Yeah, blame the conspiracy nuts
Outgoing AARO boss deflects from transparency failures
“Waanngh! People who don’t know how to think critically opine about aliens all the time and won’t let me do my joooooooob . . .”
My one and only New Year’s resolution was to see how long I could go without blogging about UFOs. Worst-case scenario, I figured I could hold out ‘til at least Valentine’s Day, maybe even March Madness. But then Sean Kirkpatrick just had to go and proclaim his victimhood at the hands of those dangerously ignorant UFO conspiracy nuts.
So here be my two cent:
In what was hopefully his farewell address from the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, Kirkpatrick threw a whiny little grievance tantrum in Scientific American on Friday. Citing the “erosion” of “rational, evidence-based critical thinking” with “deleterious consequences” for national security as “one factor in my decision to step down from my position,” the testy ex-CIA/DIA tech officer decided to give his critics a fanny-whuppin’.
AARO, Kirkpatrick said, had been distracted by aftershocks from the AATIP program, Robert Bigelow, Skinwalker Ranch, Harry Reid, “sensational but unsupported claims” about dark reverse-engineering UFO projects that “captured the attention of policymakers and the public, driving legislative battles and dominating the public narrative.” Waanngh! Because that wasn’t part of his job.
Accepting the ‘unacceptable’
The job, according to AARO’s website, was supposed to be an orderly process designed to “minimize technical and intelligence surprise” by detecting, identifying, and mitigating “anomalous phenomena in the vicinity of national security areas.” That’s it – nothing anywhere in the mission statement about getting to the bottom of our pathological classification infrastructure. Job one: Find out what’s flying around in our skies – friend or foe? Easy. Get ‘er done. Then “turn UFOs in somebody else’s problem,” as Kirkpatrick told a Senate committee in April. “Simply put,” he added in last week’s op-ed, “’unidentified’ is unacceptable, particularly in these times of heightened geopolitical tension.”
And that’s exactly why AARO’s former director is trying to steer so much attention toward “this whirlwind of tall tales, fabrication and secondhand or thirdhand retellings” that have been making headlines on Capitol Hill – to deflect attention from the opacity of AARO’s own research.
I’ve flogged this next horse so often I’m sick and tired of writing about it. But an honest broker would’ve directed AARO to start its credibility campaign with a straight-up assessment of two of this century’s most buzzworthy, well documented, and well publicized encounters. Again, we’re talking about the 2008 Stephenville, Texas, incident, involving a massive craft without a transponder that challenged the no-fly zone over the residence of a sitting president. And we’re talking about the 2013 Aguadilla encounter, in which a UFO exercising transmedium capabilities forced air traffic control in Puerto Rico to delay flights leaving a coastal airport. Both have been featured in TV docs.
The former involved 10 F-16s, and possibly an AWACs crew. Ground-based civilian witnesses reported a UFO with the girth of a flying aircraft carrier, and radar tracked it at speeds ranging from 49 to 2100 mph. Pingbacks traced the flight paths of components of the 457th Fighter Squadron at Carswell AFB operating nearby during the event. These aviators have yet to be questioned about what they saw.
The Aguadilla data rolled radar coverage into nearly four minutes of dramatic infrared footage acquired by a Customs and Border Protection surveillance plane. As if to make it easier for AARO researchers, CBP formally declassified that previously leaked video last year. Crew members – whose efforts to get command to take their encounter seriously were rebuffed – have yet to be questioned about what they saw.
The ‘maximum transparency’ joke
As matters of public interest, both these encounters were custom-made for Kirkpatrick’s stated goal of “accumulating observations by highly trained U.S. military and other credible personnel of (UAP) at or near sensitive national security areas.” His grousing about how “the modern media cycle drives stories faster than sound research, science and peer review time lines can validate them” applies to neither case. Yet, nary a word or a comment from AARO about them.
Maybe Aguadilla and Stephenville are, in fact, among the 801 UFO entries listed in AARO’s files. But the agency won’t tell us. Aside from a couple of brief and underwhelming detail-light airborne-orb videos, AARO releases zero information about individual cases, making a mockery of Kirkpatrick’s insistence on the unit’s commitment to “maximum transparency.”
Without specifically citing the testimony of former intelligence officer David Grusch to Congress in July, Kirkpatrick complains that “none, let me repeat, none of the conspiracy-minded ‘whistleblowers’ in the public eye had elected to come to AARO to provide ‘evidence’ . . . despite numerous intentions.” Could it be that nobody trusts this guy’s sincerity?
Kirkpatrick claims “some members of Congress prefer to opine about aliens to the press rather than get an evidence-based briefing on the matter.” Seriously? That’s exactly what lawmakers have been trying to do for several years now, most recently on Jan. 12, during a closed-door meeting with Intelligence Community Inspector General Thomas Monheim. But our elected representatives can’t obtain security clearances to get their questions answered.
As Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) told the media last month after emerging from another disappointing classified meeting, “This is not about whether there are aliens or there are not aliens. The problem is when we ask those questions, rather than being provided information that would prove it false, they stonewall the information, and that is what piques the interest.”
Advice to Tim Phillips, the new guy at AARO on loan from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: Lose the transparency ruse. You’re there to check boxes and show off a few pie charts every now and then to keep Congress happy. Try to say as little as necessary; otherwise, you’ll end up looking Sean Kirkpatrick.
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