U.S. Senators Leave Classified Briefing on Unidentified Objects With More Questions Than Answers

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief… following the recent incidents involving unidentified objects shot down over the U.S. and Canada, the American public remains in the dark, and now U.S. Senators are wanting answers. Items we’ll be discussing this week include 1) a recent classified briefing on the three objects shot down over North America, and what U.S. Senators had to say about it, 2) how the recent incidents relate to ongoing intelligence being collected on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), and 3) why America’s UAP problem isn’t going away any time soon.

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Quote of the Week 

“Given what we’ve been able to ascertain thus far, the intelligence community is considering — as, again, a leading explanation — that these could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose.”

– John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications

Latest Stories: Before diving into our analysis this week, a few stories we’re covering at The Debrief right now include our latest report on the several objects shot down over the United States and Canada within the last week, which still remain unidentified, according to U.S. officials. Elsewhere, Chris Plain tells us why understanding brain changes in fighter pilots caused by extreme forces could aid future space travelers. We’ll have links to all our recent stories at the end of this newsletter.

Video News: Also, make sure you didn’t miss Chrissy Newton’s recent discussion with former fighter pilot Ryan Graves on Rebelliously Curious, where they discuss the challenges aviators face in terms of UAP and how they can be mitigated. You can also watch past episodes and other great content from The Debrief on our official YouTube Channel.

Podcasts: This week in podcasts from The Debrief, The Micah Hanks Program picks up where we left off last week regarding the Chinese spy balloon controversy, and examines the recent shoot-downs involving unidentified objects over North America, along with a candid conversation with investigative journalist Leslie Kean. Elsewhere, MJ Banias and Stephanie Gerk discuss ghost particles, Wolf 1069b, and other topics from our top stories on The Debrief Weekly Report. You can subscribe to all our podcasts, including audio editions of Rebelliously Curiouson our Podcasts Page.

And with all that out of the way, it’s time for us to see why U.S. Senators aren’t happy with the current information being provided about the recent shoot down of several unidentified objects over the United States and Canada, and why they say the American people deserve to know more.  

U.S. Senators Weigh in On the U.S.’s Ongoing Issue With Unidentified Objects

Following a classified briefing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, U.S. Senators were sharing mixed reactions to the ongoing situation involving what the Pentagon continues to call “objects” shot down over the U.S. and Canada last week.

The briefing, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Melissa G. Dalton, as well as Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II, Gen. Glen D VanHerck, commander for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command, Morgan Muir, deputy director of national intelligence, and Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

Speaking with the press, the responses from those who attended the briefing ranged from confusion to opposition regarding what they viewed as unnecessary secrecy overshadowing the recent incidents.

“I think at a minimum our Director of National Intelligence should go in front of the American people and explain what we know and what we don’t know without divulging any classified information,” said Senator John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, while speaking with reporters just moments after the briefing.

“It’s clear to me this is not a recent phenomenon,” Kennedy added.

John Kennedy
U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana).

“I just know that going into the last two hearings, I had the impression that this was something that had happened over the last two weeks, and that’s not accurate,” Kennedy said. “This has been going on a long time.”

Kennedy added that there had been no explanations offered during the briefing for what the objects were or why specifically the President had given orders to shoot them down.

“I understand the need for national security secrets, but now that this cow is out of the barn, the President and the Director of National Intelligence needs to address it. They need to explain to the American people if they know—and I’m not sure if they know; if they know, they’re not telling us—what these things are, who put them up there, and do they pose a threat to the American people. And if the answer is no, how do they know that.”

“The only thing I feel confident saying right now,” Kennedy added, “is that if you are confused, you understand the situation perfectly.”

Kennedy added that in previous briefings, members of Congress were told that the incidents had been going on since at least 2019, but that during Tuesday’s briefing, that timeframe was extended back to as far as 2017,

“Lock your doors tonight,” Kennedy added.

“As usual, we had another classified briefing which we learned nothing I didn’t already know as a member of the Intelligence Committee,” said Senator Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, who characterized the briefing as offering nothing “you couldn’t learn from reading your newspapers or watching your news channels.”

“That’s why I want to stress again, President Biden owes the American people an explanation. President Biden should speak on camera directly to the American people today,” adding that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already given an explanation to the people of Canada over the weekend.

“Surely we’re not in a world where Justin Trudeau is a more decisive and forceful leader than the American President,” Cotton said.

Other Senators appeared to express the same level of frustration Kennedy and Cotton conveyed regarding the need to inform Americans about the recent incidents.

