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UFOs and the USA:

The following is an unedited version of journalist Leslie Kean's article on the 3-year French COMETA report on UFOs/ET. Her landmark article appeared, in edited versions in the Boston Globe, Irish Times, and VSD (France).

Links to other pages of this site have been added by the author of this site.

COMETA as seen in the USA:

USA JUNE 2000: UFOS AND NATIONAL SECURITY

By Leslie Kean

The recent diffusion in the United States of the Cometa report generates multiple reactions starting from politicians from Congress and military men from the Pentagon. Leslie Kean, an American journalist, examines the situation.

COMETA spokesperson Michel Algrin says that the report was delivered to French president Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. "No response is awaited, only action," he says.

"The COMETA made no request to the US government. It is not entitled to do so," says Algrin, an attorney and political scientist. "But, in its report, it recommended to the French government to seek for a cooperation [sic] with its American ally on the subject of UFOs."

Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who was the sixth man to walk on the moon, is one of many supporters of such cooperation. "It's significant that individuals of some standing in the government, military and intelligence community in France came forth with this," he said in a recent interview from his home in Florida. Mitchell, who holds a doctor of science degree from MIT, is convinced "at a confidence level above 90%, that there is reality to all of this."

He joins five-star Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, the former head of the British Ministry of Defense and Major Gordon L. Cooper, one of America's original seven Mercury astronauts, in calling for Congressional fact-finding hearings into the UFO question. "People have been digging through the files and investigating for years now. The files are quite convincing. The only thing that's lacking is the official stamp," Mitchell says.

Despite the fact that Mitchell is a national hero and has been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USN Distinguished Service Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, his request for an investigation has been ignored by U.S. officials.

As the COMETA report points out, the U.S. is unique in its silence on this issue. UFOs and Defense notes that many UFO files are classified above top secret, and accuses the U.S. of following a policy of disinformation. It says that the government has an "impressive repressive arsenal" in place, which includes military regulations prohibiting public disclosure of UFO sightings.

Air Force Regulation 200-2, "Unidentified Flying Objects Reporting", for example, prohibits the release to the public and the media of any data about those objects which are not explainable." An even more restrictive procedure is outlined in the Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146, which threatens to prosecute anyone under its jurisdiction - including pilots, civilian agencies, merchant marine captains, and even some fishing vessels - for disclosing reports of sightings relevant to US security.

Although some documentation has been released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), researchers have had an increasingly difficult time accessing information about a subject that the U.S. government claims does not exist. A 1980 federal suit is a case in point. The case was filed in the US District Court of the District of Columbia against the National Security Agency (NSA) for 156 UFO documents the agency refused to release. The NSA provided U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard A. Gesell with a 21-page, Above Top Secret affidavit justifying the withholding. No one else was permitted to see the affidavit.

The judge dismissed the lawsuit stating that "public interest in disclosure is far outweighed by the sensitive nature of the materials and the obvious effect on national security their release may entail."

MILITARY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS:

A few months after the French release of the COMETA report, U.S. Naval Reserve Commander Willard H. Miller agreed to go on the record about his participation in a series of previously undisclosed briefings for Pentagon brass about national security and military policy regarding UFOs. Miller has been a key liaison to the Pentagon on the subject for years. "It's time to give some credibility to the fact that there are those in high places in the government who have an interest in this subject," he says, taking a considerable risk by coming forward.

Miller retired in 1994 from active duty on the Current Operations Staff (J3) of U.S. Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Virginia where he worked operations, intelligence, and special contingency issues. With over 30 years of experience in Navy and Joint Interagency operations with the Department of Defense, Commander Miller has held a Top Secret clearance with access to sensitive compartmented information.

It has not been easy for Miller to overcome the taboo that the UFO subject carries among his colleagues in the military. "It is treated much the way we used to view mental illness. Hide the crazy daughter in the attic," he says.

In a February, 2000 confidential memo titled "Selected Discussions with Key United States (US) Department of Defense (DoD) Intelligence Personnel on the Subject of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI)" prepared for this reporter, Miller spelled out the details of meetings between 1989 and 2000 with named high level Department of Defense intelligence personnel - including the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an Admiral on the Joint Staff, and the U.S. Atlantic Command Director for Intelligence - among others. Miller says he initiated briefings "to provide the flag officers with information to help the military decision-making processes when these unexplained craft are encountered by members of the Department of Defense."

