 1 story were inaccurate, and they are corrected in this report. Steven Greer disputes those who say he misrepresented his right to the BAE document, and his position is reported here. However, the UFO Research Coalition, which holds the copyright on the published version of the disputed document, and others who were involved in its creation, staunchly maintain that Greer acted illegally and that his version of events leading to the creation of the BAE is highly inaccurate and self-serving. An attorney for the Coalition has sent Greer a cease and desist warning in this regard, citing specific violations of law. In light of these complaints, CNI News and Michael Lindemann maintain that they are not guilty of defaming Dr. Greer.
In order to give Steven Greer a full opportunity to express his position, most of the text of his written rebuttal to our June 1 story follows. [His complete text can be found at the CSETI web site, http://www.cseti.org]. CNI News editor Michael Lindemann also spoke with Greer by phone for over an hour on Saturday, June 7 in order to better understand his position. Further details from that conversation follow Greer's text.
REPLY TO MICHAEL LINDEMANN/CNI ARTICLE
[by Steven M. Greer M.D.]
3 June 1997
We are in receipt of the Michael Lindemann/CNI News article regarding the April 9, 1997 briefings in Washington DC.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Lindemann decided to write and distribute such an article without first consulting with CSETI regarding the numerous false accusations mentioned therein.
The Lindemann/CNI News article is filled with falsehoods, poorly researched information and egregious and libelous statements regarding the Best Available Evidence briefing document. Lindemann never called or wrote to me or CSETI to ascertain the facts of the matter before publishing statements which are defaming, false and blatantly inaccurate....
Regarding the Best Available Evidence document (hereinafter referred to as the BAE), the following are the facts related to its creation, concept, title, development and use:
After beginning the CSETI Project Starlight UFO/ETI disclosure effort in the summer of 1993, I was invited to a meeting at Mr. Laurance Rockefeller's JY Ranch near Jackson Hole WY, where I met Mrs Marie (Bootsie) Galbraith. I shared with Ms. Galbraith and the others gathered there our plans regarding collecting the Best Available Evidence regarding UFOs and our plans to provide briefings for world leaders and the public on the subject.
Mrs. Galbraith indicated a keen interest in assisting with this effort. Subsequently I provided to her, to Mr. Rockefeller and to the BSW Foundation a full complement of our plans, strategy and an outline of the BAE, including inclusion and exclusion criteria for cases, the title 'Best Available Evidence', the concept and strategy for its use, etc.
For nearly 2 years we collaborated on this matter, and CSETI continued to provide consultation and strategic input. In addition to my creating the title, concept, criteria and strategy for the use of the BAE, I flew to New York to meet with Galbraith et al and spent considerable time discussing specific cases to be selected for the BAE. Additionally, numerous hours were spent via long distance telephone discussing the BAE with Mrs. Galbraith and in selecting specific cases to be used.
Subsequently, Mrs. Galbraith and BSW Foundation, with funding assistance from Mr. Rockefeller and others, offered to take on the task of completing and writing the BAE. The BAE was to be a collection of classic, if traditional, UFO cases of strong evidential integrity. It was decided that my efforts should go into obtaining extraordinary evidence and deep cover first-hand military and intelligence data and witness testimony.
It was always the explicit and repeatedly stated intention of Mrs. Galbraith, BSW, Mr. Rockefeller and CSETI to create a BAE which would be a PUBLIC DOMAIN, NON-COPYRIGHTED DOCUMENT which would be used to brief VIPs, world and national leaders. We worked, without compensation and freely in good faith, to create such a BAE document.
Subsequently, BSW and Mrs. Galbraith hired Don Berliner and Antonio Huneus [sic] to work on writing the BAE, although Berliner was the primary paid writer/researcher.
In the fall of 1995, some 2 years after first providing the concept, title, strategy etc to Mrs. Galbraith et al, she mailed me a NON-COPYRIGHTED Best Available Evidence document to be used for briefing leaders as stated above. We SPECIFICALLY AND EXPLICITLY DISCUSSED THE USE OF THIS JOINTLY CREATED DOCUMENT AS A PERMANENTLY NON-COPYRIGHTED, PUBLIC DOMAIN DOCUMENT. Mrs. Galbraith reiterated Mr. Rockefellers intent to have this document become a briefing tool to be freely used for its intended purpose -- a purpose and concept originated by me personally.
