Monday, September 29, 2008
Congressional UFO: A Perfect Storm Gone Missing
For starters, I'm thinking maybe it's sunspots. No, make that sunspot, just one, because after a peculiar lull in sunspot activity, I understand the sun finally coughed one up a few days ago. Maybe that's when our little corner of the universe did a flip and encouraged Washington to admit the country's financial mess BEFORE the November elections. This borders on the incredible. This sort of thing routinely stays below DC's mucky infrastructure until just after voters make their polling place choices, and then, pow, out comes the truth we should have been informed about before, smashed right into our faces as if administered by Uncle Sam cloaked as a jack-in-the-box.
Washington is top-heavy with people charged to oversee a nebulous bigger picture, but the economic quagmire remained off the scope -- intentionally, it will be argued, in order to serve those who supposedly serve us -- until it darned nearly burst, spraying its feculent contents across the nation, across the world. Or, hmm, maybe the whole pile was sprung on us prior to the elections clearly for political reasons of another sort. The mind boggles.
If we can believe polls, respect for the work Congress performs hovers at a record low. Big surprise there. Anyway, what about Congress and its role in matters of importance, of urgency? With so many issues awarded little more than lip service in the House and Senate over the years, is it really out of the question to assume that the time has come when there's no more space under that congressional rug where matters of masked significance have been swept? Out of sight, out of mind -- out at last?
The delicate little matter of UFOs has received some congressional attention, particularly in the House of Representatives, in the past. Nevertheless, for all the word-slinging dramatized on several hastily conducted occasions since the fifties, what did we get? Come on, say it, say the words: We got Dr. Ed Condon and his no-good-feel-good UFO project at the University of Colorado.
Additionally, as has recently come to light (I believe this originated with researcher Brad Sparks and his information was related via UFO Updates, though I have not seen Sparks' complete article as I write this), there were far more UFO cases left unexplained by Colorado than indicated originally. Even more fascinating, however, it's now claimed that Dr. Condon didn't even read or review the final report before rubber-stamping the whole fetid mess.
So, we really need to ask again, what should Congress do about UFOs? That government entity believes as a whole that the issue was settled in Colorado, even though the preponderance of evidence clearly shows it was not. Yes, there are said to be individual members who would welcome and encourage new hearings about UFOs, but on their own they aren't likely to present a challenge to the uncaring majority.
If you've read this blog from the beginning, you've already witnessed a scanned sample of letters I received since the sixties from various congressional representatives. In general, caution is the theme. They don't wish to seem over-zealous about a UFO investigation, yet they aren't about to respond to a constituent by questioning the writer's sanity, either.
The traditional approach Congress takes when the UFO topic is broached, a textbook lesson, couldn't have been laid out any better than it was in 1964, when the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP, see link)) published The UFO Evidence, prepared under the superb editorial guidance of Richard Hall. Intended as a warning to Congress that UFOs were important and in need of scientific inquiry, a copy of this book-sized document was given to every member of Congress. However, even with an impressive wave of UFO sightings occurring in the U.S. throughout 1964, congressional response seemed lackluster at best.
The thing is, 1964 actually created a "perfect storm" for the UFO issue, or should have. The paradox is that Congress should have gone on full-alert instead of sleeping at the switch upon receipt of NICAP's document because 1964, and then 1965 and 1966, boasted a disturbing array of UFO events. The "nail-biter" UFO cases came rolling in from all over the country, well-witnessed, and this time many involved physical evidence such as landing traces and marks on the ground in quantities perhaps unparalleled since the electromagnetic (EM) UFO events reported widely in the 1950s. Nevertheless, some in Congress politely thanked NICAP for The UFO Evidence, some members voiced concern and then business as usual engulfed the world of legislation and oversight. UFOs associated with 1965's "Great Northeastern Power Blackout" and other reports, and the concern for the 1966 Michigan sightings in then-Congressman Gerald Ford's territory helped herald in what relevant hearings Congress held, but still -- 1964 should have been the banner year for decisive congressional action.
