Since 2017, my life has been dominated by efforts to help Congress and the public discover the truth about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), what many still refer to as UFOs. I’ve lost count of the number of cities visited, meetings attended, books read, articles written, media appearances and hours spent on the phone. At the outset, my goal was simply to help our government overcome a glaring intelligence failure. UAP were routinely violating restricted U.S. airspace but these encounters, documented on cockpit videos, weren’t being reported up the military chain of command because of the stigma surrounding this issue. It wasn’t clear if these bizarre craft were Russian, Chinese, extraterrestrial or some combination of the above, but it seemed unacceptable and outrageous that no effort was being made by the intelligence community to alert policymakers or undertake an investigation.
Working closely with former Pentagon official Lue Elizondo and later a group of U.S. Navy aviators, we quickly captured the attention of Congress. We managed to convince them the phenomena were real and America needed to take action to determine the capabilities of these craft and the identity and intentions of their operators. To my surprise and delight, in 2020 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) adopted my proposal to seek an official report on UAP from the intelligence community. The resulting “Preliminary Assessment” arrived in June of 2021. Although it was wildly incomplete, it did identify 144 military UAP encounters since 2004, a figure which has since jumped to over 800 military UAP reports by early 2023. Spurred by growing evidence of the problem, Congress took additional steps, establishing the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).
But despite breakthroughs in government transparency about these sightings, there’s one thing the Pentagon and the intelligence community have so far not addressed, and that is whether they have had any direct contact with these objects. There are persistent rumors that the U.S. government recovered “crash materials” from UAP, and even that the government has been working secretly to reverse engineer the technology.
AARO is charged with reviewing all non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) pertaining to UAP; evaluating all historical UAP intelligence documents; and extending protections to anyone who has signed an official U.S. government secrecy agreement related to UAP, thereby allowing them to come forward without fear of prosecution. In one stroke then this new office could resolve one of the greatest government conspiracy theories and most profound scientific questions of all time: Are we alone in the universe?
It’s time they did.
Since AARO was established, I have referred four witnesses to them who claim to have knowledge of a secret U.S. government program involving the analysis and exploitation of materials recovered from off-world craft. Other sources who, rightly or wrongly do not trust AARO’s leadership, have also contacted me with additional details and information about an alleged secret U.S. government reverse engineering program. Some have supplied information to the intelligence community’s inspector general, others directly to staff of the congressional oversight committees. As this process has progressed, and the credibility of these claims has grown, so too have my concerns. What if I’m helping to pry open a genuine Pandora’s box, releasing information that might prove destructive, destabilizing or for many simply terrifying? I’ve repeatedly had to ask myself: “Is disclosure in the best interest of the public? Am I doing the right thing working to bring what could be America’s most deeply buried secret to light?”
The most refreshingly clear guidance I have received came from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is chair of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee and member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. When the opportunity presented itself during a meeting in the Senate, I asked, “You’ve launched an investigation that could prove aliens are visiting earth. What if the answer proves to be yes? Would you support sharing that information with the American people?” After all, AARO is not required to share its findings with the public, only Congress. Without hesitating she replied, “Of course! Why not?” I thought it was a great answer because I’ve always believed the public has a right to know the truth. However, after much reflection, I’ve also concluded the public needs to know the truth. I say this for the following reasons:
Democracy requires transparency. In our democracy the American people have a right to know the truth of this matter. Censoring vitally important information is inconsistent with our values and institutions. It would be the modern equivalent of repressing Galileo’s insights regarding the solar system or Darwin’s theory of evolution. It hinders scientific and technological progress and undermines faith in government.
We own any discovery. Any recovered materials belong to the American people. Any secretive government programs that may have existed were funded by American tax dollars and as such, any proceeds belong to the taxpayer.
We can handle it. Although disclosure would initially frighten and shock many people, polling data reveals that most Americans already believe we are not alone in the universe. Further, a high percentage of Americans already believe some UAP are in fact extraterrestrial craft. Our ancestors persevered despite profound fears of the unknown and so can we.
We don’t control UAP. Commercial satellite imagery is becoming ubiquitous and algorithms are already being written to identify UAP from space. As more powerful, dedicated sensors are deployed to collect UAP data, it is only a matter of time before more compelling UAP imagery and data emerges. Although UAP generally seem to avoid public exposure, there are exceptions. For example: the March 1950 incident in which dozens of UAP flew over Farmington, New Mexico in broad daylight; the famous flyover of Washington D.C.on successive weekends in July of 1952; the “Night of the UFOs” in Brazil in 1986; and the “Phoenix Lights” in 1997. The next time there is a mass UAP flyover of a major city, or even an event like the incident at Chicago’s O’Hara airport in 2006, the ubiquitous video cameras and powerful radars that will cover the event are going to provide far more substantial amounts of data with ever-greater levels of detail. Better to have disclosure on our terms rather than a sudden event that might cause panic.
