At Gaithersburg Conference, JFK Conspiracy Author Alleges Feds
Hide Facts on Extraterrestrials
But a Local Political Hopeful Gets the Main Spotlight
By Ira Weintraub
Special to the Sentinel
Hundreds of people from the United States and around the world
converged on Gaithersburg last weekend for the first conference
dedicated to the government's alleged suppression of data about UFOs
The "X-Conference: the 1st Annual Exopolitics Expo" at the
Gaithersburg Hilton was organized by activist and former political
candidate Stephen Bassett, who finished a distant last in the 2002
election for Maryland's 8th Congressional District.
His goal for this convention was the same as for his 2002
campaign. He wants to "reform, revise and open up" the U.S.
"This is not a UFO conference; it is not about lights in the
sky," Bassett said. "It is about lies on the ground."
Bassett says there are "tens of thousands" who believe in a cover
up. A 2002 poll conducted by the research consulting firm Roper ASW
revealed "that 72 percent of Americans believe the government is not
telling the public everything it knows about UFO activity, and 68
percent think the government knows more about extraterrestrial life
than it is letting on."
Participants came to the meeting from Massachusetts, California,
Montana, Florida, and many places in between. Others came from the
United Kingdom, Switzerland and other foreign countries. In all,
over 700 people participated in the convention, and they spent at
least $40 per day to listen to dozens of speakers, including the
renowned author Jim Marrs, author of "Crossfire: The Plot that
Killed Kennedy," the book on which Oliver Stone's movie "JFK" was
Marrs has also published numerous books more directly relevant to
the conference's central theme, including "Rule by Secrecy" and
"Alien Agenda." He spent his Sunday lecture covering materialsome
apparently based on factthat included not only the first supposed
UFO sightings, of which the government was alleged to be aware, but
also numerous other alleged government conspiracies regarding
Communism, World War II, secret societies and the Bush family.
According to Marrs, while John F. Kennedy was still a
congressman, he was informed about alien sightings at Roswell AFB in
New Mexico. As president, Kennedy visited Area 51, a military base
in Nevada, to gain further information about the Roswell incidents,
but was told by local Air Force officials that nothing had happened,
Other speakers, all of whom are published authors, included Dr.
William J. Birnes, a best-selling author; Paul Davids, the movie
producer and writer (Showtime's "Roswell"); and Richard C. Hoagland,
science advisor to Walter Cronkite and CBS News.
Only true believers seemed to be in attendance. At any rate, if
any conference attendees were skeptical about an extraterrestrial
presence, they remained silent. The majority were interested in
learning about how politicians are handling the issue.
"I'm so glad they're working on this topic; too bad it is such a
cover up," said Christine Murphy, who drove over ten hours from
Redford, Mich., to attend the three-day conference.
"My eyes have really opened up to politics [this year]," Murphy
said, "This is the place to be to learn more." Murphy, a mother of
three, became interested in extraterrestrials and UFOs in the1960s.
Other attendees did not have to travel as far. Mark Thompson, 49,
of Silver Spring, has been interested in the topic for over 10 years
and was excited when he found out about a weekend opportunity right
in his backyard where he could learn more.
"It is nice to have something like this come to Washington,"
The convention even drew international media attention; a camera
crew from Swiss National Television was among the nearly 60 members
of the media in attendance.
Bassett held the conference in Montgomery County not only because
it is near his Bethesda-based headquarters, but also because of the
proximity to Washington and his target, the federal government, a
body which, two years ago, he was attempting to join.
Bassett got on the 2002 election ballot as an independent
candidate by receiving over 5,000 signatures from county residents.
And although he only received one percent of the vote finishing
third behind winner Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) and incumbent former
Rep. Connie Morella (R) he became the first candidate on a federal
election ballot to campaign on a platform based on the alleged
presence of extraterrestrials and UFOs.
With his political aspirations behind him, Bassett spent the past
seven months planning the event, the largest conference of any kind
regarding extraterrestrials and UFOs on the East Coast.
Basset made it clear that he plans to continue raising awareness
about the topic to which he has dedicated his career. Bassett is
executive director of two extraterrestrial-centered organizations.
The Paradigm Research Group, the Bethesda-based company he founded
in 1996, is a research company focusing on teaching about the
extraterrestrial and UFO phenomena. The Extraterrestrial Phenomena
Political Action Committee (X-PPAC), also founded by Basset, is the
first political action committee in history to directly target the
politics of this issue.
His ongoing project is to raise money to fund a Citizen Hearing,
a mock-congressional hearing, to discuss the extraterrestrial
phenomena and the alleged government cover-up. The government
refuses to hold meetings about UFOs and extraterrestrials, Bassett
said. But he hopes to have at least five former congressmen
"If the U.S. government won't hold a hearing, we'll hold one for
them," Bassett said.