Another part of that perfect storm, though still a segment invisible to the casual observer, involved the Air Force's chief UFO consultant and (formerly) ardent skeptic, astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was coming to a highly disturbing personal realization that UFOs represented something real and important. In an article which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post of December 17, 1966, Dr. Hynek reminisced about his reconsideration of the evidence:
"From time to time I would urge the Air Force to make a more thorough study of the phenomenon, but nothing ever came of it. . .As the years went by, I continued to find cases that puzzled me. . .I was not consulted on some key cases.
". . .since 1964, " Hynek continued, "there has been a sharp rally in the number of puzzling sightings. The more impressive cases seem to fit into a pattern. The UFO's had a bright red glow. They hovered a few feet off the ground, emitting a high-pitched whine. Animals in the vicinity were terrified, often before the UFO's became visible to the people who later reported the incident. When the objects at last began to disappear, they vanished in a matter of seconds. . .As the Air Force's consultant, I was acquiring a reputation in the public eye of being a debunker of UFO's. Yet, privately, I was becoming more and more concerned over the fact that people with good reputations, who had no possible hope of gain from reporting a UFO, continued to describe 'out-of-this-world' incidents."
A chapter in The UFO Evidence (the entire document can be viewed for free at NICAP.org, just consult the on-site search engine) entitled, "Congress and the UFOs" contained comments gleaned from 1957 to 1963 via letters received by NICAP members from congressional representatives. I urge you to read the entire document, one of the best sources about the UFO phenomenon ever published, but for purposes of my blog entry today please review the congressional chapter. You'll find that wishy-washy attitudes haven't changed much in the succeeding decades, even though there are a few gems amongst congressional members who took the bold lead of saying what needed to be said. A generous sample of those particular responses is included below, with NICAP's own comments left intact when included:
Senator Barry Goldwater (R. Ariz.) - August 31, 1957: "I am an Air Force Reserve Officer and have been one for the past 27 years and, consequently, I am, indeed, interested in unidentified flying objects. I, frankly, feel that there is a great deal to this and I have discussed it often with many Air Force Officers. . . "
Congressman William H. Ayres (R. Ohio) - January 28, 1958: "Congressional investigations have been held and are still being held on the problem of unidentified flying objects and the problem is one in which there is quite a bit of interest. . Since most of the material presented to the Committees is classified, the hearings are never printed. When conclusions are reached they will be released if possible. . ."
Senator Thomas J. Dodd (D. Conn.) - February 27, 1960: "Thank you for your recent letter concerning unidentified flying objects. This is a matter which has always aroused my interest and curiosity."
In a telecast March 14, Senator Dodd enlarged on his statement in answer to a newsman's question: "UFOs have never been accurately explained. I think there is as much reason to believe that there is something to them as there is for believing that there is not. There is certainly reason for thinking we don't have all the facts and certainly the Senate committee dealing with space should have all the facts."
Congresswoman Gracie Pfost (D. Idaho) - March 25, 1960: ". . . regarding flying objects. I am interested in this subject also, and you will want to know that after conversing with the Air Force Department I am not completely satisfied with the information they gave me..."
Congresswoman Florence P. Dwyer (R. N.J.) - April 26, 1960: "I am not one of those who arbitrarily dismiss 'flying saucers' as figments of the imagination. I take them seriously, and I certainly would have no objections to a careful and reasonable investigation of this phenomenon. Too many intelligent and thoroughly responsible people, who have been in positions to observe such unidentified foreign objects, have testified to their conviction that such objects exist for me or anyone else to deny the validity of their observations. Under careful supervision, and with the proper safeguards, I would think that a Congressional investigation would be a worthwhile undertaking. . ."
Senator Harry F. Byrd (D. Va.) - May 9, 1961: "As you know, I am a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and this Committee is frequently briefed on the subject matter of your communication. Access to U.F.O. files is necessarily restricted. . ."
June: News stories began to appear stating that the House Committee on Science & Astronautics was considering holding hearings on UFOs.
