Rotten to its core
Crystal clarity in the defeat of UFO legislation -- our republic is obsolete
More than 60 years ago, the man who defeated the Nazis at Normandy was haunted by premonitions about the rise of democracy’s enemies from within — through military science.
Would it have made a difference if legacy media had fully engaged the stakes of this revolutionary legislation before it got smothered to death behind closed doors this week? Probably not. Yet, between an utterly pedestrian big-picture take on UFO history from a Washington Post reporter and its garish reception in the press, events over the last few weeks qualify as among the most unforgivable derelictions of journalistic duty in memory. More on that, but first:
It’s hard to know exactly when this country crossed over into the antidemocratic future President Eisenhower warned of in his “military-industrial complex” farewell speech in 1961. The future was running on all cylinders well before Ike left office; after all, the CIA Act of 1949 issued get-out-of-jail-free cards for spooks to operate “without regard to the provisions of law and regulations relating to the expenditure of government funds.”
Nevertheless, the old four-star from Gettysburg held out hope that “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” would be vigilant enough to prevent “public policy (from becoming) the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” That sort of vigilance, however, would demand a re-evaluation of big science already hip-deep into a radical overhaul.
“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields,” he said. “In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
“The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money,” Eisenhower added, “is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”
They woke up too late
Ike’s critique was a warning against government overreach, but at that point, private interests had barely begun to game the system. One key trigger was the landmark Buckley v. Valeo Supreme Court ruling in 1976, which declared that limits on how much a campaign could spend were First Amendment violations. In 2010, SCOTUS’s catastrophic Citizens United decision codified corporate designs on using general treasuries to subsidize candidates and issues. Four years later, the high court’s McCutcheon verdict opened the spigots to influence peddling by rendering individual contribution limits unconstitutional. By the 2020 federal elections cycle, geysers of cash gummed up government machinery with $14 billion worth of puppet strings, more than twice the amount of campaign money spent in the 2016 races.
And yet, only now, this year, did Congress finally begin to awaken to the con job imposed by what Eisenhower called “this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.” The arrangement has sabotaged the legislative branch’s credibility as a coequal partner in governance, and reduced lawmakers to hapless bystanders when it comes to their fiduciary obligations on managing taxpayer money. Appropriately, in this surrealistic era of Alternative Facts and the collapse of national mission, it was the forever-maligned UFO controversy that forced Capitol Hill to confront its impotence.
In a belated, historic, and futile effort to recover its authority, an improbable bipartisan bid for accountability convened this week for final negotiations over an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Known on the Senate side as the UAP Disclosure Act of 2023, the bill had two ball-buster provisions: 1) The presumptive and mandatory declassification of all records – government, academic or corporate – compiled on nonhuman intelligence (NHI) and related technology, enforced by the muscle of eminent domain, and 2) The establishment of an independent, nine-member oversight panel assigned to expedite “public disclosure of government records relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena.”
Preceded by the House Oversight Committee UFO whistleblower hearing in July, the wildly ambitious Senate bill co-sponsored by Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) was a hail-Mary bid by lawmakers to learn what UFO black-budget programs are actually buying and producing. Over the past three years, three different military info-gathering acronyms – UAPTF, AOIMSG, AARO – have been unwilling or unable to deliver transparency to Congress. Reports of insiders seeking immunity in exchange for details of crashed-vehicle recoveries, the rumored retrieval of “biologics,” and retaliation against whistleblowers are spreading. Last month, a story surfaced alleging a branch of the CIA – the Office of Global Access – has been dispatching rapid-response teams to NHI crash sites since 2003. Scuttlebutt swirls around the role of aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in UFO ops.
“I think it’d be wise for you all to start looking at financial disclosures of some of those corporations, some of the people who do the stonewalling in this town,” offered Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), author of a threadbare UAP companion bill in the House, as resistance to accountability from the unelected and the unseen began to stiffen.
Auditioning for prospective corporate employers
Last summer’s formal House GOP-led inquiry into potential crimes committed in the classified shadows failed to crack the seal, and Schumer admitted defeat earlier this week, blaming a handful of powerful Republicans in the lower chamber. Reports cite House Armed Services Committee chair Mike Rogers (R-AL), House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-OH), and rookie House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) as the key obstructionists. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are accused of protecting their corporate benefactors as well.
Not escaping notice was the potential clout of Turner’s famous district constituent, Wright-Patterson AFB, long rumored to have warehoused debris from the alleged 1947 Roswell crash. However, let’s be clear, this part is pure coincidence: Morley Greene, Turner’s former legislative assistant, is now Lockheed Martin’s Director of Legislative Affairs.
As usual, big media missed the story altogether. With defense reporter Julian Barnes routinely letting his Pentagon sources off the hook, no one expected meaningful coverage from the NY Times. Far more revolting was the Fourth Estate’s effusive response to a generic UFO book, its release timed, unintentionally but perfectly, to steer the newsies away from discussions of the UAP Disclosure Act.
