The COVID-19 and government funding bill that President Donald Trump signed includes a comment directing officials to disclose what they know so far about UFOs to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees. Although there is a 180-day deadline to make the disclosure, some officials have said that this isn’t binding law and some of the disclosures might remain classified.
Here’s what you need to know.
The UFO Deadline Was Included in a Committee Comment Originally Made Public in June
The requirement was included in the 5,593-page bill itself, but in an attached committee comment, the New York Post reported.
The comment was part of Sen. Marco Rubio’s explanatory report attached to S. 3905, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. Technically, the deadline was already publicly revealed when the report was submitted on June 17, 2020, as part of that bill. The House Intelligence Committee passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2021 on July 31, 2020. But since then, it’s been awaiting final approval by Congress as part of the full government funding bill and a signature from Trump. Trump just signed the bill on December 27, which included the dislcosure requirement.
Heavy located the comment under the heading “Advanced Aerial Threats” on Rubio’s report, originally submitted on June 17, 2020.
The Advanced Aerial Threats section can be found at the end of Rubio’s report under a section called Committee Comments. So it’s not found in the full S. 3905, but in the comments attached to the bill.
Read the Full Text of the Disclosure Requirement
Here is the full text of the disclosure requirement.
Advanced Aerial Threats
The Committee supports the efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence to standardize collection and reporting on unidentified aerial phenomenon, any links they have to adversarial foreign governments, and the threat they pose to U.S. military assets and installations. However, the Committee remains concerned that there is no unified, comprehensive process within the Federal Government for collecting and analyzing intelligence on unidentified aerial phenomena, despite the potential threat. The Committee understands that the relevant intelligence may be sensitive; nevertheless, the Committee finds that the information sharing and coordination across the Intelligence Community has been inconsistent, and this issue has lacked attention from senior leaders.Therefore, the Committee directs the DNI, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of such other agencies as the Director and Secretary jointly consider relevant, to submit a report within 180 days of the date of enactment of the Act, to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees on unidentified aerial phenomena (also known as “anomalous aerial vehicles”), including observed airborne objects that have not been identified.
The bill then goes on to direct the report to include the following, which is directly quoted from the bill.
The Committee further directs the report to include:
1. A detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting collected or held by the Office of Naval Intelligence, including data and intelligence reporting held by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force;
2. A detailed analysis of unidentified phenomena data collected by:
a. geospatial intelligence;
b. signals intelligence;
c. human intelligence; and
d. measurement and signals intelligence;
3. A detailed analysis of data of the FBI, which was derived from investigations of intrusions of unidentified aerial phenomena data over restricted United States airspace;
4. A detailed description of an interagency process for ensuring timely data collection and centralized analysis of all unidentified aerial phenomena reporting for the Federal Government, regardless of which service or agency acquired the information;
5. Identification of an official accountable for the process described in paragraph 4;
6. Identification of potential aerospace or other threats posed by the unidentified aerial phenomena to national security, and an assessment of whether this unidentified aerial phenomena activity may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries;
7. Identification of any incidents or patterns that indicate a potential adversary may have achieved breakthrough aerospace capabilities that could put United States strategic or conventional forces at risk; and
8. Recommendations regarding increased collection of data, enhanced research and development, and additional funding and other resources.
The report shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.
Of note is the inclusion that part of the report can have a “classified annex” that the public might not be able to view. The comment also details concern about potential “threats…to national security” and an assessment of whether the phenomenon “may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries.” The report also mentions concern that aerospace capabilities might “put United States strategic or conventional forces at risk.”
Officials Confirmed that the Deadline Clock Has Started, But Others Say It May Not Be Binding Law
Defense Department spokesperson Sue Gough confirmed the validity of the finding to the New York Post, saying: “We are aware that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence committee report on the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2021 included a requirement for the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, to submit a report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) within 180 days of enactment.”
The Debrief reported that while the deadline is exciting, the provision isn’t binding law so it’s not guaranteed that the public will learn any new information about aerial phenomenon by the time the 180-day clock runs out. In addition, some information might remain classified.
Christopher Mellon, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and former staff Director of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Debrief that the call for an unclassified report was part of the Explanatory Statement that accompanied the bill.
Mellon told The Debrief: “It’s now fair to say that the request for an unclassified report on the UAP phenomenon enjoys the support of both parties in both Houses of Congress. Assuming the Executive Branch honors this important request, the nation will at long last have an objective basis for assessing the validity of the issue and its national security implications. This is an extraordinary and long overdue opportunity.”
Luis Elizondo, the former Director of the National Programs Special Management Staff for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, told The Debrief: “We must remain diligent in order to ensure any report submitted to Congress is done to the level and expectations of the committee members and not simply a whitewash to satisfy yet another Congressional requirement.”
Earlier This Year, the Department of Defense Acknowledged UFO Videos Were Real
In April 2020, the Department of Defense acknowledged that certain UFO videos from the Navy were indeed real and still unidentified as the Pentagon formally released three videos showing the unidentified objects. The videos had previously been released to the public by To the Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences with The New York Times.
Then in August, the Pentagon acknowledged that it had a task form looking into the phenomenon, known as UAP.
The Secretary of Defense’s Office said in a statement: “On Aug. 4, 2020, Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist approved the establishment of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force (UAPTF). The Department of the Navy, under the cognizance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, will lead the UAPTF. The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”
Sen. Marco Rubio told CBS in July that there is some kind of unexplained phenomenon.
The Truth Is Out There.
And @marcorubio wants the answer.
As acting chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Rubio is pushing to have the military prepare a public report on "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon" – better known to the rest of us as UFOs.
cc @CBSMiami pic.twitter.com/KctTUt6STa
— Jim DeFede (@DeFede) July 16, 2020
He said, in part:
We have things flying over our military bases and places where we’re conducting military exercises, and we don’t know what it is and it isn’t ours. So, that’s the general question to ask. I would say that, frankly, that it was something of outside of this planet, that might actually be better than the fact that we’ve seen some technological leap on behalf of the Chinese or the Russians or some other adversary that allows them to conduct this sort of activity. But the bottom line is, there are things flying over your military bases, and you don’t know what they are, because they’re not yours. And they exhibit potential technologies that you don’t have at your own disposal. That to me is a national security risk and one that we should be looking into.