Welcome to this week’s edition of The Intelligence Brief… for anyone that has kept up with the news in recent days, you may not be surprised to see that this week we return to the ever-timely analysis of the U.S. government’s investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena, or what (despite the trends) most of us still prefer to simply call UFOs. Items we’ll cover in this edition include 1) The DoD Office of the Inspector General’s recent announcement that they plan to evaluate the Pentagon’s UFO studies, 2) the one time in history that the UFO topic was almost officially tasked as a national security problem, and 3) how the scientific establishment and the military have clashed on the UFO topic in the past, and why it will likely happen again.
And with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the latest development in the ongoing saga of the Pentagon’s study of unidentified aerial phenomena.
The DoD Office of the Inspector General to Evaluate the DoD’s Studies of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena
In recent days, The Debrief was first to report that the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General is slated to perform an evaluation of the Pentagon’s investigations into Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UFOs.
In a letter to Pentagon leadership on Monday, Randolph R. Stone, Assistant Inspector General for Evaluations, says “The objective of this evaluation is to determine the extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).”
The entire DoD Office of the Inspector General memorandum can be read here, along with The Debrief’s original reporting by Tim McMillan and MJ Banias.
However, much remains to be seen about what the scope of the evaluation may entail, and how it will shape any forthcoming information from the U.S. government on the developing UAP issue. What prompted the evaluation in the first place; was it out of concern primarily with the subject of UAP itself, or as the wording of Stone’s letter appears to indicate, the extent of the DoD’s involvement, and possibly also its handling of the issue? Could it be all of the above?
Responses to the new information about the OIG evaluation were wide and varied. Kevin P. Childress, a former Special Agent for the Department of Energy, commented in a Tweet saying that the OIG’s investigation could mark a significant turn of events, perhaps even rivaling that of the Navy’s Task Force.
“Being a retired OIG Special Agent for the Dept of Energy,” Childress said, “the beginning of an OIG investigation is way more significant than an internal task force.”
Next month, we will see the arrival of the 180-day deadline for the Department of the Navy’s UAP Task Force, which is scheduled to release an unclassified report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on its findings related to UAP.
However, questions remain as to whether the task force’s report will actually arrive on time, and once it does, how much of the information it contains will actually remain unclassified and accessible to the public. As previously reported by Politico, some officials have expressed frustration with the fact that some intelligence agencies from which the UAP Task Force has requested information do not appear to have complied fully with the requests.
That Time UFOs Were Almost Tasked as a National Security Problem
Miscommunication and stonewalling on part of agencies within the United States Government with relation to the UFO issue is by no means anything new. Going as far back as the early 1950s, the Office of Scientific Intelligence at the CIA nearly recommended that the UFO issue be tasked as a National Security Problem. However, despite the national security implications involved with the possibility that objects of unknown provenance were being observed in U.S. airspace, the tasking never occurred.
“The head of Technical Intelligence at the CIA came back to the CIA director and said this is a national crisis,” says Larry Hancock, a former USAF serviceman and current member of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU), who authored the book Unidentified: The National Intelligence Problem of UFOs.
According to Hancock, who has reviewed thousands of official government documents related to the government’s involvement with UFOs since the end of World War II, head of Technical Intelligence told the CIA director that UFOs appeared to represent a valid national security concern. “There is something going on over our atomic warfare complex that looks very much like purposeful reconnaissance,” Hancock summarizes. “Somebody is probing it. We need to up the ante on this. We need to elevate this to the National Security Council and make it a tasking for the national intelligence community.”
However, according to Hancock the advisory council who looked at the matter was concerned about the fact that the Pentagon may be elevating a subject to the National Security Council as a potential threat without first having any scientific endorsement of its validity, let alone any consensus on whether or not it existed.
“This is a pretty wild subject, and there’s been no scientific endorsement of this,” Hancock says the advisory council said. “First, you have to get some scientific endorsement.” This ultimately resulted in the establishment of the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel, which primarily approached the topic from the perspective of being a question not of actual national security concern, but rather, one of psychology.
“When they convene the panel under Chairman Robertson,” Hancock explains, “they actually begin with a briefing that positions the whole study more in terms of a psychological study more than anything else. Essentially evaluating the UFO phenomenon as a potential element of psychological warfare.”
Once the CIA’s Robertson Panel convened to address whether there was scientific merit to the study of UFOs as a potential security threat, the result had actually been further distancing of intelligence agencies from the UFO problem.
It would not be the last time that a scientific assessment of the issue appeared to conflict with concerns held by the military, either. In 1968, the University of Colorado UFO Project similarly concluded that there was no benefit to science from the USAF’s ongoing collection of UFO reports with its Project Blue Book, a determination that led to the program’s conclusion the following year.
In fact, the divide that occasionally arises between the opinions of the scientific establishment and the United States Government is not limited to the subject of UFOs. Last week, The Debrief reported on how a number of scientists dispute the effects of “Havana Syndrome,” an alleged series of symptoms reported by U.S. personnel at a number of locations, which include U.S. embassies in various countries and, more recently, even in Washington.
“This is not science, but science fiction,” said UCLA neurologist Robert Baloh, who cites a number of historical examples of mass hysteria episodes and psychosomatic conditions that he believes are similar to the current question over directed energy attacks. Baloh is among many scientists who have questioned the validity of the symptoms reported by U.S. personnel, despite several studies which have found them to be consistent with possible attacks achieved through directed microwave beam emissions, a view that has been acknowledged by U.S. government agencies in recent months. This, in addition to Canadian diplomats who have now expressed concerns about whether their government is withholding information about similar attacks, and renewed interest in the problem by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.
The nature and focus of the DoD Office of the Inspector General’s evaluation of the Pentagon’s investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena remains to be seen. Is the review aimed at gauging the merit and efficacy of past DoD projects, like the now well known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) program, its predecessor the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Applications Program (AAWSAP)? Is it possible that the OIG evaluation could result in a new scientific review of the DoD’s UAP efforts, and if so, could friction arise between scientific investigators and government agencies? Although with the lingering questions about when, and how much of the UAP Task Force report we may be seeing in June, perhaps we can hope that the best result of the OIG evaluation will be that it brings a much-needed layer of accountability and oversight to the United States government’s current studies of unidentified aerial phenomena.
Selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996, Donald Pettit has spent the last 25 years training, preparing, and traveling into space with America’s premier space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA.
Recently, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department made headlines when they announced the agency’s computer network had been hacked, with cyberattackers reportedly making off with 250 gigabytes of sensitive data, including the identity of police informants.