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The quest for credibility
|By Billy Cox|
From the safe haven of his position as a private citizen, former congressman Merrill Cook (R-Utah) says he would “absolutely” have demanded answers about the breathtaking bogey without a transponder that bore down on President Bush’s Crawford, Tex., ranch in 2008. Or, if queried by constituents back home, Cook says he would have at least made an effort to supply a decent answer.
“Every member of Congress has a minimum of $1 million for staff,” he says from his home in Salt Lake City. “I know they’re all very busy, but it comes down to whether you’re willing to do your job or just be fundraising all the time. The least you could do is get a junior staffer or an intern to investigate it.”
This is fairly high-minded talk coming from a guy who hasn’t served in Capitol Hill since being defeated for re-election after two terms in 2000. But Cook, 66, has a good reason to declare his open-mindedness about The Great Taboo lately. From April 29-May 3, Cook will be back in Washington again, at the National Press Club, where he’ll be getting paid an undisclosed sum to conduct a mock congressional hearing on UFOs.
The event — the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, a roughly $1 million production assembled by lobbyist Steve Bassett — is supposed to present the testimony of “up to” 40 witnesses to Cook and a couple of other retired politicos. Bassett reasons that five days of UFO stories should be enough to inspire the media to get on the ball and start digging for new leads. Unfortunately, more than half of those on the current witness list are ufologists. And not a one participated in the Stephenville, Tex., case, which put the Air Force in a bit of a pickle because radar records supported the testimony of the Texans who saw the UFO — not to mention the F-16s the USAF initially said weren’t there.
Cook calls himself an “open-minded skeptic” whose Mormon faith has led him to embrace “fundamental philosophies that we are not alone in the universe.” What a breath of fresh air it might’ve been had that faith had been a little more rigorous when Cook was on the Hill in 1997, after this massive little thing called The Phoenix Lights startled hundreds, if not thousands, of stunned Arizonans, including the governor. The incident was so dramatic the media actually jumped on it — you would’ve had to have been in a North Korean cave to have missed that one. But members of Cook’s 104th Congress were conspicuously silent.
Cook will be joined by two other retired congressional colleagues, Michigan Dem Carolyn Kilpatrick (who’s dealing with some sad personal issues right now), and erstwhile presidential candidate Mike Gravel, who supports re-opening the 9/11 investigation. Cook sat on three full committees and “eight or nine” subcommittees in Congress, and isn’t bothered by the small panel of retired public servants listening to the evidence. “There are hearings all the time where only the chairman of the committee turns out, and maybe only one other staffer,” he says. “Some of the most interesting hearings, nobody showed up.”
Cook admits he knows little about UFOs and cautions, “I do hope there’s some important credible facts presented.” To that end, here’s hoping that scheduled witnesses like retired USAF Col. Richard French are more thoroughly vetted or, failing that, miss their plane. . . .
Continue Reading . . .
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