The Broader Implications of Proposed UAP Legislation            By: James P. Lough

On June 22, 2023, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted out of committee the Fiscal Year 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act. This annual bill establishes funding and new legislative parameters for the intelligence community (IC). If adopted, it would make the third year in a row that congressional legislation has approved Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) language. The FY2024 Intel Bill contains a significant requirement that will accelerate our understanding about the source of UAP. This proposed language should tell us a lot about how our government has been studying UAP, without any congressional oversight. The Bill helps determine if our government has civilian control over military/intelligence UAP research, as the Constitution intended. These new requirements will reshape the search for the source of UAP and shed light on the intentions of UAP operators.

The bill, S. 2103, contains §1104 (Funding Limitations Relating to Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena) that adds new funding restrictions for any program that directly or indirectly involves, research and development of recovered UAP hardware. Under the amendment authored by Kirsten Gillibrand and co-sponsored by Senators Michael Rounds (R-SD), John Cornyn (R-Tx.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fl),[1] no federal funding “may be obligated or expended…in support of activities involving unidentified anomalous phenomena protected under any form of special access or restricted access limitations that have not been formally, officially, explicitly, and specifically described, explained, and justified to the appropriate committees of Congress, congressional leadership”…. (118th Congress, Session One, S. 2103, §1104(c)(1).) The national security committees and congressional leadership must know and approve of program funding for UAP research, or the funding stops. This provision puts civilian control of these hidden programs in place. If adopted, future congressional legislation cannot avoid this requirement without specific language creating an exception. (S. 2103, §1104(c)(2).)

In order to transition to this fixed rule, the 2024 proposed Intelligence Authorization Act establishes a short amnesty period for noncompliant programs. Within 60 days of the enactment of the Intelligence Bill, likely the last week of December 2023, all such programs must report their activities to the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). (S. 2103, §1104(d)(1).) Within 180 days of the date of enactment, each described program must provide full access to AARO. (S. 2103, §1104(d)(2).) AARO has 30 days from disclosure to report these steps to Congress.  (S. 2103, §1104(g).) Any report filed within these time periods shall not be considered a violation of law when the appropriate committees are notified. (S. 2103, §1104(e).)  

This amnesty period gives defense contractors a short amount of time to comply with the reordering of supervision of UAP-related research and development. With its introduction, special access programs and defense contractors are put on notice that they will have to comply with AARO supervision by next June, at the latest. Inclusion in the first full draft of the annual intelligence authorization bill by a unanimous vote signal that this language will eventually make it through the approval process.

In S. 2103, §1104(b) (Sense of Congress), the rationale for this reordering of UAP research and development is explained. “It is the sense of Congress that, due to the increasing potential for technology surprise from foreign adversaries and to ensure sufficient integration across the United States industrial base and avoid technology and security stovepipes…,” that congressional oversight is necessary and appropriate. UAP-related research and development will continue to be classified, but it cannot be hidden from our elected representatives. Whether this technology was obtained from terrestrial or non-terrestrial sources, the restrictions apply. The stakes are too high to ignore.

In addition to the need for an efficient federal industrial policy, this legislation is aimed at curing a defect that strikes at the heart of our representative government. Civilian control of the military originates with our elected civilian representatives. On this point, the Congressional Research Service put it this way:

“The desire to ensure that the military reflected, and was subordinate to, the will of the people therefore led to considerable congressional powers on matters concerning the armed services. These include the power to lay and collect taxes for the common defense, the sole power to declare war, the ability to raise and support armies, and the authority to establish rules and regulations for the army, navy, and militias when in service of the United States. To further strengthen civilian control of the military, a provision prohibited the appropriation of money for the army for a period longer than two years.”[2]  

During its oversight of UAP study, the national security committees have been continuously rebuffed in their efforts to learn about special compartmentalized programs studying core UAP performance characteristics. If access continues to be denied, how is Congress to perform its war powers oversight? To prevent secrets from falling into the wrong hands and compromising national security, congressional oversight of classified programs is conducted by committees that have been properly cleared to review and determine the budgetary and legal limitations of these secret programs. However, as is apparent from the introduction of the proposed UAP language, some programs currently escape congressional scrutiny. §1104 is intended to rectify this situation. Its provisions are a proactive approach to regaining control of oversight. They are also a constitutional prerogative.

