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Full Version: We Found WMD – and It Was Ours
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Quote:David DeBatto is a retired U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, author and news analyst. He is co-author of the four-part “CI” series published by Warner Books, author of the upcoming memoir, Counter to Intelligence from Praeger Security International, as well as several magazine articles in such publications as: Vanity Fair, Salon and the American Prospect. He has appeared on all the major TV cable news and radio networks as a guest analyst and expert discussing the War on Terror, Iraq, the U.S. Military and Intelligence agencies. David was formerly co-host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show “AMERICA AT NIGHT.” Along with publishing a weekly blog on, Dave regularly speaks at major universities both nationally and internationally on such topics as: Interrogations and Torture, the Future of Iraq, Conducting Successful HUMINT Operations within the Geneva Convention, the U.S. Military and Islam and other timely and relevant topics.

Quote:We Found WMD – and It Was Ours

by Dave DeBatto
Excerpt from Our Generals Don’t Even Know Who We Are, coming from Cumberland House Publishing in October

Amar Abdul Rahman was a survivor. He was also a fiercely patriotic Iraqi and thought of himself as an honest man – two things that did not always go together. Rahman had served for over fifteen years in the Iraqi Air Force as a Chief Warrant Officer in charge of all munitions in Region 6 – a vast, mostly desert area in north-central Iraq straddling the Tigris River approximately 80 kilometers north of Baghdad. There were several military installations located within Region 6, the largest being his current duty station, al-Bakr Air Force Base, named after Iraq’s fourth president – Hassan Ahmed al-Bakr. Al-Bakr was a very popular president and he was especially beloved by the female population of Iraq. He even had his own contingent of "groupies" present whenever he would appear in public. Many public statues of Al-Bakr were built all over Iraq as a tribute to his popularity. The common people just adored him.

He was of course assassinated. It was nothing personal. That was just the Iraqi way.

As a Shiite Muslim, Rahman knew that he would never have a chance at becoming a high ranking military officer. Those positions were all reserved for the suck-up Sunni loyalists who composed nearly all of the senior officer positions in the Saddam military. Yes, a few token Shia and even the odd Kurd here and there had been given some meaningless staff officer jobs from time to time, just to appease the masses, but everyone knew that all of the important roles in the Iraqi military and civilian leadership were reserved for members of Saddam’s own religious sect – the minority Sunni population. The most inner circles of Saddam loyalists were restricted further still to include only members of his own Tikriti tribe, all of whom were directly related to Saddam. At the innermost circle of all were immediate family members that made up what was referred to as the "Circle of 40." They alone had direct and daily access to the Iraqi dictator. Their access to Saddam was trumped only by that of his two sons – Uday and Qusay. Tribal affiliation and blood ties are absolutely everything in Iraq. They always have been and were made even more important under Saddam.

Rahman accepted that fact, just as he had accepted everything else about life in Iraq since the reign of Saddam began in the late 1970’s. In fact, at age 34, he had really never known any other way of life. It could be harsh and unforgiving to be sure, but if one did as they were told, stayed away from politics and did well in school as well as with their compulsory service in the military, one could manage to have an acceptable, if not well to do life. That was the most Rahman had ever expected and for the most part, he was happy with his lot in life.

As fate would have it however, Rahman is a distant relative of the number two man in the Iraqi government – Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri. Al-Duri is Saddam’s right hand man and second in charge to Saddam of the ruling Ba’ath Party, Deputy Commander of the Iraqi Military and the Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. This fact had enabled Rahman to bypass the compulsory one-year service in the Iraqi Army as a lowly infantry soldier in 1988 and to enlist in the more respected and better paid Iraqi Air Force as a Warrant Officer, a position usually reserved for career service members as a reward for their loyalty and for bribes paid to senior officers over the years. Rahman considered himself extremely fortunate to have such a relative, even if it was a distant relative by marriage only – a distant in-law to be more accurate. But family was family and in Iraq, that was usually enough.

After receiving his initial military training in 1988 at Taji Air Force Base just north of Baghdad, Rahman was next stationed at the large air base in the As-Sulaymaniyah province located in northeastern Iraq and very close to the Iranian border. During the 10-year Iran-Iraq war that had just ended a few months’ earlier, As-Sulaymaniyah was one of the most active military posts in the country and had been on the receiving end of several Iranian Air Force bombing sorties into Iraq. There was still considerable damage to the base when he arrived in early fall 1989 and some basic services like sewage and electricity were not fully restored. Rahman was placed under the supervision of a senior Warrant Officer who would mentor him in his new occupation. Rahman was a very good student and he soaked up all of his training just like the parched Iraqi desert after a thunderstorm. He was proud to serve in such a trusted position.

During his six year tour at As-Sulaymaniyah, he received advanced training in the identification, transportation and storage of munitions and ordinance – in lay terms, weapons – all kinds of weapons ranging from landmines and machineguns to high explosive bombs and – WMD, specifically, chemical WMD. Of course, Iraqi had no WMD, right? Well, whatever WMD that Iraq didn’t have in Region 6 was about to be placed under the direct supervision of Munitions and newly promoted Chief Warrant Officer Amar Abdul Rahman – and Rahman had become a very good munitions officer.

In 1995 Rahman was transferred to al-Baker Air Force Base and for the first time in his career, he alone now assumed the responsibility of all munitions in his region. He was ready. Al-Baker was located in one of the most rural areas of Iraq. In fact, when the base was built in 1982 by Yugoslav and German contractors, Saddam had to seize thousand of acres of prime farmland and fruit orchards from the local farmers in order to build his immense new base. That did not sit well with the farmers and local tribal leaders, many of whom were Shia. They protested to Baghdad over the illegal land grab. Saddam soon sent in some agents from the Mokabarat (Iraqi Secret Service) and after several farmers disappeared and/or turned up beheaded, the controversy came to an abrupt end and the base was completed as scheduled.

Rahman enjoyed his new assignment and he dutifully cataloged everything in his charge and followed his orders to the letter, just as he had been taught since grade school. He had two junior officers and over 20 Air Force technicians assigned directly under him to assist with the inventorying, packing, labeling and transportation of the massive amounts of weapons systems and ammunition that he was responsible for. In addition to the 25 square km base at al-Baker, Rahman was also responsible for the 5 square km base munitions annex located approximately 3 km south of the base. It was at this sub-post that Rahman actually had his office and also where he kept his records.

Shortly after arriving at al-Bakr in the summer of 1996, Rahman received an unexpected visit from the Iraqi Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Maj. General Hamid Raja Shalah. Shalah had made a special trip from Air Force headquarters in Baghdad to speak with Rahman in person because he felt that the subject was so sensitive that he did not trust talking on the telephone and he certainly would not use the unreliable Iraqi military radio communications system. No, this was a matter to be handled in person, one to one, face to face.

Gen. Shalah met with his eager new officer in Rahman’s cramped and dusty office at the annex. Rahman was understandably nervous since this was the highest ranking officer he had ever met and he did not know what to expect. The general spoke first. "Rahman, what I am about to tell you does not leave this room." Now Rahman was really nervous, but he managed to spit out a short, "Yes Sir."

"As chief munitions officer for Region 6, you will be responsible for some sensitive items that very few people in this country even know about, including your base commander. I am talking about chemical weapons that have been banned by the United Nations. Weapons that our president has sworn we no longer have. Do you understand me so far?" Banned weapons? I will be responsible? I don’t need this! But a crisp "Yes Sir!" was what actually came out of his mouth. "You will be receiving a shipment of some of these items next week on two unmarked flatbed trucks accompanied by Mokabarat personnel. Obey their instructions exactly Rahman and you will be well rewarded by me. Understand?" "Thank you sir" was the only thing Rahman could think of to say, at least to this guy anyway.

