The UAP Policy and Discursive Shift - Changing narratives on UAPs and its effect on policy.

The UAP Policy and Discursive Shift - changing narratives on UAPs and its effect on policy.





Abstract 1

1. Introduction. 2

2. Methodology. 3

3. Mapping the Actors. 4

a) AAWSAP and AATIP. 4

b) TTSA. 5

c) Speculative Pentagon Factions 6

d) Legislative Branch and Former Executive Branch Officials. 7

e) Journalists 8

4. Initial Analysis and Conclusion. 8

References. 9





Abstract



This paper sets out to map out the actors involved in the recent policy and discursive shift around UAP, based on publicly available documents and journalistic research, predicated on the understanding that the 2021 UAP report signals such a shift in the US government’s approach to UAP. The methods are based in critical policy analysis and utilizes the Policy Analysis Triangle framework. The overall aim is to elucidate the underlying tensions and disagreements among policy-makers and interest-groups, to have a clearer understanding why such a radical policy shift has occurred.

The findings show that a broad coalition of interest groups and individuals, known as the Aviary Network or the Invisible College, dating back to the late 1970s, have actively pursued avenues for the continued study of UAP, utilizing personal connections with legislative and defense officials and backed by billionaire Robert Bigelow. These efforts were then amplified by Tom DeLonge’s TTSA, bringing together important military and intelligence officials, as well as scientists and engineers with long history of work with secret government programs. Through the efforts of TTSA, particularly through Chris Mellon, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and Luis Elizondo, former director of AATIP, Congress passed legislation explicitly asking for an unclassified report on UAP. Most surprisingly, the report, after its publication, created an immediate response through a memorandum, setting the groundwork for a substantial policy shift within the Department of Defense. Speculatively, some evidence is highlighted to show different factions within the Pentagon, some who seem to actively pursue greater UAP data collection and analysis, and others who do not.

Lastly, some initial reasons are raised as to why the policy and discursive shift has occurred now, through three main hypotheses – that these aforementioned interest groups have completely succeeded in influencing Congress based on nothing but their tenacity and contacts, that the shifting geopolitical space around drone technology and foreign adversarial spying has made existing sociocultural stigmas actively dangerous from a defense perspective and, to avoid embarrassment, they have utilized the popular imagination of UFOs to implement policy changes, or that there truly is advanced craft of unknown origin that display breakthrough technology, which has become untenable for the Pentagon to continue to ignore.



1. Introduction



On the 25th of June, 2021, the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released the ‘Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena’ report, as directed to by a provision buried in the COVID-19 Relief Bill signed into law December 27th, 2020. This report, which will be referred to as the UAP report, can be viewed as a milestone moment in the discourse around Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), more commonly known as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), due to it explicitly reversing the conclusions reached by the Condon Report in 1969, which led to the closure of Project Blue Book, the last publicly known systematic study on UAPs until revelations of a secret program called Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) came out in the New York Times in 2017 (Cooper et al, 2017).

The conclusions reached by the Condon report was threefold (Condon, 1969):

  • That no UFO ever indicated any threat to national security;
  • That there was no evidence UFOs represented technological developments or principles beyond modern scientific knowledge;
  • That there was no evidence indicating that any sightings were extraterrestrial vehicles.
The Condon report established 50 years of sociocultural stigma around reporting on UFOs, with no systematic mechanism within the US military or government in collecting, analyzing or studying sightings. The UAP report, in turn, reached completely opposite conclusions (DNI, 2021):

  • UAP represent a flight safety issue, and may represent a threat to national security (pg. 3)
  • UAP may represent technological developments (breakthrough technology), and may need scientific advances to study (pg. 6)
  • Extraterrestrial hypothesis not mentioned, but also not explicitly ruled out.


Perhaps even more significantly, the UAP report provoked an immediate response based on its recommendations, with the Deputy Secretary of Defense issuing a memorandum directing the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security to develop a plan to formalize the mission that had been performed by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), who penned the report, seeking to involve every level of the US military, from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretaries of the Military Departments, military commanders, the Department of National Intelligence (DNI) and all other ‘relevant interagency partners’, to establish procedures to centralize collecting, reporting, and analyzing UAP (Hicks, 2021). This would also move the new mission to a central institution from the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), noting that the report confirmed that the scope of UAP activity was beyond this purview. This memorandum indicates a significant policy shift on the federal level regarding UAP, reversing the Condon report not only of its conclusions but also in implementation.

As such, this paper seeks to set out how and why there has been such a sudden shift in policy regarding UAP, from general denial and underfunded research to active data collection and analysis, as well as noting a discursive shift around UAP from the top level of the US executive branch and the US military. This paper will specifically focus on the actors involved, and the potential power dynamics behind the scene, with additional papers down the line on other aspects of US government and military engagement around UAP. It should be noted that this paper does not aim to make any speculation on the nature of UAP, but rather to look at the potential power dynamics at play that has led to a significant change in policy regarding UAP, and the discursive shift that has occurred simultaneously.



Methodology



This paper is a critical policy analysis of the process that led to the publication of the UAP report, and the subsequent shift in policy regarding UAP, utilizing a Policy Analysis Triangle framework (Gilson et al, 2008). Ostensibly, the Policy Analysis Triangle maps out the relationship between actors and the context, content and process of a policy. This first paper on the subject will look specifically at the individuals, groups and institutions ostensibly involved, which is publicly known, to try to map out the actors, power dynamics and interests that led to this remarkable shift in policy. The research was done exclusively through desk research in lieu of funding, utilizing keyword searches and passive participation in Ufology communities.

