When President Donald Trump signed the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government funding bill into law in December, so began the 180-day countdown for US intelligence agencies to tell Congress what they know about UFOs.
The director of National Intelligence and the secretary of defense have a little less than six months now to provide the congressional intelligence and armed services committees with an unclassified report about “unidentified aerial phenomena.”
It’s a stipulation that was tucked into the “committee comment” section of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which was contained in the massive spending bill.
That report must contain detailed analyses of UFO data and intelligence collected by the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force and the FBI, according to the Senate intelligence committee’s directive.
It should also describe in detail “an interagency process for ensuring timely data collection and centralized analysis of all unidentified aerial phenomena reporting for the Federal Government” and designate an official responsible for that process.
Finally, the report should identify any potential national security threats posed by UFOs and assess whether any of the nation’s adversaries could be behind such activity, the committee said.
The submitted report should be unclassified, the committee said, though it can contain a classified annex.
A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed the news to the fact-checking website Snopes.
Congress has long been interested in UFOs
The videos, one from 2004 and the other two from 2015, show what appear to be unidentified flying objects rapidly moving while recorded by infrared cameras. Two of the videos contain service members reacting in awe at how quickly the objects are moving. One voice speculates that it could be a drone.
It’s still unclear what the objects are, and there’s no consensus on their origin. Some believe they may be drones potentially operated by earthly adversaries seeking to gather intelligence, rather than the extraterrestrials we normally equate with UFOs.
In August, the Pentagon announced that it was forming a task force to investigate.
Members of Congress and Pentagon officials have long been concerned about the appearance of the unidentified aircraft that have flown over US military bases. The Senate Intelligence Committee voted last June to have the Pentagon and intelligence community provide a public analysis of the encounters.
But it’s not the first time the Pentagon has looked into aerial encounters with unknown objects. The Pentagon previously studied recordings of such incidents as part of a since-shuttered classified program launched at the behest of former Sen. Harry Reid.
That program was launched in 2007 and ended in 2012, according to the Pentagon, because they assessed that there were higher priorities that needed funding.
The former head of the program Luis Elizondo told CNN in 2017 that he personally believes “there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”
CNN’s Ryan Browne contributed to this report.