When first adopted in 2021, the purpose of the UAP laws was to consolidate the study of UAP into one program. In a manner similar to the post-911 legislation, the UAP laws were intended to have a coordinated study program that had all the information surrounding UAP at their disposal. As the original UAP law was implemented, it became clear to the congressional national security committees that the intended coordination was not occurring. Most of the lack of coordination came from the DoD/IC foot dragging. Numerous public comments by elected officials confirm the frustration of these committees. Yet, after a second round of legislation, information began coming forward to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about information bottlenecks. With the UAP provisions in the FY2024 Intel Bill, the legislation fixes a problem that many say does not exist. However, it is hard to argue with a unanimous committee vote to add this new language to the FY 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act. Since the public is not privy to the raw intelligence data that is in the possession of the committee, the language of the Intel Bill must speak for itself. The unanimous bipartisan referral vote means these legislators still believe that there are hidden programs lacking congressional oversight.

This belief has led the Senate Intel Committee to take the public step of introducing special legislation that highlights their lack of control over secret programs expending tax dollars. If they are correct, it will cause a fundamental reordering of control over these “stovepiped” programs, currently unfettered by civilian control. This legislation, if adopted, will force the defense contractors to share highly sensitive information with a  new supervisor, AARO, who will have the ability to redirect these projects and recover any materials in the hands of defense contractors. This means that the defense contractors stand to lose their longtime monopoly on some of the most potentially lucrative information on this planet. How they will respond to this threat to their largely unsupervised monopolies is an open question.

Usually, defense contractors would release a bevy of lawyers and lobbyists to try to get the proposed legislation dropped or severely limited. However, any lobbying would highlight that the corporations who hire the lobbyists are most certainly the ones who stand to benefit from keeping the status quo. If any contractor lobbies to remove these restrictions, it will signal that the defense contractor is a beneficiary of one of these hidden programs. A trade industry group could lobby Congress on the FY2024 UAP language but doing so would create a conflict within the trade group. It is unlikely that all members of a defense contractor trade group would be beneficiaries of secret programs, hidden from Congress. This puts these contractors in a difficult position. If they take any steps to try to strip the Intel Bill of the pending language, they will signal that they have monopoly status over exotic materials, regardless of the outcome of their lobbying efforts. Lobbyists must disclose their client’s identity as part of the process. This should discourage lobbying on the Intel Bill’s UAP provisions.

Keeping secret the knowledge of receipt of UAP material would have long term consequences for any defense contractor who does business with the federal government. It is more than likely that the acquisition of UAP materials by the contractor would have been conducted outside of the normal procurement process. Unless the appropriate legal process was followed, the contractor would not have legal authority to retain these valuable materials.  The federal government would still have a property interest in the materials. This will give the federal government significant leverage to seek the return of these materials. To be a contractor in good standing, a company must “obey all laws” during the performance of their contracts. Holding onto valuable federal property without legal authority will be a direct threat to its current business.

The government must act to seek return of UAP materials. However, even if the Justice Department decides not to enforce federal property rights to these materials, the law has other remedies. Under 31 U.S. Code § 3729 (False Claims), private parties have the right to pursue federal claims on behalf of the government. In what is called a “Qui Tam” claim, Congress has authorized procedures to allow private individuals to seek recovery and damages on behalf of the public.  31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(D), (E) & (G), each provide liability for acts that hide property from the federal government. An offending defense contractor would have to show that all formal legal procedures were followed transferring all rights, title and interest to them at the time of the original transfer. If not, the exotic materials still belong to the federal government, including any ill-gotten gains accrued. Under the Qui Tam false claim procedures, a plaintiff could recover three times the amount of the actual damages. In addition, the law allows the plaintiff to recover a contingency fee for their efforts. Quite an incentive for the law firm bringing the case. Quite a disincentive for any defense contractor trying to evade compliance.

The amendment to UAP law would not have been introduced without some factual support gained in a classified setting. It is likely a whistleblower has testified before the Senate Intel Committee. Persons named by the whistleblower who have knowledge of these hidden programs would have also testified in front of the Committee or committee staff for corroboration. This means that the Senate Committee already have the names of some concealed programs and probably the participating defense contractors. Defense contractors should assume that their secret has reached the Senate Intel Committee. Any knowledge gained through closed door testimony will harden the will of Senators to act on this information, even though they cannot publicly reveal how they know it. So while this pending provision in the 2024 Intel Bill may seem to many observers as perplexing, it should be viewed as a shot across the bow of the defense establishment and the largest defense contractors in this country.