The Washington Post’s inability to deliver aggressive and coherent UFO coverage is a matter of record. Last month, during a live video chat, we watched as Post defense reporter Shane Harris took a pass on asking AARO director Sean Kirkpatrick to weigh in on that 2013 transmedium UFO footage from Puerto Rico, or on the 2.8 million radar returns from a UFO drama that buzzed President Bush’s Texas estate in 2008 and provoked jet fighters. Political columnist Dana Milbank, who ascribes the issue to GOP conspiracy nut jobs, simply ignored last week’s bipartisan House presser as Burchett flagged “pushback” from the Intelligence Community on the pending legislation. And WaPo’s science guy, Joel Achenbach, microwaved another stale SETI leftover story on Thanksgiving week to make the rewrite sound like breaking news. He likes to keep quoting people who say, “SETI is not a belief system. It’s a scientific methodology.”
How do you buy this kind of coverage?
Still, what really pisses me off are people and headlines telling me what I think. As in: “The U.S. Government Cover-up of UFOs Is Real – But It’s Not What You Think.” Oh really? What do you think I think about UFOs? Seriously. Make up my mind for me so I’ll finally know.
That was the headline on a story in The Atlantic magazine that implicitly assigned oracular status to WaPo reporter Garrett Graff, who wrote the accompanying article. The mediaverse bought it, and for the past month, spreads on UFO: The Inside Story of the U.S. Government’s Search for Alien Life Here – And Out There have been more ubiquitous than Charles Barkley hawking Subway foot-longs. In fact, I’ve ingested so many interviews and related articles (Newsweek, Time, Politico, Vanity Fair, NPR, LA Times, PBS, Wired, NBC, Inside Edition, Coast to Coast AM, MSNBC, NewsNation, Rolling Stone, Slate, etc.) I don’t even need to buy the goddam book now.
After spending two whole years looking into it, Graff assures us the only thing military intelligence has to hide is how little it knows about UFOs. Can you blame ‘em? They’re no smarter about The Great Taboo than the rest of us dumb bunnies! All that money wasted, yo? To know so little? Not even about how much money got wasted in order to know so little?
Too bad that people who still read books in 2023 will likely take Graff’s naïve regurgitation of official explanations as the final word. Histories assembled by veteran researchers drawing far less sanguine conclusions – Michael Swords, Robert Powell, Richard Dolan, Leslie Kean, Ross Coulthart, Lawrence Fawcett, Barry Greenwood, too many to name, really – are far more challenging. Anyhow, Graff gave the MSM an excuse to take its eye off the ball in Congress, and life, quite frankly, is probably simpler in the dark.
Slashed from 64 pages to a mere 19, the skeletal remains of the so-called Schumer/Rounds amendment instruct the National Archives to begin compiling a new “Unidentified UAP Records Collection” within 60 days of President Biden’s signature. Which means we’ll get to see the swamp gas/lens flare/balloon/pelican reports that bureaucratic careerists and defense contractors deem fit for release. Maybe throw in a few 10-second clips of ambiguous little airborne spheres making unimpressive maneuvers every now and then as proof of honest brokerage.
But hey, in the wake of the bitter pill that most Americans don’t even know they’ve swallowed this week, there’s this:
Last month, the nonprofit National UFO Historical Records Center (NUFOHRC) in Rio Rancho, N.M., announced its acquisition of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization collection, the voluminous and pioneering Eisenhower-era database of professional field-work investigations that spanned more than 30 years. Combined now with APRO, the complete files from National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena, the Center for UFO Studies compilation, and J. Allen Hynek’s Blue Book inventory, the NUFOHRC lays claim to the world’s largest and most complete case files.
Microfilm, news clippings, audio files, film and video, military and civilian accounts — untold thousands of these cases are now under one roof, languishing in filing cabinets, boxes and bins, at the home of NUFOHRC executive director David Marler. The eventual goal is to find a public home for the material and digitize the lot of it for researchers everywhere.
“Let’s focus on the real history we have available currently,” states Marler, author of Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation. “We literally have tens of thousands of UFO case files now on-hand at NUFOHRC. This isn’t just history. These are all potential data points if we wish to do a systematic analysis with AI technology. Historical files meet modern day technology, you might say.
“We don’t have to wait for the government to release its UFO files. What about the vast amount of data we have in the civilian sector? The (APRO) collection we just inherited (has) been hidden away for 35 years now. These are being prepared for public access in 2024 . . . Let’s not wait for ‘the government’ to have UFO disclosure. Let’s disclose what we already have in the public sector.”
Good idea. Maybe the only idea. After what happened on Capitol Hill this week, it’s pretty obvious we’re on our own now, kids.
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