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Posted at 12:39 PM ET, 04/12/2013

Mock congressional hearing on alien life brings former members back to planet Washington


He’s ba-ack: Former senator Mike Gravel will be among those who will probe UFOs. (Charles Dharapak - AP)
This is what a congressional hearing looks like in a some kind of bizarre-o parallel universe: All your favorite past members are there, including former senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), and former representatives Darlene Hooley, (D-Ore)., Merrill Cook (R-Utah), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif).

And the topic? Extraterrestrials. As in little green men. And whether there’s a conspiracy within the U.S. government to cover up their existence.

A longtime UFO-truther organization called the Paradigm Research Group is holding what it’s calling a “Citizen Hearing on Disclosure,” a five-day event at the National Press Club to explore the matter. The confab, which kicks off on April 29 and was brought to our attention by our pals at Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill, will be styled to resemble a real Hill hearing, complete with witnesses, statements, the whole shebang.

And to give the proceedings the proper air of legitimacy, the hearing’s organizers enlisted a colorful roster of former members to wield the gavel and question the witnesses. Organizer Stephen Bassett tells us the group identified about 100 former members they thought might be up to the task and ultimately settled on a bipartisan panel of six.

The “committee” members aren’t necessarily believers in extraterrestrial life, he says — and that wasn’t a job requirement. “It is assumed that they are skeptical,” Bassett says. “Their job is to be objective fact-finders.”

The event will cost upward of $600,000, he said, including fees of $20,000 to each of the former members, making it the biggest event the group has held (it’s hosted other news conferences around Washington, including a 2007 one aimed at pressing presidential candidates to support government disclosure of UFO sightings).

Why the push now? Bassett says there’s growing pressure on the U.S. government to open up about what it knows, and all advocates need is a “critical mass event” like the hearing to push them and the mainstream media. And there’s a generous private (and so far unnamed) donor willing to foot the bill.

By  |  12:39 PM ET, 04/12/2013

 
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