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UN and Rockefeller UFO initiatives Citizen Hearing transcripts

Open Minds journalist, Antonio Huneeus, is one of the panel members speaking at the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure this week. Today he presented to the committee of 6 former congress members on the United Nation’s UFO initiatives, and on the Rockefeller UFO document he helped author. You can read the text of his testimony below.


Good afternoon, distinguished members and panelists of the Citizens Hearing on Unidentified Flying Objects, UFOs. My name is Jose Antonio Huneeus and I am a Chilean-American journalist who has been actively involved in covering the mystery of UFOs and its hypothesis of extraterrestrial, ET, origin—other theories are also possible and should be considered—for the past 37 years. My very first article on this topic was published in a small New York newspaper on July 4, 1977, coinciding with the beginning of my professional career as a journalist in the United States. I was born in this country but my family was from Chile. My father worked for several years in the United Nations, in the early formative years of this international body, during which time I was born in New York in 1950. After graduating from high school in Santiago in 1969, I went to Europe and took a semester on French language and civilization at the Sorbonne University in Paris, and later studied journalism at the University of Chile in Santiago.

I worked for a while as a science journalist for a weekly magazine in Santiago and also wrote regularly for a daily newspaper in the mid-seventies, where I was one of the first journalists in Chile to cover ecological or green issues on a regular basis. This was, however, a period of great turmoil in Chile following the military coup of September 11, 1973, the first time that fateful date shows up in modern  history, I might add. So I took the decision to claim my U.S. citizenship and move to this country, where I have lived ever since, first in the Washington, DC area, then New York for some 25 years, back to the Beltway where I lived in northern Virginia for about three years, and now the Phoenix, Arizona, area, where I moved in 2009 after I was hired to work as a full time paid journalist and editor of Open Minds magazine, and also a writer for our website, openminds.tv, and other production and research activities in ufology for the company Open Minds Production.

The subject of UFOs is a contentious one where many different views and attitudes coexist, sometimes in a friendly manner, sometimes in a more acrimonious way. But there is no doubt in my mind that there is at least one conclusion we can and should all agree: UFOs are definitely a global phenomenon, they are sighted visually, on film and on radar, reported, investigated sometimes officially, sometimes by private organizations, and covered by both the local and international media all over the world. It doesn’t really matter what is the culture, language, religion, ethnic origin and level of development and technological capabilities of a country, UFOs have been reported everywhere, from Alaska to Chile and Argentina in the Americas, all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and the oceans. There are well documented cases in many parts of the world, including Brazil, France, Iran, Russia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and many other countries. Regardless of what turns out to be the final origin of this mystery, it has a great potential of unifying the different and often divided parts of the world. The reason is simple. No matter how big our ideological, religious or cultural differences are, we would all tend to unite in the face of an unknown, possibly extraterrestrial presence. It is for this reason that some efforts have been made over the years to bring this subject to the attention of the United Nations Organization. This international body, despite its flaws, is the only organization that truly represents all the nations of this world, and so it seems to be the logical place where this issue could be dealt with in a global formal and legal manner.

I will outline briefly the history of UFOs at the United Nations, a subject that I know very well first hand since I personally attended as a journalist the famous historical UFO Hearing before the UN Special Political Committee on November 27, 1978. This was the result of a two-year lobbying effort by sir Eric Gairy, the Prime Minister of Grenada, a small Caribbean island which had gained independence from Great Britain in 1978. I am submitting for the record a long article detailing the history of UFOs at the UN which I published in the third issue of Open Minds magazine in 2010.

Grenada’s UFO proposal was first raised officially by Prime Minister Gairy and Grenada’s UN ambassador Wellington Friday at a meeting of the UN General Assembly Special Political Committee on November 28, 1977. Grenada proposed the “establishment of an agency or a department of the United Nations for undertaking, coordinating, and disseminating the results of research into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and related phenomena.” Grenada made further statements on November 30 and December 6, 1977. In an earlier speech in October, Prime Minister Gairy disclosed his own sighting: “I have myself seen an unidentified flying object and I have been totally overwhelmed by what I have seen.” As a result of all this effort, on December 13, 1977, “the General Assembly adopted Decision 32/424,” which acknowledged, “the draft resolution submitted by Grenada.”

Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim duly forwarded “Decision 32/424” to the member states by a “note verbale” on March 13, 1978, however, only three governments responded (India, Luxembourg, and Seychelles) and only two specialized agencies (International Civil Aviation Organization and UNESCO) replied with a flat “no comments to offer.”