Concerned that many high-ranking military officers are not properly informed about the UFO phenomenon, Miller believes that the generals who have come forward in France could have a significant impact. "Without preparation and planning for encounters, precipitous military decisions may lead to unnecessary confusion, misapplication of forces, or possible catastrophic consequences," he says.

The Navy Commander's concern is justified by the historical record. Declassified government documents show that unexplained objects with extraordinary technical capabilities pose challenges to military activity around the globe. U.S. fighter jets have been scrambled to pursue UFOs, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) logs and U.S. Air Force documents. Peruvian and Iranian Air Force planes attempted to shoot down unexplained objects during air encounters, and Belgium F-16's equipped with automatically guided missiles pursued UFO's in 1990.

In earlier decades, such concerns were openly discussed among American government officials. In 1960, for example, Representative Leonard G. Wolf of Iowa entered an "urgent warning" from former CIA Director Vice Admiral R.E. Hillenkoetter into the Congressional Record that "certain dangers are linked with unidentified flying objects." Wolf cited Gen. L.M. Chassin, NATO coordinator of Allied Air Service, warning that "if we persist in refusing to recognize the existence of the UFOs, we will end up, one fine day, by mistaking them for the guided missiles of an enemy - and the worst will be upon us."

Wolf also referenced a three-year study which determined that air defense scrambles and alerts had already occurred due to the presence of UFOs. All defense personnel "should be told that UFOs are real and should be trained to distinguish them - by their characteristic speeds and maneuvers - from conventional planes and missiles" the study said.

These concerns were taken seriously enough to be incorporated into the 1971 "Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Outbreak of Nuclear War" between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The treaty states that the two countries will "notify each other immediately in the event of detection by missile warning systems of unidentified objects... if such occurrences could create a risk of outbreak of nuclear war between the two countries."

The COMETA assures its readers that UFOs have not been the cause of any hostile acts "although intimidation maneuvers have been confirmed." In France, they say, there have been "visits above secret installations and missile bases" and "military aircraft shadowed" by UFOs. Like Miller, they warn against impulsive, uninformed actions. "In the face of an unknown situation, one must be on guard against any instinctive self-defense reaction that could be easily interpreted as a provocation."

Reports such as the one from France may open the door for the U.S. and other nations to be more forthcoming. Chile, for example, is openly addressing it's own concerns about air safety and UFOs. The now retired Chief of the Chilean Air Force has formed a committee with military and civil aviation experts to study recent near collisions between UFOs and civilian airliners.

GOVERNMENT WITNESSES: EXTRAORDINARY AND UNAMBIGUOUS EVENTS:

While Commander Miller alerted the Pentagon, researcher Dr. Steven M. Greer was working the issue within the U.S.Congress and the executive branch. Greer, an emergency physician who has assembled government documents, visual evidence and credible witness reports on UFOs, also attended some of the Pentagon briefings with Miller.

In 1993, Greer was invited to meet with President Clinton's first sitting CIA Director, Admiral James Woolsey. The three hour event was arranged by futurist John L. Petersen, President and founder of the Washington area think tank The Arlington Institute, who "specializes in the area of national and global security" and currently serves as a Pentagon consultant, according to Institute materials. Petersen's credentials include stints at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council staff.

Petersen declined to answer questions concerning his purpose in hosting the dinner meeting at his home in Arlington, Virginia. However, he obviously was aware of the high stakes involved. In a sensitive memo he sent to Greer just prior to the meeting, he said that the dinner with Woolsey would "move the whole thing to a much, much higher plane..." and that "the most powerful people in the world will have a deep, compelling interest in our activities..." At the same time, he pointed out that the meeting - kept secret until 1998 - would raise "significant red flags for those who don't want to see this succeed."

Greer says he only needed 15 minutes to present Woolsey with the documentation he brought in a large briefcase. Woolsey was already convinced as to the reality of UFO's. Most of the meeting was spent discussing "what all of this means" and "the geopolitical implications of disclosing this matter fully to the public," Greer says.

In August 1995, philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller provided Greer's briefing materials to President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Presidential science advisor Jack Gibbons while they spent a weekend at Rockefellers' Wyoming ranch. Clinton then instructed Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, Webster Hubbell, to investigate the existence of UFOs, as disclosed in his book Friends in High Places. Despite this request from the Commander-in-Chief, Hubbell was unable to obtain information on the subject.

