All Commentary
Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Legendary Journalist Says He Knows What the ‘Mystery Object’ Was the US Military Shot Down Over Alaska

Pulitzer Prize-winning Sy Hersh says a source told him the US government took down one of its own aerial devices by mistake.

Image Credit: YouTube-Russell Brand

On Saturday US officials announced the military was calling off the search for the balloon objects shot down by fighter jets over Alaska and Lake Huron.

The announcement, The Guardian reported, came “days after balloon hobbyists in northern Illinois indicated that one of the stray unidentified flying objects could belong to their group.”

Authorities have yet to confirm what the objects were, though we know that the one shot down near the US-Canada border was taken out by an F-22, which blasted the object with an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at about 40,000 feet.

Journalist Seymour Hersh, however, says he does know. The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, who recently appeared on Russell Brand’s YouTube show to discuss the Nord Stream pipeline explosion, said sources tell him the US military took out one of its own weather devices.

“Can I tell you about the balloons?” Hersh asked Brand after making a crack about the British comedian’s colorful stocking hat. “The federal government has a contract with the meteorology department, the weather department, at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks—that is one cold place, it’s way up there.”

Hersh, who said he’s visited the university campus there, said it’s so cold in Fairbanks that there’s no weather station there. So the university uses what Hersh describes as small aerial vehicles that collect weather data that is transmitted back to officials at the university, who can notify pilots flying over the Arctic Circle of any unusual weather activity.

“They are reporters of that information, and that was what was shot down,” Hersh told Brand. “One of those units…that is sent up by the university but paid by the government to go over the Arctic Circle and report on extreme [weather].”

Little Green Men?

We don’t yet know for certain what the US military shot down. Hersh sounded quite confident, however, though he expressed skepticism that the government would own up to its snafu.

Naturally, various theories have emerged. The New York Times on Monday floated the idea that perhaps, ahem, aliens were involved, noting that the US military shooting down a civilian aerial device would be a lackluster ending to a story that had captivated the country.

“For a nation that has been riveted by this saga since the aerial assaults on mysterious objects began — Pop! Pop! Pop! — the end felt incomplete,” says Times writer Katie Rogers. “Were aliens involved?”

Negative, the White House responded. Nothing to suggest it was aliens.

How about surveillance machines of “mysterious provenance”?

Once again, negative, the White House answered.

‘A Shortage of Sand’

While we don’t know for sure, Hersh’s answer seems the most plausible. After being chided in the press for allowing a Chinese surveillance balloon to travel unmolested across the continental United States for days, it seems a rattled Pentagon and Biden Administration panicked and shot down several benign aerial devices, including one of its weather machines (one it commissions, if it doesn’t own directly).

For those who love a good conspiracy, this answer might be disappointing. Surely the government is hiding something.

While there is no shortage of state-sanctioned cover-ups and atrocities in human history, it’s easy to forget that governments are usually more incompetent than sinister.

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once quipped.

So my money says Sy Hersh has it right again.


  • Jonathan Miltimore is the Senior Creative Strategist of FEE.org at the Foundation for Economic Education.