“I have a better understanding, but the American people deserve and need to know more,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, who added that he is “not in any way afraid that we are under a threat of attack or physical harm to our homeland.”

unidentified objects
U.S. Senator Robert Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).

“That’s my personal feeling,” Blumenthal said. “But the American people need to be reassured with more facts.”

“Dozens This Year Alone”

“95% percent of what was being discussed in that room today could be made public without compromising the security of this country,” said Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, while speaking with reporters after the briefing, although later extending that percentage to as much as 99% of what was discussed during the closed-door session.

“We know what the spy balloon from China was, so put that one aside,” Rubio said. “The other three instances as they are described both publicly, and in there, are not new. I mean, we’ve heard the exact same description in hundreds of cases.”

“Dozens this year alone,” Rubio added.

“So observing unidentified objects over U.S. airspace, particularly over sensitive areas of the country, is not new,” Rubio told reporters, adding that what little information has been provided about the recent incidents “sounds just like the stories we’ve heard repeatedly,” a reference to past briefings that detailed similar aerial incursions.

“That’s why an agency was created. An interagency task force was created to study all of this from a scientific perspective. And so my concern now is that the Department of Defense is not sharing that information with those scientists, so that you can compare the data we have on these instances, from the ones we have retroactively in the past, some of which have been explained, so that we have a better understanding of this.”

Senator Marco Rubio in 2019 (Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

“I think there’s a stigma associated with this because of space aliens,” Rubio added. “This is not about that. This is about whether an adversary… has developed a capability that they know we’re not looking for, because our systems are set up to see missiles and airplanes. “They’re not set up to see smaller objects at lower altitudes.”

“The bigger concern now that everyone wants to know is what is it and what were they doing here. But as they describe what’s been observed, we have hundreds and hundreds of these over the years,” Rubio said.

“The report that was issued by the [ODNI] earlier this year lists over 500 such cases,” Rubio added. “Dozens this year alone.”

“So the question now has to be, why are they setting up a new task force? Take this data, make it immediately available to those scientists, so you can enter it into that database, but also so you can cross-reference it and compare it to the other hundreds of cases that we have.

“That’s the only way you’re going to begin to get answers about what it is we’re dealing with here, who it belongs to, what it’s doing here. I imagine some of these are going to have explanations that are pretty simplistic. Others are gonna be more complicated. I imagine some are frankly gonna be crafts that were launched by a company, an individual, or whatever.

“And others may not be,” Rubio added, characterizing them as possible technologies developed “by nation states that have developed some rudimentary capability that can collect intelligence or test aerospace defenses of the United States.

“I’m speculating,” Rubio said. “But that’s why we want this to be handled from a data and scientific perspective. But it begins by using this process that Congress created for them.

“And so far, it appears they’re not using that.”

Reading Between the Lines

Statements from Rubio and others following Tuesday’s classified briefing convey a unified concern about unnecessary secrecy regarding the recent incidents involving shoot downs over the U.S. and Canada. That, in addition to concerns Rubio espoused regarding the Biden Administration’s decision to launch an all-new task force to collect information on such aerial incursions, despite the previous establishment of the DoD’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

On February 15, the Senate also approved a resolution that denounced China’s aerial surveillance of the U.S., encouraging a new policy “to deter and stop foreign aerial surveillance platforms violating United States sovereignty, and adding that “the substantial increase in the detection of unidentified aerial phenomena since February 4, 2023, warrants further investigation and attention to domain awareness gaps identified by United States Northern Command.”

Such recent events make it likely that the UAP issue will continue to receive bipartisan recognition going forward, also due in part to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, having been announced as the new chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as recently brought to our attention by independent researcher and watchdog D. Dean Johnson, who Tweeted about the announcement.

unidentified objects

“This chair may enhance [Gillibrand]’s ability to advance her UAP/AARO interests,” Johnson wrote, noting that Gillibrand also sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Debrief reached out to NORAD and The Pentagon for additional comment on the recent incidents, and although responses were received to our queries, neither agency would provide details on the incidents or specific answers to our ongoing queries.

In the meantime, as Americans wait to see whether President Biden will officially address the incidents prior to departing for his forthcoming trip to Poland (UPDATE: which it has finally been announced will take place at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday), what remains clear is that the United States government’s UAP issue doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon… and now more than ever, the American people, as well as elected officials on Capitol Hill, are demanding answers.

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] thedebrief [dot] org, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

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