Summary: The arrival of Dr. Steven Greer in the world of ufology signifies a marriage of sorts between two antipodes of thought. On the one hand, Greer has raised the banner – trampled and abandoned – that was carried years ago by Donald Keyhoe. This is the fight to end UFO secrecy. Like Keyhoe, Greer has given it an extraordinary effort for more than ten years, focusing on "nuts and bolts" cases, briefing high level government officials, pressing for Congressional hearings, and gathering many people from the military who are willing to put their careers (and worse, some say) on the line to discuss it. This is his Disclosure Initiative, culminating in the press conference of May 9, 2001. For better or worse, it was a historic -- that’s right, historic event -- in the history of ufology.
copyright ©2001 by Richard M. Dolan
The arrival of Dr. Steven Greer in the world of ufology signifies a marriage of sorts between two antipodes of thought.
On the one hand, Greer has raised the banner – trampled and abandoned – that was carried years ago by Donald Keyhoe. This is the fight to end UFO secrecy. Like Keyhoe, Greer has given it an extraordinary effort for more than ten years, focusing on "nuts and bolts" cases, briefing high level government officials, pressing for Congressional hearings, and gathering many people from the military who are willing to put their careers (and worse, some say) on the line to discuss it. This is his Disclosure Initiative, culminating in the press conference of May 9, 2001. For better or worse, it was a historic – that’s right, historic – event in the history of ufology.
There is another side to Greer, one which recalls the old Contactee movement (albeit with some special twists). George Adamski, who was the foremost icon of that movement, claimed to have met with space brothers from Venus and talked about the need for mankind to mend its warlike ways. Greer is not so crude. He does, however, claim to have knowledge of these beings, based in part upon some manner of communication with them. This is his Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind Initiative (CE-5), which means human-initiated contact with extraterrestrial beings or intelligence. To be fair, Greer is not a simple rehash of the Contactees. He has a specific methodology of establishing communication with aliens, and has been attended many times by large groups of fellow experiencers. Several times they have claimed to make contact with large craft. Still, Greer has failed to document sufficiently the fact of contact. He could well be doing what he claims: there are no shortage of people who back him on this. But by his own admissions (available from his website at http://www.cseti.org/), video cameras and other electronic recording equipment typically malfunctioned at the moment of truth.
More to the point: like Adamski, Greer says these aliens are basically good. And Greer, too, has a dire message, focusing on the need to eliminate space-based weapons and avoid ecosystem collapse. Thus, the enormous effort he has expended toward ending UFO secrecy is not an end in itself for Greer. Rather, it is a means to a clearly defined goal of saving humanity. As he has often said, the fate of our species hangs in the balance.
Back in the fifties and sixties, when Keyhoe was leading the charge toward gaining Congressional hearings on UFOs, he kept his distance not only from the Contactees, but issues that were bound to irritate members of Congress. One issue he returned to again and again was the need to investigate UFOs as a potential threat to national security, if only for the dangers of confusing them with Soviet missiles. That was smart because it was, indeed, a concern at the time within parts of the defense community. It was also phrased within the bounds of acceptable political discourse (e.g., it did not paint the American power structure as something malevolent). Keyhoe feared saddling his cause with excess baggage. He knew the fight would be hard enough. In fact, Keyhoe still failed.
Greer’s Great Press Conference certainly carried excess baggage. Happily, the Contactee issue was not the problem. Rather, Greer presented over twenty individuals from the defense community, some of them quite prominent, who spoke about UFO secrecy. All in one place, giving unique but mutually consistent testimony. This was a powerful event. In addition, the Disclosure Project’s Briefing Book and Executive Summary give a much more complete picture. Many witnesses described their UFO encounters, while others spoke of how the coverup works, and others still of the dangers of breaking the code of silence:
"He asked for my logs ...then he asked us both to sign a non-disclosure agreement saying this was classified information – we were not to release this to anybody, and that was it."
– SAC Launch Controller.
"One older officer discussed with me what possibly could happen if there was a revelation. He was talking about being erased and I said, ‘Man, what do you mean erased?’ And he said, ‘Yes, you will be erased–disappear.’ ... Those threats have been made and carried out."
– Army Brigadier General.
"And he told me, ‘If we just took you out in the jungle, they would never find you out there....if you tell anybody, you will just come up missing....We will do you and your whole goddamn family.’"
And so on.
While Greer appears to have gathered some documentation to back some of these claims up, precious little was offered at the press conference. Instead, he mainly relied on the promise to deliver the goods before Congress. This might have been acceptable had Greer not gravely diluted his attack.
Years ago, the incomparable Cuban chess grandmaster, José Raul Capablanca, put the matter this way. When directly attacking the enemy King, execute it "with full force....The opposition must be overcome at all cost; the attack cannot be broken off, since in all cases that means defeat."
