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Commentary on the COMETA Report

Perry Petrakis - SOS OVNI

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: An assessment of the COMETA Report by the French group SOS OVNI.

The COMETA Report

We announced in a recent press release the publication of a
report which was to be an assessment of the French UFO situation
by former junior officials from the french Institute for High
Defence Studies (Institut des Hautes Etudes de Defence National
- IHEDN). This report was published as a special issue of the
weekly VSD and is said to have been distributed with a
circulation of 70,000 copies throughout newstands in France, on
July 17th.

Bernard Thouanel, editor of this issue of VSD ‘Hors Serie’ must
be praised for his role in bringing the report to the public as
it was first intended to circulate mainly within the official
military or political spheres. As Bernard Thouanel seems to have
decided to make no comment or statement on the report over the
net, and that much has already been said, although with little
informative value, by enthusiastic French ufologists, we have
decided to bring to your attention an ‘assessment of the
assessment’ so to speak, so that colleagues from abroad know
where to stand with this report. The following only expresses
views from the French group SOS OVNI.

Titled Les OVNI et la Defence (UFO’s and Defence), the 90 page
long issue is sub-titled A quoi doit-on se preparer ? (What
should we prepare for ?). The issue, although published by ‘VSD
Hors Serie’ is signed by the acronym ‘COMETA’, initials which
are not explained through the text other than that they belong
to a non-profit organization which one understands draws it’s
members from the Association of Former Junior Officials of the
Institute for High Defence Studies.

The report is split into four very unequal parts titled :

1. Facts and testimony
2. An assessment of what we know
3. UFOs and Defence
4. Conclusion and proposals

It goes without saying that the report is unofficial since it is
published by a private non-profit organization which only
reflects the views of it’s members. Confusion is nevertheless
skillfully kept over whether the report should be considered
official or not. In his introductory note for instance,
General Bernard Norlain, former head of IHEDN says:

"I hope that the proposals from COMETA, inspired by good sense,
will be examined and carried out by authorities from this
country. The first report from the Association of former Junior
Officials had helped create, within the French Space Center, the
only civil office in the world dedicated to the study of UFOs.
May this new more complete assessment give a fresh impetus to
our nation’s efforts as well as to an essential international
cooperation. The Institute for High Defence Studies would have
then well served the country and even, maybe, the whole of
humanity ".

The report was obviously prepared so that French political
authorities may reconsider their position towards the study of
unidentified aerial phenomena in general, and, more
particularly, the funding of SEPRA (Service d’Expertise de
Phenomenes de Rentree Atmospherique - Service for the Study of
Reentry Phenomena) headed by Jean-Jacques Velasco. Unlike the
first report in 1977, it’s goals where not to sum up the current
state of ufological affairs on a global scale, where private
research would have been scanned. One then wonders on which
basis cases where selected by and for the military. For
instance, Lakenheath (1956), the RB-47 case (1957) or Teheran
(1976) are mentionned while there is not a word on the Belgian
sightings flap (1989-1991), a situation which has led to much
speculation in France and Belgium.

Contrarily to what has been said, although members of COMETA may
be considered couragous to have come forward, there has been no
threat to their careers as most, if not all, are formerly from
the military or from civil service.

But their assessment of the situation is more than questionable,
at least in the last part of the report which, although
unsigned, bears the marks of industry with close ties to the
military and research facilities whose names have already been
cited in relation with GEPAN’s, then SEPRA’s long history.

Unless these people have insider information, which would have
yet to be revealed, their leaning toward the more paranoïd
trends of ufology is more than alarming. They consider for
instance Corso’s assertions to be possibly reliable much as they
do with Nick Pope’s views. Roswell is taken for granted and
North America is portrayed as the ‘Big Black Wolf’ who’s
debunking scheme, especially (but not only) over Roswell would
seem logical if we are to believe they have aquired otherworldly
objects. In one of the unsigned annexes, titled ‘The Roswell
Affair - Disinformation’, one can read the following statement:

"It seems the crash at Roswell happened on the 4th of July,
‘Independance Day’, at around 11h30 pm. The date and place
symbolise the power of America, henceforth the question: if the
crash is that of an extraterrestrial craft, could it really be
considered an accident or could it possibly be deliberate, thus
being some sort of a message and/or authenticating it?".

Considering the final destination of the report, which is said
on the front cover, to have been President Jacques Chirac and
Prime minister Lionel Jospin, and the rank of the people
involved, one can only be very alarmed by such statements which
will no doubt go against the goals COMETA wished to serve. One
understands, why other suggestions like the creation of a
gouvernmental office (yet another...) which would go hand in
hand with SEPRA, or re-funding of the latter will probably go

We sincerely hope we are wrong but if we are not, this report
will jeopardize any serious or official interest on the UFO
phenomenon in France for years to come.

Perry Petrakis
Editor Phenomena

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