Congress to hold its first open hearing on UFOs since 1970
Congress has not had an opening hearing on UFOs in more than half a century. But lawmakers on Capitol Hill are now ready to give the taboo topic the attention it deserves. Today, The New York Times is reporting that a public hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 17, by a House Intelligence subcommittee focusing on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and counterintelligence. The hearing is “intended to focus on the work of a group within the Pentagon," according to the paper.
One of the purposes of the hearing is to “break the cycle of excessive secrecy and speculation with truth and transparency," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told the Times. “The federal government and intelligence community have a critical role to play in contextualizing and analyzing reports.”
Times reporters Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal explain that "the hearing comes after the release last June of a report requested by Congress on ‘unidentified aerial phenomena." They note that "the nine-page ‘Preliminary Assessment’ from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence focused on 144 incidents dating back to 2004 and was able to explain only one. The report declined to draw inferences, saying that the available reporting was ‘largely inconclusive’ and noting that limited and inconsistent data created a challenge in evaluating the phenomena. But it said most of the phenomena reported ‘do represent physical objects.’”
In 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense released its report “Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.”
On March 10, John Greenwald, Jr. of the Black Vault — which publishes declassified government documents — tweeted a letter he had received from the Obama Presidential Library in response to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking UFO-related records from Barack Obama’s years as president. The letter informed Greenwald that his request had been granted.
Democratic Rep. André Carson of Indiana, who chairs the subcommittee hosting the hearing, told the Times, “Since this is an area of high public interest, any undue secrecy can serve as an obstacle to solving the mystery, or it could prevent us from finding solutions to potential vulnerabilities. This hearing is about examining steps that the Pentagon can take to reduce the stigma surrounding reporting by military pilots, and by civilian pilots.”
The witnesses who are scheduled to testify on May 17, according to Kean and Blumenthal, include Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott W. Bray and Ronald S. Moultrie, who serves as undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security for the Biden Administration.
The last time Congress held a hearing on UFOs was in 1970, when Richard Nixon was serving his first term as president. Before that, in 1966 — during the Lyndon B. Johnson/Great Society era — then-Rep. Gerald R. Ford organized a hearing in response to reports on UFOs. At the time, the U.S. House of Representatives was controlled by Democrats, and Republican Ford — who went on become vice president and later, president, during the 1970s — held the same position that Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California holds now: House minority leader.
In a letter to two House committees dated March 28, 1966, Ford wrote, “I believe the American people are entitled to a more thorough explanation than has been given them by the Air Force to date.”
“The Air Force concluded, in 1969, that no UFOS had ever threatened national security; that the objects did not display technology beyond what was present-day knowledge; and that there was no evidence indicating the objects were extraterrestrial,” Kean and Blumenthal note. “The Air Force concluded that no further investigation was warranted.”
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