The "items" were indeed delivered the next week as the general had promised and Rahman followed the instructions he was given by the plainclothes intelligence agents accompanying the shipment. The weapons were inventoried, cataloged in his records and stored in a reinforced bunker on the main base. No one was told of their arrival or location, not even the base commander. Damn! Rahman thought. I just hope we never to go to war with the Americans again. I don’t want to have to deal with this!

He spent the next seven years playing a kind of shell game with the UNSCOM inspectors sent by the UN to monitor Iraq’s WMD program. Whenever UNSCOM sent one of its inspectors such as Scott Ritter or Hanz Blix, he would bury the WMD before they arrived, deny their existence and when they were gone, the large construction equipment, always under the watchful eye of the Mokabarat, would dig them up and move them to another location in the region. Rahman became very good at the game and he thought he would do so until retirement.

However, on April 9, 2003 all that changed.

That was the day the Iraqi forces defending al-Bakr deserted their posts after several days of bombing and brutal assaults by the American Air Force as well as units of infantry and armored forces of the U.S. Army’s Third Infantry Division. The cavernous main hanger had a huge crater in the middle of the roof and floor, the two main runways were pockmarked with bomb craters and the base was littered with burnt out hulks of Iraqi military vehicles and giant MIG-29s as the Iraqis attempted to tow them out of harms way. They didn’t make it. Rahman himself had ordered his men to destroy all of their munitions records. As per an impassioned phone call from Shalah the day before, Rahman had burned all records of the chemical WMD on file in his office. He gladly complied as he wanted no part of any war trials after this was all over, whenever that would be. Maybe he will be killed or taken prisoner and it will never be over for him.

But eventually, it was over.

Within a week or so after the initial American troops had captured and then bypassed al-Bakr on their way north to Tikrit and Mosul, a new group of U.S. soldiers arrived in a large convoy from Kuwait. They entered the sprawling, deserted and charred base through the battered south gate and set up camp in a vacant dirt field just east of the airbase control tower. These were the troops of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, California Army National Guard. Among their number were a contingent of Counterintelligence Special Agents whose primary missions, among others, were the location of Saddam Hussein and Iraqi WMD. One of those agents was named David DeBatto, in Arabic, Daoud, or as he would eventually be referred to by both Iraqis and Americans alike – Mr. David, his host in this furnace of a tent on his former base.

"It was a new day for Iraq", he thought.


After relating his background and experience to us, Rahman told us that there was indeed WMD in this area and that he would be willing to lead us to it. Not being overly trusting of Iraqis at that point and certainly not of a prior Iraqi military officer, I was very skeptical of anything he told us. I asked Rahman why he was telling us all of this and he said very matter-of-factly, "Because I love my country and I want things to change."

I looked at Weichert and asked him with my eyes what he thought. Weichert’s response was to Ask Rahman if he would lead us to the weapons right now and Rahman said, "Yes, of course." With that, the three of us got into our Humvee and drove to a bunker located at the southeast quadrant of the base, not even one mile from where were sitting.

The bunker sat in a deserted part of the base that had several similar bunkers spread throughout a large area and connected by a single serpentine road. All of the bunkers were constructed of concrete covered by tan stucco, which blended in perfectly with the surrounding desert. They were of various sizes, but all had two, large metal doors which either slid to the side or opened outward, leading into the one large storage area inside.

As we pulled up to the Bunker that Rahman indicated contained the WMD, I noticed that the dry, desert field surrounding the area was littered with ordinance, primarily aerial bombs. Some were rusted beyond recognition and lay half- covered in sand. Others were neatly stacked in the original shipping crates and surrounded by a high earthen berm, which looked like a small crater.

The high, steel doors of the bunker were ajar. Weichert and I each pulled one of them open and the three of us entered the dark and musty storage room. Immediately upon entering, I noticed a chemical detection kit lying open on the floor, just inside the entrance. The hair on the back of my neck went up and I looked over at Weichert, who was also staring at the kit. "Holy Shit!" we both said at almost the same time. That was not what I wanted to see at that particular time. I looked closer at the detection kit and saw that it had Russian lettering – not that unusual, since Iraq had many contacts with Russian scientists, engineers and military personnel over the years. They had also purchased a large assortment of military hardware and munitions from them – to include chemicals and related equipment.

Rahman pointed to a number of long wooden crates stacked up in rows three high along the wall to the left of the entrance. There appeared to be 25-30 crates in all. Two or three had their tops removed and grey, aerial bombs, about six feet in length, sat inside. Weichert and I walked over to the crates and looked at one of the open ones. It appeared to be a conventional high explosive bomb used on any number of military aircraft, both in Iraq and in elsewhere.

Rahman motioned for us to come over to where he was standing next to another of the open crates. He pointed to the midsection of the bomb and to what appeared to be a small, thin metal door or covering bolted shut with small metal pins and possibly covering a slot or chamber. Inside, Rahman, explained, was a small parachute. He told us that after the bomb was dropped from the aircraft, the metal covering was blown open and the parachute deployed at about two hundred feet, slowing the descent of the bomb. A chemical agent, which was located in another chamber located at the rear of the bomb, was then dispersed into the air in an aerosol spray and spread over as large an area as the prevailing winds allowed.

Rahman led us around to the rear of the bomb and pointed to the tail assembly. It had a circular piece of metal connected to spokes in a conventional sort of design, but the similarity stopped there. Where ordinarily the rear end of a conventional high explosive bomb would taper into a point, this bomb had apparently had the tail section cut off about six inches from the tip resulting in a flat, circular end. Into that flat end, a small handle was inserted like one on a drawer. Rahman motioned with his hand near the handle and said that this device was twisted in order to open the compartment and then the technician pulled the drawer out and inserted a chemical agent in the slot. When finished, the drawer was reinserted into the bomb and the handle was once again secured.

The chemical WMD was now ready to be loaded onto the aircraft.

Rahman next pointed to the hand lettered numbers on the side of the crates. They were numbered from 1-29. Rahman said that he placed hand-lettered numbers on each one personally and can assure us that were 29 chemical WMD bombs under his supervision. Not 28 or 30 – but 29. He seemed to be very proud of his accuracy and neatness in numbering each crate. He went on to say how he had spent the last eight years or so playing "cat and mouse" with UNSCOM (the UN inspectors). Every time they were due to come to his region for an inspection, he would be notified by his superiors. Then he would arrange for the bombs to be transported to a different area that was not going to be inspected. Sometimes, he told us, he would simply dig a deep hole near the storage facility and bury the bombs, crates and all, until the inspectors left and then dig them up again and put them back where they were. He was familiar with Scott Ritter and Hanz Blix in particular and said they never found any WMD in his region.

He even ran his hand along one of the crates and brushed off some dried clay, which was clinging to the outside. These were dug up after the last inspection before the war and placed back into the bunker with the large areas of clay still covering some of the crates. He was right – every one of the wooden boxes had varying amounts of dry, reddish clay – which is the common soil found at that location – caked to their wooden exteriors. These bombs had definitely been buried locally at some point just before being placed into that bunker – that was a fact.

Looking around the rest of the bunker interior, I could see dozens of metal chemicals containers – some apparently unopened, and some with their tops open and with dried, powdery substances on the floor all around them and inside the containers. Some containers were covered with what appeared to be dried liquids, almost like dry paint, streaming down the sides.

I can honestly say that I was having a hard time comprehending what I was seeing. Unless my senses were deceiving me, Weichert and I had actually found the mother load of Operation Iraqi Freedom – actual Iraqi WMD. I walked over to one of the crates and saw a plastic sheath containing what appeared to be a bill of laden. I cut it open with my Leatherman and pulled the documents out.

