The Senate Intelligence Committee wants the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense to create a comprehensive, unclassified report concerning unidentified aerial phenomena upon the passing of a Senate appropriations bill initiated by Senator Marco Rubio, Motherboard has learned.
A recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on the bill, which concerns funding the government's intelligence activities, recommended its passing. It also asked for a “detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting collected or held by the Office of Naval Intelligence, including data and intelligence reporting held by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force.” This report is to be submitted to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees 180 days after the funding bill's enactment, and should be unclassified, although it may have a classified annex.
Notably, the committee report acknowledges the existence of an "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force" in the U.S. intelligence apparatus. Previously, the existence of such a task force was only alluded to in a statement from DoD spokesperson Susan Gough that was obtained by UFO writer Roger Glassel and reported by the Black Vault, the largest civilian archive of declassified government documents, in May.
"The Committee supports the efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence to standardize collection and reporting on unidentified aerial phenomenon, any links they have to adversarial foreign governments, and the threat they pose to U.S. military assets and installations," the committee report states. "However, the Committee remains concerned that there is no unified, comprehensive process within the Federal Government for collecting and analyzing intelligence on unidentified aerial phenomena, despite the potential threat.
The committee report expresses the need for a “detailed analysis” of “unidentified phenomena data” collected by “geospatial intelligence, signals intelligence, human intelligence; and measurement and signals intelligence” as well as 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.”
While the report says that DNI and the Secretary of Defence should carry out the report, they may also bring in "the heads of such other agencies as the Director and Secretary jointly consider relevant."
To be clear, UFOs (or UAPs, as the government calls them) doesn't mean "aliens" to the feds. The committee asks that the report identify "potential aerospace or other threats” to national security and whether these phenomena are the work of a foreign adversary who “may have achieved breakthrough aerospace technology that could put the United States strategic or conventional forces at risk.”
Finally, the committee asks that the report contain recommendations regarding better data collection, research and development, and whether the task force requires more funding.
Rubio has joked about UFOs in the past, but the committee's direction shows that the government’s interest in unknown aerial phenomena is still alive and well.
Popular interest in UFOs was re-sparked by a 2017 New York Time’s story concerning the $22 million dollar Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP, as well as reports and gun camera footage of multiple strange aerial objects witnessed by Naval aviators in 2004 and 2015. After AATIP was shuttered nearly a decade ago, critics pointed out that no further investigation seems to have occurred. The language of Rubio’s bill seems to confirm that this is not the case.
Rubio is not the only Senator who seems to be concerned about the issue of unknown objects making incursions into American airspace, either. In 2019, Politico reported Senator Mark Warner, and a handful of others, were briefed, and Chris Mellon, the former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, has also voiced that Congress and the public needs to be more involved in the issue.
A spokesperson for the Pentagon told Motherboard that they are “not going to comment on pending legislation.” They did state that they do investigate and take all reports of UAP seriously, but the “DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examination of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP.”
The Office of Naval Intelligence did not respond to Motherboard's request for comment.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.