The US Navy’s Attitude About Releasing UFO Videos Is More Disturbing Than the UFO Videos

The US Navy confirms that three online videos showing two military air encounters with what it calls “unexplained aerial phenomena,” and the rest of us call “unidentified flying objects” are authentic, Popular Mechanics reports.

The videos are interesting, and some might find them disturbing. What’s more disturbing to me is that the Navy thinks they’re none of our business 15, or even four, years later (the incidents occurred in 2004 and 2015).

Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough tells The Black Vault website, “[t]he videos were never officially released to the general public by the DoD and should still be withheld.”

The videos aren’t classified. They just haven’t been “cleared for public release.”

No such long-term category as “not cleared for public release” should exist with respect to information generated or acquired by government.

There are legal standards for “classifying” information as “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret” based on supposed degrees of damage to national security disclosure of that information might cause.

I’m personally against allowing the state to keep secrets at all. They claim to work for us. If we’re really their bosses, we should get to look over their shoulders any time we please.

Of course, that won’t happen. But given the fact that the classification system does exist, there should also be a non-negotiable time limit within which any given piece of information must either be classified or made available to the public.

I’m not referring to deniable requests for information filed under the Freedom of Information Act. All government information not classified within 30 days of its creation or acquisition should be stored in databases that the public can search at will.

UFOs have been a matter of intense public interest since at least as far back as the 1947 Roswell incident, which still spawns rumors of alien craft and corpses held in secret government facilities.

I don’t know, and am not going to claim to know, whether we’re being visited by extraterrestrials and if so what they’re up to while they’re here. I don’t have strong opinions on which sighting and abduction stories are true and which aren’t. I’m just exactly smart enough to understand that I don’t have the information I’d need to reach such conclusions.

What I do know is that it shouldn’t be the government’s prerogative to conceal such information from the rest of us indefinitely, tell us tall tales about weather balloons and swamp gas, and offer lame “national security” excuses when caught out.

Nor are UFOs the only subject this problem touches on. The post-World War Two national security state has developed a culture of general secrecy that we accommodate at our peril. Concealing information from the public should be incredibly difficult, not a matter of course.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

48 thoughts on “The US Navy’s Attitude About Releasing UFO Videos Is More Disturbing Than the UFO Videos”

  1. Why be surprised over a 15-yr runaround cover-up over some UFO tapes? We’re still waiting for one word of truth about 9/11.

    1. “Why be surprised over a 15-yr runaround cover-up over some UFO tapes?”

      I don’t think he is surprised, I think he is horrified.

  2. Secrecy is just part of a transient society. A government that’s open and honest would need a less transient populace. We don’t have that.

    1. I’m going to generously assume that you intended some word other than “transient” rather than that you’re just blathering incoherent nonsense again. Please figure out which word you were looking for if it’s the former.

      1. “Open” was the original word I used, but I changed it to “transient” to make it easier to understand…

        Transient meaning people flowing into the US (as well as potentially out of the US), also transience within the US. It breaks down roots, community.

        Multiculturalism is also part of this. If you want a trusting, forthright society, then you want a populace that views itself as united in some sense. The US is moving towards Chicago politics. What’s Chicago known for? Corruption, lack of trust.

        My point: You want open borders. You also want an honest government that isn’t secretive. That’s not possible.

        1. I don’t think an honest government that isn’t secretive is possible under any circumstances, if by “government” you’re referring to a Westphalian Model state. But it’s certainly not any more possible in any non-open society than is any other thing related to freedom.

          1. “So you’re saying secrecy is honesty?”

            da, I think you misunderstood Thomas. I believe he was saying that a government that is honest is not possible, and a government that is not secretive is not possible, i.e. that honesty and transparency correlate, not honesty and secrecy. From every thing I have seen him write on this site, both in opinion pieces and comment replies, he values both honesty and transparency in institutions, which is why he is so skeptical of the very concept of a State.

          2. I appreciate the reply. Someday you need to write on your vision of an alternative to the current nation-state model. Otherwise, it just sounds like so much critical theory, “X is really bad, something better must replace it.”

            To the extent I’ve growled at you at this site, I’m just curious about your ideas without wanting to actually do in-depth study of the sort of books you like. Without a nation-state, I expect there’d be many pirates and so-forth. I don’t expect individuals and groups would compete fairly in the market. Currently, of course, completely fair competition doesn’t exist. I do not believe the nation-state model is the only pertinent factor.