The FY2024 UAP provisions also include a funding boost for AARO.[3] For the past two years, AARO was only funded for a basic office staff. At these funding levels, it has been unable to fulfill many of its statutory functions. One example is the historical review of armed forces efforts to study UAP, including any attempts to discourage the American People from taking an interest in the subject. AARO was tasked with conducting a study of efforts dating back to 1945. Because of the lack of funding, AARO has delegated this function to the Air Force. Now, the service branch that had primary responsibility for conducting UAP study is now in charge of investigating itself. Congress formed AARO to perform this function. Through either misfeasance or malfeasance, the DoD failed in its statutory mission to allocate funding for the audit requirements approved by Congress. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has taken affirmative steps to assure funding is in place to allow for AARO to perform the duties that they are statutorily mandated to perform.

For three years, Congress has been playing its role to ensure that potential threats to our military are properly investigated. In response, the DoD/IC have been publicly professing their cooperation while quietly “slow walking” statutory mandates. This has led to an ever increasing ratcheting up of legal requirements for unbiased UAP study. For any other national security issue, this intransigence would almost never happen. However, history tells us that these activities are to be expected for UAP. Throughout post-World War II history, there have been many indications of DoD/IC efforts to keep the UAP subject matter out of the policy arena. After a 1952 “Wave” of UFOs, including over the Capitol, the Air Force and CIA combined to establish a scientific panel. The Robertson Panel recommended UFOs should be “debunked” and certain Flying Saucer study groups should be “watched” by the CIA because of their potential to sway the American People about the subject. This pattern has been repeated several times including in the 1960s with the Air Force’s “Condon Committee” and in the 1990s with two separate Air Force reports batting down Roswell UFO crash information. This latest effort to slow down implementation of UAP study mandates has one goal in mind. Slow down progress until the five-year UAP program goes away at the end of 2026. We are at a halfway point in the UAP program’s statutory life. While time is running out, the will of a small group of national security committee members is still united in its goal to find an answer to the UAP mystery.

Looking at the phenomenon, there are a small number of core cases that are quite concerning. Cases that demonstrate anomalous behavior that cannot be duplicated by any known military craft. Testimony from trained military pilots speaks about objects performing physically impossible maneuvers while using different craft types that have no detectable means of propulsion. Fortunately, a private, non-profit website established by retired pilots provides more detailed information about these concerning reports than AARO itself.[4] This information makes the new legislative proposal even more important. While AARO concentrates its efforts on identifying UAP with mundane performance characteristics, cases involving near misses of our aircraft and UAP interest in our nuclear weapons are not vigorously pursued. If we have already recovered materials from craft that exhibit highly advanced technology, this information would provide Congress with a shortcut to answer many questions not being addressed by AARO or the recent NASA search of unclassified information.

The proposed Senate Intel legislation could answer questions that pinpoint the origin of these mystery craft. Any recovered materials would likely explain whether these craft have terrestrial or non-terrestrial origins. For example, the mere date of recovery would give us clues about the origins. If a craft or materials from a high-performance craft were recovered in the immediate post-WWII era, it is highly unlikely to be a product of a terrestrial source. On the other hand, if the recovered materials are of recent origin, the likelihood that another country has made a breakthrough in propulsion technology would increase. We know from the testimony and publicly available video data from the 2004 U.S.S. Nimitz incidents; these anomalous craft have been around for nearly twenty years. The Nimitz “Tic Tac” would have to be the product of a massive technological breakthrough by some nation in the 1980s to 1990s for deployment in 2004. This timeline would eliminate Russia or China as a possible source. Neither had the technical capability or enough resources to produce even one prototype during this time period. Both adversaries were undergoing tumultuous events. Overall, the further back in time we move, the more likely recovered exotic materials or craft would point towards a non-terrestrial source. Learning about when and what has already been recovered would answer many questions not being addressed today by AARO or NASA.

Why is there urgency to find answers? Regardless of which scenario, terrestrial or non-terrestrial, both are existential threats that need to be addressed as soon as possible. If the core, high performance UAP are of terrestrial origin, it would mean that another country has developed weapons platforms for which we may have no defense. Even if it is an ally or a non-aligned country, it would still be a destabilizing development. The risk would be that the secrets would not stay in friendly hands. Also, if one country made a breakthrough, why couldn’t an adversary make the same breakthrough? The current state of our own UAP research would instantly become a primary national priority. One that needs the immediate attention of Congress and the Administration.