Perhaps Greer believed that he was attacking with full force. He wasn’t. Instead of focusing his attack on the King, he expended too much energy on lesser pieces, and thus weakened his position.
Pardon the Monday Morning quarterbacking, but there were two serious mistakes with this conference. First, Greer drew too many conclusions. Second, his goals were too far-reaching. Despite his stress on presenting the facts (always laudable) he frequently jumped far ahead of them. This only damaged his credibility.
Greer was well within the bounds of available evidence when he claimed that (1) other beings are here, and (2) this is a highly classified area of information within the U.S. and elsewhere. That is more than enough for a day’s work. In a fight such as this, you can only prove one big thing at a time. Proving the reality of the UFO phenomenon to the public, and (the crux of the matter) gaining official acknowledgment, is quite enough to tackle. The mission was not to preach to the converted, but to persuade the skeptics that UFOs are real, they do not originate from us, and our government knows this. Quite enough!
But Greer didn’t know when to stop. He was probably correct in stating (3) the projects dealing with the ET reality have, at least since the 1960s, escaped legal oversight, and that (4) downed extraterrestrial vehicles (ETVs) have been retrieved. He may be right that (5) the covert world has made significant breakthroughs in energy generation and propulsion based on study of ET technology. And, one supposes, there is the glimmer of a chance that (6) this hidden technology, "if declassified and put to peaceful purposes" (Greer’s words) "would empower a new human civilization without want, poverty, or environmental damage."
For Greer, however, nuance in such matters is absent. These conclusions are made as though there can be no debating them. I beg to differ. And that goes especially for his conclusion about the aliens themselves. Greer has said many times that the aliens are not hostile to us. The fact that we are "still breathing the free air of Earth," he wrote, "is abundant testimony to the non-hostile nature of these ET civilizations." Very sorry, but this is not a sufficient basis for such a conclusion. Isn’t it possible that aliens might be dangerous to humanity, even if they don’t exterminate us? Yes, I think it’s quite possible. Greer himself hedged his statement at times, as when he remarked that the aliens "may be here peacefully." That sounds a little less confident to me. Yet, Greer bases so much upon this assumption.
Which leads to the other great problem of the press conference: the far-reaching political agenda. One can understand Greer’s sense of urgency. If you feel, as Greer does, that the current generation of space based weapons will only alienate the aliens, you might want them dismantled, as well. Many also agree with Greer that our ecosystem is on the brink of collapse. It’s also possible that if we were to have access to "free energy," many of our environmental problems would ameliorate (although it is a pipe dream to believe they will disappear).
Whether or not I agree with Greer on every point is irrelevant. Knowledgeable people can and do disagree. But Greer’s press conference had a specific purpose: to engage the media and persuade Congress to have open hearings. You cannot address a skeptical media and Congress as though they were already believers and allies. One person told me that Greer’s team doubted the UFO issue would be strong enough on its own, and that the weapons and energy angle would make a better lever with which to pry all this open. If so, they appear to be mistaken. Three months have passed, and the press conference has failed to garner media support, and Congress remains silent on the issue. What goes on in Congress is sometimes hard to know. One source told me that the press conference has sparked some behind-the-scenes discussion, while another source told me it was responsible for ending some quiet initiatives. The only clear result at this point has been to taint the UFO issue with what is widely perceived as a leftist political agenda. Otherwise, it appears to have dropped deep into the collective memory hole.
How much more powerful a more tightly focused message would have been. One that allowed for no easy retaliation or dismissal. Agreed that space-based weapons may have serious implications for the ET presence; it is still bad strategy to drop the UFO issue into this politically charged issue. What possible benefit will come of it? One might argue: the "straightforward approach has been tried and failed. Something more is needed." I disagree. A straightforward presentation of UFO data has indeed been attempted over the years, but all been behind the scenes. Within the public realm, the last comparable type of presentation occurred during the Congressional hearing of July 1968. The power of Greer’s witnesses, undiluted by a political message, could have been considerable.
Fighting to end UFO secrecy means confronting an immensely powerful and secretive group that will not simply fold up the table and walk away. Those taking on the struggle must not expose themselves needlessly. It is not necessarily Greer’s ultimate goal that is the problem, so much as his questionable strategy for getting there. The main thrust must remain focused on one goal: ending official UFO secrecy. The only way this will be accomplished is by a methodical accumulation of unarguable facts, presented in an impeccable manner, without editorializing, pontificating, bashing, politicizing, or saving the world.
In such a way might we actually be able to save ourselves and our future. The game isn’t over yet, not for Steven Greer, nor others who wish to enter the fray. Tomorrow is another day.
(This article appears in the October/November 2001 issue of UFO Magazine)