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Important PolySci Paper On Government "UFO Taboo"

From: Brad Sparks <RB47x.nul>
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2008 23:42:05 EDT
Archived: Sun, 03 Aug 2008 08:22:00 -0400
Subject: Important PolySci Paper On Government "UFO Taboo"

Yesterday two U.S. political scientists, Profs. Alexander Wendt
and Raymond Duvall, published a lengthy 27-page political science
paper, in the journal Political Theory (dated Aug. 1), analyzing
the reasons why governments (with few exceptions such as possibly
France) are not taking UFOs seriously:


August 1, 2008
Political Theory, Vol. 36, No. 4, 607-633 (2008)
DOI: 10.1177/0090591708317902
c. 2008 SAGE Publications
Sovereignty and the UFO

Alexander Wendt
The Ohio State University

Raymond Duvall
University of Minnesota

Modern sovereignty is anthropocentric, constituted and organized
by reference to human beings alone. Although a metaphysical
assumption, anthropocentrism is of immense practical import,
enabling modern states to command loyalty and resources from
their subjects in pursuit of political projects. It has limits,
however, which are brought clearly into view by the authoritative
taboo on taking UFOs seriously. UFOs have never been
systematically investigated by science or the state, because it
is assumed to be known that none are extraterrestrial. Yet in
fact this is not known, which makes the UFO taboo puzzling given
the ET possibility. Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben,
Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, the puzzle is explained by
the functional imperatives of anthropocentric sovereignty, which
cannot decide a UFO exception to anthropocentrism while
preserving the ability to make such a decision. The UFO can be
"known" only by not asking what it is.


I can email PDF copies of the paper, for those interested.

They conclude that the "UFO taboo", as they call it, is due to
fears by governments that the UFO, as a _possible_ not
necessarily proven manifestation of ET visitation, is a threat to
their sovereignty, to their power and control. Even though the
authors say one would think that governments would be interested
in at least investigating UFOs, as a possible national security
threat, they do not. They say the modern state does not want to
even investigate UFOs since even the admission of the
possibility of UFO reality can diminish their power and control
over their people.

They say that science follows along in the footsteps of the
modern state in perpetuating the UFO taboo because the UFO
threatens our anthropocentrism, our uniqueness in the universe.
Thus scientific anthropocentrism undergirds the political
controls that initiated and continue to enforce the UFO taboo.

A down to earth way to put their thesis is that governments are
run by small-minded, rigid bureaucrats who cannot tolerate new
ideas, and are too limited in their imagination to allow for
"other realities." To government martinets anything exotic such
as UFOs which represent even the remotest possibility of alien
governments constitute a threat to their rigid control of their
own earthly domain. Thus state bureaucrats internally suppress
the possibility of UFO reality by trying not to even think about
it, or failing that, reacting in kneejerk fashion to put down any
openminded discussion or inquiry into the subject.

The authors are familiar with the UFO literature. They cite
Hynek, Vallee, McDonald, Condon Report, Sturrock, Jacobs, Sagan,
Swords, Brenda Denzler, Gerald Haines, CSICOP, SETI, JSE, JUFOS,
and many others. They cite the late John Mack as inspiration for
the paper, but they wisely do not discuss abductions, only the
UFO phenomenon in general. They refer to a few UFO cases such as
the Belgium F-16 radar UFO with the 40 g's acceleration (p. 624),
and to Roswell (p. 614), but generalize the UFO as a challenging
subject that leaves physical traces, is recorded on radar and
film, hence is not merely a myth which can safely be ignored.

In fact, they maintain that UFOs are more of a challenge to the
modern state and our society than God, because God does not seem
to threaten or intervene in our existence and has been relegated
to a safely non-scientific realm, unlike UFOs and in spite of
efforts to dismiss UFOs as pseudoscientific. They stress that
UFOs do intervene and do leave physical traces that could be
investigated by science. They say that "if science does its job
properly, the resistance [to UFO reality] should break down and a
serious effort to identify UFOs eventually [should be]
undertaken" (p. 624).

Wendt and Duvall are careful not to equate UFOs with ETs. They
explain quite rightly that the existence of the UFO, which they
have little doubt about, raises the _possibility_ that it is due
to ET activity. In fact, they consider several of the strongest
arguments in the arsenal of the UFO skeptics and show that these
arguments do not even "come close" to warranting the all-too-
 common outright rejection of ETH (p. 614) citing Vallee,
McDonald, Hynek and Swords as their authorities.