            I’ve heard high talk by Rothbardians of what’s possible, but it seems to me a false promise, impossible hopes. While it might not be utopian, it’s equivalent in its impossibility.

          3. 1. I don’t have a particular vision of an alternative. I don’t need to decide between ice cream and pizza in order to reject a plate full of arsenic. As more than one person has noted, we won’t know what a free society looks like until we establish one and see what happens.

            2. I’m not sure what you think critical theory is. I reject its attempt to integrate the “social sciences,” mostly because I don’t accept the idea that the “social sciences” are sciences.

            3. You may not want to read a lot of books, but if I am not mistaken you’ve read Burnham. I think he accurately described the managerial state, and that the alternative ends of the Westphalian Model state are either some perpetual version of that managerial state or complete collapse of the model. I prefer the latter, and also consider it both inevitable and in motion at the present. I don’t consider utopia a necessary, or even likely, consequence of that collapse.

          4. Soft sciences can still be scientific. They’re just difficult to prove. Critical theory basically aims to undermine US society via criticism. That’s it. It promises that some unknown alternative must be better, if only US society is destroyed.

            It’s similar to Neocons arguing something wonderful will result if they can just rubblify their enemies. And people are readily united around fear of something or hatred of something; so basically in the case of critical theory it’s union around fear and hatred of the West.

          5. “Scientific” implies adhering to scientific method. The “social sciences” don’t — not because their practitioners don’t want to, but because it’s just not possible to disentangle matters into the specific falsifiable propositions that method requires.

            I don’t really care whether or not you actually look up critical theory. But if you’re going to make statements about it, you probably should.

          6. Admittedly, the social sciences cannot conduct laboratory experiments in the same manner as chemists or physists do, but the comparative study of social data both among different social systems or the same systems over time can be rigorous and objective and deserving of the label scientific. This is quite a different methodology than the historical and philosophical methods of theorizing disconnected from any empirical realities that dominated social, political and cultural debate previously. The problem with much of current “critical theory” is that it chooses to ignore the social science data available to validate or disprove its assertions.

          7. I’m not trying to put down the “social sciences.” Just because they aren’t sciences doesn’t necessarily make them bad or wrong (being “rigorous and objective” are not the criteria of science; they’re characteristics of any number of good things including science).

            There are multiple problems with critical theory, including failure to give proper weight to data. But the data produced by the social “sciences” is statistical, not scientific, data.

          8. Since when is statistical data not scientific? You draw a distinction without a difference. Rigorous statistical analysis is a completely legitimate form of scientific investigation. Climate science, for example, relies on models that are validated through statistical methods. Anywhere that large data sets are involved statistical methods are necessary to draw any meaningful conclusions.

          9. “Since when is statistical data not scientific?”

            Since words started meaning things.

            Science is a method for the disproof of falsifiable propositions (theories).

            Statistics is a tool for finding correlations.

            A microscope is a tool used in science, too. But a microscope is not itself “science.”

          10. ” Since words started meaning things” Apparently I missed the memo where someone died and put you in charge of the meaning of all the words. And it certainly true that when you make up your own definitions of words then you always get to be right. BTW, your definition of science is the Popperian view and not universally accepted by scientists and philosophers of science. You seem to be a specialist in drawing meaningless distinctions; obviously and irelevantly a microscope is not science in the same way that a pen is not literature. But without the microscope there is no science of microbiology. Statistical analysis can and is used to verify or falsify hypotheses, so even by your definit, on it meets the criteria of being a scientific activity. Climate science, epidemiology, and statistical mechanics are just a few areas of science that use statistics as their central methodology.

          11. I never said statistical analysis couldn’t be a scientific activity. I said it isn’t science. There’s a difference.

            Statistical analysis gave John Snow an idea of where a cholera epidemic was coming from (there was a strong correlation between the infection and use of a particular well). That was fantastic. It wasn’t science.

          12. You keep making those meaningless and now contradictory distinctions. In an earlier reply you said science was a method. A method for falsifying hypotheses. Yet statisical reasoning is precisely the methodology used by many branches of science to, in fact, validate or falsify hypotheses. I am left wondering what the difference is between engaging in “scientific activity” as you term it and doing science? Is it the same distinction they teach in the Catholic Church about sacraments administered by Lutheran priests: that they are valid but not licit? Seems like you are engaged in the same type of hair spliting for probably the same sorts of reasons. You are of course free to continue to insist that epidemiology and statistical mechanics are not scientific disiplines. I for one regret engaging you in sort of discussion since you, like most libertarians I have encountered, is more interested in being right than in any actual exchange of ideas.