Greer has worked tirelessly in an effort to bring about Congressional hearings into the UFO question. He has earned the trust of over 100 government witnesses with personal, first-hand knowledge of UFO phenomena and related projects who are committed to testify under oath. These witnesses made their observations while in the Air Force, Army, Navy, NASA, private industry and intelligence operations. According to Greer, they are waiting only for Congressional subpoenas to protect them from penalties for violating national security oaths before coming forward.

Apollo Astronaut Edgar Mitchell has talked to a number of these witnesses. "They have stated their first hand experience with conviction and their stories check out," he said. Coupled with the new military disclosures acknowledging national security concerns, advocates for Congressional hearings believe that the testimonies of these highly credible government witnesses could force, once and for all, a government examination of the "extra-terrestrial hypothesis" as has been done in France.

As a small prelude to these hearings, eleven witnesses risked coming forward "for ethical, moral and patriotic reasons" as Greer explained it. On April 9, 1997, Greer and his associates held an unprecedented, confidential congressional briefing at the Westin Hotel in Washington. The VIP's in attendance included Representative Dan Burton, Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, with his chief of staff, and staffers from nearly thirty congressional offices. Representatives from the executive branch, including a staff member from Vice President Gore's office, were present, along with representatives of two state governors, the Department of Defense, and the scientific community.

Greer told the attendees that the witnesses "have directly handled this subject or have been present while it was occurring - major events, unambiguous events, not a light in the sky, but extraordinary events" and "are tremendously dedicated to trying to bring this forward to the public."

For over one and a half hours, participants heard from a Pentagon cryptologist who said he viewed extraterrestrial space debris containing indecipherable writing, and a NASA subcontracter who saw restricted satellite photos showing flying discs that were routinely airbrushed out before public release. A navy pilot and his crew experienced electromagnetic effects in their airplane when a 300 foot UFO flew 25 miles in two seconds directly in front of the plane, as confirmed by Gander radar and official government documents.

Witnesses touched on national security concerns such as those brought to the Pentagon by Commander Miller. Loring Air Force base was visited by a silent triangular ship which hovered over B-52's on strategic alert. A senior admiral, amid command center chaos, issued a "force down" order against an elliptical-shaped craft of unknown origin, tracked by satellite, radar, and chased by military planes. According to the witness, it literally jumped between states in under a minute, flew out to sea and suddenly left the earth's atmosphere.

By all accounts, the VIP's present paid close attention. They had been clearly informed that these witnesses were only the tip of the iceberg out of a pool of more than 100. "This is a subject that can either bore you to death or shock you to death or absolutely leave you speechless" witness Major Steven Lovekin told them.

A veteran Congressional staffer received a standing ovation when, unsolicited, she took the floor and declared her determination to bring this information to the public by organizing for hearings on capitol hill. The next day, Miller, Lovekin, Mitchell and Greer brought the same information to the Joint Staff Vice Director for Intelligence at a private Pentagon briefing.

PROTECTING HARD-EARNED REPUTATIONS:

Two years after the Washington briefing, the COMETA released its dramatic report which ended by stating that "only increasing pressure from public opinion, possibly supported by the results of independent researchers, by more or less calculated disclosures, or by a sudden rise in UFO manifestations might perhaps induce U.S. leaders and persons of authority to change their stance." Witness testimonies and other evidence presented in 1997 did not seem to create movement in that direction.

"Because the Congress is afraid they won't get reelected, they don't even want to talk about this. I just think somebody should do something," says the Congressional staffer who is working for hearings behind the scenes.

When Representative Burton left the Westin Hotel that night, he requested that all information on the subject be sent to his office. Yet a recent inquiry to Burton's office revealed that whatever interest the Congressman may have shown will not bear fruit until the demand for hearings - from both the press and the public - escalates. "We haven't heard a very loud call for hearings on this issue yet," said press secretary John Williams. "As far as any intention of holding hearings regarding the existence of UFOs or anything that pertained to that briefing, we have no intention of holding any hearings on that right now." Williams stated that Burton's interest in the subject is purely personal.

Some representatives are interested, but only behind closed doors, says a democratic campaign manager, requesting anonymity, who has been intimately involved in electoral politics for 29 years. He has met personally with a number of members of congress on the subject. "With our thirty second commercials' ability to destroy hard-earned reputations, particularly using a subject like this, people are very hesitant to take a leading role on the subject, although they know that it's a very real matter," he says.

