Monday, December 19, 2011

A UFO Solution: A Look at History

I handed out copies of Out of the Blue to every member of the house. It took me a week. I sent a personalized letter to every member’s chief of staff, and I’ve had some conversations with them, and some of them didn’t know any more than the man on the street but others did. They said “’Look we can’t touch this subject matter unless the general public – our constituents- put enough pressure on us. Only then can we take action in helping assemble the administration.’” Film Producer James Fox

Well, why doesn’t the President do it? I’m just a Senator. I don’t know if I can do that. Have you spoken to John Warner on Armed Services? Senator Dick Bryan  - Senate Intelligence Committee answering Dr. Steven Greer’s challenge to hold congressional hearings as Congressman Gerald Ford had done in the 1960s.

There has been a lot of frustration and pain in UFO land after the White House statement that there is no evidence for ET visitation.

The newest petitions started in hopes of getting the White House to reconsider their original statement appear to be losing ground and they may not even get the required signatures to reach the magic new requirement of 25,000 signatures. (An FOIA has been filed to get the White House to produce the documents explaining why suddenly 25,000 people have to marshal together to get a low level official to reply to a voter concern. Gone are the days when a single constituent could get a reply from their elected official)

Those who have made the effort to file ET/UFO petitions are simply citizens trying to get a response from their elected officials to a legitimate concern. They have gone through a lot of work and have received a political maneuver in return.

The present government position on UFOs is that UFO sightings are not a concern to national security and they do not present credible evidence of ET visitation. Based on this conclusion an outside observer might conclude the UFO disclosure movement is bankrupt and we have no money left to try and buy the answer to the UFO mystery that we seek.

In our moment of sadness we should realize that it has not always been this seemingly hopeless in the 64 years since the modern UFO era began. There have actually been some moments when the dysfunction federal government actually seemed poised to deal with the issue.

It occurred to me looking back at the high points of UFO history that there is a common thread to the successes. Furthermore, it occurred to me that these past successes could lead to a game plan for the future.

