- UFOs, is the truth out there?
- UFO's once the preserve of the purely paranoid are now
being taken seriously. Astronauts, Generals and a number of influential
scientists are hammering away at the crust of international scepticism.
Leslie Kean explains why a study by the French military may finally make
governments sit up and take notice.
- The release in April of the first detailed satellite
images of Area 51, the top-secret Air Force test site in Nevada, prompted
a website meltdown as people from around the world searched for clues about
unidentified flying objects.
- The interest has been really phenomenal, said David Mountain,
marketing director for Aerial Images, Inc which posted the high resolution
aerial photos of Area 51 on the Internet.
- But those hoping to see signs of something extraordinary
were destined to be disappointed. Most of Area 51s operations occur underground,
making photos meaningless. Anyone looking for the fresh information on
UFOs would have better luck trying a new, but less publicized source: by
the French military, just translated into English.
- High level officials including retired generals from
the French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense, a government-funded
strategic planning agency recently took a giant step in openly challenging
skepticism about UFOs. In a report based on a three year study, they concluded
that, numerous manifestations observed by reliable witnesses could be the
work of craft of extra-terrestrial origin and that, in fact, the best explanation
is the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
- Although not categorically proven, strong presumptions
exist in its favor and if it is correct, it is loaded with significant
- The French group reached that conclusion after examining
nearly 500 detailed international aeronautical sightings and radar/visual
cases, and previously undisclosed pilots reports. They drew on data from
official sources, government authorities, and the Air Forces of different
- The findings are contained in a 90-page report titled,
UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For?, published in France by the
- The mechanics of a mystery. The number of sightings,
which are completely unexplained despite the abundance and quality of data
from them, is growing throughout the world, the team declared.
- The authors note that about 5 percent of sightings on
which there is solid documentation cannot be easily attributed to earthly
sources, such as secret military exercises - especially since unexplained
objects have been reported since 1944. The rest seem to be completely unknown
flying machines with exceptional performances that are guided by a natural
or artificial intelligence, they say.
- Science has developed plausible models for travel from
another solar system and for technology which could be used to propel the
vehicles, the report says. assures readers that UFOs have demonstrated
no hostile acts, although intimidation maneuvers have been confirmed.
- Given the widespread scepticism about UFOs, many will
quickly dismiss the generals ET hypothesis. But it is less easy to do so
once the authors credentials are considered.
- The study's originators are four-star General Bernard
Norlain, former commander of the French Tactical Air Force and military
counselor to the prime minister; General Denis Letty, an air force fighter
pilot; and Andre Lebeau, former head of the National Center for Space Studies
(the French equivalent of NASA in the United States.)
- They formed a 12-member Committee for In-depth Studies,
abbreviated as COMETA, which authored the report. Three-star Admiral Marc
Merlo, national chief of police Denis Blancher and Jean-Jacques Velasco,
head of a government agency studying UFOs, as well as scientists and weapons
engineers, were also contributors. Not only does the group stand by its
findings, it is urging international action.
- The writers recommend that France establish sectorial
cooperation agreements with interested European and foreign countries on
the matter of UFOs. They suggest that the European Union undertake diplomatic
action with the United States exerting useful pressure to clarify this
crucial issue which must fall within the scope of political and strategic
- Why might other nations be inclined to take this subject
seriously? For one thing, declassified US government documents show that
unexplained objects with extraordinary technical capabilities pose challenges
to military activity around the globe. For example, US fighter jets have
been scrambled to pursue UFOs, according to North American Aerospace Defense
Command logs and US Air Force documents.
- Iranian and Peruvian Air Force planes attempted to shoot
down unexplained objects during air encounters in 1976 and 1980, and Belgian
F-16s equipped with automatically guided missiles pursued UFO's in 1990.
- Further, the French report says that there have been
visits above secret installations and missile bases and military aircraft
shadowed in the US. Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who was
the sixth man to walk on the moon, is one of many supporters of international
cooperation on UFOs. Of the French report, he says, It's significant that
individuals of some standing in the government, military and intelligence
community in France came forth with this.
