Congress: Finding Answers Behind Closed Doors By: James P. Lough

Over the last five years, the UAP/UFO issue has gained unprecedented traction. For an issue that was considered untouchable, todays’ signs point to the possible disclosure of a non-terrestrial presence of unknown duration on planet Earth. For three years in a row, there has been legislation that continues ratcheting up efforts to get the government to reveal the source of UAP, be it terrestrial or non-terrestrial. A question that is now being taken seriously. When will the government disclose the source of UAP? We are closer than we have ever been, yet nothing is certain. Recent legislative steps demonstrate that events are unfolding that will answer this question. At the same time, this debate about UAP once again burst into the public in dramatic fashion, this time from an unlikely source.

The July 26th House Oversight Subcommittee Hearing sparked a lot of interest, but little in the way of hard evidence. This Subcommittee had two Navy pilots and one intelligence officer testify, each with compelling narratives. Despite the House Oversight Committee’s partisan reputation, the hearing was largely conducted in a spirit of bipartisanship.  With the hearing raising awareness about the UAP issue, interested outside parties all took enough information from the hearing to confirm their preexisting biases about this highly controversial subject.

Since the House Oversight members are not cleared to receive classified information about UAP, there was little they could do but listen to what the witnesses could say in public. During the hearing, questions were raised about this issue. Why aren’t we cleared to receive classified UAP information? Is it a deep state conspiracy? No, the House Oversight Committee members, and other representatives who asked questions, were not members of an “appropriate” committee allowed access to classified information under current UAP law. This limitation was overwhelmingly approved by Congress in two legislative sessions and not a “deep state” impediment.

So, who is cleared for classified information about UAP in Congress? The UAP law gives access to twelve committees in the House and Senate. The core committees doing most of the classified work are the House and Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. These four core committees have been working on this issue for about five years. On a bipartisan basis, they have made progress that is mostly hidden behind classified walls. They are the ones interviewing UAP whistleblowers. Based on the core committee votes, it is being done in a remarkably bipartisan manner. To be able to see where they are headed, one need look no further than the pending UAP legislation before Congress as they head into their summer recess. 

Before we see where they are headed, we also need to look at the remarkable progress they have already made. As with most historic legislation, the path forward has not been a straight line. In 2021, the first UAP legislation was adopted. It set up a program that was meant to consolidate control of UAP subject matter. When the Pentagon (DoD) and the intelligence community (IC) did not cooperate, stricter requirements were adopted in 2022. Whistleblower protections; invalidation of UAP-related security oaths; and a historic review of UAP-related efforts back to 1945 were adopted. These steps have had mixed results but appear to have started a stream of whistleblowers speaking about secret programs hidden from Congress.

This year Congress is considering three legislative proposals that are intended to eliminate bureaucratic roadblocks. One is aimed at forcing secret programs to either end or become subject to congressional oversight. Another sets up a process that will declassify most UFO/UAP documents. A third provision will fully fund the UAP program which corrects the failure of the DoD to do so.

First, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has unanimously sent a bill to the full Senate that requires all UAP research programs to be subject to congressional budgetary and oversight control. Each program has 180 days to comply with the reporting requirements and be subject to control by the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). Assuming that the 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act is adopted by late December 2023, Congress should know the location of any reverse-engineering UAP programs by the end of June 2024. If not properly disclosed to AARO and Congress, these programs will automatically lose their funding. This proposed law is meant to reestablish civilian control of military programs as intended by the Constitution. There have already been news stories about what Congress is discovering about these hidden programs through classified whistleblower testimony, including possible recovered UAP and related materials.

The second pending bill deals with the rapid declassification of UAP/UFO documents, including photographic evidence. While there is a House version put forward by Republicans, the Senate version is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). These two bills provide for UAP records declassification regardless of whether the House or Senate version of the annual defense bill is adopted. Schumer’s bill establishes a citizen commission to review UAP/UFO documents. The proposed law presumes that any document older than 25 years old is automatically declassified unless, by clear and convincing evidence, there is a reason that it should not be declassified. This significant provision means that a document or photograph must be disclosed to the public unless a nine-member citizen committee believes that the agency holding the document proves, by the toughest standard under civil law, that it must remain classified. Very few documents should meet this standard. The sponsorship by the Senate Majority Leader is significant. Legislative majority leaders of any party rarely, if ever, sponsor legislation. Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s sponsorship would not have occurred without broad congressional support, and probably the tacit approval of President Biden. It demonstrates the high priority placed on this legislation.

The third bill is for full funding of the UAP program. AARO has been underfunded by the DoD for two years. One result of lack of funding is that AARO delegated to the Air Force the job of reviewing the historic record about UFO/UAP activities. It is like putting the prime suspect in charge of its own investigation. This funding bill should fix that situation.

With all these moving parts, it is still unlikely there will be an instant change in public knowledge of what is going on behind the scenes. If adopted, each provision will take time to implement. The reverse-engineering disclosure law will take until next summer before Congress has any information needed to make budgetary decisions about these programs. There will likely be recalcitrant defense contractors that will fight turning over their information. The records declassification process will also require Senate confirmation of the nine committee members. It only takes one Senator to hold up the process for any nominee. The end of 2025 will probably be the soonest that records will begin to be released. The full funding bill will speed up some of AARO’s work. However, how they set priorities may not become apparent for a year or so thereafter.

Overall, the wheels of government turn slowly. Yet, it appears Congress is on the right track. Based on this year’s proposals, it appears it is now a matter of “when” we have disclosure of the source of UAP and not “whether” the mystery will be solved. There are too many members of Congress continuing to push ahead to stop the progress. Look to 2025 as being a bell weather year.  However, if there are more bills introduced in the late Spring, early Summer, of 2024, it will tell us if these latest efforts are stalling. Right now, UAP are about the only issue being handled in the 118th Congress on a bipartisan basis. If this bipartisanship continues, we will see the beginnings of disclosure happen in 2025. However, if we lose bipartisanship on this issue, progress will slow down or stop.

This bipartisanship still faces headwinds. After the House Oversight subcommittee hearing, there was the expected pushback from DoD. AARO Director Sean Kirkpatrick refuted the testimony in a quickly issued, strongly worded letter. DoD spokesperson Susan Gough issued a denial on behalf of the Pentagon. However, her statement was not a blanket DoD statement that the testimony was false. The press release states that, according to AARO, there is no truth to the whistleblower’s public claims. However, AARO has been denied access to secret programs like the ones that the whistleblower testified about. A denial by a program that does not have appropriate access clarifies nothing about what is truly behind the curtain.

While the core committees appear to be working hard behind the scenes to get to the bottom of the mystery, they have been able do so with remarkable bipartisanship. They have passed laws with no congressional pushback for two years in a row. This year’s proposed legislation tells us they are not giving up but gathering momentum. On a 17-0 vote, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence forwarded a proposed law to the Senate floor to give them more tools to determine if the whistleblowers are giving accurate testimony. On the issue of transparency, the Senate Majority Leader has proposed legislation to open up the secret vaults and let UAP information into the daylight.

It looks like this is the time many have been waiting for. It has been a long time coming. Transparency about the greatest mystery of the modern age. However, whether craft with impossible flight characteristics are of terrestrial or non-terrestrial origin, Congress appears to be taking a careful, measured approach that will help everyone adjust to a likely new reality. These matters should not be rushed. Wide acceptance can only be achieved through a sober approach for what could be one of the most significant announcements in history. 

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