Skip to content

Lee Spiegel Remembers His UN Meeting on UFOs in 1978

July 8, 2010

Mario Borghezio’s call for the member states of the European Parliament to disclose any files so far held back on UFOs has led Lee Spiegel to reminisce on his attempts in 1978 to get the U.N. to pay attention to the UFO issue.

Spiegel organized a presentation by Gordon Cooper, Stanton Friedman, J. Alan Hynek, Jacques Vallee, and others. Even Steven Spilegerg, who the year before had released “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” offered to help with the presentation.

Spiegel’s efforts may have paid off. Member states of the U.N. went on to actually agree in 2008, albeit secretly, to release whatever information they had on UFOs and this led to a subsequent disclosure of documents by many nations.

Lee Speigel Lee Speigel Contributor

AOL News

(June 25, 2010) — Will the European Union disclose any UFO files it might have, as one lawmaker called for several days ago, perhaps bringing new facts to a field long relegated by government officials to science fiction?

Maybe, but this isn’t the first time world leaders have had a close encounter with UFOs.

As AOL News reported here earlier this week, Italian Northern League party leader Mario Borghezio has urged all 27-member EU governments to open the books and reveal any previously secret UFO files.

UFO Crusader Mario Borghezio

Mario Borghezio, a member of the European Parliament, is lobbying the EU to release its secret UFO files.

In Borghezio’s declaration, he mentioned a 1978 United Nations summit in which “the 33rd General Assembly … formally recognized UFOs as a valid issue.”

When I read Borghezio’s reference, it struck an obvious chord in my memory. Obvious because I was directly involved, and to a large degree, responsible for bringing UFOs to the attention of the U.N. that year.

Let me share some of that experience with you.

In 1977, Eric Gairy, the prime minister of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, was struggling to generate U.N. interest in his personal crusade to establish an international committee dedicated to studying and sharing UFO reports.

Meantime, I had recently produced a documentary record album (yes, vinyl!) for CBS Inc., called “UFOs: The Credibility Factor.” It featured the voices of military, government and scientific experts coming together for the first time on record to talk about the possibility that some UFOs might really be alien spacecraft.

After that album, I wanted to do more to help people who dared to speak about their own personal UFO experiences — only to be met with ridicule and scorn.

Dreamer that I was, I wanted to bring something before the United Nations, to try to get that esteemed group of international leaders to finally come together on a subject that could potentially advance the world in both scientific and sociological ways.

If you want to do something at the U.N., I learned, you can’t just walk in off the street and announce that you want to tell the world how important UFOs are (or any subject, for that matter). You have to either be a delegate or sponsored by a country.

So I sent my UFO album to Gairy via the Grenada embassy in New York. He and I met and struck a deal: I told him I was aware of his efforts lobbying the U.N. to pay attention to his UFO campaign, and I offered to produce a presentation with a stacked lineup of UFO experts bound to pique the interest of international leaders.

U.N. UFO Summit

UN Photo / Saw Lwin Former WNBC Radio producer Lee Speigel (now a writer for AOL News) organized a meeting of military, scientific and psychological experts with U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim on July 14, 1978, to plan a presentation to the U.N. Special Political Committee. Topic: the importance of establishing an international UFO study panel.

He quickly agreed, and I spent 1978 gathering my ammunition for the November event.

In July of that year, I arranged for several of my UFO “presenters” to meet with Gairy and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim to discuss our plans.

The experts I requested included astronomer (and former UFO consultant to the Air Force) J. Allen Hynek, who coined the term “Close Encounters of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Kind.”

On hand with Hynek and me were French astronomer Jacques Vallee; astrophysicist Claude Poher, who headed up the official French UFO research group; psychologist David Saunders, a member of the famous U.S. government Condon Committee, which discredited UFOs in 1969; and Gordon Cooper, one of America’s original “right stuff” astronauts.

At this highly publicized meeting, Hynek told Waldheim that he and many of his colleagues felt that “the time has come for official education of the public regarding UFOs. We now recognize that, apart from its potential scientific importance, it has sociological and political significance.”

I spent the rest of 1978 collecting a large number of pictures, films and documents to include in the final November presentation — many of which had to be translated into several languages for the delegates.

Among the documents given me by Hynek was one he’d managed to secure from the Air Force while he was the official scientific consultant. It was a chapter from a 1968 textbook, “Introductory Space Science,” created by the USAF Academy department of physics. And it was, of course, not for the public eye.

In the lengthy chapter, titled “Unidentified Flying Objects,” Air Force officials laid out for academy cadets clear and concise information about UFOs, including the following, almost shocking, revelations (completely contrary to official explanations):

“What we will do here is to present evidence that UFOs are a global phenomenon which may have persisted for many thousands of years …

“The most stimulating theory for us is that the UFOs are material objects which are either ‘manned’ or remote-controlled by beings who are alien to this planet. There is some evidence supporting this viewpoint.”

After offering cadets numerous examples of UFO cases that were unexplained, the chapter concludes, “This leaves us with the unpleasant possibility of alien visitors to our planet, or at least of alien controlled UFOs … and what questionable data there are suggests the existence of at least three and maybe four different groups of aliens.”

Even filmmaker Steven Spielberg offered to help with our 1978 presentation. Just a few months after the 1977 premiere of his epic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (in which astronomer Hynek served as technical adviser), Hynek, Vallee and I met with Spielberg in California, and he offered to have Columbia Pictures provide UFO-related materials to show at the U.N.

When the day of the event arrived, Nov. 27, 1978, in addition to speeches given to the special political committee by Hynek and Vallee, nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman spoke about the evidence that favored his theory of extraterrestrial visitation.

U.N. UFO Press Conference

Photo by Peter Tomikawa A United Nations news conference followed the Nov. 27, 1978, presentation by scientists on the need to establish an international study committee about UFOs. Pictured, from left, are nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, producer Lee Speigel, Grenada Minister of Education Wellington Friday, Grenada Prime Minister Eric Gairy and astronomer J. Allen Hynek.

And there was also Army Lt. Col. Larry Coyne, who electrified the committee with a story about a night in 1973 when he and his Army helicopter crew had a terrifying close encounter with a UFO.

One of the documents I obtained for the event was a letter that I asked ex-astronaut Cooper to write, which was distributed to all U.N. delegates. In it, he said, “I believe these extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets, which obviously are a little more technically advanced than we are here on Earth.

“I would also like to point out that most astronauts are very reluctant to even discuss UFOs due to the great numbers of people who have indiscriminately sold fake stories and forged documents, abusing their names and reputations without hesitation.”

It was an amazing experience, bringing all these people together for such a high-profile event. The outcome of our efforts was that the General Assembly invited interested member nations “to take appropriate steps to coordinate on a national level scientific research and investigation into extraterrestrial life, including unidentified flying objects, and to inform the secretary-general of the observations, research and evaluation of such activities.”

But the UFO issue quietly hit the back burner on the U.N. agenda when, in early 1979, Gairy was overthrown in Grenada by opposition leader Maurice Bishop.

So, here we are in 2010 with a new international effort afoot. It’s no wonder I feel a little kinship with the European Union’s Borghezio. It would be great if his endeavor to pry some real UFO stuff out of the EU works.

It’s been 32 years since I tried it at the U.N. I’m a patient man.

[What follows below is a declassified 1978 State Department document, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by Attorney Peter Gersten, former director of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy. It summarizes (to the secretary of state in Washington, D.C.) Grenada’s plans, under the guidance of Lee Speigel, to lobby the United Nations on the creation of an international UFO study group.]Speigel UN Document

[See original article for document]

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: