By Alex Seitz-Wald NBC News
WASHINGTON — The US Government is finally getting back on the UFO issue.
And depending on which UFO believer you ask, it’s either a historic step to get to the bottom of conspiracies or a ploy to regain control of the narrative, and possibly even to prepare for interplanetary war.
The creation of a new office, signed into law just before New Year’s, to study “unidentified aerial phenomena” has divided the loose community of activists, researchers and pseudoscientists seeking evidence that we are not alone in the universe.
Some praise the legislation creating the new office, included in section 1683 of the enormous National Defense Authorization Act, for bringing new resources, rigor and officiality to the investigation of a phenomenon – and a potential threat to national security – which has long been stigmatized in a way that makes it difficult to study.
“Our national security efforts depend on air supremacy and these phenomena pose a challenge to our dominance,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, who led the bipartisan measure. “The United States needs a coordinated effort to take control and understand if these aerial phenomena belong to a foreign government or something else entirely.”
Washington hasn’t formally studied UFOs extensively in decades, so one might expect the news to be cause for celebration among so-called ufologists.
But the movement has long believed that the government is covering up the biggest secret in history, which is why many find it hard to believe that the feds want to do more than clamp down after several years in which it became socially acceptable. For former presidents and CIA directors to speak publicly of strange things they had seen in the skies.
On social media and in forums such as AboveTopSecret, a powerhouse of ufology and conspiracy theories, there has been debate about whether the new office represents the beginning of the end of the alleged cover-up or its resurgence.
“This is an issue with a demonstrable history of secrecy, and anything short of a new disclosure is subject to more, possibly inappropriate, scrutiny,” said Ron James, a spokesman for the Mutual UFO Network, which calls itself “the oldest and largest UFO organization in the world.”
“We don’t see this as meaning new resources will be devoted to the issue. We believe that considerable resources have always been dedicated at some level within government and deep industry,” added James.
Luis Elizondo and Christopher Mellon, the former Administration members who helped spark renewed interest in Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAP as they are now more commonly known, by posting videos of military aircraft, applauded Gillibrand’s amendment, but they are concerned that it has been watered down before final approval and buried by the Pentagon.
In an op-ed in The Hill newspaper, Elizondo criticized the Pentagon’s decision to locate the new UAP office within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, which he said is the “perfect place to put it.” ” if “we want 70 more years of secrecy on this issue”.
Activists complain about the lack of civilian participation in the new Pentagon office and assume that it will limit itself to classifying whatever it finds interesting, so that its unclassified reports to Congress will be little more than fig leaves.
Dr. Steven Greer, who retired from the emergency room to hunt aliens as the self-styled “world expert on UFOs,” is opposed to the idea that UFOs should be treated as a national security threat.