Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Are UFOs real? Do extraterrestrials exist?
Five former legislators, including former Utah Congressman Merrill Cook, are about to open a congressional-style hearing and listen to testimony from 40 researchers, military personnel and witnesses to try and uncover the truth about extraterrestrial life and to address allegations of the government’s lack of transparency with regards to UFOs.
The meeting called Citizen Hearing on Disclosure will be held in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club from April 29 to May 3. The hearing committee is composed of former congressmen and congresswomen, including Cook, Darlene Hooley of Oregon, Carolyn Kilpatrick of Michigan, Lynn Woolsey of California, and Sen. Mike Gravel from Alaska.
Cook said he was asked to be on the panel and is approaching it with an open mind. Paradigm Research Group is paying him to be there, but Cook said that won’t influence him to think one way or the other.
“I’m very interested in finding out what these witnesses have to say,” Cook told KSL NewsRadio's Doug Wright on Tuesday. “I’m keeping an open mind. I told them if you’re going to pay me and if you’re going to pay the expenses in addition, don’t expect me to just fall in line with what you’d like.”
He started his conversation Tuesday by defining what UFOs are.
“The word UFO, unidentified flying object, if you just consider what it means to be an unidentified flying object, I think it’s pretty clear that they do exist,” he said.
He said he does believe that there are unidentified flying objects that have not been explained by the government, by the military, by scientists, or by people who have credibly reported on such things.
While he said UFOs exist, he called it a "real leap" to say it’s an alien life form from outer space.
“It is still a leap to be saying that a UFO is extraterrestrial or that it’s being manned by people from outer space or intelligent life or even artificial life that might have been created by intelligent life,” he said.
The hearing is organized by Stephen Bassett of the Paradigm Research Group. According to its website, Bassett is a “leading advocate for ending the 65-year government imposed truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.”
The hearing will be recorded and released as a documentary. Cook said he believes the rules used in congressional hearings will be followed during this hearing.
“What I would expect (at the hearing) would be credible evidence that there are objects in the sky that were maneuvering in very strange ways, unearthly ways so to speak, and that there’s enough evidence that would warrant a sober assessment of what that is,” Cook said.
He said he would be surprised to hear credible evidence of a person witnessing intelligent life.
“One thing I don’t expect, but it would be just phenomenal if it came,” he said with a laugh, “the idea that one of these witnesses or that there’s any credible evidence, not just of an object in the sky, but of anything extraterrestrial — be it intelligent life, or what I would more likely expect, and that’s artificial intelligent life.”
He also shared religious beliefs that would indicate that this universe does have intelligent life beyond this planet.
“I don’t know that. I can’t prove that,” he said. “It’s a matter of faith, sort of speak. It’s not something I would go out and try to scientifically prove, but I think we should stay open-minded, because some of the most unbelievable things that are now so commonplace were not believed 500,000 years ago.”
While there are reasonable national security reasons for secrets, the government at the national level has gone far beyond that, he said.
“There should be very few (secrets) and only if there is a compelling national interest at the national level and a compelling law enforcement interest at the local level,” he said.
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