The director of the Pentagon’s investigations into unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) says the U.S. acknowledges concerns over the possibility of being caught off guard by developments related to extraterrestrial technologies, just days before a UAP hearing where a National Security Subcommittee will receive testimony from former U.S. government personnel about unexplained military encounters.
Scheduled for next Wednesday, a hearing by the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs will convene following widely reported statements in recent weeks claiming that information about UAP has been illegally withheld from members of Congress.
The subcommittee hearing “will explore firsthand accounts of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) and assess the federal government’s transparency and accountability regarding UAPs’ possible threats to U.S. national security,” according to a release on the Subcommittee’s website.
On Thursday morning, it was announced that the three witnesses in attendance at the hearing will be Rt. Commander David Fravor, a former fighter pilot and Commanding Officer of the U.S. Navy’s Black Aces Squadron; Ryan Graves, also a former fighter pilot and Executive Director of the advocacy organization Americans for Safe Aerospace; and David Grusch, a former National Reconnaissance Office and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employee who was a representative to the UAP Task Force (UAPTF).
In 2004, Fravor was among the pilot witnesses to an incident that occurred off the Baja California peninsula involving observations of an unidentified flying object the pilot later characterized as resembling a “Tic Tac.” Similarly, Graves was among Navy personnel who had similar experiences between late 2014 and early 2015 while in service to the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group during training exercises off the Eastern United States coast.
Grusch has remained a focal point of the UAP debate in recent weeks after it was revealed he had filed an Intelligence Community Inspector General complaint alleging that information about recoveries of exotic craft has been unlawfully withheld from Congress and the American public.
Next week’s Subcommittee hearing will be overseen by Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) and in addition to receiving witness testimony, will focus on the recent legislative effort, which has received bipartisan support from elected officials. The hearing will also address requirements that the U.S. federal government provide Americans “with information about potential risks to public safety and national security” that UAP could represent.
“Last year, the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing on UAPs,” Burchett said Thursday morning. “They brought in some Pentagon bureaucrats who only had two answers to the questions they were asked: ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘That’s classified.’ This hearing is going to be different.”
“We’re going to have witnesses who can speak frankly to the public about their experiences,” Burchett added.
“We’ve had a heck of a lot of pushback about this hearing,” Burchett said, citing opposition from members of Congress and the Intelligence Community.
“There are a lot of people who don’t want this to come to light,” Burchett said, citing legislation he recently unsuccessfully attempted to advance as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill.
“The status quo on the part of the U.S. government has been to leave the American public in the dark regarding information about UAPs,” Rep. Luna said in a statement, adding that government agencies “default to extreme and unnecessary over-classification.”
“If the last few months have taught me anything, it is that this is an issue that matters to Americans,” Luna said.
Last year, the Department of Defense established the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) as its official investigative office to examine the UAP issue at the direction of Congress following an amendment to the FY 2022 NDAA that was passed into law.
Additional provisions were included in the FY 2023 NDAA, which included language that offered protections for whistleblowers possessing knowledge of legacy programs within the government and other information about UAP, who may have previously been unable to come forward and discuss such matters without suffering legal repercussions.
Speaking with ABC News, AARO Director Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick was quoted Thursday saying that while his office has yet to uncover information that it deems to be credible evidence of extraterrestrial technologies, the DOD remains concerned about the potential of being blindsided resulting from what he characterized as “intelligent or extraterrestrial technical surprise.”
Regarding the various hypotheses about what UAP could represent, Kirkpatrick told ABC News in an interview that will air Thursday night that there were several possibilities.
“On one end of the spectrum, it’s advanced technology that’s coming from an adversary,” Kirkpatrick said. “Right in the middle, I have all my known objects—balloons and drones and birds and whatnot.”
“And then on the far end of the spectrum, we have extraterrestrials,” Kirkpatrick added.
When asked about the recent whistleblower claims involving UAP, Kirkpatrick told ABC that close to 30 individuals had been interviewed by AARO investigators but that “none of it has yet led to any verifiable information that substantiates the claim that the U.S. government has those ships or has a reverse engineering program either in the past or currently.”
During a Senate hearing earlier this year, Kirkpatrick provided testimony to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), where he emphasized that while he would follow the science wherever it leads, to date, his office had seen no evidence it deemed to be clear, unambiguous indications of extraterrestrial technologies.
“AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics,” Kirkpatrick said during the April 19 hearing.
“I encourage those who hold alternative theories or views to submit your research to credible, peer-reviewed scientific journals. AARO is doing the same. That is how science works,” Kirkpatrick also said.
Speaking with ABC News this week, Kirkpatrick reiterated that AARO has still seen no evidence that it deems to be clear evidence of extraterrestrial technologies.
“I can’t rule it out, but I don’t have any evidence,” Kirkpatrick said.
A statement that appeared Thursday on the website of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability announcing details about next Wednesday’s hearing accused the Pentagon of withholding information on UAP and offering too little in terms of information that could help to provide insights about the origins of the phenomena.
“The federal government spends millions of dollars examining UAPs, yet refuses to be forthcoming with the American people as it continues to declassify certain videos and studies on various UAP incidents with little clarity on the subject’s origins,” the statement read.
“We’re gonna get to the bottom of it,” Burchett said during Thursday’s press conference, “whatever the truth may be.”
“We’re done with the cover-ups,” he added.
The hearing by the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs will be held on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. ET, with additional information available online at the website of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.
Update: An earlier version of this article referenced quotes by Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the DoD’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, as having featured the wording “technical supremacy” rather than “technical surprise.” ABC News has since corrected this error in their original transcript of the interview with Kirkpatrick; this article has been updated accordingly with the correct language.