Alien Metal Update: 2009 Harry Reid Letter Released as To the Stars Launches "Project ADAM" to Study Supposed Extraterrestrial Metals
If you have ever wondered why exposing the lies and the fraud of fringe history matters, just consider the alternative. We learned recently, as I reported this Sunday in my newsletter, that a teacher in the Miami-Dade Public School system posted to the official school district website a lesson plan [UPDATE: since removed from the internet] endorsing Ivan Van Sertima’s claim that the Olmec came from Africa, along with Gavin Menzies’s claim that the Chinese reached America before Columbus, and Islamic claims about a Muslim presence in pre-Columbian Cuba. (That last one was endorsed by Turkish Pres. Erdogan.) The lesson plan asks students to research fringe history claims and then write a persuasive letter to the publisher of their social studies textbooks asking for pseudo-historical ideas to be included. Both Andy White and Carl Feagans wrote about this, and I recommend their posts. The story was first shared on Facebook by Pablo Benavente, whom I thank for calling our attention to this travesty.
Meanwhile, the saga of the so-called “alien” metals currently being promoted by To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science continues apace. Regular readers will remember that at the request of then-Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Pentagon ran the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program from 2007 or 2008 to 2012 in which they contracted billionaire UFO loon Robert Bigelow to investigate “aerial phenomena,” i.e. UFOs. Employees of Bigelow Advanced Aerospace, the division that worked with the Pentagon program, as well as former employees of Bigelow’s previous paranormal investigation organization now make up a significant part of the payroll of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy, which is continuing Bigelow’s research.
Recently, Las Vegas journalist George Knapp, who used to work for Bigelow investigating the paranormal at Skinwalker Ranch, and who helped to convince Harry Reid to fund the UFO program, recently released a 2009 letter from Reid about the program. (A transcribed copy, with some analysis by Keith Basterfield, can be found here.) I am shocked, mind you, that Knapp was able to obtain a world exclusive on documents sent by the senator he has known personally for years concerning the work done by his former employer with whom he is still closely aligned—and all while routinely failing to disclose his conflicts of interest as a participant in, rather than a neutral observer of, the Bigelow story.
Anyway, the letter, addressed to then-deputy defense secretary William Lynn III, does not mention UFOs and instead describes the program as one intended to investigate potential aerospace technology that could be used in the next forty years. Reid alleges that “much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace related findings,” and he asks Lynn to restrict access to information from the program due to its sensitive nature. As should be obvious, this means that the program was not restricted and not considered sensitive before then. Reid further claimed that the identities of individuals working on the program should be kept confidential to “avoid unnecessary scrutiny.”
Those who believe that that government is hiding actual knowledge of UFOs have read this letter to confirm that there was a secret effort to reverse engineer UFO technology, but the text of the letter equally well supports a different cover-up—Harry Reid’s effort to use government secrecy to carry on “investigating” UFO fantasies without having justify interest in the bizarre to voters or taxpayers. In other words, Reid, a UFO believer himself, clearly understood that UFO research would be embarrassing and/or humiliating to the Democrats in the run-up to the 2010 midterms (which they lost anyway) and wanted, in so many words, to keep a lid on the pork he had helped dole out to his friends in Nevada. Ad Reid wrote, “Public awareness of an industry's AATIP affiliation may discourage that industry's further participation with the US Government in this program.” That’s not because a company worried about being attacked. It’s because everyone recognized that hunting UFOs is embarrassing and potentially damaging to a company’s reputation and sales. After all, Hal Puthoff recently listed the studies commissioned by Bigelow Advanced Aerospace under AATIP, and alongside studies of stealth technologies it featured fantastical topics and many papers by Hal Puthoff and Eric Davis, both of whom are looney tunes who think UFOs are psychic vibrations that carry poltergeists to haunted houses.
As I read the letter, whatever real science AATIP was doing (and there must have been some, if only the way alchemists occasionally stumbled on parts of chemistry) was secondary to the concern that public awareness of Pentagon UFO research would dry up the lucrative gravy train transporting taxpayer dollars to pork-barrel projects associated with Bigelow Advanced Aerospace and possibly other friends of Sen. Reid and his colleagues.
The other key passage in the letter involves Reid’s claims about the science involved, claims that (a) he ought not to have had more information about than the deputy defense secretary and (b) he doesn’t seem to understand:
Associated exotic technologies likely involve extremely sophisticated concepts within the worlds of quantum mechanics, nuclear science, electromagnetic theory, gravitics and thermodynamics. Given that all of these have the potential to be used for catastrophic effects by adversaries, an unusually high degree of operational security and read-on discretion is required.
This discussion is clearly of a piece with claims from To the Stars and Bigelow Aerospace about the way that the alleged “meta-materials” they are investigating (some of which have been identified by others as earthly industrial waste) have ultra-mundane properties that defy gravity and quantum physics. The only information publicly shared about this, however, shows metals acting exactly as expected when exposed to large electrical currents.
The most conservative reading of the statements about AATIP’s mandate to investigate propulsion and lift for advanced aerospace vehicles is that the people working on the program watched so-called UFO videos and then tried to back-form engineering solutions to imitate what they believed (but, obviously, had no actual physical evidence to prove) were alien or interdimensional ships, a sort of folie à deux between science and the military. Thus, real engineering developments might have emerged from efforts to duplicate a complete fantasy, sort of like the way science fiction has inspired actual technologies meant to meet the fantasy.
