|Monday, October 04, 1999
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
ALIEN ENCOUNTERA business
consultant starts a political action committee to lobby Congress to reveal
any government information about the existence of
Donrey Washington Bureau
Stephen Bassett doesn't look like an "X-Files" agent.
His teal Polo shirt and wrinkled dark
dress pants don't look like the attire of someone who wants to reveal the
existence of extraterrestrials.
Bassett has undertaken what he calls the politics of UFOs and not by
chasing flying saucers or walking through crop circles. Bassett's mission
is taking him to what some would call a much more sinister place -- the
halls of Congress.
business consultant and former physicist is a self-proclaimed pioneer, the
nation's first UFO lobbyist. Working on a shoestring budget from his
aunt's house in Bethesda, Md., Bassett is director of the Extraterrestrial
Phenomena Political Action Committee.
Many are calling his ideas a little out of this world. Bassett isn't
letting that stop him from shooting for the stars.
In a political town bustling with more
than 4,500 PACs jockeying for congressional support, X-PPAC seemed to
Bassett the best way to make progress in what he calls "one of the most
significant issues of our time."
fundamental goal is formal disclosure by the government of the presence of
extraterrestrials," Bassett said.
Modestly launched over the summer, X-PPAC hasn't hit the ground running as
fast as Bassett would have liked. The committee was announced on Nevadan
Art Bell's Coast to Coast, a popular late-night radio show given to
discussions about UFOs and things that go bump in the night.
Bassett hopes to stir up more attention
through a series of public appearances, interviews and lectures scheduled
throughout the year.
It's a daunting
effort for a man who has spent most of his career developing corporate
strategies, designing Web sites and advising research organizations. Since
graduating from Eckerd College in Florida in 1970, Bassett has worked for
the Environmental Protection Agency, worked in marketing and founded his
own research group, Paradigm Research.
His PAC, which consists of himself and an assistant director -- both
unpaid -- doesn't compare with lobbying heavyweights like AARP or the
National Rifle Association. So far, he has raised about $1,000 in
In Bassett's plan, the
culmination of his effort will be a Capitol Hill rally next spring calling
for open congressional hearings about the existence of UFOs. He hopes to
draw at least 100,000 people: enough believers to fill Washington's RFK
Memorial Stadium -- twice.
"A rally of
one or two thousand is not enough to make a statement," Bassett said. "We
need to have a rally that will reflect the importance and power of the
will focus more on lobbying for government disclosure rather than
endorsing presidential or congressional candidates. Very few politicians
are willing to "promote the politics of UFOs," Bassett concedes.
Bassett eyes the Internet as his mail
tool. With its foreboding black background and giant silver X's, his Web
site, found at www.x-ppac.org, looks as dark as the conspiracy he seeks to
During the Cold War, the
United States built up a massive secrecy infrastructure regarding UFOs,
Bassett contends. He hopes to get information released about those
secrets, including information about Area 51, the secret Air Force base in
Southern Nevada. The UFO movement contends the Groom Lake base is the
center of extraterrestrial activity and may contain evidence of aliens.
A lawyer familiar with the site said
X-PPAC may hurt efforts for public disclosure about Area 51. Jonathan
Turley -- who represented employees alleging they were exposed to harmful
and toxic materials while working at the government base -- said he has
tried to distance himself from such groups.
"The government benefits from the
distraction of the extraterrestrial debate. I don't want to be associated
with that," said Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.
Political experts find the idea of a
UFO lobbyist a little hard to swallow. Once the novelty dies down, X-PPAC
probably won't last too long, one University of Maryland professor
"They'll maybe get a pittance
or some cute stories from the media," said Paul Herrnson, who teaches
politics and government. "Given the nature of their theme, it'll be
difficult for them to get much further."
Bassett and his allies admit a ridicule
factor exists for supporters of the UFO movement. They maintain the media
and the government have undermined the issue through misinformation.
"When you say UFOs, people immediately
think of the `X-Files' or `Independence Day,' " said Paul Nahay, X-PPAC's
assistant director. "I'm trying to get people past that initial stage."
The growing interest in UFOs and aliens
is evidenced by the popularity of television shows and movies, Bassett
"There is a lot of mainstream
interest and belief in the existence of aliens," he said. "The support is
Others see X-PPAC as an
indication of how frustrated Americans have become when dealing with the
"Money talks in
Washington. That's why so many groups set up PACs," said Gary Ruskin,
executive director of the Congressional Accountability Project. "It just
shows how deteriorated our democracy has become.
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|Printable version of this story
Stephen Bassett, the 52-year-old chief of the nation's first UFO
lobby, the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee, hopes to
reveal the existence of aliens through rallies and congressional
Photo by David Holloway/Special to the