1st UFO hearing in Congress in 50 years
UPDATE: The May 17, 2022, congressional hearing – on the subject of UAPs, or unidentified aerial phenomena (aka UFOs), is now over. The Pentagon’s new UAP task force said that – thanks in part to a concerted effort to destigmatize reports of UAP by pilots and other members of the military – the task force now has collected approximately 400 reports. None of these reports, however, showed what the UAP actually are. The reports don’t, for example, show that the UAP are the product of alien beings. And the reports don’t show that the UAP are examples of secret high tech, from our enemy adversaries here on Earth. As in the past, many questions remain. The video above shows the entire hearing, which lasts about an hour and a half. EarthSky’s earlier article about the hearing is below.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE BEGINS HERE: For the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S. Congress will hold an open public hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). That term has been in the news, especially since June 2021, when the U.S. intelligence community released a much-awaited report on unexplained “sightings” by the military. UAP has now become government-speak for what most of us call UFOs. The House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee will hold the hearing on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at 9 a.m. ET (13 UTC).
You can watch the hearing via the subcommittee’s YouTube channel, or on C-SPAN, or via the video below.
A push for ‘greater transparency’
Representative André Carson, Democrat of Indiana and the chairman of the subcommittee, will lead the hearing. There will also be a classified briefing following the public hearing. The New York Times reported news of the public hearing on May 10, 2022. The House Intelligence Committee tweeted:
On May 17, the C3 subcommittee, led by @RepAndreCarson, will hold an open hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena.
This will be the committee's first open hearing on the topic – and members will push for greater transparency from the IC.https://t.co/4fybNNnGaQ
— House Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) May 10, 2022
1st public UFO hearing in over 50 years
Why is this hearing being held now? As you may have seen and heard, UFOs, or UAP, have been in the news again. This started in December 2017 when The New York Times first broke the story about a secretive government UFO study program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Notably, this included two videos of purported Navy-filmed UAP, followed by a third video the following March. All three videos were later acknowledged by the Department of Defense as being authentic, and officially released on April 27, 2020, although not intended to be seen by the public.
As might be expected, the news generated a wave of fascination, skepticism and excitement that continues to this day. AATIP focused on reports by military pilots, primarily from the Navy. The pilots reported encountering bizarre objects/craft that appeared to have capabilities far in advance of any known aircraft. The most well-known incident is the Nimitz in 2004, where multiple pilots and other Navy crewmembers reported white “tic-tac-shaped” objects. The objects could easily outpace their F-18 fighter jets and drop from about 80,000 feet to 20,000 feet and then to sea level in only a couple of seconds.
UFO hearing: what to expect
Indeed, a lot of behind-the scenes work has led up to the first public UFO hearing by the government since Project Blue Book ended in 1969. So, what can we expect? If current rumors are true, this may be just the first of additional hearings. Right now, for this hearing, two key defense department officials will be testifying next week: Ronald S. Moultrie (Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security) and Scott W. Bray (Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence).
To be sure, it should not be expected that the government will suddenly admit that UAP are aliens or anything else too exotic. It should, however, be a step forward on something that most on-the-record officials see as a defense and national security issue: namely, unidentified, and sometimes very unusual, objects repeatedly entering restricted military airspace. These incidents are reportedly still happening now, hence the new urgency in dealing with the issue.
André Carson statement
In the media advisory for the hearing, Carson said:
The American people expect and deserve their leaders in government and intelligence to seriously evaluate and respond to any potential national security risks, especially those we do not fully understand.
Since coming to Congress, I’ve been focused on the issue of unidentified aerial phenomena as both a national security threat and an interest of great importance to the American public. And I’m pleased to chair the first open Intelligence Committee hearing on these events. It will give the American people an opportunity to learn what there is to know about incidents. And I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on this critical matter.
Congress hasn't held a public hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena (UFO's) in over 50 years. That will change next week when I lead a hearing in @HouseIntel on this topic & the national security risk it poses. Americans need to know more about these unexplained occurrences.
— André Carson (@RepAndreCarson) May 10, 2022
Adam Schiff statement
Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Permanent Selected Committee on Intelligence, also said:
There’s still much to learn about unidentified aerial phenomena and the potential risks they may pose to our national security. But one thing is sure – the American people deserve full transparency, and the federal government and Intelligence Community have a critical role to play in contextualizing and analyzing reports of UAPs.