But here is the important part: Reid is telling this to the deputy secretary of defense as though it is news. How did Reid find out about what the secretary didn’t know? This creates a problem with one likely solution. If, for example, Reid learned of this from briefings by AATIP officials, then the secretary should have already known as well, since he is their boss, and would not have needed Reid’s goofy letter to convince him to restrict the program. Even the most dull-witted bureaucrat would recognize that UFO technology probably needs protection. Instead, it sounds like Reid received his information from Bigelow Advanced Aerospace, especially since this passage appears immediately following Reid’s claim that “protection of industry partners” (i.e. Bigelow) should take precedence.
The letter ends with an odd set of orders telling the Defense Department how to arrange and organize its affairs. Reid says “we require” the Pentagon to assign “a small, specialized group of Dod personnel” to the restricted program, and the list of those privy to the information is telling. It involves Harry Reid himself (!) another UFO-believer senator and a redacted list of industry partners, which is, almost certainly, Bigelow’s people. I am not familiar enough with Congressional affairs to know if senators routinely micromanage Defense Department programs, but this seems like it would be unusual to have a senator trying to make staffing decisions.
In short, the letter does not, as ufologists have claimed, represent proof of a government effort to reverse-engineer UFOs. Instead, it appears to be Sen. Reid’s efforts to get special treatment for Bigelow’s group and the fantastical claims—made without concrete evidence, as we have recently learned from revelations by Hal Puthoff and Eric Davis—that Reid came to believe were true. Remember: Bigelow Advanced Aerospace adopted the view proposed by Puthoff and Jacques Vallée in the 1970s that UFOs are ultra-dimensional and are in league with poltergeists. This is not science. It is total and complete fantasy. It always has been, since there remains no evidence that poltergeists ever existed, let alone that they pop out of flying saucers and fall to earth like spectral frozen toilet water from passing ghostly airliners.
As this story unfolded, DeLonge’s To the Stars announced the next stage of its incestuous research into industrial waste masquerading as UFO wreckage. It came in the form of “Project ADAM,” an effort to analyze materials “reported” (by whom?) to come from UFOs which were collected by “private citizens, foreign aerospace investigatory committees, aerospace operators and government organizations. As these materials have come to light, they can be made available for inspection.” Can be? Well, will you or won’t you? Or does it depend on how much you get paid?
Read between the lines and you’ll see that To the Stars is describing the scrap metal they obtained from Bigelow Advanced Aerospace and the pieces analyzed by Jacques Vallée and Hal Puthoff outside of To the Stars. The use of the passive voice in the announcement is interesting, hiding as it does who exactly claims the metal to be extraterrestrial. “Government organizations” is also an odd turn of phrase, not typically associated with government departments or agencies. I wonder what hides behind the phrasing. The Condon Committee, a quasi-government panel, analyzed some such metal in the 1960s, and the FBI analyze the Maury Island debris in the 1940s, and both concluded the remains were earthly. The CIA referenced some wreckage in the Third World that locals claimed to be from a UFO in the 1960s and 1970s, but it was most likely debris from the Soviet space program.
To the Stars contracted with EarthTech International to investigate the metals. This is important because EarthTech is the company owned by Hal Puthoff, an ex-employee of Bigelow, the current VP of To the Stars, and the originator of the belief that UFOs spawn poltergeists. That’s bad enough, but what’s worse is that EarthTech was already involved in the fiasco since it examined Frank Kimbler’s piece of scrap metal that Kimbler believed came from the Roswell UFO. As Kimbler reported years ago, EarthTech slow-walked the results but in 2011, as AATIP funding dried up and the program shut down, suddenly Bigelow Advanced Aerospace and EarthTech became newly interested in the metal and offered cash money for the rights to analyze it.
This occurred right at the time Harry Reid inserted language into the Fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization Act creating the National Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada as one of only a handful of national museums, affiliate branches of the Smithsonian. The museum housed—what else?—a scrap of metal supposedly from a UFO that crashed in the Soviet Union, which it labeled as an “authentic alien artifact.” And who deposited this metal in a Smithsonian museum? Ex-Bigelow employee George Knapp. Knapp claimed to have additional pieces of Russian UFO metal, but their location wasn’t revealed. I can make a pretty good guess where they are now.
It was a clever ruse, really—Reid raises the museum’s level to a Smithsonian national museum. Knapp deposits the metal. Now suddenly the “Smithsonian” has crashed UFO wreckage.
Reid has visited the museum several times since he joined it to the Smithsonian, and the museum named its exhibition hall after him.
Bottom line: Harry Reid is not to be trusted in these matters because he is complicit in whatever is going on behind the scenes and, by his own statements, completely in thrall to the bizarre ideas about UFOs that Puthoff has been promoting for the past forty years.
By the way, my coverage of the alien metals story has earned plaudits from no less an authority on the weird than the Fortean Times, whose August 2018 UFO column offered this rather odd endorsement of my reports on To the Stars and strange metals: “Mr Colavito is particularly entertaining for his forays into pottymouthdom combined with despair and assiduous sleuthing. Much recommended.” Yes, that’s me: Swearing and existential despair. But there isn’t really that much swearing, except occasionally for emphasis. The despair, I suppose I have to cop to.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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