Lazar made up the story on his own based on his own significant technical knowledge, his peripheral work with a contractor on the Nellis Range and the prior Area 51 alien claims of John Lear (aliens eating humans in a vast underground base), which Lazar "cleaned up" and made more plausible.
What was Lazar's motivation? Money. Under Theory #1, Lazar cooked up the story to obtain funding from Las Vegas philanthropist Robert Bigelow, who was known to sponsor far-out projects.Some details not mentioned in the article...
- The registration for the "Zeta Reticuli 2" corporation is a public record at the Nevada Department of State, which registers corporations. Both Lazar and Bigelow are listed as officers. As the story goes, Lazar not only worked with Element 115; he managed to smuggle some of it out, and the corporation was somehow intended to test or exploit it. (So much for intense base security! How can a low-level employee smuggle what is arguably the most precious substance on Earth?) We still don't know the purpose or business plan of the Zeta Reticuli 2 Corporation. The only thing certain is that it existed. We can also assume that when a private corporation is formed, its intent is to make money.
- Lazar himself had no idea his story would get so big. He was just out to pull off a modest con (according to Theory #1). Almost from the day the story was broadcast (and he was identified publically as the source), Lazar has been trying to put the brakes on it.
- Lazar has never been to Area 51! If he had, he could have described innocuous details of the base that any genuine worker would know -- like the cafeteria or what you first see when you get off the plane. There are a LOT of people who can verify these details, and one former worker in particular (who I met) grilled Lazar in private about them and got nowhere. Funny that someone would be willing to reveal details of a super-secret saucer program but not details of the cafeteria.
- Lazar had reason to be afraid of the government! If he had a security clearance, he could have been prosecuted for releasing classified information or any information about classified facilities -- even innocuous non-alien information. (LOL! So maybe THAT'S why he can't discuss the Area 51 cafeteria! If he had been there, he could have been prosecuted for that, whereas he can't be prosecuted for revealing a nonexistent saucer base at Papoose Lake.)
- FBI interest in Lazar was real. Knapp describes interaction with an agent "Mike Thigpin" who was apparently investigating Lazar. Knapp takes this as evidence the Lazar story is true. My interpretation, however, is that as soon as the Lazar story was broadcast on KLAS-TV, the government itself was scrambling for answers to determine if any classified (non-alien) information had been released.
- Lazar says that he went public on KLAS only to save his own life. There could be an element of truth to this! Remember that Lazar first appears on KLAS in shadow as "Dennis". If the government managed to identify him anyway and Lazar had a security clearance, then they are going to start harassing him. Every if the story is fictitious, he has certainly breached security protocols. The best way to save his own ass is to go fully public with his (fake) story. Then he is protected by publicity and the government can't touch him.
- Knapp says that Los Alamos denied Lazar worked there, but Knapp found Lazar's name in an official facility phone directory. Proof of a cover-up? Not exactly. Los Alamos is a big place, with lots of contractors and sub-contractors. Lazar could have worked "at" Los Alamos without working "for" Los Alamos. There is no question he worked for a contractor there (which certainly would have given him a primer on government secrecy).
- I remember seeing a document in the pre-internet era (although I haven't been able to find it again) which purported to be an internal military memo, released at the time of the KLAS broadcast, confirming that Lazar had worked on the Nellis Range, but that he had never been to any "forward areas", apparently meaning Area 51. It remains plausible but unproven that Lazar worked briefly on the Nellis Range and could have picked up many details of his story there. That he worked on the range and/or had a security clearance was reason enough for the FBI to take an interest in him after his claims were broadcast.
- Lazar is a smart dude, no question about it! (That is, smart in technical ways, not necessarily in his own life choices or in the ways of other people.) Although he probably misjudged public response to his story and probably didn't gain the reward he sought, he can certainly look a few chess moves ahead and say, "If I do this, then this other bad thing will happen to me." That may explain why he hasn't exploited his story in the obvious ways, like taking big fees for speaking at UFO conferences or giving interviews. (However, that hasn't prevented him from seeking Hollywood deals. Maybe he is just trawling for bigger fish.)
- In May 1989, around the time Lazar first went public, Scientific American published an article on hypothetical elements in that vicinity. Back in those ancient pre-internet days, everyone read the same magazines. Lazar was certainly well-read and intelligent, and Scientific American would have been on his reading list. It is conceivable he picked up Element 115 from there.
- My ex-wife once worked at TTR and she drove back and forth in her own car between there and Rachel. She passed "Site 4" every day, although she swears it was labelled "S4". It's a radar facility on a plain with no hillsides you could build saucer hangers into, but this real name could have found its way into Lazar's story. Perhaps he indeed worked there! (If so, then he might have attained a degree of legal protection by displacing it to Papoose Lake.)
- Before making his UFO claims, Lazar was a friend of Jim Tagliani, who worked at TTR at the time. He could have told Lazar about "Site 4" on the Nellis Range as well as other information about range operations.
- There's nothing at Papoose Lake. Nothing. We've looked at it from every angle (short of setting foot there). The key thing is roads. There's no road infrastructure that could support even a few buses a day, let alone a major construction project in the area.
- I like this quote from my article: "True or false, I feel the Lazar story has enriched my life in many interesting ways."