A panel of the United States House of Representatives will hold a public hearing on “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP), popularly known as UFOs, on Tuesday. This is a high-profile moment for a controversial issue that has long been relegated to the fringes of public policy.
The hearing, which is broadcast live, was convened by the House Intelligence Committee’s subcommittee on counterterrorism, counterintelligence and counterproliferation, a panel chaired by Democratic Rep. André Carson of Indiana.
Carson cautioned in his opening remarks at the hearing: “This hearing and our oversight work have a simple idea at their core: Unidentified aerial phenomena are a potential threat to national security. And they should be treated that way.”
He then said: “For too long, the stigma associated with UFOs has stood in the way of good intelligence analysis. Pilots either avoided reporting (about it), or were laughed at when they did. Defense relegated the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community.”
“Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. And any threat they pose needs to be mitigated,” he said.
Appearing before the subcommittee as part of the proceedings are Ronald Moultrie, deputy secretary of defense for intelligence and security, and Scott Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence. After the public hearing concludes, the panel will also hold a closed-door, classified briefing.
The hearing about UFOs and the mysterious flying objects
The event is the first public congressional hearing on UFOs in decades. It comes after the US intelligence community released a long-awaited report in 2021 on mysterious flying objects that have been seen moving through restricted military airspace for the past few decades.
The report examined 144 reports of what the government calls “unidentified aerial phenomenon”; only one of which the researchers were able to explain at the end of the study. The researchers found no evidence that the sightings represented extraterrestrial life or a technological breakthrough from a foreign adversary like Russia or China, but acknowledge that is one possible explanation.
For lawmakers and military and intelligence personnel working on unexplained aerial phenomena, the biggest concern with the episodes is not that alien life is visiting Earth, but that a foreign adversary like Russia or China could be introducing some kind of technology. of next generation in US airspace that the United States does not know about.
In November 2021, the Department of Defense announced the creation of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.
The Department said in a statement at the time that the purpose of the new program would be to synchronize US Government efforts to “detect, identify and attribute objects of interest” in restricted airspace and thus “assess and mitigate any threats associated with flight safety and national security”.
In a statement before the hearing, Carson said, “The American people expect and deserve that their leaders in government and intelligence seriously assess and respond to any potential national security risks, especially those that we do not fully understand.”
The subcommittee chairman added:
“Since coming to Congress, I have focused on the issue of unidentified aerial phenomena as a national security threat and a major concern of the American public. And I am pleased to preside over the first hearing. Intelligence Commission’s open hearing about these events. This will give the American people an opportunity to learn what there is to know about the incidents. And I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on this critical matter.”
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