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UFOs: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing

Leonard David, Space.com, Oct. 25, 2002

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: Call it a conspiracy (or savvy marketing), but a new poll released this week says a majority of Americans think the truth about unidentified flying objects (UFOs) is out there, yet the government is concealing it from them.

Call it a conspiracy (or savvy marketing), but a new poll released this week says a majority of Americans think the truth about unidentified flying objects (UFOs) is out there, yet the government is concealing it from them.

That's exactly what a new public Roper poll shows, fueling a fact-hunting investigative group that wants to get to the bottom of high-flying UFOs.

This week, calls for the U.S. government to be more forthcoming on what it knows about UFOs increased following the release of the poll results. That RoperASW study, sponsored by the SCI FI Channel, shows that 72% of Americans believe the government is not telling the public everything it knows about UFO activity.

The full poll is to be published next month, just in time for the science fiction cable network to begin its big media push for its new show, the Steven Spielberg-produced TAKEN. The show is set to premiere in December on the SCI FI Channel.

This Roper poll data purportedly will show that most Americans are psychologically prepared for proof of extraterrestrial life. Furthermore, a public majority already believes in ET and that the UFO experience is not foreign to Americans.

The poll also found that 68% of those surveyed think the government knows more about extraterrestrial life than it is letting on. Another factoid is that the younger you are the stronger your belief that the government is withholding info about UFOs and extraterrestrial (ET) life. The poll revealed a strong distrust of the government on several issues:

Most Americans say that the government does not share enough information with the public in general (55%).
That, by-and-large when national security is not at risk, the U.S. government should not withhold information about UFO sightings (60%) and potential encounters with extraterrestrial life (58%).

Released October 15, the survey statistics are based on random telephone calls to 1,021 adults ages 18 and over. The telephone interviews were completed over two days in August. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3%.

Close encounter with Spielberg

"People are curious, intrigued by the possibility of other life forms, and want to know more," explained SCI FI Channel's President, Bonnie Hammer, in a press statement. Hammer is currently developing Spielberg's 20-hour miniseries for the channel.

TAKEN, a science fiction-based drama, weaves together the lives of three families over four generations, picturing the roles they play in the history of the UFO phenomenon and government conspiracy.

Hammer and the SCI FI Channel's interest in UFOs were part of a press event, held October 22 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The cable outfit declared its support for a new effort to gain release of secret government records on UFOs. Announced was the creation of the Coalition for Freedom of Information (CFI), based in Washington, D.C.

Getting the facts

One of CFI's objectives is to eradicate the stigma in the scientific community that discourages research into the question of aerial phenomenon. The newly formed group has launched a new research campaign into the UFO phenomenon, as well as to promote more government disclosure about UFOs.

"The history of efforts to pierce the veil of secrecy around the UFO phenomenon is fraught with frustration, but also examples of success. We hope we bring additional pressure on several government agencies to disclose more records," said Ed Rothschild, CFI's Executive Director. "Additionally, we want to emphasize the importance of getting the facts so that scientists can examine them and help determine what in fact UFOs really are," he told SPACE.com.

Rothschild specifically points to an event in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, now some 37 years ago, but firmly affixed in UFO folklore. That event involved a glowing object tumbling into woods, later to be retrieved by soldiers and spirited away to an unknown destination.

However, sources familiar with the incident told SPACE.com that there is a less UFO-ish explanation. During the Cold War, tiger teams of specialists often raced to landing sites of reentering Soviet satellites. Spacecraft recovered offered invaluable clues to foreign technologies in the heat of the so-called "Space Race". This reentry and recovery watchdog service continues today.

Putting the Kecksburg affair aside, many UFO sightings remain open for investigation.

Open the books

Along with CFI's Rothschild, taking part in Tuesday's National Press Club event was John Podesta, a former White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton Administration.

Teamed with Dan Mattoon, a veteran Republican strategist, the ex-Clinton aide runs PodestaMattoon - a high-powered public relations and lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.

The new CFI headquarteres shares the same offices as PodestaMattoon.

"It's time to open the books on the question of government investigation of UFOs. It ought be done because it's right. It ought to be done because the American people can handle the truth. And it ought to be done because it's the law," Podesta notes.

Podesta said that government doesn't always tell the truth. "That's why freedom of information is so important…so that the American public can make their own decisions," he said.

"It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the real nature of this phenomenon," Podesta argues.

Political bid

The latest round of UFO disclosure pressure on the government includes the independent candidacy of Stephen Bassett seeking a November seat in the 8th Congressional District of the State of Maryland.

Bassett is a long-time lobbyist and activist on a quest to demystify the UFO phenomenon. His campaign slogan is "Disclosure 2003."

"For the past five decades the human race has been caught between two worlds, two paradigms. While millions of people worldwide have come to understand they are not alone in the universe, that an extraterrestrial presence has become manifest about the planet, the governments of the world, frozen in place by fear and indecision, have been unable to publicly engage this new reality. This cannot continue," Bassett states in a web site campaign proclamation.

"It is time for the United States of America, a nation which views itself as a leader of nations, to formally acknowledge this extraterrestrial presence. During the campaign the premise will be put forth that conditions under which the United States government can end the UFO/ET truth embargo will be ideal in the coming year - thus the name 'Disclosure2003,'" he explains.

Clogging up the channels

All the talk about UFOs, government secrecy and full disclosure is not welcome news to everyone.

"The UFO cult that is fixated on the notion that 'secret government documents' contain 'the truth' about otherwise 'unexplained aerial phenomena' is, on balance, no friend of freedom of information or government accountability."

That's the view of Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C.

Never-ending requests for documentation on UFOs and similar obsessions, Aftergood suggests, clog up the narrow channels of public access to government information and make a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

"The nation is on the verge of war. A sniper has been on the loose in Washington. The public needs improved access to all kinds of government information. But records about strange lights in the sky that may have appeared decades ago are not at the top of the list," Aftergood told SPACE.com. "Yet the FOIA logs of national security agencies are full of requests from would be-Fox Mulders in search of 'the truth' about UFOs," he said.

"Should such records be declassified? Sure. But not at the expense of other information needs," Aftergood concludes.

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