At this point I want to say that loud and clear that I very much regret not having either shoved that document in my pocket or made a copy of it and sent it home for safe keeping. At the time I actually thought that a report would be written and normal Army and intelligence protocol would be followed, so there would be no need for me to have to prove anything. But I digress…

I opened the folded off-white paper form and noticed several interesting things right away. The bombs had been purchased in the United States in 1988 from what appeared to be a government contractor called The Carlyle Group. I am almost embarrassed now to say that I had not heard of The Carlyle Group at that time so the name meant nothing to me. The only reason I remember it at all is that I was amazed that the bill was in English and I was stunned to see that a bomb that was used by Iraq in delivering chemical WMD – the only WMD found during the entire Iraq war – was in fact supplied to Saddam Hussein by the United States. Un-blanking believable.

The date on the bill was either 1987 or 1988, I don’t recall exactly. I do recall that the bomb was manufactured in Spain and shipped through France. So much for their claims of being holier-than-thou. I checked several more bills and they were all identical. These bombs had all been shipped together. Rahman told us that similar weapons had been used all throughout the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s as well as against the Kurds. We were staring at what could have possibly been some of the same type of WMD used in one of the most heinous attacks in recorded history – the gassing of Halabja in March of 1988 which killed an estimated 5,000 Kurdish civilians.

I instructed Weichert to both videotape and take digital still photos of the bunker and its contents. The outside area which included many more chemical containers and HAZMAT suits were documented as well. At least fifteen minutes of video and 50 still photos were taken at that location. These were then incorporated and attached to the detailed written report that I wrote and sent up the chain of command through CI channels.

I also personally reported the discovery to the battalion commander of the 223rd MI, CA ARNG, Lt. Col. Timothy Ryan. Ryan seem excited by the news and asked to be taken to the bunker immediately. Weichert and I drove Ryan to the bunker within minutes after his request and showed him our discovery. He seemed genuinely impressed with the authenticity of our find. He commented to me, "You guys have found the real deal."

So we had. Too bad it was ours.

Copyright 2006 by David DeBatto
Here is some more Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" type of a broadcast which just feeds the public's mass hysteria and paranoia so their Congresspersons would never dare fight to lower any military spending... George Nourie is the chief paranoia monger on the radio right now...

Military Technology & War Scenarios:

On Tuesday night, George Knapp welcomed aviation expert and author William B. Scott for a discussion about possible World War III scenarios and the latest in military technology. He described one possible scenario in which North Korea launches a missile to knock out space satellites. This could also involve an electromagnetic pulse that damages circuitry on the ground, greatly affecting Americans ability to use ATM and credit cards. Such an attack is "like pouring molasses on society-- everything slows down," he said.
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Continuing the scenario, Iran could take advantage of America's satellite loss by launching a nuclear-tipped missile at Israel, and terrorist cells could "spoof" GPS signals to cause airline crashes, he detailed. While no one wants to take the U.S. on in a conventional war, the country is vulnerable to space and cyberspace attacks, and has a lack of policy and infrastructure in dealing with such "asymmetric warfare," he warned.

Scott outlined a number of military technologies that could covertly exist, or are not widely known, including:
  • Blackstar Spaceplane-- A small manned craft carried into high altitude by a larger plane, it could make surprise suborbital journeys around the globe for surveillance or military purposes, as well as possibly launch nano-satellites.
  • Black Triangles-- Seen by numerous witnesses, these could be military blimps with a hard surface-- a structure that can sit on the ground but contain lighter-than-air gas. These stealthy ships could carry large payloads.
  • Hyper Velocity Missiles-- These so-called "Rods from the Gods," are 6 ft. long rods made out of titanium which if fired from a high altitude would acquire so much kinetic energy they could do as much damage as explosive warheads.

War of the Worlds, Orson Welles,
And The Invasion from Mars from the
Transparency web site...

The ability to confuse audiences en masse may have first become obvious as a result of one of the most infamous mistakes in history. It happened the day before Halloween, on Oct. 30, 1938, when millions of Americans tuned in to a popular radio program that featured plays directed by, and often starring, Orson Welles. The performance that evening was an adaptation of the science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, about a Martian invasion of the earth. But in adapting the book for a radio play, Welles made an important change: under his direction the play was written and performed so it would sound like a news broadcast about an invasion from Mars, a technique that, presumably, was intended to heighten the dramatic effect.
As the play unfolded, dance music was interrupted a number of times by fake news bulletins reporting that a "huge flaming object" had dropped on a farm near Grovers Mill, New Jersey. As members of the audience sat on the edge of their collective seat, actors playing news announcers, officials and other roles one would expect to hear in a news report, described the landing of an invasion force from Mars and the destruction of the United States. The broadcast also contained a number of explanations that it was all a radio play, but if members of the audience missed a brief explanation at the beginning, the next one didn't arrive until 40 minutes into the program.
At one point in the broadcast, an actor in a studio, playing a newscaster in the field, described the emergence of one of the aliens from its spacecraft. "Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake," he said, in an appropriately dramatic tone of voice. "Now it's another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing's body. It's large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face.'s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate....The thing is raising up. The crowd falls back. They've seen enough. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can't find words. I'm pulling this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description until I've taken a new position. Hold on, will you please, I'll be back in a minute."
As it listened to this simulation of a news broadcast, created with voice acting and sound effects, a portion of the audience concluded that it was hearing an actual news account of an invasion from Mars. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens, oblivious to the fact that they were acting out the role of the panic-stricken public that actually belonged in a radio play. Not unlike Stanislaw Lem's deluded populace, people were stuck in a kind of virtual world in which fiction was confused for fact.
News of the panic (which was conveyed via genuine news reports) quickly generated a national scandal. There were calls, which never went anywhere, for government regulations of broadcasting to ensure that a similar incident wouldn't happen again. The victims were also subjected to ridicule, a reaction that can commonly be found, today, when people are taken in by simulations. A cartoon in the New York World-Telegram, for example, portrayed a character who confuses the simulations of the entertainment industry with reality. In one box, the character is shown trying to stick his hand into the radio to shake hands with Amos n' Andy. In another, he reports to a police officer that there is "Black magic!!! There's a little wooden man -- Charlie McCarthy -- and he's actually talking!"
In a prescient column, in the New York Tribune, Dorothy Thompson foresaw that the broadcast revealed the way politicians could use the power of mass communications to create theatrical illusions, to manipulate the public.
"All unwittingly, Mr. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time," she wrote. "They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create a nation-wide panic.
"They have demonstrated more potently than any argument, demonstrated beyond a question of a doubt, the appalling dangers and enormous effectiveness of popular and theatrical demagoguery....
"Hitler managed to scare all of Europe to its knees a month ago, but he at least had an army and an air force to back up his shrieking words.
"But Mr. Welles scared thousands into demoralization with nothing at all."
In the 1950s, America had another taste of the power that simulations have, to draw people into a world of delusional fantasy, when paired with mass communications. This time it was revealed that a number of television game shows were simulations, in which contestants who knew the answers ahead of time were pretending to guess at their responses. But unlike the invasion from Mars, here the fakery was unambiguously intentional; it was the work of producers who had concluded they could create fictional game shows that would be more exciting than the real thing.
Once again, there was a shocked reaction from the public. Once again, those involved became objects of public anger. And, as happened with the Orson Welles broadcast, an effort was made to ensure that such manipulations wouldn't recur.
But in 1990, it happened again. Audiences around the world discovered that they were taken in by the ultimate Hollywood illusion in which two performers faked their own talent, lip-syncing, to create the impression they were singing. What millions of fans had believed were two talented singers was actually a composite, another seamless interweaving of sensory simulations in which two people provided the visuals, while vocalists provided the audio.
As in the previous two instances, there was a stunned response. But unlike the experience of 1938 or even the 1950s, the social context was different because simulations had become commonplace, and attempts to use them to trick the public were the rule rather than the exception. Also by this time, a global culture had developed, which meant that tens of millions of people around the world were drawn into the same illusion.
One might say that War of the Worlds and the game show scandal foreshadowed the age of simulation that was still to come. Allowing for a little poetic overstatement, the Milli Vanilli scandal served as a rite of passage or symbolic marker, making clear that we now live in an age of simulation confusion in which our tendency to mistake fakes for what they imitate has become one of the characteristic problems of the age.
More to the point, we live in a time in which the ability to create deceptive simulations, especially for television, has become essential to the exercise of power. And the inability to see through these deceptions has become a form of powerlessness. Those who let themselves be taken in by the multiple deceptions of politics, news, advertising and public relations, are doomed, like the more gullible members of the radio audience in 1938, to play a role in other people's dramas, while mistakenly believing that they are reacting to something genuine.
The Age of Simulation[/URL]
The War of the Worlds

