Change may be harder to believe in than extraterrestrial life—at least when it comes to releasing classified records, according to UFOlogists in attendance at Angel Fire’s first Paranormal Symposium.
“The only ‘change’ is the change of opinion among UFOlogists who think that we’re going to get something from Obama,” Dee Gragg, who teaches adult education courses on UFOs at New Mexico State University, says.
Gragg presented a lecture on crop circles at the symposium, held Sept. 11-13 in the small village 25 miles outside Taos. The event drew more than 150 attendees to listen to 10 lectures covering everything from monster hunting to “UFOs and Alternative Energy.” While the speakers disagree on theories and explanations, they largely agree that Obama hasn’t made paranormal research and UFO disclosure as high a priority as they had hoped.
“If you lined up the 17 most important things Obama has to do, [UFOs] wouldn’t make the list,” Gragg says. “Look what he’s got on his plate; he’s not about to take on something like this.”
Right now, that plate is heaped over with health insurance reform. But just as the US lags behind the rest of the Western world on universal coverage, paranormal truth-seekers say the US also trails Europe when it comes to the release of UFO records.
In late August, the British National Archives followed the lead of several other nations, including France and Russia, by releasing 4,000 pages of documents related to UFO reports dating back 15 years. Nick Redfern, a British-born author of more than a dozen books on the paranormal, has reviewed many of the British documents and notes that approximately 90 percent are reports of sightings from citizens and requests for information filed by researchers.
The remaining 10 percent, he says, are the most interesting: reports of UFO sightings by military pilots that correspond with unidentifiable blips recorded by radar stations on the ground.
“The [release of] documents is good because it shows that government agencies investigated it,” Redfern tells SFR. “It shows there are credible witnesses. What it doesn’t do is answer the question of what these things are.”
Yet, the US government still keeps its mother lode of secrets on lockdown.
On a recent visit to the Harry S Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., Gragg says he discovered that a third of the UFO files contained only a pink slip of paper stating the information for that file has yet to be declassified. The security presence at the library, according to Gragg, also indicates the government knows something, but won’t share it.
“Would you believe that there were four or five guards with walkie-talkie radios talking to each other and they were all packing heat?” Gragg says. “I’m saying, what are they going to do, shoot me if I chew gum too loud?”
Dennis Balthaser, who researches the Roswell UFO crash, says he had one Freedom of Information Act request—or FOIA—pending with the US government for more than eight years.
“When I send in a FOIA, many times I get a [letter] back with a generic stamp on it that says those records may have been destroyed in a fire in 1973,” Balthaser says. “That’s well and good, but ‘may have been’ is not an answer.”
Although during the campaign Obama indicated he would push for further transparency, his administration has played coy on UFO issues. For example, UFOlogists point to a July C-Span appearance by Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, in which he dodged a viewer-submitted question about UFOs.
“Look, I have not been briefed on whether or not there are the existence of UFOs,” Gibbs told Ryan from Seattle. “I know that the president is deeply concerned about ensuring we have transparency in government, and the American people have faith in what the government is trying to do.”
Similarly, On Sept. 9, Obama personally told Philadelphia radio host Michael Smerconish that he had indeed seen the presidential “Book of Secrets,” which was the catalyst for adventure in Disney’s second National Treasure film. As far as the information inside, he said to Smerconish, “I would tell you, but I’d have to kill you.”
Guy Malone, who lectured on Christianity and UFOs at the symposium, doubts Obama is in the loop. Like many UFOlogists, he believes such information is classified above even the president’s clearance level.
“I think the Clintons knew a lot more because they were tight with [former Clinton Chief of Staff] John Podesta who was trying to get this UFO stuff disclosed,” Malone says.
Redfern has noted a stricter policy related to public information and UFO records in the last decade, but believes it is more due to the fallout after 9.11 than any particular presidential administration.
“Whether it was the Clinton era, Bush Sr., Reagan, [release policies] weren’t that much different,” Redfern says. “I don’t believe there’s been a clampdown on access to UFO data. I think there’s just been a clampdown on everything.”
Redfern, however, says when the government rejects a UFO-related request, more often than not it isn’t to cover up extraterrestrial contact, but to protect terrestrial defense. For example, governments often don’t want foreign powers understanding their radar and satellite capabilities.
“National security doesn’t always relate necessarily to the sighting,” Redfern says. “Sometimes it’s the way they collect the information.”
But some UFOlogists believe that full release of UFO documentation would not be in the public’s best interest.
“What would be the effect on our population if suddenly we told them UFOs not only are real, but we cannot protect you against them, that they can disintegrate anything that we have?” Gragg says. “Secondly, what would be their reaction when they find out that aliens, particularly the ‘little grays,’ abduct people all the time?”
Gragg says the administration should come up with a plan to prepare the population and gradually release information.
There are also political considerations.
“If you look at what happened to Dennis Kucinich, when it came out during the presidential debates that Shirley MacLaine put in her book that he saw a UFO at her house, he tanked,” Malone says. “You get thrown in the gutter very quickly if you discuss UFOs in a political sense.”
Malone is confident that, if released, the facts would support his theory that aliens are actually fallen angels who are trying to lure Christians into joining cults like Heaven’s Gate, whose members committed mass suicide in 1997 in the hopes of catching a lift on comet Hale-Bopp.
However, he also believes information will emerge that proves the Roswell crash was a government experiment involving Nazis, technology developed by Nikola Tesla, mongoloid children and radiation-poisoning survivors.
“I think all the records should be disclosed so that people have access to all the information they need to make an informed, intelligence decision,” Malone says.