(The Hill) – A House Intelligence subcommittee on Tuesday held the first congressional hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years.
Testimony was heard from Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray, who are overseeing the Pentagon’s new task force investigating what are now being called unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs).
Here are highlights from the hearing.
The Pentagon wants to destigmatize UAP reporting
Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), the chairman of the House Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, began the meeting with a call to destigmatize UAP reporting for pilots and other military officials.
Carson said the stigma around UAP reporting has “gotten in the way of good intelligence reporting.”
“Pilots avoided reporting or were laughed at when they did,” Carson said. “[Defense Department] officials relegated the issue to the backroom or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community.”
Bray responded that the Pentagon was working to destigmatize UAP reporting and was, in fact, actively encouraging it now.
“We also spent considerable efforts engaging directly with our naval aviators to help destigmatize the act of reporting sights and encounters,” he said. “The direct results of those efforts have been increased reporting. … The message is now clear: if you see something, you need to report it.”
The UAP database has now logged around 400 encounters
A report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released last year found 144 unexplained UAP encounters from 2004 to 2021.
On Tuesday, Bray said the number of reported UAP encounters has since climbed to around 400. But some of the encounters were historical or anecdotal, and Bray said he expects the number to drop over time.
The Pentagon on Tuesday declassified a video clip of one unexplained UAP encounter, which shows a pilot at a U.S. Navy training base encountering a strange spherical object zipping by at an extremely high speed.
Intelligence officials also released one image of a debunked UAP encounter involving strange glowing triangles in the sky.
An investigation revealed the triangles were actually unmanned drones, according to Bray.
Lawmakers said UAPs are a national security threat
Several lawmakers called UAPs a potential national security threat to the U.S.
Carson said the UAPs “are real, they need to be investigated, and the many threats they pose need to be investigated.”
Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) also warned of potentially dangerous implications for Americans, especially if any of the UAPs were a “technical surprise” from foreign nations.
“The intelligence community has a serious duty to our taxpayers to prevent potential adversaries, such as China and Russia, from surprising us with unforeseen technologies,” Crawford said.
During his opening remarks, Bray acknowledged that UAPs “represent serious hazards” and potential national security threats.
Top intelligence official discussed effort to combat UAP misinformation
Moultrie discussed how the UAP task force would work to dispel false information around aerial phenomena while authenticating valid encounters.
The Pentagon’s top intelligence official said organizations, civilians or even other countries can spread or promote false images or encounters. He called any intentional red herrings “harmful” to the task force’s investigation.
“Anything that diverts us off with what we have … sends us off on spurious chases and hunts that are just not helpful,” Moultrie said. “They also contribute to the undermining of the confidence the Congress and the American people have.”
Pentagon plans to be more transparent with declassifying information
Carson pressed both Bray and Moultrie repeatedly on whether they would seek to be more transparent with the public than the Pentagon has in the past, citing previous programs that he noted were shrouded in secrecy.
Both Bray and Moultrie said they were committed to being as transparent as possible, explaining they would declassify information when it does not pose a national security risk and if it is under their purview to do so.
Moultrie said in the past three or four months, the Pentagon has “disclosed more information on various events than it has in the previous 10 years.”
“You have our commitment to work closely with the director of national intelligence,” he said, “to make sure we can get whatever information we can out to the American people.”