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Confusion at ODNI?
Anonymous sources conflicted over what is and isn't in the report to Congress
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So, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Because of the 2022 midterm elections, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense receive a Get Out of Jail Free card for blowing their deadline to deliver a UFO report – as required by law – to Congress by October 31. Is that right? And lawmakers are good with that because they’re too busy fighting for their political futures to care that their legislation is being blown off?
Like everybody else, when last Monday’s deadline came and went, I thought, well, OK, they’ll probably do what bureaucracy always does with news it wants underplayed by dropping it around 5 p.m. Friday when everybody knocks off for Happy Hour. That’s what ODNI did in June 2021 with its nine-page “Preliminary Assessment” of UAP/UFOs, when it conceded it couldn’t explain 143 of 144 related incidents dating back to 2004. But 5 o’clock Friday came and went without a peep from officialdom. What gives?
Well, maybe the bureaucrats made an end run already, delivering the package in a way nobody expected. More on that in a moment. But first, let’s set the stakes by reviewing what Section 1683 of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act actually requires the intelligence community to do.
Congress produced a single-spaced five-page instruction manual for how federal records keepers should produce their UFO data for elected officials. The demands are sweeping and pointed, and only mildly ambiguous:
Lawmakers are not only ordering an accounting of “all” UAP activity over the previous year – they want info on “all” UAP logged outside that time frame as well, no parameters. They want to see formal analyses of those encounters, performed by A-teamers from “geospatial intelligence, signals intelligence, human intelligence, and measurement and signals intelligence.” Furthermore – and who wouldn’t’ve wanted to be a fly on the wall when the gatekeepers started vomiting in their SCIFs over this next provision – Congress is demanding to see “an enumeration of any instances in which data relating to [UFOs] was not provided to the [ODNI] because of classification restrictions on that data or for any other reasons.”
Or for any other reasons. Ruh-roh.
Why do UAP keep trolling our nukes?
Policymakers want to know the magnitude of this thing – how often are UAP puncturing restricted air space, and what are we doing about it? They want to understand the relationships in the Venn diagram, the phemomenon’s interest in the nuclear arsenal, in atomic weapons production, nuclear submarines, Nuclear Regulatory Commission projects, storage depots, civilian and military. Section 1683 wants reports of “adverse physiological effects” suffered by military and civilian personnel during UFO encounters. It wants updates on our “ability to capture or exploit discovered unidentified aerial phenomena.” It wants the specific names of the organizations/agencies conducting the analyses of these “transmedium” phantoms.
If Section 1683 is honestly pursued, the origin story is on the line. Who decided to ice Congress, our republic, out of the UFOloop? When did it start? Why? The black space between the executive and legislative branches is so cluttered with illegal possibilities, even our disintegrating two-party system is, for the moment, united in astonishment. Confronting the enormity of the mystery might well require resources we’ve already depleted – political accord and wisdom. Fully realized, 1683 could challenge Uncle Sam’s secret world with a level of scrutiny not seen since the Church Committee hearings in the 1970s. Yet, powerful financiers could very well rip that opportunity to shreds in short order.
Already, the approaching and now expired deadline for ODNI compliance is showcasing an information-management drama flailing with mixed spin. And this time around, the whole world’s watching – from the BBC to Fox News to Reuters, from Asia to South America, legacy media and constellations of podcasts alike.
The messaging started, typically, with the New York Times, which originally set current events into motion with its breakthrough reporting five years ago. But on October 28, it got soaked by anonymous sources. That’s when reporter Julian Barnes used unnamed insiders to craft a story with the news value of birds fly, fish swim, cows moo, frogs pee in your hands and mosquitos suck.
And ice is cold
“Government officials,” Barnes proclaimed in an alleged sneak preview of the ONDI report, “believe that surveillance operations by foreign powers and weather balloons or other airborne clutter explain most recent incidents of unidentified aerial phenomena — government-speak for U.F.O.s — as well as many episodes in past years.”
Only readers of – what? the NYT? – apparently don’t know that 90 to 95 percent of UFOs can always be explained, or that those percentages have serviced conventional wisdom since when? Truman or Eisenhower? But nobody gives a shit about the knowns. The only legitimate news peg here would be if Barnes had flushed one of his sources onto the record in order to disqualify him/her for being so uninformed over the long view.
Barnes also felt the need to hock this little loogie near the end of his piece, although it’s not clear who he was, or is, writing for: “Other officials insist that even though the evidence is imperfect, the grainy videos do not show space aliens.”
But who said anything about space aliens? The implication here is that the three unclassified Navy UAP videos categorized as true unknowns by the Pentagon in 2020 maybe aren’t quite as unknown as they were two years ago. Barnes used quotes from Susan Gough, the Pentagon’s lead PIO on UAP, to underscore that possibility. “In many cases,” she told him, “observed phenomena are classified as ‘unidentified’ simply because sensors were not able to collect enough information to make a positive attribution.”
In fact, Gough reasserted to CNN last year that not only do the three famous Navy vids remain unexplained, she also referenced additional footage captured by sailors on maneuvers off the southern California coast in 2019 as unknown. "There is no single explanation that addresses the majority of UAP reports," Gough added last week.
So leave it to Fleet Street to counter the Gray Lady’s nothingburger three days later with its own anonymous sources. But unlike Barnes’ reporting, they made claims that could be imminently falsifiable. On Halloween, Josh Boswell and the Daily Mail mined his connections for tangible numbers associated with ODNI’s pending analysis.
Into the sea ‘without making a splash’
Although Section 1683 stipulates ODNI was and is free to attach a classified appendix to its Congressional obligations, The Mail claims a single report – classified – has already been delivered to “the Armed Services, Appropriations, Foreign Affairs or Relations, and Intelligence committees of the House and Senate.” According to The Mail, ODNI’s analysis is 22 pages long and mentions 366 new cases, roughly half of which remain unexplained.
“Yeah, there’s balloons up there, and balloons are sometimes mistaken for UAP,” one source told Boswell. “But there are shitloads of classified videos that are pretty profound and pretty clear. They don’t want to talk about this stuff, because they really, really don’t know what the hell they are. That’s the truth.”
Complicating at least some of the evidence is how it was gathered.
“Examples,” writes Boswell, “include video shot by Reaper drones conducting surveillance in the Middle East that caught 'orbs' flying around then 'suddenly bolting off the screen'…. The ODNI source said there are dozens of classified UFO videos on government servers filmed by MQ-9 Reaper drones abroad.”
A not uncommon scenario, says Boswell’s contact, involves drone operators looking for targets when “a little orb will go flying through the viewfinder.” The pilot “starts focusing on it and he just watches the orb for a while. We might get it for 30 seconds, we might watch it for 10 minutes. And then it will do something remarkable, like suddenly bolt off the screen.'
“One tape seen by the source shows a UFO diving into the ocean 'without making a splash.”
Shades of Aguadilla 2013. The Department of Homeland Security still refuses to release raw footage of that relatively small UFO as it tumbled, fast as a drunk driver, into the ocean off Puerto Rico without making a splash. Only, this one splits into two parts when it emerges. Then vanishes. Anybody want to bet which one of these unedited transmedium exhibitions we taxpayers get to see first?
Or maybe The Mail and The Times both got it wrong. Maybe everything’s hunky dory at ODNI, and it performed its duties to the letter of the law. But we’re going to need righteous persistence from lawmakers in order to find out. Having pushed the UFO/UAP ball this far downfield, will they remain worthy of our trust?
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