- The Washington Times - Monday, January 4, 2016

It was an unusual question, but the candidate answered it. During a campaign stop late last week in New Hampshire, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was asked her opinion about UFOs and whether the U.S. government would ever acknowledge the existence of such unearthly craft.

In a casual conversation with the Conway Daily Sun, a local paper, Mrs. Clinton vowed, “Yes, I’m going to get to the bottom of it.” She later added, “I think we may already have been visited. We don’t know for sure.” Mrs. Clinton also suggested that a future task force could be assembled to investigate Area 51, a top secret military installation in Nevada long rumored to have had dealings with UFOS.

It did not take long for the global media to pick up on the exchange. The British press in particular have seized upon the story, which also has a role for former President Bill Clinton - who joins his wife on the campaign trail this week - and former White House adviser John Podesta.

During a 2014 appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Mr. Clinton chatted about possible alien encounters, telling his host, “It may be the only way to unite us in this incredibly divided world of ours. If they’re out there, we better think of how all the differences among people on Earth would seem small if we felt threatened by a space invader.”

Government records were more on the mind of Mr. Podesta, who last year listed his top-10 regrets about leaving his White House position. His last entry on the list: “Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the disclosure of the UFO files.”

“Disclosure” here refers to transparency. A well-organized advocacy effort among certain interest groups continues to urge the federal government to reveal what’s known about the presence of extraterrestrials on or around the planet over the decades. Mr. Podesta, meanwhile, has had a UFO interest for some time, publicly calling for disclosure during speeches at the National Press Club before the Coalition for Freedom of Information in 2002 and 2003.

“I think it’s time to open the books on questions that have remained in the dark, about government investigations of UFOs,” he told his audience at the time. “It’s time to find out what the truth really is that’s out there. We ought to do it because it’s right and because the American people can handle the truth. And we ought to do it because it’s the law.”

The FBI and U.S. Air Force have released some material on the matter in recent years; national agencies in Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark and even Russia also have declassified UFO records.

In the nation’s capital, meanwhile, registered lobbyist and researcher Stephen Bassett continues his longtime quest for increased disclosure about UFOs, public sightings and possible implications for technology. He ultimately seeks a congressional hearing on the “truth embargo” and has staged numerous events at the National Press Club for his cause. Mr. Bassett also has filed several public petitions demanding disclosure through the White House’s “We the People” project, and founded X-PPAC — the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee. See his efforts here

And the big Clinton disclosure? Mr. Bassett calls it a “breakthrough moment in political history” in his analysis of the events, later predicting, “John Podesta is the key advisor and strategist behind the inside political disclosure process, Secretary Clinton will be the messenger, and Barack Obama will be the disclosure president,”

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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