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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:

                             

End of a Long Year

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The end of 2018 marks the demise of Donald Trump’s “rubber stamp” Congress. To the surprise of many, the Democratic Party managed to regain control of the House of Representatives during the midterm elections. With the Democrats controlling the House, Trump might decide that the Presidency is no longer any fun – with too many obligations and duties, demanding such loathsome tasks as reading and listening to other people.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are scrambling to present a united front behind whomever might be their 2020 presidential nominee. The party’s establishment seems terrified that a new generation of progressives – exemplified by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – might scare away the deep pockets of K Street lobbyists. On the other hand, progressive-minded voters have been conditioned to view Centrists as corporatists in the tradition of Hillary Clinton. Will a unifying candidate, with the backbone to advance a forward-looking agenda, gain enough traction to rise above a large pack of ambitious contenders?

January 2019 brings us the long-awaited release of American Cosmic, a book by Professor Diana Walsh Pasulka from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. I discussed American Cosmic in my last posting. Although the book was originally scheduled for release in April of 2018, the publisher (Oxford University Press) found it necessary to “dumb-down” the book so that it would be accessible to a mainstream audience. (Oxford University Press is primarily involved in the production of academic textbooks.)

American Cosmic 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. This book could have a significant impact on the acceptability of the taboo subject of UFOs. (They are now referred to as unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs to avoid the stigma of lunacy associated with UFOs.) A significant amount of rumbling from the rumor mill suggests that the Pentagon is poised to release some “dramatic” UAP videos in January or February.

Beyond the damage inflicted upon the environment by Donald Trump’s deliberate efforts to sabotage the measures and mechanisms of environmental protection, 2018 brought us more bad news about the outlook for climate change. A rather bleak National Climate Assessment (NCA) report was released on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). The NCA is a United States government interagency effort focused on climate change science. At the website for the Union of Concerned Scientists, senior climate scientist Rachel Licker discussed the sleazy handling of the report by the Trump Administration:

The Trump Administration tried to bury the report, which they were legally mandated to issue, over a holiday weekend. When that failed and the report drew wide coverage, President Trump, his press secretary, and two cabinet secretaries tried to discredit the assessment and disparage the work of more than 300 scientists and experts from federal, state, and local governments, tribes and Indigenous communities, national laboratories, universities, and the private sector who contributed to the report, many on a purely voluntary basis.

Hopes run high that 2019 might be the year when decisive action is taken by special counsel Robert Mueller and Congress to end the destructive, scandal-plagued Trump presidency.