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When the Other Shoe Drops

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Here at TheCenterLane, I have been following how the mainstream news media have been taking a more serious look at the UFO phenomenon since the February 4, 2016, death of Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell. In my March 28, 2016, piece I pointed out that:

Although many news reports announcing Mitchell’s death noted his interest in the subject of UFOs, the flow of snark was attenuated in light of the somber circumstances. Since that day in February, there has been little – if any – ridicule about Mitchell’s interest in UFOs because the entire subject has actually gained a modicum of respect. In fact, many of the memorial articles about Edgar Mitchell spoke admirably of the astronaut’s quest to expose this truth.

Almost two years later, the December 16, 2017, edition of The New York Times contained an astonishing story about the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). AATIP was headquartered on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring and was managed by Luis Elizondo for the Defense Intelligence Agency. AATIP was tasked with studying UFOs (now referred to as UAPs – for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena). As a result, the subject of UFOs and UAPs has been taken more seriously by politicians and news outlets.

Throughout the months and years after the publication of the December, 2017 New York Times piece, UFO skeptics and debunkers have been preoccupied with “putting out fires” erupting in news outlets which have dared to report the truth about these phenomena. As time has progressed and the truth has been wandering into the daylight, those naysayers have become increasingly overwhelmed.

Lue Elizondo has been making appearances on a wide variety of newscasts, from 60 Minutes on CBS to Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News. Elizondo’s appearances on Web podcasts, such as Curt Jaimungal’s Theories of Everything have ignited speculation about the extent of UAP information kept secret by the Pentagon and whether this information might be subject to gradual release according to a secret timetable.

On September 13, 2021, The Hollywood Reporter disclosed that Lue Elizondo had signed a book deal with William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, after a competitive bidding war for the U.S. publishing rights for Elizondo’s memoirs concerning his investigations into the UFO/UAP subject. This upcoming book is expected to bring some new revelations about UAPs (described by The Hollywood Reporter as “shocking details”). Beyond that, Elizondo can be expected to expose the measures taken by those who have attempted to maintain the high degree of secrecy concealing these phenomena. The American public and its elected officials have become increasingly outraged by the suppression of this important information.

On November 24, 2021, Christopher K. Mellon, (former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton) wrote an open letter to Congressional Representative Ruben Gallego, commending him for his support of Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Pentagon’s initial reaction to this proposed legislation was an attempt to “front run” the effort through the suggested creation of its own Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG). According to the Defense Department, the AOIMSG would limit its investigation of UAPs to situations involving incursions into Special Use Airspace (military operations areas and other restricted airspace). Worse yet, oversight of the AOIMSG would be handled by an Executive Council comprised of Defense Department and “Intelligence Community” members, as opposed to Congressional oversight and the resulting transparency that such a course would necessitate. The overwhelming pushback against the Pentagon’s AOIMSG idea served only to secure the passage of what became known as the bipartisan Rubio-Gillibrand amendment.

After the amendment was approved for inclusion in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, co-sponsor Senator Marco Rubio issued a press release discussing the establishment of a UAP office within the Defense Department, which would be tasked with preparing “a full spectrum of intelligence, scientific, and technical assessments related to UAPs”, including:

  • Collection & Analysis of Data into a Central Repository: The UAP office will supervise the development and execution of intelligence collection and analysis regarding UAPs in order to understand their technical and scientific characteristics. The UAP office will receive relevant data immediately from Intelligence Community agencies. 
  • Establish a Science Plan: The UAP office will be responsible for implementing a science plan to test scientific theories related to UAP characteristics and performances.
  • Build a National Priorities Intelligence Framework: The DNI will be required to consult with the Secretary of Defense to assign a level or priority within the National Intelligence Priorities Framework related to UAPs. 
  • Evaluate any links between UAPs and foreign governments or non-state actors: The UAP office will be tasked with evaluating threats that UAPs may pose to the United States. Additionally, the office will be responsible for coordinating with federal agencies, including the FAA and NASA, and international allies and partners on UAPs.
  • Report to Congress: The UAP office will be required to provide unclassified annual reports to Congress and classified semi-annual briefings on intelligence analysis, reported incidents, health-related effects, the role of foreign governments, and nuclear security. 