Undeterred, Grenada launched a new offensive in 1978 with the help of one of the original NASA astronauts, Gordon Cooper, among others. A group of recognized experts was assembled by Gairy to testify at a hearing before the Special Political Committee on November 27, 1978, which became the high point of the Grenada initiative. Besides Sir Eric Gairy and Ambassador Friday, who was now Grenada’s Minister of Education, the hearing included testimony by astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the former scientific consultant for the U.S. Air Force Project Blue Book who went on to found the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), Dr. Jacques Vallee, Stanton Friedman, who is present at this Citizen Hearing, and a first-hand witness account by Lt. Col. Lawrence Coyne of the U.S. Army Reserve on his famous October 18, 1973 UFO-helicopter near-collision in Ohio. A letter of endorsement by astronaut Gordon Cooper, who was then working for the Walt Disney Company as vice-president of research & development for Epcot, was read into the record. Besides mentioning his own sighting and views on UFOs, Cooper wrote that “we need to have a top level, coordinated program to scientifically collect and analyze data from all over earth concerning any type of encounter, and to determine how best to interface with these visitors in a friendly fashion.”

At a meeting of the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1978, Decision 33/426 was adopted with the same heading to the previous Decision 32-424, “Establishment of an agency or a department of the United Nations for undertaking, coordinating and disseminating the results of research into unidentified flying objects and related phenomena.” The Grenada initiative was gradually opening the door to UFOs at the UN, but unfortunately, the effort came to an abrupt halt when the Gairy government was overthrown by a Marxist revolution led by Maurice Bishop of the New Jewel Movement in March 1979. Ironically, Gairy was in New York to meet with Kurt Waldheim regarding Decision 33/426 when the coup took place.

Some minor efforts to rekindle the UFO initiative at the United Nations were attempted by civilian investigators since the Grenada coup of 1979, but with no success whatsoever because only a sovereign member country can bring this issue back officially to the UN and no government has done so since the Grenada initiative of the late seventies. The good news, however, is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The UN Decisions 32-424 and 33-426 are already on the books and could be revived if there was a political will.

In closing these opening remarks, I want to make a few important points. While it’s true that the majority of UFO sightings have mundane explanations, a fact recognized by most competent investigators and scientists, if you really study with an open mind the extensive data bank of UFO cases collected worldwide during the last six decades, you will find a small percentage of truly puzzling incidents that defy any conventional explanation. The prevailing view among most researchers and the media is that these cases have an ET origin, but this is not the only explanation. Other theories including inter-dimensional or multiple universes have also been advanced. Even time travel has been proposed–in other words, UFOs would be our own devices from the future coming back in time for unknown reasons. I realize all this sounds like science-fiction, but think for a minute. Didn’t you see people talking to each other at huge distances while viewing themselves on a screen in lots of sci-fi movies from the fifties and sixties? Well, this happens now every day through Skype in the internet. Similar examples can be multiplied ad infinitum.

What is important is to look at all the data without any preconceived ideas or beliefs. The late Dr. Hynek used to say that UFOs were likely signaling the next scientific revolution. But we will never get there if we don’t the study the phenomenon in a truly comprehensive and unbiased way and, I might add, with the proper resources to do so. The political implications, or exo-political as it’s now referred, are even bigger. The alien can become a catalyst to unify the people of Earth, to realize that mankind must grow way beyond our current limitations if we are going to survive and prosper in the future. Many believe that open contact will never happen in an open way unless mankind’s level of consciousness makes a significant jump.

Let me finish with an appropriate quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Thank you very much.

The Rockefeller UFO Initiative

Throughout most of the 1990s a significant amount of UFO-related research was funded by the billionaire philanthropist Laurance S. Rockefeller, yet with a few exceptions this was mostly unknown by the general public, the media and even the majority of the ufological community. It was also ignored by the mainstream world, who chose to ignore this unconventional side of one of the Rockefellers. His long official biography posted online by the Rockefeller Archive Center doesn’t mention any of his UFO, paranormal, new age and consciousness-oriented interests, and neither did the long obituaries published by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other mainstream publications when he died in 2004 at the age of 94. And yet these activities were not a small, inconsequential part of the philanthropist’s life—he seemed to have spent quite a bit of time thinking, meeting people and funding research in the period going from the late 1980s to 2000. Without access to his financial records, there is no way of knowing how much money he spent, but it must be around a few million dollars at the least.

