Disclosure. It's the word which entered the vocabulary of UFOlogy's discourse in the late 90's, and like an insidious Trojan Horse it completely hijacked the field's policies and public strategies ever since.
To be fair, the concept is almost as old as the study of UFOs itself, and since the 50s we've had prominent spokespersons demanding the powers that be to come clean and reveal all they know about what the media of the time eagerly referred to as 'flying saucers' --Major Donald Keyhoe, the co-founder of NICAP, being one of the most notorious examples. Their efforts to have public hearings about UFOs only amounted to two occasions in which the Congress of the United States officially discussed the subject: On April 5, 1966 the House Armed Services Committee held public hearings, and on July 29th, 1968, the U. S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science and Astronautics convened a Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects, chaired by then-Indiana Congressman J. Edward Roush --that symposium only lasted one day, and to add insult to injury no representative of NICAP was invited to offer their testimony to the committee.
Shortly afterward, the University of Colorado released the infamous Condon report, and since then the Air Force and the White House felt at liberty to wash their hands on the problem of UFOs and addressing the fears and concerns of the American people, who unfortunately keep reporting sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena to this day, which seem to defy any conventional explanations.
Then came the Exopolitical movement, spearheaded by Dr. Steven Greer, Alfred Webre and Stephen Bassett, who have gone even beyond the demands of Keyhoe and his contemporaries; Exopolitics infused its advocates with the certainty that the government *knew* the Truth about the UFO phenomenon, and was deliberately hiding it from the public. But after a couple of press conferences at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., many conferences all around the world, and one faux Congressional Hearing in 2013, the closest we've come to an official acknowledgement of UFOs by a top representative of the government, is presidents Clinton and Obama making jokes about aliens in Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Then again, the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure was not without its rewards. Perhaps the most positive thing that came of it was how John Burroughs, one of the main witnesses of the famous Rendlesham forest UFO incident(s) in 1980, was finally able to receive full medical disability from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); Burroughs along with Jim Penniston, who is another of the main witnesses in this UFO case, claim that the close proximity to the unexplained object they encountered on that cold December night of 1980 severely deteriorated his health --something indicative of a possible exposure to radiation emitted by the object-- and since then both have fought a long and arduous legal battle to obtain aid for their ailments, as well as access to their medical records, which had been withheld by the US Air Force for reasons still unclarified --the Air Force even denied at one time Burroughs had served when the Rendlesham incident took place!
There was no grand exposé or fanfare when Burroughs received the benefits he so lawfully deserved. No New York Times front page article, Newsweek cover or CNN interview. Is this perhaps the way UFO Disclosure will take place? Not with a loud Bang! but with a barely noticeable fizzle? That's what Nick Pope, the former MoD officer who used to run the British 'UFO Desk' --and co-author with Burroughs and Penniston of the book Encounter in Rendlesham Forest, which is not devoid of controversy inside UFO circles BTW-- is proposing in his UFO Digest article Disclosure Has Happened!
In it, Nick portrays the release of thousands of UFO files by the British government and other nations in the last few years --including Project Condign, a very important and highly classified study Nick elaborated himself when he was still working for the MoD-- along with all the interviews he's granted to the media since he retired from public duty, in which he has publicly addressed both the reality of the phenomenon, as well as the active interest the British government has had about the subject for many decades behind closed doors --despite their insistent affirmation to British citizens that UFOs are "of no defense significance"-- as evidence that we've already received as much Disclosure from the establishment as we're likely to get. Get back to your table, Oliver!
This may not be Disclosure in the sense that some people in the UFO community mean, but it is disclosure nonetheless. This is one of the reasons why I coined the phrase “disclosure with a little d, not with a big D”. What do I mean by this? It’s a reality check. No government is going to admit that it’s been lying to the public for decades on this issue – or indeed on any issue. Similarly, no government is going to say something like this:
“We occasionally encounter unidentified craft in our airspace. They consistently outperform our best fighter jets, sometimes showing up on radar and sometimes not. We don’t know what they are.”
Such a statement would be untenable, because it would be tantamount to an admission that we’d lost control of our airspace, irrespective of whether one believes that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft, foreign military spy planes or drones, or some currently unknown atmospheric phenomenon. No government or air force would make such a statement. “We don’t know” sounds ignorant, even though it’s often the most honest position to take. Similarly, “They consistently outperform our best fighter jets” sounds impotent. Ignorance and impotence are the polar opposites of the self-image that any government tries to project, so such a statement could never be made. However, it is possible to say pretty much the same thing, using less alarmist language, and phrases that are sufficiently vague so as to allow for multiple interpretations. So what one ends up with is a tacit admission that there’s something more to the UFO phenomenon than misidentifications, hoaxes and delusions, but the door is left open as to whether such sightings are triggered by craft or phenomena. Expressions such as “we can’t rule out any possibilities” or “we remain open-minded” are seen as positives, not negatives. It all comes down to the language that’s used. So re-read Project Condign’s final report, and re-read my various media statements about the release of the MoD UFO files, and you’ll see that this isn’t a hypothetical scenario. All of this has already happened.
