The most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, former President Jimmy Carter, has long been interested in the peaceful co-existence
of humans on this planet. If historic records are any indication, however, it appears that the former President has long held a similar interest in peaceful relations with extraterrestrials who might be
visiting this planet, since his sighting of a strange unidentified object in Leary, Georgia in 1969.
Carter has always been open to talking about the 1969 UFO sighting, which he described as a "very remarkable sight," and "the
darndest thing I have ever seen." Carter has talked about it in many
question and answer sessions following speeches, or on open-line talk show
promoting the many books he has written.
In a recently released audio tape of a 1976 reply to questions put to him by National Enquirer reporter Jim McCandlish, Carter described
the now infamous 1969 sighting, and how if he became President he would release all the UFO files to the United States people. The
transcript of that encounter is as follows.
Q: Governor, you once saw a UFO. If you were President would you
reopen inquiries into UFOs?
Carter: Well, no. What I would do is make information we have about those sightings available to the public (three words unclear). I have
never tried to identify what I saw. You know, it was a light in the
western sky that was very unique. I had never seen it before. There were about 20 of us who saw it. None of us could figure out what it
was. I don't think it was anything solid. It was just like a light.
It was a curious aberation, so I don't make fun of people who say they've see unidentified objects in the sky.
Q: The United States used to have a body that investigated UFOs, but
that's been discontinued. Would you reopen it?
Carter: I don't know yet.
Presidential candidate Carter also made a similar promise in Appleton, Wisconsin on the morning of March 31, 1976, during a
question and answer session. Carter was asked by Thomas Heiman,
Associate Director of the UFO Education Center in Appleton Wisconsin whether he would as President, "air
today in regards to UFOs?"
Carter replied, "Yes, I would make these kinds of data available to the public, as President, to help resolve the mystery about it."
"On a public basis?" asked Heiman. "Yes," replied Carter, "on a public basis."
Once Jimmy Carter became President, however, records at the Carter library show that the Carter White House did everything in its power
to avoid the Wisconsin group even though Carter had promised " a meeting could be arranged sometime after the election" when he could meet with the group and review the UFO material they had.
The McCandlish and Wisconsin encounters illustrate the very few times Jimmy Carter ever talked about UFOs in relation to the White House.
When asked about presidential knowledge and involvement in the UFO mystery, Carter has almost always sidetracked the issue to talk about the 1969 UFO sighting.
An example of this reluctance to discuss his presidential role can be found in the most recent encounter between Jimmy Carter and the UFO
question, which occurred last year. Documentary producers Tim Coleman and James Fox approached the ex-president about UFOs while he was doing a book signing. The men planned to use the segment in their soon to be released UFO documentary called "Out of the Blue."
When asked about his UFO sighting Carter was very forthright quickly saying that it was interesting and mysterious. However, when he was
asked the second question about whether or not he did look into the UFO issue during his presidency, the enthusiasm ended. Carter simply
replied, "Yes, but there's a lot of different answers and nobody knows...has proof of things."
This reluctance to discuss the government's role could be partly due to wake-up call that the
President-elect Carter got while being
briefed by then CIA Director George Bush. According to prominent civil rights attorney Danny Sheehan, Bush made Jimmy Carter aware of
how UFOs would be treated once he became President.
Sheehan stated that he had been told the story by Marcia Smith, then Director of the Science and Technology Division of the Library of
Congress' Congressional Research Service. In 1977, shortly after Carter entered the White House, she had been asked to do two studies for the Chairman of the Science & Technology Committee of the House
of Representatives. The reports would then find their way to the White House.
Sheehan, then General Counsel to the United States Jesuit National Headquarters - National Office of Social Ministry in Washington, was
invited to participate in the two studies, which he described as
a "highly classified major evaluation of the UFO phenomena, and extraterrestrial intelligence."
According to what Marcia Smith told Sheehan in 1977, President-elect Carter had asked Bush for the material on UFOs during his November
1976 intelligence briefing provided by the CIA. "I want to have the information that we have on UFOs and extraterrestrial
intelligence." Carter had asked. "I want to know about this as President."
George Bush, according to Marcia Smith, said, "No . . . that he wasn't going to give this to him . . . that this was information
that existed on a need to know basis only. Simple curiosity on the part of
the President wasn't adequate."
" If he was going to do this he would have to follow a different procedure," recalled Sheehan, "that was going to involve all the
different branches of government in authorizing this information, because they were afraid that President Carter was going to somehow publicly reveal this. Bush told him that he was going have to go to
the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives, in the legislative branch, and have them ask the Congressional
Research Service to issue a request to have certain documents declassified so that this process could go on."
