Congress Asks: What's a UFO?
We summarize highlights from this morning's Congressional hearing on UFOs
May 17th, 2022 marks a rare occasion for anyone interested in aerial anomalies. With members of the U.S. Congress set to discuss the topic publically, UFO-watchers received advance notice about where and when to witness an impending “UFO event.”
If you didn’t have time to watch, don’t worry—The Observer has summarized the proceedings below.
A congressional subcommittee is openly asking questions about UFOs
The Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee (formerly known as the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats) wants to know more about what’s going on in the skies. They’ve tapped two authorities from the defense intelligence community to show up and play along.
Who answered questions about UFOs?
The two defense officials in the hot-seat were:
Who got to ask these gentlemen about UFOs?
The session started shortly after 9AM ET with Chairman André Carson acknowledging past governmental efforts to investigate UFOs while stating the obvious: “UAPs are unexplained, it’s true, and they need to be investigated.”
He described people who have sighted a UFO as “witnesses, not kooks.”
Carson gave an early shout out to civilian organizations like MUFON and “Mr. Corbell”—the filmmaker who has released a few noteworthy videos of UFOs in action.
Next up was Rep. Eric Crawford, who noted that while UFOs exist in the “creative imaginations” of many, they constitute “serious business.”
Crawford asked for an update on the latest government UFO effort—OMGUFOS!—wondering why it hasn’t made more progress to date.
He also questioned whether UFOs were the result of China/Russia hypersonic weapons development.
Ronald Moultrie responded by admitting that there are foreign “known unknowns” out there—meaning technology that our military is aware of, but doesn’t know much about. UFOs, on the other hand, are those systems and reports that fall into the category of “completely unknown.”
Scott Bray agreed that they must “follow the facts” wherever they lead, stressing the importance of destigmatizing the act of reporting a UFO sighting.
Rep. Adam Schiff reminded the intelligence officials that the Department of Defense has an obligation to tell the public about the work they are doing on the UFO issue: “Secrecy only breeds mistrust and speculation.”
Schiff went on to acknowledge the reality of objects in the sky: “There is something there… they seem to move in directions inconsistent with physics.
Moultrie replied by defining “UAPs” as “airborne objects that, when encountered, can’t be immediately identified.” The goal of his organization is not only to identify and understand them, but to come up with methods of mitigation if need be. This hints at the development of anti-UFO weapon tech.
Commenting on the cultural stigma around UAPs, Moultrie declared that he was making UFO reporting an imperative part of his department’s mission.
Bray, speaking on behalf of the UAP Task Force’s efforts, took a moment to emphasize what would become a recurring theme of the session—the need to wrap a consistent, logical, “data-driven” process around the cross-departmental collection and analysis of UFO reports. To “transition UAP efforts from a narrative based approach” to something more scientific.
Bray explained that the UAPTF worked with Naval aviators to remove the existing stigma and implement specific steps for reporting UFO encounters. They even provided a handy cheat-sheet for pilots to clip to their in-flight kneeboard. Bray claimed that the direct result of these efforts has been an influx of new reports (from the 144 noted in last year’s preliminary report to an approximate 400 in their database today).
Two UFO videos were shown to the assembly. One from a jet cockpit, reportedly from 2021, which shows a small, metallic-looking, circular, blurry, object as it zooms by the pilot’s field of view. Also included was an example of a UAP encounter with a mundane explanation—the “flashing triangles” footage filmed from the deck of a Navy vessel off the West Coast in July 2019.
Bray explained away the “triangles” as a type of drone or “unmanned aerial system” and attributed their pyramid-shape to a distortion of light through a night vision lens (damn you, Mick West!)
Chairman Carson recaptured the microphone to ask about the possibility that the newly formed OMGUFOS! would continue the government’s legacy of “sweeping UAPs under the rug.”
“What can you say to give the American people confidence that you aren’t concentrating on low hanging fruit with easy explanations?”
Moultrie relied on his talking points about “standardizing information gathering” while reassuring the public that his team is open to all hypotheses and conclusions that they may encounter.
“We want to know what’s out there as much as you want to know what’s out there.”
Interestingly, we learn that Moultrie is a sci-fi fan who grew up on “space sagas and the Apollo program.” He admitted to attending conventions but claims to abstain from dressing up and participating in cosplay.
Moultrie also casually mentioned that he has relatives and friends that don’t believe the moon landing happened.
Rep. Crawford resumed his line of questioning, asking: “How can AIMSOG lead to prevention of intelligence surprises?”
Moultrie assured legislators that they analyze data from the space, air, ground, and subsurface domains to create a wholistic picture of the potential technologies in use.
An amusing break in the action occurred when the officials attempted to freeze frame one of the UFO videos being presented—picture a coworker trying to get their PowerPoint presentation to work in the middle of a meeting.
The minute-long awkward pause proved once again that the government sector and technology don’t mix.
Rep. Schiff next questioned whether they knew of any foreign adversaries that have the ability to move objects without discernible means of propulsion.
Bray’s response was that he didn’t.