Disclosure is only a matter of time. Foreign nations and civilian scientific groups around the world are undertaking ever more sophisticated and extensive UAP collection campaigns. The Galileo Project at Harvard, led by Dr. Avi Loeb, the former Chairman of the Harvard Department of Astronomy, is a case in point. Numerous other domestic and foreign groups ranging from the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies, to Americans for Safe Aerospace and Enigma Labs are also investigating as are many foreign governments, from Japan to France.
Congress is proceeding. A number of credible individuals have shared compelling information behind closed doors in meetings with congressional staff, the intelligence community inspector general and AARO. Congress should seek a report from the ICIG on the evidence it has acquired on the issue of crash retrievals. That alone may be enough to provide leads that confirm the truth of long-standing accusations regarding a cover-up of recovered off-world technology. The goal is not to prosecute or punish, but to bring the truth to light.
Secrecy stifles science. If we have recovered off-world technologies, our best and brightest minds should be engaged in evaluating it. Assuming UAP propulsion technology is distinct from anything known to the public, a successful reverse engineering program might bring about a revolution in energy, transportation and materials technologies. We might be able to accelerate a transition to clean and cheap energy; perhaps even develop superconducting materials and propulsion technologies that are now the stuff of Hollywood movies.
Time to reduce international tensions. If it turns out that we’ve had some contact with other life forms, a reframing of international relations would be inevitable, almost certainly for the better. To the degree the U.S. has these materials and our rivals do not, this could provide new and unprecedented leverage for the U.S. Our adversaries will naturally fear unilateral advances on the part of the U.S. that render their defenses and technology obsolete. Adversaries are undeterred if they are ignorant of their opponents’ military capabilities. Better they know. And if any of these countries have also recovered off-world technology, all the more reason to make the most of what we have rather than risk being overtaken in research, development and deployment. Above all, once it becomes clear we are not alone, this should reduce or divert tensions among the leading nuclear powers. As Ronald Reagan said during an address to the United Nations General Assembly in 1987:
No imminent threat. It seems unlikely that revealing the truth would change the pattern of UAP behavior we have been observing for many decades. Furtive activities around the planet and in our oceans are likely to continue. In the unlikely event there is a threat, our chances of survival are obviously far greater if we acknowledge the possibility and work with other nations to develop an effective deterrent. Although we are not experiencing acts of aggression, there is a pattern of persistent surveillance around DoD test ranges and facilities, especially our nuclear weapons capabilities. Hopefully any interest in our military capabilities is purely defensive.
Spark vitally needed collaboration. I cannot think of anything more likely to shock humanity out of its present complacence than the revelation we are not alone. Our species and planetary civilization is following a dangerous trajectory, one involving a serious prospect of nuclear conflagration. If that were not enough, all nations face the joint prospect of accelerating ecological devastation, the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the threat that AI will become weaponized or turned against humanity. As the brilliant Israeli historian Yuval Hariri has observed,
What better way to provide an existential catalyst?
In conclusion, I believe it is in our interest to follow the facts of the UAP issue wherever they lead. All living things, all nations and corporations, can only survive by continuing to adapt to changing circumstances. But to do so we must know the facts. We can’t adapt to what we don’t perceive. Concealing such vital information, if indeed we are not alone, poses a huge barrier to understanding and successfully adapting to the world around us. Lies and disinformation are already polluting public discourse. We can’t have meaningful debates on policy if we cannot even agree on the basic facts.
Admittedly, disclosure would initially be shocking and disorienting, but we would of necessity modify our beliefs to accommodate a new understanding of the universe and our place within it. What is deemed possible technologically would certainly change, but if our government can reveal the truth of such a deep secret it will demonstrate that government can change as well. Maybe we can build on that, perhaps even mitigating the dynamic of our current, frighteningly polarized political process.
As Arthur C. Clarke, the brilliant author and inventor of modern communications satellites once said, commenting on the possibility of extraterrestrial contact: “Strangeness, wonder, mystery and magic — these things that not long ago seemed lost forever, will soon return to the world.” Some people will be afraid of change, as always, but change is inevitable and as always those who recognize and embrace it are the most likely to benefit. Thankfully, there are many reasons to believe that if UAP are manifestations of extraterrestrial intelligence, this stunning revelation can work to humanity’s advantage.
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