J. Antonio Huneeus
Citizens Hearing Statements
The Rockefeller UFO Initiative
Throughout most of the 1990s a significant amount of UFO-related research was funded by the billionaire philanthropist Laurance S. Rockefeller, yet with a few exceptions this was mostly unknown by the general public, the media and even the majority of the ufological community. It was also ignored by the mainstream world, who chose to ignore this unconventional side of one of the Rockefellers. His long official biography posted online by the Rockefeller Archive Center doesn’t mention any of his UFO, paranormal, new age and consciousness-oriented interests, and neither did the long obituaries published by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other mainstream publications when he died in 2004 at the age of 94. And yet these activities were not a small, inconsequential part of the philanthropist’s life—he seemed to have spent quite a bit of time thinking, meeting people and funding research in the period going from the late 1980s to 2000. Without access to his financial records, there is no way of knowing how much money he spent, but it must be around a few million dollars at the least.
Although I never met him personally, I know something about it because I had the opportunity of working first-hand in one of Laurance Rockefeller’s sponsored projects, the UFO Briefing Document – The Best Available Evidence, a special report published in December 1995 sent to the White House, selected members of Congress and VIPs, which is now available for free at the openminds.tv website. Rockefeller’s activities, in fact, went beyond funding into actual lobbying at the highest level—President Bill Clinton and the First Lady and current Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Long before the term “exopolitics” was in vogue, Laurance Rockefeller was practicing it in the White House from 1993 to 1996. This has come to be known as the Rockefeller UFO Initiative, a multi-pronged campaign to get the U.S. Government to release sensitive information on UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The initiative is documented in hundreds of pages of correspondence released a few years ago by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These documents can be accessed at the Paradigm Research Group website.
I am enclosing a long article describing all the various facets of the so-called Laurance Rockefeller UFO Initiative published in the Open Minds magazine number six, February- March 2011. It is not necessary to go into the biographical background of Mr. Rockefeller in this short presentation, except to note that he was one of the original grandsons of the founder of the dynasty, John D. Rockefeller, that he was obviously extremely wealthy and well connected, that he had studied philosophy at Princeton and was quite a visionary even in business, where he seemed to be always ahead of the curve, backing aeronautics in the thirties, electronics in the sixties and conservation and environmental efforts throughout his long career. Although the mainstream chose to ignore it, his intense interest in UFOs and ET issues in the nineties fits very well this pattern.
Mr. Rockefeller backed many UFO-related projects in the period between the late eighties and 2000, but for the purposes of this Hearing we will concentrate on his political initiatives in these areas. Laurance Rockefeller’s first forays into ufology started sometime in the late eighties through Dr. Cecil B. Scott Jones, a parapsychologist and former U.S. Navy Commander who had worked as Naval Attaché in Asia and at the Naval Scientific and Technical Intelligence Center. Between 1985 and 1991, Jones was Special Assistant to Senator Claiborne Pell (1918-2009), the powerful Rhode Island Democrat Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1987-1994) who was deeply interested in parapsychology. Sen. Pell was also friends with Laurance Rockefeller and both served on the board of the Human Potential Foundation, a small think tank launched in 1989 in Vienna, Virginia, by Jones to conduct “research into all conditions of humankind: physiological, psychological and spiritual.”
