I feel like I should say something about the press conference held at the National Press Club yesterday in which several very old men shared familiar stories alleging that UFOs deactivated American nuclear missiles in the 1960s. But what, really, is there to say about it? The press conference, similar to one that UFO researcher Robert Hastings held at the same venue in 2010 to promote his 2008 book about UFOs and nukes, included some of the same people who gave the same accounts in 2010, including Robert Salas, who has spent decades alleging that he witnessed a UFO deactivate missiles in Montana in 1967. Salas arranged this week’s news conference but offered nothing new beyond attempting to link events from 1967 to the more recent Navy videos of blurry blobs alleged to represent superior technology.
The stories are old and familiar because they’ve been told over and over again on the UFO circuit, from Unsealed: Alien Files to Ancient Aliens. What the stories still don’t have is evidence.
The alleged incidents have been explained many times in the past. The supposed incidents occurred during a period when America’s nuclear missiles transitioned to a new system that was later found to be vulnerable to interference from UHF signals. The supposed “UFO” efforts to deactivate nuclear missiles ended in the 1970s when the military installed EMF filters.
That’s what make it so bizarre to see these old stories trotted out again. Salas claimed that he did so because of the recent U.S. government UFO report, whose half-assed non-conclusions he took to represent a serious acknowledgment of an otherworldly threat. “I have certainly never seen anything like this before,” Salas said. “This is real. It’s not visionary, it's not swamp gas, and so where do we go from here?”
Robert Jacobs, who has long claimed to have filmed a UFO at Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1964, went further and alleged a conspiracy of silence. “Have we been ignored? For God sakes, we’ve been shut up and silenced,” Jacobs said. “We’ve been ridiculed; we’ve had our lives disrupted. This is more than just being ignored. We’ve been treated like imbeciles.” Jacobs has been so silenced that he has only told his story in movies and on national television since 1996, including on Ancient Aliens, Sightings, Larry King Live, and just this summer on Unacknowledged. He is, of course, a regular on the UFO festival and lecture circuit, where he tells large paying crowds about being silenced.
Jacobs sold his story to the National Enquirer a long time ago, so he has also long profited from his claims.
Between the Enquirer and Ancient Aliens connections, it was hard to take the news conference seriously, but Tucker Carlson did. He and Washington Examiner reporter Tom Rogan, who covers the UFO beat, both tried to spin this rehash of a rehash into something important by alleging that the government UFO report gave new credibility to the old stories that had circulated without evidence around UFO media for almost thirty years. They did not, however, explain how the Navy’s UFOs connected to the alleged nuclear incidents, nor did they do much to acknowledge that the UFOs either stopped or were stopped from disabling nukes in the 1970s. A half-century-old event is not an imminent crisis, no matter how hard Carlson tried to spin it with a chyron reading “Shocking new claims at today’s UFO nuclear weapons conference.” There were no new claims. The chyron reading “Nuclear connection with UFOs has been verified by the U.S. government” is particularly misleading since there is no federal report to that effect.
Rogan alleges that the government has classified information about nuclear connections, but since it is unacknowledged, that can’t be it. Lue Elizondo alleged in a recent podcast that his AATIP coffee klatsch (George Knapp’s new book claims AATIP was never a formal program but mostly an unfunded UFO fan club run by Elizondo) agreed with the nuclear connection because of … wait for it … the book Robert Hastings wrote and then promoted at his 2010 National Press Club news conference. Rogan, on Carlson’s show, also cites Hastings as his source.
The story, however, did play perfectly into Carlson’s favorite paranoid themes—about invasion by an alien Other, about fears of American decline, and about mistrust of the federal government. The stories are perfect fodder for Carlson’s audience, a sci-fi analogy for the nativist, bigoted conspiracy theories he spews nightly.
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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