First let me list the big and small successes.
  1. 1966 Armed Services Committee hearing – the driving force behind this was former President Gerald Ford. He forced the congressional hearing when he was still a congressman in Michigan. Constituents, including J. Allen Hynek who was in his district, had sent letters and telegrams to him related to a series of UFO sightings that occurred in Michigan in 1966. This continuant pressure led Ford to pressure the House Armed Services Committee to convene the first hearing later in 1966. This in term forced the U.S.A.F create the University of Colorado “Scientific Study of UFOs.” Until the whitewash conclusion was released the UFO community left they had made some headway in getting an honest answer to the UFO mystery.
  2. 1968. House Science and Astronautics Committee – During the Colorado UFO study initiated in part by Ford, Condon made some statements that concerned certain congressmen such as Congressman Louis C. Wyman who was in contact with NICAP. Wyman put forth House Resolution 946 requiring that the Committee on Science and Astronautics “report to the House as soon as practicable…the results of its investigation and study together with such recommendations as it deems advisable.” The hearing was set and witnesses came forward.[1]
  3. 1974 Senator Carl Curtis Contacted the FBI over a series of cattle mutilations in Nebraska and received word from Director Clarence Kelley the FBI would not get involved because it did not appeared that any federal laws have been violated. The FBI stated further that Nebraska State patrol was already investigating along with law officials in the affected counties.
  4. 1975 Senator Floyd Haskell – Requested help and investigation by the FBI for cattle mutilations in Colorado.
  5. 1976 Governor Jimmy Carter - Files a UFO sighting report while Governor of Georgia in 1973. In 1976 while campaigning for President promises UFO disclosure twice. Once President he becomes quiet on the issue.
  6. 1978 Senator Harrison Schmitt After thousands of cattle mutilations and a request from Manuel S. Gomez, a rancher from Dulce, New Mexico who had himself lost a number of cattle, Senator Schmitt became involved. He wrote Chief Martin E. Vigil of the New Mexico state police of the situation. He also wrote to Attorney General Griffin Bell to involve the FBI in investigating what was behind the mutilations Schmitt believed it to be “organized federal criminal activity.” Once involved the FBI were as far as to ask for a “congressional investigation” or “an executive order” to support their continued investigation. Schmitt also called a meeting of law enforcement representatives from the thirteen states in which cattle mutilations had occurred.
  7. 1988 Senator Chris Dodd In October 1988 a documentary called “UFO Cover-up…Live” referred to a government film that had been taken of a landing of aliens at Holloman AFB in May 1971. Following the airing of the documentary, one of Dodd constituents contacted the senator and demanded that the film be made public. Dodd made an official inquiry for the film and it was pulled again at Norton AFB’s Defense Audio Video Archives and reviewed by the security manager Paul Shartle. Shartle reported that the film was “unclassified,” and that he reviewed the film for the Senator’s request. What happened after that no one knows except that the film ended up in the Navy sync – whatever that is.
  8. 1989-1991 Congressman James Bilbray – in May 1989 a civilian scientist named Bob Lazar came forward to claim that he had worked at S-4 just a few miles from the Top Secret Area 51 test site area in Nevada. The claim was investigated by George Knapp, an investigative reporter for KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. As part of his investigation Knapp contacted Congressman Bilbray to help him check the various connection of Lazar to the US Navy, to check with the IRS about a W-2 Lazar had received, and to check Lazar’s background. In 1991 Bilbray entered a letter of recommendation into the court record for Lazar during a pandering charge Lazar was facing.
  9. 1991 Senator Robert Byrd through his National Security Specialist Dick D’Amato – At Byrd’s request D’Amato investigated the UFO cover-up and concluded “UFO information should be released, but that an incredibly powerful black arm of the government has been keeping it secret, and spending enormous sums of money illegally in this operation.” He was unable to flush them out even though he had a Top Secret clearance and subpoena power.
  10. 1991 Senator Unknown - According to john Alexander he had at least one Senator repaired to have some sort of official hearing or investigation into UFOs. According to Alexander, once Steven Greer held his May Disclosure news conference the deal fell apart.
  11. 1993 Congressman Steven Schiff – As a New Mexico congressman Schiff had received a number of questions about the famous report of a crashed flying saucer outside of Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. Schiff made an inquiry to the Secretary of Defense who forwarded his letter to the National Archives. The archives told him they had no records and so Schiff returned to the Secretary of Defense for the records from Roswell base for the time in question. When the Secretary of Defense stonewalled, Schiff used his power to order an investigation of the Roswell crash by the Government Accounting Office.
  12. 1995 Senator Claiborne Pell- Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee – Although Pell never expressed public support for the UFO issue according to Dr. Steven Greer Pell told him he was not able to get a “straight answer,”  and brought him in to share what he knew about UFOs with his staff.
  13. 1996 Rep. Steven Horn - A big defender of the FOIA Horn meets with Marie Galbraith who headed up the UFO briefing project for Laurance Rockefeller (and possibly Rockefeller himself) in 1996. Horn was on the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, and was Chairman of the Subcommitee on Government Management, Information, and Technology. In the summer of 1996 Horn held hearings on thye overall issue of government secrecy policy and there was a proposal that Horn would use the UFO issue as an example. 
  14. 1997 Senator Dan Burton – the powerful Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee. Burton took up the UFO cause. Following Steven Greer’s April 1997 briefing for Congress, Burton asked Greer to give him “everything” he had and he was going to get to the bottom of the UFO story. His staff member Matthew Ebert went on record stating “there is a possibility congressional hearings will be held”. It helped that Bill Clinton (who Burton disliked) was in power, so Burton was anxious to go after the administration on the UFO mystery.Unfortunately, Burton took some heat from Hillary Clinton over the UFO issue,[2] and there were some strange phone calls that caused Burton to back off the subject.
  15. 1997 – Senator John McCain – After the sighting of the Phoenix lights by residents of Phoenix and southern Arizona, McCain was pressured by Phoenix councilwoman Frances Barwood. In 2000, during a run for President, McCain made some supporting statements for an investigation of the Phoenix Lights, “I think it is always of interest. I think it is of great interest. That has never been fully explained.”
  16. 2001 Senator Barbara Boxer – Lara Johnstone was a South African political activist who heard a Steven Greer lecture on the Disclosure Project in San Francisco. She decided that she wanted to support the effort. She chose to go on a hunger strike to encourage newly elected George Bush to follow through on his promise, made in public to researcher Charles Huffer, to disclose to the people what the federal government knew about UFOs. She held what turned out to be a 42-day hunger strike right outside the office of Senator Barbara Boxer who tried to help by writing letters and contacting Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office on the UFO issue.
  17. 2004 Governor Bill Richardson – As governor of New Mexico Richardson, like Schiff before him, had received many questions about the 1947 Roswell UFO crash. In 2004 he wrote the forward to a book on the crash called “The Roswell Dig” in which he expressed support for a complete investigation of the crash. In part Richardson stated, “The mystery surrounding this crash has never been adequately explained — not by independent investigators, and not by the U.S. government. …”
  18. 2004 – Dennis Kucinich – During his run for president in 2004 Kucinich was introduced by his chief policy advisor Daniel Sheehan to a USAF Colonel who had been a witness to a major UFO incident as Kucinich chaired the House Aeronautics Committee. Kucinich, according to Sheehan “exhibited openness and candor about this issue.”
  19. 2005 - Congressman Tom Davis planned to have a congressional hearing on (UAP) and UFOs. A preliminary hearing was actually held May 23, 2003 with Davis, congessional staffers and witnesses Edgar Mitchell, Peter Sturrock, Jacques Vallee, and Richard Haines. The actuall hearings were held July 21, 2005 but ended up being about counterterrorism Various government agencies stated the skies were safe and the UAP/UFO topic was never raised.
Many of these senatorial and congressional encounters with the UFO subject were significant attempts to do something about the mystery surrounding the UFO subject. One thing is for sure – each of the listed political involvements (no matter how large of small) produced more than the petition that has just been answered with the negative press release from the White House.