If recovered evidence points to non-terrestrial sources, the sooner that Congress learns of it, the better. This revelation will have the most profound implications that will take serious planning efforts to be able to deal with the many potential challenges. Do these craft have weapon capabilities? What do we know about the sources of UAP? How do we address what we learn? How do we reveal this information to the public? Congress needs to be involved in each of these issues and more. Delaying answering these questions will not make them any easier to answer. It is difficult to plan when you do not know why you are planning. Witness todays disconnect between the bi-partisan urgency and the DoD/IC intransigence.

This is why the history of our military’s experience with UAP is so important. What is learned from the history of our UAP interactions can tell us much about their controllers. Overall, non-terrestrial sources of UAP could fall into four general categories, Hostile, Transactional, Indifferent, or Supportive. We will need to plan for each eventuality. It is probable that the sources of UAP are a mixture of civilizations with a variety of reasons for their presence.

Our past history can help the designated oversight committees shape our response to these craft and their controllers’ intentions. The testimony of our best trained pilots, corroborated with sensor data, show that they have the capability to do us harm. First, we must first determine whether any of the civilizations who are interacting with us are hostile. The length of interactions with them could be a guide to their intent. How long have they exhibited hostile behavior? If we have been interacting with them for eighty years with no overt hostility, it is unlikely that any of the civilizations intend military conquest. You don’t wait eighty years for your adversary to become capable of defending themselves.

However, there are some disturbing signs. Some pilots have reported that their weapons systems have been disabled during encounters. The same type of conduct has allegedly occurred with our nuclear weapons. When this has occurred, what steps, if any, have UAP taken to press their advantage? The answers to these questions would help us understand what we are dealing with.

The answers to these questions are vitally important. Without knowledge of UAP historical actions, it will be difficult for Congress to help determine what priorities should be established in setting budget numbers and policy. A history of military encounters would be a good place to start. Military encounter review should not be limited to only four operating areas where AARO currently limits its study. Other agencies could also be of immense help. For instance, NASA could provide information on any interference directed at our space program. Are manned space missions being monitored occasionally like some of our military pilots have claimed? If so, for what purpose? Have UAP interfered with any missions? The current NASA review of unclassified, open source information will do nothing to provide our elected leaders answers. Interviews with astronauts and mission control personnel, along with review of sensor information, could help determine whether we are facing any civilizations that mean us harm.   

Considering the length of probable interactions with UAP, the longer it has been occurring, the less likely that any of the civilizations interacting with us are overtly hostile. Yet, overt hostility may not be the only signs of harm being caused to our civilization. Harm could be occurring in a more subtle fashion. If any of the civilizations see our planet and nearby environs as a resource, their presence could be purely transactional in nature. For instance, since UAP have been encountered underwater, they could be mining our seabed. They may be here to mine polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor. They are abundant and are largely out of our reach. Since UAP have been witnessed performing maneuvers that places tremendous stress on their craft and at least some are submersible, it is highly likely that these craft could perform seabed mining. Resources that could be used by us in the future once we gain the technical knowhow to safely extract these nodules from the ocean floor.

Another example could be the Moon. The far side of the Moon never faces the Earth. There has never been any truly high-resolution photography available to the public of the dark side. This is even though there have been several missions that have surveyed the dark side. The next Artemis mission will transit the dark side and will undoubtedly take high resolution photographs. These, if shared with congressional oversight committees, could reveal activity. If one or more non-terrestrial civilizations are present, a logical place that they would mine materials to support local operations would be the far side of the Moon. If the purpose of their presence is purely transactional, intensive mining operations on the dark side of the Moon would be logical, given the level of their technology. Like the seabed, it would be a location that is difficult for our civilization to access. The removal of materials of value, many of which may be more important to us in the future, could be done relatively unhindered.

Transactional motives may not be overtly harmful but take advantage of our current level of development.  In addition to purely commercial motives, another possibility could be observation by an uncaring presence. Near Earth advanced civilizations may not have any empathy or hostility towards us. One can’t assume that other planetary civilizations have the same emotional makeup as we do. They could simply be indifferent to our plight. If World War II Foo Fighters are the same craft, from the same source(s), as UAP, they could be here only to observe with their initial interest peaked by our introduction of nuclear weapons.  Perhaps they are observing us until we pass this critical stage in our development. Sighting reports did accelerate in the years after WWII. If we do not pass this phase of development, facing both climate change and the threat of nuclear war, they may be monitoring to see if they could take advantage of our failures. If we succeed, they could be here to learn about us as an emerging threat. Any information known about their intentions would help us plan for the future, letting Congress know what we already know could help us better understand their present intentions. The history of our interactions with civilizations indifferent to our plight would look much like the behavior we already see. Observation that sometimes interacts with our military assets in a way that shows the futility of any of our defensive measures. The disabling of weapons systems, including nuclear weapons, demonstrates that, while they do not attack us, they have the capability to defend against any hostile actions we may attempt. This would explain the reticence of DoD, NASA and the IC to provide any information to Congress. Our military has faced a threat that they cannot defend against and have been trying to play down. At some point in the past, a civilization in our local group of stars may have even approached this planet’s nuclear powers to attempt to dissuade us from continuing down this threatening path. Such knowledge would be valuable as background for any future attempt to open a dialogue with these illusive visitors.

