Irish Newspaper Runs
Major Article On France's
By Leslie Kean - The Independent
UFOs, is the truth out there?
UFO's once the preserve of the purely paranoid are now being taken seriously. Astronauts, Generals and a number of influential scientists are hammering away at the crust of international scepticism. Leslie Kean explains why a study by the French military may finally make governments sit up and take notice.
The release in April of the first detailed satellite images of Area 51, the top-secret Air Force test site in Nevada, prompted a website meltdown as people from around the world searched for clues about unidentified flying objects.
The interest has been really phenomenal, said David Mountain, marketing director for Aerial Images, Inc which posted the high resolution aerial photos of Area 51 on the Internet.
But those hoping to see signs of something extraordinary were destined to be disappointed. Most of Area 51s operations occur underground, making photos meaningless. Anyone looking for the fresh information on UFOs would have better luck trying a new, but less publicized source: by the French military, just translated into English.
High level officials including retired generals from the French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense, a government-funded strategic planning agency recently took a giant step in openly challenging skepticism about UFOs. In a report based on a three year study, they concluded that, numerous manifestations observed by reliable witnesses could be the work of craft of extra-terrestrial origin and that, in fact, the best explanation is the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Although not categorically proven, strong presumptions exist in its favor and if it is correct, it is loaded with significant consequences.
The French group reached that conclusion after examining nearly 500 detailed international aeronautical sightings and radar/visual cases, and previously undisclosed pilots reports. They drew on data from official sources, government authorities, and the Air Forces of different countries.
The findings are contained in a 90-page report titled, UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For?, published in France by the magazine VSD.
The mechanics of a mystery. The number of sightings, which are completely unexplained despite the abundance and quality of data from them, is growing throughout the world, the team declared.
The authors note that about 5 percent of sightings on which there is solid documentation cannot be easily attributed to earthly sources, such as secret military exercises - especially since unexplained objects have been reported since 1944. The rest seem to be completely unknown flying machines with exceptional performances that are guided by a natural or artificial intelligence, they say.
Science has developed plausible models for travel from another solar system and for technology which could be used to propel the vehicles, the report says. assures readers that UFOs have demonstrated no hostile acts, although intimidation maneuvers have been confirmed.
Given the widespread scepticism about UFOs, many will quickly dismiss the generals ET hypothesis. But it is less easy to do so once the authors credentials are considered.
The study's originators are four-star General Bernard Norlain, former commander of the French Tactical Air Force and military counselor to the prime minister; General Denis Letty, an air force fighter pilot; and Andre Lebeau, former head of the National Center for Space Studies (the French equivalent of NASA in the United States.)
They formed a 12-member Committee for In-depth Studies, abbreviated as COMETA, which authored the report. Three-star Admiral Marc Merlo, national chief of police Denis Blancher and Jean-Jacques Velasco, head of a government agency studying UFOs, as well as scientists and weapons engineers, were also contributors. Not only does the group stand by its findings, it is urging international action.
The writers recommend that France establish sectorial cooperation agreements with interested European and foreign countries on the matter of UFOs. They suggest that the European Union undertake diplomatic action with the United States exerting useful pressure to clarify this crucial issue which must fall within the scope of political and strategic alliances.
Why might other nations be inclined to take this subject seriously? For one thing, declassified US government documents show that unexplained objects with extraordinary technical capabilities pose challenges to military activity around the globe. For example, US fighter jets have been scrambled to pursue UFOs, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command logs and US Air Force documents.
Iranian and Peruvian Air Force planes attempted to shoot down unexplained objects during air encounters in 1976 and 1980, and Belgian F-16s equipped with automatically guided missiles pursued UFO's in 1990.
Further, the French report says that there have been visits above secret installations and missile bases and military aircraft shadowed in the US. Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who was the sixth man to walk on the moon, is one of many supporters of international cooperation on UFOs. Of the French report, he says, It's significant that individuals of some standing in the government, military and intelligence community in France came forth with this.
Mitchell, who holds a doctor of science degree from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is convinced at a confidence level above 90pc, that there is reality to all of this. He adds, People have been digging through the files and investigating for years now. The files are quite convincing. The only thing that's lacking is the official stamp. He joins five-star Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, the former head of the British Ministry of Defense, in calling for US congressional fact-finding hearings into the UFO question.
Hearings would include testimony by government witnesses from the Air Force, Army, Navy, NASA, private industry and intelligence operations with personal, first-hand knowledge of UFO phenomena and related projects.
