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One night a spacecraft of extraterrestrial origin crash-landed in the densely populated city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The force of the impact leveled the entire city within a radius of 1 kilometer from the crash site. The death toll is unimaginable; the total casualties have been estimated around 300,000 and the impact left hundreds of thousands more, living up to 10 kilometers away from the epicenter of impact, homeless. The survivors do not have adequate supplies of fresh water, food, or medical aide.

Questions

  1. How does the government cover up this mess?

  2. How will the authorities silence eyewitnesses?

  3. How can they tow the spacecraft (the size of a double-Decker) to Area 51 without raising suspicion?

Notes

  1. No aliens survived the crash.
  2. The incident happened at night.
  3. Satellite images captured everything.
  4. The event was caught on tapes.
  5. Several human shadows were scorched into walls and ground at the crash site.
  6. The spacecraft broke apart with pieces as big a mobile phone littered everywhere.
  7. There is no sign of smoke trails.
  8. Radiation levels are normal.
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    $\begingroup$ There has never been any alien wreckage found on Earth. It is all a NASA plot to increase funding for space exploration. Pretend to hide things that aren't there and allow normal human lunacy and credulity do the rest. $\endgroup$ – Paul Chernoch Aug 28 '15 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ It's not at all clear to me why they would cover this up. There is a lot more money and political security in just admitting that we were attacked by aliens (and no one, even the govt. can be sure that isn't what happened without years of study). $\endgroup$ – RBarryYoung Aug 29 '15 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ I see all this answer and nobody thought about the internet? Common guys, if i was walking the street while this happened i would take my phone immediately and starting take photos videos and audio and then I would send to all my WhatsApp contacts, then I would start recording in HD at live to youtube, and i won't be the only one. You can't hide something like this in 2015, in a populated city. If you want any chance to this happen you need to shut down the Internet (3G/4G + ISP) in less than 1 minute, which is not a easy task $\endgroup$ – Freedo Aug 30 '15 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Freedo: Well, if you've been in the city, you're surely dead before you can send anything (remember, it levelled the city!). If you were outside but close, it may still well be that your internet connection relied on the city's network, which no longer operates. Remember, internet isn't some fairy dust, it needs considerable infrastructure to work. And that infrastructure is most likely be found in the city. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Jan 17 '16 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ If it's in Centralia, it could be reported as a disaster from the underground mine fire. Not many people living there. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia_mine_fire $\endgroup$ – Wick Jun 10 '16 at 1:18

12 Answers 12

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Surely you mean the meteorite impact?

NCC news:

Today a massive meteorite impact in Philadephia caused thousands of deaths and ten thousands of causalites. Authorities believe that the meteorite likely disintegrated shortly before impact explaining the lack of remainders [possible!]. Soldiers from Fort XYZ [in reality special ops] have already taken position to prevent looting until the National Guard is able to send support.

Next news:

The authorities are informing the population that an illegal chemical factory currently discovered in the ruins and destroyed by the impact may be a severe security hazard. There are strong indications that they bunkered a large amount of sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid causes severe burns on unprotected skin and can even cause blindness [it is also an essential part of chemical laboratories and coincindentally a cleansing agent]. For this reason protected workers are now decontaminating the laboratory which is very near to the meteorite impact [guess that noone near that is alive?]. Please do not approach the ruins in a 2 mile radius until the cleanup is completed.

Update with survivor interviews (both fakes):
Dirty, exhausted hobo with an alcohol bottle in his jacket:

I saw it! I saw it! A HUUUUUGE ALIEN saucer! It told me that it would come! This is fulfilling the prophecy!

Nice, clean shaved businessman in suit, speaking normally:

Oh yes. A terrible tragedy! The day was suddenly so bright! I could not look up and needed to shield my eyes with my hands. And then it shook me and I was flying through the air! The whole area was devastated and I could smell something terrible. I just had to run and get out of the area immediately.

An expert speaks now, Professor Dr. XYZ which is the meteorite authority:

Well you know, it reminds me of the Chelyabinsk incident in Russia where a meteorite exploded in mid-air and caused severe damage, but fortunately very few casualties. It is rare, but not unheard of that no smoke trail could be seen. First, it was night during the impact and the impact caused a cloud of smoke rising which will cover the trail. Second, even if that was not the case the meteor is likely composed of denser material (rock or even iron) and when the atmosphere get more and more dense on the ground, it puts more stress on the object which finally causes disintegration without much ablation which is necessary for a smoke trail. [Long, long essay about deepest condolences and the dangers meteorites pose and how perfect the evidence is].

