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One hell of a moment
"We made history today" -- Tim Burchett
Flanked by Navy pilots Ryan Graves and David Fravor, intelligence officer David Grusch challenged Congress on Wednesday to reclaim its power. “I do know the names” of Special Access Programs on UFOs, Grusch stated, “but once again, I can’t discuss that publicly, and how they’ve evaded oversight. In a closed setting, I could tell you the specific tradecraft used.”
Wednesday’s testimony on Capitol Hill made April’s Senate UFO briefing with AARO boss Sean Kirkpatrick, and last year’s House hearings with Pentagon lifers Ronald Moultrie and Scott Bray, look exactly like what they were – bureaucratic window dressing designed to mollify lawmakers with word salad.
True, we learned a few things yesterday we hadn’t heard before, much of it second hand. Such as the 2003 jaw-dropper involving a red, square-shaped, football field-sized UFO that hovered over a Vandenberg AFB launch facility for 45 seconds as astonished Boeing contractors looked on. There were even lawmakers themselves – Republican pols Tim Burchett, Anna Paulina Luna, Matt Gaetz – describing the pushback at Eglin AFB five months ago as they attempted to interview pilot witnesses, one of whom was denied permission to release of UFO a photo he took during a training exercise.
But the biggest footprint on today’s historic convening of a House Oversight subcommittee to hear UFO evidence was the sense of a long overdue bipartisan reckoning – taxpayers are getting seriously ripped off by America’s defense establishment.
Maybe, for some reps, what went down in Room 2154 merely confirmed longstanding suspicions. For others, learning about the Pentagon’s arbitrary definitions of what does and doesn’t constitute national security might’ve been a wakeup call. It’s OK to release footage of Russian jets attacking U.S. drones, but it’s not OK to declassify footage of American jets shooting down UFOs in February because why?
Seriously? $1 billion a year goes missing?
For more than two solid hours, lawmakers listened as Navy pilots David Fravor and Ryan Graves joined intelligence officer David Grusch to accuse The System of dereliction, malfeasance, and perhaps even worse. Their testimony was sobering enough to restore decorum to a lower chamber whose tribal animus is often employed as B-roll for Discovery Channel docs on turd-flinging primate societies.
The hearing ended on a note of what now feels like an inevitability. Lawmakers appear to be on a collision course with a bureaucratic nightmare that has barred the legislative branch from knowing how it manages to lose up to a billion dollars a year. And if Congress fails, it loses not only its credibility, but its constitutional justification as well.
The most alarming testimony came from David Grusch, formerly of the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Grusch’s frequent deferrals to his security clearances often provoked questions that left Republican and Democrats with mutual apprehensions.
Tennessee’s Burchett, who’s made a personal crusade of cracking the UFO code, wanted to know who actually makes decisions about who’s cleared and who isn’t.
“A group of career senior executive officials,” Grusch replied.
“Are they government officials?”
Grusch: “Both in and out of government. And that’s about as far as I can go.”
‘There’s some abuse here’
“Which private corporations are directly involved in this program?” Burchett asked. “How much taxpayer money has been invested in these programs, to your knowledge? We audit the Pentagon every year and I’ve been here five years and they fail the dadgum thing every year. They lose over a billion dollars a year, we think. And I’ve been told the Department of Defense, maybe 60 percent of their assets are unaccounted for every year, whatever the heck that means. In the public sector you go to jail for that kinda crap.”
Grusch said he couldn’t name names in open session. “I spent 11½ hours with both (House and Senate) intelligence committees giving it to them.”
Florida’s Jared Moskowitz: “And when you say they’re above Congressional oversight, what do you mean?”
“Complicated question,” Grusch replied. “There’s some, what I would call, abuse here.”
Grusch’s audience wanted to know more about that complaint he filed last year with the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General, alleging reprisals and other threats, not only to himself but to others.
“Anyone murdered, that you know of?” Burchett wondered in all seriousness.
Grusch: “I have to be careful answering that question. I directed people with that knowledge to the appropriate authorities.” He said he’d discuss it if all the right security precautions were in place.
Burchett replied that he’d already attempted to make that happen. “Unfortunately,” he added, “we were denied access to a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility).”
Responding to an appeal from unnamed sources at Eglin AFB, Gaetz said he was finally allowed to interview one pilot who reported radar jamming and FLIR video camera malfunctions as he attempted to close in on a diamond formation of UFOs. His request to release the single pilot photo rejected, and after having heard Grusch’s responses to so many other questions muzzled by national security oaths, Gaetz got no argument from peers as he proposed the subcommittee’s future path.
Airlines to pilots — shut up
“As we move forward from this hearing, there are some obvious next steps,” Gaetz declared. “Every person watching this knows that we need to meet with Mr. Grusch in a secure compartmentalized facility so that we can get some fulsome answers that do not put him in jeopardy and that can give us the information we need.
“Second, I would suggest that the radar images that were collected of this formation of craft out of Eglin Air Force Base, and specifically, the actual image, taken by the actual flight crew that we can actually validate, be provided to the committee, subpoenaed if necessary. So that we’re able to track how to get this type of reporting and analysis done in a more fulsome way.”
Graves, the F-18 pilot who left the Navy and formed the Americans for Safe Aerospace nonprofit to provide safe harbor for civilian and military aviators reporting UFOs (now 30 strong), wondered if new regulations encouraging sighting reports made any difference at all.
“I would like to add, Congressman, a small bit of anger I would feel if those pilots are still facing difficulty in reporting this topic and they don’t have the tools to mitigate this issue,” Graves told Gaetz. “It just goes to show how serious this is and why this is such an important issue for our pilots and for our nation.”
Graves also told Luna, an Air Force veteran, that he’d been approached by commercial pilots who informed him they’d received, from airline honchos, “cease and desist orders” on filing UFO sighting reports.
“So the American public should know that corporations are putting their reputations ahead of safety of the American people,” Luna said. “Would you agree with that statement?”
Graves: “It appears so.”
No game plan was announced at the end of the session. But rookie congressman Robert Garcia from California identified a critical takeaway from the most meaningful public federal hearing on UFOs since 1968: “I’m a freshman and I’ve only been here for seven months, but this is by far the most bipartisan conversation and discussion that I’ve seen happen in the Congress.”
And with the whole world watching, you can bet your ass there’s more to come.
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