Although I never met him personally, I know something about it because I had the opportunity of working first-hand in one of Laurance Rockefeller’s sponsored projects, the UFO Briefing Document – The Best Available Evidence, a special report published in December 1995 sent to the White House, selected members of Congress and VIPs, which is now available for free at the openminds.tv website. Rockefeller’s activities, in fact, went beyond funding into actual lobbying at the highest level—President Bill Clinton and the First Lady and current Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Long before the term “exopolitics” was in vogue, Laurance Rockefeller was practicing it in the White House from 1993 to 1996. This has come to be known as the Rockefeller UFO Initiative, a multi-pronged campaign to get the U.S. Government to release sensitive information on UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The initiative is documented in hundreds of pages of correspondence released a few years ago by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These documents can be accessed at the Paradigm Research Group website.

I am enclosing a long article describing all the various facets of the so-called Laurance Rockefeller UFO Initiative published in the Open Minds magazine number six, February-March 2011. It is not necessary to go into the biographical background of Mr. Rockefeller in this short presentation, except to note that he was one of the original grandsons of the founder of the dynasty, John D. Rockefeller, that he was obviously extremely wealthy and well connected, that he had studied philosophy at Princeton and was quite a visionary even in business, where he seemed to be always ahead of the curve, backing aeronautics in the thirties, electronics in the sixties and conservation and environmental efforts throughout his long career. Although the mainstream chose to ignore it, his intense interest in UFOs and ET issues in the nineties fits very well this pattern.

Mr. Rockefeller backed many UFO-related projects in the period between the late eighties and 2000, but for the purposes of this Hearing we will concentrate on his political initiatives in these areas. Laurance Rockefeller’s first forays into ufology started sometime in the late eighties through Dr. Cecil B. Scott Jones, a parapsychologist and former U.S. Navy Commander who had worked as Naval Attaché in Asia and at the Naval Scientific and Technical Intelligence Center. Between 1985 and 1991, Jones was Special Assistant to Senator Claiborne Pell (1918-2009), the powerful Rhode Island Democrat Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1987-1994) who was deeply interested in parapsychology. Sen. Pell was also friends with Laurance Rockefeller and both served on the board of the Human Potential Foundation, a small think tank launched in 1989 in Vienna, Virginia, by Jones to conduct “research into all conditions of humankind: physiological, psychological and spiritual.”

Many of the papers released by the White House’s OSTP come from Scott Jones, who knew Dr. John Gibbons, a physicist who worked for many years as Director of the Office of Technology Assessment for the U.S. Congress and was appointed in 1993 by the Clinton administration to direct the OSTP. What was the exact turning point of Laurance Rockefeller’s evolution from a general interest in consciousness studies into the specific area of UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence is still unclear, but the end of the Cold War and the arrival in Washington of a younger generation represented by Bill and Hillary Clinton are key factors. He felt the time was ripe for a new and fresh approach into an area that had been previously dominated by a Cold War mentality. Rockefeller recruited for this effort a long-time associate, Henry L. Diamond, an environmental attorney from Washington, DC whose links to the family went all the way back to the 1960s when he worked with Laurance in his conservation activities. Diamond also knew John Gibbons and so he was the right person to make the first contact with the OSTP chief when he sent a Memorandum on March 29, 1993 requesting a meeting:

Laurance S. Rockefeller, who is a leading U.S. conservationist, businessman, and philanthropist, is anxious to have a brief meeting with Dr. Gibbons to discuss the potential availability of government information about unidentified flying objects and extraterrestrial life. As one who has had a long-time interest in environmental and spiritual issues, Mr. Rockefeller, with other leading citizens, is planning to make an approach to President Clinton on this subject…

The details of Rockefeller’s White House lobbying effort are described in my article and also on the documents themselves posted by PRG. We know from the record that following the initial meeting with Gibbons and subsequent correspondence, the government decided to constrict the more general issue of UFOs into the specific and famous UFO crash of July 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. This incident will be discussed in detail at a later session during this Hearing. After ignoring it for decades, the Air Force had then taken the decision to finally make a big public statement, which took place in 1994 with its official Report that explained or debunked the incident as a once top secret balloon project to detect the Soviet’s first atomic bomb tests codenamed Project Mogul. This derailed to a great extent the initial Rockefeller effort at the White House, but didn’t stop him to try a different approach. By 1995 Laurance Rockefeller switched his UFO-related coordinator from Scott Jones to Marie Galbraith, the well connected wife of investment banker Evan Galbraith who was ambassador to France during the Reagan administration, Republican candidate for New York governor in 1994 and chairman of William Buckley’s National Review, among other things. Marie Galbraith and Sandra S. Wright, another well connected high society lady who ran the BSW Foundation, had come up with the idea of preparing a comprehensive UFO Briefing Document that could be send to members of Congress and VIPs in general. The original draft was written by Don Berliner, an aviation journalist and long-time ufologist with the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) in the Washington area, and I was brought in to help editing and expanding the document from a small office ran by Marie Galbraith in New York’s Madison Avenue. The final Briefing Document was finished in December 1995 but sent out in early 1996. It was Rockefeller’s and Galbraith’s idea to give the copyright to the UFO Research Coalition, a consortium of the three main American UFO organizations—MUFON, CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies) and FUFOR, whose directors endorsed the document. Copies of the report were sent to Dr. Gibbons at the White House, some members of Congress and VIPs worldwide, but there was no well coordinated effort to disseminate the document and as a result its political impact was limited.