With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act and the included Rubio-Gillibrand amendment, advocates for government and military transparency on the UAP subject were popping open champagne bottles and celebrating. Meanwhile, sober minds at the Liberation Times website, which has been advocating for such transparency, took a hard look at the road ahead, as the Pentagon began to undertake a responsible approach to this subject for the first time in its history.    

More Fun and Games with UFOs

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Ever since the term “centrism” became a euphemistic, “dog whistle” term for corporatism, I have been distancing myself from the ranks of so-called Centrists. These days, a left-leaning politician will claim to be “tacking to the center” while heading to K Street to pick up a fat campaign contribution. Some conservatives claim to be Centrists simply because they disavow QAnon.

However, there is one subject where I have maintained a consistently centrist, middle-of-the road stance and that is with respect to the subject of UFOs. People demonstrating any concern for this bailiwick usually fall into either of two camps: The Cult of the Credulous (those who never question any claim about a sighting or entity encounter) or the Denialists (who regularly insist that “this can’t be happening because it’s impossible”).

Whenever an unsupported, sensational claim about UFOs triggers an avalanche of clicks on websites, the Denialists benefit as mainstream media outlets beg for a perspective that might counterbalance what appears as (and sometimes is) a delusional rant.

On Jan. 31, 2017, I discussed how the December 16, 2017, edition of The New York Times contained an astonishing story about the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). AATIP was headquartered on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring and was managed by Luis Elizondo for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Since that time, the flow of sober-minded, yet intriguing reportage on the subject continued and Lue Elizondo found himself as the star of a television program called, Unidentified on the History Channel.

Despite the increased quality of recently published information on the UFO phenomenon, the occasional oddball story worked its way into the national spotlight to restore some of the ridicule previously directed at this subject.  

More recently, a December 3, 2020, article published by Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot reverberated throughout the world’s major news outlets. Most of those outlets focused attention on a few sensational revelations from Prof. Haim Eshed, the 87-year-old former head of Israel’s space security program. As The Jerusalem Post reported, Professor Eshed claimed that a “Galactic Federation” has made some formal agreements with the United States. The reference to a Galactic Federation sparked some commentary suggesting that at his advanced age, Eshed might have been confusing Star Trek episodes with his real-life experience.  

On his new website, The Debrief, Tim McMillan reported that Yediot Aharonot journalist Raanan Shaked insisted that Professor Eshed’s remarks about the Galactic Federation were taken out of context and that Eshed was discussing some popular folklore about the UFO subject, rather than any information he acquired through his position with Israel’s space security program. 

While the Cult of the Credulous continued to ponder the possible details of a “secret deal” between the United States and the Galactic Federation, a less-sensational report surfaced featuring an interview with former CIA Director John Brennan. Libertarian economist, Prof. Tyler Cowen of George Mason University published a report (and a video) of his recent interview with John Brennan, detailing their conversation concerning UFOs. The interview prompted the creation of several memes which became popular at websites dealing with the UFO phenomenon. Brennan’s comments about the UFO topic appear in the linked video at 6:42 thru 9:39.

The foregoing Brennan meme was reminiscent of the meme which resulted from Tucker Carlson’s interview with theoretical physics Professor Michio Kaku during the Sept. 20. 2019, broadcast of Carlson’s Fox News program:

                             

More Pain Ahead for UFO Skeptics

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December 16, 2017, brought some severe headaches to those who make a practice of denying that UFOs really exist. The New York Times published a shocking story about the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). AATIP was headquartered on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring and was managed by Luis Elizondo for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The Times article disclosed that the AATIP, which began in 2007, investigated reports of unidentified flying objects. The online edition of the Times story included gun camera videos of an encounter between a UFO and two Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets, dispatched from the U.S. aircraft carrier Nimitz. The event occurred off the coast of San Diego in 2004. During the opening moments of the first video, one of the pilots remarked that there was “a whole fleet of them” at the scene. This contrasts with the denialists’ claim that there was only one UFO observed. Of particular concern to UFO skeptics was this passage from the Times piece:

A 2009 Pentagon briefing summary of the program prepared by its director at the time asserted that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact,” and that the United States was incapable of defending itself against some of the technologies discovered.