The academic literature highlights how policy is a highly negotiated process, both in its formulation and application, subjected to both framing and interpretation throughout the policy process. Policymaking can vary from rare radical restructuring in intent, to a series of tweaking and adjusting of that which already exists, informed from its own policy path dependency as well as the surrounding context, more often than sudden monumental changes or key decisions (Rist, 2000). Policy processes are conditioned by the historical direction of past policy, based upon the agreed norms and operating rules of the processes and institutions involved, leading to what is known as ‘path dependency’, meaning that policy is often hard to significantly change (Coff et al, 2013). The UAP Report and subsequent policy shift is noteworthy precisely due to what can be seen as a radical shift in policy regarding UAPs set by the historical precedent of the Condon Report.

It should be noted that policies do not necessarily take the shape of a single document or piece of legislation, resulting often from decisions taken across different sectors, which may or may not lead to a unified outcome. Explicitly stated goals by the main institution involved is not the sole arbiter of policy, with tangential policies that inform it (Rist, 2000; Cairney, 2012). These dynamics create a space for internal disagreements, not only between institutions, but also within institutions. Policy can thus be conceived as subjected to a variety of influences, including actors with and without any formal authority, as well as covering the space of actions taken, as well as decisions not to take action (Cairney, 2012).

It can be argued that UAP policies are inherently nebulous, due to the stigma surrounding the subject and the inherent secrecy attached to policies carried out by military institutions. As a result, the last publicly-known systematic study on UFOs, Project Blue Book, will be used as the measure to which policy has shifted from. Furthermore, it should be noted that analyzing policies is inherently value-laden and prescriptive, being fundamentally contestable (Goodin et al, 2006). As such, while the role of policy-makers, policy proponents, experts and ultimate beneficiaries, and their positions, arguments, assumptions and expressed views, can all be seen as part of the policy process, there is no one definitive ‘correct’ answer.

This analysis also utilizes Foucault’s approach to power, looking at how power is operated and deployed within society (Segev, 2019). Actors in commanding positions within economic, social, political, and military circles and organizations are argued to reproduce the power that comes from structure, commonly understood to be a ‘power elite’; however, there is no one ‘power elite’, with different interest groups influencing policy areas, and the influence of interest groups may mean certain issues never make it on to a political agenda. Curiously, an issue that has long held stigma in the public eye has precisely become a central topic of debate.



2. Mapping the Actors



AAWSAP and AATIP



The seed of the revival of UAP discourse in the public sphere stemmed from the relationship between former Senator Harry Reid, George Knapp, a journalist who has long covered UFOs, and billionaire Robert Bigelow, who has had a very public, long-standing interest in paranormal topics, such as UFOs and remote viewing (Bender, 2021a; Colavito, 2021, McMillan, 2021).

After the closure of Project Stargate in 1995, having been established in 1978 to investigate psychic phenomena for military and intelligence applications (Ronson, 2004), Robert Bigelow harnessed a group of government and military scientists who were part of the ‘Aviary Network’, a military insider group of UFO true believers who tried to internally investigate UFOs within the military, as well as the tangentially-related ‘Invisible College’, an informal group of scientists with interest in the paranormal, some of whom who were involved in Project Stargate, including Col. John Alexander and scientist Hal Puthoff. Bigelow established the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) to study the paranormal, as well as UFOs, until its closure in 2004. Importantly, NIDS worked closely with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), particularly through DIA nuclear scientist Dr. James Lacatski, who would go on to be the program manager of the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program (AAWSAP), the specific contract on technical reports under the umbrella program of AATIP (McMillan, 2021; Greenewald, 2019).

Due to this close working relationship with the DIA and his personal relationship with Senator Harry Reid, Bigelow’s umbrella company, Bigelow Aerospace, won a tender for $22 million dollars over five years to do military research on “aerial threats”, starting AAWSAP under an organization called the Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Study (BAASS), a subsidiary of Bigelow Aerospace (McMillan, 2020; Colavito, 2021). Importantly, AAWSAP was funded by ‘black’ money that did not need congressional approval, having been added into the 2008 Supplemental Appropriations Bill, and co-sponsored by Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye (McMillan, 2020).

As a military research contract, the Pentagon placed the bid via the DIA, which BAASS won as the sole bidder. AAWSAP would then become the program specifically to produce technical reports on ‘breakthrough technologies’, with nothing specified in the tender on UAP or UFO research (McMillan, 2020). AATIP, as the broader program, would subsume AAWSAP, who had brought in contractors like Hal Puthoff, Eric Davis and Kit Green, former NIDS staff with high security clearances and long history of government work, and widen its remit to focus on UAP research, as part of the standard modus operandi of secret black budget programs, including the circumvention of FOIA requests through its private-public structure (McMillan, 2020).

Importantly, AAWSAP, and AATIP, would be completely unclassified work, lacking any security status. Operating on a tiny budget, its existence and role was by most accounts peripheral (Colavito, 2021), although BAASS as an organization disbanded two years before AATIP officially closed in 2012, at the conclusion of the contract between the DIA and AAWSAP. AATIP, as the broader umbrella program, was moved to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (McMillan, 2020). A paper trail revealed by journalist Tim McMillan and researcher John Greenewalde showed that AATIP continued at least until 2017, when Luis Elizondo officially transferred responsibility over AATIP to another DoD employee and resigned, which will be discussed in more detail in the next section (McMillan, 2020; Greenewald, 2021).



