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    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

    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
    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.

    Published on Nov 1, 2006


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