8:00 TO 9:00 P.M.
ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air in The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen: the director of the Mercury Theatre and star of these broadcasts, Orson Welles . . .
ORSON WELLES: We know now that in the early years of the twentieth century this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own. We know now that as human beings busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacence people went to and fro over the earth about their little affairs, serene in the assurance of their dominion over this small spinning fragment of solar driftwood which by chance or design man has inherited out of the dark mystery of Time and Space. Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. In the thirty-ninth year of the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
It was near the end of October. Business was better. The war scare was over. More men were back at work. Sales were picking up. On this particular evening, October 30, the Crosley service estimated that thirty-two million people were listening in on radios.
ANNOUNCER: . . .for the next twenty-four hours not much change in temperature. A slight atmospheric disturbance of undetermined origin is reported over Nova Scotia, causing a low pressure area to move down rather rapidly over the northeastern states, bringing a forecast of rain, accompanied by winds of light gale force. Maximum temperature 66; minimum 48. This weather report comes to you from the Government Weather Bureau. . . . We now take you to the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra.
ANNOUNCER THREE: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. From the Meridian Room in the Park Plaza in New York City, we bring you the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra. With a touch of the Spanish. Ramón Raquello leads off with "La Cumparsita."
ANNOUNCER TWO: Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity. Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon as (quote) like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun (unquote). We now return you to the music of Ramón Raquello, playing for you in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown New York.
ANNOUNCER THREE: Now a tune that never loses favor, the ever-popular "Star Dust." Ramón Raquello and his orchestra . . .
ANNOUNCER TWO: Ladies and gentlemen, following on the news given in our bulletin a moment ago, the Government Meteorological Bureau has requested the large observatories of the country to keep an astronomical watch on any further disturbances occurring on the planet Mars. Due to the unusual nature of this occurrence, we have arranged an interview with noted astronomer. Professor Pierson, who will give us his views on the event. in a few moments we will take you to the Princeton Observatory at Princeton, New Jersey. We return you until then to the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra.
(MUSIC . . .)
ANNOUNCER TWO: We are now ready to take you to the Princeton Observatory at Princeton where Carl Phillips, or commentator, will interview Professor Richard Pierson, famous astronomer. We take you now to Princeton, New Jersey.
PHILLIPS: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Carl Phillips, speaking to you from the observatory at Princeton. I am standing in a large semi-circular room, pitch black except for an oblong split in the ceiling. Through this opening I can see a sprinkling of stars that cast a kind of frosty glow over the intricate mechanism of the huge telescope. The ticking sound you hear is the vibration of the clockwork. Professor Pierson stands directly above me on a small platform, peering through a giant lens. I ask you to be patient, ladies and gentlemen, during any delay that may arise during our interview. Besides his ceaseless watch of the heavens, Professor Pierson may be interrupted by telephone or other communications. During this period he is in constant touch with the astronomical centers of the world . . . Professor, may I begin our questions?
PIERSON: At any time, Mr. Phillips.
PHILLIPS: Professor, would you please tell our radio audience exactly what you see as you observe the planet Mars through your telescope?
PIERSON: Nothing unusual at the moment, Mr. Phillips. A red disk swimming in a blue sea. Transverse stripes across the disk. Quite distinct now because Mars happens to be the point nearest the earth . . . in opposition, as we call it.
PHILLIPS: In your opinion, what do these transverse stripes signify, Professor Pierson?
PIERSON: Not canals, I can assure you, Mr. Phillips, although that's the popular conjecture of those who imagine Mars to be inhabited. From a scientific viewpoint the stripes are merely the result of atmospheric conditions peculiar to the planet.
PHILLIPS: Then you're quite convinced as a scientist that living intelligence as we know it does not exist on Mars?
PIERSON: I'd say the chances against it are a thousand to one.
PHILLIPS: And yet how do you account for those gas eruptions occurring on the surface of the planet at regular intervals?
PIERSON: Mr. Phillips, I cannot account for it.
PHILLIPS: By the way, Professor, for the benefit of our listeners, how far is Mars from earth?
PIERSON: Approximately forty million miles.
PHILLIPS: Well, that seems a safe enough distance.
(OFF MIKE) Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Just a moment, ladies and gentlemen, someone has just handed Professor Pierson a message. While he reads it, let me remind you that we are speaking to you from the observatory in Princeton, New Jersey, where we are interviewing the world- famous astronomer, Professor Pierson . . . One moment, please. Professor Pierson has passed me a message which he has just received . . . Professor, may I read the message to the listening audience?
PIERSON: Certainly, Mr. Phillips
PHILLIPS: Ladies and gentlemen, I shall read you a wire addressed to Professor Pierson from Dr. Gray of the National History Museum, New York. "9:15 P. M. eastern standard time. Seismograph registered shock of almost earthquake intensity occurring within a radius of twenty miles of Princeton. Please investigate. Signed, Lloyd Gray, Chief of Astronomical Division" . . . Professor Pierson, could this occurrence possibly have something to do with the disturbances observed on the planet Mars?
PIERSON: Hardly, Mr. Phillips. This is probably a meteorite of unusual size and its arrival at this particular time is merely a coincidence. However, we shall conduct a search, as soon as daylight permits.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, Professor. Ladies and gentlemen, for the past ten minutes we've been speaking to you from the observatory at Princeton, bringing you a special interview with Professor Pierson, noted astronomer. This is Carl Phillips speaking. We are returning you now to our New York studio.
ANNOUNCER TWO: Ladies and gentlemen, here is the latest bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. Toronto, Canada: Professor Morse of McGill University reports observing a total of three explosions on the planet Mars, between the hours of 7:45 P. M. and 9:20 P. M., eastern standard time. This confirms earlier reports received from American observatories. Now, nearer home, comes a special announcement from Trenton, New Jersey. It is reported that at 8:50 P. M. a huge, flaming object, believed to be a meteorite, fell on a farm in the neighborhood of Grovers Mill, New Jersey, twenty-two miles from Trenton.
The flash in the sky was visible within a radius of several hundred miles and the noise of the impact was heard as far north as Elizabeth.
We have dispatched a special mobile unit to the scene, and will have our commentator, Carl Phillips, give you a word description as soon as he can reach there from Princeton. In the meantime, we take you to the Hotel Martinet in Brooklyn, where Bobby Millette and his orchestra are offering a program of dance music.
ANNOUNCER TWO: We take you now to Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
PHILLIPS: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Carl Phillips again, at the Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Professor Pierson and myself made the eleven miles from Princeton in ten minutes. Well, I . . . I hardly know where to begin, to paint for you a word picture of the strange scene before my eyes, like something out of a modern "Arabian Nights." Well, I just got here. I haven't had a chance to look around yet. I guess that's it. Yes, I guess that's the . . . thing, directly in front of me, half buried in a vast pit. Must have struck with terrific force. The ground is covered with splinters of a tree it must have struck on its way down. What I can see of the . . . object itself doesn't look very much like a meteor, at least not the meteors I've seen. It looks more like a huge cylinder. It has a diameter of . . . what would you say, Professor Pierson?
PIERSON (OFF-MIKE): What's that?
PHILLIPS: What would you say . . . what is the diameter?
PIERSON: About thirty yards.
