Tickticktickticktick ...

The vibe around the UFO coverage feels like a spin on an old WWII submarine movie. The dorsal fins of a newly invigorated news media make beelines for the oil slick on the surface, and fling depth charges with increasing accuracy. The target below is getting pounded by fresh leaks spewing through impact fissures in the hull, and the drama tightens with each new official image and video the deep coughs up.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, top-level public servants are finally being held to account, but they do little more than fire blanks. Former President Obama manages to restate the obvious – “… there is footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are” – but ventures nothing more. For White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, it’s Keep Calm and Carry On: “We take reports of incursions into our airspace by any aircraft, identified or unidentified, very seriously and investigate each one.” A presidential press conference ends with a reporter asking the Commander in Chief to weigh in on Obama’s UFO ad lib. Joe Biden exits the stage with the best he can do: “I would ask him again. Thank you.” Press corps laughter gives him a pass.

Over the past seven decades, 13 presidents have dodged the UFO bullet, but the music has finally stopped. Sorry, Joe, you just got caught without the chair. And the clock is running.

An unclassified status report on UFOs, the product of a forced collaboration between the Pentagon and the Director of National Intelligence thanks to a spending-bill mandate, could land in Congress’ court any day now. There are rumored concerns about inter-agency stonewalling and obfuscation. The Defense Department’s Inspector General is suspicious; on May 3, its office issued a terse and vaguely worded memo demanding direct contact names from 18 sets of military and intelligence entities. Oh, to be a fly on the wall inside those SCIFs.

But a couple of researchers with the nonprofit Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU) are expecting more meh. That’s because there’s a massive hole in the IG’s distribution-list summons – the Department of Homeland Security was not ordered to cooperate.

This is a huge deal because DHS commands sprawling infrastructure that oversees U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. And CBP is sitting on arguably the most astonishing UFO sequence in federal custody. Although the footage has been in the public domain since 2015, CBP bureaucrats refuse to relinquish the unedited raw video by clinging to the fiction that national security is at stake.

For newcomers to the UFO issue, the Aguadilla riddle is a doozy, visually speaking. The event went down on 4/28/13, when an agency surveillance plane working the night skies over coastal Puerto Rico videotaped an object without a transponder for nearly four minutes as it tumbled into restricted airspace over a commercial airport.

Targeting the estimated 5-foot wide blip using infrared optics, the crew of the DHC-8 watched as the bogey sliced into the Caribbean surf at about 100 mph and stirred barely a ripple. The heat-seeking camera locks onto the UAP as – zipping along at an average speed of 82 mph – it alternately submerges, breaks the surface, dips underwater again, and reemerges for the last time by dividing into two flying objects of equal size before disappearing. The baffled camera operator pans from side to side, scanning for what is no longer there.

“60 Minutes wanted to show the video, but they wanted to be able to verify the government released it,” says SCU executive board member Robert Powell. “But it wasn’t an official government release.”

What the raw footage contains, according to fellow SCU board member Morgan Beall, is real-time voice-over crew reaction, most likely of the sort that made the Navy-authenticated GoFast and Gimbal videos so gripping and visceral. But the Aguadilla chatter was scrubbed, says Beall, because the officer who passed him the second-generation film needed to protect the identities of the crew. And the crew wanted it out there because they weren’t getting any answers from the apparently disinterested chain of command. Upper management allegedly told them to shop it over to the Air Force. The USAF allegedly passed the buck to a civilian UFO contact number. Beall, at the time, was with the Mutual UFO Network.

Working with embedded metadata, six researchers who eventually formed SCU examined all 7,027 individual frames of the Aguadilla UFO. Its erratic speed ranged from 40 to 120 mph, and just before the object split in two moments prior to exiting the water for the final time, it doubled in size.

Although SCU obtained FAA radar records, its 162-page report was hamstrung by blocked access to far more sophisticated military radar, installed locally at Rafael Hernandez Airport. Furthermore, formal requests for control tower logs were snubbed because the airport is managed by a private concern, Robinson Aviation, exempt from FOIA laws. CBP contends the release of the UFO video would “essentially provide bad actors with a map of where to look for CBP in the sky during smuggling operations.” Powell, however, submits at least three CBP smuggler-tracking videos, approved for commercial television, that include the same sort of alleged security-compromising metadata.

“Homeland Security oversees a ton of law enforcement and national security air fields and towers, and they’re part of NORAD,” adds Beall. “They oversee radar systems now that are not run by the FAA. So why wouldn’t (Congress) involve Homeland Security in its request, especially since so many airport records are in the hands of private contractors? If they were on the list, they’d have to comply.”

Given its foundational analysis of events like the Tic Tac incident, alongside Powell’s research into the perhaps even more troubling Stephenville encounter in 2008, SCU is well positioned to become a vital partner in any UAP/UFO research going forward. Its multi-disciplinary team – 114 members at last glance, with collective expertise including chemistry, astronomy, biology and physics – counts 28 percent with PhDs, and more than half hold advanced degrees. Many will convene for SCU’s online “Anomalous Aerospace Phenomena Conference” this weekend, headlined by Hal Puthoff, a consultant to the Pentagon’s controversial Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.

“We’re averaging three to four new members a week, and we’re not looking for them,” says Powell. “They’re coming to us.”

With or without DHS cooperation, the momentum for transparency is beginning to look irreversible. With or without big reveals from the imminent DoD/DNI audit, human curiosity is abandoning the sidelines and leaving the closet. Neither the obstructionists nor the sunshine advocates have any idea where this is going, or how it will end. Assuming it will end. But this is more than an idea, and its time has come. Damn the torpedoes.