Unfortunately, subsequent to this, Mrs. Galbraith, in collaboration with the so-called and newly formed UFO Research Coalition attempted to seize this jointly created BAE document, copyright it, and restrict its use, in clear and reprehensible violation of the spirit of how the document was created. In doing so, Mrs. Galbraith violated our working agreement, and further violated her arrangement with the founder and principal of BSW foundation, a long time friend of Mrs. Galbraith.
Both the principal of BSW and CSETI protested this extraordinary and divisive act, but Mrs. Galbraith and the UFO Research Coalition persisted in this behavior. I wrote Mr. Rockefeller personally informing him of this treachery. I further informed him that we intended to use the BAE document, which I originated and named and for which I selected many of the cases, in the manner which he - and all of us - had intended: as a non-copyrighted, public domain document, jointly created in good faith, to be used for educating world leaders on the UFO subject. No corrective instructions were ever sent to us regarding this clearly stated position.
Subsequently, an historic gathering was convened in Washington DC on April 9, 1997 at which a number of congressional offices, congressmen and other VIPs were present. As part of the materials provided, this non-copyrighted, public domain BAE was presented as a complete document, as well as an executive summary in the larger CSETI Briefing Document ( a separate item) which was given to the VIPs in attendance. This use is wholly in keeping with the spirit and stated purpose behind the collaborative creation of the BAE document. It was not, nor has it ever been, sold by CSETI, contrary to false and defaming statements made by others. This BAE clearly stated that it was written by Berliner, so how could it have been plagiarized? Unfortunately, if appears that Lindemann does not even know the definition of the word, since it requires the taking of another's written material and without crediting the writer, claiming to have written it. On the title page, we did also credit CSETI and myself for the title, strategy , concept etc, and it is wholly appropriate that we did so, since it is the documented truth.
The CSETI Briefing Document which currently is available for purchase does not contain any part or reference to this BAE document. We have behaved entirely ethically and within our rights in this matter, and, unlike other parties who have aggrieved us, have refused to try to seize this BAE document, copyright it, or make plans for its sale.
At this juncture, due to the unpleasantness of the entire matter, we are not even providing this document gratis to VIPs who should receive it.
I should point out that the principal of BSW, who provided significant funding (along with Mr. Rockefeller) for the writing of the BAE, has been quite concerned over the attempt to seize and copyright the document. Notwithstanding the fact that BSW partially funded the document, Mrs. Galbraith and the so-called UFO Research Coalition will not even allow BSW to purchase copies of the document for free distribution to VIPs and world leaders.
Lindemann/CNI News also falsely claims that I altered the BAE document to make it look like it was written by me. This is completely false: the BAE document, except for the title page which was changed to reflect the true, above stated origins and credits, was provided to the VIPs with only very minor and occassional changes from the original given to CSETI by Mrs. Galbraith.
The above is a true and factual account of this matter. There are multiple witnesses and dated documents which support these facts. It is profoundly regrettable that Lindemann/CNI News failed to engage in due diligence to ascertain these facts prior to publishing the false, defaming and libelous article in question.
In the Lindemann/CNI News article, Lindemann states that I am "grossly dishonest," am possessed of "deplorably bad judgement", am a "plagiarist" who acted with "stupidity" and that I acted with "treachery". These are serious, defaming, false and libelous comments.
Mr. Lindemann and CNI News must publish a full retraction and apology, or appropriate actions will be taken against Mr. Lindemann and CNI News and any others engaged in similar defaming and libelous behavior.
I have watched for 18 months as the BAE document was seized, misrepresented by many as originating from Galbraith et al and generally used in bad faith by those who falsely lay claim to it. As a gentleman and as a person who sincerely wishes for the general advancement of the UFO subject, I have chosen, up to now, to be restrained on this matter. But the appearance of such libelous and defaming comments in a publication and on the internet cannot and must not go unanswered....
I recommend that the public refer to the CSETI Report on the DC Briefings, available from CSETI and also located on the CSETI website (www.cseti.org). This reply constitutes my official public response on this matter, and further inquiries will be referred to this document...
[end of Greer text]
As the foregoing statement makes plain, Steven Greer distributed a version of the BAE which he claims was not covered by the UFO Research Coalition copyright. Moreover, he claims he had verbal assurances, given repeatedly during 1994 and 1995, that the BAE would not be copyrighted, and that CSETI as well as other organizations would have access to it for public education purposes.