          13. Statistical reasoning does not and cannot validate or falsify hypotheses. It establishes degrees of correlation.

            The number of non-correlations required to falsify a hypothesis is not statistical. That number is one. There is no number of correlations sufficient to validate a hypothesis.

            Statistics are great. Often they point science in the right direction. They’re not science any more than a signpost is a car.

          14. As for epidemiology, I have this argument with my wife once a week. She works full-time, and I have worked occasionally, in epidemiology. She’d like to believe it’s a science. I’m not arrogant enough to pretend it is.

          15. I think you are plenty enough arrogant for many purposes. You should head north: there has been an opening in the LaRouche organization since February for a narcissist with crank ideas about science. Feel free to have the last word.

          16. I think you guys are splitting hairs, but I think rjmcco has a point. Statistical analysis of measurable data can indeed falsify a hypothesis. Why? Because in a world where the nature of physical reality has an inherent degree of error in a measurement, statistical analysis is really the only accurate way to describe a measurement.

            When I first encountered Quantum Mechanics as a Freshman at Caltech over 40 years ago, it made me uneasy, but, my emotional resistance to accepting it as a valid description of reality didn’t make it invalid.

            In our physics laboratory classes, we very meticulously used statistical error analysis to measure the behavior, for instance, of a resonant circuit. I even remember the name of the “Bible” which explained how to use it – “The Statistical Treatment of Experimental Data.”

            Since the nature of the Universe is such that the closest you can get to certainty about observation of any physical system is an extremely high probability, but never a probability of one (or certainty), there is simply no accurate way to use mathematical modeling of physical reality without statistical analysis. That doesn’t change the fact that deterministic, Newtonian Physics is many times a good approximation to reality, and can often be used with reasonable certainty in macroscopic environments. It just means that, ultimately, any accurate description of a physical system mathematically must use statistics.

          17. Silly, of course social science is science. Best example, traffic engineering, we call it “traffic” when it is really “human behavior”.

          18. OK, please explain the falsifiable hypotheses which traffic engineering tests via scientific method.

            Traffic engineering tests correlations via statistics in a much more chaotic environment than is amenable to the scientific method.

            There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s good stuff. I like panama straw hats, too. And I know the difference between panama straw hats and umbrellas.

          19. Your statement…”I don’t accept the idea that “social sciences” are sciences”…..Science, from Websters….”systematized knowledge derived from observation, study and experimentation….”. Words do indeed mean things, like a common definition of “science”.

          20. “It’s similar to Neocons arguing something wonderful will result if they can just rubblify their enemies.”

            The difference is that neocons are proposing to destroy positive goods, such as the lives, health, wealth, and well being of foreign peoples. Those libertarians proposing destruction of the US State, are proposing to “destroy” an institution of violence, i.e. an institution which seeks to destroy positive goods. It is sort of like “destroying” the emptiness of a water glass is not removing anything tangible, it is adding something tangible, i.e. water.

          21. “I’ve heard high talk by Rothbardians of what’s possible…”

            Rothbard is reported to have said something like “we don’t know what a libertarian society would be like — we all might live in trees and eat grubs.”

            The point is that liberals and conservatives focus on achieving particular outcomes, while libertarians focus on making the process as just, ethical and moral as possible, and then accepting whatever results as essentially good from a justice standpoint.

            Yes, I have my value preferences just like everyone else, and, indeed one of the things I would hope for and expect out of a libertarian society would be more association and interaction between different cultures and economic spheres. But there are some people who call themselves “anarcho-capitalists”, such as Lew Rockwell and Hans Hoppe, who would wish for, and believe the result of libertarianism would be, the exact opposite, or exclusion of different cultures. I inherently mistrust such libertarians, because they propose using the violence of the existing State apparatus to enforce their prejudices while the State exists. Indeed it would appear from their rhetoric that using the existing State apparatus to enforce their prejudices is far more important to them than eliminating the State. This borders on, in my opinion, conservative statism rather than libertarianism.

          22. The complaint against such ideological purism is that results do matter. If thermonuclear war resulted from blind pursuit of anarcho-capitalist ideals, then it’s a stupid pursuit.

            Also, libertarians act to undermine what enables a just society. So the inevitable result of libertarian actions is and always will be: Socialism. If rejecting socialism, then one must reject libertarianism.

            It doesn’t really matter though. I’m glad this website opposes the US empire. Motives don’t really matter; actions matter, and ending the empire is a good cause.

