For years, governments around the world have been very careful to keep information gathered about Unidentified Flying Objects out of the public eye.
But finally this February, the Canadian government opened thousands of federal records covering UFO sightings between 1947 and the early 1980s. France, Britain, Chile, Russia and Denmark have also opened their files to some degree to the public.
Britain, which released its first batch of “X files” the day after the Vatican astronomer declared in May 2008 that extraterrestrial life is “part of creation,” will release more records over the next four years.
With this momentum, Alberta UFO researcher and author Jim Moroney says the time has come for governments to go one step further and make a pronouncement that UFOs do indeed exist.
“To reduce rumours and misinformation and to frame single or multiple UFO events, it would be advisable to announce that UFO’s exist as early as possible,” says Moroney, an instructor at the University of Calgary and author of The New Bridge – Planning for the Extraterrestrial Presence.
“I am convinced that it is time for us to make a considerable effort to lift the veil of fear and uncertainty about this subject and develop an appropriate response,” he says.
While the release of the files is “a good start,” Moroney says governments now need to “develop a more concrete strategic plan to effectively deal with the increasing UFO activity and the public’s corresponding increase in demands for accurate, reliable, and truthful information.”
While it is widely surmised that the reason governments keep UFO records secret is to avoid widespread panic, Moroney, who has a background in science and is executive director for the Alberta Municipal Health and Safety Association, says that’s not likely to happen. In fact, withholding information could even be counter-productive.
“From our work with disaster planning, the evidence shows that public panic is rare and most rare when people have been candidly informed,” he says.
“There is no sound scientific basis for withholding information about the UFO phenomenon from the public. In fact the evidence shows that the longer officials withhold any worrisome information, the more frightening the information will seem when it is revealed, especially when it is revealed by an outside source.”
The 9,000-plus Canadian files are different from those of other countries in that they don't only list UFO sightings but also include analyses and inter-departmental meetings of Canadian officials on the issue.
While Washington is still keeping its UFO records tight to its chest, ufologists are hopeful that President Barack Obama’s "change agenda” will soon result in the country’s huge UFO archives being released to the world.
In an interview on Larry King Live, American UFO expert Peter Davenport called it “encouraging” that some countries are opening up their UFO files, and said he hopes the U.S. government will allow those in senior positions who have been sworn to secrecy to speak publicly about what they know.
"I would look to the United States now to do the same [as other countries], and what I would like to see is somebody senior in the U.S. government, in the military and intelligence communities, say to its people, ‘If you know anything about the UFO phenomenon you are free to talk to the press and to the American public.’ That would solve the problem in a hurry.”
Moroney, who has been researching UFOs for over 20 years, says keeping the public out of the loop is “appallingly short-sighted.”
“UFO communication messages must include information about what the public can do. The public is entitled to information that affects their lives and their families. Explaining what individuals can do will empower them to participate in activities that may be beneficial to improving our understanding of the phenomenon.”
A memo in the Canadian files details a UFO sighting at Shag Harbour, Newfoundland, witnessed by an RCMP officer and six civilians on the night of October 4, 1967.
The memo describes how the witnesses reported seeing an object “60 feet in length, moving in an easterly direction before it descended rapidly into the water, making a bright splash on impact…. A single white light appeared on the surface of the water for a short period of time.”
In the U.S., one of the most remarkable sightings was the so-called “Pheonix lights wave” of 1997, in which a craft estimated to be a mile in length, along with some smaller UFOs, moved over the state of Nevada and was witnessed by thousands.
Apollo 14 veteran Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who in 1971 became the sixth man to walk on the moon, told a British radio station in July 2008 that Earth is being visited by alien beings and “the UFO phenomenon is real, though it has been covered up by our governments for a very long time.”
Mitchell referred to the famous Roswell incident of 1947 in which it is believed that the U.S. Government covered up the crash and subsequent salvage of an alien craft and the beings it carried.
However, Mitchell said that with public awareness of UFOs increasing, there are fewer efforts by governments to engage in cover ups and misinformation. He added that he thinks “we are heading towards a major disclosure” on UFOs.
“It is no longer a question of when will humanity interact with extraterrestrials, but rather the much more difficult question of how they have decided to interact with us,” Moroney says.