It is now irresponsible not to talk about UFOs
When I was 11 years old and living in the small town of New Boston, N.H., a friend and I saw something that was not only never explained, but actually denied. It was the middle of summer and we were walking up Meeting House Hill Road, toward our homes, after buying a couple of sodas at the general store. Suddenly, flying fairly high above us, a pure white, cigar-shaped object zipped across the cloudless blue sky, in complete silence.
My friend and I looked at each other in shock, and ran the few hundred feet remaining to our houses to tell our parents. They came outside, as did several neighbors, and as if on cue, this strange object whipped back across the sky. This time, however, it was being chased by a couple of Air Force fighter jets — until it accelerated to a seemingly impossible speed.
By strange coincidence, there was an Air Force tracking station (now part of the Space Force) in New Boston, as well as what was then Pease Air Force Base about 60 miles away. My father called both places and was promptly — and officially — told that there were no Air Force jets in the area and it must have been a figment of our imagination.
Two days later, still upset by the denial of something we all saw, the child sleuth in me decided to walk the five miles to the Air Force tracking station and — I hope the statute of limitations has run out on this — break into the facility by digging a small tunnel under the fence. But after finding no Area 51/Roswell-like smoking gun evidence, I dejectedly walked home and then mostly forgot about it.
That is, until last week.
For the first time in more than five decades, Congress held a hearing on the possibility of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs — now wisely renamed unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs. More specifically, the hearing was held by the House Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.).
Carson wasted no time cutting to the chase by calling out the Department of Defense (DOD) for ignoring a potential threat: “For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis. Pilots avoided reporting, or were laughed at when they did,” he said. “DOD officials relegated the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical, national security community. Today, we know better. They are real; they need to be investigated, and the many threats they pose need to be investigated.”
Carson could not be more correct, and should be applauded for dragging this subject out of the shadows. Whether UAPs are advanced foreign weapons systems or something infinitely more complicated, there have been too many sightings, from too many credible witnesses, to pretend they don’t exist. From this moment forward, turning a blind eye to these sightings would be not only irresponsible but a dereliction of duty.
Of course, part of what has made witnesses hesitant to come forward and the DOD to “sweep these reports under the rug” is the reaction from many in the news media. Often, reporting on UFOs — or UAPs — is accompanied by artwork depicting a little green man in a flying saucer, the old-fashioned view of “life” from elsewhere in space. It’s as if editors include these illustrations as a wink and nod to other news outlets to say, “We may have to cover this nonsense, but we will cheapen the reporting to let you know we are in on the joke.”
Now there is a chance that the joke is on those condescending skeptics.
With top Pentagon intelligence officials sitting before him, Carson told them that UAP sightings represent “a potential national security threat and need to be treated that way.” And — no surprise to those paying attention — both Ronald Moultrie, the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security, and Scott Bray, the deputy director of naval intelligence, agreed with the congressman. Both men are overseeing the newly created Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.
The group’s creation came about because, over the past 15 years, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported last year that there have been at least 144 credible yet unexplainable sightings of UAPs.
Again, are these aerial phenomena highly advanced foreign aircraft, unknown weapons systems, or something beyond that? It is the Pentagon’s responsibility to find out — and quickly. Bray agreed with Carson that UAPs “represent serious hazards.” More than that, he acknowledged that the Pentagon must do more to remove the stigma associated with reporting such sightings.
“We also spent considerable efforts engaging directly with our naval aviators to help destigmatize the act of reporting sights and encounters,” Bray said. “The direct results of those efforts have been increased reporting.”
Both Bray and Moultrie said they are not aware of any technological advances among our foreign adversaries or other nations that could explain any of the sightings. Military pilots have recorded some of the encounters. As Bray showed footage of one such sighting during the hearing, he commented, “I have no explanation for what this specific object is.”
We need an explanation, and we need the media to stop using patronizing caricatures and start getting back into real journalism to help our government get to the bottom of it.
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. His latest book is “The 56: Liberty Lessons From Those Who Risked All to Sign the Declaration of Independence.”