Update:

The authorities inform us that several tons of rubble are blocking the streets and impede the rescue progress. Also a large amount of binding agent for the spilled chemicals must be transported. The army has dispatched several heavy Boeing-Vertol CH-47 Chinook helicopters which will be able to bring out both the rubble and the agent and save human lives.

Taking on problems:

Being the first major meteorite strike with severe human losses in the USA the authorities are surprised that the event seems to have caused a mass hysteria. Some people insist against all common sense that the meteorite strike was in fact an impact of an "alien spaceship" and have posted grainy truther videos on Youtube. Psychologists have already dubbed the new hysteria the "Philadephia syndrome".

Government speaker:

We are all at a loss to what happened! Unfortunately instead of helping other people some individuals have now used the opportunity to spread false rumors to gain attention. We do not know why they are doing this, but be assured: If you believe to have gathered evidence, inform the authorities about it and it will be evaluated neutrally and with utmost scrunity. Luckily we have now real videos of the impact [really, really billion-dollar good CGI]. I offer also my condolences for the surviving families that the buildings of some of their deceased family member has not only been destroyed by the impact but the contents of the buildings has also been irrevocably destroyed by the sulfuric acid. We know now that Mr Hastings [single, only distant relatives] is responsible for storing the acid.

Phil Plait, skeptic and astronomer:

There have been many arguments during the years which makes the implausibility of alien spacecraft obvious. The vast distances to cover, the plausible reason to cover this distance, the lack of FTL drives. And lets not forget, we astronomers look at the sky, if there was no spacecraft there the whole time how good is the chance that this is a real one?! I must admit that many posted videos are extremely convincing, but given the equally valid counter-evidence we must use Occams Razor. Extraordinary explanations need extraordinary evidence. Unfortunately it is always the same: If we want to see the originals, the people say that they are vanished [broken in] or threatened by government officials with life-long prison. Do I need to say more?

Some people do not understand when to give up...

The strongest zealot of the so-called "Philadelphia Truthers" has now died by a tragic suicide. Malcolm McCoy, who was also known to believe in the conspiracy theory of 9/11 and has a medicine record of a depressive episode 25 years ago always declined the charges of Mrs. XYZ who accused him of molesting her was found dead in his home. It seems that he repeatedly stabbed himself in the back and bled to death. Coroners who examined the body with utmost scrutiny said that suicide was the only reasonable explanation.

Some time later (we need to have a good sleep):

We have gathered together to mourn the loss of the 17th regiment of our Special Forces. They did their duty during the Philadelphia meteorite strike and it is still unknown what exactly happened with the transport plane.

For information: I am a role-playing gamemaster, and I use background mixed from reality with fiction. For example: What could be the real reason the Soviets used the Czar Bomb? Something terrific must be destroyed! I use then maps of the Novaya Zemlya, inform myself about the technology in the 1950s and prepare an invasion of a Great Old One which the player characters must fight. It spares me from having to invent everything, and it is also a nice history and geography lesson.

ADDITION: Some people believed it that it could not be suppressed for the reason everyone has now a smartphone, so someone would take pictures and send them over the net. Guess what, it is disturbingly easy to defeat. What I am talking about are IMSI-catchers which impersonates a mobile cell, can intercept any attempt to phone and is also able to locate the person immediately. So if you wandering into the zone with still a working ISMI-catcher your smartphone is worthless. Worse, the supervisors could immediately detect your presence in the area and find out your identify at once. So in effect the smartphone is a severe disadvantage.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course. Suicide by continuous self-backstab :D How comes we thought about a murder, in the frist place? ^_^ $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 26 '15 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, suicidal persons can be very cunning. Like the teenager who killed himself with a shot in the face from a hidden gun while handcuffed on the back. $\endgroup$ – Thorsten S. Aug 26 '15 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Dan I think you have some misconceptions. The big telescopes are operated by astronomers which are granted telescope time for research so that telescopes have a schedule and a rather limited field of view. Most amateur astronomers are addicted to eye candy, so a big part of the sky (the uninteresting one) is also unobserved. The best chance have comet hunters, a subset of amateur astronomers who are specialized to detect moving objects, but they are also concentrating on the ecliptic plane. All of them need dark night time for their work or hobby. This "would be noticed" is a myth. $\endgroup$ – Thorsten S. Aug 27 '15 at 7:15
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    $\begingroup$ @kaine Alas, I could only assure you personally that it was really a meteor. I was flying my Reichsflugscheibe which I got from my grandfather near Chelyabinsk when suddenly the meteor appeared. I tried to pursue it but I could not get over Mach 6, so I lost it. I personally assure you that it was a meteor, I swear it. $\endgroup$ – Thorsten S. Aug 27 '15 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ after reading your reply, i want ask you something, this is a big question and important. will you be my game master? $\endgroup$ – user902383 Aug 28 '15 at 14:43
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You're doomed.