Many of the papers released by the White House’s OSTP come from Scott Jones, who knew Dr. John Gibbons, a physicist who worked for many years as Director of the Office of Technology Assessment for the U.S. Congress and was appointed in 1993 by the Clinton administration to direct the OSTP. What was the exact turning point of Laurance Rockefeller’s evolution from a general interest in consciousness studies into the specific area of UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence is still unclear, but the end of the Cold War and the arrival in Washington of a younger generation represented by Bill and Hillary Clinton are key factors. He felt the time was ripe for a new and fresh approach into an area that had been previously dominated by a Cold War mentality. Rockefeller recruited for this effort a long-time associate, Henry L. Diamond, an environmental attorney from Washington, DC whose links to the family went all the way back to the 1960s when he worked with Laurance in his conservation activities. Diamond also knew John Gibbons and so he was the right person to make the first contact with the OSTP chief when he sent a Memorandum on March 29, 1993 requesting a meeting:
Laurance S. Rockefeller, who is a leading U.S. conservationist, businessman, and philanthropist, is anxious to have a brief meeting with Dr. Gibbons to discuss the potential availability of government information about unidentified flying objects and extraterrestrial life. As one who has had a long-time interest in environmental and spiritual issues, Mr. Rockefeller, with other leading citizens, is planning to make an approach to President Clinton on this subject…
The details of Rockefeller’s White House lobbying effort are described in my article and also on the documents themselves posted by PRG. We know from the record that following the initial meeting with Gibbons and subsequent correspondence, the government decided to constrict the more general issue of UFOs into the specific and famous UFO crash of July 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. This incident will be discussed in detail at a later session during this Hearing. After ignoring it for decades, the Air Force had then taken the decision to finally make a big public statement, which took place in 1994 with its official Report that explained or debunked the incident as a once top secret balloon project to detect the Soviet’s first atomic bomb tests codenamed Project Mogul. This derailed to a great extent the initial Rockefeller effort at the White House, but didn’t stop him to try a different approach. By 1995 Laurance Rockefeller switched his UFO-related coordinator from Scott Jones to Marie Galbraith, the well connected wife of investment banker Evan Galbraith who was ambassador to France during the Reagan administration, Republican candidate for New York governor in 1994 and chairman of William Buckley’s National Review, among other things. Marie Galbraith and Sandra S. Wright, another well connected high society lady who ran the BSW Foundation, had come up with the idea of preparing a comprehensive UFO Briefing Document that could be send to members of Congress and VIPs in general. The original draft was written by Don Berliner, an aviation journalist and long-time ufologist with the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) in the Washington area, and I was brought in to help editing and expanding the document from a small office ran by Marie Galbraith in New York’s Madison Avenue. The final Briefing Document was finished in December 1995 but sent out in early 1996. It was Rockefeller’s and Galbraith’s idea to give the copyright to the UFO Research Coalition, a consortium of the three main American UFO organizations— MUFON, CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies) and FUFOR, whose directors endorsed the document. Copies of the report were sent to Dr. Gibbons at the White House, some members of Congress and VIPs worldwide, but there was no well coordinated effort to disseminate the document and as a result its political impact was limited.
The one exception was France due to Marie Galbraith’s extensive connections there from her U.S. Embassy days back in the 1980s. Copies of the UFO Briefing Document were sent from President Chirac down the food chain in the French government. We had received, in fact, many interesting documents and reports from the official French UFO group at the National Center for Space Studies (CNES)—then called SEPRA and now GEIPAN—and one of the Briefing’s “Case Histories” was the famous UFO landing case in Trans-en-Provence in 1981. I will have more to say about the French official UFO investigations at a later session in this Hearing. There can be little doubt that the UFO Briefing Document became the model for the COMETA Report, an important study conducted by a group of retired French generals and intelligence officers led by Major Gen. Dennis Letty. In their final 1999 report titled, UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For?, the COMETA authors praised highly the “leading U.S. personality Marie Galbraith” who was “supported both morally and financially by Laurance Rockefeller.”
Marie Galbraith was also the coordinator for a number of separate UFO-related projects funded by the philanthropist. By 1997, Laurance Rockefeller dropped the political UFO initiatives and concentrated instead on the scientific angle. A major meeting, closed to both the public and the press, was held from September 29 to October 3, 1997 at the Pocantico Conference Center in Tarrytown, NY. The chief coordinator and author of the final report was Dr. Peter A. Sturrock, an astrophysicist from Stanford University who also directed for many years the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE). The idea was to gather a group of professional scientists, many of them from Europe, and have scientifically-trained UFO researchers present the best evidence to a panel of neutral scientists. The presentations touched upon all the main scientific areas: Photographic Evidence; Luminosity Estimates; Radar Evidence; the Hessdalen Project (a place in Norway where unexplained lights have been recorded for many years); Vehicle Interference; Aircraft Equipment Malfunction; Apparent Gravitational and/or Inertial Effects; Ground Traces; Injuries to Vegetation; Physiological Effects on Witnesses; and
Analysis of Debris. You can consult Prof. Sturrock’s final report on the scientific conference, The UFO Enigma – A New Review of the Physical Evidence (Warner Books, 1999) for all the details and data. Rockefeller seemed very satisfied with the results of this event that he even wrote the book’s Foreword, which became his only statement on UFOs written for publication. By 2000 Laurance Rockefeller reached the age of 90 and concentrated on his private family affairs. For all practical purposes the Rockefeller UFO Initiative and funding, whether scientific, political or philosophical, was over. But his contribution to the field was certainly extensive. We hope that other philanthropists will follow on his path and try to solve the mystery of UFOs. Both the political and scientific approaches are valid and necessary in order to understand the complex ramifications of this phenomenon. Thank you.