TTSA



Another significant interest group in this policy field is To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA), a UFO research group founded by former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge (Bender, 2021; Colavito, 2021; McMillan, 2020). In Tom DeLonge’s own words, from interviews on the Joe Rogan Experience (2018) and Fade to Black with Jimmy Church (2016), TTSA was founded by DeLonge after tracking down military and intelligence personnel that he believed were active within UAP research, who agreed with his assessments and his plan for disclosure. While the veracity of his claims are still unknown, DeLonge was able to attract senior members from a wide range of former military, political, scientific and engineering backgrounds with high security clearances. Among those that have joined TTSA (though some have subsequently left) are scientists from the Aviary Network and the Invisible College, including Col. John Alexander, Hal Puthoff, and Kit Green, former Project Blue Book scientist Jacques Vallée, a former member of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs in Steve Justice, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Chris Mellon, former AATIP head Luis Elizondo, a former Intelligence Officer with the CIA in Jim Semivan, as well as high-ranking former military officials as revealed in the Podesta email leaks, such as General Neil McCasland, former commander of Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) (Wikileaks, 2016; Lewis-Kraus, 2021; Bender, 2021a). This would indicate, at the least, high-level contacts within the DoD, DoD contractors, and among the long-standing Aviary Network/Invisible College.

TTSA’s explicit mission is to pursue both entertainment as well as science and aerospace, having launched a show on the History Channel called ‘Unidentified’ as well as a series of science fiction books, and on the other hand actively engaging with the military on exotic materials. The TTSA has a cooperation with the US Army concerning ‘novel materials’, with the Army attempting to identify TTSA’s claimed metamaterials through a cooperative research and development agreement signed in October 2019 (Trevithick & Tingley, 2019).

The main drivers of the recent discourse around UAP has been through a combined effort of Chris Mellon and Luis Elizondo, now no longer associated with TTSA (Colavito, 2021). Chris Mellon was behind the much-publicized leaks of UAP footage confirmed by the DoD to be from their aircraft (Cooper et al, 2017), confirmed in the 60 Minutes segment on UAP (60 Minutes, 2021). Luis Elizondo, in turn, has become a talking head on a wide range of platforms – from podcasts and YouTube interviews to domestic and international mainstream media segments. Having left the Pentagon acrimoniously in 2017, penning a resignation letter directed at then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Luis Elizondo plays a pivotal role to further mapping potential actors involved in the current policy shift within the Pentagon (Bender, 2021b).

Speculative Pentagon Factions



One significant aspect in mapping the actors involved are the levels of secrecy surrounding military officials. One way to trace any potential factions within the Pentagon can only be done speculatively, and through inference. As a result, this following section should be noted as trying to draw inferences where none may actually be, in an attempt to map out potential internal Pentagon factions.

As mentioned, Luis Elizondo has offered three streams to explore the potential behind-the-scenes dynamics within the Pentagon. One, through his before-mentioned resignation letter, where he explicitly mentions how:

“…certain individuals within the Department remain staunchly opposed to further research on what could be a tactical threat…and perhaps even an existential threat to our national security.” – Luis Elizondo, 2017.

Secondly, these power dynamics at play can also be seen through his complaint to the Pentagon’s Inspector General, claiming a coordinated effort to discredit him, including a top official allegedly threatening to tell others that he was crazy and risk his security clearance (Bender, 2021b). His claim that certain individuals within the Pentagon disparaged and discredited him is backed by multiple public statements by Pentagon spokespersons, telling journalists that Elizondo had ‘no responsibilities’ on AATIP, which was amended to ‘no assigned responsibilities’, (Kloor, 2019; Kaplan & Greenstreet, 2021). One Pentagon spokeperson, in an email exchange with journalist Steven Greenstreet, expressed displeasure at how the story was being handled (Greenstreet, 2021b).

Additionally, FOIA requests by researcher John Greenewald showed that Elizondo’s emails had been destroyed, limiting the opportunity for a clear paper trail (Greenewald, 2021). These paint a picture of specific targeting of a former employee, and the complaint has led to a probe by the Pentagon’s Inspector General, undertaken by the Assistant Inspector General on Space, Intelligence, Engineering and Oversight (Bender, 2021b). The complaint specifically lays out:

“…malicious activities, coordinated disinformation, professional misconduct, whistleblower reprisal, and explicit threats perpetrated by certain senior-level Pentagon officials”Luis Elizondo Complaint to Pentagon Inspector General, 2021 (Bender, 2021b).

Thirdly, Elizondo’s public utterings on the matter, via his extensive interviews to UFO podcasts and YouTube channels where he expresses himself more candidly than his interviews with established mainstream media, would also indicate an internal pushback – in one interview telling journalist Steven Greenstreet that a senior Pentagon official told him to stop investigating UAP because they were ‘demonic’ (Greenstreet, 2021a), and in another interview with journalist George Knapp that there was pushback on his investigation on ‘religious grounds’ (Knapp & Adams, 2018). These attestations have been corroborated by Eric Davis and Nick Pope, former UFO researcher for the UK’s Ministry of Defense, who had also experienced pushback from senior officials who viewed UAP as ‘satanic’ (Kaplan & Greenstreet, 2021).

