President Biden has been in office less than a year but now, in the midst of grappling with the coronavirus and with a wealth of other issues on his plate, he is facing perhaps the biggest question of all: are we alone?
The idea that we may share our universe with alien life is far from new, and there have been regular sightings of UFOs — Unidentified Flying Objects — for decades.
But these have, until recently, been dismissed as hoaxes, or misinterpretations of natural phenomena.
Despite Hollywood’s enthusiasm for the subject, the U.S. Defense Department has always downplayed the significance of such reports and sightings.
Now, however, no less a figure than Barack Obama has raised the stakes by admitting on The Late Show that, when President, he asked whether there was a lab somewhere ‘where we’re keeping the alien specimens and spaceships?’
President Biden has been in office less than a year but now, in the midst of grappling with the coronavirus and with a wealth of other issues on his plate, he is facing perhaps the biggest question of all: are we alone? Pictured: Video taken on board the USS Omaha showing an object moving, hovering, and disappearing into the Pacific Ocean
The answer was no, but he did acknowledge the existence of objects without an ‘easily explainable pattern’.
His comments come days after U.S. fighter pilots revealed seeing Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) off the coast of Virginia ‘every day’ for two years.
The idea of the government secretly investigating sightings of UFOs and other strange incidents has long been thought to belong to the realms of Hollywood or TV: it’s no mistake that The X-Files, featuring a secret organisation dedicated to such other-worldly phenomena, was described as a science fiction drama.
No longer. Once a preoccupation of hardcore sci-fi fans, UAPs (or UFOs) are now being taken extremely seriously at the very heart of government.
Easy as it may be to discount sightings and photos of UFOs by civilians, video footage and pictures taken by U.S. Navy pilots between mid-2014 and March 2015 that emerged three years ago could not be dismissed so easily.
Barack Obama has raised the stakes by admitting on The Late Show that, when President, he asked whether there was a lab somewhere ‘where we’re keeping the alien specimens and spaceships?’ The answer was no, but he did acknowledge the existence of objects without an ‘easily explainable pattern’
They showed a 30 to 40ft object, shaped like a Tic Tac, with no wings or rotors, yet able to hover, turn and accelerate through the sky at hypersonic speeds. The flabbergasted Navy pilots can be heard exclaiming in awe: ‘Oh dude!’
The footage was leaked to the New York Times, whose report also revealed the existence of a shadowy organisation based at the Pentagon dedicated to reports of UFO sightings, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program — AATIP.
Its $22million budget was buried within the defence department’s £600billion a year funding.
The titles of some of the studies conducted by AATIP read like something out of an episode of Star Trek: Invisibility Cloaking; Traversable Wormholes, Stargates And Negative Energy; Warp Drive, Dark Energy And The Manipulation of Extra Dimensions; and Metallic Spintronics.
But its work was shrouded in secrecy and its former head, Luis Elizondo, resigned in 2017 in protest at this cloak-and-dagger approach.
The UK has been similarly secretive about UFO sightings, although the Ministry of Defence did at least set up a department dedicated to otherworldly phenomena, which I headed from 1991 to 1994, earning myself the name ‘Real Life Fox Mulder’, after The X-Files detective played by David Duchovny.
This department was eventually wound up, but the sightings have continued and — as in the U.S. — while many can be discounted, there are some that have no reasonable, scientific explanation.
The pressure is now on the U.S. Defense Department to go public with what it knows about UFOs and what the implications are for national security.
The leaking of the pilots’ footage prompted it to announce in 2020 the establishment of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), led by the Navy.
The stated mission of this body was ‘to detect, analyse and catalogue UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.’
The Senate Intelligence Committee — which oversees the tangle of 18 or more departments and organisations dedicated to intelligence-gathering in the U.S. — last year demanded a report on UFOs.
It is due next month, and it will be unclassified, although I suspect they will hide anything deemed too sensitive and secret within a classified annex to the report.
Certainly the government can no longer get away with dismissing those who have reported sightings of UFOs as cranks. If they know what these strange phenomena are, then they should be transparent, and tell us. And if they don’t — well, then we really do have reason to worry
Although this material too could be leaked. There has already been a great deal of leaking of photographs, official footage and documents relating to these unexplained sightings, notably the Navy pilots’ footage, and of other documents doing the rounds.
It is the existence of this information that has made it impossible for the government to deny or debunk such sightings and refuse to investigate them — as they have done since the 1960s.
What might the report contain? I believe there are three possible theories behind the strange sightings.
The first is that these strange aircraft are a U.S. ‘black project’ technology — a secret weapon developed by the U.S. Air Force that it is blind-testing against the Navy, to determine its efficacy.
After all, one unanswered question has been: where is the Air Force in all this? They have been strangely quiet, given that it is an issue about aircraft and airspace.
In this scenario, everything about UFOs is just a deception operation. The second theory is that the craft involved are secret prototype aircraft or drones operated by Russia or China — a troubling explanation, given the capabilities observed by the Navy pilots.
The third possibility is that we are in unknown territory — this would include the extraterrestrial hypothesis, or even a strange atmospheric plasma phenomenon that looks like an aircraft.
The Defense Intelligence Agency seems to want to play down the extraterrestrial theory but it is interesting to note that among the footnotes to the letter to Congress is a reference to a study of the Drake Equation, designed by the astronomer Frank Drake to calculate how many non-human civilisations there might be.
I sincerely hope that the intelligence community co-operates with the Senate report and gives us some idea of what we are dealing with. If we don’t know what it is, we cannot take defensive measures against it, if necessary.
And I trust that the findings — even the classified ones — will be shared with the UK, its closest defence ally.
Having studied unexplained sightings for many years, not only in my role at the MoD, but as the author of several books about such phenomena, including an investigation into the UK’s Rendlesham Forest Incident in 1980, about the landing of UFOs there witnessed by U.S. airmen, I believe that unexplained objects in our skies cannot simply be ignored.
My understanding is that there are disagreements within the defence and intelligence services about what it is that we are dealing with, and what steps we must take. For so many years scepticism and secrecy have prevailed. Now, at last, we are beginning to see some transparency.
But what we have learned so far is, I believe, just the tip of the iceberg. If these are the videos and pictures that have been leaked, how many more sightings are going on that we are not seeing? I suspect a lot.
Other pictures are emerging, captured on phones — one recently recorded an unidentified object disappearing into the ocean.
The U.S. Navy has even issued guidance to its pilots about what to do if they encounter these mysterious aircraft.
They wouldn’t bother doing that if there had been three or four incidents. This suggests ongoing encounters.
This could just be one of those interesting instances where conspiracy theorists turn out to be right. Not about aliens — I don’t think little green men are about to descend on us — but about the unexplained aircraft.
Certainly the government can no longer get away with dismissing those who have reported sightings of UFOs as cranks.
If they know what these strange phenomena are, then they should be transparent, and tell us. And if they don’t — well, then we really do have reason to worry.