Lawmakers are demanding greater transparency from the U.S. national defense sector amid increased sightings of what are commonly called unidentified flying objects (UFOs) by pilots.
In recent years UFOs—re-dubbed “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAPs)—have come to the forefront of public attention in the wake of publicly released videos depicting unknown aircraft performing feats that seem to break the laws of known physics.
But members of Congress say that in trying to learn more about these UAPs—whether they be of U.S., Chinese, or extraterrestrial origin—they’ve been consistently stonewalled by the U.S. intelligence community and the Department of Defense (DOD).
Now, a bipartisan cohort of lawmakers has come forward in support of Rep. Tim Burchett’s (R-Tenn.) amendment providing for increased transparency and public disclosures about UAPs where consistent with broader national security aims.
During a Nov. 30 press conference in the U.S. Capitol, Reps. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.), Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) decried the lack of transparency regarding UAPs and spoke in support of Mr. Burchett’s amendment.
The text of the amendment is included in this year’s House draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—a must-pass bill, along with funding for the government.
It would require that, within 180 days from the passage of the legislation, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and the DOD “declassify any Department of Defense documents relating to publicly known sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena” so long as these records “do not reveal sources, methods, or otherwise compromise the national security of the United States.”
Mr. Gaetz called this amendment “a beachhead for us to be able to get the answers and to be able to demand the transparency that is necessary.”
Mr. Burchett opened his remarks by accusing the United States of having “a long history at least since 1947 of covering this issue up,” likely referencing the still disputed events that transpired in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 when, according to hundreds of eyewitnesses, a probe containing nonhuman sentient beings crash-landed in the desert.
The town of Roswell, following those events, was meticulously combed for wreckage from the unidentified craft, and residents were warned not to speak to anyone about what they had seen.
Nevertheless, the Roswell incident has remained at the forefront of speculation that there may be non-human intelligent life in the universe and has been a cornerstone of debates surrounding UAPs.
Until recently, believing in UAPs was considered fringe.
In recent years, however, the U.S. government itself has acknowledged the existence of UAPs, publicly releasing several pieces of footage caught by military aircraft displaying UAPs.
Over the course of decades, UAPs reportedly have been spotted over U.S. military bases, harassing U.S. military aircraft, and—most concerning—over U.S. nuclear weapons facilities.
However, questions linger about the true source of these odd spacecraft: Some believe they are advanced alien spacecraft, while others question whether they have a more terrestrial origin in China or another U.S. adversary.
‘This Whole Issue’s About Transparency’
The lawmakers’ key focus in supporting Mr. Burchett’s amendment, they said, was “transparency.”
During a highly anticipated hearing in July, former Pentagon officials made stunning claims under oath, saying that the Pentagon had been tracking UAPs for decades and had even recovered non-human “biologics” from the wreckage of crashed UAPs.
“The hearing this year faced a lot of pushback from the intelligence community, members of Congress, and of course, our friends at the Pentagon,” Mr. Burchett said, noting that an amendment he offered to require commercial airline pilots to report UAPs was shot down “by the intelligence community.”
After that failure, Mr. Burchett said, he introduced the current NDAA amendment whose goal, he said, was “transparency and honesty.”
“This is what this whole issue’s about; it’s about transparency,” he said.
Ms. Luna agreed.
“In my short time in office, it has become very clear and evident that there is an apparent attempt to an orchestrated attempt to deny this access, and it appears that that is coming from the intelligence community,” she said.
“It is unacceptable that any mid-level unelected bureaucrat staffers can tell members of Congress that we are not allowed to access information about UAPs,” Ms. Luna said. “Let me be clear that we are the representatives … of people that sent us here to do the right thing. Unelected bureaucrats do not get to say what we can and cannot see.”
Mr. Gaetz recounted an experience at an Air Force installation where he and Ms. Luna dealt with stonewalling in their efforts to view information attested to exist by a congressional whistleblower.
When the lawmakers arrived, they said they were told by on-site commanders that they couldn’t see the information—a situation only resolved by Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers’ (R-Ala.) intervention with the DOD.
Mr. Moskowitz, the sole Democrat who took part in the press conference, also dismissed the idea that UAP speculation was “nonsense.”
“The pushback we got is what interests me,” Mr. Moskowitz said. “Every time we pulled the thread, and we stumbled on something, it seemed that we would get stonewalled.
“If this is all nonsense, right, then why are we seeing constant—from different areas of government—whistleblowers coming out with things that are credible? Why, as legislators, are we being stonewalled?”
Lawmakers demurred, however, from speculating on whether the UAPs had their origin among “little green men” in the deep reaches of outer space or if they represent a new threat from one of the United States’ terrestrial adversaries like China.
Because they’ve been blocked from looking deeper into the matter, they said, they just don’t have enough information to make that judgment either way.
The amendment fits into a larger dispute over the intelligence community and DOD’s broad use of the classification system, as many believe that the government has over-classified and should begin declassifying broad swaths of information.
“I’ve been briefed on things I can’t talk about in public because it’s considered classified. But why are we classifying so much about this, especially if the information doesn’t jeopardize national security?” Mr. Burchett asked.
Ms. Luna said the government’s “over-classification problem” was “rampant.”
Mr. Gaetz also said it shouldn’t be solely up to the intelligence community and DOD to decide what information gets classified, adding that Congress—particularly the Oversight Committee and Armed Services Committee—should have a greater say.
Classification “should not just be the fiefdom of the Intelligence Committee and the intelligence community,” Mr. Gaetz said.
Senate UAP Efforts
In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the most powerful people in Congress, has also taken a keen interest in the issue.
A 64-page bipartisan bill proposed by Mr. Schumer and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) would also seek declassification of non-national security endangering information about UAPs.
However, in some cases, the requirements and exceptions laid out in that bill could cause it to be 25 years before Americans can receive additional information about UAPs.
Mr. Burchett, asked about this bill, said, “I think we’ve overcomplicated the issue.”
Mr. Gaetz was grateful for Mr. Schumer’s involvement, but likewise expressed reservations about his proposed solution.
“I think it is productive that Senator Schumer has engaged on this issue,” Mr. Gaetz said. “He’s not an insignificant person in this town.”
But he argued that Mr. Schumer’s proposal “mirrors the JFK [President John F. Kennedy] assassination disclosure paradigm.”
Under this paradigm, there’s a slow trickle of information into the assassination of one of America’s most beloved presidents—a president who, many believe, may have been executed on the orders of state actors and opponents.
“I don’t know that there are any Americans who would view the JFK assassination disclosure paradigm as some sort of vaulted standard,” Mr. Gaetz said. “Pursuant to the Schumer language, we would have to wait 25 years in order to get this information; 25 years is a long time.”
It remains unclear if Mr. Burchett’s amendment will make it to the final draft of the NDAA, which will need to be hammered out between the House and Senate.
Nevertheless, given its relatively painless insertion into the House NDAA, it doesn’t seem likely to become a hot-button issue for the lower chamber.
From The Epoch Times