UPDATE ON CONGRESS: New UAP Legislation for Fiscal Year 2023
This is an update on pending legislation in Congress that affects how our country deals with the UFO phenomenon. Last year, Congress adopted the first Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) study program approved by legislative enactment. It is a five year program that ends on December 31, 2026. Today, there are four provisions pending before Congress including mandates that are intended to learn about the history of UFO involvement by the intelligence community. There are also two new whistleblower programs (military and intelligence community). Finally, there is a new mandate to study undersea unknown objects.
The program began over worries about unknown craft that had interfered with the aircraft from the U.S.S. Nimitz (November 2004) and the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt (2014-2015). Coincidently, I was on a civilian tour of the Nimitz two days before it sailed for training that was suspended because of the Tic Tac-like craft interfering with flight operations.
The original purpose of congressional interest was the worry that these unknown craft were developed by the Russians or Chinese. Since then, the focus is shifting towards a non-terrestrial possibility. This summer is a beginning for that change.
After adoption of the UAP law last year, the Pentagon and the intelligence community were supposed to gear up this program. On May 17, 2022, a subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held the first public hearing on UFOs in 54 years. On a historical note, among the witnesses at the 1968 hearing were two Cornell University classmates, Carl Sagan and Stanton Friedman. At the May 2022 hearing, the only two witnesses were Pentagon intelligence officials. The public part of the hearing obviously underwhelmed the committee members. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cal.) of Burbank spoke and wondered why the Pentagon had yet to appoint a director of the UAP. In response, he was told the Director was appointed the day before, but they could not tell the subcommittee the person’s name (Brennan McKernan, Navy intelligence officer). One of the intel officers tried to run a video of a UAP incident and could not make the program work. Navy Intel Officer Scott Bray also told the committee members that no more videos would be released if they were captured by a classified “source or method”. All cameras on Naval airplanes have classified cameras and so, even though the three declassified videos (FLIR, Gimbal, and GOFAST) were all captured that way, no more military UAP videos will be declassified.
The hearing demonstrated that the two intelligence officers had no knowledge of UFOs except for the recent survey conducted by the Navy. One committee member asked about the 1967 Maelstrom Air Force Base incident where a UFO shut down a flight of ten ICBM nuclear missiles. The intelligence officers were not aware of it, but the committee member made a formal request about it. They should have asked retired Captain Robert Salas, who was on site during the famous incident. Overall, the subcommittee was disappointed in the public part of the briefing. What they heard in the later classified briefing is not known but later actions and news reports show their frustration.
The lack of progress by the UAP program has resulted in some very significant legislation being proposed. There are four pending sections of legislation that are contained in the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (Pentagon funding) and the FY 2023 Intelligence Authorization Act (Intelligence community funding).
Both bills have a whistleblower act for UAP reporting. Any person who works for the military, intelligence community or their contractors can report an incident to the UAP program and Congress without getting permission from their supervisor. Even if they were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, they can still report. If they are punished for reporting, they have a right to file a civil rights claim. The legislation also clarifies that UAPs that travel underwater are to be investigated.
Finally, the intel legislation requires the Comptroller General of the U.S. government conduct a one year study of the intelligence community about what they have been doing about UFOs since January 1, 1947. The legislation specifically states that any efforts to “debunk” the subject or mislead the American people must be included. Every intelligence employee is required to cooperate with the review. The results are due in two years.
In addition to the legislative requirements, the Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.), stated in the formal committee comments on the Intelligence Authorization Bill that craft that are “man-made” should not be considered UAP. If they are man-made, they cannot be UAP. This is the first official statement by the U.S. government that we are dealing with objects that aren’t from here. A big step.
Since the bills are all bipartisan, they should pass by the end of the year. None of the provisions got a negative vote during committee hearings. It would take a lot of effort to stop these provisions. There is a fight between Congress and the ones who are keeping the secrets. We are starting to turn the tide. Both exciting and scary times for all.