This article originally appeared on VICE US.
How do you make the government take UFOs seriously? With a UFO lobbyist, of course.
In December 2017, the New York Times wrote about a de-funded secret Pentagon UFO program called AATIP, and revealed that several Navy pilots in 2004 and 2015 engaged in bizarre encounters with anomalous aerial objects off the coast of California and Florida. Eventually, three videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena” were released and have since been confirmed by the Navy as real.
For years, Steven Bassett was Capitol Hill’s lone UFO lobbyist. He became a registered lobbyist in 1996 and set up an advocacy organization, the Paradigm Research Group (PRG), which has the goal of using “all means possible to confront the United States government regarding its policy of a truth embargo on the events and evidence demonstrating an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race and the formal acknowledgement of that presence,” according to Bassett’s website.
“It's not about UFOs. The term is a product of government propaganda in service to the truth embargo and no longer of value,” Bassett told Motherboard. “It's about extraterrestrials and the Disclosure process.”
For those not fully immersed in Ufological culture, “Disclosure” is the total and final admission by the government that extraterrestrials are not only visiting Earth, but that there is a massive government cover-up to hide the truth from the public. The UFO community has even taken to Twitter to raise awareness of the Disclosure process for the 2020 election with the hashtag #askthequestion.
“A significant percentage of all people on Capitol Hill are convinced there is an ET presence. They are just not able to speak to it—publicly,” Bassett said.
Bassett’s PRG organization has recently hired Teresa Tindal, another registered lobbyist who is now also fighting for greater transparency about UFOs. Like Bassett, Tindal is convinced that extraterrestrials are visiting Earth and interacting with humans. She believes that the government is complicit in a massive cover-up.
“The cat’s out of the bag and politicians will be looking to control the issue,” Tindal told Motherboard. “It is, after all, the most powerful political initiative as it affects absolutely every aspect of life. Polls show most people believe in ET life.”
Bassett and Tindal are like the Mulders of the UFO political process, but there is always a Scully. Not everyone who pushes lawmakers to deal with the UFO issue in DC is convinced that aliens should be on the agenda.
“At no time do we or have we mentioned extraterrestrials. We are simply ensuring our government does not fall victim to ‘strategic surprise’ by the technology being displayed by [Unknown Aerial Phenomena],” Luis Elizondo, a former intelligence officer who was involved in the Pentagon’s UFO hunting Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, told Motherboard. “Whether it be from Russia, China, allies, or little green men. Our efforts focus on the national security and technology aspect; not ET.”
Elizondo explained that he is not a registered lobbyist, nor does he consider himself to be a lobbyist of any sort.
"Our efforts in Washington are focused on facilitating the flow of information from where it resides to those individuals in key leadership positions in order that they can make a well informed decision. Whether it be one focused on national security, defense, science and technology, or diplomacy, ensuring our elected leaders and those assigned to key positions have the latest and most complete picture is something we believe is critically important," Elizondo said.
Elizondo currently works for former Blink-182 lead singer Tom DeLonge, and his company To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science. He also appeared on the History Channel’s newest UFO hunting show, Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.
“We simply don't know at this point if non-human technology is even part of the equation,” Elizondo stated. “It is a nonsensical assertion at this point in time because we simply need more data to even make that initial assessment.”
Elizondo’s boss, To the Star’s founder Tom DeLonge, has made his personal beliefs clear on the issue. In his book, Sekret Machines: Gods, co-written with Peter Levenda, DeLonge sums it all up by arguing that humanity was visited by aliens in its distant past, and that all human culture is one big “cargo cult.”
While the official party line of the To the Stars’ political lobby may be devoid of the extraterrestrial narrative, Bassett doesn’t buy it.
“The ‘To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science’ team are operating under certain conditions laid down by those still inside who are providing cover. No classified content released. Non-disclosure agreements must be honored. Do not talk ‘extraterrestrial.’ Why? There are factions inside the [military industrial complex] opposed to the TTSA project and would stop it if they could. Therefore restraint is required—for now,” Basset told Motherboard.
TV personality and UFO researcher Chase Kloetzke also works in Washington as a lobbyist meeting with lawmakers about ‘the phenomenon.’ The issue all of the lobbyists face, Kloetzke explains, is that UFOs are considered sensitive information.
“This topic is now in the hands of the Pentagon, military strategists and intelligence agencies. It’s all classified. To be part of ANY discussion in DC about UAPs, you need a security clearance,” Kloetzke said in an email. According to Kloetzke, she has “spoken to senior staff for seven lawmakers and two Senators.” While she is unsure as to how much progress she has personally made, she is convinced that To the Stars is a key player in all this and that the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program is “still in play.”
“I realized years ago that any kind of Disclosure or Confirmation will only be ‘Official,’ if it comes from DC. I do this because of the evidence and facts that we can now present to start the process of public information,” Kloetzke said. “We have unknown objects in our skies. Confirmed! The question now, and the only questions right now are ‘What are these objects?’ and ‘Who are the pilots controlling them?’”