          23. “The complaint against such ideological purism is that results do matter.”

            I never claimed results don’t matter. My basic contention is that means also matter. They matter so much that I don’t believe it is possible for liberals, conservatives, and other statists to achieve the good aspects of the societies they idealize using immoral means. The means I am referring to are, of course, the initiation of violence.

            My basic beef with conservatives is that they claim to want a society with less conflict and violence, yet they seem to say that it can only be achieved through violent and contentious means. Basically, conservatives wish to head off socialism, using the same means advocated by socialists to achieve their vision of an ideal society. It seems to me that that is impossible. Note that this was an even greater inconsistency when proposed by the anti-communist conservatives of National Review, such as William F. Buckley, who claimed that to defeat the Soviet Union, our government had to be as large and intrusive as theirs.

            If I wish to live in a society with less violence and conflict, doesn’t it make sense that I would try to reduce the amount of violence I used, directly and indirectly? Saying that you oppose the State using violence to interfere with a person’s economic affairs, and then saying that you will achieve this by increasing the State’s use of violence to interfere in the economic affairs of, for instance, immigrants, would appear to be a contradiction, correct? Am I missing something here, or am I just too simple minded to understand?

          24. To reply to just one thing: I don’t like Buckley. The Soviet Union was never a threat to the US, at least not in the way Buckley believed. The best way to “win” against the Soviet Union would have been to encourage a large middle class, otherwise to promote less government, less military, and less foreign involvement.

            In fighting the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the US, in a sense, lost everything conservatives wanted to protect. We just haven’t felt the full effects yet. War is a risk.

            Regarding the rest, I think I was misunderstood a bit. I believe libertarianism creates an unbalanced society. A few are enriched, and large companies arise; these then buy the government which is then used to expand their power. The rest of society senses unfairness, which encourages corruption, and society generally comes to demand increasingly more government social programs.

            And there are other aspects. It’s complicated. The loss of community in a more open, atomized society leads to a loss of trust. Residents then come to fear their fellow citizens more than the government, which leads to demands for limits on speech and gun rights, demands for the government to surveil the populace to protect it.

          25. “I don’t like Buckley.”

            I am aware of that. I was simply pointing out that, at one time, he represented what conservatism was for most people. It is because you see the fallacy of “big government” to defeat “big government” on the warfare issue that I was trying to draw a parallel to the same principle as applied to the less extreme issue of immigration. I see you making the same mistake on the immigration issue that Buckley made on the military issue, and was entertaining the notion that you might think about it.

          26. “I believe libertarianism creates an unbalanced society.”

            That is a classic Marxist assumption. It would appear from the history of late 19th Century that what was at the time a generally greater degree of economic liberty in the US as opposed to the rest of the world gave us the largest middle class and lowest poverty levels of any country in the world. And, of course, contemporary history would indicate that as economic liberty has waned the middle class has shrunk and the lower class has expanded.

            I know that for myself at least, life has become harder as the State has grown. While I would still be considered middle class, and not yet a poverty statistic, things such as effective medical care have become pretty much out of my reach, and this certainly isn’t caused by libertarianism or too much economic liberty.

          27. Part of that success was due to the US having great resources per capita (no overcrowding). Part was due to the US utilizing trade tariffs and bringing in a relatively homogenous citizenry. Part was due to the US being the last standing developed economy after WWII. Part was due to the religiosity of the citizenry.

          28. Marxism is correct in this instance. That’s why I believe opposing it is best done with a middle class, other things. Balance thwarts Marxism.

          29. “The loss of community in a more open, atomized society”

            I don’t consider the advent of an open society to cause atomization at all. Atomization occurs when people fear for their livelihoods and economic well being, and, therefore ultimately fear other people and attempt to interact with them less. And, of course I believe the primary cause of economic hardship to be statism.

        2. “You want open borders. You also want an honest government that isn’t secretive. That’s not possible.”

          An honest government would begin by not lying through their teeth about the immigration issue. The diversity that freedom of international travel brings to the country is a boon to both the economy and the culture. Tyranny is tyranny, regardless of the issue. Authoritarianism, of either the communist of fascist variety, is consistent with a war on immigration, but liberty is not consistent with a war on immigration. I agree with Thomas on this. If I wanted to live in a country like North Korea or China, I would try to move there. However, I do not desire that kind of country, so I am sure not going to try to make the country I live in like that.

