Wilson/Davis Memo and Senate Intel Committee Efforts to Look Behind the Classified Wall

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the New York Times and Politico articles revealing the Navy pilot videos (FLIR, Gimbal, and GOFAST), efforts are accelerating on several fronts of the UFO/UAP disclosure battle.  In response to these efforts, the Pentagon (DoD) and the intelligence community (IC) continue their pushback. One example is when the Pentagon made it clear that they will not publicly release any more pilot videos like the ones first publicized on December 16, 2017. However, in this relatively short period, disclosure advocates have gained strong allies in Congress who are now pressing forward with a second round of legislation. Their new legislative efforts are targeted at breaking past some of the highest security walls. This core congressional group has not turned into unabashed disclosure advocates. Instead, when they learned about multiple UAP intrusions around Navy ships, they demanded to be briefed on, what they perceived, to be unaddressed security threat. In other words, they were exercising their constitutional responsibilities of oversight into to the military threats. The result has been progress of historic proportions. Yet, this progress still faces many hurdles ahead. To meet challenges from firmly entrenched interests, they have put together a remarkably bipartisan congressional national security team. This team has proposed another round of legislative mandates intended to learn more about the most troubling UAP incidents.  

Through their efforts, there are two bills winding their way through Congress that have provisions which touch and concern our government’s role, past and present, in the UAP mystery. The Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act adds language that gives congressional committees access to secrecy agreements involving UAP sightings. It also gives whistleblower protections to military personnel and defense contractor employees who come forward with information about UAP. The Fiscal Year 2023 Intelligence Authorization Act (FY 2023 IAA) contains identical provisions that apply the same non-disclosure and whistleblower language to IC personnel. In addition, the 2023 IAA amends language to clarify that the overall UAP legislation applies to craft that can operate underwater as well as in the air and space.

To help Congress determine what have been our historical UFO/UAP efforts, the 2023 IAA contains section 705, requiring the Comptroller General to conduct an analysis of the intelligence community UFO/UAP efforts since January 1947. The Comptroller General is the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which conducts independent audits of government programs at the request of  federal agencies or if mandated by congressional legislation. The review must begin within one year of the effective date of the 2023 IAA, probably late December 2023. The review must be completed within six months, around June 2024. There is no companion bill applying the same language to the DoD. This is because the DoD is already undergoing a review of its UAP program by the Inspector General of the Defense Department. There is no deadline for this review but will likely be completed at or near the time of the IC review by the Comptroller General.

If adopted, the Comptroller General review will look at more than just efforts to identify UAP. The review must include “any intelligence community efforts to obfuscate, manipulate public opinion, hide, or otherwise provide unclassified or classified misinformation about unidentified aerospace-undersea phenomena or related activities.” This provision requires the GAO to look for implementing measures that reflect the recommendations of the 1953 CIA Robertson Panel. The Panel recommended that the CIA “debunk” those who study or witness UFOs and to “watch” certain UFO organizations. The Comptroller General and DoD Inspector General reviews should provide Congress, partly in a classified appendix, with a past history of UAP-related activities of the DoD and IC. These reports will inform Congress about the foundations of current UAP policy. Also, it may answer questions about UAP have already been answered but those answers remain hidden from our elected representatives.

While these investigations are either ongoing or planned, the emergence of new evidence about the Wilson/Davis Memo fits nicely in the hidden narrative that Congress is pursuing. Namely, is there a secret program in the government, or offloaded to the private sector, that has been working on reverse-engineering a UAP? The Wilson/Davis Memo was raised by Congressman Michael Gallagher (R-Wis.) at a House Intelligence Subcommittee hearing in May 2022. The Memo is a sixteen page set of notes of a conversation between Physicist Eric Davis and Admiral Thomas Wilson about a secret program to reverse-engineer a UFO. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brX0rMNa2xo.) Admiral Wilson has denied the conversation. However, recent information casts doubt on the Admiral’s denial. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23b44fxvz8I.) Regardless of the validity of the document, it echoes many elements of how a UAP reverse-engineering project could be hidden from Congress and the public.