There is evidence of evangelical Christians in high levels of authority within the United States Air Force and within the Air Force Academy (Parco, 2013; Kelly, 2005; Rempfer, 2018). A critical position paper by James Parco at the Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit oriented towards mitigating pseudoscience and religious influence in government, laid out the growing religious fundamentalism in the U.S. military, in all levels, and how this behavior is tacitly, and sometimes explicitly, approved by senior leadership (Parco, 2013). Moreover, research by NPR showed that 1 in 5 defendants in the January 6th 2021 Capitol Riot had served in the military, including a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, and one of the deaths on the day was of an Air Force veteran (Dreisbach & Anderson, 2021; Stripes, 2021; Pawlyk, 2021). While those involved in the Capitol Riot were not particularly high-ranking, it indicates a continued, pervasive issue within the Air Force, and the military more broadly, of religious fundamentalism.

While the historical collection and analysis of UAP had been almost exclusively through the US Air Force, such as Project Blue Book, Tim McMillan’s research indicates that the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) was a major backer of AATIP continuing past the existence of AAWSAP, and also why the ONI is the current home of the UAPTF. With the Navy taking the reins in the current push for policy changes regarding UAP, it is noteworthy that the Air Force has been silent in the public discourse. The UAP report highlights the fact that the Air Force did not even have a standardized reporting mechanism until mid-2020, while the Navy implemented one earlier (DNI, 2021).

While nothing definitive can be said at the present moment, the public evidence points towards different factions within the Pentagon, some willing to pursue a policy shift towards UAP, and others obstinately dragging their feet to in lieu of a federal directive. Some of this pushback likely derives from sociocultural stigma, as Elizondo stated in an interview with the New York Post that he believed General Mattis was not briefed on the subject due to the potential for ridicule if it became public (Kaplan & Greenstreet, 2021).



Legislative Branch and Former Executive Branch Officials



To add to this byzantine web of interest groups are current and former government officials in both the legislative and executive branches speaking out on the UAP topic. While some of the statements to the mainstream media have more to play in the discursive shift around UAP, there are a significant number of members of Congress, particularly senators, who have played a role in applying pressure on the DoD to investigate UAP. While Senator Harry Reid has long-retired, other senators seem to have shown a keen interest on the subject, cutting across party lines.

Chris Mellon’s contacts and ability to navigate Congress helped bring about a series of classified briefings, leading to public statements from members of oversight committees, including Senator Marco Rubio, who is the former acting chairman of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and who should be noted as one of the significant drivers of the stipulation in the 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act for an unclassified UAP report (Bender, 2021a). Mellon effectively drafted the legislation that was adopted by the Senate in its request for the UAP report (Bender, 2021a). The classified briefings were publicly attested to by Senator Mark Warner (McMillan, 2020; Bender, 2021a).

In recent months, a whole range of members of Congress, and former Executive branch officials, have publicly spoken on the topic of UAP, including former DNI John Ratcliffe, former DNI James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan, as well as former presidents Obama and Clinton (Lewis-Kraus, 2021; Tracy, 2021). While this would indicate more of a discursive shift on UAP rather than policy shift, these shifts often go hand-in-hand, and the UAP report specifically mentions the necessity to break the sociocultural stigma associated with UAP reporting (DNI, 2021).

Journalists and independent Researchers



It should also be noted the role that investigative journalists and researchers have played in pushing for greater transparency and information around UAP in the public sphere. These journalists include, and are by no means limited to, Leslie Kean, George Knapp, Tim McMillan, Bryan Bender, Ralph Blumenthal and Steven Greenstreet. Separately, research by John Greenewald of the Black Vault, operating around constant FOIA requests from the government for transparency, has been critical in uncovering documentation of ‘behind-the-scenes’ negotiations. Lastly, it should be noted that filmmaker Jeremy Corbell has played a prominent role in the release of UAP footage from military sources, many of which have been confirmed by the Pentagon as coming from their ongoing investigations (CNN, 2021). This rapid confirmation is striking, and may indicate that Corbell is being utilized by one Pentagon faction or another for the purpose of information dissemination, either to potentially muddy the waters surrounding the topic (if the footage released may have a prosaic explanation), or as a way to keep public interest high in pushing for further policy shifts (if the footage released remains unexplainable). A more in-depth analysis of this would be for another paper, however.



Initial Analysis and Conclusion



Having mapped out the interest groups, journalists, potential Pentagon factions, and government officials involved in the policy and discursive shift around UAP in the last few years, we must turn, at least superficially, as to why this has occurred.

An argument presented by journalist Jason Colavito in Popular Mechanics (2021) is that the influence campaign by TTSA and Luis Elizondo in the mainstream media, such as the 2017 New York Times article and media appearances on 60 Minutes, and the pressure applied in the legislative branch through Chris Mellon, propelled the UAP narrative into the public sphere and directly affected legislation, spurring the UAP report that has now had actual change in policy. This mindset shift within Congress has multiple consequences, particularly around budgeting and legal mandates, where taxpayer money is spent (Bender, 2021a).

However, by most accounts, the UAPTF is an understaffed, under-funded task force – Chris Mellon and Luis Elizondo, in interviews done during 2021, expressed consternation that UAPTF solely consisted of two to three part-time employees, also tasked with other assignments, and with some lacking security clearances to have full access to data (Dolan, 2021; Sears, 2021). This would indicate that within the DoD, the seeming influence of these interest groups is limited. Despite this seeming insignificance, the UAP report immediately spurred a policy response by the DoD, aiming to formalize the program and standardize reporting (Hicks, 2021). This, in turn, would indicate that some factions within the DoD take the topic of UAP seriously.

