Counterpunch.org by Binoy Kampmark Posted Thurs., Dec.28, 2017
Conspiracies in the extraterrestrial department have always constituted the residue of superstition in a secular age. Chase away a Christ figure, or ward off God, and the mind still wanders, hoping to be bewitched. If something cannot be explained, ignorance furnishes an often poor substitute.
The concept of extraterrestrial phenomena straddles scientific probabilities, faith and the sense that governments might not be telling their citizens the whole truth. Rarely, for instance, does speculation on extraterrestrial research feature in the mainstream press, though the New York Times decided to dabble in the business of UFOs this month.
The paper noted, quite rightly, that the US Defense Department, known to most others as the Pentagon, had put aside $22 million of its $600 billion annual budget on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Identifying exactly where it was in the bureaucratic apparatus remained a contrived challenge, and it had its opponents.
The program, run by Luis Elizondo on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, was deeply concealed within the structure itself. Supposedly concluding in 2012, supporters are certain that funding continues to, if not flow then certainly trickle to it.
The study of UFO phenomena in US bureaucracy is a study of bureaucratic quirkiness itself. Shadowy and opaque, the connections stretch across from Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, himself a fan of all things space, to billionaire friend, Robert Bigelow, who happily received government sponsorship for his aerospace venture.
The official record on US interest in the extraterrestrial research has been sketchy and speculative. The US government, officially at least, claimed to have stopped gathering information on the subject of UFOs in 1969 with the cancellation of Project Blue Book by the US Air Force. As the National Archives describes on a sombre note, “The project closed in 1969 and we have no information on sightings after that date.”
Project Blue Book itself concluded after examining UFO reports since 1948 that no such entity reported, investigated or evaluated by the USAF posed a threat; that such sightings did not suggest “technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge” and that, perhaps most damningly of all, no sightings filed as “unidentified” could be deemed extraterrestrial vehicles.
Such reports, far from dissuading, have quite the opposite effect. In May, Bigelow told Lara Logan of 60 Minutes about his absolute conviction about alien life forms, and “an existing presence, an ET presence. And I spent millions and millions and millions – I spent probably more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.” (Bigelow, typically, confuses expenditure and dedication with verifiable sightings.)
In of itself, Bigelow’s interest is admirable. But curiosity finds idiosyncratic ways of making a mark. It is not merely the scientific level that matters but one of induced faith, a Damascene (an unusual) insight conversion that turns a figure into a devotee.
Continues here: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/28/extraterrestrial-fascinations-the-pentagon-and-ufos/