Life in the Stars

Given that the mainstream scientific community can’t even agree
if the poor orbiting mass called Pluto is a planet, it may seem a
strange time to ask people to consider whether or not
extraterrestrial life has visited our troubled planet-especially
since the mere mention of unidentified flying objects conjures
stereotypes, reinforced in the media, that undermine
credibility.

It’s hard to imagine, however, that even the most hardened of
cynics wouldn’t be compelled by information published on the
subject over the past 10 years. Sometimes raising as many
unsettling questions as it answers, this serious research not only
deserves notice, it demands consideration. The problem is that, no
matter what mainstream science reporters are covering -from stories
on nasa to promises of space tourism-they routinely ignore the
subject altogether.

Detractors ought to consider the legacy of the late astronomer
and physicist J. Allen Hynek, an investigator on
government-sponsored studies of UFOs from the late ’40s through the
’60s, who went from being a skeptic to something of a UFO advocate
before he died in 1986. What made him abandon his academic and
political prejudices about a subject that usually draws jeers? It
was no doubt information like that contained in an unofficial
document from the RAND Corporation, a generally conservative think
tank, titled ‘UFOs: What to Do?’

Written in 1968 and publicly released in 1997, the study tracks
sightings from the 1500s to the modern era, including ‘the large
number’ of UFOs spotted near atomic and military installations.
While the report recounts how certain government agencies
recommended handling such sightings (read: ridicule and denial),
there’s also speculation that there could be as many as 100 million
intergalactic civilizations more advanced than our own.

Hynek eventually concluded that there was an embarrassment of
evidence for the existence of UFOs. Given that more substantiation
has since accrued, one can’t help but wonder how-media neglect
notwithstanding-meaningful discussion about the existence of the
extraterrestrial has been stifled for so long.

In 1997, retired colonel Philip J. Corso, a member of President
Eisenhower’s national security team and an Army intelligence
officer in Korea, published an explosive book called The Day
After Roswell
(Pocket Books) that offers an intriguing take on
the question. The author claims that materials recovered from a
crash site in New Mexico in the late ’40s were seeded to corporate
interests that patented the technologies-including lasers,
integrated circuitry, fiber-optic networks, accelerated particle
beam devices, and the Kevlar material in bulletproof
vests-ostensibly to hide the original source.

Corso also argues that there are two space programs: the one
that we read about and the one that is already using off-planet
technology recovered and reverse-engineered for advanced military
and commercial purposes-including a Star Wars system he claims has
already been deployed to fend off extraterrestrials.

Richard M. Dolan, author of UFOs and the National Security
State: An Unclassified History, Volume One 1941-1973
(Keyhole
Publishing, 2000), says it’s difficult to follow up on claims such
as Corso’s because, while classified documents created by
government agencies can occasionally be ferreted out, proprietary
information held by businesses and global corporations is hard to
come by. Since the military and the federal government rely on
subcontractors to do some of their most sensitive work, using
special-access projects (SAPs) and unacknowledged special-access
projects (USAPs), secrets are easier to keep. Dolan’s next work,
scheduled for publication in early 2007, will explore the history
of SAPs and USAPs since 1973.

Writing on his website, author and astrophysicist Bernard
Haisch points out that a SAP ‘is for programs considered to be too
sensitive for normal classification measures. . . . They are
protected by a security system of great complexity. Many of the
SAPs are located within industry funded through special contracts.’
Much of his analysis is based on ‘In Search of the Pentagon’s
Billion-Dollar Hidden Budgets,’ an article by Bill Sweetman in the
highly regarded British publication Jane’s International
Defence Review
.

‘Even members of Congress on appropriations committees (the
Senate and House committees that allocate budgets) and intelligence
committees are not allowed
to know anything about these programs,’ Haisch writes. ‘Moreover,
Freedom of Information Act requests cannot penetrate unacknowledged
special access programs.’
In Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
(HarperCollins, 2004), New Yorker contributor Seymour
Hersh reports that one SAP, used to recruit operatives, has been
linked to military torture in Iraq. The desired effect is the same:
to avoid scrutiny and sidestep opposing elements that exist in the
CIA and Pentagon.

‘The granddaddy of all USAPs is the UFO/ET matter,’ writes
Steven Greer in his book Extraterrestrial Contact: The Evidence
and Implications
(Crossing Point, 1999). Greer-who says USAPs
are a top-secret, compartmentalized project that not even the
commander in chief has the power to access-founded the Center for
the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI). Since the early
’90s, working under the assumption that the USAP model exists,
Greer and CSETI associates have met often with high-level officials
of the U.S. and other governments, including former CIA director
James Woolsey.

In May 2001 CSETI held a press conference at the National Press
Club at which it produced an impressive list of witnesses from the
government, the military, and the private sector-along with a ream
of documents and film footage-establishing, as noted in Greer’s
book Disclosure (Crossing Point, 2001), that ‘we are indeed being
visited by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations and have been
for some time.’ Among the witnesses was John Callahan, who, when he
was division chief of the Accidents and Investigations Branch of
the Federal Aviation Administration, headed a 1986 investigation of
a Japanese 747 that was chased for 30 minutes by a UFO (the
incident was captured on radar and recorded). Not surprisingly,
major media outlets all but ignored the press conference and failed
to scrutinize the supplementary material.

There are a number of reasons the media avoid these topics,
argues Terry Hansen in The Missing Times: News Media Complicity
in the UFO Cover-up
(Xlibris, 2001), including historical
precedent, national security, and psychological resistance.
(Consider, the author writes, that ‘for five years, the editors of
Scientific American refused to acknowledge the aviation
achievements of the Wright brothers because the magazine had been
told by trusted authorities that manned, heavier-than-air flight
was a scientific impossibility.’)

In 2006 one would hope for a better, more enlightened
investigative media climate than the one that existed at the dawn
of aviation. If the claims by Corso and others are true, and other
crash retrievals of and technological transfers from
extraterrestrial spacecraft since the ’40s have continued, imagine
what mind-boggling innovations have yet to be revealed-and who
stands to profit.

Martin Keller is a freelance writer and publicist who lives
in Minneapolis. He worked pro bono as a public relations liaison
for the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence from
1992 to 1997.

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