|How Presidents Have handled The Topic Of UFOs|
|Written by Robert Barrow|
|Thursday, 01 December 1977 06:00|
by Robert Barrow
As it appeared in the Winter 1977-78 issue of Argosy UFO
Two men voiced their concern over the existence of UFOs before assuming the highest elective office in this country: Former President Gerald R. Ford and President Jimmy Carter. As House Minority Leader, Ford called for Congressional Inquiries into the nature of UFO sightings, but he did nothing on the subject while President. And Carter, who sighted a UFO himself prior to becoming President, has let the UFO issue slide into obscurity while in office.
For a tiny fraction of Americans and individuals in other lands, the 1976 Presidential elections had more at stake than economics, national defense and foreign policy. To those who have spent many years examining the subject of UFOs, the UFO was an important a campaign issue as any.
Of course, the situation was considerably less complex back in 1947, when UFO reports first began to see national prominence in this country. When a reporter asked President Truman, during a press conference, if he ever saw a "flying saucer," Truman merely laughed and shrugged off the topic by replying that his only familiarity with saucers was what he had read in the newspapers.
Thirty years later, UFOs are still with us, whatever they are. They did not go away, despite all the skeptical claims and "expert"assurances to the contrary. In the seventies, a growing number of trained and influential people are investigating UFOs in deadly earnest.
However, UFOs are not only a scientific concern. They are a Presidential enigma as well.
A few months ago, President Jimmy Carter, then on the campaign trail, told a reporter from the National Enquirer, "If I ever become President I"ll make every piece of information this country has about UFOs sightings available to the public, and the scientists." This was hardly an ill-considered promise. In 1969, Carter and a group of friends saw what they believed to be a UFO.
"It was big," Carter told reporters, "it was very bright, it changed colors and was about the size of the moon." The thing remained in view about 10 minutes, and its identity is still unknown.
"One thingâ€™s for sure," commented the future President, "Iâ€™ll never make fun of people who say theyâ€™ve seen unidentified flying objects in the sky . . . I am convinced that UFOs exist because I have seen one."
The big question for UFO researchers now is, can Jimmy Carter carry out his promise? My own concern is particularly spirited on this issue, because I recall another U.S. President who was once extremely involved with the UFO subject. However, once in office, he never again tackled the problem. His name? Gerald R. Ford.
Soon after I began my own pursuit of the UFO anomaly in 1963, I started an incessant letter-writing project, a practice to which I still resort occasionally. I wrote anybody and everybody who might be able to help me learn about UFOs.
During 1965 and 1966, I found many of my queries going to public officials. The late Senator Everett M. Dirksen, for instance, responded to my letter by indicating that, if there was a possibility of having congressional hearings on UFOs he would have no objections. The late Senator Robert F. Kennedy answered my letters several times, indicating skepticism - but also an open mind - on the existence of UFOs.
And then there were letters to and from Mr. Ford. But some background must be offered before continuing.
During early 1966, Fordâ€™s home state of Michigan experienced a variety of fascinating UFO sightings. These incidents, regrettably, became popularly known as the "swamp gas" sightings, although former Air Force consultant J. Allen Hynek only intended marsh gas as a probable explanation for reports in a couple of areas.
Ford, then a Michigan congressman and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, became outraged with the Air Forceâ€™s investigation of the reports. In addition, his office was deluged with letters, telegrams and phone calls from anxious constituents and UFO observers who demanded that the official investigation should itself be investigated.
On March 25, 1966, the first of two important Ford press releases appeared. The minority leader was calling for a full Congressional UFO inquiry. On March 28, yet another press release surfaced; attached was a copy of a letter Ford was sending to the Chairman of the House Science and Astronautics Committee, and the House Armed Services Committee.
Mr. Fordâ€™s wishes were unmistakably clear. He wanted a Congressional inquiry, and quickly.
The Michigan Congressman got his wish. On April 5, 1966, Congress held an open hearing on UFOs, an unprecedented move. While the hearing failed to accomplish as much as it might have, it produced an Air Force promise that arrangements would be made for an impartial, civilian investigation.
On October 7, 1966, the Air Force announced that the University of Colorado would undertake an open-ended UFO study, free of government influence.
And this is where the letters I received from Mr. Ford enter the story.
The letter reproduced here is one of several on UFOs I had from Ford during 1966 and 1968. The one pictured is the last of the series.
In 1966, I was intrigued by the Michigan UFO reports. I wrote Mr. Ford often, and he frequently responded. Once, he took the opportunity to query the Air Force about UFOs on my behalf.
A close inspection of the Ford letter may bridge a gap that has remained in UFO research until now. The letter, dated May 13, 1968, was composed more than two years after the Michigan incidents, and more than a year and a half after the Colorado University began its study.
The middle paragraph expresses Fordâ€™s vital interest in a UFO investigation.
But it is the last paragraph that tells all. It was written by Mr. Ford about the May 14, 1968 issue of Look Magazine, in which author John G. Fuller exposed the Colorado UniversityÂ "investigation" as the farce that it actually was. Fuller, leaving no room for doubt, listed so much evidence of the absurdities and ever-present negative attitude of the supposedly open-minded Project Director (the late Dr. Edward U. Condon), that a total waste of over a half million tax dollars was obvious.
The Look piece, entitled "Flying Saucer Fiasco," also included a statement by the then-Director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (a civilian UFO agency), Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe (USMC, ret.). Keyhoe announced that NICAP would no longer support Colorado's work because of its apparent bias against the UFO subject.
Gerald Ford was familiar with the Look article and he, like many disillusioned Americans, fully realized that the UFO investigation he worked so diligently to get was in serious trouble.
He ends his letter on a hopeful note, but the fact is that Ford probably knew the answer to UFOs would not be found at the University of Colorado.
The puzzler is, why did President Gerald Ford make no further positive statements - or any comments at all - about UFOs after he became the Chief executive? What happened to all the vivid discontent he displayed so selflessly in the sixties?
Why, as President, did Mr. Ford not fulfill the sort of promise that President-elect Carter boldly made?
Even more curious, indeed, is the question of whether Mr. Carter will be able to accomplish his plan to get all the governmentâ€™s UFO information to the public (one would assume that his use of the word "country" is equal with my use of the word government, as it relates to the Carter statement, quoted earlier in this article).
Certainly, we can speculate on the situation. UFOs are reported to be so superior to our own aircraft and weaponry that the Defense Department can only express frustration in trying to equal their maneuvers (and this is true of other countries that deal with the UFO mystery). Would any President want to tell us that UFOs are real, but that no nation on earth knows what they are, where they are from, or why they are here?
Or is such speculation just wild?
Are UFOs real? Look at the Ford letter once more. "I share your concern and am disturbed," he wrote. But what happened to all of that concern, and how disturbed did he remain?
Presuming that the National Enquirer account is accurate, President Carter has truly made an important promise to Americans and people in other lands who want to know, once and for all, the solution to the UFO mystery.
Will he fare better than the last President who proclaimed a personal interest in UFOs?