- Mitchell, who holds a doctor of science degree from the
prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is convinced at a confidence
level above 90pc, that there is reality to all of this. He adds, 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. He joins five-star Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, the former head of
the British Ministry of Defense, in calling for US congressional fact-finding
hearings into the UFO question.
- Hearings would include testimony by government witnesses
from the Air Force, Army, Navy, NASA, private industry and intelligence
operations with personal, first-hand knowledge of UFO phenomena and related
- The astronaut amd the investigation Despite the fact
that Mitchell is a national hero and has been honoured 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.
- Nonetheless, the public's interest in UFOs is undiminished.
A ballot initiative underway in the US state of Missouri, and certified
by the secretary of state in March, urges Congress to convene hearings.
The initiative states that the Federal Governments handling of the UFO
issue has contributed to the public cynicism toward, and general mistrust
- US Naval Reserve Commander Willard H. Miller has been
communicating this same concern to high level officials for a number of
years. With over 30 years in Navy and Joint Interagency operations with
the US Defense Department, Miller has participated in a series of previously
undisclosed briefings for Pentagon brass about military policy regarding
- Like many, he says he worries that the militarys lack
of preparation for encounters with unexplained craft could provoke a dangerous
confrontation when, and if, such an encounter occurs; precipitous military
decisions, he warns, may lead to unnecessary confusion, misapplication
of forces, or possible catastrophic consequences.
- And he says he is not alone in his concerns. There are
those in high places in the government who share a growing interest in
this subject, Miller reports.
- 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. In
a February, 2000 confidential memo prepared for this reporter, he spelled
out the details of meetings with named officials - including the Director
of the Defense Intelligence Agency, an Admiral on the Joint Staff, and
the U.S. Atlantic Command's Director for Intelligence - between 1989 and
- Miller concurs with the COMETA's observation that there
is no evidence of hostility from UFOs 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.
- Air Force Regulation 200-2, Unidentified Flying Objects
Reporting, prohibits the release to the public and the media any data about
those objects which are not explainable while allowing disclosure only
of the UFOs that have been identified as familiar objects.
- An even more restrictive procedure is outlined in the
Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146, which provides communications
instructions for reporting sightings relevant to US security. Anyone under
its jurisdiction disclosing reports without authorization is subject to
prosecution under the Espionage Act.
- Even the President of the United States recently had
trouble accessing information on the subject. In 1995, philanthropist Laurence
Rockefeller provided UFO 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 by Hubbell in his book, Friends in
High Places. Despite this request from the Commander in Chief, Hubbell
was unable to obtain information on the subject.
- In earlier decades, issues that remain pertinent today
were openly discussed. In 1960, for example, US Representative Leonard
G. Wolf of Iowa entered an urgent warning from R.E. Hillenkoetter, a former
CIA Director and Navy vice admiral, 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.
- These concerns were taken seriously enough to be incorporated
into the 1971 Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Outbreak of Nuclear War
between the US 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 French report may open the door for nations to be
more forthcoming once again. 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 civil aviation experts to study recent
near collisions between UFOs and civilian airliners.
- As the international conversation about UFOs unfolds,
sightings continue, as they have for decades. Perhaps the most notable
recent US sighting took place in March 1997. Hundreds of people across
the state of Arizona reported seeing huge triangular objects, hovering
silently in the night sky - a sighting that, as the state's Senator John
McCain noted recently, has never been fully explained.
- As recently as Jan. 5, 2000, four policemen at different
locations in St. Claire County, Illinois, witnessed a huge, brightly lighted,
triangular craft flying and hovering at 1000 feet. One officer reported
witnessing extreme rapid motion by the craft that cannot be explained in
conventional terms. Nearby Scott Air Force base and the FAA purport to
- The French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense
and the National Center for Space Studies remain several steps ahead of
the United States military and NASA. 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 authorities around the world to publicly examine
the issue of UFOs in a new light.
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