UFO discourse is shrouded in mystery, intrigue, and a large dose of eccentricity. Mainstream media typically refuses to engage with the UFO topic, so UFO researchers and enthusiasts are generally left to congregate in the dark corners of the internet looking for scraps of reliable information to add to their repertoire. It should come as no surprise that when a massive collection of UFO related information emerges from Wikileaks, the UFO crowd begins to frenzy. While Wikileaks is not constrained by the forces that restrict mainstream media, is the Wikileaks effect good for the study of the UFO question?
A few days ago, Rob Waugh of The Metro published a story in regards to a 'Wikileaked' diplomatic cable from 1978 in which Sir Eric Gairy, the former Prime Minister of Granada, approached the United Nations with a request for a formal investigation into UFOs. Part of the cable states,
[Gairy] had come to New York to present the item because of his 'deep personal conviction' that the subject of UFOs was one of 'world-wide importance and significance' and indeed, one which warranted very serious consideration by the United Nations.
While dated, the story did get good circulation through UFO communities, but it raises an important question; is this cable Ufologically valuable, and transitively, does the massive collection of Wikileaks UFO data, from cables to emails, actually help in solving the UFO riddle? Answering this question requires a quick look back into the historical relationship between Wikileaks itself and UFOs.
Wikileaks exploded into cultural and social consciousness over six years ago when it posted hundreds of thousands of raw secret US government documents concerning the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What soon followed were a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables, many of which were quite damaging, and the general understanding that no one, no matter how high up they were in government, was safe from having their dirty laundry aired.
As time went on, and Wikileaks continued to release documents, UFO researchers began to search the Wikileaks archive for any mention of UFOs. From curious cables and messages regarding the planet Nibiru, to UFO cult recruiting practices, to even a city mayor referring to ‘life on other planets’- the content on Wikileaks created significant buzz in the UFO world.
However, the biggest surge of UFO data came in 2016. Leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager and known UFO enthusiast John Podesta, infamously known as The Podesta E-mails, took center stage as the Presidential elections were in full swing. While the bulk of the content was not UFO related, it did not take long for UFO researchers to begin digging into the collection to find as much UFO content as possible.
One of the most intriguing revelations from the e-mails concerns Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 fame, and his meetings with Podesta as well as other high ranking American military officials. In one of the emails to Podesta, DeLonge stated that he wanted to set up a meeting between himself, Podesta, and officials who were,
...principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic...in charge of most fragile divisions, as it relates to Classified Science and DOD topics.
In another email, one of these officials is named as General William McCasland. DeLonge writes,
When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McCasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago... he not only knows what I'm trying to achieve, he helped assemble my advisory team...he's a very important man.
The Podesta E-mails contained a lot of UFO related material, which is to be expected since the man is interested in the topic. DeLonge’s messages are just one sample from a long list. However, the result of these leaked emails secured the UFO community’s infatuation with Wikileaks as a legitimate source for information.
It was a sort of rallying call. UFO researchers finally had an organization with a household name behind them. This wasn’t some small UFO news website which catered to a small crowd; this was Wikileaks, a giant and powerful internet presence which made headline news almost on a daily basis. This was, and still is today, nothing short of alluring for a subculture relegated to the social fringe. Alluring is not always good, however. The Wikileaks effect has done to UFOs what it has done to every other cultural topic; it has blurred the lines between facts researched within context, and dumped information devoid of context.
It isn’t that Wikileaks is good or bad, but it has changed the game. UFO discourse now has access to more data, but that data is not fact checked or researched before being released. It is simply raw, and anyone can spin that information to suit their own beliefs or agenda. Some of that raw information on Wikileaks may be useful in the search for truth, and some has and will be used by charlatans to line their own pockets or boost their own egos. People need to remain critical.
Diplomatic cables posted out of context are not facts, and emails in regards to one man’s opinions and beliefs are not evidence. The radical transparency Wikileaks attempts to provide is most definitely here to stay, but those who study the UFO question must be weary, as it’s easy to become blinded. Nothing on Wikileaks has led to concrete evidence that proves UFOs are anything more than their acronym. Perhaps one day, UFO researchers will find the holy grail hidden in the Wikileaks data archive, but until then, they need to be more critical of the information they pull from the massive data dump. As Podesta tweeted in 2014, #thetruthisstilloutthere.