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The American government is not in contact with aliens and is not aware of any living on Earth, the White House revealed today in response to 12,000 American citizens who told the government "they could handle the truth".

The official statement from Phil Larson, a research assistant from the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, was a response to two ePetitions on America's "We The People" petition site, which asked the government to acknowledge the presence of aliens.

"The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth," said one of the petitions with 12,000 signatures, which cited as evidence the testimony of "hundreds of military and government agent witnesses" and opinion polls stating that more than 50 per cent of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80 per cent believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon.

A second petition with 5,000 signatures simply demanded that the President disclose "the long-withheld knowledge of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings".

Larson's reply stressed that the government was actively looking for aliens, through the SETI project, the Kepler telescope and upcoming Mars science laboratory, but hadn't found any yet.

It was likely there were some, said Larson, given the size of the universe, but it was also unlikely that we would make contact with them "the odds of us making contact with any of them – especially any intelligent ones – are extremely small, given the distances involved." ®

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