Sean Kirkpatrick in Scientific American


Senior Member.

[h3]Stories by Sean Kirkpatrick[/h3]
Sean Kirkpatrick recently retired from federal service as the first director of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office at the U.S. Department of Defense. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Georgia.

We Need to Investigate UFOs. But Without the Distraction of Conspiracy Theories

Here’s What I Learned as the U.S. Government’s UFO Hunter

• Discussion of the January 19 SA article: ff.
• Discussion of a Jan 27 article on Kirkpatrick in The Guardian:
• Discussion of the March 6 AARO report:

Excerpts from the March 6 article (emphasis mine):
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AARO’s underlying raison d’être is to investigate, evaluate, analyze and provide actionable information for use by our national security leadership. Its purpose is not to prove or disprove the existence of extraterrestrial life, but to address the safety and security of our people, our operations and our nation.

Unfortunately, it is also meant to investigate a conspiracy saturated with the distrust between our legislative and executive branches. It is time for the American people to understand that, and for the DoD, ODNI and Congress to step up to the plate and enable AARO to finish its mission absent this distraction.
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Many outside observers nonetheless have criticized AARO as supposedly part of a continuing government cover-up of the existence of aliens. Interestingly, they have not provided any verifiable evidence of this, nor are some of the more outspoken willing to engage with the office to discuss their positions or offer up the data and evidence they claim to possess. Too often these critics and their supporters rely on secondhand “friend of a cousin” reporting with no personal firsthand knowledge or rigor in their critical thinking. Some claim that those with firsthand knowledge of this supposed cover-up have relayed it to AARO, but no source in my tenure as director of the office had firsthand knowledge of anything to do with an alleged reverse-engineering program of extraterrestrial spacecraft. While those who came forward have provided valuable information (albeit not of extraterrestrials or cover-ups), those who chose to instead titillate the national interest only stir division and hatred against the credible men and women of AARO who are working faithfully to address this mission. The AARO continues to offer anyone an opportunity to provide their personal knowledge of an alleged program involving extraterrestrials for the record in a safe and nonadversarial environment. It remains perplexing that some critics are hiding behind their own cloak of secrecy and legal maneuvering, refusing to engage with the AARO when the office has been given full authority by Congress, DoD, ODNI and others in the interagency process to review all information regardless of its classification while legally protecting those who provide it.
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There also is the possibility that some observed and reported phenomena are associated with past or ongoing national security programs completely unrelated to extraterrestrials. Unfortunately, some who have been peripherally involved in these programs are taking advantage of the lack of understanding of security compartmentalization among the public—and some members of Congress—and feel that exposure of national security activities is a public right.

The harm of such exposure would be incalculable: billions of dollars and decades invested in military capabilities exposed to our potential adversaries to satisfy ill-informed curiosity. While some staffers and members of Congress may claim that they and the American people have a right to know of every classified research program, Congress already has an established process for notification of sensitive programs to the bipartisan leadership of both the Senate and House as well as the chairs and ranking minority members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, often referred to as the Gang of Eight. It is incumbent on both the speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader and both chairs of the intelligence committees to ensure that there is no risk of exposing any national security programs in a rush to find extraterrestrials, and that documents are reviewed within appropriate channels. If these members of Congress deem it appropriate not to share classified information, they are doing their job. These are not town hall topics.
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In the multiple reports to Congress that I oversaw, full insight into AARO’s methodology, status and results, both unclassified and classified, has been provided. Anyone saying otherwise is not part of the 12 committees that oversee AARO’s mission; critics need to learn how access to information within Congress works. If the true issue is the scope of government classification and congressional notification, that should be addressed in the appropriate fora, not by chasing ET.
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