President Carter followed the instructions given to him by Bush, and Marcia Smith did produce two reports, which have never been made
public. One was on UFOs, and one was on extra terrestrial
intelligence. Sheehan stated that in one of the reports he reviewed it was concluded, "There are from two to six highly intelligent,
highly technological developed civilizations in our own galaxy over and above our ours." Sheehan added that the report stated that the investigation was "unable to discount" that one of these
vehicles was not from one of these two to six civilizations.
Carter went on to request a number of other UFO inquiries and studies in his first months as President. These included a study known as
the "Carter Extraterrestrial Communication Study" contracted to the Center for the Study of Social Policy at the Stanford Research
Institute. The initial contact within the Carter White House for the proposal was Stewart Eisenstatt, with the Domestic Policy Staff. The
Pentagon reportedly killed it three months later.
Efforts included the Carter transitional people contacting or meeting with UFO researchers such as Robert Barrow, Jacques Vallee, J. Allen
Hynek, and Bill Pitts. Barrow, for example, was contacted about participating in another undefined UFO study. Barrow was not
contacted again, so it is not known if this particular study went forward.
Another study of UFOs that was done for President Carter in the early days of the administration was known as the "L.A. Study." It was put
together for the President by a number of UFO researchers in the Los Angeles area. The researchers have told their side of the story, but
no records of this study appear at the Carter library. Trusted Carter staff members made most of the approaches to the
various government agencies about UFOs. One such case was Press Secretary Jody Powell who approached the FBI about their past UFO
efforts. The FBI files tell little of this request, probably because it was done by phone. Authors Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood
reported, however, that once Powell made the inquiry, the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia suddenly "began monitoring and collecting newspaper clippings that dealt with the UFO subject...under the curious file reference of TRANSPORTATION."
Dr. Press, President Carter's Science Advisor, made the UFO contact to NASA. He wrote NASA administrator Dr. Robert Frosch, asking for
help with the UFO mail problem, (the Carter White House was being inundated with UFO mail because of his campaign promise to release
the UFO files) but also suggesting it might be time for another study of the UFO issue. Press suggested that a panel of prominent
scientists such as Carl Sagan might "conduct an investigation of the validity and significance of UFO reports." NASA, aware of the
probable public relations problems involved with reopening the UFO can of worms, declined Dr. Press's request for a new UFO
Although Carter's attempts to get a new study on UFOs failed, he presided over what is sometimes known as the "golden years"
of government UFO disclosures. During the Carter administration literally thousands of UFO documents were released through FOIAs by various government entities such as the FBI, NSA, NASA, State, Air
Force, Navy, and Army. What Carter's role was in the releases is unknown, but there has been nothing quite like it since Carter left the White House.
Although President Carter made many attempts to get the answer to the UFO mystery, as he promised during his presidential campaign, most
efforts failed. The Washington insiders, who Carter had run his entire campaign against, cut him off from the UFO answers which they
The military industrial complex, usually more in line with Republican administrations, was upset at Carter for his canceling of the B-1
bomber program, a $5 billion dollar cut in defense spending, plans to shelve the neutron bomb, veto a nuclear aircraft carrier, and his
leak during the 1980 presidential campaign where he publicly told the public, and the Russians, that secret work was taking place on a
thing called the Stealth fighter.
George Bush described the negative feeling also held towards President Carter by the intelligence community. He had been the first
CIA Director in four administrations to be effectively fired by the new Carter administration. Hundreds of CIA agents followed him out
onto the street once Carter entered the White House.
In his autobiography, Bush described Carter's attacks on the CIA as "frequent and vituperative." The hatred for the CIA,
according to Bush began even when he was briefing Carter on intelligence secrets
in 1976. Bush wrote, "Beneath his surface cool, he (Carter) harbored a deep antipathy to the CIA." It is then no wonder, that when it
came to the deepest darkest secret held by the government, that Carter found himself on the outside looking it.
As Jimmy Carter receives his Nobel Peace Prize, it might be important to note that other important Peace Prize winners have also taken an
interest in the extraterrestrial angle of world peace. Former Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson actually brought up the
extraterrestrial possibilities during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.
"Perhaps there is a hopeful possibility here in the conquest of outer space. Interplanetary activity may well give us planetary peace. Once
we discover Martian spaceships hovering over Earth's air-space, we will all come together."
"How dare they threaten us like this!" we shall shout, as one, at a really United Nations!"