May 18, 2022 I Micah Hanks

Here’s What We Learned During the Recent Congressional Hearings on UAP

On Tuesday, a House Panel convened in Washington to speak with two military witnesses on the timely, and equally controversial topic of unidentified aerial phenomena, more commonly known as UFOs.

The hearings, which were held by the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, were overseen by Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), who had spearheaded the effort to bring the UAP issue before Congress in a public forum.  

"Unidentified aerial phenomena are a national security threat," Carson said during the opening moments of the live televised hearing.

"UAPs are unexplained. It's true, but they are real,” Carson added, noting that they also “need to be investigated."

Carson speaking in Tuesday's hearing during opening statements (Public Domain).

Echoing Carson’s opening statements, Rep. Adam Schiff called the House Panel’s willingness to hold a hearing on this matter an "important step toward understanding these phenomena."

"UAP reports have been around for decades,” Schiff said. “And yet we haven't had an orderly way for them to be reported and investigated. That needs to change," he said, adding that "excessive secrecy only leads to mistrust and speculation."

A main focus of Tuesday’s hearings dealt with the Pentagon’s new Airborne Object Identification Management and Synchronization Group (AOIMSG), and how it would proceed with studying unidentified objects in U.S. airspace. However, another question many had in advance of the hearings had to do with what kinds of data is already being collected about the phenomena, and how much officials would be willing to say about this during the open portions of Tuesday’s hearings.

"Put simply, UAP are airborne objects that, when encountered, cannot be immediately identified, said Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security Ronald S. Moultrie, who appeared alongside Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott W. Bray as one of two military witnesses during the hearing.

Moultrie emphasized during his opening statements that the AOIMSG will be partnering with agencies that include the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), FAA, DHS, FBI, the DOE, NOAA, DEA, NASA, the National Labs, and "international partners and allies."

Moultrie also had encouraging words to share about the Pentagon’s commitment to transparency once the AOIMSG takes over for the Navy’s UAP Task Force.

“The Department is fully committed to the process of openness and transparency to the American people,” Moultrie said, although noting that “we are also mindful of our obligation to protect sensitive sources and methods."

For Bray’s part, flight safety for both military and civilian aviators remains a primary focus of the Department of Defense with its ongoing UAP investigations. This, in addition to working to encourage military personnel to come forward with their reports of sightings, and to be more prepared and capable to collect data when such encounters occur.

"The direct result of those efforts has been increased reports, with increased opportunities to focus a number of sensors on any objects,” Bray told the House Panel.

Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott W. Bray speaks during Tuesday's hearing (Public Domain).

"The message is now clear: if you see something, you need to report it. And the message has been received."

Early in the session, a pair of videos were shown as examples of UAP encountered by military personnel. The first video, which appeared to be available on YouTube and labeled as "Video 1 2021", depicted a fleeting glimpse of what resembled a metallic, spherical object speeding past the cockpit of a fighter jet.

The second video involved now-famous footage of a series of objects that Bray said "appear to be triangles" off the coast of the United States.

"Importantly, the video was taken through night-vision goggles with a single-lens reflex camera,” Bray noted, before explaining how similar footage was later obtained of objects that were fully known and recognized by Navy personnel at the time, but which nonetheless produced the artificial appearance of “triangles” by employing a similar method of capture by pairing night vision goggles and an SLR camera.

"This is a great example of how it takes considerable effort to understand what we're seeing in the examples we are able to collect,” Bray concluded.

Among the other themes that came up during the hearing had been questions from Rep. Schiff about unusual flight characteristics demonstrated by some UAP, as well as the appearance of advanced technology some of the objects might exhibited, and whether any such technologies could represent innovations by an adversarial nation like Russia or China.

"We're not aware of any adversary capable of moving objects without a discernible means of propulsion," Bray told Schiff during the hearing, adding that in at least some cases, unidentified objects have been detected which appear to have exhibited evidence of signature management; that is, electronic means of lessing their ability to be detected.

While Bray acknowledge that the DOD "can't explain with the data we have,” he also added that there was a fair degree of confidence in the systems the DOD currently uses, and the accuracy of their detection capabilities.

"Generally speaking, our sensors operate as designed," Bray told Schiff.

Moultrie and Bray were both adamant that data collected on UAP does appear to convey that they are physical objects. In response to questions from Rep. Mike Gallagher about any other programs that were undertaken by the U.S. government between the end of Project Blue Book and the more recent Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, neither said they knew of any such programs.

When questioned about the possibility that the U.S. government is withholding secrets about UAP—possibly even data that might indicate an extraterrestrial presence on Earth—Moultrie was quick to defend the protection of classified sensor systems, while maintaining an openness to transparency.

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security Ronald S. Moultrie responds to questions during Tuesday's hearing (Public Domain).

"We're protecting the fact that this nation has developed capabilities that enable us to know what may be threats to us," Moultrie said, "and to counter those threats before they become... a national issue."

Intriguingly, some members of the House Panel asked about whether there could be legal ramifications for the presentation of misleading information or otherwise spurious or unverified claims about UAP by civilian groups and UFO enthusiasts.

Moultrie said he knew of no legal deterrents, although he hopes the DOD can curb the effects of misinformation and false narratives, although he said he did not know what "should be the legal ramifications that we could use to potentially hold individuals accountable" in such instances. This seemingly left open for the possibility that, at some point, individuals guilty of knowingly perpetrating UFO hoaxes to mislead government investigations might be held accountable.

Apart from the videos that were shown earlier in the hearings, the only other specific case that was referenced by Moultrie and Bray involved the 2004 Nimitz incident, which the DOD still calls an "unresolved” UAP incident.

"We have data on that and it remains simply unresolved," Bray said during the hearing, though adding that he "can't point to something that definitively was not manmade.”

Lasting slightly under two hours, the open panel concluded shortly before 11 AM ET, with plans to reconvene for a classified hearing later in the afternoon. Reactions to the hearing were somewhat mixed, and ranged from there being little new information provided, to some recognizing the hearing as one of the most significant developments related to UAP in recent days.

However one chooses to interpret Tuesday’s Congressional UAP hearings, it is difficult to ignore their historic significance, and their role as a key moment in the ever-developing story of U.S. government investigations into unidentified aerial objects in the 21st century.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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