The purpose of this hearing is to give the public an opportunity to hear directly from subject matter experts and leaders in the Intelligence Community on one of the greatest mysteries of our time, and to break the cycle of excessive secrecy and speculation with truth and transparency. I’m grateful to Congressman Carson for his continued leadership, and push for transparency, on this important issue.
Schiff also tweeted:
There's much to learn about unidentified aerial phenomena.
But one thing is sure – the American people deserve full transparency.
Next week, @HouseIntel will give the public a chance to hear from experts on one of the greatest mysteries of our time.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 10, 2022
Jon Kirby press briefing on UFO hearing
Also, in a press briefing on May 10, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the Defense Department will try to:
Make sure we have a better process for identifying these phenomena, analyzing that information in a more proactive, coordinated way than it’s been done in the past.
Watch the video of his statements below (queued to the portion regarding UAP):
Various factors have built up to this hearing over the past few years. Some of these are summarized below.
The ODNI report in June 2021
On August 4, 2020, then Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist announced the establishment of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF). As the press release stated:
The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.
Then, on June 25, 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its first public, unclassified report on UAP. It is shorter than the classified version and dealt with cases from 2004-2021. Of the 144 military incidents examined, only one was able to be easily explained, as a deflating balloon.
In summary, it said that most of the sightings were of real, physical objects, with 80 recorded by multiple advanced sensors. It stated that there are probably multiple explanations for UAP, which most researchers agree with. From the report:
Most of the UAP reported probably do represent physical objects given that a majority of UAP were registered across multiple sensors, to include radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers, and visual observation.
UFO hearing shows some cases difficult to explain
While some reports may be adversarial drones or balloons, or secret U.S. technology, some cases are still more difficult to explain. From the report:
We currently lack data to indicate any UAP are part of a foreign collection program or indicative of a major technological advancement by a potential adversary. We continue to monitor for evidence of such programs given the counter intelligence challenge they would pose, particularly as some UAP have been detected near military facilities or by aircraft carrying the USG’s most advanced sensor systems.
Additional scientific knowledge needed?
Intriguingly, it also said that:
Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion. In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with UAP sightings.
The UAPTF holds a small amount of data that appear to show UAP demonstrating acceleration or a degree of signature management. Additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts to determine the nature and validity of these data. We are conducting further analysis to determine if breakthrough technologies were demonstrated.
Although most of the UAP described in our dataset probably remain unidentified due to limited data or challenges to collection processing or analysis, we may require additional scientific knowledge to successfully collect on, analyze and characterize some of them. We would group such objects in this category pending scientific advances that allowed us to better understand them. The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management.
The report called for expanded investigation of UAP reports, with better data collection and collation.
Last year, Kathleen Hicks at the Department of Defense announced the establishment of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchonization Group (AOIMSG) to address the UAP issue.
This followed a proposed amendment to the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2022, introduced by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. That amendment, supported by other senators as well, called for an even stronger mandate regarding UAP. Most of the amendment was indeed later adopted into the final NDAA, which was signed by President Biden last December. Gillibrand has also called UAP an urgent issue.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have said that the Department of Defense isn’t moving fast enough to set up AOIMSG and implement the NDAA mandate, which is now law. As Lizzie Landau, Press Secretary at the Office of Senator Gillibrand, told The Debrief last November:
While we appreciate DoD [Department of Defense]’s attention to the issue, the AOIMSG doesn’t go nearly far enough to help us better understand the data we are gathering on UAPs.
AIAA and NASA
Even the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) covered the issue in 2019. It is also now featuring a UAP Community of Interest (COI) this summer. The session is called “Advocating for Scientific Study of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon – Technical Perspective with Focus on Aviation Safety.” This is part of the AIAA Aviation Forum being held from June 27 to July 1, 2022.
In 2021, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also said that he wanted the space agency to take a closer look at some of the reports.
Since The New York Times story first came out, multiple Navy witnesses have come forward about other incidents as well. In addition, a growing number of senators and congress people have since acknowledged receiving classified briefings on the issue. Some of those briefings have been quite recent. Some members of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees, including Carson, have openly called for new hearings in Congress.
Bottom line: Congress will hold the first UFO hearing in over 50 years next week, on May 17, 2022. It will be the first such hearing since Project Blue Book.
For additional reporting on the subject of the UFO hearing, see these articles at POLITICO, Bloomberg, Newsweek, The Hill, The WarZone, The Debrief, Christopher Mellon, Liberation Times, and UAP Media UK.