Too slow to react

This isn't an event that you have planned or anticipated. So you need, yourself to gather intelligence on the event before you can take any measure. Typically, you'd want a no-fly zone, no access, etc. But even in a country as developed as the USA, this would take some time. Imagine a reaction along the lines

  • Crash happens! Boom.
  • Fire dpt., ambulancies, police are sent to the spot (it'd take at least 4-10 minutes). Press will arrive more or less at the same time.
  • The size of the impact is reported to higher-ups, assuming the chain of commands hasn't completely been disrupted.
  • Within 15 minutes (and that's an optimistic estimate), the government is informed that something happened, and that's not just a gas pipe exploding.
  • Specific enquiry is made from the federal level to collect information about what happened. CIA is contacted about possible terrorrist threats. Air controller of the region are contacted about possible planes crashes.
  • UFO pieces are collected and identified as alien origin. That would take at least 15 minutes more.
  • The government realise that something very unusual took place, and decide for safe-measure to block access to the site, stopping research of injured, dead bodies, etc. Delegates a special force on-site to enforce the measure, and resume the investigation.
  • A no-fly zone is instigated.

A very optimistic estimate would amount to 1-2 hours before everything is secure. Before then, several thousands of people have had access to the site.

Too slow to clean up

To avoid some insurrection, you have to show that you continue to try to get all the victims out of your protected area. The no-fly and special squads aren't popular. That's also when you have to deliver your cover story, as well as gather evidence yourself, listening to eye-witnesses.

You might not be familiar with the story, but last March, a plane crashed on the mountains in France. The outcome was similar to what you describe as pieces quite small spread over a large area. It took several weeks to remove all the pieces. Your UFO being larger, and the pieces being smaller, you're up to 1.5-2 months of work. During that time, you keep a no-access zone, which is going to be extremely suspicious, to, at least, intelligence agencies from foreign countries. Plus you have to explain to your NATO allies, why you refuse the help they offer.

Too many witnesses

You can count several thousands of witnesses who saw the decker fall. Injured victims or neighbours might have some information related to it. Several thousands of people, who had access to the site, claim to have seen some strange items lying on the ground, etc. Consider the numbers for

  • people who actually saw the UFO crash,
  • people who saw the UFO on their radars,
  • people from the help that came in immediately,
  • people from the press who were on-site before it was closed,
  • by-standers during the first phase of the emergency,
  • etc.

Those are numerous and hard to track, you could have people who were merely driving through at that time, who came from far, as the first information came out, etc.

Too many factual evidences

The UFO was probably seen and recoreded by many people, satellites, radars, etc. Plus due to the time before you could control the access, many people could film the site. From all those footage, analysts will explain that only the crash of a large object could explain it. So your best chance it to talk about a meteorite at that point. But the fact that you kept the site closed, even to allies means that this is more fishy than it would sound. During the Fukushima accident, several foreign teams were sent there to assists the Japanese. You refused such help. On what grounds?

It is likely that someone, took one or more of the alien's ship pieces from the site before you could close it down.

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    $\begingroup$ Even with a no-fly zone, what are the chances of an "enemy" spy plane snapping some images? $\endgroup$ – user2813274 Aug 27 '15 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ Especially in 2015, I like this answer more than the accepted answer. You could bet that in less than 5 minutes images, videos and audio from witness would flood the internet. Anyone can share a image with the internet in less than 30 seconds nowadays $\endgroup$ – Freedo Aug 30 '15 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Freedo. It's probably less fun than the accepted one, even if, IMHO, it is more realist. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Aug 30 '15 at 19:21
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It was clearly a terrorist attack!

