• Christopher Mellon

Draft Issues and Questions for the House UAP Hearing on May 17th

The pending House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation (C3) Subcommittee Hearing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena is a great opportunity for members to pursue important issues regarding UAP in space, government transparency on the UAP issue, how DoD is responding to last year’s legislation on the UAP issue, and ongoing problems with Air Force compliance. The following are some major issues and questions that I hope are raised on Tuesday:


SPACE:


Perhaps the most important issue to consider for Tuesday’s hearing is the question of UAP in space. DoD and the DNI have acknowledged UAP in the atmosphere and even the ocean, but what about space? The USAF is trying to avoid the issue altogether by employing the highly pedantic argument that because ‘UAP’ references ‘aerial phenomena,’ they have no obligation to include space-based trackings in their UAP reporting. (I agree the term ‘UAP’ is linguistically problematic and should perhaps be changed eventually, but this doesn't excuse the Air Force’s behavior). If members can confirm UAP in space, they’ll make history and help to eliminate an entire category of potential explanations having to do with atmospheric phenomena, Chinese lanterns, civilian drones, etc.


The witnesses may say something to the effect of: “Well, we track tens of thousands of objects in space every day, mostly unidentified space debris and clutter.” Sure, but what about unidentified objects that maneuver and appear to be under intelligent control or are otherwise agential? Objects that vertically ascend or descend from orbit or cislunar space? If members can establish that this is not just an atmospheric and oceanic issue, but also manifests in the space domain as well, they will move the ball closer to the goal line by narrowing the range of possible explanations.


We understand that in the Nimitz case and others, UAP were detected descending from above 80,000 ft. Did the massive space surveillance radar at nearby Beale AFB not detect these objects along with the USS Princeton? If not, why not? More broadly, what about the innumerable number of cases reportedly involving objects seen shooting straight up and out of sight at incredible, potentially hypersonic speeds? It is hard to believe that with all this activity in the upper atmosphere, nothing has been observed in space that is equally mysterious in terms of origins and capabilities. With that in mind, here are some questions I hope come up on Tuesday:


Questions:

  • Does the Defense Department have any information at any level of classification regarding unidentified objects entering and/or leaving the Earth’s atmosphere that appear to be intelligently controlled? How many such reports are there?

  • Likewise, does the Defense Department have any information at any level of classification regarding the presence of unidentified objects in orbit or anywhere in space that appear to be intelligently controlled or designed? If so, how many reports are there?

  • Can we safely assume that the next UAP report to Congress will include all pertinent UAP cases regardless of location?

  • Have any spatial, temporal, or phenomenological UAP patterns been identified?


TRANSPARENCY:


Another meaty issue involves government transparency regarding UAP. In that regard, even as DNI Haines was publicly acknowledging this winter that our government is guilty of over-classification, the new UAP Task Force created a classification guide that seems to make anything and everything UAP-related classified! (For a fuller discussion see this Hill article.)


One of Tuesday's witnesses, Mr. Bray, the Deputy Director for Naval Intelligence, should be able to comment authoritatively as officials under his purview created the UAP classification guide.


Questions:

  • The DoD briefing guide described in last year’s unclassified UAP report states: “Except for its existence, and the mission/purpose, virtually everything else about the UAPTF is classified, per the signed Security Classification Guide.” Does this mean that, going forward, UAP videos such as those provided to the New York Times would be classified? A formal OSI investigation confirmed that neither of the videos supplied to the NYT caused any damage to national security, so how can we justify classifying similar videos in the future?

  • There are many reports of DoD personnel being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements in the wake of UAP sightings. Should Congress enact legislation to ensure that such NDAs are not restricting the provision of pertinent UAP information to the AOIMSG or Congress?


ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES:


There remains a large gap between the intent of Congress and the actions of the Pentagon on organizational issues. This merits some serious discussion. The Administration seems to envisage the AOIMSG as a small office that compiles reports, conducts briefings, and seemingly little else. To better understand the strengths or weaknesses of the Pentagon plan, I recommend asking about the pattern of “drones'' targeting Navy warships as a test case:


As we have recently seen in Ukraine and in the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, drones can be devastatingly effective. This is concerning as we’ve had a sustained pattern of drones swarming and ferreting U.S. warships (e.g. the USS Russell, USS Kearsarge, etc.) as well as the THAAD missile site in Guam and a nuclear reactor in California. Yet, there appears to be little effort being made to identify the origin of these “drones,” notwithstanding the clear vulnerability of U.S. Navy warships. If confirmed through questioning, the lack of a meaningful plan to determine the origin of these vehicles would demonstrate the larger problem of a lack of accountability and ownership and high-level advocacy when it comes to the UAP issue. I think members will find it mostly business as usual in the Pentagon and no major initiatives to determine the origin or capabilities of these “drones.”


Questions:

  • Who owns the urgent mission of getting to the bottom of these ‘drone’ swarms plaguing our ships and bases and what are they doing about it?

