Every summer in Washington, D.C., the dog days arrive. Temperatures soar into the 100s in the nation’s capital, part of which was literally built in a swamp.
A little history: Constitution Avenue was once a canal, but by the 1850s, it was abandoned. Residents quickly turned it into an open sewer, filled with feces and garbage.
But the mess drew other disgusting things. Back then, the city “was known for various mosquitoes and all kinds of infectious diseases,” J.D. Dickey said in his book “Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, D.C.”
The city soon became known as a hotspot for malaria, and in the late 1800s, a prominent doctor petitioned for a wire mosquito net as tall as the Washington Monument to be erected over the entire city.
So there have always been wacky ideas in Washington — and the dog days of summer seem to bring them out.
Right on schedule, Washington has gone wild with talk of space aliens and UFOs.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut and U.S. senator, said Monday that he doesn’t think we “are alone” here on Earth.
Mr. Nelson said he read the intelligence community’s recently released report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), an unclassified version of which was released Friday. The report says there have been more than 140 UAP sightings.
“Yes, I’ve seen the classified report. It says basically what we thought. We don’t know the answer to what those Navy pilots saw, they know that they saw something, they tracked it, they locked their radar onto it, they followed it, it would suddenly move quickly from one location to another,” Mr. Nelson said on CNN.
“What the report does tell us that is public, is that there have been over 140 of these sightings. So naturally, what I ask our scientists to do is to see if there’s any kind of explanation, from a scientific point of view, and I’m awaiting their report,” he said, adding that he spoke with Navy pilots following a briefing on the matter while he was still serving in the upper chamber of Congress.
“I talked to the Navy pilots when we were briefed in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and my feeling is that there is clearly something there. It may not necessarily be an extraterrestrial, but if it is a technology that some of our adversaries have, then we better be concerned.”
“Are we alone? Personally, I don’t think we are,” Mr. Nelson said.
The intelligence community “can’t explain 143 of the 144 cases of unidentified flying objects reported by military planes,” NBC News reported.
“In a limited number of incidents, UAP reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics. These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis,” said the report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and meant to shed light on the mystery of those dozens of flying objects, spotted from 2004 to 2021.
Mr. Nelson said “we don’t think” the UAPs are from foreign adversaries.
“But when it comes to the universe, remember the universe is so large, we have a program in NASA called the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. But thus far, we don’t have any receipt communication from something that’s intelligent,” he said.
“People are hungry to know. And of course, ever since ‘Star Trek,’ you know people are yearning to find out what’s out there in the cosmos. Are we alone? Personally, I don’t think we are. The universe is so big, it’s 13 1/2 billion years [since] the universe started. That’s pretty big. But people are hungry for this kind of information and we’re going to keep searching.”
Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton said he thinks aliens could well exist.
“The truth is, we’ve never proved one, but there are things flying around up there that we haven’t fully identified yet,” Mr. Clinton, 74, claimed Tuesday on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”
“Keep in mind there are billions of galaxies in an ever-expanding universe,” he told hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest. “I mean, you can’t even get your mind around the sheer number of things that are out there. No one knows, but I think the probability is that there is something you would call life somewhere else.”
And a few weeks ago, another former president, Barack Obama, said on “The Late Late Show” that the U.S. is monitoring UFO sightings.
“Well, when it comes to aliens, there are some things I just can’t tell you on air,” he told host James Corden. “What is true, and I’m actually being serious here, is that there is footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are.”
Sounds about right for the dog days of summer in Washington, D.C.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.