The one exception was France due to Marie Galbraith’s extensive connections there from her U.S. Embassy days back in the 1980s. Copies of the UFO Briefing Document were sent from President Chirac down the food chain in the French government. We had received, in fact, many interesting documents and reports from the official French UFO group at the National Center for Space Studies (CNES)—then called SEPRA and now GEIPAN—and one of the Briefing’s “Case Histories” was the famous UFO landing case in Trans-en-Provence in 1981. I will have more to say about the French official UFO investigations at a later session in this Hearing. There can be little doubt that the UFO Briefing Document became the model for the COMETA Report, an important study conducted by a group of retired French generals and intelligence officers led by Major Gen. Dennis Letty. In their final 1999 report titled, UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For?, the COMETA authors praised highly the “leading U.S. personality Marie Galbraith” who was “supported both morally and financially by Laurance Rockefeller.”

Marie Galbraith was also the coordinator for a number of separate UFO-related projects funded by the philanthropist. By 1997, Laurance Rockefeller dropped the political UFO initiatives and concentrated instead on the scientific angle. A major meeting, closed to both the public and the press, was held from September 29 to October 3, 1997 at the Pocantico Conference Center in Tarrytown, NY. The chief coordinator and author of the final report was Dr. Peter A. Sturrock, an astrophysicist from Stanford University who also directed for many years the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE). The idea was to gather a group of professional scientists, many of them from Europe, and have scientifically-trained UFO researchers present the best evidence to a panel of neutral scientists. The presentations touched upon all the main scientific areas: Photographic Evidence; Luminosity Estimates; Radar Evidence; the Hessdalen Project (a place in Norway where unexplained lights have been recorded for many years); Vehicle Interference; Aircraft Equipment Malfunction; Apparent Gravitational and/or Inertial Effects; Ground Traces; Injuries to Vegetation; Physiological Effects on Witnesses; and Analysis of Debris. You can consult Prof. Sturrock’s final report on the scientific conference, The UFO Enigma – A New Review of the Physical Evidence (Warner Books, 1999) for all the details and data. Rockefeller seemed very satisfied with the results of this event that he even wrote the book’s Foreword, which became his only statement on UFOs written for publication. By 2000 Laurance Rockefeller reached the age of 90 and concentrated on his private family affairs. For all practical purposes the Rockefeller UFO Initiative and funding, whether scientific, political or philosophical, was over. But his contribution to the field was certainly extensive. We hope that other philanthropists will follow on his path and try to solve the mystery of UFOs. Both the political and scientific approaches are valid and necessary in order to understand the complex ramifications of this phenomenon. Thank you.

Antonio Huneeus

Open Minds Investigative Reporter J. Antonio Huneeus has covered the UFO field from an international perspective for over 30 years. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Japan. He was also the co-author of the Laurance Rockefeller-funded “UFO Briefing Document – The Best Available Evidence” and edited the book “A Study Guide to UFOs, Psychic & Paranormal Phenomena in the USSR.” Huneeus studied French at the Sorbonne University in Paris and Journalism at the University of Chile in Santiago in the 1970s. He has lectured at dozens of UFO Conferences all over the world and been interviewed by many media outlets including The Washington Post, the Sy-Fy and History Channels, Nippon-TV, etc. He received the “Ufologist of the Year” award at the National UFO Conference in Miami Beach in 1990 and the “Courage in Journalism” award at the X-Conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in 2007.

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One Comment

  1. I would like to note that one name Antonio left out in his UN talk was Lee Spiegel. Lee is the one who had the idea to bring a group of experts to the UN to help Gairy with his efforts. He also made all of the arrangements to make it happen.

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