Nonetheless, one congressman did respond to public pressure. In 1993, New Mexico representative Steven Schiff requested that the General Accounting Office investigate the infamous 1947 crash of a mysterious object in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. Two years later, he learned from the GAO that all documents and radio messages during the relevant time period had been destroyed "without proper authority." Schiff was unable to attend the Washington briefing in 1997 and died of an aggressive skin cancer the following year. No other member has picked up where he left off.

Dr. Greer, who has privately briefed both Representative Christopher Cox and Senator Richard Bryan of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is asking supporters to apply pressure.

Missouri, the "Show Me" state, has become the first to launch a ballot initiative urging Congress to convene hearings in which government witnesses can testify "regarding their personal knowledge of any UFO-related evidence." Certified by the Missouri secretary of state in March, the initiative states that "the Federal Government's handling of the UFO issue has contributed to the public cynicism toward, and general mistrust of, government - a development injurious to our republic."

Robert Bletchman, a Connecticut attorney who conceived of the initiative, has no doubt it would win votes in the November election, as long as the requisite number of signatures are collected in time. "My expectation is that Missouri will kindle a firestorm of proactive interest throughout the country in those sixteen states that allow for the direct initiative," he says. Hundreds of thousands of votes would be involved. "What does Congress pay attention to? How real people at the ballot box actually vote," Bletchman says. "Maybe for the first time the politicians would have to pay overt attention."

THE REAL NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT:

On September 15, 1998, Commander Willard Miller and Dr. Steven Greer entered the Pentagon through the VIP entrance. After passing through metal detectors, they were escorted past armed security guards, up the massive staircase and into the innermost ring of the Pentagon. An electrically controlled door brought them into the comfortable outer office of the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), adorned with mahogany, walnut, brass, and military plaques.

Thirty minutes later, the DIA Director came out of his inner chamber, parting company with an entourage of high- level foreign Admirals and Generals. He graciously ushered in his two guests, taking his place at the head of a massive wood table. According to Miller's confidential memo of February 2000, an Army Colonel, a DIA staff member and a Defense Department clerk were also seated around the table. The briefing lasted 50 minutes.

Greer provided the military officials with declassified documents from the CIA, DIA, FBI, NORAD, SAC (Strategic Air Command) and NMCC (National Military Command Center), referencing specific UFO events connected with military forces and bases. At the general's request, he provided a "comprehensive overview" of the subject.

Commander Miller's Military Information Outline prepared for the briefing included a discussion of national security implications, military risks and recommended courses of action. Greer and Miller explained to the DIA Director that there is no credible evidence of hostility from UFO occupants. "The only threat to the national security of the United States is the continued denial of undeniable physical UFO occurrences and sightings to a public growing increasingly frustrated with its government's weak explanations," Miller says he told the Pentagon officials. "Some US Air Force denials defy logic and strain the public's tolerance, he said.

His point was dramatically illustrated in the aftermath of an extraordinary event that occurred one spring evening over the state of Arizona. On March 13, 1997, thousands observed enormous, lighted, triangular craft flying low and silently, sometimes hovering wingless over populated areas. Hundreds of feet long, air traffic controllers failed to register them on radar. To this day, the people of Arizona do not know what penetrated US airspace that night.

In response to public demand, Phoenix city council member Frances Barwood initiated an investigation into the Arizona triangles. "I like answers. I don't like unfinished business. People need to push their elected officials to find out what is invading our air space," she says. Barwood says she personally spoke with over seven hundred people who saw the objects.

She was never provided any reasonable explanation. Instead, the councilwoman was given the run-around from her city, state and federal government - including Arizona Senator John McCain - and was publicly ridiculed by the mayor of Phoenix. Yet she still considers this "an issue of state and national significance." Barwood has retired from politics to write a book about this experience. "The fact that the government never interviewed one witness doesn't make me feel too secure about our national security," she commented during a recent interview.

Arizona attorney Peter Gersten responded by filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Defense in 1999. The case challenged the adequacy of the governments "reasonable search" for information about the triangular objects seen over Arizona in 1997, and elsewhere in the US over the last twenty years.