Beyond that, the Times reported that Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace had modified buildings “… for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.”

Skeptics and UFO debunkers immediately set about attempting to put the toothpaste back into the tube. Some news outlets and blogs followed the general theme of “nothing to see here – move along”. Some supposedly scientific sources published very un-scientific reports concerning the metal alloys held by Bigelow Aerospace (BAS). None of those reports were based the source’s own examination of any such metal samples. Similarly, the sources conducted no reviews of any BAS reports concerning those metals. Other attempts at pushback focused on the false claim that the $22 million study conducted by BAS revealed nothing.

On the other hand, George Knapp of KLAS TV News in Las Vegas pointed out that Bigelow Aerospace produced 36 technical reports and 38 other reports (some of which exceeded 100 pages) based on information gleaned from this project. Knapp also notes that Luis Elizondo has 24 videos from AATIP investigations. Knapp expects that all of those videos will be released.

UFO researcher Grant Cameron emphasizes that disclosure of the aforementioned Bigelow Aerospace project is just one of six efforts underway to reveal the latest understanding about UFOs. For several years, Dr. Jacques Vallee has been leading his own project involving the examination of anomalous materials recovered in connection with UFO incidents. In an August, 2017 interview conducted by Alex Tsakaris of the Skeptico website, Dr. Vallee offered this explanation concerning what his team learned about isotope ratios for some of those metals:

So, either it should be terrestrial, which we can find out very quickly, or it could be extraterrestrial, in which case you’d expect that it would vary by a few percent from the standard ratio.

Most of those machines are mass spectrometers and they are often used by geologists, among other people, who look at meteorites. Meteorites are extraterrestrial and they don’t have the same ratio of isotopes that you do if you pick up a piece of iron on earth. So they are used to looking at ratios that are a little bit different, but what we find are ratios that are 100% off.

April of 2018 brings the release of American Cosmic, a book by Professor Diana Walsh Pasulka from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. American Cosmic will raise immense problems for the UFO denialists because it will offer information about the involvement of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in the reverse-engineering of UFO technology and the assimilation of that technology into products manufactured by aerospace industry giants. More important, Dr. Pasulka discusses her trip to a UFO crash site in New Mexico (not Roswell) where crash debris is still being collected for examination by scientists working within the appropriate specialties. She shares the explanation provided to her by those entrepreneurs that inspections of material from this site continue to provide the inspiration and direction for some of the newest technological innovations. Some of those products are already in use.

The recent revelations made by the team represented by Luis Elizondo are only the beginning of an evidentiary avalanche, which will overwhelm those who continue to deny the reality of UFOs. Meanwhile, the rest of us can enjoy the music.



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Transparent Dishonesty

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Immediately after assuming office, President Obama promised to provide a greater degree of transparency from his administration:

Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.

Since that moment, an enormous list of broken campaign promises has buried those false assurances of transparency.  Pondering over the heap of Obama’s discarded “bait and switch” enticements can cause a person to wonder how this man expects to get re-elected  … until the Republican aspirants come into view.

A recent gimmick of the current administration has been the “We the People” initiative.  This project resulted in the creation of a platform on the White House website, allowing for citizens to create petitions requesting government action on certain issues:

The We the People platform on WhiteHouse.gov gives Americans a new way to create, share, and sign petitions that communicate your views about your government’s actions and policies.

A signature threshold was established, requiring 5,000 on-line “signatures” within a 30-day period.  The threshold has subsequently been increased to 25,000 signatures in a month:

If a petition meets the signature threshold, it will be reviewed by the Administration and an official response will be issued.  And we’ll make sure that the petition is sent to the appropriate policy makers in the Administration.

The White House began responding to those petitions on October 26.  On November 5, Nancy Atkinson reported for Universe Today that We the People are interested in UFOs and space aliens:

The White House has responded to two petitions asking the US government to formally acknowledge that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose to any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings.  “The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” said Phil Larson from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, on the WhiteHouse.gov website.  “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

5,387 people had signed the petition for immediately disclosing the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and 12,078 signed the request for a formal acknowledgement from the White House that extraterrestrials have been engaging the human race.