They nicely rebut each of the following skeptical arguments
against ETH and UFO reality, and I leave it to you to read how
well they do it. Indeed they sound quite like Stan Friedman here,
but he is nowhere cited and they may be unfamiliar with his work:

This is a serious intellectual effort and a very worthy
contribution to political science and UFO studies both. It is a
welcome relief from the usual vitriolic debunker treatments. It
is written in a collegial academic style without rancor. They
make very well nuanced arguments.

Wendt and Duvall have already come under criticism by some fellow
political scientists (their paper has been presented at academic
forums for about two years and was preprinted online on June 11).
They are criticized for not explaining why UFOs should be taken
any more seriously by governments and scientists than say

But unlike astrology, UFOs pose clear threats to national
security, in incidents such as the Iranian jets case of 1976
where the UFO disabled the F-4 weapons controls and jammed
communications and in apparent UFO shutdowns of nuclear-tipped
Minuteman ICBM's at Malmstrom AFB in 1967 and interference with
ICBM silos at Minot AFB in 1968. Retired NASA scientist Dick
Haines and his NARCAP project have demonstrated that UFOs (or
"UAP") pose a distinct hazard to airline and aviation flight
safety, again unlike astrology.

Wendt and Duvall have also been criticized for ignoring the
"disconfirming" evidence of US government support for the
Colorado UFO Project and SETI, which seem to critics to prove
that modern states can and do exhibit curiosity about the concept
of potential threats to their sovereignty.

But such critics ignore the political history and reality of the
Colorado Project and SETI (which is no longer government-funded)
which Wendt and Duvall do allude to. Sturrock has shown for
example, in his incisive critique of the Colorado Project that it
was a politically motivated project (he cites the infamous Col.
Hippler letter of Jan. 16, 1967) staffed with busy part-timers
and no scientist was actually devoted full-time to it during the
brief year and a half of its existence in 1966-8. Wendt and
Duvall point out that as to SETI, it deals with extremely distant
possible civilizations whereas UFOs are here, and close by, thus
posing a potential physical threat to government control that
radio signals do not (pp. 620-1).

I disagree, however, with the main thrust of the fundamental
thesis of these scholars, though I would merely reframe their
analysis, not negate it. They write, "In our view secrecy is a
symptom of the UFO taboo, not its heart" (p. 614). I respectfully
disagree here. This is an empirical historical issue, not an
abstract, esoteric, metaphysical, philosophical, sociological or
psychological issue. There are specific events in intelligence
history that determine the facts of this matter.

Wendt and Duvall assert that "no authority has ever actually
looked for UFOs" (p. 617) and that UFOs have not been
"securitized" like so many other potential threats that have had
national security and secrecy strictures slapped onto them (p.

After all the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) ordeals and even
lawsuits to pry loose government UFO documents, and uncover the
facts about USAF, CIA and British MoD investigations of UFOs,
how can one seriously contend there is no "securitization" of the
UFO subject by governments? Many documents are now being
disclosed for the first time only after a half century of
unwarranted secrecy! There are approximately 225,000 pages of
USAF UFO documents languishing in the National Archives and never
yet fully studied by researchers since their public release in

I have reviewed 100,000's of pages of AF and CIA documents on
UFOs and other subjects, and interviewed about 100 CIA
Directors, Deputy Directors, and officials in AFIN, NSA, DIA, and
other agencies, down to intelligence analyst level. Both the AF
and the CIA have "actually looked for UFOs", contrary to Wendt
and Duvall, and they "found" them.

The Army set up a UFO tracking and triangulation network around
an extremely sensitive nuclear weapons storage site at Camp Hood,
Texas, in 1949, and achieved the world's first real-time
triangulation of a UFO. The reports are in the AF files (and also
some in Army, DOE/AEC and FBI releases under FOIA). The AF set up
a number of radar, camera, and phototheodolite UFO tracking
networks in New Mexico, which successfully tracked UFOs, and
went on to develop a highly classified global sensor system to
detect and track UFOs worldwide.

The AF Director of Intelligence make a policy decision on July
28, 1952, to emphasize instrument tracking of UFOs and to
disregard or discourage anecdotal UFO sighting reports
("testimonies" as Wendt and Duvall would call them). This is an
important milestone in UFO history. It sidesteps all the
contentious issues over the reliability of human testimony as
scientific evidence on a controversial subject like UFOs. It
pulls the rug out from under the skeptics, who prefer to remain
ignorant of the large amount of instrument data on UFOs
collected by the US Government, which is available with some
digging as I indicated above. Again, this shows that government
agencies have "actually looked for UFOs."

