Harry Reid is no longer the master of the US Senate, but he remains a master of understatement.
When I asked him to describe the recently released official government report acknowledging his perplexity over more than 140 sightings of unidentified flying objects, he was a man of few words.
Reid replied by text: “The report is really SLIM.”
Lauren Bacall was thin. The chances of the Pirates winning the World Series are slim. What I know of the universe is thin. At nine pages, the official government report is a glorified haiku.
Talk about the image of the literary economy. I kept downloading it thinking I was missing something.
The government, Reid continued, “has not been significantly involved. I’m glad I exposed the UFOs. If I had not done so, we would be really without knowledge on the subject.
But how much more do we know given the government’s collective scratch?
Produced at the request of Congress by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the report states that the US government is unable to determine the origin of 143 UFO sightings, many of which were by Navy pilots. Also referred to as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), the mysterious sightings could have been atmospheric events, flying waste such as balloons or plastic bags, craft flown by foreign adversaries, or, ahem, of extraterrestrial origin.
Much has been done by the final potential source of the UFO report: “Other”. The report indicated that encounters that fell into this category were either too brief to offer anything close to a conclusion. In other words, they don’t know if there is the the.
The report, it should be noted, collected sightings from 2004 to 2021 and found no evidence that UFOs / UAPs were being exploited by extraterrestrial beings. The report, as noted earlier, is sorely lacking in detail.
“I believe there has been an effort to get people to believe they’re working on it, which they’re doing, but they’re not doing it very well,” Reid said in an interview. “I think this report is very minimal and shouldn’t be unique. They must continue to work on this. It must be an ongoing evaluation.
Even with its shortcomings, some of the report’s statements cannot help but be sobering.
An example: “Some UAPs appeared to remain stationary in high winds, move upwind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, with no perceptible means of propulsion. In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems have processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with PSU observations. “
The difficult to explain movements were reported by witnesses in 18 incidents. Although private companies were seen as potential sources of unidentified phenomena, they were eliminated as possibilities. So it’s not Elon Musk who laughs.
As a senator, Reid helped facilitate $ 22 million in indirect funding for the UFO / UAP presence. Much of the funding went to Las Vegas-based Reid real estate developer and political contributor Robert Bigelow, who has spent decades and millions of his own money pursuing the UFO phenomena.
Bigelow defines the term “true believer”. In a 2017 interview with 60 minutesBigelow not only spoke of his obsession with UFOs, but added his belief that they had visited Earth before, telling Lara Logan, “There has been and there is an existing presence, an alien presence. And I’ve spent millions and millions and millions – I’ve probably spent more as an individual than anyone in the United States has ever spent on this subject. “
Reid is proud of Bigelow’s efforts to help fund the search for answers to UFO / UAP phenomena. Ironically, Reid might not have found himself in the midst of the intriguing public-private partnership if it had not been for the budget-cutting efforts of his former Senate colleague Richard Bryan, who in 1993 succeeded in fund NASA’s latest research for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) program called High Resolution Microwave Survey.
At the time, Bryan remarked, “To date millions have been spent and we have yet to pocket a single little green guy. Not a single Martian said to take me to see your leader, and not a single flying saucer sought FAA approval. … This will hopefully be the end of the Martian hunting season at the taxpayer’s expense.
Two years later, Reid met in private in Las Vegas with Bigelow and others interested in pursuing the confirmation of extraterrestrial life and the UFO / UAP issue.
Now the government has admitted that it has looked into the matter and found things that it cannot explain. In a world in which UFOs and alien beings are steeped in culture and religious beliefs, there is no shortage of support for the continued pursuit of the ever-elusive “Other”.
“I think there’s a big appetite for that,” Reid said. “People are terribly interested in what these UFOs are, or they are not. And at this point with the work they’ve done, we don’t know what they are. We don’t know what they aren’t. And I think it’s very important. If we stop it now, we are accomplishing very little.
One of the report’s great accomplishments is something many previously thought impossible: it provided Congress, one of the world’s great centers of bloviation and verbosity, with an example of literary understatement. This is not a trip to Forbidden planet, buddy, but that’s no easy feat.
Frankly, I think the government’s report is the best thing that has ever happened to those who yearn for the existence of alien life and the answers beyond the stars.
By confirming what she doesn’t know, these nine pages give way to an endless universe of possibilities.
John L. Smith is a longtime author and columnist. He was born in Henderson, and his family’s roots in Nevada date back to 1881. His stories have appeared in Time, Readers Digest, The Daily Beast, Reuters, Ruralite, and Desert Companion, among others. It also offers weekly commentary on the Nevada public radio station KNPR. His latest book, a biography of iconic Nevada political and civil rights leader Joe Neal, “Westside Slugger: Joe Neal’s Lifelong Fight for Social Justice” is published by University of Nevada Press and is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of a new book, “Saints, Sinners, and Sovereign Citizens: The Endless War Over the West’s Public Lands”. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.