Three U.S. senators received a classified briefing on reported Navy encounters with unidentified flying objects, Politico reported on Wednesday, including vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Mark Warner.
“Several current and former officials with direct knowledge” of the briefings told Politico that the Capitol Hill briefing follows numerous others involving members of Congress assigned to the Intelligence, Armed Services and Defence Appropriations panels, and/or their staff. A current intelligence official told Politico that “More requests for briefings are coming in,” while a former official said there “are people coming out of the woodwork.”
The U.S. Navy recently acknowledged “a number of reports of unauthorised and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years,” saying it has plans to overhaul reporting procedures.
While the Navy did not lend its support to theories that the incidents are evidence of extraterrestrial life—far from it—it is effectively stating that said incidents need to be further investigated.
Those notable incidents include a 2004 incident involving a guided missile cruiser that the New York Times reported “had been tracking mysterious aircraft” for weeks, with two F/A-18 pilots sent to investigate reporting a sighting of “an aircraft of some kind—whitish — that was around 12.19m long and oval in shape” hovering over the ocean.
Another incident involved mysterious objects supposedly picked up on advanced radar systems by pilots flying off the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2014 and 2015, with some of the incidents recorded on video. (There is ample scepticism about these accounts, with potential explanations including drones, foreign military aircraft, equipment malfunctions, and/or a mixture of all the above.)
According to other reports by the Times, the Pentagon also spent $US22 ($32) million from 2008 to 2011 on a shadowy program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
That project generated troves of reports but little meaningful evidence, and has sometimes been characterised as a pet project of former Senator Harry Reid. Earlier this year, Motherboard reported it funded bizarre research on topics like “Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy” and “Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions.”
However, the media reports do appear to have generated renewed interest from members of Congress, which Politico credits with pushing the Navy towards the policy shifts surrounding UFOs.
“In response to requests for information from Congressional members and staff, Navy officials have provided a series of briefings by senior Naval Intelligence officials as well as aviators who reported hazards to aviation safety,” Politico wrote.
One individual who recently said he received a similar briefing is the president himself, for all the credibility that adds to any discussion.
During a recent interview with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos, the president appeared bemused, saying he had attended a “very brief meeting” on the subject and confirmed that “people are saying they’re seeing UFOs” but he did “not particularly” believe it.
“Well I think my, our great pilots would know, and some of them really see things that are a little bit different than in the past,” Trump rambled. “So we’re gonna see. But we’ll watch it and you’re gonna be the first to know.”