E.T. has not landed — yet. That’s the latest message from the White House in an amusing answer to an online petition on the “We the People” government site.
The site launched at the end of September in a play off the popular social media petition sites, such as Change.org. It allows anyone to create a petition, or sign an existing one. The site first said that if a petition reached 5,000 signatures within 30 days, it would be reviewed by policy officials in the administration. It has since moved the threshold back to 25,000 signatures.
Before it did, though, it addressed a question asked on two separate, but similar petitions: “Immediately disclose the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings.” More than 17,000 people signed that petition and a similarly worded one.
One of the group’s behind the petition, the Paradigm Research Group has been working for years to get the government to fess up to alien life. In May 2001, The Post’s Joel Achenbach attended the group’s press conference where he came to this conclusion: “A group of people who believe in UFOs held a news conference yesterday morning that established beyond the shadow of a doubt — that reached levels of credibility so high as to constitute actual proof — that there really do exist people who believe in UFOs.”
Ten years later, the group had little luck with the official response from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Our government is no better acquainted with aliens than we are.
The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”
However, the response does recommend a number of projects working toward better understanding extraterrestrial life: SETI, Kepler, and the Mars Science Laboratory.
The answer likely won’t end any conspiracy theories any time soon. In the comments at the Village Voice blog, readers are already finding problems with the response: “You have to look at the wording carefully, they don’t see a “sign” of a cover up ... I’m sure there are many secret government programs that the president doesn’t know exist and if asked about them they would say there is no “sign.”
Others have taken issue with the general tone of all the responses — not just the ones related to extraterrestrial life. A new petition started on the site on Friday demands “a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition.” It has more than 3,000 signatures so far.