Our opinion: UFO reports need transparency

Congress’ beefed-up interest in UFOs, revealed in recent days, is late in coming but should be welcomed nonetheless.

Much of what the federal government has been concealing for many decades regarding sightings of unidentified flying objects can be revealed to today’s more enlightened public without causing panic or otherwise striking new fears into people otherwise concerned about humanity’s rightly or wrongly perceived instability on this planet.

UFO-related information housed in the proverbial dusty recesses of the nation’s information warehouses needs to be examined and evaluated before public release of documents and files actually occurs. More than one set of trusted eyes needs to be at the heart of making correct determinations regarding what ought to be released and that which should not be.

But a spirit of openness should dominate.

In Washington, the latest version of the Senate’s defense-policy bill has been reported as containing bipartisan provisions designed to gather and declassify documents related to unidentified flying objects, including, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in its July 22-23 edition, “mysterious aerial phenomena of this world — and potentially others.”

“While UFOs have drawn the public’s attention for decades,” the Journal said in its July 22-23 article, “lawmakers have expressed heightened concerns after the shootdown of a Chinese spy balloon and several other objects over North America this year, as well as fresh claims about unexplained aircraft that appear to employ technology beyond known military capabilities.

Reportedly under the Senate’s provisions, federal agencies would be given 300 days to hand over documents being sought to a newly established review board with the power to declassify them.

Despite the passage of nearly 58 years, many people of Western Pennsylvania, specifically residents of Westmoreland County, probably hope that the declassifications in question might shed new light on what actually happened on Dec. 9, 1965.

It was 4:47 p.m. that day when an object came out of the sky from the northwest over Canada, crossed Ohio and into Pennsylvania, then landed in a wooded area on a Westmoreland farm near the Kecksburg Fire Hall.

News reports from the days after the incident said the military was at the remote site within an hour and that, by 8 p.m., the object had been hauled away on the back of an Army flatbed truck.

There has been speculation over the years that the Army hauled the object to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Meanwhile, in 1997, a New York Times article began as follows:

“In the darkest days of the Cold War, the military lied to the American public about the true nature of many unidentified flying objects in an effort to hide its growing fleets of spy planes, a CIA study says.”

The late Tom Gibb, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff writer who had worked previously at the Mirror, wrote on March 9, 2003, that “what looks like a Bunyanesque brown acorn perched on a platform next to the (Kecksburg) fire hall is actually a 7-foot replica of what believers say they saw (on Dec. 9, 1965) — modeled … for the television show ‘Unsolved Mysteries,’ then put on permanent display.”

About the current declassification intent, senators have indicated that they hope to address concerns over aerial phenomena.

Such a commitment, if it is genuine, is, again, long overdue.


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