Whether or not a defense contractor has been given exclusive possession of a recovered UAP, the Wilson/Davis Memo highlights possible ways that an ongoing UAP research program could be conducted away from prying eyes. First, the transfer of UAP artifacts to a private defense contractor would protect it from inadvertent discovery through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request or a congressional request. Second, the Memo mentions that the secret program is not categorized as a typical defense or intelligence program. Searches by knowledgeable people inside or outside the government would not be able to find information by looking for traditional program information. Since the program has its own unique designation, it would make it harder to track. Third, the program is walled off from the normal classified defense hierarchy. Hence, Admiral Wilson was denied access, even though he was the Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Each of these attributes of the Wilson/Davis Memo would be logical methods to wall off a program from normal supervision and oversight. Even if the Memo was not an accurate record, these are the type of steps that would be taken to hide any long term program from scrutiny. While no exact dates of the transfer of artifacts were discussed in the Wilson/Davis Memo, this clandestine research program was purported to be in existence for a significant period of time. This would be consistent with the arc of the modern-era phenomenon.

Assuming that the program was established, and property (alien artifacts) transferred before 1986, it would be difficult to trace the actual transfer. According to a 1988 study, the Pentagon did not have an accurate means of tracking the transfer of government property to defense contractors until 1986. Nevertheless, it is highly likely that the government still retains title to the transferred property. Title to government property remains with the government unless it was transferred following appropriate legal procedures.

Any property transfer of alien artifacts would not be legally effective unless it was performed in a manner consistent with the law at the time. The DoD Inspector General and the Comptroller General would naturally be interested in any transfers of government assets, especially ones so valuable. As a general rule, one cannot adversely possess government property by mere possession, for no matter how long. Records of any property transfers likely do not exist, considering the era that such transfers would have begun. CIA declassified records, from the Flying Saucer Era, show that there was a conscious effort to keep “paperwork at a minimum.” In the mid-1970s, a special Senate oversight committee, often referred to as the Church Committee, after its chair, Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), conducted oversight hearings into the intelligence community, law enforcement, and the military. The Church Committee found that many illegal programs documented very few of their actions. Failure to document makes it harder to trace improper actions back to senior officials. The transfer of alien hardware to a private company to perform reverse-engineering research that is relatively free of oversight would seem to fit this pattern. A pattern that occurred in the same agencies that handled UFO issues.

If a private program, using materials transferred from the federal government, still exists, what remedies does Congress have to reassert oversight authority? In the original UAP legislation adopted in late 2021, there are provisions that redefine authority over study of the UAP phenomenon. Under §1683(f) of the UAP law, a Science Plan was established that centralized UAP studies, as follows:

“(f) SCIENCE PLAN.—The head of the Office established under subsection (a), on behalf of the Secretary and the Director, shall supervise the development and execution of a science plan to develop and test, as practicable, scientific theories to—

(1) account for characteristics and performance of unidentified aerial phenomena that exceed the known state of the art in science or technology, including in the areas of propulsion, aerodynamic control, signatures, structures, materials, sensors, countermeasures, weapons, electronics, and power generation; and

(2) provide the foundation for potential future investments to replicate any such advanced characteristics and performance.”      

     With the adoption of this provision, Congress intended to consolidate projects to study UAP under the newly created UAP program. Under 1683(f)(1), the scope of this Science Plan was established. This subsection defines the type of research that falls under the authority of the UAP program. It is an all-encompassing definition that includes a list of flight characteristics that are now subject to the UAP program. Reading §1683(f) with other provisions of the UAP law clearly indicates that the Congress intended to coordinate all aspects of UAP research under the newly created UAP program. All future research now comes under the authority of this program, whether existing or newly minted.

For ongoing programs that fall under this definition, they must now report to the UAP program director who, in turn, acts on behalf of the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence. Future funding will be overseen by the UAP program under §1683(f)(2). This shift in supervisory authority allows the UAP program to coordinate all efforts that are underway to understand UAP pursuant to §1683(b) (Duties). Unless ongoing efforts to research UAP were expressly excluded from this requirement by Congress, these programs are now subject to UAP program control. A secret program that was approved through Pentagon or IC contract procedures or approved by a Presidential Executive Order are now subject to UAP program control. Under Article I of the Constitution, congressional legislation takes precedence over non-legislative authority such as Executive Orders or regulations.

What if an existing program, like the one alleged in the Wilson/Davis Memo, refuses to cooperate with the UAP program? Under existing law, there are remedies to force compliance with congressional legislation. No matter how secret a research project is, it is still subject to federal contracting rules. The defense contractor cannot act, or get paid, without a federal contract. A dispute over a contract with the federal government is subject to the Contract Disputes Act of 1978.