A speculative reason of this policy shift, while remaining prosaic, is that it is motivated by a changing national security arena where there is a very real possibility that the existing sociocultural stigma has created a willful blind spot in surveillance, failing to identify foreign adversarial drones without proper reporting mechanisms and societal and professional pressure to not report in, or even talk about, inexplicable and unusual aerial phenomena (Rogoway, 2021). As argued by journalist Tyler Rogoway of The Drive, perhaps this policy shift is a necessity to face a changing geopolitical landscape, with the technological capabilities around drones improving drastically in the last few years (Rogoway, 2021). To save political and military ‘face’, this policy shift, necessitated by failures of surveillance, may be masked by a public discourse around UFOs, playing into the popular imagination and fascination with the unknown, rather than having to own up to intelligence failures borne out of pre-existing stigma.

The question remains then, if the disparate groups that are tangentially related to the government have solely through their influence on Congress managed to shift the discourse, and policies, on UAP, or if internal power dynamics of the Pentagon, motivated by a shifting defense landscape, technological advances in drone capabilities, and acknowledging the massive blind spot in surveillance caused by stigma, has been the main driver of the recent policy shift. There is always the possibility as well that this policy shift is motivated by the growing evidence of UAP exhibiting breakthrough technology, which must necessarily be understood by the US military apparatus if it poses a national security threat.



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Rogan, J., 2018. #1029 - Tom DeLonge. The Joe Rogan Experience. Available Online: Source: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2ybsXdWAtxqLBdRByLb2YG


Rogoway, T., 2021. Adversary Drones Are Spying On The U.S. And The Pentagon Acts Like They’re UFOs. The Drive, April 15th, 2021. Available Online: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zo...he-u-s-and-the-pentagon-acts-like-theyre-ufos

Sears, A., 2021. Six Things To Take Away From The Pentagon’s UFO Report. Daily Caller, June 26th, 2021. Available Online: https://dailycaller.com/2021/06/26/six-key-things-pentagon-ufo-report/

Segev, E., 2019. "Volume and control: the transition from information to power". Journal of Multicultural Discourses. Vol. 14, issue 3, pp. 240–257.

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Tracy, A., “I hope the mindset has changed”: John Podesta is thrilled that Congress finally cares about UFOs. Vanity Fair, June 22nd, 2021. Available Online: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/06/john-podesta-leslie-kean-ufo-report-congress

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LilWabbit

Active Member
Good stuff. Well-researched. Articulately presented. I hope everyone frequenting this site takes the time to read it carefully.

Indeed, most people mistake the current UAP flap for an essentially scientific or a military dilemma that has come to light owing to recent leaks. While there may be some military intelligence concerns, the historically resurgent UFO ruckus is primarily just another example of the inherent vulnerability of democratic governments to the influence of political interest-groups (or lobbies) consisting of relatively few leading individuals, with sympathizers both within and without the Federal Government. Not a paralyzing influence. But an influence nonetheless.

It's an essentially sociological and politological dilemma. Where the UFO "college" has lacked scientific competence and credibility, they have, from time to time, excelled at organized public outreach, fundraising and politics.

Perhaps my only quibble with your valuable study is that it appears to read into Secretary Kathleen Hicks' internal directive to improve processes, and reduce stigma, for internal DoD reporting to the UAPTF. The internal directive is not necessarily indicative of the Pentagon having shifted its priorities and attaching increased national security importance to the UAP, and by extension the UAPTF. What caught my eye was the public nature of an internal DoD directive. It could have just been deemed unclassified, but not publicized. This, to me, smacks more of a public relations move than a significant Pentagon shift in policy focus.

Hicks issuing an internal DoD directive in public could be simply to assure the Congress, and the general public, of DoD compliance to their concerns. 'We hear you, we take you seriously, now move the public spotlight away from us which was unsolicited in the first place.' In terms of Pentagon PR strategy, a public letter of compliance is called for to manage potential public accusations of not taking the UAP stuff seriously. Such accusations have been publicly disseminated by the likes of Elizondo amongst others.

Obviously, if there were no leaks nor the whole Bigelow college behind them, all these public internal directives, nor the AATIP/UAPTF, would likely not have been necessary.

All in all, there is no reason to believe the Pentagon hasn't always taken seriously any and all unidentified phenomena reported at training or test ranges. The DoD has no choice but to treat such things as potential threats.

Reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence are part and parcel of DoD’s core functions in almost every military discipline. Developing these functions to quicker and better identify potential airborne threats is a core area of constant improvement. These core military functions have historically not relied, nor do they currently rely, on a separate modestly funded and unclassified fringe entity in the Pentagon that is demonstrably limited in its capacity to identify UAP.
 
Good stuff. Well-researched. Articulately presented. I hope everyone frequenting this site takes the time to read it carefully.

Indeed, most people mistake the current UAP flap for an essentially scientific or a military dilemma that has come to light owing to recent leaks. While there may be some military intelligence concerns, the historically resurgent UFO ruckus is primarily just another example of the inherent vulnerability of democratic governments to the influence of political interest-groups (or lobbies) consisting of relatively few leading individuals, with sympathizers both within and without the Federal Government. Not a paralyzing influence. But an influence nonetheless.

It's an essentially sociological and politological dilemma. Where the UFO "college" has lacked scientific competence and credibility, they have, from time to time, excelled at organized public outreach, fundraising and politics.