The mic was passed to Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who asked if any of the investigated sightings were made from a stationary position, or if they were always spotted from a moving object.
Bray responded that they had data from stationary observations and that “it’s clear that sensor data tells us that they are physical objects.”
Wenstrup went on to ask if any reports have come from civilian outlets as opposed to strictly military sources.
Bray confirmed that the UAPTF works with the FAA and other parts of the US government to gather information. He also agreed that there is value in creating UFO reporting protocols for civilian encounters.
Wenstrup also wondered if there were any info-sharing arrangements with foreign entities.
Bray stated that they share data back and forth with other countries, to which Wenstrup cautioned: “Be careful who we share our data with, and don’t necessarily trust the data we get from someone else.”
The next interrogator was Rep. Jim Himes, who played a bit of damage control on some of the comments made previously. In an effort to tamp down “conspiracy theories,” Himes wanted the intelligence officials to clarify what they meant when they said “we can’t explain” some UFO reports.
“Are we holding materials that we don’t know about?”
Bray explained that they didn’t have any UFO material or “emanations” within the UAPTF that would suggest it was of a non-terrestrial origin. (Sorry, Eric Davis).
In many cases there was simply “too little data to create a reasonable explanation.”
Moultrie backed up this point: “Insufficient data… it’s a data issue.”
Perhaps the best line of questioning came from Rep. Mike Gallagher who started out guns blazing with inquires about covert initiatives in the period of time between Project Blue Book and AATIP, including the work of any contractors (AAWSAP, anyone?)
Both respondents denied knowledge of any programs that may have been in existence.
Gallagher switched tactics and began peppering the officials with questions about UFOs shutting down missile silos over Malmstrom Air Force Base—territory covered by researcher Robert L. Hastings for decades.
Again, both men denied any official knowledge of the event beyond “informal stories” heard in the media.
Gallagher took umbrage with their apparent lack of awareness regarding the incident, claiming that details of the episodes were “out there in the ether,” so what other motivation did they need to start investigating it?
Without receiving a satisfactory answer, Gallagher moved on to his final question, one that may have elicited cheers from UFO aficionados watching at home. He asked them to speak on the veracity of the “Wilson-Davis Memo”—a document that ufologists uphold as proof that secret special access programs concerning UFOs were ongoing within the government. Unsurprisingly, the bureaucrats denied knowing anything about the memo, but Rep. Gallagher was granted permission to submit a copy into the record of the official proceedings.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi followed up these questions by asking about any midair collisions or attempts to make contact with observed UFOs.
The officials confirmed that there weren’t any known crashes, but there were 11 near-misses.
They also revealed that no efforts have been made by pilots to communicate with the unknown objects since they appear to be unmanned.
Krishnamoorthi inquired if our military had ever fired upon a UFO or recovered any wreckage.
Their answer was that they didn’t possess debris that wasn’t consistent with terrestrial material.
When Krishnamoorthi requested information about sensors in use to detect USOs (unidentified submersible objects), he was told that those details would be shared in the private, closed-door session later that afternoon.
He rounded out his questions by asking if we can “conclusively say they [UAP] are physical objects?”
Bray commented that most of them were, but that some may be more of a “meteorological phenomenon.”
Second to last was Rep. Darin LaHood, who wanted to know what consequences there were for people reporting false sightings or perpetrating hoaxes—were there any legal ramifications for pushing false narratives about UFOs?
The officials admitted that there weren’t any criminal deterrents available but agreed that citizens should be “held accountable” for making fake claims. (Good thing Billy Meier isn’t a US citizen).
Rep. Peter Welch finished off the morning’s round-robin session with an underwhelming use of his time, inquiring why certain topics needed to be discussed behind closed-doors.
Moultrie fell back on the standard response of “protecting sources and methods.”
Final thoughts were reserved for Chairman Carson who asked if there was any other information beyond videos that it would be important for Americans to see and if there was a process in place to facilitate public disclosure of these items?
Bray answered that they would do everything they could to balance the release of data with maintaining our “war-fighting advantage,” but that there was no set process for public disclosure.
Crawford then jumped in to ask if the officials could “cite an example of an object that can’t be explained as human made or natural?”
Bray put the 2004 Nimitz encounter in that category, stating that it remains “unresolved,” but he couldn’t point to anything in their possession that wasn’t “man made.”
Carson closed out the hearing by asking if there was a possibility that they were chasing their own tails. He wanted assurances that there were procedures set forth to identify any UAP that are government prototypes.
He also asked about their collaboration with Space Force and Space Command.
Moultrie confirmed that they were aware of any potential “blue on blue” incidents and were confident that they weren’t wasting resources on investigating top secret U.S. technology.
He added that they had a close working relationship with organizations that monitor the space domain and had an “interactive exchange of information” ongoing.
After approximately 1.5 hours in, Carson ended the public session by thanking the attendees for putting aside partisan politics to address the UFO topic on behalf of their constituents.
The real party is likely taking place at 12pm ET when the closed-door session begins.
TLDR: In 10 years, will people be asking “Where were you when the UFO hearings of 2022 took place?”