As recently as January 5, 2000, four policemen at different locations in St. Claire County, Illinois, witnessed a brightly lit, huge triangular craft flying at 1000 feet, according to the Los Angeles Times. Most alarming was the report from Lebanon police officer Thomas Barton that he witnessed the hovering object jump at least 8 miles in 3 seconds. Aeronautical expert Paul Czysz, who spent 29 years at McDonnell-Douglas designing faster-than-sound aircraft, says that such rapid motion cannot be explained in conventional terms. The object would be a "fireball" and "people on board would be mush," he says. Yet nearby Scott Air Force base and the FAA purport to know nothing.

On February 29, 2000, a reporter brought the issue of military denial and the Arizona lawsuit to the attention of U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona at a California press conference. "I think it's of great interest," responded the Presidential candidate, acknowledging that the 1997 "lights" seen over Arizona have "never been fully explained."

Nonetheless, the DoD continues to maintain that it can find no information about the triangular objects. It provided details of its search to the court as required by U.S. District Court Stephen M. McNamee of Phoenix for Gersten's lawsuit. On March 30, 2000, the judge concluded that "a reasonable search was conducted' even though no information was obtained, and he dismissed the case.

Like Barwood, Gersten is incredulous. "What is it that has unlimited, unrestricted access to our airspace in populated areas?" he says. "With so many worries about terrorist attacks, how could they not know what these triangles are?"

The danger of such blatant denial is what Navy Commander Willard Miller brought to the attention of the three star general from the Defense Intelligence Agency that day in 1998. Miller told him that the continued denial of information "causes the public to begin to loose additional faith in the military and the government. That's not good for the country. That type of non-response threatens the stability, trust and fabric of an open democratic society," he said.

Miller and Greer left the DIA director with a multi-volume package of briefing materials and video documentation which had been prepared for the Washington briefing in 1997.

Once again, the French Generals make the same point raised by their American counterparts. "How can one try to ignore a phenomena that is manifested by the regular crossing of our air space by moving objects... If we do nothing, the very principle of defense and air intelligence would be called into question," they state.

According to Miller, all of the high-ranking military officers at the briefings showed "a great amount of inquisitiveness." There was little laughter. "The briefings were accorded the same serious attention given to other briefings on national security matters," says Miller. He has yet to assess, however, whether he achieved the desired effect of transforming military policy towards UFO encounters and response to public inquiries.

"WHAT SHOULD WE PREPARE FOR?" ASK AMERICAN FIRE FIGHTERS:

UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For? recommends that the French government reflect on "the measures to take in the event of a spectacular and indisputable manifestation of a UFO." Surprisingly, the United States has taken one small step in that direction. The second edition of the Fire Officer's Guide to Disaster Control is currently used for training by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at its National Fire Academy and is taught nationally through the seven universities offering degrees in fire science. Chapter 13 of the guide is titled "Enemy Attack and UFO Potential." It warns fire fighters of known "UFO hazards" such as electrical fields that cause blackouts, air and ground travel disruptions by force fields, and physiological effects.

"Do not stand under a UFO that is hovering at low altitudes. Do not touch or attempt to touch a UFO that has landed," the book warns.

Researched primarily by now deceased US Naval Reserve Captain Charles Bahme, a Los Angeles deputy fire chief who also worked for the Department of Defense and the U.S. State Department, the chapter describes the role that fire fighters should play "in the event of the unexpected arrival of UFOs in their communities." As an example, it outlines a scenario of a UFO crashing into the boiler room of a school, where the spilled oil ignites, endangering the lives of those inside the craft. The fire officials are instructed to let the military take over.

Dr. William M. Kramer, professor of Fire Science at the University of Cincinnati and an Ohio Fire Chief, co-authored the chapter and will be updating it this year. Kramer says that "the vast majority of fire fighters believe very definitely that UFOs are genuinely unidentifiable craft and are not natural phenomena native to our known earth and our known existence." Like most people, they are reluctant to admit this publicly.

The French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense and the National Center for Space Studies are a few steps ahead of the United States military and NASA. Not only do they openly present information acknowledging the existence of UFOs and attempt to explain their origin, they also recommend a widespread information and training campaign on preparedness which would reach all sectors of the relevant political, military, and civilian spectrum in their country. Perhaps the report by the bold French generals - with its goal of "stripping the phenomenon of UFOs of its irrational layer" - will be a catalyst for American authorities to examine the issue of UFO's in a new light.

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This page was last updated on February 23, 2001