In a phone conversation with CNI News editor Michael Lindemann on June 7, Greer said that he considers the subsequent copyrighting of the BAE by the UFO Research Coalition, and the exclusion of CSETI from any rights to the document, to be a theft of intellectual property and a breach of verbal contract, among other things. He also restated his conviction that the version of the BAE that he distributed during the DC briefings was not covered under the copyright.
Nonetheless, he conceded that fighting with the UFO Research Coalition over the copyright issue at this point is probably fruitless. "I made a mistake and I regret not having legally pursued this... a year and a half ago, because all that did was to put off something that's going to have to be dealt with now," Greer told CNI News. "We certainly could have gotten an injunction against copyright at that point, and it's going to be harder to get that now. That was a mistake."
Greer also said he had no intention of using the document again. "They [the UFO Research Coalition] have asked us to stop using the document and we've agreed to do so," he said.
In contrast to Greer's position, Richard Hall of the UFO Research Coalition told CNI News that Greer's use of the document in Washington DC was a clear act of copyright infringement. According to Hall, a letter to Greer from an attorney representing the Coalition called Greer's action "piracy" and accused him of "copyright infringement" under Federal Copyright Statutes 17 U.S.C.#101 et seq and 17 U.S.C.#405(a). Furthermore, the attorney said Greer's act of replacing the document's cover made him guilty of "false advertising," "unfair competition" and "false designation of origin" under the Federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.#1125(a). Further, although Greer's naming of author Don Berliner on the replacement CSETI cover protected Greer from the charge of plagiarism, it constituted another infraction by falsely associating author Berliner with the CSETI organization, an association Berliner regards as disparaging to his own reputation.
A statement posted (as of June 9) at the top of the Fund for UFO Research web site (http://www.fufor.org) says: "Alert: The UFO Research Coalition has given Dr. Steven Greer and CSETI legal warning to stop distributing or selling copies of a copyrighted report written by Don Berliner and prepared for Laurence [sic] Rockefeller; and to stop misrepresenting its origins." This alert is linked to a longer statement inside the site, which reads in part:
"Dr. Steven Greer, MD, leader of CSETI (the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has improperly published and distributed scores of copies of a preliminary draft of the Best Available Evidence briefing document. He knew it was original material of the UFO Research Coalition which was protected by copyright law against unauthorized reproduction.
"His claim that his version of the document was not copyrighted is pointless, since all drafts of a copyrighted work are automatically protected by copyright law. His claim that he was told that none of the versions would be copyrighted is without basis.
"Greer removed the original cover of the document and substituted one of his own that states that he and the CSETI 'Starlight Team' are responsible for the 'concept, title, strategy and case selection.' In reality, neither Greer nor CSETI had any involvement at any stage in the preparation of the genuine document.
"Greer's pirated version of the document retained the name of the true author -- Don Berliner -- to avoid accusations of plagiarism. Berliner states emphatically that he received no input from Greer or any of his associates at any stage of the planning and writing of the document. In particular, Greer's claim that his 'Starlight Team' selected the cases summarized in the document is completely empty, as Berliner insists he, alone, chose the cases for the document. And he finds the implication that he worked with Greer and CSETI to be highly insulting, and damaging to his reputation as a professional writer."
On June 9, Richard Hall told CNI News editor Michael Lindemann that a long and detailed statement of the UFO Research Coalition's position and accusations against Greer and CSETI/Starlight, including a point by point rebuttal of Greer's letter to Lindemann and CNI News, was in the final stages of preparation. This statement will be posted on the FUFOR web site before the end of this week. Interested readers are encouraged to visit that site [http://www.fufor.org] for more information.
In the spring of 1996, when the final version of the BAE was first published and distributed by the UFO Research Coalition, Steven Greer complained in a letter to Laurance Rockefeller that the final document unfairly deleted any credit to him and CSETI. In answer to this complaint, author Don Berliner and co-author Antonio Huneeus both wrote statements specifically denying any involvement by Greer in the writing of the document.
The statement of Huneeus, dated April 2, 1996, notes that he was contacted as early as the fall of 1994 by Sandra Wright of the BSW Foundation to assist in creating the BAE. Ms. Wright was then and still is a friend and associate of Greer and CSETI. Huneeus says he asked Ms. Wright at the beginning whether or not Steven Greer would be involved, because he did not want to work with Greer. He says he was assured by Ms. Wright that Greer would not be involved in the BAE project. On that basis, Huneeus agreed to participate, although it would not be until August of 1995 that he actively joined the project.