PHILLIPS: About thirty yards . . . The metal on the sheath is . . . well, I've never seen anything like it. The color is sort of yellowish-white. Curious spectators now are pressing close to the object in spite of the efforts of the police to keep them back. They're getting in front of my line of vision. Would you mind standing to one side, please?
POLICEMAN: One side, there, one side.
PHILLIPS: While the policemen are pushing the crowd back, here's Mr. Wilmuth, owner of the farm here. He may have some interesting facts to add . . . Mr. Wilmuth, would you please tell the radio audience as much as you remember of this rather unusual visitor that dropped in your backyard? Step closer, please. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mr. Wilmuth.
WILMUTH: Well, I was listenin' to the radio.
PHILLIPS: Closer and louder please.
WILMUTH: Pardon me!
PHILLIPS: Louder, please, and closer.
WILMUTH: Yes, sir -- while I was listening to the radio and kinda drowsin', that Professor fellow was talkin' about Mars, so I was half dozin' and half . . .
PHILLIPS: Yes, yes, Mr. Wilmuth. Then what happened?
WILMUTH: As I was sayin', I was listenin' to the radio kinda halfways . . .
PHILLIPS: Yes, Mr. Wilmuth, and then you saw something?
WILMUTH: Not first off. I heard something.
PHILLIPS: And what did you hear?
WILMUTH: A hissing sound. Like this: sssssss . . . kinda like a fourt' of July rocket.
PHILLIPS: Then what?
WILMUTH: Turned my head out the window and would have swore I was to sleep and dreamin.'
WILMUTH: I seen a kinda greenish streak and then zingo! Somethin' smacked the ground. Knocked me clear out of my chair!
PHILLIPS: Well, were you frightened, Mr. Wilmuth?
WILMUTH: Well, I -- I ain't quite sure. I reckon I -- I was kinda riled.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, Mr. Wilmuth. Thank you.
WILMUTH: Want me to tell you some more?
PHILLIPS: No . . . That's quite all right, that's plenty.
PHILLIPS: Ladies and gentlemen, you've just heard Mr. Wilmuth, owner of the farm where this thing has fallen. I wish I could convey the atmosphere . . . the background of this . . . fantastic scene. Hundreds of cars are parked in a field in back of us. Police are trying to rope off the roadway leading to the farm. But it's no use. They're breaking right through. Cars' headlights throw an enormous spot on the pit where the object's half buried. Some of the more daring souls are now venturing near the edge. Their silhouettes stand out against the metal sheen.
One man wants to touch the thing . . . he's having an argument with a policeman. The policeman wins. . . . Now, ladies and gentlemen, there's something I haven't mentioned in all this excitement, but now it's becoming more distinct. Perhaps you've caught it already on your radio. Listen:
(LONG PAUSE) . . .
Do you hear it? It's a curious humming sound that seems to come from inside the object. I'll move the microphone nearer. (PAUSE) Now we're not more then twenty-five feet away. Can you hear it now? Oh, Professor Pierson!
PIERSON: Yes, Mr. Phillips?
PHILLIPS: Can you tell us the meaning of that scraping noise inside the thing?
PIERSON: Possibly the unequal cooling of its surface.
PHILLIPS: I see, do you still think it's a meteor, Professor?
PIERSON: I don't know what to think. The metal casing is definitely extraterrestrial . . . not found on this earth. Friction with the earth's atmosphere usually tears holes in a meteorite. This thing is smooth and, as you can see, of cylindrical shape.
PHILLIPS: Just a minute! Something's happening! Ladies and gentlemen, this is terrific! This end of the thing is beginning to flake off! The top is beginning to rotate like a screw! The thing must be hollow!
VOICES: She's movin'! Look, the darn thing's unscrewing! Keep back, there! Keep back, I tell you! Maybe there's men in it trying to escape! It's red hot, they'll burn to a cinder! Keep back there. Keep those idiots back!
VOICES: She's off! The top's loose! Look out there! Stand back!
PHILLIPS: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed . . . Wait a minute! Someone's crawling out of the hollow top. Someone or . . . something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous disks . . are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be . . .
PHILLIPS: Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it's another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing's body. It's large, large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face, it . . . Ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate. The monster or whatever it is can hardly move. It seems weighed down by . . . possibly gravity or something. The thing's raising up. The crowd falls back now. They've seen plenty. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can't find words . . . I'll pull this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description until I can take a new position. Hold on, will you please, I'll be right back in a minute.
ANNOUNCER: We are bringing you an eyewitness account of what's happening on the Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey. (MORE PIANO) We now return you to Carl Phillips at Grovers Mill.
PHILLIPS: Ladies and gentlemen (Am I on?). Ladies and gentlemen, here I am, back of a stone wall that adjoins Mr. Wilmuth's garden. From here I get a sweep of the whole scene. I'll give you every detail as long as I can talk. As long as I can see. More state police have arrived They're drawing up a cordon in front of the pit, about thirty of them. No need to push the crowd back now. They're willing to keep their distance. The captain is conferring with someone. We can't quite see who. Oh yes, I believe it's Professor Pierson. Yes, it is. Now they've parted. The Professor moves around one side, studying the object, while the captain and two policemen advance with something in their hands. I can see it now. It's a white handkerchief tied to a pole . . . a flag of truce. If those creatures know what that means . . . what anything means!. . . Wait! Something's happening!
PHILLIPS: A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a mirror. What's that? There's a jet of flame springing from the mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they're turning into flame!
PHILLIPS: Now the whole field's caught fire. (EXPLOSION) The woods . . . the barns . . . the gas tanks of automobiles . . . it's spreading everywhere. It's coming this way. About twenty yards to my right . . .
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to continue the broadcast from Grovers Mill. Evidently there's some difficulty with our field transmission. However, we will return to that point at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, we have a late bulletin from San Diego, California. Professor Indellkoffer, speaking at a dinner of the California Astronomical Society, expressed the opinion that the explosions on Mars are undoubtedly nothing more than severe volcanic disturbances on the surface of the planet. We now continue with our piano interlude.
ANNOUNCER TWO: Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been handed a message that came in from Grovers Mill by telephone. Just a moment. At least forty people, including six state troopers lie dead in a field east of the village of Grovers Mill, their bodies burned and distorted beyond all possible recognition. The next voice you hear will be that of Brigadier General Montgomery Smith, commander of the state militia at Trenton, New Jersey.
SMITH: I have been requested by the governor of New Jersey to place the counties of Mercer and Middlesex as far west as Princeton, and east to Jamesburg, under martial law. No one will be permitted to enter this area except by special pass issued by state or military authorities. Four companies of state militia are proceeding from Trenton to Grovers Mill, and will aid in the evacuation of homes within the range of military operations. Thank you.
ANNOUNCER TWO: You have just been listening to General Montgomery Smith commanding the state militia at Trenton. In the meantime, further details of the catastrophe at Grovers Mill are coming in. The strange creatures after unleashing their deadly assault, crawled back into their pit and made no attempt to prevent the efforts of the firemen to recover the bodies and extinguish the fire. Combined fire departments of Mercer County are fighting the flames which menace the entire countryside. We have been unable to establish any contact with our mobile unit at Grovers Mill, but we hope to be able to return you there at the earliest possible moment. In the meantime we take you -- just one moment please.
(WHISPER) Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been informed that we have finally established communication with an eyewitness of the tragedy. Professor Pierson has been located at a farmhouse near Grovers Mill where he has established an emergency observation post. As a scientist, he will give you his explanation of the calamity. The next voice you hear will be that of Professor Pierson, brought to you by direct wire. Professor Pierson.
