The COVID-19 relief bill and its sister omnibus spending bill, which passed Congress last week, have been roundly criticized for being packed with “pork-barrel” spending, but it turns out the pair of bills also set deadlines for a number of Congressional initiatives, including a demand that the Pentagon and other spy agencies reveal what they know about unidentified flying objects or UFOs.
The specific UFO provision, Fox News reports, is not in the nearly 6,000-page relief bill itself, but in an appended “comment comment” attached to a measure reauthorizing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA was passed as part of the omnibus spending bill that funded the Department of Defense through the end of 2021.
President Donald Trump vetoed the two bills in part because the NDAA did not contain a provision repealing the controversial Section 230, which protects social media platforms from being considered “publishers,” thus eliminating any liability for what users post on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Congress, of course, overturned Trump’s veto earlier this week, re-upping the NDAA without Section 230 reform.
The UFO provision, though, remains. The comment, added by the Senate Intelligence Committee, “directs the [director of national intelligence], in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of such other agencies… 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.”
All agencies must provide Congress with a full report detailing “observed airborne objects that have not been identified” and Congress would like a “detailed analysis of unidentified phenomena data collected by: a. geospatial intelligence; b. signals intelligence; c. human intelligence; and d. measurement and signals intelligence.”
In addition, Fox News adds, the report must contain “[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 … and an assessment of whether this unidentified aerial phenomena activity may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries.”
The comment references a series of reports from a little-known Pentagon office that, for decades, tracked military reports of “unidentified flying objects” that pilots and other service-members encountered during routine exercises, typically training exercises off the coast of California.
In recent months, the Pentagon has confirmed a number of UFO-related accounts and released cockpit video recorded during several “UFO” encounters, one from 2004.
“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” the Department of Defense said in a statement at the time.
The DoD and others stressed, in April when the official videos hit the web, that “UFO” doesn’t necessarily mean “alien technology,” but could refer to experimental technology being developed by an agency with no ties to the military or a foreign incursion on American airspace.
The Pentagon office researching these encounters has since been shuttered after it “was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”
It is not known whether the report, expected within six months, will be made available to the public.
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