To summarize: Steven Greer and the UFO Research Coalition hold very different views concerning how much Greer and CSETI were involved in creating the BAE. Greer says the Coalition stole intellectual property from him, broke verbal agreements, unfairly copyrighted the final document and are wrong in claiming that the version Greer distributed in Washington is covered by that copyright. The UFO Research Coalition says that Greer had almost nothing to do with creating the BAE, and that the version he distributed in Washington is covered by their copyright. They therefore accuse Greer of "pirating" the document and infringing their copyright; and, for substituting his own cover, they further accuse him of false advertising, unfair competition and false designation of origin.
The UFO Research Coalition does hold the copyright on the BAE. To change that, Greer would have to undertake legal action against the Coalition, and Greer concedes that such an action would probably not succeed at this point. In any event, Greer says he does not plan to fight the Coalition, and he will stop using the document as ordered.
EDITORIAL: DID CNI NEWS DEFAME STEVEN GREER?
by Michael Lindemann
In the June 1 article on Steven Greer's April briefings in Washington, I wrote that "potentially important information was presented in a dignified and persuasive way to a small but significant group of people. We see evidence that Greer's organization is making good, at least to some degree, on its stated strategy." With respect to the press briefing in particular, I wrote: "The combined impact made by this lineup of witnesses was extremely impressive... we feel that the reporters who attended must have gone home with plenty of food for thought, and perhaps this will make them more ready to do responsible reporting on the UFO subject at a later time." The point of such comments was to show approval and support for Greer's efforts.
I then characterized his use of the BAE document as "treacherous," "dishonest," "stupid" and "deplorably bad judgment." These personal attacks on Greer did not belong in a news story, and for that I apologize. I also incorrectly accused him of plagiarism, an error which has been explained and corrected in the preceding article. But did I defame Steven Greer? No, I did not.
The preceding story demonstrates that the BAE document Greer distributed in Washington is a nearly identical version of the document copyrighted by the UFO Research Coalition. Whether or not Greer's version is covered by the copyright can only be settled by legal experts. But Greer knew before the DC briefings that his legal right to use the BAE was questionable at best and would certainly be contested by the UFO Research Coalition. Furthermore, he had amassed hundreds of pages of other documents in his overall briefing package, so much other documentation that inclusion of the disputed BAE could be considered superfluous. Furthermore, Greer could not fail to be aware that the UFO Research Coalition strongly disagrees with CSETI philosophy and methodology, and therefore could be counted upon to react negatively to his appropriation of a document they regard as their own.
Greer spent several years creating the conditions for these April briefings to take place. He has taken extraordinary pains to protect names of witnesses as well as government participants, because the situation is so sensitive for all concerned. Yet, he is willing to introduce into this situation a document which cannot fail to arouse suspicion and outrage in various quarters, a document which attracts unwanted allegations of wrongdoing to himself and CSETI and which can potentially stain an otherwise promising program in Washington DC. He is willing to hand this tainted document to the very government people he most hopes to impress.
As a person genuinely sympathetic to the intent of Greer's efforts, I maintain without apology that his use of the BAE showed "deplorably bad judgment" and was an act of stupidity. For the good of his ongoing efforts, I hope he avoids such ill-advised actions in the future.
Was his action "treacherous" and "dishonest"? If the UFO Research Coalition view of his actions prevails, the answer would probably be yes. That view, of course, is in dispute, and short of legal action, that dispute might remain unresolved. The terms "treacherous" and "dishonest" therefore represent a biased judgment on my part, but insofar as they reflect one side in a pre-existing dispute, I am guilty only of taking sides, not of defamation. If I were writing the June 1 article today, though, I would leave it to the attorneys to sort out where the treachery lies.
In conclusion, I regret that this has episode may have caused erosion of trust and cooperation between various UFO organizations, all of whom, I think, are sincerely interested in getting to the truth of the UFO phenomenon. I hope all parties to this dispute will put the matter behind them as soon as possible and get on with the difficult and important work at hand.
This CNI News Special Report may be redistributed in all media.
Steven Greer's Complete Response to the Michael Lindemann/CNI NEWS Article:
CSETI's Report on the DC Briefings:
FUND FOR UFO RESEARCH (FUFOR):