UFO Censorship and Cover-upsAuthor: John Prytz
As the recent and ongoing WikiLeaks saga has demonstrated, as if any demonstration were really needed given such well known historical instances like ‘Watergate' or ‘the Pentagon Papers', governments and government officials, sometimes a whole succession of governments and government officials, not only can, but do try to keep secrets from the citizens and taxpayers that ultimately elected those governments and those officials and paid for all those activities now kept secret. And what leaks is probably the tip of the iceberg. There are probably more secrets than declassified or leaked secrets!
Now of course there are some things that need to be kept secret – at least for a time – things central to national defence and security are obvious examples. But some as yet undisclosed secrets of that nature have probably exceeded their usefulness use-by date, but it's too much effort to release now – who, despite some stuffy academic historians of no consequence cares what was what from years gone by anyway? – and anyway who wants to take unwanted and unnecessary responsibility declassifying stuff?
But, way too many secrets are secret just because they are, if made public, reveal an embarrassing skeleton in the closet or would reveal a black sheep in the ‘family' or it's just a plain diplomatic ‘oops'. I'm sure even ordinary families can relate to those sorts of issues. Once you dig yourself a non-disclosure hole, it's not always easy to climb out again, but if you're comfortable in your self-dug hole, why bother trying?
So, on to the issue of UFOs – are UFOs an ever ongoing necessary thing to censure; a classified topic that passed its use-by date a long time ago; or just one of those ‘black sheep' skeletons-in-the-closet?
I received an email from a SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) scientist along the line that cover-ups are the usual excuse for the claim there's no obvious public evidence for the UFO ETH (ExtraTerrestrial Hypothesis), and that's an argument from ignorance, so it has no force. It's also implausible that every government in the world is participating in a cover-up. I'm guessing here, but I'd wager that scientist hasn't ever been in the military (I have) or worked for any defence, security or diplomatic related agencies.
Well, any time the powers-that-be classify, conceal, deny, cover-up things, you're in the dark so obviously any debate or argument to the contrary by you is an argument or debate from your relative ignorance because you don't have all of the facts.
1) Disclosures vs. Cover-Ups: There is intense interest in the question of whether or not we are alone in the cosmos. It has been one of the biggest philosophical, cum scientific questions ever. To date, all discussions revolving around the existence of life on other worlds, be it layman, academic, philosophical, political, etc. have remained if not idle speculation, at least educated speculation. The Big Question comes about when life on other worlds is actually discovered. What do those in the know tell those not in the know? To cover-up, or not to cover-up, that is the question.
#Microbial Life on Mars: Viking and/or the Mars Rock (ALH84001): No Cover-up. In fact, the powers that be, scientific and governmental, have been very open about presenting analysis from, for example, the 1976 Viking space probes that landed on the surface of Mars and initially give positives results for current microbial life on the Red Planet. Ditto the possible discovery of fossil microbes in a Martian meteorite than landed in the Antarctic – with the rather dull name of ALH84001. The jury may be still out on Viking and ALH84001, but it was all open and aboveboard. Maybe that's because Martian microbes, past fossil, or alive in the present, however interesting, aren't going to cause any revolutions, apart from scientific ones off course.
#ETI at A Distance: SETI: No Cover-up. Since positive SETI results can be verified across international boundaries, no one country can control disclosure that a radio (or optical or IR signal – leakage of beacon) has been detected. SETI scientists have various protocols in place regarding the announcement of discovering the existence of an ETI civilization that's somewhere ‘out there', millions if not trillions of miles away. It will be up to the scientists concerned to make the announcement. Replying however, will probably have to take in political realities and will be up to the United Nations.
#ETI Here but not Now: Ancient Astronauts: No Cover-up. The ‘Face on Mars', spires photographed by the Lunar Orbiter spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, the avalanche of tomes and documentaries on ‘ancient astronauts', while interesting, probably didn't alter any voting patterns, effect the stock market, or increase the price of your shopping. Even if some prominent scholar proved the concept of ‘ancient astronauts' to the satisfaction of, and with the full backing of, the entire academic community and scholarly society in general, it wouldn't cause any change, even minor, in the day-to-day affairs of the world and her citizens. The powers-that-be would have little, if even that, control over the pronouncements of private academics in any event, at least in most countries.