          The only “unity” I desire in the country I live in is a general unity of belief in liberty. Any kind of “unity” which requires violence and tyranny to keep it in place is not, for me, desirable in any fashion.

          The reason I see open borders as the only position consistent with liberty, is, I admit, partly an article of faith with me. Because I believe in the law of Karma, that you reap what you sow, it seems to me that attempting to control the movement of others using State violence can only result in a greater likelihood of someone using State violence to control my actions.

          1. Or one can just ask themselves who would benefit the most by having captive labor. The race to the bottom around the world has been perpetuated by hopping from country to country demanding concessions and exploiting labor.

            Corporate authoritarianism is a real bitch. When profit means more than life itself it’s time to look at the economic system that brought society to this point.

            Walls designed to keep immigrants out are easily converted to keeping citizens in.

          2. “Walls designed to keep immigrants out are easily converted to keeping citizens in.”

            Exactly. This wall Trump is building is exactly equivalent in purpose to the Berlin Wall. It is meant to keep people from moving from a region of lesser liberty to a region of greater liberty. Those who say it is different because this wall is meant to keep people out whereas the Berlin Wall was meant to keep people in miss the whole point: both are meant to limit people’s freedoms. And you are correct, the powers we give the State to keep people out through violence can just as easily be used to keep people in.

        3. “Multiculturalism is also part of this.”

          Multiculturalism is a fact of human existence. Why? Because we are all unique, different, individuals who experience culture in unique, different ways.

          Would it make sense to say that New York City has the same culture as Dallas, TX, or even that Dallas, TX has the same culture as El Paso, TX? I certainly know how most Texans and New Yorkers would answer that question (cute sign in a Dallas restaurant: “We don’t care how you did it in New York City!”). But we can go farther than that, and acknowledge that every single one of us, in fact, has a different culture. To say otherwise doesn’t make any biological or psychological sense.

          Throughout all of history, cultures have emerged and evolved pretty much independently of political institutions. The main way political institutions have affected culture is by stunting and stultifying its natural evolution. What makes a country’s culture great is not a high degree of State violence, but rather how the people have developed a resistance to that violence over time.

          You get the picture — voluntary interaction: good, interaction forced by violence: bad.

          1. OK, but anyway, within societies people need to agree to certain standards and need to feel a part of some sense of a group. Note: “Some sense of a group” does not mean “must be purebred Anglo descendants of King Alfred who also attend an Anglican church.”

            A third, unrelated, aspect is population size and density. The greater the population, and the greater the population density of the US, the more opaque and complicated the US is likely to become.

            A fourth, unrelated aspect is I believe Christianity is important for the sort of society Mr. Knapp is wanting.

            I just wish to highlight what I believe to be a contradiction in the OP’s beliefs. The ancaps here want an open, transparent society. I just don’t believe it’s possible in the form they’re wanting. As the US becomes increasingly more diverse and more like Chicago, maybe people like me will become… increasingly irrelevant. Because, the only way the US could reform then would be to break up. Nevertheless, I notice many posters here recommend breaking up Yemen and maybe also Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, so forth. Why not apply the same rules to the US? I believe Mr. Knapp does apply the same rules, but he also generally wants open borders. It doesn’t make sense to me.

            I don’t need every aspect of everyone’s beliefs explained in full. I’m just posting my bit. I suppose alternatively I could just post general support? I mean no disrespect of course.

          2. “and need to feel a part of some sense of a group.”

            If you really believe that then why can’t you accept that this group identity can and should be chosen voluntarily? Why is it so necessary to demand that the State, directly or indirectly, must define and enforce these roles?

          3. It is voluntary in a sense. The state can declare all it likes, but there’s little that unites Americans today. Identity is a complicated topic though. You can look at Israel to see that: Jews from all over identify as part of the Jewish tribe. They conflict and yet work together.

            One problem the US faces is that different groups take different sides in global conflicts. So, for example as more Muslims move to the US, support for Israel will likely change just as it has in Europe. And Hindus might back India in a conflict with Pakistan.

            The state may declare what it likes, but people do voluntarily feel part of different groups.

            The point I was making was different, but this highlights how identities are not formed much by the state.

  3. Such “disclosures” by government are almost unexceptionably misdirections. The real question is: from what are we being misdirected this time?

  4. Journo: This shouldn’t happen!
    Audience: Ok, what should be done about it?
    Journo: I don’t know. Does it matter? Geez you guys are arrogant and annoying, etc. [proceeds to get into a long-winded, off topic debate in the comments section]

    Urinalism at it’s finest.

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