Truman and Bush: Our UFO presidents

When asked to give his assessment on flying saucers, the blunt former President Truman said, “I’ve never seen a purple cow, I hope never to see one.”

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The presidential seal with a still from the science fiction film "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" (1956).

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 — Harry S Truman was the first U.S. president forced to deal with the rapid advance of technology.

President Harry S Truman.

German engineers introduce the first fighter jet into combat near the end of the World War II, covering it with composite materials that made it nearly invisible to radar—the world’s first stealth fighter. Wernher von Braun, who would later help NASA put American astronauts on the moon, aided in the development of the German V-2 rocket, which stood 45 feet high, weighed 27,600 pounds, and a carried 2,200 pound warhead to the edge of space before dropping, along with its explosive payload, back to Earth.

In London, 1,500 of these rockets killed 2,754 civilians.

In America, Truman grappled over the question of whether to use a wonder weapon right out of Buck Rogers. The device was capable of unleashing the immense power harnessed within a star.



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In a letter to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Irv Kupcinet, Truman said of his decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan:

“I knew what I was doing when I stopped the war that would have killed a half a million youngsters on both sides if those [atomic] bombs had not been dropped. I have no regrets and, under the same circumstances, I would do it again.”

Truman understood he not only “stopped the war” by unleashing the power locked within the atom, for a brief moment he stopped the world.

But two short years after representatives of Imperial Japan signed the instrument of unconditional surrender aboard the USS Missouri, Truman was faced with other technological marvels, ones not of this world.

On June 24, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold flew his plane near Mount Rainier when he noticed what he thought was sunlight glinting off the metal surface of a nearby plane.

It was no plane, but nine glowing disks.

Arnold told United Press that the mysterious, radiant objects flew “like a saucer if you skip it across the water.”

From then onward, the media and the transmitters of popular culture—comic books, films and television—misidentified the unidentified flying objects as “flying saucers.”

One month later, a headline in the Roswell Daily Record screamed: “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.”

“According to information released by the department,” the story read, “over authority of Maj. J.A. Marcel, intelligence officer, the disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity… After the intelligence officer here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquarters.”

The military later recanted, saying the so-called “flying saucer” was no more than a downed weather balloon.

In 1984, ufologists released what they claimed were memos proving Truman assembled a group of twelve men to study the flying saucer phenomenon. In a memo to then Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal, Truman wrote:

“As per our recent conversation on this matter, you are hereby authorized to proceed with all due caution upon your undertaking. Hereafter this matter shall only be referred to as Operation Majestic Twelve.

“It continues to be my opinion that any future considerations relative to the ultimate disposition of this matter should rest solely with the Office of the President following appropriate discussion with you, Dr. [Vannevar] Bush and the Director of Central Intelligence [Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter].”

The documents were later examined by the FBI and found to be bogus.

No president has admitted that the U.S. government has knowledge of, or evidence proving, extraterrestrials have visited our planet.


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But one came close.

When former President George W. Bush recently appeared on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to promote his latest book, the interview went like this:

Former President Bush visits with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel: “This is a question that is very important to me and to the country. When you were in office … did you go through the secret files—the UFO documents?”

Bush: “You know it’s funny. My daughters asked the very same question.”

Kimmel: “Would you be allowed to tell your daughters what was in those files?”

Bush: “No.”

Kimmel: “Now that you’re out of office, you can do anything you like, right?”

Bush: “True, but I’m not telling you.”

Kimmel: “You’re not telling me what? Are you not telling me that you looked at them [the UFO files]?”

Bush: “I’m not telling you nothing.”

Last May, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was confronted by a similar line of inquiry during her interview with the late-night comedian.

Hillary Clinton makes a campaign stop on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Kimmel insisted that delving into the government’s secret UFO files would be the “first thing I would do. I would go right into those files and see what was going on,” as former President Bill Clinton admitted to Kimmel he did during his presidency … finding nothing.

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“Well, said Mrs. Clinton, “I’m going to do it again … I would like us to go into those files and hopefully make as much of that public as possible. If there’s nothing there, tell people there’s nothing there.”

“But, what if there is something there?” Kimmel pressed.

“Well, if there is something there—unless it’s, you know, a threat to national security—I think we ought to share it with the public.”

Back in 1954, one year after leaving office, Truman gave James W. Mosely, publisher of Saucer News magazine, a very brief interview.

When Mosely asked Truman to give his assessment on flying saucers, the blunt former president said, “I’ve never seen a purple cow, I hope never to see one.”

And “Give ‘em Hell” Harry left it at that.

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