#ETI Here and Now: UFOs: Cover-up. If alien beings land on the White House lawn with a traditional ‘take me to your leader' spiel, or start zapping us with photon torpedoes, or if they're forced to land, or crash-land, in a densely populated area where there are lots of witnesses and cameras, then the question of a cover-up, the need for the powers-that-be to reveal all, is moot and of only academic interest. Apart from that scenario, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that some nations and their governments have actual physical evidence, hence knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence(s) on Earth in the here and now. Roswell comes to mind as an obvious example. Why would a UFO cover-up exist? And why wouldn't a UFO cover-up ever be negated at a later date? Okay, let's assume that you are The Big Cheese, the one who knows that UFOs are here and are spacecraft from an advanced extraterrestrial civilization. It's in your power to reveal or censor that information vis-à-vis the rest of the world. What would you do?
Perhaps incoming administrations aren't ever briefed or told. The old ‘if they don't ask, don't tell', what they don't know won't ever come back to haunt them philosophy, also translated as the less in the loop, the better, could be one reason.
Perhaps everyone in the know, including incoming administrations who are briefed and who have the power to show-and-tell and reveal all, have been convinced of the need for ongoing secrecy (i.e. a cover-up). What might such reasons be?
Well, it's hard to say you're sorry for the past actions of others, and it's hard to own up to having done something that has caused others injustice, and it's hard to admit to lying and deceiving your citizens and doing things that just appear outright wrong. Why spoil your lilywhite image – and re-election chances – or your nation's and predecessor's reputation.
Well, no government is going to share that sort of knowledge with any other nation, for obvious national security and military advantage reasons. Thus, you don't tell anyone, be they your allies or your citizens. As time goes by, it becomes even harder to admit to having done this.
No government is going to admit to its citizens (and thus to the rest of the world) that it has no control over its airspace and territory. They may know they don't, but you're not ever going to hear them broadcast that fact.
Any government admitting to its populace and the rest of the world that an advanced ETI civilization is in close proximity to ours with unknown motives is adding one hell of a knuckleball into a game situation that's already close to the brink. There's enough major political and economic uncertainty and trauma in the world without introducing another loose cannon such as extraterrestrials-in-our-backyard if this can be avoided.
2) The Official UFO Cover-Up: It might be somewhat possible for one country's government to keep one or a few UFO incidents (crashes, etc.) that by chance fell into their laps first under wraps and hence keep their citizens in the dark as to the reality of ETI. And the motive, as hinted above, is with respect to the utilization of acquired alien technology. However, in the broader context, it staggers the imagination to suggest or believe that every government, and subsequent change of government, elected or otherwise, including every knowledgeable government official over 60 years, in every country in the world, would or could conspire collectively to do the same. The odds that every nation would pursue that same policy independently are so greatly against as to also stretch credibility.
Since it all boils down to individuals. Over the years one would have to believe that thousands to tens of thousands of those in-the-know wouldn't blow the biggest story of the millennium, especially when on their death beds via death-bed confessions. If just one current (or ex) prime minister/president/premier/king, etc. in just one country changed sides and spilled the beans…
In any event, no individual, no government, no country has any control over that ETI may, or may not, do. If Roswell had been Central Park in New York City in broad daylight, who could cover it up? If UFOs choose to hover over major inhabited locations, ala "Independence Day", what official, government or country could prevent their citizens from knowing about it?
There are several solutions to the cover-up scenario. Firstly, there are no ETI; therefore no cover-ups were ever necessary. Secondly, ETI might be here, but there have been no UFO incidents, no acquired alien technology that have required the perceived need for an official cover-up. Thirdly, there have been UFO incidents, but so few and far between that a long term cover-up was possible. Lastly, there is a global conspiracy policy, a co-operation carried out by every nation in the world since day one to prevent the great unwashed from learning about the existence of ETI (for whatever reason – prevent panic, etc.), and there have been no deviations from that policy ever and no rouge individuals bucking the system for fame or fortune or because it was the right thing to do.
While one of the first two alternatives seems most probable, I think there is enough evidence to make the third alternative the most credible. Certainly the last one is so far out in left field that in fact it's right out of the ball park.
Regarding the question of censorship and cover-ups over things alien in nature, as noted above, things like Martian microbes are too inconsequential to try to hide; ‘ancient astronauts' are too old for a government to worry about; SETI aliens (if SETI succeeds) are too far away to worry about; but UFOs are a different kettle of fish. The possibility that highly advanced aliens with unknown motives might be present here and now – well can you imagine any government admitting to the great unwashed that they really have no control over their airspace! Any government that had, by accident, obtained alien technology would certainly not share that information with anyone, including allies, and thus wouldn't admit same to their citizens. Of course not all countries and their respective governments may even have the appropriate data which to cover-up. You can't hide what you don't know about in the first place.
