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Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 4:06 pm

By Billy Cox


Interpreting Podesta's silence

Wonder why John Podesta went AWOL on the UFO thing?

In 2002, in concert with a Sci Fi Channel initiative to pursue federal UFO records through the Freedom of Information Act, President Clinton’s former chief of staff made a move that was astonishing for its candor.

Citing Clinton’s landmark Executive Order 12958, which led to the declassification of hundreds of millions of government documents on unrelated matters, Podesta declared “it’s time to open the books . . . on the question of government investigations of UFOs.” He added, “We ought to do it because it’s the law.” This, at a time when President Bush was — and continues to be — engaged in information blackout mode via blizzards of signing statements and executive orders.

At the time, a skeptical Wired magazine noted that Sci Fi, which was about to unveil its Steven Spielberg abduction series called “Taken,” was also a client of of the PodestaMattoon PR firm, run by Podesta’s brother Anthony. Wired suspected the ex-Clinton aide’s advocacy was little more than a ratings stunt. And, in fact, “Taken” went on to become the most popular mini-series in Sci Fi’s history.

Today, John Podesta is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank partially bankrolled by billionaire philanthropist George Soros. But he hasn’t revisited the UFO issue since, and De Void’s efforts to contact Podesta have been unsuccessful.

Washington lobbyist Stephen Bassett isn’t as cynical as Wired. The only political activist committed exclusively to ending the U.S. embargo on classified UFO data, Bassett interprets Podesta’s silence as backstage maneuvering.

“If the Democrats retake the White House, Podesta will probably be a part of it, especially if it’s Clinton,” says Bassett. “My view is, they’re planning disclosure under the next administration. So there’s no point in rustling that bush now, not at this point.”

On Sept. 14-16, Bassett’s political action committee is sponsoring an “X-Conference” in Gaithersburg, Md., to advance the case for disclosure hearings on Capitol Hill. Details are at http://www.x-ppac.org/

With Gov. Richardson's campaign having backed away from the UFO issue, De Void continues to await a response from Sen. Hillary Clinton.