Perhaps my only quibble with your valuable study is that it appears to read into Secretary Kathleen Hicks' internal directive to improve processes, and reduce stigma, for internal DoD reporting to the UAPTF. The internal directive is not necessarily indicative of the Pentagon having shifted its priorities and attaching increased national security importance to the UAP, and by extension the UAPTF. What caught my eye was the public nature of an internal DoD directive. It could have just been deemed unclassified, but not publicized. This, to me, smacks more of a public relations move than a significant Pentagon shift in policy focus.

Hicks issuing an internal DoD directive in public could be simply to assure the Congress, and the general public, of DoD compliance to their concerns. 'We hear you, we take you seriously, now move the public spotlight away from us which was unsolicited in the first place.' In terms of Pentagon PR strategy, a public letter of compliance is called for to manage potential public accusations of not taking the UAP stuff seriously. Such accusations have been publicly disseminated by the likes of Elizondo amongst others.

Obviously, if there were no leaks nor the whole Bigelow college behind them, all these public internal directives, nor the AATIP/UAPTF, would likely not have been necessary.

All in all, there is no reason to believe the Pentagon hasn't always taken seriously any and all unidentified phenomena reported at training or test ranges. The DoD has no choice but to treat such things as potential threats.

Reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence are part and parcel of DoD’s core functions in almost every military discipline. Developing these functions to quicker and better identify potential airborne threats is a core area of constant improvement. These core military functions have historically not relied, nor do they currently rely, on a separate modestly funded and unclassified fringe entity in the Pentagon that is demonstrably limited in its capacity to identify UAP.

Hello,

Thank you very much for the feedback, I appreciate that a lot.

Concerning your point re: "Why was the memorandum made public?". I think this is an excellent, very salient point, and one that should be addressed in the paper. Perhaps just a sentence. I try to keep speculation to a minimum (the why) in lieu of actual supporting evidence for a claim, and I have no documentation to back up the assertion that it was done to proverbially 'get the monkey off the back', although that is one reason I would love to interview some behind-the-scenes individuals on this outside of the normal media cycle.

In fact, I would like to expand the 'journalists' aspect of the piece, to explore how they are used, and the mainstream media in general, to garner popular support/interest. I would then also expand the role of TTSA/AATIP and their relationship with journalists such as George Knapp and Jeremy Corbell. As it stands, it's a bit short.

Regarding your other point: that the Pentagon already has, and always has, had adequate surveillance and data collection regarding unidentified phenomena. I sadly lack any evidence that would actually indicate that, and quite a lot that indicates the opposite - the sociocultural stigma of UFOs has actively hampered data collection on unidentified phenomena in US airspace, with no centralized bureau of reporting, data collection and management. The Navy did not institute a systematic mechanism until 2019, and the USAF in 2020 (as per the UAP report, plus this Politico article), and by all accounts there has lacked a centralized reporting interface since Project Blue Book was officially discontinued.

However, it is worthy to consider this a bit deeper, and to explore this aspect further as well. Perhaps some FOIA requests could turn something up.
 
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LilWabbit

Active Member
Hello,

Thank you very much for the feedback, I appreciate that a lot.

Concerning your point re: "Why was the memorandum made public?". I think this is an excellent, very salient point, and one that should be addressed in the paper. Perhaps just a sentence. I try to keep speculation to a minimum (the why) in lieu of actual supporting evidence for a claim, and I have no documentation to back up the assertion that it was done to proverbially 'get the monkey off the back', although that is one reason I would love to interview some behind-the-scenes individuals on this outside of the normal media cycle.

Knowing quite well how organizations such as the DoD function on the inside, you're in for an almost insurmountable challenge to find such an insider interviewee. But thumbs up!

Regarding your other point: that the Pentagon already has, and always has, had adequate surveillance and data collection regarding unidentified phenomena. I sadly lack any evidence that would actually indicate that, and quite a lot that indicates the opposite - the sociocultural stigma of UFOs has actively hampered data collection on unidentified phenomena in US airspace, with no centralized bureau of reporting, data collection and management. The Navy did not institute a systematic mechanism until 2019, and the USAF in 2020 (as per the UAP report, plus this Politico article), and by all accounts there has lacked a centralized reporting interface since Project Blue Book was officially discontinued.

To be precise, I did not say "adequate". ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) has always dealt with unidentified threats, but in most modern military organizations the ISR is never adequate. You must constantly push to gain an advantage over adversaries. Hence, the DoD constantly invests large sums of money to improve intelligence and surveillance technology as well as in human intelligence.

One piece of evidence worth considering and reviewing is budgetary appropriations. There is no evidence indicating that any significant chunks of the defense budget has been appropriated to a centralized UAP identification agency. The tiny appropriations disbursed for such a contracted entity (AATIP), which owes its existence to the very alien-obsessed interest-group you so adeptly described, tells the opposite story. A separate UAP entity simply hasn't been a high national security priority from purely DoD perspective at the leadership level. Otherwise they would have pushed for more appropriations.

Then there's the question of the scientific approachability of the somewhat sketchy available UAP evidence, and the matter of 'value for money'. On one hand, for a military organization, a reasonable certainty (not requiring full-fledged scientific proof) of a threat-level is enough for most operational decisions. File names such as GIMBAL and FLIR suggest the DoD had already, before our illustrious Mick West, entertained the explanation of a likely optical illusion for the phenomena shown in some of the footage. And yet Elizondo had treated the same evidence as featuring some extraordinary physics-defying technological capabilities.