3) Freedom of Information (FOI): Why is it, if UFOs are total pseudoscience nonsense, that so many individuals have had to resort to Freedom of Information Act actions (in the United States in particular) in order to get official UFO related government documents, many of which, if released, have large portions and chunks blacked out? Further, not all FOI requests succeed. Why indeed if UFOs are just ‘silly season' fodder claimed by the sceptics?
4) Case History: Area 51, etc: If a government, any government of any country, had possession of alien technology, say the remains of a crashed flying saucer, there is little doubt that the powers-that-be would try to 1) figure it all out and b) keep it secret from other foreign powers-that-be. That would be the case as well if say the Americans were to obtain terrestrial technology with military applications from captured Russian or Chinese or for that matter even Australian hardware. Thus, it would come as no real surprise that such a government would have one or more top secret sites where such back engineering would be done, and secrets kept. However, even if no government had any alien technology, they still would have top secret sites for producing, testing, and etc. terrestrial technology vital to national security. Thus, the existence of Area 51 (also known as Dreamland for some reason) does not of necessity prove that the United States (in this example) has alien technology in its possession. But, if you accept Roswell (and/or other tales of captured alien technology), then Area 51 (or akin) follows of necessity.
Take Area 51 (Groom Lake, Nevada). Even assuming that the location has bugger-all to do with UFOs doesn't negate secrecy going on. There's no denying the place exists. That's on the public record. Satellite and ground photographs exist. There's no getting around the fact that signs are posted around the site that there will be ‘no trespassing' and that if you do, ‘use of deadly force is authorised' to keep you out. [That includes SETI scientists!] That too is on the public record, filmed and documented. Translated, there are things going on at Area 51 the American government doesn't want anyone to know about. Pine Gap in Central Australia is another such location. Many more exist throughout the world. You want cover-ups, censorship and related – call it what you will. Well, something that immediately comes to mind was the Manhattan Project. Then there's that U-2 spy plane (and a whole range of stealth military aircraft that remained top secret while in development). Likewise, the Project Mogul package designed to detect foreign nuclear weapons testing, launched to high altitudes by balloon, as beloved as an explanation for Roswell. (I'm sure Project Mogul existed, whether it really explains Roswell is quite another matter.)
Nobody can deny that the military has levels of classified security ratings ranging from confidential through to secret and top secret. Anyone suggesting that the Americans (or British, Australians, Chinese, Russians, etc.) don't have skeletons in their respective closets are in serious denial or in delusion mode. A UFO case might even be classified not so much because it's a UFO, but because the surveillance equipment, type of radar or spy satellite, etc. might be classified.
The number of classified confidential / secret / top secret projects worldwide must number in the tens of thousands. The total number of classified confidential / secret / top secret documents (plus photos and films and related) must be in the millions, probably multi-millions if not more. The number of multi-decades old classified projects and documents are unknown, but some surely exist. Something old by itself doesn't equal declassified. And it's not just the military – all sorts of government civilian and diplomatic projects and decisions remain under wraps for a whole variety of reasons.
There's no doubt in my mind that UFOs could be one of hundreds to thousands or more topics somewhat too-hot-to-handle and pretty much under classified wraps. That's a conclusion that's fairly obvious to me when it came to light, after much denial by the CIA, but pressured via Freedom-of-Information requests, that the CIA had some quite considerable interest in UFOs. Alas, FOI not withstanding, a vast percentage of the text from those released documents are blacked out. And that too is on the public record.
When it comes down to all things classified (a fancy word for cover-up because classified things are covered-up and tucked away out of sight) there is a phrase called ‘need to know'. If you don't need to know, and you want to, that's a cover-up as far as you're concerned. Now Australia had a very long serving Prime Minister (John Howard) who was finally defeated in a 2007 general election, and left politics. I'm sure he knows many secrets – military and diplomatic – from his years in the top job. But, like all good citizens, he's not telling tales out of class. Ditto all American ex-presidents and Commonwealth PM's and all other manner of retired statesmen.
There's also the aspect or concept of ‘the superiority complex'. The ‘I know something that you don't know' – ha, ha, ha – that helps feed our egos. Maybe someone does have THE knowledge and THE proof positive of what UFOs are, but why should they share it with you hence share the Nobel Prize? Or, maybe they are just internally satisfied that they alone are blessed with THE answer and that's the be-all-and-end-all of the matter.
