The decades long effort to open up secret government files on UFOs went viral this week when President Obama’s outgoing political adviser (and soon to be Hillary Clinton campaign advisor) John Podesta revealed that his biggest regret was failing to declassify the government’s evidence on extraterrestrial life.
If his tweet sounds like a snarky joke, it wasn’t. The former White House chief of staff has been pushing for greater transparency on evidence of UFOs for years.
“It is the one door they cannot keep closed indefinitely,” Stephen Bassett, America’s only registered UFO lobbyist, told RYOT in an interview. “Within limits he [Podesta] has tried to champion disclosure advocacy.”
Unlike other big Capitol Hill lobbyists who have millions of dollars at their disposal to influence members of Congress, Bassett is armed only with social media and an old-school fax machine in his efforts to open up the government’s records on UFOs. His most recent campaign generated over a million Facebook posts and tweets urging the government to come forward with more evidence.
“There is an extraterrestrial presence engaging us,” he said. “It’s the biggest news story in history.”
Back in 2013, Bassett famously held a citizen hearing in Washington, DC in which former members of Congress and the U.S. military spoke to the likelihood of UFOs among us. He also successfully sparked an online petition that drew a formal response from the White House.
“The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” read the response from Phil Larson, a senior advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”
Needless to say, Bassett and other ufologists were not satisfied with the White House response and he thinks Podesta could do more to push transparency efforts.
To say Bassett is passionate about the issue is a major understatement. When I interviewed him, he essentially held an impromptu 45 minute TED Talk on the politics of UFO conspiracy theories.
“What he has not done is acknowledge the Rockefeller Initiative, his role in that initiative and the role of his employer Sec. Hillary Clinton and other members of the Clinton administration including President Clinton,” Bassett said about Podesta.
So, what’s the Rockefeller Initiative? Back in the early 1990’s, Rockefeller heir and acclaimed conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller became actively involved in UFO declassification efforts. He financially supported the efforts of UFO researchers and supposedly wanted to present President Clinton with a portfolio of evidence that would convince the president to lift the veil on UFO landmarks like the Roswell Incident.
When Rockefeller met with Bill and Hillary in 1995 at his JY Ranch, Bassett and other conspiracy theorists believe he pushed the first couple to support transparency issues, including offering amnesty to any government employees who came forward to testify on UFOs. However, the White House has denied that such an exchange ever took place. Three years later, Rockefeller was in his 80’s, suffering from the onset of dementia, and the Rockefeller Initiative quietly drifted away, only popping up today on fringe UFO sites where it has become something of a legendary document.
But there’s no denying Clinton was interested in the issue, reportedly asking Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell to research UFO’s shortly after taking office. And along with Podesta, his administration was sprinkled with other disclosure proponents such as former Energy Secretary New Bill Richardson.
Clinton himself had basically been silent on the issue until an April 2014 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel when he was famously asked if he ever looked into the UFO issue.
“Sort of,” Clinton said. “First I had people go look at the records on Area 51 to make sure there was no alien down there.” Kimmel then asked Clinton if he’d tell the public about aliens if they existed. “Yeah. I would,” he said, later adding, “If we were visited someday, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Though he doesn’t have concrete proof, Bassett said he believes Clinton brought up the UFO issue on Kimmel in response to rumors that more details from the Rockefeller Initiative, and his alleged knowledge of it, were about to go public. He thinks the same reasoning is behind Podesta’s Twitter revelation, which came less than three days after Bassett sent a wave of information requests to members of Congress.
“There’s no way he can make that tweet while still serving in the White House,” Bassett said. “This doesn’t happen unless there is a very important reason. The best interpretation I can make is that Podesta and Bill Clinton have intellectually determined that the Rockefeller Initiative is about to come out.”
Unlike other big national security revelations that have embarrassed the government in recent years, Bassett argues that opening up classified UFO files could be a huge win for everyone involved.
“There is a major upside to this,” he said. “There’s money to be made, political legacies to be created. This is a positive thing.”
And while Bassett hasn’t made many friends inside the government for his efforts, he joked that, “Nobody has run me over with a truck yet.”