Waterbury (Conn.) Republican, June 20: Bulkley Griffin, reporting from Washington, said the House Space Committee would conduct hearings, "according to present plans of Chairman Overton Brooks. He is designating a subcommittee to hear witnesses. Rep. Joseph H. Karth, (D. Minn.), will head the subcommittee it is stated. . The question whether all the subcommittee sessions will be secret or whether some will be public, has not been finally decided. "
In their column June 26, Robert S. Allen and Paul Scott reported: "The Unidentified Flying Objects, that have been mysteriously appearing over the U. S. for years, are going to be investigated by the House Space Committee."
July 3, Newsweek, in its "Periscope" column, reported that a three-man House subcommittee would soon start a UFO probe, beginning with Air Force reports.
(By August 6, Bulkley Griffin reported a hitch in the investigation. in a story headlined "Flying Object Probe Out This Session," the Waterbury Republican said no investigation would be held. "The Air Force is understood to have succeeded in blocking it. . (Rep.) Karth has declared he won't serve unless some public hearings are permitted and (Chairman) Brooks has always been against public hearings. It is believed, however, that the Air Force, as usual, has been urging against any UFO hearings at all.")
Congressman Glenn Cunningham (R. Nebr.) - August 8, 1963: "I think it quite possible that the Air Force is withholding information about at least a certain number of these [sightings] because I have found that the military services in the past have sometimes acted in a secretive way in other matters when there was really no justification for it. . ."
(End of NICAP material from The UFO Evidence)
See? The more things change, the more they really do stay the same. Hearings come and go-- or don't occur at all -- and still the questions linger. How about Senator Byrd's interesting statement? Access to UFO files is "necessarily" restricted?!!
And now we have official Washington and Congress scratching and clawing through its and Wall Street's inescapable detritus, putting on a public face of cooperation, trying to show us that when emergency action is required they can handle the job. But.. .
Why did the UFO issue not receive such treatment? Too weird, too hard to believe? Throngs of people accept on pure faith that Jesus rose from the dead, but impressive UFO evidence can't be considered, oh no, no. It's so much safer politically to embrace the known, absorb comfort from the legend and exclude the unknown-- even when that unknown screams out for investigation. Military pilot UFO observations and radar confirmation, dangerous airline passenger encounters with UFOs, marks and burns and even radioactive traces left on the ground after UFO landings, astounding examples of immense energy sources associated with UFO propulsion, uncomfortably forthright reports of UFOs related to alleged human abductions -- hello?! Where was Congress? Where is Congress?
This is urgent, highly relevant stuff, habitually deserving of "red alert" status, and 44 years ago congressional leaders were presented a golden opportunity and sense of urgency to investigate the issue when simultaneously confronted with astounding new cases and the unique NICAP document calling for action.
As a 15-year-old in April of 1964, I remember the sense of awe I felt when the nation's wire services, radio and TV crackled with constantly updated reports of a dramatic UFO sighting experienced by patrolman Lonnie Zamora in Socorro, New Mexico, something about an egg-shaped object accompanied by small beings on the desert floor, an object that took off with a roar, barely missing a dynamite shack. Then other accounts, good reports, began appearing via the nation's press. Within days, the major UFO organizations were sending out bulletins detailing landings, scorched ground, all sorts of evidence that couldn't be ignored. The Socorro UFO itself left behind landing marks and vegetation that continued to burn 24 hours later, even as Air Force investigators and representatives from who-knows-what spook agencies traversed the area. Congress, for the most part, napped.
For some reason, other nations appear far more willing to spotlight the UFO as a serious scientific issue, while U.S. officials charged with our defense routinely ignore, politely dismiss, chuckle or sneer away the whole "damned" thing -- at least publicly -- and we tire of their arrogance.
Frankly, I expect more from my country's leaders than their current belated attentiveness to mopping up after the thugs and exceptionally bad legislation that allowed the nation's wealth to be plundered and misdirected. But if members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate really care about the future, if they are sincere about supporting science and accomplishing magnificent discoveries yet undreamt, then learning more about and telling us more about who or what randomly invades our air space, our nuclear and military facilities-- and sometimes our very lives -- is the best place to start. We must insist, because we have the right to know.