A former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence said the Pentagon needs a real-life Fox Mulder.
Writing in The Washington Post, Christopher Mellon argued that the military is shrugging off its duty to investigate weird UFO encounters reported by members of the U.S. Navy and Air Force. In December, the Defense Department released two declassified videos showing pilots exclaiming over strange aircraft that seemed to accelerate rapidly with no obvious means of propulsion. The unidentified flying objects, which look like dark and light blobs on the videos, were about 40 feet (12 meters) long and could supposedly dive thousands of feet in a flash.
Mellon, now retired from government after a career in both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush presidential administrations, is an advisor to the private firm To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, a research company that aims to "bring transformative science and engineering out of the shadows." The company just released a declassified video taken from a Naval F/A-18 aircraft that appears to show a swiftly moving "anomalous aerial vehicle" off the U.S. East Coast. In the audio, the pilots express awe at the speed of the object. [Flying Saucers to Mind Control: 22 Declassified Military & CIA Secrets]
One asks what the object is, using an expletive.
The New York Times also reported in December that the Defense Department spent $22 million between 2007 and 2012 to investigate UFOs. The contractor paid to do the work, Bigelow Aerospace, stored metal alloys from unidentified aerial objects in a warehouse in Las Vegas, the Times reported. Luis Elizondo, who ran the program, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, now directs global security and special programs at To the Stars.
In the wake of the December New York Times story and the release of the bizarre videos, reactions were mixed. Some, like Robert Sheaffer, a writer and UFO skeptic, argued that the whole Pentagon program was the pet project of a few true believers who came up with little to show for all their efforts (and that the owner of Bigelow Aerospace was a major donor to former Sen. Harry Reid, who spearheaded the establishment of the program). Others pointed out that the chain of custody of the videos was unclear, making it possible that they'd been altered at some point.
Mellon, however, wrote that strange sightings are well-known within defense and intelligence circles but that nobody wants to be ridiculed for drawing attention to the unexplained phenomena. The craft do not have to be alien to be worthy of investigation, he wrote. They might be examples of advanced technology from foreign militaries, which would be alarming in its own right.
"A truly serious effort would involve, among other things, analysts able to review infrared satellite data, NORAD radar databases, and signals and human intelligence reporting," Mellon wrote in The Washington Post, referring to the radar databases of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The $50 billion annual intelligence budget could cover these efforts, Mellon said.
"What we lack above all," he wrote, "is recognition that this issue warrants a serious collection and analysis effort."
Original article on Live Science.
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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.