When the subject of UFOs was brought up with Barack Obama during the campaign, he simply laughed for a brief moment and moved on. McCain, by contrast, said that NASA was keeping secrets that he would make them reveal. However, John Podesta is the head of the president-elect’s transition team, and he has taken an interest in UFO disclosure, so it would seem that there is at least some chance that change is in the offing in this area, too. Podesta has said, “It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the real nature of this phenomenon.”

The fact that he used the phrase ‘real nature of this phenomenon’ is instructive and hopeful. It suggests that he knows the true nature of some of the issues involved–that, in fact, not even the most basic questions about what and who the visitors are have been answered. That is a basis for the beginning of a genuinely useful inquiry, and later in this brief essay, I’ll outline a few steps we could take that might lead us in the direction of useful answers at last.

Over the years, I’ve learned a little bit–and I do mean, a LITTLE bit–about presidents and UFOs, and it’s worth briefly running it down here.

1. Harry Truman: He gave the shoot-down orders that were followed from 1949, and continued under Eisenhower until at least the late fifties, when the technology being confronted became too advanced and shooting was obviously impossible. The fact that there were even shoot-down orders has always been denied by the US Air Force. However, a startling British Ministry of Defense document released in October confirms that an American pilot, Milton Torres, was ordered to attempt to shoot down a UFO the size of an aircraft carrier over England in 1957.

2. Dwight Eisenhower: He was fully informed, and obviously continued Truman’s shoot-down policy, at least until the mid fifties. Stanton Friedman believes that he had some sort of close encounter at Muroc AFB in 1954, but, although the evidence is suggestive, it cannot be confirmed.

3. Kennedy: From personal experience, I am reasonably sure that both Kennedy and Johnson were aware of the phenomenon. Whether or not there is any truth in the stories that Kennedy’s wish to make the matter public figured in his assassination I don’t know. However, Fred Crisman, who was involved in the Maury Island Incident in June of 1947, was also named as a friend of Clay Shaw by Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney who investigated the Kennedy assassination, and believed that Oswald was part of a conspiracy of some sort.

4. Johnson: Lyndon Johnson was approached, as I have been led to understand, by CIA officials wishing to brief him on the matter. He was not interested and directed vice president Hubert Humphrey to take the briefing. Afterward, Humphrey commented only that making matters public would have unpredictable consequences.

5. Nixon: Because he had been vice president during the Eisenhower administration, Richard Nixon was fully informed, and had enough of an interest in the subject to discuss it with friends, including Jackie Gleason. Gleason’s wife Beverly told me personally that he had taken Jackie to an air force base in Florida and shown him some UFO debris, including an intact disk. She did not tell me anything about him seeing alien bodies, however. I learned, as well, from a congressional staffer, that NASA and the Air Force had taken a dim view of Nixon’s cavalier ways with what, to them, was an extremely sensitive matter, and subsequent presidents were not fully briefed.

6. Jimmy Carter: Jimmy Carter made inquiries, but was basically told to say away from the matter, and had to retract the promise made during his campaign to “tell all” about UFOs.

7. Ronald Reagan: The Reagans were quite interested, but were kept away from direct knowledge because, even from his first term, Ronald Reagan was observed to be suffering from memory loss, and he was deemed to be too much of a risk. I have some friends who were at a party that the Reagans attended before he launched his political career, where they made a rather surprising statement. They arrived late, and said that this had happened because, while crossing Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, a quite isolated road at the time, up in the mountains, they had seen a lighted object on the roadside. They stopped and got out of their car and went toward it. It appeared to be a silver disk. The next thing they knew, forty-five minutes had passed and they were back in the car. I have no reason to disbelieve this story. Certainly, it has never been told publicly, but it might explain Reagan’s various rather ominous statements about UFOs over the course of his career.

8. Bill Clinton: Clinton had a certain interest in the subject that was intensified by his friend Laurence Rockefeller who, much to the embarrassment of his family, made a years-long attempt to engage world leaders in the issue. At one point, he had Bill and Hillary Clinton as guests as his ranch in Montana. He told me and my wife this story about what had happened: He brought the subject up with them at dinner, but they did not respond. The next morning, Hillary asked that it not be brought up again. Later that day, Bill Clinton commented to him that it was “a tarbaby,” a reference to a folktale about somebody who socks a figure made of tar on the roadside because it won’t talk to him, and the more he tries to deal with it, the more entangled he becomes.

9. George H.W. Bush: One can assume that George H.W. Bush must have known something because he was CIA Director–although, as the director is a political appointee, there is no doubt in my mind that there are many things that he does not get told.

