The past few years have been filled with moments that stunned Americans—and likely all people on Earth. Just in 2016, we saw international upheaval, U.S. election craziness, and astonishing sports feats that kept everyone on the edges of their seats for most of the year. But all that wild news might have drowned out the most shocking revelation of all: high-level government discussions of extraterrestrial life.

The 2016 Wikileaks hack brought forward a wealth of emails that the media aggressively covered as they related to the 2016 election. However, one set of emails that did not get much mainstream traction were correspondences from recently deceased Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell to White House advisor-turned-Clinton campaign chief John Podesta regarding extraterrestrial life, wars in space, and something called “zero point energy.”

While interesting, this email is far from the only example of high-level government officials discussing extraterrestrial life visiting Earth. Talk of aliens is no longer something that is confined to the kookier corners of the internet or science fiction conventions—a number of serious, highly respected government officials have publicly testified about the existence of extraterrestrial life and UFOs.

While these on-the-record comments don’t get splashy headlines, they do offer some genuine insight about aliens and Earth that you may have missed while binging The X-Files.

Citizen Hearing on Disclosure

On April 29, 2013, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., an event known as the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure was staged so that eyewitnesses, activists, and government officials could share their experiences with UFO sightings and related government records with the world.

The witnesses testified to a panel comprised of five former members of Congress and a former U.S. Senator. The event was carried out as if it were an official congressional hearing, with intrigued and skeptical panel members asking questions of the witnesses before them.

While the appearance and tone of the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure was that of an actual government hearing, it is important to note that this was a privately funded event outside of the realm of any official government agency.

The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. hosts all kinds of private functions, from business luncheons to weddings. The Daily Beast reported that the panel members were each paid $20,000 for their time (after an offer of $10,000 was passed on by 55 former members of Congress). And even though this hearing is focused on transparency, the testimonies are not free or readily available—you can rent the whole hearing for $49 or purchase it for $99.

The hearing was put together by Steven Basett, the executive director of the UFO-focused Paradigm Research Group and a man whose entire livelihood is centered around discussions of extraterrestrial life and UFOs. The bottom line is that while the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure is set up to look like an impartial official government hearing, it is decidedly not one.

Even though some question the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure's credibility, it is significantly harder to doubt the worthiness and integrity of the witnesses the hearing called forward.

Witness Edgar Mitchell was a NASA astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the moon. Paul Hellyer was the Canadian Minister of Defence in the 1960s and oversaw a massive unification of Canada’s various military branches into a unified Canadian Armed Forces. Another witness, John Callahan, was a high ranking official at the FAA who was rebuffed in his attempts to research a UFO sighting over Alaska in 1988.

These government officials were among many others who were willing to go in front of cameras and former members of Congress and share their stories and beliefs.

Simulated Hearing, Real Testimony

Over four days, the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure sought to build a case that there is valuable information that the U.S. government, along with other international leaders, are withholding from their people about UFOs and extraterrestrial life.

Shouldn't the government be honest and forthcoming?

The first day of the hearing showcased experts who reported on the supposed history of a government information blockade. All experts used the platform to advocate for “disclosure,” the umbrella term that refers to the revelation or declassification of the government’s files on UFOs and extraterrestrials.

By framing the request as an issue of institutional transparency, rather than focusing on little green men, the advocates are able to present their argument to broader range of citizens. “Shouldn’t the government be honest and forthcoming?” is an easier question to ask the average American than “Don’t you want to see the flying saucer pictures?”

The testimonies offered at the hearing were as astonishing and as pensively delivered as one may expect. NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell said, “We have a history that I am aware of, particularly starting with the Roswell incident, but even long before that, we have been visited by visitors from different star systems and different planets.”

Mitchell said that his focus was not just whether or not there is intelligent life, but how exactly the governments and people of Earth should respond to it and “rethink this whole issue of being here on this planet at this point in time.” Mitchell’s goal was to prepare humanity for the undeniable fact that “we are not alone in the Universe.”

Former Canadian Defence Minister Paul Hellyer spoke definitively about the importance of trust between a government and its people, saying that the true currency of the 21st century will not be printed money or gold; instead “it will be trust.”

Hellyer agreed with Edger Mitchell's sentiments: “We are not alone in the Cosmos. We have neighbors. We should try to get to understand them and to try to cooperate with them.”

For Hellyer, this was not the first time he would speak publicly about alien visitors to Earth. In fact, Hellyer even has an explanation for why the decades after World War II brought about such an increase in UFO sightings.