PIERSON: Of the creatures in the rocket cylinder at Grovers Mill, I can give you no authoritative information -- either as to their nature, their origin, or their purposes here on earth Of their destructive instrument I might venture some conjectural explanation. For want of a better term, I shall refer to the mysterious weapon as a heat ray. It's all too evident that these creatures have scientific knowledge far in advance of our own. It is my guess that in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute nonconductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light. That is my conjecture of the origin of the heat ray . . .
ANNOUNCER TWO: Thank you, Professor Pierson. Ladies and gentlemen, here is a bulletin from Trenton. It is a brief statement informing us that the charred body of Carl Phillips has been identified in a Trenton hospital. Now here's another bulletin from Washington, D.C. Office of the director of the National Red Cross reports ten units of Red Cross emergency workers have been assigned to the headquarters of the state militia stationed outside Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Here's a bulletin from state police, Princeton Junction: The fires at Grovers Mill and vicinity are now under control. Scouts report all quiet in the pit, and no sign of life appearing from the mouth of the cylinder . . . And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a special statement from Mr. Harry McDonald, vice- president in charge of operations.
MC DONALD: We have received a request from the militia at Trenton to place at their disposal our entire broadcasting facilities. In view of the gravity of the situation, and believing that radio has a responsibility to serve in the public interest at all times, we are turning over our facilities to the state militia at Trenton.
ANNOUNCER TWO: We take you now to the field headquarters of the state militia near Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
CAPTAIN: This is Captain Lansing of the signal corps, attached to the state militia now engaged in military operations in the vicinity of Grovers Mill. Situation arising from the reported presence of certain individuals of unidentified nature is now under complete control. The cylindrical object which lies in a pit directly below our position is surrounded on all sides by eight battalions of infantry. Without heavy field pieces, but adequately armed with rifles and machine guns. All cause for alarm, if such cause ever existed, is now entirely unjustified. The things, whatever they are, do not even venture to poke their heads above the pit. I can see their hiding place plainly in the glare of the searchlights here. With all their reported resources, these creatures can scarcely stand up against heavy machine-gun fire. Anyway, it's an interesting outing for the troops. I can make out their khaki uniforms, crossing back and forth in front of the lights. It looks almost like a real war. There appears to be some slight smoke in the woods bordering the Millstone River. Probably fire started by campers. Well, we ought to see some action soon. One of the companies is deploying on the left flank. An quick thrust and it will all be over. Now wait a minute! I see something on top of the cylinder. No, it's nothing but a shadow. Now the troops are on the edge of the Wilmuth farm. Seven thousand armed men closing in on an old metal tube. Wait, that wasn't a shadow! It's something moving . . . solid metal . . . kind of shieldlike affair rising up out of the cylinder . . . It's going higher and higher. Why, it's standing on legs . . . actually rearing up on a sort of metal framework. Now it's reaching above the trees and the searchlights are on it. Hold on!
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars. The battle which took place tonight at Grovers Mill has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by any army in modern times; seven thousand men armed with rifles and machine guns pitted against a single fighting machine of the invaders from Mars. One hundred and twenty known survivors. The rest strewn over the battle area from Grovers Mill to Plainsboro, crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster, or burned to cinders by its heat ray. The monster is now in control of the middle section of New Jersey and has effectively cut the state through its center. Communication lines are down from Pennsylvania to the Atlantic Ocean. Railroad tracks are torn and service from New York to Philadelphia discontinued except routing some of the trains through Allentown and Phoenixville. Highways to the north, south, and west are clogged with frantic human traffic. Police and army reserves are unable to control the mad flight. By morning the fugitives will have swelled Philadelphia, Camden, and Trenton, it is estimated, to twice their normal population. At this time martial law prevails throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. We take you now to Washington for a special broadcast on the National Emergency . . . the Secretary of the Interior . . .
SECRETARY: Citizens of the nation: I shall not try to conceal the gravity of the situation that confronts the country, nor the concern of your government in protecting the lives and property of its people. However, I wish to impress upon you -- private citizens and public officials, all of you -- the urgent need of calm and resourceful action. Fortunately, this formidable enemy is still confined to a comparatively small area, and we may place our faith in the military forces to keep them there. In the meantime placing our faith in God we must continue the performance of our duties each and every one of us, so that we may confront this destructive adversary with a nation united, courageous, and consecrated to the preservation of human supremacy on this earth. I thank you.
ANNOUNCER: You have just heard the secretary of the Interior speaking from Washington. Bulletins too numerous to read are piling up in the studio here. We are informed the central portion of New Jersey is blacked out from radio communication due to the effect of the heat ray upon power lines and electrical equipment. Here is a special bulletin from New York. Cables received from English, French, German scientific bodies offering assistance. Astronomers report continued gas outbursts at regular intervals on planet Mars. Majority voice opinion that enemy will be reinforced by additional rocket machines. Attempts made to locate Professor Pierson of Princeton, who has observed Martians at close range. It is feared he was lost in recent battle. Langham Field, Virginia: Scouting planes report three Martian machines visible above treetops, moving north towards Somerville with population fleeing ahead of them. Heat ray not in use; although advancing at express-train speed, invaders pick their way carefully. They seem to be making conscious effort to avoid destruction of cities and countryside. However, they stop to uproot power lines, bridges, and railroad tracks. Their apparent objective is to crush resistance, paralyze communication, and disorganize human society.
Here is a bulletin from Basking Ridge, New Jersey: Coon hunters have stumbled on a second cylinder similar to the first embedded in the great swamp twenty miles south of Morristown. Army fieldpieces are proceeding from Newark to blow up second invading unit before cylinder can be opened and the fighting machine rigged. They are taking up position in the -- foothills of Watchung Mountains. Another bulletin from Langham Field, Virginia: Scouting planes report enemy machines, now three in number, increasing speed northward kicking over houses and trees in their evident haste to form a conjunction with their allies south of Morristown. Machines also sighted by telephone operator east of Middlesex within ten miles of Plainfield. Here's a bulletin from Winston Field, Long Island: Fleet of army bombers carrying heavy explosives flying north in pursuit of enemy. Scouting planes act as guides. They keep speeding enemy in sight. Just a moment please. Ladies and gentlemen, we've run special wires to the artillery line in adjacent villages to give you direct reports in the zone of the advancing enemy. First we take you to the battery of the 22nd Field Artillery, located in the Watchtung Mountains.
OFFICER: Range, thirty-two meters.
GUNNER: Thirty-two meters.
OFFICER: Projection, thirty-nine degrees.
GUNNER: Thirty-nine degrees.
OBSERVER: One hundred and forty yards to the right, sir.
OFFICER: Shift range . . . thirty-one meters.
GUNNER: Thirty-one meters
OFFICER: Projection . . . thirty-seven degrees.
GUNNER: Thirty-seven degrees.
OBSERVER: A hit, sir! We got the tripod of one of them. They've stopped. The others are trying to repair it.
OFFICER: Quick, get the range! Shift thirty meters.
GUNNER: Thirty meters.
OFFICER: Projection . . . twenty-seven degrees.
GUNNER: Twenty-seven degrees.
OBSERVER: Can't see the shell land, sir. They're letting off a smoke.
OFFICER: What is it?
OBSERVER: A black smoke, sir. Moving this way. Lying close to the ground. It's moving fast.
OFFICER: Put on gas masks. (PAUSE. VOICES NOW MUFFLED) Get ready to fire. Shift twenty-four meters.
GUNNER: Twenty-four meters.
OFFICER: Projection, twenty-four degrees.
GUNNER: Twenty-four degrees.
OBSERVER: Still can't see, sir. The smoke's coming nearer.
OFFICER: Get the range. (COUGHS)