It would be overkill to hire the most brilliant minds from every Ivy League school to establish what Mick West has already established with sufficient confidence as poor and unimpressive evidence, lending itself remarkably poorly to further analysis. Mellon had earlier said the GIMBAL footage is the best footage they had. Now, that's quite a let down.

There's the whole LIZ (low information zone) issue, an apt abbreviation coined by Mick. In terms of physical records on the UAP, the UAP invariably 'resides' in the LIZ. A real critter of the dark! As long as even the most advanced sensors available aren't all-perceiving (i.e. never), their capability has limits. The sensor-data acquired at the limits of any sensor capability will always be low in its information content. Owing to constant technological advancement, LIZ is also always in motion. Yesterday's LIZ is today's HIZ (high information zone), which the aliens seem to have a curious knack at evading, like the orcs avoiding sunlight (until Saruman created the Uruk-Hai). Today's LIZ is tomorrow's HIZ. It would be somewhat absurd to form a prestigious scientific college for investigating perennial sensory fluff.

Yet this fluff can't be dismissed either. And isn't. As said, the DoD is constantly investing large sums of money in improving its ISR. But this ISR capability does not equate to, nor rely on, the AATIP/UAPTF, nor does it need other outside entities. As you so well demonstrated in your study, the Bigelow/Reid/Mellon/Lacatski lobby and late joiners and leakers such as Elizondo are the main reason such a fringe entity exists in the first place within the DoD.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
That's an interesting read for sure.

(From my perspective, the paper would profit from one more language editing pass, some constructs feel off grammatically.)

From the abstract:

Lastly, some initial reasons are raised as to why the policy and discursive shift has occurred now, through three main hypotheses – [1] that these aforementioned interest groups have completely succeeded in influencing Congress based on nothing but their tenacity and contacts, [2] that the shifting geopolitical space around drone technology and foreign adversarial spying has made existing sociocultural stigmas actively dangerous from a defense perspective and, to avoid embarrassment, they have utilized the popular imagination of UFOs to implement policy changes, or [3] that there truly is advanced craft of unknown origin that display breakthrough technology, which has become untenable for the Pentagon to continue to ignore.
The paper falls short of elucidating these issues beyond what the abstract states, and that highlights its weakness.

To discuss [2], you'd need to research how the armed services and counterespionage agencies actually address these threats, and sort the UAP guys within that larger effort (if there is a larger effort). Obviously much of that larger effort is classified, which makes this difficult.

Regarding [3], it is obvious from the UAPTF report that, currently, there is NO evidence that shows the existence of "advanced craft" or "breakthrough technology" in a way that is "untenable to ignore". There is no data suporting these hypotheses that has been confirmed to not be the result of sensor malfunction or spoofing (or simply operating the sensors at/beyond the limits of their design capability).

Your paper ignores the elephant in the room (and in the title of this forum) that is the leaked Navy videos.

I believe a logical consequence of these leaks should have been to revoke the security clearances of the individuals who leaked them. You note Elizondo's involvement in them; Elizondo losing his clearance would immediately explain why he was relieved of "assigned responsibilities" and why he had to resign eventually.

You can also read the Navy memo (reproduced elsewhere on this forum) in that light: by pointing out that there is an official, formal, internal reporting process for UAP sightings, it could make it possible to come down more heavily on personnel who leak "UFO sightings" to the public, while also making them less motivated to do so.
It has become clear from narratives disseminated by Elizondo and also accompanying the report that military UAP sighting reports provide a way for foreign adversaries to gauge the capabilities of US sensors, especially if these adversaries can identify the underlying phenomena, either through their own research, or because they have caused them. Therefore, all of these reports are classified, and none of them should leak. (How many military UAP sightings have leaked from Russia or China?)

The video leaks also provide the reason why the 1969 Condon report conclusions no longer hold: that report was written in an age of eyewitness reports, while we live now in an age of multiple digital sensors and cameras and complete radar archives that help separate spurious from substantive reports and provide enough corrobaration for a small amount of UAPs to not be dismissible as the imaginations of deceived minds: we now have to dismiss them as the imaginings of deceived sensors and/or deceived analysts, which, given our general trust in technology and "experts", is much more difficult to achieve.

As Metabunk has shown, there are conventional explanations for these videos; yet they have swayed a large fraction of the population, which may well include a number of lawmakers withmostly non-scientific backgrounds, into believing these UAP could be advanced aircraft. A hearsay report from the committee session indicates that there were 40 minutes of video presented by the UAPTF, and that some committee members were "gobsmacked". Well-chosen video underlaid with a well-written propaganda narrative is an effictive tool for proselytizing even as far-fetched beliefs as Flat Earth and other conspiracy threories, as Metabunk readers are also well aware of. The UFO believers in government have maneuvered themselves into a position where they have been able to propagandize influential members of Congress behind closed doors in a manner that is impervious to public analysis and critique due to "national security".

