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Defense Bill Scales Back Provisions That Would Increase Transparency of UFO Investigations

The Pentagon will be able to continue to work on certain programs related to unidentified flying objects — officially known as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) — without congressional oversight despite House efforts to increase transparency, according to Congress’ compromise defense bill revealed late Wednesday.

A bipartisan group of house lawmakers fought to keep the provisions of the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024 that would have banned the Pentagon from funding any classified UAP projects without briefing appropriate members and set up an independent disclosure process, The Hill reported. They alleged that top officials in both chambers, cooperating with U.S. defense and intelligence agencies, sought to shut down the effort in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act mostly neutralizing the transparency efforts.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota co-sponsored the UAP Disclosure Act requiring the government to disclose records related to UAPs no more than 25 years after their creation, unless there was a significant national security reason keep them classified further, according to The Hill. It also established an official collection of UAP records and formed a review office to examine them.

But, the final conference agreement only included requirements to set up the UAP records collection and review office, according to the NDAA report. It does not include provisions establishing a government-wide independent Review Board, a Review Board staff, eminent domain authority or a controlled disclosure process.

“The conferees note that lack of sufficient reciprocal access between Department of Defense and intelligence community personnel has led to operational inefficiencies and unnecessary risk of disclosures of protected information,” the report stated.

GOP Rep. Tim Burchett of Tenessee, who spearheaded similar language in the House’s version, said the UAP Caucus faced strong opposition from the Pentagon, the intelligence community and members of Congress, The Hill reported.

Congressional interest in the Pentagon’s UAP investigations jumped after three former defense officials in official testimony detailed the national security risks of the UAPs and alleged an extensive Pentagon cover-up operation.

One of the three, David Grush, who previously worked on the DOD’s UAP Task Force, claimed the Pentagon is withholding information about aircraft of non-human origin. He said he filed a whistleblower complaint and provided data on a “broad crash retrieval program” to Congress and the Intelligence Community Inspector General, but so far none of that has been made public.

In addition, as the DOD’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), created in 2022 to investigate UAP sightings, has expanded its work, the number of reported UAP sightings has skyrocketed.

“Some members have stonewalled our efforts to get transparency, and this is also unacceptable,” Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, a member of the House’s UAP Caucus, said at a press conference last week.

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