OBSERVER: Twenty-three meters. (COUGHS)
OFFICER: Twenty-three meters. (COUGHS)
GUNNER: Twenty-three meters (COUGHS)
OBSERVER: Projection, twenty-two degrees. (COUGHING)
COMMANDER: Army bombing plane, V-8-43, off Bayonne, New Jersey, Lieutenant Voght, commanding eight bombers. Reporting to Commander Fairfax, Langham Field . . . This is Voght, reporting to Commander Fairfax, Langham Field . . . Enemy tripod machines now in sight. Reinforced by three machines from the Morristown cylinder . . . Six altogether. One machine already crippled. Believed hit by shell from army gun in Watchung Mountains. Guns now appear silent. A heavy black fog hanging close to the earth . . . of extreme density, nature unknown. No sign of heat ray. Enemy now turns east, crossing Passaic River into the Jersey marshes. Another straddles the Pulaski Skyway. Evident objective is New York City. They're pushing down a high tension power station. The machines are close together now, and we're ready to attack. Planes circling, ready to strike. A thousand yards and we'll be over the first -- eight hundred yards . . . six hundred . . . four hundred . . . two hundred . . . There they go! The giant arm raised . . . (SOUND OF HEAT RAY) Green flash! They're spraying us with flame! Two thousand feet. Engines are giving out. No chance to release bombs. Only one thing left . . . drop on them, plane and all. We're diving on the first one. Now the engine's gone! Eight . . . (PLANE GOES DOWN)
OPERATOR ONE: This is Bayonne, New Jersey, calling Langham Field . . . This is Bayonne, New Jersey, calling Langham Field . . . Come in, please . . .
OPERATOR TWO: This is Langham Field . . . Go ahead . . .
OPERATOR ONE: Eight army bombers in engagement with enemy tripod machines over Jersey flats. Engines incapacitated by heat ray. All crashed. One enemy machine destroyed. Enemy now discharging heavy black smoke in direction of --
OPERATOR THREE: This is Newark, New Jersey . . . This is Newark, New Jersey . . . Warning! Poisonous black smoke pouring in from Jersey marshes. Reaches South street. Gas masks useless. Urge population to move into open spaces . . .automobiles use Routes 7, 23, 24 . . . Avoid congested areas. Smoke now spreading over Raymond Boulevard . . .
OPERATOR FOUR: 2X2L . . . calling CQ . . . 2X2L . . . calling CQ . . . 2X2L . . . calling 8X3R . . . Come in, please . . .
OPERATOR FIVE: This is 8X3R . . . coming back at 2X2L.
OPERATOR FOUR: How's reception? How's reception? K, please (PAUSE) Where are you, 8X3R? What's the matter? Where are you?
ANNOUNCER: I'm speaking from the roof of the Broadcasting Building, New York City. The bells you hear are ringing to warn the people to evacuate the city as the Martians approach. Estimated in last two hours three million people have moved out along the roads to the north, Hutchison River Parkway still kept open for motor traffic. Avoid bridges to Long Island . . . hopelessly jammed. All communication with Jersey shore closed ten minutes ago. No more defenses. Our army wiped out . . . artillery, air force, everything wiped out. This may be the last broadcast. We'll stay here to the end . . . People are holding service below us . . . in the cathedral.
Now I look down the harbor. All manner of boats, overloaded with fleeing population, pulling out from docks.
Streets are all jammed. Noise in crowds like New Year's Eve in city. Wait a minute . . . Enemy now in sight above the Palisades. Five -- five great machines. First one is crossing river. I can see it from here, wading the Hudson like a man wading through a brook . . . A bulletin's handed me . . . Martian cylinders are falling all over the country. One outside Buffalo, one in Chicago, St. Louis . . . seem to be timed and spaced . . . Now the first machine reaches the shore. He stands watching, looking over the city. His steel, cowlish head is even with the skyscrapers. He waits for the others. They rise like a line of new towers on the city's west side . . . Now they're lifting their metal hands. This is the end now. Smoke comes out . . . black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it now. They're running towards the East River . . . thousands of them, dropping in like rats. Now the smoke's spreading faster. It's reached Times Square. People trying to run away from it, but it's no use. They're falling like flies. Now the smoke's crossing Sixth Avenue . . . Fifth Avenue . . . one hundred yards away . . . it's fifty feet . . .
OPERATOR FOUR: 2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . New York. Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone . . . 2X2L --
ANNOUNCER: You are listening to a CBS presentation of Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air in an original dramatization of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. The performance will continue after a brief intermission. This is the Columbia . . . Broadcasting System.
PIERSON: As I set down these notes on paper, I'm obsessed by the thought that I may be the last living man on earth. I have been hiding in this empty house near Grovers Mill -- a small island of daylight cut off by the black smoke from the rest of the world. All that happened before the arrival of these monstrous creatures in the world now seems part of another life. . . a life that has no continuity with the present, furtive existence of the lonely derelict who pencils these words on the back of some astronomical notes bearing the signature of Richard Pierson. I look down at my blackened hands, my torn shoes, my tattered clothes, and I try to connect them with a professor who lives at Princeton, and who on the night of October 30, glimpsed through his telescope an orange splash of light on a distant planet. My wife, my colleagues, my students, my books, my observatory, my. . . my world. . . where are they? Did they ever exist? Am I Richard Pierson? What day is it? Do days exist without calendars? Does time pass when there are no human hands left to wind the clocks? . . .In writing down my daily life I tell myself shall preserve human history between the dark covers of this little book that was meant to record the movements of the stars. . . But to write I must live, and to live, I must eat . . . I find moldy bread in the kitchen, and an orange not too spoiled to swallow. I keep watch at the window. From time to time I catch sight of a Martian above the black smoke. The smoke still holds the house in its black coil. . . but at length there is a hissing sound and suddenly I see a Martian mounted on his machine, spraying the air with a jet of steam, as if to dissipate the smoke. I watch in a corner as his huge metal legs nearly brush against the house. Exhausted by terror, I fall asleep. . .it's morning. . .
(QUIETLY) Morning! Sun streams in the window. The black cloud of gas has lifted, and the scorched meadows to the north look as though a black snowstorm has passed over them. I venture from the house. I make my way to a road. No traffic. Here and there a wrecked car, baggage overturned, a blackened skeleton. I push on north. For some reason I feel safer trailing these monsters than running away from them. And I keep a careful watch. I have seen the Martians. . . feed. Should one of their machines appear over the top of trees, I am ready to fling myself flat on the earth. I come to a chestnut tree. October chestnuts are ripe. I fill my pockets. I must keep alive. Two days I wander in a vague northerly direction through a desolate world. Finally I notice a living creature. . . a small red squirrel in a beech tree. I stare at him, and wonder. He stares back at me. I believe at that moment the animal and I shared the same emotion. . .the joy of finding another living being. I push on north. I find dead cows in a brackish field. Beyond, the charred ruins of a dairy. The silo remains standing guard over the waste land like a lighthouse deserted by the sea. Astride the silo perches a weathercock. The arrow points north.
Next day I came to a city vaguely familiar in its contours, yet its buildings strangely dwarfed and leveled off, as if a giant hand sliced off its highest towers with a capricious sweep of his hand. I reached the outskirts. I found Newark, undemolished, but humbled by some whim of the advancing Martians. Presently, with an odd feeling of being watched, I caught sight of something crouching in a doorway. I made a step towards it, and it rose up and became a man! -- a man, armed with a large knife.
STRANGER: (OFF MIKE) Stop. . . (CLOSER) where did you come from?
PIERSON: I come from . . . many places. A long time ago from Princeton.
STRANGER: Princeton, huh? That's near Grovers Mill!
STRANGER: Grovers Mill. . . (LAUGHS AS AT A GREAT JOKE) There's no food here. This is my country. . . all this end of town down to the river. There's only food for one. . . Which way are you going?
PIERSON: I don't know. I guess I'm looking for -- for people.
STRANGER: (NERVOUSLY) What was that? Did you hear something just then?
PIERSON: Only a bird . . . (AMAZED) A live bird!
STRANGER: You get to know that birds have shadows these days. . . Say, we're in the open here. Let's crawl into this doorway and talk.