Evil terrorists placed thousands of tons of explosives in a warehouse in central Philadelphia and blew it up. Why? Because they hate our freedom! Time to invade... hm... let's pick Iran.

What? You want proof? We have full confessions of the terrorist leaders. They confessed after we picked them up on the street of Teheran and tortured enhanced interrogated them for a few days. Didn't you see it on FOX News?

Why couldn't all our three letter agencies protect us from this terrorist attack? Because they are chronically underfunded. Thank the liberals of [other party] for cutting their budget again and again. Our agencies need far more money which we will finance with a new patriot tax. Also, their hands were tied by all kinds of unnecessary formalities. "No searches and seizes without warrants"? "No arrests without reasonable suspicion"? "Right to due process"? "Right to a speedy and public trial"? How are they supposed to catch terrorists when they have to follow all those rules? It's about time we abandon that silly 18th century "Bill of Rights" hippie nonsense and build the modern 21st century police state we always wanted.

Aliens? Ridiculous, that's just a conspiracy theory made up by some nut-jobs. Whoever claims that is likely an unpatriotic traitor and a terrorist too and should be silenced. You are not a terrorist, are you? Well, better safe than sorry. Agents, make him disappear.

Out-Of-Character answer: Frame whatever group you currently want to frame for political reasons and seize the opportunity to call for legislations you always wanted but couldn't convince the public of.

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    $\begingroup$ Add President speech affront waving USA flag and no one asks any question about the aliens $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Aug 26 '15 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ So as usual FBI and CIA have to bear the blame for failing to stop the attack, a tactical nuke $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 26 '15 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ @user6760 That's because they were under-funded and bound to too many rules and regulations. They need far more money to protect our freedom, financed through a new patriot tax. Also, they need to get far more privileges. Those "right to due process", "no searches without warrants" and "innocent until proven guilty" clauses in the bill of rights just help the terrorists. They need to go. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Aug 26 '15 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ Alsoo add that to your brilliant answer: The terrorists clearly used dirty bomb, so the whole area is now threatened and all citisens have to be evacuated and ... hm ... cleaned by the military $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Aug 26 '15 at 11:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Philipp chemical attack? Biological attack? Possibilities are countless ;) $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Aug 26 '15 at 11:05
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Spin the event as a natural disaster and as a nuclear terrorist attack then make sure to secure the actual crash site as quickly as possible. This will be harder to do the more wreckage remains.

Spinning the crash as both a terrorist attack and as a natural disaster will prevent the world from forming a cohesive idea of what has happened and buy more time to secure the wreckage. Calling the crash a terrorist attack will also give you cover to secure the site. The level of destruction surrounding the site will require earth moving equipment which can be conveniently used to break down and ship out the wreckage as it is chopped up.

Handling Drone Over-flights

Demand for footage of the crash site will drive some to fly their camera drones into the no fly zone. This must be strictly guarded against with stiff penalties and active countermeasures to shot down or otherwise deny access. Eventually, a drone will get through so prepare spin coverage for that eventuality.

Silencing eye witnesses

You may not have to. Witnesses close enough to the crash to have seen what happened are dead or so injured they can't offer any testimony. Witnesses far away from the crash will only know they saw a giant explosion. You will need to secure any security camera footage from around the crash site that survived.

Wreckage Handling

Wreckage handling is only a problem with large pieces that can't be carried by a human. The hard part of small debris will be gathering it all up. Getting it off site is a piece of cake; just put it under a pile of building debris on a truck then move it off site in a truck. Just send out the National Guard with orders to pick up every single piece they find.

However, a wreck big enough to level Philly is going to have to be cut up and moved. Moving that much mass will require lots of trucks and heavy equipment. But, given the massive amount of damage to the surrounding steel and concrete buildings, it shouldn't be difficult to mix in wreckage debris with the building wreckage.

Scientific Resolution

Ultimately, this will show up as a crash since the firey descent trail can't be explained as a terrorist attack. No one but space fairing nations can loft stuff high enough or fast enough to create that kind of descent trail. The scientific community will want to know exactly what happened and try to recover meteor fragments. Denying them access to the site once everything has cooled off will seem really odd.

Ultimately, I'm not sure you can completely cover up the crash of an alien vessel that wrecked a significant portion of a major US city. Perhaps forestall disclosure for a while but not completely prevent.

