‘A glowing red orb’: Wild UFO theories move from the shadows to CongressMay 18, 2022
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) says he doesn’t believe that a secret cabal of government officials and contractors are hiding a captured alien spaceship.
But he wants to make sure — so that we can all move on to more serious business.
One of the most eye-popping moments during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on UFOs on Tuesday was when the Wisconsin Republican pressed Pentagon officials on claims that a “glowing red orb” once shut down nuclear weapons in Montana and that a recently leaked document revealed that other-worldly vehicles — and possibly even extraterrestrial bodies — are being kept from government leaders and the public.
Gallagher was quickly dubbed a hero on #UFOtwitter for having the guts to finally hold national security officials accountable. Others expressed surprise that a sitting congressman was willing to go there, given the lack of corroborating evidence in the public domain and the overall topic’s pop culture saturation with science-fiction fantasy over fact.
But the retired Marine Corps officer who also sits on the House Armed Services Committee says it’s time to set some of these wild theories to rest.
“The quicker DoD can disconfirm certain hypotheses that they should be able to easily disconfirm, the better we can focus time and energy on more plausible hypotheses,” he told POLITICO on Wednesday.
During the hearing, Gallagher asked Ronald Moultrie, the top Pentagon intelligence official, and Scott Bray, the deputy director of naval intelligence, whether they were aware of an unverified 2002 document known as the “Wilson-Davis memo.”
The document, which emerged publicly in 2019, purports to reveal a secret meeting with the then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency outlining a labyrinth of secret government programs hidden from top officials and congressional oversight committees about crashed UFO materials and efforts to reengineer the technology.
The claims have been hotly debated among ufologists but never corroborated. The DIA director at the time, Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, has reportedly denied it all. Numerous national security experts and researchers have also dismissed it as a hoax.
But one of the other primary individuals cited in the document, astrophysicist Eric Davis, has not directly addressed it in public, only fueling suspicions that there might be something to it.
And Davis alluded to the possibility of some of the claims contained in the alleged memo as recently as last year in an interview in The New York Times.
Davis, who is now a senior project engineer at the government-funded The Aerospace Corporation, has declined several POLITICO requests for interviews.
“There’s nothing we can offer or help out with on your request,” a spokesperson for the federal think tank said on Wednesday.
As for Moultrie and Bray, they told Gallagher that they were unfamiliar with the Wilson-Davis document.
But in a separate line of questioning by Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), the witnesses denied any knowledge of UFO material in government custody.
“Are we holding materials organic or inorganic that we don’t know about?” Himes asked.
“When it comes to material we have, we have no material,” Bray responded.
The fact the document was even broached — and then entered into the official hearing record — was shocking to those who have followed the saga.
“In my work in museums, provenance is everything,” said Taras Matla, a researcher at Harvard University’s Galileo Project and associate director of the University of Maryland Art Gallery, where he specializes in art and UFOs. “There’s some indication that the Wilson memo was, indeed, drafted by Dr. Davis. However, there is zero supporting evidence that the content is true or that they even met in Las Vegas on that day. Admiral Wilson denies the meeting occurred.”
Nevertheless, he said he believes it contains information “that warrants more investigation” and said Davis should come forward.
“Now that this is a part of the record,” Matla said, “I think Dr. Davis has a responsibility to explain himself to Congress and the public.”
John Greenewald, founder of The Black Vault, which has obtained declassified national security documents, including on “unmanned aerial phenomena,” also described Gallagher bringing up the document as a “face palm moment.”
“I feel these types of fringe stories hurt the overall conversation,” he said in an email. “The UAP topic has some amazing, and officially verifiable, information that warrants a closer look more so than that ‘memo’.”
But he also maintained that if Gallagher or others feel differently, “I fully support putting people that come up in these types of stories under oath and getting their side.”
Gallagher also raised eyebrows by asking about a high-profile report of a “glowing red orb” that was reportedly observed over Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana in 1967, “in which 10 of our nuclear ICBMs were rendered inoperable.”
Government documents made public in the ensuing years also suggest that a technical malfunction, however rare, could have been responsible.
“I have heard stories, I have not seen official data on that,” Bray responded.
“I would like you to look into it,” Gallagher said.
“We’ll go back and take a look at it,” Bray agreed.
“I was happy to hear Congressman Gallagher bring that up,” said Robert Salas, an Air Force missile officer at the base at the time who has spoken publicly since 1996 about the pair of reported incidents that took place eight days apart.
“I’m hopeful they will give me a call so I can give them a briefing,” he said on Wednesday. “Even at my own expense, I’d come to Washington with supporting documents and even bring a couple of witnesses with me.”
The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, which required the Pentagon to establish a more permanent and comprehensive effort to collect and analyze UFOs reports, singled out UAP incidents “associated with military nuclear assets, including strategic nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered ships and submarines.”
But Greenewald isn’t sure how reopening a case from more than 50 years ago will help solve the much more modern UAP mystery.
“People like me would love for the DoD to turn into instant ufologists knowing everything going back to the 1940s. That’s just not what this is all about nor is that who they are,” he said.