On June 25, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence produced that long-anticipated report on “Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon.” The ODNI prepared the report with the assistance of a serious alphabet soup of other agencies, including the DIA, FBI, NSA, and every branch of the armed forces. There’s no specific mention of Area 51 or the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, but unless all the aliens are being kept under lock and key with some agency whose initials are completely unknown to the public, it’s safe to say the the ODNI report touched on all the obvious bases.
Why are we only dealing with this vital report now? Well, it could be that it took a solid week to read the detailed content and assess the information. It could also be that this is a holiday weekend, the staff is off either eating things, playing games, or making things go boom, and that an article was needed that wouldn’t really go stale in spite of a news cycle that seems to run on heartbreaking judicial decisions and swift kicks to the gut. One of these things is definitely true. And you don’t even have to drive to Rosewell to figure out which one.
Obviously, this means that the preliminary report doesn’t definitively determine that Earth is being visited by intelligent life from other worlds. That seems like the kind of news that genuinely would warrant instant attention, even in a world where the leader of the conservative party is being driven by the daily whims of Tucker Carlson. Honestly, if what the report found was that aliens were definitively not visiting this planet, that would also be worth a headline or two, though admittedly in smaller type. But what the report actually finds can best be summed up with a word: shrug.
What it makes clear is that, even if we can’t establish the presence of aliens, we definitely need some Men in Black.
Right off the bat, there is something that should be made clear. Whether they are called UFOs or UAPs, they are very, very real. People, including members of the armed forces, see things in the sky all the time that they cannot identify. That’s the truth.
As the ODNI report makes clear, most of the reports that they examined “probably do represent physical objects given that a majority of UAP were registered across multiple sensors, to include radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers, and visual observation.”
The report also says that some of the objects involved displayed unusual flight aspects, including the ability to travel at extraordinary speed, to make maneuvers more abrupt than known aircraft, or to pass from air to water without apparently slowing. However, the report notes that there are really very few “high quality” observations, even though all the reports they examined in detail were from military observers.
Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion.
In all, they looked at 144 reports originating from government sources. Of those reports, 80 included detection with more than one type of sensor. That is, they were either visible both to observers and cameras, or seen on radar and infrared, or some other combination of the above. That makes these reports hard to dismiss as just optical effects or software glitches in a single instrument. However, it doesn’t absolve them from being simple misinterpretations. For example, of the three videos that have gained widespread public attention over the past year, the video showing flying “pyramids” is almost certainly the lights of commercial airliners as seen through infrared cameras that generate an unusual form of lens flare. Observers on the ground also saw these lights, but as lights, not the objects that seemed to be present in the video.
In any case, it’s clear that the ODNI and other government agencies are taking these sightings seriously, because they have to be taken seriously. As the report notes, no matter what you call them, and no matter what the source, these sightings are disrupting training and other military maneuvers as well as interfering with civilian aviation. At the very least, the safety of pilots and crews demands further investigation. At worst if these actions represent, as the report calls them, “foreign adversary systems,” then this situation is dire.
The ODNI makes clear that, no matter the outcome, “UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.”
For that reason alone, it’s critical that they continue to be taken seriously. This report may be a disappointment to the public, since it neither confesses to secret government cavorting with aliens or provides a dire warning of hidden Nazi moon bases, but its real message shouldn’t get lost in the quest for aliens: UAPs are a real thing, and a real threat.
So what do we do about it? It would be nice to suggest that some critical breakthroughs in radar or cameras might provide all the documentation we ever wanted, and there’s no doubt that improved instrumentation is a big part of what is driving these reports. New technology, operating right at the edge of capability, is also a likely source of many false reports.
But the report spells out the biggest thing that could be done to help. We need: “consistent consolidation of reports from across the federal government, standardized reporting, increased collection and analysis, and a streamlined process for screening all such reports against a broad range of relevant U.S. government data.” That will provide “a more sophisticated analysis of UAP that is likely to deepen our understanding.”
The report makes clear that these steps are “resource-intensive” and “would require additional investment.”
Standardize the reporting, consolidate the data, and deepen the analysis
These are also steps that are unlikely to ever be taken seriously at existing agencies. Navy pilots may be reporting UAPs, but the Navy isn’t likely to assign its top investigators to chasing them full-time. The same goes for the Air Force and other branches of the military, as well as for existing intelligence agencies.
What’s really needed is an agency or department that can cut through red tape, and which is uniquely empowered to investigate this one phenomenon across the government, as well as among the civilian population. Such an agency wouldn’t need hypnotizing pens or jet-powered cars. They would need consistent reporting, the clearance to see into military programs, and a no-nonsense ability to pursue these observations no matter how many people are laughing.
And remember: That suit would look good on you.
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