But there’s a tug of war between competing factions within the national security bureaucracy that will make it difficult for Congress to compel military branches, spy agencies, national labs and other organizations to reveal, given the long-standing secrecy and stigma surrounding the issue.
“Without forcing people’s hands, it’s going to be very difficult to uncover legacy companies and programs that we know about based on oral interviews that we’ve unearthed,” said a Defense Department official involved in the new effort but was not authorized to speak publicly. “There must be a forcing mechanism.”
“There has to be something to hold people accountable, but also give them a chance to be honest for a while,” the official added, noting that in his experience the Pentagon watchdog has been “blocked”.
The official said there are people with knowledge of the phenomenon who have not yet contributed to the monitoring effort.
“These people exist and they are protecting very interesting information,” the official said.
The public hearing, the first to be held by a congressional committee since 1966, is scheduled for Tuesday before the Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation Subcommittee.
“This will give the American people an opportunity to learn what there is to know about these incidents,” said panel chairman Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), said when the hearing was announced last week.
Ronald Moultrie, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, and Scott Bray, the deputy director of naval intelligence, who played a leading role in investigating reports of “drone swarms” on pilots of the Navy flying from aircraft carriers, must testify.
It comes five months after the National Defense Authorization Act demanded that the military establish a permanent office of UFO research and take a series of other steps to collect and investigate reports.
To respond to the new law, the Pentagon created the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group to standardize reporting and analyze data collected by representatives from across the military community and intelligence.
According to four current and former officials.
Two current officials said they are concerned that the more unusual incidents currently being reported will be lumped together with drones, space debris and other more common occurrences and therefore not fully investigated.
“They’re like, you know, five things out of 5,000, we weren’t sure what they were,” said an intelligence official who was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations, adding that his superiors wanted to treat all UAPs as “all airborne waste.
The official believes the ministry is not addressing “the whole tapestry of the multi-technology problem that we have.”
“They really dragged their feet on this,” the DoD official said. “I don’t think they took it very seriously.”
So far, the official said someone has been identified to lead the Pentagon’s new oversight group and created two full-time positions for analysts.
“To respond to the will of Congress, you will need an analysis team,” the DoD official said. “It can’t be a small operation with one point guard and two officials. That’s what they were trying to do. »
It’s also unclear what the budget for the new Pentagon effort is. “How much funding was actually allocated to the UAP 2022 effort?” asked Colm Kelleher, a biochemist who previously worked as a Pentagon contractor on UAP research. “Has anyone ever confirmed that the actual credit funding ever followed” the recently passed law?
Christopher Mellon, a former senior Pentagon intelligence official who has pressed Congress for more aggressive action, said the Biden administration appears to be treating the new effort “like a small office compiling reports, holding briefings and apparently nothing else”.
“There remains a large gap between congressional intent and Pentagon actions,” he wrote in a public appeal to the panel on Friday. “Whose urgent mission is it to get to the bottom of these ‘drone’ swarms plaguing our ships and bases and what are they doing about it?”
Perhaps the biggest question is whether the Pentagon is completely transparent with Congress.
The intelligence official described another faction within the military and intelligence agencies “that…takes this subject very seriously” and protects UAP-related data.
“They fetishize their secret society,” the official said. “It’s kind of a Skull and Bones type vibe. They take it seriously, but they don’t have any accountability. Zero. There’s a whole group of us who know this stuff in detail, many of whom were not reported to Congress due to security concerns.
The Pentagon, through spokeswoman Susan Gough, declined multiple requests to discuss the progress of the new Pentagon-led effort, including the number of personnel affected, from which agencies and how it carries out the mandate of Congress.
The upcoming House hearing, however, is seen as an opportunity to make historic progress.
A coalition of scientists tapped the panel over the weekend to pressure Pentagon witnesses to share publicly as much as possible what government agencies have learned about a number of widely reported cases.
The Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies, whose members work at private companies, universities, and government agencies, has identified reports of intrusions — and even interference — at nuclear weapons facilities.
They also called for more transparency on reported health risks from encounters with the phenomenon, as well as whether military and intelligence agencies have tracked unknown craft maneuvering through multiple mediums – including the air, under the sea and in orbit.
“Will the Department of Defense release information about this transmedium behavior to the public?” they wrote in an open letter.
Mellon also said that Pentagon officials should be asked publicly if any of the reported aerial intrusions had also been detected maneuvering in space.
“If members can confirm UAP in space, they will go down in history and help eliminate a whole category of potential explanations related to atmospheric phenomena, Chinese lanterns, civilian drones,” he said. declared.
But what it may take first is finding new ways to compel government agencies and personnel to be more open to Congress.
For example, lawmakers and staff discussed taking further steps to encourage people with relevant information to come forward, according to four current and former officials and a pair of congressmen.
The UAP coalition has raised the possibility that Congress needs to push legislation to allow personnel who have signed nondisclosure agreements or been ordered not to discuss their knowledge of the incidents to share what they know. , as long as it does not publicly reveal classified information.
According to experts, only with credible and verified data on UAP reports – past and present – can modern technology be used to fully analyze the phenomenon.
“Can we provide the highest quality UAP data to scientists who will analyze it methodically and quantitatively?” said Avi Loeb, who leads the Galileo project at Harvard University and has worked with NASA and the Space Force. “Future cooperation between government and science will help us understand the unknown.”
He said he was eager “to engage my research team at Harvard in a detailed analysis of this data, if the government was interested in sharing it.”
What becomes clear is that the hearing is likely to be a first step.
“I think there will be some good questions,” said the DoD official, who said he viewed videos of UAPs that have not been made public. “But I think they will lead to more questions.”
But we also fear that it is more theater than anything else.
“Congressional investigations into this subject have often proven to be of entertainment value and little substance,” said Jacques Vallée, a computer scientist and ufologist who advised the Air Force’s Project Blue Book UFO investigation. in the 1960s and consulted on more recent Pentagon research efforts. . “But this case may be an exception. We may be touching on a real problem with a serious purpose.