Project Condign is particularly important, because even though it solomonically switched the highly charged 'UFO' term for the more antiseptic 'UAP' --ironic in a way, considering how the UFO acronym was originally proposed by the Air Force so they could stop calling them 'flying saucers'-- it boldly concluded the reality of the phenomenon was "indisputable." There was no mention of 'little green men' in the study, and some speculative (though nonetheless interesting) theories regarding electrically-charged atmospheric plasmas interacting with witnesses and possibly causing hallucinations by interfering with the temporal lobe of their brains, were proposed as a way to explain the fringier aspects of UFO sightings; yet nonetheless this *is* probably the most succinct and straightforward recognition about the relevance of these anomalies, coming from a global power such as the United Kingdom.
As a peripheral pundit of the UFO community, I've been openly antagonistic about the 'Big D' Disclosure peddled by Basset and his exopolitical adherents for quite some time. My reasons for it are varied, but many were brilliantly encapsulated by my friend Robbie Graham's op-ed Disclosure is Dead last year:
"The ultimate irony of the Disclosure movement is that it deeply distrusts officialdom, while simultaneously looking to officialdom for the truth. And by imagining all answers to the UFO mystery to be out of public reach, deep in the bowels of the national security state, the Disclosure movement actually places power into hands of officialdom, while disempowering the individual."
[Robbie removed the essay from his Silver Screen Saucers blog, due to the future release of his book]
Because of this, I think Nick Pope's POV about "small 'd' Disclosure" is not devoid of merit. We in the UFO community tend to hold a very romanticized notion about how such an event, or series of events would unfold, shaped by Sci-Fi and pop culture --the quintessential landing on the White House lawn, complete with the president shaking the 3-fingered hand (or tentacle!) of our galactic overlords.
I feel the closest real-life example we could compare it to is the fall of the Berlin wall: I was born in '73, and my teenage years were still darkened by the shadow of the Cold War. So when in 1989 the two Germanies were reunited, it caught my generation and the older ones behind us completely off-guard. The world had changed virtually overnight and would never be the same again.
Not all paradigm changes are as expeditious, though. I was still 19 when I watched the movie Philadelphia, and in less than a single generation the social and political changes we're witnessing before our eyes, with regards to the acceptance of Homosexuality and legalization of same-sex marriage, are nothing short of astounding. Not to mention that for 7 years a member of an ethnic minority has occupied the most important public office in the world, and that full legalization of Cannabis in the foreseeable future is no longer a pipe dream.
From that perspective, equating Nick Pope's 'disclosure' with the oh-so gradual social victories of the LGBT movement, instead of waiting for the 'Berlin-wall' type of Disclosure fantasized the Exopolitics movement, does not sound too unreasonable at first look.
Nevertheless, there are SOME things Nick left behind in his UFO Digest op-ed: The fact that there's still a lot of material evidence still undisclosed by the MoD or the United States government. I'm not even talking here about the Roswell mythos and the alleged recovery of crashed discs and alien bodies; for the sake of this discussion, let's pretend they never happened! --and let's all erase from our wetware hard drive the damn Roswell slides while we're at it!-- What I'm talking about is all those good-quality photographs or film, taken by either civilians or members of the military, which have never seen the light of day after they were confiscated or 'borrowed' by the FBI, the Air Force or other intelligence and/or military organizations.
Even Nick himself in his website discusses the disappearance of an exceptionally compelling photograph of what looked like a diamond-shaped, metallic object taken in 1990 by two citizens walking in the vicinity of Calvine, near Pitlochry, in Scotland:
I first came across this story in 1991, when I joined the UFO project. A poster-sized enlargement of the best photo was prominently displayed on the office wall. I worked in a four-person office my predecessor had put it up. It was one of the few visible UFO-related items on display; most stuff was locked away. The office dealt with some other issues too; most of us had been seconded into the Air Force Operations Room during the 1990/91 Gulf War. After the war one of my jobs was to read draft book manuscripts that had to do with Air Force aspects of the war, to ensure nothing classified, detrimental to the Service or embarrassing went in. Sometimes, people would come to our office to discuss non-UFO business and some of these people weren’t aware that the UFO project was embedded in the section. You’d have this surreal moment when they’d stop mid-sentence, stare at it, point and say “what the hell’s that?” – this wasn’t the archetypal distant, blurred UFO photo. This was up close and personal, reach out and you can touch it stuff. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s not one of ours” was our stock answer to the inevitable question.