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  • $\begingroup$ For cleaning the wreckage, you seem to forget that there are some people who might still be buried around it. Even with a meteorite, you might want to look for survivors. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Aug 26 '15 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ National Guardsmen looking for fragments can be tasked with looking for survivors too. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 26 '15 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ Not if you bury everything under a pile of debris. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Aug 26 '15 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ So what happens when the survivors notice what is going on? or are there going to be mysteriously zero survivors? $\endgroup$ – user2813274 Aug 27 '15 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for nuclear terrorist attack and natural catastrophe happening at the same time. $\endgroup$ – Quiquȅ Jan 17 '16 at 16:48
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While the meteorite story is the most plausible, it is not allowed by the notes, specifically no. 7 "no smoke trails", no smoke trails means no fire ball, and thus no eye witnesses to indicate something fell from the sky.

The best option from a security stand point is a lab investigating zero point energy or antimatter had an accident. This explanation would allow for the movement of national security forces into the area and create valid cover for removal of all debris (for security and safety reasons), it also accounts for the radiation levels, and the shadows on the walls (nice touch don't you think). the rest is just the usual smoke and mirrors of any chaotic situation. "Nothing to see here, move along".

Of course a large emergency response is required to help the survivors and injured, but given the fact that a kilometer radius from impact is a large area, and given that NORAD would have given warning at least 30 minutes (if not more) in advance of impact, the security response would be already in the implementation phase to keep people out of the actual area of interest.

Body collection would be horrific, but with the debris collected (24 to 48 hours at most), ordinary emergency responders would be allowed in to clean up the rest.

Now the real question here is, the motives of the poster of this question. are we doing the work of some alphabet agency by giving them plausible scenario's or are they just using this as a means to identify the ones who would see through the false flags (us - bwahahahahaha)

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for reminding me of a forgotten problem. I have taken care of it. $\endgroup$ – Thorsten S. Aug 27 '15 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ Nicely done, yes darkness covers the smoke trail, but what about the fireball? even the hardest of meteorites have a fireball, which would be observable for a 1000 miles for something of that size, and would thus have a massive eye witness base. $\endgroup$ – ThinkingMan Aug 27 '15 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ There was no mention that it was not bright, in fact the brightness is caused by plasma in front of a fast moving object, it does not depend if it is a spaceship or a meteorite. No. 5 suggests that in fact it was extremely bright. $\endgroup$ – Thorsten S. Aug 27 '15 at 7:28
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The key point is What does everyone actually know? - and then controlling what they learn and how they interpret it.

I don't live near Philly, so anything I'm going to hear about this will be via news reports. I'm literally only going to know what the media tells me. Easy-as-pie in this world of gag orders and national security letters.

On the other extreme, anyone close enough to get a clear look at it was likely in the blast radius and thus not in a position to talk to anyone.

In the middle are folks who would have saw the streaking light coming down. (Think of that meteor that hit Russia a few years back - even the folks who had cameras pointing at it just see a bright something coming down, then big boom). You simply call it whatever you want it to be called - meteor, nuclear attack, whatever your sneaky government masters want to spin it as. (And even from a kilometer away, you're not going to see much detail, particularly at speed)

You mention that satellites caught details. While I think you're overestimating what a satellite can capture (relative speed is a bit of a bitch in photographing things in orbit, especially unexpected things), most of your serious cameras are government controlled. The rest are corporate, which brings us back to government nastygrams telling you that you had an unfortunate data outage, and you have NO IMAGES FROM THAT POINT OF TIME.

Now, you just have a disaster scene, and it's pretty easy at this point. Lock down the area, close the roads, send in FEMA and the nuclear guys and everything else. Rig some gadgets to make clicky noises and declare an emergency evac. Get everyone out. Meanwhile, a bunch of MIBs in hazmats happily take care of the "suspect material".

To sum up:

  1. People close enough to positively identify what it is are dead.
  2. People in the neighborhood to get a good look are busy trying not to be dead, rather than walking a kilometer into the blast zone - and can be easily sent elsewhere "for their safety".
  3. Anyone beyond that only know what you tell them.
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The government can present this as a crash of a secret experimental plane. They can say that some people died. They can let false witnesses tell false stories about the incident, also agents can pretend to be grieving family members of the victims. If they get on t.v. very soon after the incident, then it is known from psychological studies that this can influence the memories of real witnesses. To make this all very credible, some of these people should express anger at the government, some of them can actually hint at a conspiracy where the government is trying to cover up things so as to not have to pay out to the victims. Not everyone will say such things, but this is then enough to generate some news headlines in some sources that the government is failing yet again etc. etc.