In looking back at the highlights of the listed successes one thing stands out. The positive results towards UFO disclosure efforts centered on local politicians rather than federal politicians such as the President or the heads of federal agencies.

I propose that the reason for this is that Congressmen and Senators enjoy one key advantage that someone like the President doesn’t – political cover. As pointed out in the quote from James Fox about his trip to visit Capitol Hill. Pressure on elected representatives in Washington actually helps them act on the issue and is what they want when dealing with controversial issues.

A local Senator or Congressman is able to hide behind the voter request when requesting serious investigation of the UFO subject. He is, for example, able to say, “I don’t believe in UFOs, but I am acting on behalf of my constituents who want an answer.” It is this political cover that enables them to act so boldly in the UFO minefields. Federal officials such as the President do not have the same cover, are not able to make this argument so easily, and therefore shy away from the UFO issue.

As I wrote in Part 1 of this article the UFO issue is viewed as toxic to a politician who wishes to appear respectable and “down to Earth.” Every politician knows that, as Dennis Kucinich showed clearly in the 2008 run for President,[3] being tied to the UFO issue can result in political death.

Creating a Rodney Dangerfield Moment

In any plan to force disclosure I believe it is important to keep in mind that the politician’s fear of the UFO issue centers on the ridicule factor associated with subject. It is that “I don’t get any respect” fear that has caused politicians to stay clear of any direct association.

I believe in any move to force disclosure the other thing that should be considered is how the powers that control the UFO issue have given the turned the UFO topic into one that only the brave and foolish will touch.

The creation of the ridicule factor around the subject of UFOs began in 1951 when then USAF Blue Book Commander Edward Ruppelt replaced the terms flying saucers and flying discs with the official term UFO. (Wilbert Smith, who ran the official Canadian Program from 1950-1954 almost never used the term UFO. He continued to call them flying saucers.)

 Ruppelt’s public claim was that the term UFO better described the uncertain origin and nature of the objects being reported around the world. Many researchers bought into the idea that Ruppelt had changed the term to help in researching the phenomena – That is – we’re from the Air Force and we are here to help you. Almost overnight the term UFO was universally adopted by researchers who strangely believed little else of what Ruppelt was saying.