Procurement contracts routinely require the defense contractor to abide by the terms of its agreement and to obey all federal laws. Failure to abide by these rules could cause a defense contractor to be subject to several levels of penalties up to debarment. The refusal to comply with the new shift of authority to the UAP program could have severe implications affecting a defense contractor’s ability to contract with the federal government. Most current defense contractors have many ongoing defense projects. Most defense contractors are also an amalgamation of previous defense contractors through mergers and acquisitions. Continuing a contract acquired this way requires the contractor to be responsible for actions of the business they have acquired. Since any current defense contractor acquired the benefits of the contract, they also must comply with the accompanying burdens. Not getting to pick your government supervisors is one burden they must face. Another is the loss of exclusive rights to use the artifacts. The passage of the UAP legislation in 2021 will raise the stakes for defense contractors shielding information about research projects looking into UAP. As long as the research is still being conducted under a federal contract, it must follow these new reporting rules.

The pending legislation will bolster the search for these hidden programs. Congressional access to secrecy agreements in the pending bills will help inform them of the scope of enforced secrecy. While there are exceptions for classified programs, the receipt of these agreements will be a roadmap to many UAP/military incidents. The terms of each agreement will supply information about the who, when, and where of each incident that led to a secrecy agreement. They will help target investigations based on specific evidence contained in each secrecy agreement. It will help Congress gain historical perspective to both the phenomenon and the official response to UAP. If adopted, military and IC officials have a mandatory duty to cooperate with the UAP program to find these agreements and the underlying incident behind each secrecy agreement. Whistleblower protections will also be a significant disincentive for a supervisor or superior officer. It will raise the consequences of any activity to prevent a witness from talking to the UAP program and Congress. The two new provisions, if enacted, will go a long way towards explaining how UFO/UAP policy has been implemented since January 1947.

Most of the efforts of the House and Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees are done behind closed doors. So the public is not privy to most details of their efforts. We do know that these core national security committees are not investigating UAP to bring about full disclosure. They are doing it because of the capabilities many UAP have shown. Without a doubt, the most concerning incidents show UAP performing maneuvers far beyond the capabilities of our most advanced aircraft. All without the use of the chemical propellants we rely upon. The question is whether, using these capabilities, the sources of UAP have an intent to harm us. In their role conducting oversight of the military and intelligence community, these four committees have an Article I constitutional responsibility to understand whether we are under threat or not. If these craft were the product of a terrestrial adversary, the activities of UAP would be a direct threat to the United States. However, there is no indication that any of our terrestrial adversaries are the original source of UAP. Finding out who is behind the mysterious craft, for these members of Congress, is a high priority. However, from outward indicators, the DoD and IC still seem reluctant to help.

After their first round of legislation, they appeared to be moving forward quite rapidly in their quest to find answers. However, the lack of cooperation from the military and IC has forced them to propose a second round of legislation that looks to the past as well as the present. Currently, there is a DoD Inspector General review of the Pentagon response to UAP, past and present. Pending legislation will increase the information gathered by the UAP program through the collection of secrecy agreements that will be a path to discovering more trained witnesses that will help the UAP program and Congress. The whistleblower provisions and specific legal mandates requiring cooperation by personnel in the DoD and IC will make it more difficult to cover up past incidents. The Comptroller General investigation legislation will help Congress determine how long this phenomenon has been occurring and what policies has the government implemented to either investigate and/or manipulate the public on the issue.

These efforts, to date, have been internal to the government and have needed no outside help to pursue leads. To date, congressional oversight has been aimed at government efforts to determine what has been happening. The research directive that was given by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2020 only applied to military incidents. So, to date, there has been little need for outside help. However, with this new direction taken by Congress to as learn from the past, information about past events could come quicker from private researchers than the DoD and IC. The Wilson/Davis Memo is a prime example of how cooperative efforts can provide the UAP program and Congress with evidence that could guide the inquiry. As discussed above, the Memo has all the earmarks of an effort to hide a UAP reverse-engineering program. Since the Wilson/Davis Memo was discovered in the estate of Astronaut/Physicist Edgar Mitchell, it is less likely to be the product of government misinformation. It does provide an excellent lead for the Comptroller General, DoD Inspector General, congressional committees, and the UAP program to follow. Diligent research of this Memo and similar documents by many UFO researchers has brought new documents to light. Yet, the DoD claims to be unaware of the Wilson/Davis Memo or its significance. Hopefully, these researchers will make themselves available to those in the government investigating the Memo and other similar documents. To the extent it is known, the chain of custody of the each document would help investigators track down leads that could cast light on its authenticity.