  • Is the AOIMSG able to effectively lead interagency efforts of this kind?

  • The DNI’s preliminary assessment of the UAP issue states in bold letters: “EXPLAINING UAP WILL REQUIRE ANALYTIC, COLLECTION AND RESOURCE INVESTMENT.” Has the Administration identified the investments required to explain UAP? What are the most helpful things Congress can do to facilitate improved collection and analysis?


FOOT-DRAGGING BY THE USAF:


This is a significant and complex problem. For an extensive discussion and earlier draft questions, see this article I wrote in February. That being said, here are some questions worth asking:


Questions:

  • Which USAF commands or component organizations (e.g. SSPARS, Space Fence, NORAD, the Global Infrasound Network, etc.) were contacted by the USAF and consulted in advance of its submission of UAP DATA to the UAP Task Force? Have any of the organizations contacted failed to respond? Are they denying knowledge of UAP incidents from 2004 through 2021?

  • The Preliminary Assessment report states that “the USAF began a six-month pilot program in November 2020 to collect in the most likely areas to encounter UAP and is evaluating how to normalize future collection, reporting, and analysis across the entire Air Force.” Has this process concluded? If so, what was the conclusion? If not, what steps is the Air Force taking to ensure that this process remains accountable and transparent to Congress?

  • Some of the Air Force’s oversight committees have been advised that last year the Air Force warned its personnel not to approach the UAP Task Force without prior approval. There are also reports that individuals participating in a classified DoD chat room devoted to UAP issues were subsequently interviewed by USAF OSI officers who warned them against further participation. Are these reports accurate? If so, why has the USAF been interfering with these important information-sharing efforts?

  • Is there a problem with the F-22 sensor system? If not, how is it possible that Navy F-18-family fighters with inferior sensors were routinely detecting UAP off the East Coast of the U.S. for years while USAF F-22s operating in the same training areas did not? If it was simply a matter of Air Force pilots’ fear of retribution, what does that tell us about Air Force culture, and what are you going to do going forward to encourage rather than punish openness and vigilance?

  • Furthermore, we know from documents released by the Canadian government that there have been a number of UAP encounters involving Canadian NORAD components. Again, those reports do not seem to have been incorporated in the report to Congress last June. How many reports from NORAD were included in the 144 cases shared with Congress?

  • Data obtained through FOIA requests submitted by Canadian citizens reveals numerous incidents in which NORAD was notified of Canadian military UAP reports. Were these incidents shared with the UAP Task Force and if not, why not?

  • There is extensive documentation from FOIA sources and retired USAF officers regarding UAP incidents at or near USAF ICBM and SAC nuclear weapons facilities. Does the USAF possess any information indicating that unidentified aerial objects have ever interfered with U.S. nuclear command and control capabilities?

  • How many reports did the USAF contribute out of the total of 144 UAP incidents identified last year in the DNI’s Preliminary Assessment of the UAP phenomenon? The unclassified report suggests more USAF information is pending. What is causing the USAF's delay in providing pertinent UAP information?

  • There are reports that USAF personnel obtained the AEGIS radar data from the USS Princeton shortly after a series of UAP contacts in November 2004. Reportedly, the missing USS Princeton radar data was in the possession of USAF personnel at Langley Air Force Base. What knowledge does the USAF have regarding the location or disposition of the USS Princeton radar data from its UAP encounters in 2004? Does the Air Force know the whereabouts of the missing USS Princeton deck logs from November 2004?

  • The DNI identified 144 UAP incidents from 2004 until 2021 in the Preliminary Assessment provided to Congress; most of these reports came from the Navy. During this same period, commercial pilots reported hundreds of incidents involving UAP and civilian UAP organizations received tens of thousands of UAP reports. Yet, all these cases are only a small fraction of the likely total since an estimated 90% or more of all civilian and military UAP sightings go unreported. In light of these numbers, and the vast extent of the Air Force’s air and space surveillance capabilities, the number of USAF incidents from 2004 to 2021 should be extensive. When can Congress expect a proper accounting?

  • Claims abound concerning the USAF’s possession of materials that might definitively answer the question of whether a non-human civilization has found Earth. That would likely be the most tightly held secret in our government. What is your response to such claims? Perhaps that information is deemed so sensitive you are yourselves unaware or enjoined from sharing it with the Congressional Oversight Committees, so here is a broader question: Are you confident that we have sufficient processes in place to ensure that, at a minimum, any sitting President, Secretary of Defense or DNI would be aware of such information or made promptly aware if such information came to light? What about Congress?

  • In 2015, the Air Force released a document indicating an average of 1,800 unidentified “tracks of interest” per year. Yet, the UAP report submitted to Congress last June only identified 144 UAP incidents from 2004 through 2021. Are we supposed to believe that the USAF subsequently found explanations for all 9,000 UAP during this five-year period, and each and every one of the thousands that have occurred since 2015?

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