Anyway, the op-ed is your standard line about government needing to do more to demand UFO answers in order to determine the true origins of various objects sighted in the sky. There are, however, a couple of moments in the op-ed that stood out for me, and I’d like to talk briefly about them—briefly enough that I will still have time to get back to my copyediting work on my mound builder book.
The first is the grandiose notion Mellon has of To the Stars, which has inflated in his telling from a UFO infotainment company to a national security think tank:
One entity with which I am involved — To the Stars Academy (TTSA), an organization of former U.S. intelligence and national security experts analyzing the UAP phenomenon — has placed notional legislative language on its website to facilitate this discussion. While some modest manpower costs might be incurred, the TTSA proposal does not require new Defense Department funding. It also averts the spectacle of public hearings and the attendant risk of injecting partisanship or grandstanding into the process.
It's rather generous to call the company an “organization of former” U.S. policy experts since the company, by its own admission, has fewer than a dozen employees. Their board, which is as large as their payroll, includes, by my count, six or seven former U.S. government officials or consultants, though the exact number is hard to pin down due to the ambiguity of the language used and the scope of some of their involvement with government. It’s hard to credit more than a handful, though, with being “intelligence and national security experts,” as the term would commonly be understood. Several appear to have orbited around the intelligence and natural security apparatus without being a direct part of its functions. Hal Puthoff specialized in poltergeists and remote viewing. Paul Rapp did medical research. Colm Kelleher worked on viruses before moving on to hunt for the Skinwalker.
I am, perhaps, more dismayed that a former Senate committee staffer is actually advocated against public hearings and accountability in favor of a written report that might or might not be classified, as the proposed legislation indicates. The idea that a former Senate staffer has such a low opinion of the Senate that he wants to circumvent the Congress by asking the Pentagon to write its own UFO report is just sad, even if you agree that Senators are befuddled fools who would confuse space aliens with resident aliens and demand to see their birth certificates.
The other part of the op-ed that caught my eye was the contrast between what Mellon is advocating as a To the Stars / History channel propagandist for “unidentified aerial phenomena” (the new, more serious name for UFOs) and what military policy and actions claim to do in protecting America’s airspace:
It is not just that the UAPs that military pilots are encountering are strange — no paint, rivets, wings, antenna, safety lights, transponders or exhaust — but they sometimes are so fast and maneuverable that they defy our understanding of physics. For example, some of these vehicles appear to withstand forces of acceleration far greater than maximum design limits of any man-made aircraft. No wonder some military witnesses — often pilots who are scientists or engineers themselves — actually lean toward the hypothesis that they are not from this world. Like all good scientists, these pilots recognize that our theories must adjust to facts and new information, however daunting, not the other way around.
Let’s leave aside the obvious problems with UFO sightings and instead consider U.S. military policy toward unauthorized incursions into U.S. airspace after 9/11. Jets get scrambled. Orders get issued to shoot down aircraft that don’t cooperate. Missile defense systems are tested in the hope of blasting missiles out of the sky. “This is critical to defending the territorial integrity of the United States, saving lives, limiting damage to critical infrastructure, and enabling operational success in regional conflict,” the Pentagon wrote in its most recent missile defense review. And yet, as Mellon well knows, these reports of unauthorized aircraft in U.S. air space raise less of an alert and less of a response than a sighting of a toy drone with a laser pointer near an airport.
It just doesn’t add up.
Mellon goes through the motions of suggesting that we might learn that UFOs are really Russian spy crafts or some billionaire’s fancy toys, but he means for us to understand them as space alien ships or interdimensional poltergeists, or whatever Hal Puthoff thinks they are this week. But I can’t get over the idea that an errant drone might panic the entire national security apparatus but (by Mellon’s count) thousands of unauthorized incursions by “adversaries” elicit no response.
The logic isn’t there, and that leaves only conspiracy theories or the more likely answer, that UFOs aren’t spacecraft or interdimensional evil or foreign attacks.
Mellon had been in a position of power in the Pentagon where he could have used his position to get answers, but he chose not to. Luis Elizondo, who was the head UFO hunter at the Pentagon and now works with Mellon at To the Stars and the History channel, similarly could have gotten answers but also somehow chose not to, and chooses not share what he claims to know will only hint at in for-profit ventures. Even Harry Reid, the former senator who actually did fund UFO research while in office, at the behest of Robert Bigelow, chose not to do anything serious about finding UFO answers until after he left office. Amazing the way the stridency of their advocacy increases with their distance from power.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.