On Tuesday, the U.S. House panel held a public hearing on "unidentified aerial phenomena," known as UFOs, that will hopefully help bring legitimacy to a subject that has long been too stigmatized for many alleged accounts to come forward and for many discoveries to be made. The hearing was convened by the House Intelligence Committee's Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation subcommittee.
A potential national security threat
It was also live-streamed and chaired by Indiana Congressman André Carson. Carson began the meeting by saying the following:
"This hearing and our oversight work has a simple idea at its core: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) are a potential national security threat. And they need to be treated that way. He went on to say, "For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis. Pilots avoided reporting, or were laughed at when they did. DOD officials relegated the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community."
"Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it's true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. And any threats they pose need to be mitigated," Carson added.
The event comes on the heels of a report released in June 2021 that Congress requested to investigate UAPs. The report contained a "Preliminary Assessment" provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which outlined 144 mysterious UFO-related incidents that began in 2004, of which only one was explained.
Leaving many questions unanswered
Investigators, however, could find no evidence that the 143 incidents were due to either extraterrestrial life or a significant technological advancement by a foreign adversary. They did, however, speculate that both these scenarios could be possible explanations.
For lawmakers and intelligence and military personnel, the more significant concern with the unexplained incidents is the possibility that foreign adversaries like Russia or China might be using some incredibly advanced technology that the U.S. is not currently aware of.
In light of this, in November 2021, the Department of Defense (DOD) publicly revealed the introduction of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.
"Incursions by any airborne object into our Special Use Airspace pose safety of flight and operations security concerns and may pose national security challenges. DOD takes reports of incursions – by any airborne object, identified or unidentified – very seriously and investigates each one," said the press release.
This was a feeling that was also present in today's hearing.
In a statement ahead of the meeting, the subcommittee chairman said: "Since coming to Congress, I've been focused on the issue of unidentified aerial phenomena as both a national security threat and an interest of great importance to the American public. And I'm pleased to chair the first open Intelligence Committee hearing on these events. It will give the American people an opportunity to learn what there is to know about incidents. And I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on this critical matter."
In addition, scientists and experts were given the opportunity to submit written draft questions that they would like lawmakers to ask the witnesses.