Basically, the government activates the dormant memes in society that are usually relevant. There will be plenty of room to fill in strange tings that have been seen by the unconventional nature of the secret aircraft. While some people will tell stories that suggest that it was an alien aircraft, that view will not make much headway in the media.

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The answer is quite simple. The government can play it for what it really is, a 'UFO' crash. As there are no Alien survivors, there is no factual evidence that is was actually extraterrestrials. The crash was simply a military exercise that went wrong involving a top secret UFO-Shaped aircraft. Easily plausible as a lot of military exercises are done at night. As radiation levels are normal there are no suspicions. The rest is just played out like any other plane crash.

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  • $\begingroup$ Forgot to add, it's not totally out of the realms of possibility that the Alien bodies disintegrated upon impact. $\endgroup$ – Jake Aug 27 '15 at 16:31
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I suggest mixing some of these answers:

An unknown object (probably an asteroid but could be space junk) has hit a classified advanced military satellite causing it to crash.

The bonus of this setup is that the root cause is natural so the government isn't totally to blame, and the satellite explains the weird wreckage and explosion. You can also add confusion by saying that it's not clear that the satellite caused the explosion or that the unknown object also impacted the earth (by dragging the satellite in the same direction). There are many scenarios experts could give which makes it a difficult story to analyse and get to the truth. Add in the media spin that others have posted and I think this satisfies the government's needs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Collisions in space don't really deorbit stuff. Collisions create a cloud of debris still in orbit... $\endgroup$ – hyde Aug 29 '15 at 17:39
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The explanation needs to be simple, plausible, loop in as few people as possible, and explain the need for ongoing secrecy. I would go with a classified military satellite deorbiting.

  • Satellites can be quite large.
  • Explains any advanced technology people find.
  • Explains why the government is paranoid about collecting every little piece.
  • You can get local law enforcement providing security and low-ranked national guardsmen looking for pieces and they won't question it.
  • People will be attacked as unpatriotic if they ask too many questions.
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War with North Korea, IS or Iran

The government will be too slow to react. They will need at least a day to figure out for themselves what has happened and by that time, the footage will be all over the internet. Eventually they will just send in the military to control the site and muscle everybody out.

After a day or two of saying that the investigation is under way and we shouldn't draw conclusions prematurely, the president will finally hold a press conference and declare that the evidence is clear: this was an ICBM with a nuclear warhead, launched from one of the countries above (whichever one is most probable at the moment, least popular, and most likely to cause a lengthy quagmire).

The president declares war immediately, and gets some quick "coalition of the willing" on board to get a semblance of international support.

The war is then used as an excuse to "temporarily" limit internet activity and unnecessary free speech. In the state of national emergency, the CIA can slowly go about their business of sanitizing and massaging the record of information. Various sites claiming to possess evidence that the war was started under false pretences will be shut down because they were discovered to be run by enemy spies.

These efforts will escalate the US into a more totalitarian state, but the uncertainty will be effective enough to make everybody think that the UFO theory is too fantastical to be true. Any national and international enemies created along the way can easily be silenced using the technology gathered from the crashed spacecraft.

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I think the worst problem here is the potential for alien machinery to leave the area in a pocket, purse, or backpack. Odds are good it's clearly alien in origin, so if a few dozen people get out and start taking these things to universities and so forth, people are going to find out about it. If thousands of people have samples from the spaceship, it's all over.

You say the spaceship broke up, but where did it break up? If it just sprayed metal around after crashing, it's plausible anyone close enough to get fragments before the government sealed the area was killed by the explosion. If it broke up while entering the atmosphere, it's pretty much game over. When the Columbia broke up, there were fragments scattered across hundreds of miles, and it would be impossible to track them all down. Even the SpaceShipTwo, traveling at much lower speeds, fragmented over 30+ miles.

I have a hard time believing that fragments of any substantial size survived ground zero of what amounts to a nuclear detonation. Any fragments would seem to have necessarily broken off at a fairly high altitude, meaning they would be scattered pretty extensively. Some of them wouldn't be found for decades or even centuries. Some would never be found.

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