The evidence in fact shows overwhelmingly that UFO secrecy is a
symptom of the "securitization" of intelligence activities
dedicated to monitoring and investigating the UFO phenomenon, and
not due to the UFO taboo. The "taboo" is rather the byproduct of
specialized covert operations unrelated to the intelligence
investigations of the phenomenon, and is not caused by some
existential angst of government bureaucrats incapable of
contemplating the wonders of the universe or who feel threatened
by the possibility that alien bureaucrats (if they exist) might
take over their jobs.

After many years of research it is my conclusion that the "UFO
taboo", especially within the scientific community, is an
unintended secondary byproduct of US Government psychological
warfare and disinformation programs. These disinfo programs were
designed to neutralize or antagonize public opinion against UFO
reality, by introducing or reinforcing the "giggle factor." This
was done through the encouragement and spreading of false
contactee stories and alien crash rumors that bring public
ridicule down upon the subject.

My analysis indicates that except for the very earliest
propaganda operations, the CIA Political and Psychological
Warfare Staff, founded by Joseph Bryan III (who later took over
NICAP and fired Keyhoe) liked to promote contactee stories, such
as Adamski's, mostly by helping to spread and embellish existing
stories. Whereas the AFOSI Counteintelligence Division preferred
to help circulate if not invent rumors of USAF recoveries of
crashed saucers and alien bodies, which give the USAF the credit
for possessing and/or controlling an immense military advantage
in the form of this alleged alien technology. The CIA does not
want to credit the AF with anything in its UFO propaganda, as the
CIA and AF are bureaucratic enemies.

This covert rumor-mongering has had the unintended side-effect of
alienating (pun intended) the scientific community from serious
investigation of the UFO subject. The US disinformation campaign
has probably seen this turning off of the scientific community as
a welcome side benefit. It helps maintain the desired curtain of
ridicule over UFOs which might fall if the scientific community
publicly validated the subject as legitimate. But I do not see
signs that the US disinformation campaign deliberately sought to
stigmatize the UFO subject with scientists, only the public in
general, and except in the earliest days (ca. 1950-2) scientists
do not seem to be specifically targeted.

The psych war objective was to prevent foreign adversaries from
taking advantage of public "gullibility" to falsely claim that
UFOs were really, for example, Russian secret weapons more
powerful than the atomic bomb and able to fly over American
cities with impunity. The mere assertion of such a capability,
visible to numerous people in the skies overhead, by an adversary
government could have destabilized fragile war-torn nations and
weakened the U.S. nuclear deterrent. It is only the political
_perception_ of which nation is militarily stronger that matters
since the terrible weapons of apocalypse cannot actually be put
to use to decide the question.

The fear that such a Soviet propaganda campaign could actually
negate our then nuclear monopoly is recited in the TOP SECRET
USAF Air Intelligence Division Study 203 of Dec 1948/April 1949.
I discuss some of the aspects of the US disinformation campaign
in my 2007 MUFON Symposium Proceedings paper, which is available
online at the weblink below, but this is a topic that will
require a book-length treatment not possible in an article of
more limited scope:


The possibility that this long-running US disinformation campaign
is driven by the need to cover up alleged proof of UFO reality
and/or ET visitation is not really relevant here. The US
disinformation campaign would be carried out regardless whether
the disinfo agents knew the "big secret" or not, as I will
explain below. They would surely not "need to know" the
supersecrets, if any existed.

Judging from the content of the propaganda themes employed by the
US disinformation campaign (noted above), with one possible
specific early exception (ironically it is Roswell-related) there
is no evidence of any awareness by the psych war operatives of a
supersecret being guarded by their program. To the contrary,
there is a considerable policy paper trail invoking very
understandable Cold War concerns of the era (e.g., the damage to
nuclear deterrent noted in the AIDS 203 study, and in other
similar papers in that time period). Security policy and
compartmentation dictate that US disinformation agencies such as
AFOSI have no "need to know" and thus would not be cleared for
access to the most highly sensitive secrets of the nation, which
would needlessly risk a leak to the most untrustworthy and
unsavory people imaginable.

Wendt and Duvall should develop their ideas further, among other
things to incorporate the fact that part of a government can hold
secrets while the rest, which remains in ignorance, can act in
denial, oblivious to the protected secrets.

There is much to chew on in this provocative and courageous
paper. I have only touched on a few key items. I highly recommend
this article for careful reading and for reflection on the nature
of the UFO problem.

Brad Sparks

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