10. George W. Bush: There may have been some discussion of disclosure at some level in the Bush Administration, but obviously it never came to anything.

There is no evidence that Barack Obama has any impairment that would prevent a briefing, but there is probably concern that his reaction to it would be unpredictable. Specifically, he might want to follow in Kennedy’s footsteps and make some sort of general disclosure, if, indeed, that was on Kennedy’s mind.

The fact that documents recently released by the British Ministry of Defense prove that the US Air Force was shooting at UFOs as recently as 1957 suggests that the US government might have quite a bit to hide. Among other things, that they have really deranged the whole process and enormous potential of contact by reacting in an ill-considered manner. Or perhaps it wasn’t ill-considered, but, if not, then why have the visitors both kept coming and also not fought back? Beyond doing such things as neutralizing our weapons or, as happened over England in 1957, simply disappearing when threatened, they have been pretty indifferent to our threat posturing. This is not a hostile or aggressive reaction.

So maybe what is being hidden is that we blew a chance at “a new world” by shooting first.

However, if that mistake could not be rectified, the visitors would not still be here, I wouldn’t think. They’re waiting, and maybe it is still possible for us to change our policies in such a way that we can begin to make use of their presence, rather than continue to deny it.

Frankly, my impression from all these years of hearing insider tidbits, encountering the visitors, etc., is that we may not have the final word when it comes to full disclosure. I suspect that the visitors control this, in the sense that they will resist simply handing everything to us on a plate. They won’t do it themselves, and I don’t think our governments are fully informed enough to do it.

However, that doesn’t mean that progress can’t be made, and that a limited step cannot now be taken, assuming our authorities have the courage to do so. No matter if they are able to ask or not, I doubt very much that the visitors would ever give them a green light, or whatever it would be they might ask for.

Colonel Phillip Corso told me and my wife in one of the conversations we had with him that the grays had been asked, at one point, if anything was on offer for us. The reply had been, “a new world, if you can take it.” This means, literally, if we can take it from them, and also, if we can bear it.

One thing that the government is free to do now if it wishes is to disclose that there are indeed objects appearing in our skies that we cannot explain. This could be used as justification for the National Science Foundation to alter its stance against UFO research, and open up established avenues of scientific investigation.

There are quite a number of things we can do to further our understanding without wasting our time being supplicants. If we go hat in hand to the visitors, nobody is going to give us a thing. But if we approach the matter intelligently on our own, my sense of the present situation is that we can make more progress right now than has ever been possible before.

This is because there is a wealth of evidence available to us to search right now. We don’t need the government to disclose anything except that the mystery of UFOs is a real one, and to allow science to explore the mystery in an established institutional context.

Here are some of the things we can do:

1. Organize a scientifically valid sky search to track the movement of unknown objects. This is easily accomplished with existing equipment, and could cover the whole of the United States, the western hemisphere, or even the whole planet. We would soon gain useful statistical knowledge about what was happening. We would be able to determine the meaning of these movements, and explore the possible motives behind them.

2. Stop rejecting the testimony of close encounter witnesses and gather it in a methodical manner. This would lead to a profile of just what happens during a typical encounter experience, and possibly to insights into what such experiences are, and why they happen.

3. Do research into physical traces left in our bodies. If there was national screening for implants, using simple techniques such as radio frequency detection, magnetic field detection and x-ray of people who are found to be emitting radio frequencies or to have magnetic fields, we could build a profile of who is being tracked, and, quite possibly, come to understand why.

4. We could use new brain scanning techniques while witnesses known to have physical traces in their bodies narrated their experiences, that would enable us to determine which parts of their stories were derived from actual, physical experiences and which were not.

Doing just these four things in an organized and scientifically sound manner would gain us a great deal of new knowledge. We might be able to at least surmise what the visitors might be doing to us, if not to draw any conclusions about what they are or where they come from.

So, a first step requires only the most minimal disclosure and a small change in national policy. At present, there are already a number of members of the scientific community, some of the highly placed, who have had close encounters. Without even admitting the source of their interest, these people could come forward to lead investigations, if the field began to be treated with respect. At present, they obviously cannot come forward, because it would ruin their careers.

If that changed, it would almost certainly be found that the visitors themselves have already put in place a scientific team that can take our understanding of our relationship with them to a new level.

Will Barack Obama make these changes? I have no idea. I am not close to him and I don’t know anybody who is. However, he is an intelligent and careful man, and perhaps if he should be briefed on this subject, the proposal outlined above would be of interest.

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