NASA Reveals UAP Director After Transparency Standoff
The United States NASA Administrator Bill Nelson speaks during the media briefing at the NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C., United States on September 14, 2023.
(Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

NASA appointed a new director of UAP research, a position meant to oversee studies into UFOs. Although NASA refused to identify the person upon making the announcement on Thursday, hours later — after being confronted about a lack of transparency — the agency changed course and released a name.

Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, shared the plans for a new top UFO investigator upon the release of an independent study team’s report on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) based on unclassified data that offered no evidence of extraterrestrial life but did call for more investigation into objects they could not explain and beyond.

“NASA’s new Director of UAP Research will develop and oversee the implementation of NASA’s scientific vision for UAP research, including using NASA’s expertise to work with other agencies to analyze UAP and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to search the skies for anomalies,” Nelson said. “NASA will do this work transparently for the benefit of humanity.”

NASA later released an updated press release that said Mark McInerney had been appointed director of UAP research.

“McInerney previously served as NASA’s liaison to the Department of Defense covering limited UAP activities for the agency. In the director role, he will centralize communications, resources, and data analytical capabilities to establish a robust database for the evaluation of future UAP,” the news release said. “He also will leverage NASA’s expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and space-based observation tools to support and enhance the broader government initiative on UAP. Since 1996, he has served various positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and the National Hurricane Center.”

Earlier in the day, despite a stated commitment for transparency, NASA officials initially resisted disclosure of whom the agency had chosen to lead its UFO endeavor when pressed during a news conference to discuss the independent study’s findings and NASA’s plans for disclosure by filmmaker James Fox and reporters. The decision to keep the name under wraps stood in contrast to how the Department of Defense handled the announcement of its UAP office last year, naming Sean Kirkpatrick as the director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

NASA Associate Administrator Nicola Fox conceded that her agency had already appointed someone to the role some time ago, but declined to name the individual, saying, “We will not give his name out now.” Dan Evans, NASA’s assistant deputy associate administrator for research, said harassment and even threats directed at members of the research group were “beyond the pale” and factored into the agency’s decision not to announce the new director’s name.

NewsNation’s Joe Khalil asked the panel whether their decision to withhold the identity of the lead UAP investigator would be permanent and noted that “it seems to cut against the dedication to being open and transparent” to keep the name secret.

“At the time, yes, we are withholding that name. Let’s not forget that we’ve only just received this report,” Evan replied. “And what we need to do now as an agency is come together and provide a cohesive and coherent response to it that addresses multiple findings and recommendations, okay? We’re only announcing initial actions today. Will that person’s name be disclosed, as to your specific question? Potentially, yes. But again, we need to ensure that the scientific process and method is free. Okay? That’s my response.”

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