5) Case History: Washington, D.C. 1952: In July 1952, on two separate occasions, separated by one week, UFOs buzzed America's National Capitol, making long term incursions over restricted air space. They were tracked, independently, by various civilian and military radars. Military jet fighters were scrambled to intercept and identify the UFOs, but were outmatched and didn't succeed, although they were witnessed by the pilots. The objects were also witnessed from the ground. USAF Major-General John A. Samford, at the largest Pentagon press conference ever held since WWII, in late July 1952, made the statement with respect to the recent Washington D.C. UFO flap that these sightings were made by "credible observers of relatively incredible things". It's on the public record.
Now of course these sightings had to be explained by any means necessary since you just cannot admit to having unknown aerial objects fly over restricted air space. So the idea of ‘temperature inversions' explained all - hogwash. It's amazing that the common occurrence of ‘temperature inversions' had never before, and never since, caused such commotion.
One other point, SETI scientists poo-poo the UFO extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) saying there's no PHYSICAL evidence. Eye witness testimony counts for absolutely nothing. Well of course there is PHYSICAL evidence for the UFO ETH of the exact same nature as that would satisfy a SETI scientist of E.T. – after all SETI scientists look for a PHYSICAL signal which they can study at their leisure, not an actual E.T. in the flesh. Well, UFOs have produced PHYSICAL evidence because they too can, and have, produced a PHYSICAL signal – radar returns, and there exist a fair few bona-fide radar returns of UFO events that have, after due investigation, remained unidentified. Now the PHYSICAL evidence left behind by bona-fide UFO radar cases, those unexplained radar cases, deserve intense respect, and the operators that interpret those radar returns. If radar operators can be trusted to distinguish a flock of birds from an incoming ICBM or foreign miliary bombers intent on doing us a mischief, the reason the radar DEW line was established and manned during the Cold War; if radar operators can have entrusted to them the lives of military and commercial pilots, crew and passengers, then they must have the ability to distinguish a radar echo from a temperature inversion from a solid object – in this case the aircraft. If you fly, you entrust your very life to the ability of those radar operators to tell who's who; distinguish what's what. Sorry, but UFO radar returns are solid PHYSICAL evidence for the reality of unidentified flying objects.
6) Stargate: SG-1 / USAF / UFO Connection: Considering the number of movies and TV shows (not to mention documentaries) that accent UFO censorship or cover-ups or disinformation, etc. well the idea has obviously struck a responsive chord. That so much has been made of this via motion pictures and TV shows is suggestive that either the public don't trust the government to tell the truth, and/or that the governments (way more than one government since the beginning of the modern UFO era) have failed pretty miserably in convincing the public it has disclosed all and has nothing to hide. Anyway, we've had blockbuster movies like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Independence Day" which highlighted the issues, and wasn't "E.T." treated pretty badly by those government types? On the TV front we've had "Dark Skies", "Taken", "Roswell" and "The Invaders". Then we had "Stargate: SG-1".
"Stargate: SG-1" was a TV spin-off of the feature film "Stargate" that ran for ten seasons and featured several alien races that in the main had links to ancient terrestrial mythology. One such race was the Asgards, and as the name suggests had connection with our Old Norse mythology. The interesting bit was that in appearance, the Asgards just happen to look exactly like the standard ‘greys' of modern UFO (Roswell and abduction, etc.) lore. This was I'm sure quite by design and no coincidence. This fictional show also confirmed several times over that Area 51 both housed and studied alien/extraterrestrial technology. And so, the fact that both ‘greys' and Area 51 feature on the show makes one other observation and interesting observation. That other interesting bit is that the stargate in "Stargate: SG-1" was a (fictional) USAF top secret enterprise. The TV show featuring the stargate had the endorsement and cooperation of the actual USAF, probably because the TV show portrayed the USAF in a positive light. In fact, two actual then currently serving USAF Chiefs of Staff (4-star generals) appeared in the actual TV show as themselves! How's that for endorsement? So, we have the actual USAF assisting (by providing an advisory role, aircraft and personnel to the show) and endorsing a TV show that prominently featured UFO ‘greys'. Okay, I'm probably reading way to much into that. In all probability the USAF connection probably had no actual relevance to any indirect approval of the UFO ‘greys' in the show by the USAF. That ‘endorsement' is just pure speculation on my part. So I do have to admit that there's probably no deep meaning underlying this connection, but I still find it interesting.
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Science librarian; retired.