What Ruppelt was doing was to create doubt and redirect the discussion of flying saucers and discs from it being extraterrestrial to “it could be anything.” The new term also supported the USAF position that most UFO reports were probably the result of nature phenomena and misinterpretations.

One example of how well this worked for the Air Force is the generally unsupported statement, repeated by many UFO researchers, that 90 – 95% of UFOs are “easily explained as natural phenomena and man-made objects,” leaving only 5 -10% as “genuine UFOs.” These claims are made constantly, despite the Air Force UFO Blue Book study conclusion which stated that unexplained were 20.5% up to a study of Blue Book data by Dr. James McDonald showing 40% were unexplained. Although totally unsupported by any evidence, researchers tend to repeat the 90 – 95% claim as they believe it presents them as “tough evaluators of the evidence” rather than “gullible believers.” Researchers want to be respected as well.

In 1952, the CIA added to this effort to create doubt and ridicule around flying saucer sightings through the conclusions of its Robertson Panel on UFOs. Those conclusions suggested that efforts be made to “take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired.”[4] The CIA panel further suggested that the Panel suggested the Air Force should begin a :debunking” effort to reduce “public gullibility” and demystify UFO reports.

The CIA plan to stigmatize the UFO issue worked extremely well. It made UFOs an issue scientists, the media, and politicians would avoid at all costs. The plan was so successful, in fact, that it even backed off even UFO researchers. This is evidenced by the fact that today many researchers not only fear using the term flying saucer, they have even moved to a position where they avoid at any cost the use of the term UFO.

If the fear of “I don’t get any respect” is as great as it appears to be in the UFO community, it becomes a greater problem in the world of politics were public image is everything. If researchers are afraid of being associated with UFOs, the politician becomes completely paralysed by the possibility that he will be labelled as “crazy” or “gullible.” Like scientists who might believe, politicians know that it has to be a quiet closet belief if they want to succeed in their chosen career.

An example that best shows this political paralysis is how both Kucinich and Richardson turned on the UFO community once they began to run for President. Both were believers who chose to run for President. Once on the campaign trail they found that they had lost the political cover they enjoyed as local politicians just trying to get an answer for a constituent. They were now seen as a possible President of the United States who should know better than to believe in such stuff.

A second example that illustrates this political paralysis is that Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton where all know to have been interested, had sightings, or promoted the UFO issue prior to becoming president. All, without exception, did nothing to openly promote the UFO issue once they arrived at the White House.

The use of the local politician to lobby for disclosure is an alternative that should be carefully considered by the disclosure movement. A review of the high points in UFO history shows that pressure on Congressmen and Senators has achieved results. Moreover, history has shown that in some cases it only took one constituent to light a fire under their local representative on the issue, and that that representative achieved substantial results.

Local politicians like United States Presidents have a strong desire to get elected. More importantly, local politicians are aware of the fact that they require local votes to win, and that if they are not responsive to local constituent requests their efforts to be elected or reelected will be greatly diminished. It is the basis of the democratic system and may provide a solution to the disclosure of the sixty-four year UFO mystery.

[2] While a guest on the PBS Diane Rehm show in Washington, Hillary referred to Burton with the following comment – “That’s part of the continuing saga of Whitewater,” said Hillary, “the never-ending fictional conspiracy that honest to goodness reminds me of some people’s obsessions with UFOs and the Hale-Bopp comet.” Burton’s interest in UFOs had just become known in Washington, the Heaven’s Gate suicides related to the Hale-Bopp comet had just taken place and Burton was putting investigative heat on the Clinton’s over the Whitewater Real Estate scandal.
[3] In October 2007 during a Democratic debate Dennis Kucinich was asked about the sighting of a UFO that he had while a visitor at the home of Shirley MacLaine. When Kucinich confirmed that he had seen a UFO he was written up in every article after that night in a very negative light as the UFO guy who really was not qualified to be President.
[4] Report of the Scientific Advisory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects convened by the Office of Scientific Intelligence, CIA January 14-18, 1953.

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