The X-Files first aired in the UK in 1994 and I acquired the same nickname (Spooky) as Fox Mulder, for obvious reasons. Mulder famously had his “I want to believe” UFO poster on his office wall and though uncaptioned, I suppose this was my equivalent. Word got around and people would swing by to take a look, even when they had no obvious business in our section.
I asked my DIS [Defence Intelligence Staff] opposite number about the image. I was told that the official assessment was that the photos were real and the craft had a diameter of around 25 metres (over 80 feet). At one particularly surreal briefing on the UFO phenomenon my DIS opposite number indicated the photo and pointed his finger to the right: “It’s not the Americans”, he said, before pointing to the left and saying “and it’s not the Russians”. There was a pause, before he concluded “and that only leaves …” - his voice trailed off and he didn’t complete the sentence, but his finger was pointing directly upwards.
Despite the fact we live in the Age of Photoshop and Third Phase of Moon hoaxes, wouldn't you still like to watch that intriguing photograph? Well, you can't; Nick says that in 1994 his Head of Division, convinced the Condine UFO was actually a secret prototype aircraft from the Americans, took the photo away and locked it in his desk drawer. Nobody knows exactly what happened next, but the photo has never surfaced again.
Or what about the film allegedly recorded by Dr. Robert Jacobs, known in the annals of UFOlogy as the Big Sur UFO filming of 1964? For those of you who don't know the story, Jacobs was in the Air Force at the time and stationed at the Vandenherg Air Force Base as part of the 1369th Photographic Squadron. In the year in question, Jacobs was given the task of recording tracking footage of a very important missile test; but shortly after he handed down the film he was called by one of his superiors who made him watch the footage, and there in the was the unmistakable image of a disc-like object intercepting the Atlas rocket, and shooting what looked like 'energy beams' onto its metallic fuselage; immediately after this the flying disc flew out of frame and the rocket lost its course and tumbled out of its set trajectory.
The lights came on and Major Mansmann said, "Lieutenant Jacobs, were you or any of your people fooling around up there at Big Sur?
"No sir," I answered honestly. I was shaking with excitement.
"Then tell me ... what the Hell was that?"
I looked Major Mansmann straight in the eye. "It looks to me like we got a UFO," I said.
There was a stifling silence among the men in grey, civilian suits who continued to stare at me. Major Mansmann gave them what I can only describe as a "let me handle this" look.
"Well," he smiled cordially, "let's just say it never happened. You are to say nothing about this footage to anyone. As far as you and I are concerned, this never took place, you understand?"
Jacobs never saw the footage he filmed again. Was it taken to an Indiana Jones-like warehouse, where the government keeps all the controversial footage of UFOs? The ones which would not be so easily dismissed by skeptics claiming it was a freakish reflection in the camera lens, or an old hub cap thrown in the air?
Was it perhaps destroyed?
Until such revelatory material is not openly released by the MoD and their colleagues in the United States, can we honestly talk about a UFO "Disclosure with a small 'd'"? Or is it more like "( )isclosure", because even the small 'd' is still absent and classified with a Top Secret/Eyes Only seal?
Is it too much to ask that the MoD released the Calvine UFO picture, and the Air Force published a Youtube video of the Big Sur UFO film, even if they openly acknowledged their ignorance about the nature of the objects depicted in them? After all, we already have examples of official departments of UFO investigation, like the CEFAA in Chile, endorsing photographs of UFOs and backing their authenticity, without speculating about the possible nature and origin of the object captured in the picture.
Perhaps it is too much to ask. Perhaps Richard Dolan and Bryce Zabel are still correct in what they wrote in their book A.D. After Disclosure, in that you cannot only have "a little disclosure", just the same way as you cannot only be "a little pregnant."
Because at the end of the day, the mystery of the UFOs remains a poisoned apple threatening the health of our social hierarchies. With their constant trespassing of national airspace of many countries, and incursions inside restricted facilities --like the Bentwaters/Woodbridge military bases near which the Rendlesham incident took place-- this phenomenon and the intelligence or intelligences controlling it, undermine the credibility and authority of our government institutions by their sole existence alone.
Just like in the movie Dark Knight, UFOs are the disc-shaped, multicolored brethren of the Joker. Their very nature makes them agents of Chaos and the ultimate symbol of Anarchy --the damn things won't even respect the law of GRAVITY for crying out loud!
Because of this, for me it's more easy to conceive the disappearance of the Nation-State as we currently know it, than to see those states openly acknowledge the existence of UFOs, and by doing that disclosing their complete incompetence in trying to control the comings and goings of these objects.
Stop waiting for official hand-me-downs then, and let's put a smile on the face of the Status Quo!