Finally, one or more of the non-terrestrial civilizations could be supportive, but constrained by protocols regarding non-interference. If there are more than one civilization interacting with us, we are unlikely to be the first civilization that they have encountered who are at this stage of development. Their non-interference protocols would likely be developed to prevent a nascent society from skipping steps in their development and exporting warlike qualities to other habitable planets. If, from our history, we have already learned if there are civilizations that can aid us, these would be the first that we should attempt to approach. Supportive civilizations could help us understand the protocols that are in use and assist us in understanding the motives of those civilizations that are either neutral or harvesting resources from our planet and surrounding environment. This information would help us learn how to deal with less friendly non-terrestrial civilizations. We could also negotiate with a supportive civilization for technology to help us meet our current challenges. Even if they do not share technology, we could seek guidance on which of our research and development efforts are most likely to bear fruit to help us face future planetary challenges.

Regardless of what we are facing, gathering as much information as possible will help us formulate successful strategies for dealing with these unique challenges. If there are terrestrial or non-terrestrial UAP in our possession as the latest legislative proposal assumes, a rediscovery of past knowledge by Congress will move us to the next phase of UAP study. We will move past the “whether they are real” phase. If UAP are of recent terrestrial design, it will change how we approach diplomacy and probably require a crash industrial program to meet the challenge. If the recovered craft/materials are non-terrestrial and were recovered decades ago, an even wider variety of challenges must be addressed. The more knowledge we possess about what we face, the better able we will be to plan our future under this new reality.

The fact that a unanimous Senate Select Committee on Intelligence added the new UAP provisions to the FY2024 Intelligence Authorization Act means that choices must be made very soon. The DoD, IC, NASA, Congress, Biden Administration and others need to make a choice. Are they going to begin planning for the eventuality that UAP will soon pose a series of challenges? Or, are we going to continue to ignore these quickly emerging issues? The DoD, through AARO, have opted for delay. AARO’s approach has been to follow historic policies. Working hard to solve mundane cases to improve AARO’s “batting average” of solved cases, as was explained by AARO’s Director in his initial December 2022 press conference. In the meantime, AARO ignores the testimony of our own pilots and relies on “sensor errors” to eliminate corroborating evidence for the small number of truly mysterious cases.

A bipartisan approach is critical. A united front is needed to cope with the bureaucratic headwinds that the core national security committees have faced for several years. In the long run, the answers will not be Republican or Democratic answers. They will be based on what we learn from implementation of the pending UAP language. Bipartisanship will also help the American public adjust to this new reality, whatever it entails. As important as finding out what is behind true UAP, explaining it to the public will be as important as any other task that Congress has faced in decades.

Whistleblower accounts have changed the UAP study narrative. NASA unclassified studies and DoD delaying tactics will become meaningless if the proposed UAP legislative language finds what it is looking for. If adopted, this scenario should play out before the 2025 Federal Fiscal Year begins. It will be guided by the Chairs and Ranking Members of the “appropriate” committees and subcommittees in Congress. Each will have to plan how to approach these issues. Each will have to impress upon the service branches and agencies they oversee that the time for transparency has come. Congress must be given all information, good or bad, to help them navigate these unknown waters. Most of these steps will take place behind classified walls. However, when basic information finally enters the public domain, Americans must be able to trust what they hear and see. Having a well-planned process is critical. Picking the correct lane to travel this road is in everybody’s best interest.   

[1] Johnson, Douglas Dean, Mirador, June 24, 2023.[2]            [3][4]

One thought on “The Broader Implications of Proposed UAP Legislation            By: James P. Lough

  1. Another excellent article Jim. I’m going to post a link on Richard Dolans member site. There are some sophisticated and sharp people there. I tried to “like” this article but WordPress isn’t allowing it. It may be my pop up blocker though….

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