The astronaut amd the investigation Despite the fact that Mitchell is a national hero and has been honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USN Distinguished Service Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, his request for an investigation has been ignored by U.S. officials.
Nonetheless, the public's interest in UFOs is undiminished. A ballot initiative underway in the US state of Missouri, and certified by the secretary of state in March, urges Congress to convene hearings. The initiative states that the Federal Governments handling of the UFO issue has contributed to the public cynicism toward, and general mistrust of, government.
US Naval Reserve Commander Willard H. Miller has been communicating this same concern to high level officials for a number of years. With over 30 years in Navy and Joint Interagency operations with the US Defense Department, Miller has participated in a series of previously undisclosed briefings for Pentagon brass about military policy regarding UFOs.
Like many, he says he worries that the militarys lack of preparation for encounters with unexplained craft could provoke a dangerous confrontation when, and if, such an encounter occurs; precipitous military decisions, he warns, may lead to unnecessary confusion, misapplication of forces, or possible catastrophic consequences.
And he says he is not alone in his concerns. There are those in high places in the government who share a growing interest in this subject, Miller reports.
Miller retired in 1994 from active duty on the Current Operations Staff (J3) of U.S. Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Virginia where he worked operations, intelligence, and special contingency issues. In a February, 2000 confidential memo prepared for this reporter, he spelled out the details of meetings with named officials - including the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, an Admiral on the Joint Staff, and the U.S. Atlantic Command's Director for Intelligence - between 1989 and 2000.
Miller concurs with the COMETA's observation that there is no evidence of hostility from UFOs The only threat to the national security of the United States is the continued denial of undeniable physical UFO occurrences and sightings to a public growing increasingly frustrated with its government's weak explanations, Miller says.
Air Force Regulation 200-2, Unidentified Flying Objects Reporting, prohibits the release to the public and the media any data about those objects which are not explainable while allowing disclosure only of the UFOs that have been identified as familiar objects.
An even more restrictive procedure is outlined in the Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146, which provides communications instructions for reporting sightings relevant to US security. Anyone under its jurisdiction disclosing reports without authorization is subject to prosecution under the Espionage Act.
Even the President of the United States recently had trouble accessing information on the subject. In 1995, philanthropist Laurence Rockefeller provided UFO briefing materials to President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Presidential science advisor Jack Gibbons while they spent a weekend at Rockefellers Wyoming ranch. Clinton then instructed Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, Webster Hubbell, to investigate the existence of UFOs, as disclosed by Hubbell in his book, Friends in High Places. Despite this request from the Commander in Chief, Hubbell was unable to obtain information on the subject.
In earlier decades, issues that remain pertinent today were openly discussed. In 1960, for example, US Representative Leonard G. Wolf of Iowa entered an urgent warning from R.E. Hillenkoetter, a former CIA Director and Navy vice admiral, into the Congressional Record that certain dangers are linked with unidentified flying objects.
Wolf cited Gen. L.M. Chassin, NATO coordinator of Allied Air Service, warning that If we persist in refusing to recognize the existence of the UFOs, we will end up, one fine day, by mistaking them for the guided missiles of an enemy - and the worst will be upon us.
These concerns were taken seriously enough to be incorporated into the 1971 Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Outbreak of Nuclear War between the US and the Soviet Union. The treaty states that the two countries will notify each other immediately in the event of detection by missile warning systems of unidentified objects...if such occurrences could create a risk of outbreak of nuclear war between the two countries.
The French report may open the door for nations to be more forthcoming once again. Chile, for example, is openly addressing it's own concerns about air safety and UFOs. The now retired Chief of the Chilean Air Force has formed a committee with civil aviation experts to study recent near collisions between UFOs and civilian airliners.
As the international conversation about UFOs unfolds, sightings continue, as they have for decades. Perhaps the most notable recent US sighting took place in March 1997. Hundreds of people across the state of Arizona reported seeing huge triangular objects, hovering silently in the night sky - a sighting that, as the state's Senator John McCain noted recently, has never been fully explained.
As recently as Jan. 5, 2000, four policemen at different locations in St. Claire County, Illinois, witnessed a huge, brightly lighted, triangular craft flying and hovering at 1000 feet. One officer reported witnessing extreme rapid motion by the craft that cannot be explained in conventional terms. Nearby Scott Air Force base and the FAA purport to know nothing.
The French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense and the National Center for Space Studies remain several steps ahead of the United States military and NASA. Perhaps the report by the bold French generals -- with its goal of stripping the phenomenon of UFOs of its irrational layer will be a catalyst for authorities around the world to publicly examine the issue of UFOs in a new light.

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