(1.) There is likely intelligent life somewhere in the universe besides Earth.
(2.) The most likely level of intelligence is low; the next is intelligent, somewhere on a human scale; and the least likely is intelligent beings advanced well beyond us.
(3.) It's conceivable Earth has been visited at least once or twice.
In other words, if you accept my starting point (1.), then I suppose you'll agree my view is fairly conservative, scientifically speaking. However, even that starting point is strongly challenged by some people of strong religious faith, such as members of the three Abrahamic religions, i.e., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to name just three, though that starting point is also beyond the pale for other major and minor religions, too. I can't debate faith, so won't.
Over the past couple of days, quite by coincidence I have run across a rash of stories on the Internet speculating that President Obama might announce sometime this year we have had decades-long contact with intelligent extraterrestrials, direct, face-to-face contact. Other stories claim we, the U.S., have bases and personnel on Mars. Still others claim inhabitants of a planet in the binary star system Zeti Reticuli have visited Earth -- and that humans have visited there. (Zeti Reticuli is in the Southern Hemisphere skies, and is part of a minor constellation, Zeta Reticulum. Zeti Reticuli's two stars are similar to the Sun, and lie "only" about 39 light years away -- practically our backyard, in galactic terms.)
Obviously, these are sweeping claims indeed.
And there are other stories. For instance, there's one story that then-President Reagan secretly visited a base to see an extraterrestrial's body, perhaps from Roswell, New Mexico, when an alien disk had allegedly crashed near the town, complete with alien corpses, in mid-1947. In fact, soon after the Army Air Corps in Roswell announced exactly that -- only to have that report rebutted by the Commanding General of the Eight Air Force, who said the recovered debris came from an experimental, classified weather balloon experimental program.
The "Roswell Incident" remains one of the most controversial in UFO lore. For instance, no less a personage than NASA Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut and 6th man to walk on the Moon, believes an alien craft was involved. Yet Mitchell himself has been controversial since his Apollo 14 mission, after which his life changed drastically and he moved into areas of research best described as "unconventional."
The Air Force and the larger government response has been badly mishandled, at best, in a number of incidents. For instance, Project Blue Book was a formal investigation into the Air Force commissioned in the 1950-60's to investigate the UFO phenomenon, as public interest was very high at the time and the public was demanding explanations. The Air Force collected some 12,600 reports, and said most of them were, basically, cases of simple incorrect identification or outright hoaxes. However, about 700 could not be explained. The Air Force's response? It shut down the program and trying just to move on.
One point needs to be made: there are countless instances of people seeing UFO's -- unidentified flying objects -- every day, all over the world. But it is a mighty leap from saying "I saw a UFO" to saying "I saw a spacecraft from another world." Even experienced pilots can incorrectly identify something in the sky. But that doesn't automatically mean they saw a spacecraft from another world.
So, where does that leave President Obama (and any other leader)?
Let's leave aside the obvious cases of mistaken identity and hoaxes a moment.
Imagine this scenario: the President calls a press conference and announces we do indeed have contact with, say, Mars -- and introduces the Martian emissary.
Now -- it's not a big step to global panic, is it? If the U.S. can't protect its own skies, who on Earth can?
It gets worse if he says we're in contact, face to face, with representatives from Zeti Reticuli.
And both cases get much, much worse if humans are there -- courtesy of the advanced aliens.
Think about the impact on religion, too. I can't think of a single one that wouldn't be greatly affected by such a revelation.
Would would I do were I President? Well, unless I could definitively say the aliens represented absolutely no danger to us and that our military could handle them, this is what I would do: lie, loud and every time.
If President Obama is in possession of such information, I have no idea what he may decide to do, or not do.
Interesting question, huh?