At the May 2022 congressional hearing about UAP, there were two matters that the DoD witnesses claimed to have been unaware. One was the Wilson/Davis Memo and the other was the 1967 Malmstrom/ICBM UFO incident. The key witness to the Malmstrom incident, Capt. (ret.) Robert Salas, has already contacted Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) to indicate that he would be willing to serve as a witness in the matter. If researchers of the Wilson/Davis Memo and similar documents would do the same, it would help these investigations make progress.

With the expansion of research emphasis to look at DoD and IC efforts after January 1947, the knowledge base of UFO researchers could be of significant benefit to the official quest for answers. Given that records from the 1947 time period onward are likely to be sparse for several reasons, supplying information held in private hands could be of significant benefit to this multi-pronged investigation. While the focus of their search is on determining whether we are facing a security threat, information that shows these objects have been around for decades. Recognizing this fact about the longevity of the phenomenon will change the focus of official investigations. A source or sources of these objects that has been around for at least eighty years presents a different picture than UAP that have only been around since November 2004. It would change the dynamics of the threat assessment. An adversary usually does not wait at least eighty years for its opponent to move from propeller-drive aircraft, vacuum tubes, and slide rules to hypersonic missiles, computer circuits, and quantum computing. It also casts doubt on the possibility that a terrestrial adversary is the original source of ultra-high tech UAP.

This march towards disclosure of a non-terrestrial presence on this planet is picking up pace. A small group of Senators and House Members, looking at the same phenomenon, is trying to determine if this very real presence threatens our national security. This bipartisan coalition has had an outsized influence on Congress by virtue of their Armed Services or Committee on Intelligence membership. To date, every UAP proposal they have put on the floor of the House and Senate has not drawn any organized congressional opposition. A curious “phenomenon” in itself. Silent approval for a proposition that for decades has drawn derision in political circles. Today, after Senator Harry Reid’s small expenditure for the first UAP program, the results have snowballed into a multi-pronged effort. If the current legislation is signed into law, the implications will go beyond the threat determination that the bipartisan coalition is trying to answer for very important reasons.

Eventually, the dilemma that will face these lawmakers is the significant consequences. Even if UAP are not an imminent threat, they are the product of a one or more non-terrestrial civilizations. Congress is now on the verge of receiving multiple reports that could lead to full disclosure of non-terrestrial presence. NASA has announced a study of UAP. This will complement its Webb Telescope search for intelligent life. The DoD Inspector General is looking at the Pentagon’s efforts to study UAP. If the pending legislation adopted, the Comptroller General will review the efforts of the intelligence community, including any steps to “debunk” the subject as recommended by the 1953 CIA Robertson Panel. Each of these efforts can be complimented by private individuals bringing forward quality evidence to fill in the gaps to counter DoD and IC lack of cooperation.

After spending at least eighty years tamping down the possibility, there are multiple fronts now in motion just on the government side. Couple these efforts with diligent efforts of researchers in the UFO community, the disclosure movement is accelerating. These private researchers are finding more documentary evidence of late, showing significant behind the scenes involvement at the DoD and IC. Combining these efforts will bring us closer than ever to an answer. With witnesses to extraordinary events, like Captain (ret.) Robert Salas volunteering to testify, the quest for recognition of a non-terrestrial presence is at a turning point. With more quality evidence coming forward and more research efforts picking up speed, we are closer than we have ever been to disclosure of this presence. Does this mean that official disclosure is just around the corner? The answer depends, in large part, on the UAP legislative package pending in Congress. Its adoption will keep the ball rolling. However, there are still those in the military and the intelligence community poised to throw roadblocks in the way. Considering the partisan tension in Washington, it has been amazing to watch a small, bipartisan group make so much progress. Let us hope that the general political atmosphere will not derail these efforts. The pro-disclosure advocates must continue to support the extraordinary progress we have witnessed to date.                       

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