The denials made by Phil Larson are as false now as they were many years ago, when a 15-year-old high school student named John Greenwald, Jr. began sending Freedom of Information Act requests to the Pentagon, Air Force and numerous government agencies to ascertain what our officials had learned about those Unidentified Flying Objects, which have aroused so much curiosity since the advent of the Internet.  Over the years, John Greenwald has amassed a collection of over 600,000 pages of documents, which are available for free on his website, The Black Vault.

I was amused by John Greenwald’s lecture, recounting how – as a teenager – he made fools of the bureaucrats, who were charged with the responsibility of stonewalling any inquiries concerning the UFO phenomenon.  At his website, Greenwald recounted some of the highlights of this experience:

When I started researching this phenomenon fifteen years ago, you quickly learn that the government and military alike dismiss the entire topic, deny any involvement or interest in it, and they claim they could explain the mystery after their official investigation back in 1969 – and haven’t collected anything since.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

John Greenwald hit paydirt when he came across a document entitled “Air Force Instruction 10-206” or “AFI 10-206” (a 2008 edition can be seen here).  Here is Greenwald’s explanation (in the third person) of where this lead took him:

In the regulation entitled, “Operational Reporting,” chapter 5 outlines procedures for cataloguing different types of sightings, including the third on the list, “Unidentified Flying Objects” or UFOs.  Although this reference to UFOs is not a reference to alien spacecraft, the fact remains that this publication shows that the military does have an interest in the phenomena, whatever it might be.

*   *   *

Upon further investigation, Greenewald uncovered that the reports made under this Air Force document were called CIRVIS, or Communication Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings, reports.  He noted that they are filed and sent to the NORAD installation –which he then found out when he filed a FOIA request for the records – that NORAD was not subject to the FOIA.  This was due to the fact that it was under control by both Canadian and U.S. forces – therefore excluding it from U.S. law.

But “in good faith” the request was processed under a special NORAD instruction allowing access to their documents, but they claim they found “no records.”

Pushing forward, a simple phone call by Greenewald to the Department of National Defence (DND) in Canada yielded more than 100 pages of UFO / CIRVIS reports. According to NORAD – there was nothing.  According to Canada – there was a pile of records.

On September 2, 2011 Lee Speigel of The Huffington Post interviewed John Greenwald about the extent of UFO information obtained for The Black Vault by way of the Freedom of Information Act.  Lee Speigel provided this account of what happened after that interview:

On Sept. 2, The Huffington Post made inquiries to the Air Force about the UFO directives.  A spokesman said he’d arrange an interview with an appropriate officer.  But before the interview was set up, the 111-page instruction manual was revised on Sept. 6, and the UFO instructions were deleted, as were other portions of the document, now shortened to 40 pages.

*   *   *

For several weeks, military officials failed to respond to HuffPost inquiries about the rewritten manual, which included changes to areas unrelated to UFOs.

Finally, on Oct. 5, after several follow-up calls, an Air Force major emailed a response, informing HuffPost that UFO reporting is not a duty of the armed forces branch.  He denied any cover-up, and instead said it was a coincidence that the document was updated after this news organization asked for an explanation.

The Huffington Post piece included the reaction from John Greenwald:

“They’ve had many opportunities to take [the UFO reference] off of this publication and now look at what happens,” said Greenewald.  “All of a sudden, when a major news outlet like Huffington Post starts asking questions about why UFOs are still on the books — to have that media outlet not get a fast response, number one; and number two, the military completely re-writes the regulation, changes it and UFOs are nowhere to be found — that’s a fascinating coincidence.”

Obama’s promised “transparency” seems to have befallen the same fate as “hope” and “change”.  President Clinton’s former Chief of Staff, John Podesta, is now a Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center.  Here is a video clip of John Podesta, making the case for disclosure of data compiled by the United States government on the subject of UFOs.  In a speech before the National Press Club on November 14, 2007, Mr. Podesta said this:

“I think it’s time to open the books” (on government investigations of UFOs).    .  .  .  “We ought to do it because it’s right.  We ought to do it because the American people, quite frankly, CAN handle the truth and we ought to do it because it’s the law.”

Yes, Mr. Podesta  . . .  but it’s so much easier for our officials to just lie.  They lie about everything else.  Why should this subject be treated any differently?


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