Why Darrell Issa Should Hold Hearings on Space Aliens
Or, what happens when six former members of Congress stop being polite about UFO disclosure—and start getting real.
Roscoe Bartlett is pissed.
"It's outrageous!" thunders the recently retired 10-term Republican congressman from Maryland. "It's outrageous!"
The source of his ire is a stack of newspaper clippings about 20 feet away from where he's standing in the wood-paneled ballroom of National Press Club in downtown DC. For the last three days, Bartlett and five other retired members of Congress have been holding hearings on the "truth embargo"—that is, the government's decades-long silence on unidentified flying objects. Next to the empty bottle of Honest Tea orange–mango Honest Ade, which he has been drinking out of a wine glass, Bartlett has a pile of stories from mainstream news sources that have dismissed the privately organized hearings. On top is a New York Daily News story featuring a photo of a woman with a headband featuring a "third eye" that, she maintains, allows her to contact beings in other dimensions. (It includes this caption: "Ex-Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (center) and ex-Sen. Mike Gravel (right) listen to testimony without cracking a smile.")
The hearings are being sponsored by the Paradigm Research Group, the nation's only organization dedicated to lobbying Washington on UFO disclosure. Its president, Stephen Bassett, is a full-time lobbyist on this front.
(MoJo readers might remember Bassett for his theory that alien technology recovered at Roswell holds the secret to stopping climate change, and for his endorsement of the Exopolitics Institute, which contends that the Iraq War was a ruse to recover an ancient interstellar portal that had been buried in Mesopotamia.)
In addition to Bartlett, Bassett recruited former Reps. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.), Merrill Cook (R-Utah), and ex-Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) to come to DC to hear testimony about aliens.
Bassett doesn't have much influence in Congress, but his organization apparently does have some money. The former members will receive $20,000 apiece for five days work.
"It helped," Woolsey says, of the honorarium. "It was nice, and I think…let's put it that way." As she puts maintains, it's standard operating procedure for retired politicians to make money on the speaking circuit; learning about UFOs is kind of like getting paid to speak to a trade association. Cook says the money was a big part of Bassett's pitch, but it's not why he's here. "Even though the fee was offered up first thing, that still didn't convince me," the barrel-chested former talk radio host says. "It really didn't." Kilpatrick called the honorarium "minuscule," adding, "And I'm appalled that someone would even raise that." Bartlett is likewise appalled that anyone would associate his participation in the hearings with the appearance fee. "It's an insult to infer that that's why I'm here." Hooley insists she's actually losing money by taking a week off from her consulting firm.