PIERSON: Have you seen any . . . Martians?
STRANGER: Naah. They've gone over to New York. At night the sky is alive with their lights. Just as if people were still livin' in it. By daylight you can't see them. Five days ago a couple of them carried somethin' big across the flats from the airport. I believe they're learning how to fly.
STRANGER: Yeah, fly.
PIERSON: Then it's all over with humanity. Stranger, there's still you and I. Two of us left.
STRANGER: They got themselves in solid; they wrecked the greatest country in the world. Those green stars, they're probably falling somewhere every night. They've only lost one machine. There isn't anything to do. We're done. We're licked.
PIERSON: Where were you? You're in a uniform.
STRANGER: Yeah, what's left of it. I was in the militia -- national guard. . . That's good! Wasn't any war any more than there's war between men and ants.
PIERSON: And we're eat-able ants. I found that out. . . What will they do with us?
STRANGER: I've thought it all out. Right now we're caught as we're wanted. The Martian only has to go a few miles to get a crowd on the run. But they won't keep doing that. They'll begin catching us systematic-like -- keeping the best and storing us in cages and things. They haven't begun on us yet!
PIERSON: Not begun!
STRANGER: Not begun! All that's happened so far is because we don't have sense enough to keep quiet. . . botherin' them with guns and such stuff and losing our heads and rushing off in crowds. Now instead of our rushing around blind we've got to fix ourselves up -- fix ourselves up according to the way things are NOW. Cities, nations, civilization, progress. . . done.
PIERSON: But if that's so, what is there to live for?
STRANGER: Well, there won't be any more concerts for a million years or so, and no nice little dinners at restaurants. If it's amusement you're after, I guess the game's up.
PIERSON: And what is there left?
STRANGER: Life. . . that's what! I want to live. Yeah, and so do you. We're not going to be exterminated. And I don't mean to be caught, either, and tamed, and fattened, and bred, like an ox.
PIERSON: What are you going to do?
STRANGER: I'm going on. . . right under their feet. I got a plan. We men as men are finished. We don't know enough. We gotta learn plenty before we've got a chance. And we've got to live and keep free while we learn, see? I've thought it all out, see.
PIERSON: Tell me the rest.
STRANGER: Well, it isn't all of us that were made for wild beasts, and that's what it's got to be. That's why I watched YOU. All these little office workers that used to live in these houses -- they'd be no good. They haven't any stuff to 'em. They just used to run off to work. I've seen hundreds of 'em, running wild to catch their commuter train in the morning for fear they'd get canned if they didn't; running back at night afraid they won't be in time for dinner. Lives insured and a little invested in case of accidents. And on Sundays, worried about the hereafter. The Martians will be a godsend for those guys. Nice roomy cages, good food, careful breeding, no worries. After a week or so chasing about the fields on empty stomachs they'll come and be glad to be caught.
PIERSON: You've thought it all out, haven't you?
STRANGER: You bet I have! And that isn't all. These Martians will make pets of some of 'em, train 'em to do tricks. Who knows? Get sentimental over the pet boy who grew up and had to be killed. . . And some, maybe, they'll train to hunt us.
PIERSON: No, that's impossible. No human being. . .
STRANGER: Yes they will. There's men who'll do it gladly. If one of them ever comes after me, why. . .
PIERSON: In the meantime, you and I and others like us. . . where are we to live when the Martians own the earth?
STRANGER: I've got it all figured out. We'll live underground. I've been thinking about the sewers. Under New York are miles and miles of 'em. The main ones are big enough for anybody. Then there's cellars, vaults, underground storerooms, railway tunnels, subways. You begin to see, eh? And we'll get a bunch of strong men together. No weak ones; that rubbish -- out.
PIERSON: And you meant me to go?
STRANGER: Well, I gave you a chance, didn't I?
PIERSON: We won't quarrel about that. Go on.
STRANGER: And we've got to make safe places for us to stay in, see, and get all the books we can -- science books. That's where men like you come in, see? We'll raid the museums, we'll even spy on the Martians. It may not be so much we have to learn before -- just imagine this: four or five of their own fighting machines suddenly start off -- heat rays right and left and not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em! But MEN -- men who have learned the way how. It may even be in our time. Gee! Imagine having one of them lovely things with its heat ray wide and free! We'd turn it on Martians, we'd turn it on men. We'd bring everybody down to their knees.
PIERSON: That's your plan?
STRANGER: You, and me, and a few more of us we'd own the world.
PIERSON: I see. . .
STRANGER: (FADING OUT) Say, what's the matter? . . . Where are you going?
PIERSON: Not to your world. . . Goodbye, stranger. . .
PIERSON: After parting with the artilleryman, I came at last to the Holland Tunnel. I entered that silent tube anxious to know the fate of the great city on the other side of the Hudson. Cautiously I came out of the tunnel and made my way up Canal Street. I reached Fourteenth Street, and there again were black powder and several bodies, and an evil ominous smell from the gratings of the cellars of some of the houses. I wandered up through the Thirties and Forties; I stood alone on Times Square. I caught sight of a lean dog running down Seventh Avenue with a piece of dark brown meat in his jaws, and a pack of starving mongrels at his heels. He made a wide circle around me, as though he feared I might prove a fresh competitor. I walked up Broadway in the direction of that strange powder -- past silent shopwindows, displaying their mute wares to empty sidewalks -- past the Capitol Theatre, silent, dark -- past a shooting gallery, where a row of empty guns faced an arrested line of wooden ducks. Near Columbus Circle I noticed models of 1939 motorcars in the showrooms facing empty streets. From over the top of the General Motors Building, I watched a flock of black birds circling in the sky. I hurried on. Suddenly I caught sight of the hood of a Martian machine, standing somewhere in Central Park, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. An insane idea! I rushed recklessly across Columbus Circle and into the Park. I climbed a small hill above the pond at Sixtieth Street. From there I could see, standing in a silent row along the mall, nineteen of those great metal Titans, their cowls empty, their great steel arms hanging listlessly by their sides. I looked in vain for the monsters that inhabit those machines.
Suddenly, my eyes were attracted to the immense flock of black birds that hovered directly below me. They circled to the ground, and there before my eyes, stark and silent, lay the Martians, with the hungry birds pecking and tearing brown shreds of flesh from their dead bodies. Later when their bodies were examined in the laboratories, it was found that they were killed by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared. . . slain, after all man's defenses had failed, by the humblest thing that God in His wisdom put upon this earth.
Before the cylinder fell there was a general persuasion that through all the deep of space no life existed beyond the petty surface of our minute sphere. Now we see further. Dim and wonderful is the vision I have conjured up in my mind of life spreading slowly from this little seedbed of the solar system throughout the inanimate vastness of sidereal space. But that is a remote dream. It may be that the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve. To them, and not to us, is the future ordained perhaps.
Strange it now seems to sit in my peaceful study at Princeton writing down this last chapter of the record begun at a deserted farm in Grovers Mill. Strange to see from my window the university spires dim and blue through an April haze. Strange to watch children playing in the streets. Strange to see young people strolling on the green, where the new spring grass heals the last black scars of a bruised earth. Strange to watch the sightseers enter the museum where the dissembled parts of a Martian machine are kept on public view. Strange when I recall the time when I first saw it, bright and clean-cut, hard, and silent, under the dawn of that last great day.
Orson Welles: This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night. . . so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian. . .it's Hallowe'en.
Announcer: Tonight the Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations coast-to-coast have brought you The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, the seventeenth in its weekly series of dramatic broadcasts featuring Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air. Next week we present a dramatization of three famous short stories. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.