Editorial

UFO Transparency Works Both Ways

It’s hypocritical for the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies to use a public letter to ask Congress for UFO openness and then redact all the signer’s names.

Bryce Zabel
Apr 18 · 5 min read
Can you ask for transparency if you refuse to give it yourself?

The above screen capture shows the redacted names of 55 members of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies who have signed a letter to the chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, namely Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio. The SSCI is the committee that’s given the Office of the Director of National Intelligence until June 25 to come up with a public report on UAP.

To be absolutely crystal clear, those names were not blacked out by the U.S. Senate or some government bureaucrat hiding behind the Freedom of Information Act. No, they were blacked out by the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies in their recent public release of their own letter. Hold that thought.

The body of the letter tells these senators that SCU members “appreciate your commitment to transparency and openness in government, something we deem vital to science, democracy, free enterprise and progress.”

There is an incredible irony to appreciate here:

The SCU has redacted the names of 100% of all the signers of a public and promoted letter written to the U.S. government to petition for more openness and transparency.

That letter calls for the Senate Intelligence Committee “to release more information on UAP to the scientific community.” It goes on to state, “The SCU believes that all government data regarding unidentified aerospace objects should be made available to the public to be openly investigated by the broader scientific community.”

On the subject of transparency: The Scientific Coalition for Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP) Studies, or SCU, is composed of scientists, engineers, former military officers, law enforcement personnel, and others with scientific, technical and investigative experience. These are good people who want this mystery solved. No one has an issue with any of them or their motives.

Moreover, I’m a SCU member myself, and gave my permission for my name to be included on this letter when asked last February. I never imagined that my name and the names of the others who signed would be redacted. If I’d been told this was the plan, I would have immediately objected. The optics here are just horrible. My expectation was that I was going on-the-record and so were my co-signers.

This bizarre choice on redaction by the SCU is a self-inflicted blunder. Here is the link to the SCU Press Release from Jonathan Lace, SCU’s Public Information Officer. In its second paragraph, the press release says this about the 55 signers of the letter:

Their names have been redacted in the public letter for privacy reasons.

What? Isn’t the power of this letter in the careers, experience, education and training of the people who signed it? It’s not like SCU is a household name that carries institutional weight with Congress or anyone else.

What SCU is trying to say here is that the actual letter they sent to Congress had the unredacted names but the public letter has had them blacked out. This is an odd parsing of the situation, but it is certainly a familiar argument for people involved in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. They get redacted document after redacted document that clearly do not look transparent or open. In fact, many of them look like this:

The comparison is not a good look, is it?

In the world of UFO/UAP reality, redaction is the symbolic look of the cover-up. It reminds us that someone who should share information is refusing to do so. Yet SCU claims the high ground in their press release. They did this for “privacy reasons.”

There is no right to privacy in a “public letter” that demands more transparency of its recipients, written to U.S. senators, released on Facebook, Twitter and by email, sent to the media for publicity, and co-signed by 55 members of an organization. People who sign such a letter would be naive to expect that their signature will be treated as a secret. That’s just not how it works.

It is hypocritical to demand openness while not being open about even the identities of the letter writers. Would SCU argue that the Declaration of Independence should have also been redacted to protect the right to privacy of the signers?

I know that some may push back, saying that these scientists might suffer a chill in their careers from an establishment that doesn’t really want to grapple with this issue. That, of course, is a personal issue. If there are signers who are worried about such matters, they should support their organization in other ways, but not sign its public correspondence. Public petitions and letters should be, well, public.

If the argument is that it takes guts to speak truth to power, then so be it. It’s 2021 and the time for showing guts is now.

All SCU members who signed that letter should immediately let the organization know they want their names used in the public square. If they can’t say that, then their names should be removed.

The SCU should immediately release an unredacted letter.

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