Aliens and the Atomic Age

In the 1951 science fiction film The Day The Earth Stood Still, an alien named Klaatu travels to Earth to tell its people to halt its path of nuclear weapon proliferation. Klaatu and his robot enforcer GORT were among some of the very first science fiction heroes to grace the silver screen.

But according to Paul Hellyer, there is some truth in this Hollywood tale of flying saucers and killer theremin music.

In an interview with Russia Today, Hellyer was very clear about why humans saw a spike in UFO activity in the postwar period—“of course there has been a lot more activity in the last few decades, since we invented the atomic bomb and they are very concerned about that.”

Hellyer claims that what happens on Earth in regards to nuclear weapons has the ability to affect others around the universe because “the Cosmos is a unity.” Hellyer also offers up, in great detail, some of the politics and protocol of extraterrestrial visitors. He explains that aliens will not interfere in Earth’s affairs unless they are invited to, but also that they are “very concerned…they don’t think we are good stewards of our planet.”

In this interview, Hellyer also lists some of the different kinds of alien species that he has learned about through research. He begins by saying that there’s “so much evidence, if anybody will take a time off to do a little bit of research and study,” but that people are too quick to dismiss most literature on the subject as fantasy.

Two types of aliens that Hellyer describes are known as “Short Grays” and “Nordic Blondes.” The Short Grays are what most people identify as “aliens”—short in stature, gray skin, a sizable bulbous cranium with two large dark eyes.

The Nordic Blondes, on the other hand, are very humanoid and have features like those from the Nordic regions of Europe: “They could walk down the street,” claims Hellyer, “and you wouldn’t know if you walked past one.”

These are just two of the species from the potentially “more than 80” Hellyer has read about, but supposedly these two types have had more interaction with the people of Earth.

Facts, Science Fiction, and the CIA

Hellyer’s interview and testimony—if taken as truth—are pretty shocking. And, like most reports of alien activity or UFO sightings, they can be somewhat quickly dismissed as the result of an overactive imagination, an eagerness to believe that we are not alone in the universe, or the words of someone who is just losing their grip on reality.

But it is worthwhile to keep in mind the stature of the individual. Hellyer was a significant force in the Canadian military and government in the 1960s; it might not be too far-fetched to put him on par with Colin Powell or Canada's Wesley Clark. For an individual of this reputation to be willing to go on the record about such things may certainly be worth noting.

The same could be said for John Podesta, a man who worked for multiple presidents, acting as Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton and counselor to Barack Obama. Podesta has not been as definitive as Hellyer and gone on the record saying aliens exist, but he has committed significant resources and political capital to furthering the cause of UFO disclosure champions.

In a forward for the book UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On The Record, Podesta argues that the U.S. should set up a “small government agency” to work with other countries regarding research of UFOs. He writes that it is time for “government, scientists, and aviation experts to work together in unravelling the questions about UFOs that have so far remained in the dark.”

One of Podesta's achievements after his time in the Obama White House is the posting of over 12 million declassified files, covering everything from UFOs to canned CIA plans to use telepathy for military purposes, on a readily searchable online portal known as CREST. The UFO files do not reveal anything new, other than the fact that the CIA kept exhaustive tabs on nearly every UFO sighting around the world.

The newspaper clips and images are easily searchable, covering teens in Texas photographing strange lights in 1967 and a letter from an intelligence secretary at the CIA to the Secretary of Defense concerning a scientific report on UFOs in relation to national security. While the release of these documents are not the bombshell revelations that disclosure advocates pine for, they do show more government cooperation in the field than has been offered in the past.

Where No President Has Gone Before

Had Hillary Clinton become president of the United States, disclosure advocates would likely have rejoiced, as it would have given them a powerful White House ally in Podesta (Podesta served as Clinton's campaign manager). However, that reality was not to be.

The disclosure community is split on the likelihood of President Trump helping their cause. Some point to his “political outsider” image as a cause for hope, while others have pointed out that neither Trump nor the Republican Party have given any indication they care one iota about bringing more UFO data to light. In fact, the current president has shown that he is less and less interested in government transparency across the board.

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The disclosure fight and talk of UFOs and aliens have been a fringe topic of the journalism community for some time. But the willingness to talk from figures like Podesta, Mitchell, and Hellyer has done much to shed more mainstream light onto this mysterious subject that is usually relegated to sci-fi cable marathons and alien fan clubs.

Are they all insane? That is a question that along with with “Are we alone in the universe?” can likely only be answered in time.

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