Trump's presidency has been a historic lesson on the effects of conspiracy theories in government, and how much damage they can cause, on a scale not seen in a Western democracy since the 1930s. A military that aligns its efforts against imagined threats instead of real challenges is weakening itself. I would assume that there is foreign influence in this arena as well; it has been proven to have a hand in many other conspiracy theories that have shaped public discourse in the past few years. The realists will need to be quite skilled to navigate the challenges posed by these CT influences, as their dismissal does not negate their political power. Any effort to address real military threats (such as drones, or the leaking of military intelligence under the guise of "spreading the truth they don't want you to know") has to work within a world where a significant part of the actors believes in UFOs.
And that's quite a different environment than the 1969 Condon report had, too.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
There is no data suporting these hypotheses that has been confirmed to not be the result of sensor malfunction or spoofing (or simply operating the sensors at/beyond the limits of their design capability).
I've been trying to be short here, because explaining the ways we now have sensor data showing UFOs are both complex to explain and familiar to readers of Metabunk; for example, a fighter jet's camera tracking gimbal was not designed and tested to provide reliable information on the rotation of an infrared source; if it is treated as if it was, that can be considered as using these sensors to provide information they were not designed to provide ("beyond design capability"). While the sensor is not "malfunctioning", some conclusions from that data are still wrong - while superficially appearing to be true!
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
It has become clear from narratives disseminated by Elizondo and also accompanying the report that military UAP sighting reports provide a way for foreign adversaries to gauge the capabilities of US sensors, especially if these adversaries can identify the underlying phenomena, either through their own research, or because they have caused them. Therefore, all of these reports are classified, and none of them should leak. (How many UAP sightings have leaked from Russia or China?)

A highly pertinent point @Mendel. In fact, the national security risk of the leaks, whilst not catastrophic, may outweigh the national security risk of the objects/phenomena portrayed in them.

Amongst other things, exact sensor ranges, like weapon system ranges, are highly classified, and could be inferred from some of the footage. In terms of older sensors, the risk is obviously lesser, but even then the Pentagon would never volunteer such data to the public.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
In fact, the national security risk of the leaks, whilst not catastrophic, may outweigh the national security risk of the objects/phenomena portrayed in them.
Regarding "objects/phenomena", the risk to aviation via drones, or the intelligence risks posed by spy craft, are probably best addressed through surveillance, and not by collecting UAP reports, because it's much more useful to actually find these drones than to guess at them.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
A highly pertinent point @Mendel. In fact, the national security risk of the leaks, whilst not catastrophic, may outweigh the national security risk of the objects/phenomena portrayed in them.

Amongst other things, exact sensor ranges, like weapon system ranges, are highly classified, and could be inferred from some of the footage. In terms of older sensors, the risk is obviously lesser, but even then the Pentagon would never volunteer such data to the public.
Pretty much, the military footage leaks so far have been limited to older systems, for which a lot of the technical data is available.

However judging by some of the posts on the sim forums there are some niche aspects revealed in them though that were not covered in the publicly available data that was used to create the DCS etc simulations.

Also interesting is that some of the limits/issues that cause them to be "UAP" are things that would not be present in all but the most advanced simulator and even then it's not clear if even an advanced military simulator would recreate them (IR glare, lens changes causing loss image and subsequent loss of optical lock, the limits of physical gimbal rotation systems.) Thus real videos from aircraft would be the only training tool you could use outside of theory.

But I assume the Pentagon has a "zero tolerance" for any data they don't have to volunteer, no matter the actual risk.
 
That's an interesting read for sure.

(From my perspective, the paper would profit from one more language editing pass, some constructs feel off grammatically.)

Thank you. Yes, this is still in draft form and I am going over it still. I see this as a type of peer review process due to the unlikelihood of having something on UAPs published academically, and I appreciate your feedback.

From the abstract:


The paper falls short of elucidating these issues beyond what the abstract states, and that highlights its weakness.

I agree, the passage expressed in the abstract isn't fully elucidated in this draft. I have written a slightly longer piece that utilizes the 2019 Abqaiq-Khurais attack on Saudi-Aramco oil processing facilities as an example of new drone warfare and its ramifications in that one particular case as perhaps a motivating factor in concerns around (2).

To discuss [2], you'd need to research how the armed services and counterespionage agencies actually address these threats, and sort the UAP guys within that larger effort (if there is a larger effort). Obviously much of that larger effort is classified, which makes this difficult.

This would be something definitely worth pursuing with funding. Keep in mind that this is all unfunded research done in the spare time, due to an interest in the topic and what seems to be a largely unexplored aspect of this policy shift except here on Metabunk.

Regarding [3], it is obvious from the UAPTF report that, currently, there is NO evidence that shows the existence of "advanced craft" or "breakthrough technology" in a way that is "untenable to ignore". There is no data suporting these hypotheses that has been confirmed to not be the result of sensor malfunction or spoofing (or simply operating the sensors at/beyond the limits of their design capability).

My reading of the UAP report differs significantly from yours.

"In 18 incidents, described in 21 reports, observers reported unusual UAP movement patterns or flight characteristics... the UAPTF holds a small amount of data that appear to show UAP demonstrating acceleration or a degree of signature management. Additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts to determine the nature and validity of these data. We are conducting further analysis to determine if breakthrough technologies were demonstrated." - pg. 5.

and

"we may require additional scientific knowledge to successfully collect on, analyze and characterize some of [the UAP]. We would group such objects in this category pending scientific advances that allowed us to better understand them. The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management." - pg. 6.

Nowhere does it say that those 18 incidences are single-sensor anomalies, and it can only be implied to be so. To me, that isn't sufficient evidence to rule out the possibility. I am willing to retract that hypothesis when the US government does, but the report does not rule it out.

I grant you that the UAPTF, as explored in the paper, was a tiny group of two to three individuals, working on the report part-time, and some without security clearances. This could lead to all sorts of shortcomings in their analysis and data processing that should be acknowledged. However, to completely rule out advanced breakthrough technology as a potential hypothesis, when it is stated clearly in the report itself as not having been ruled out, would be premature.

Your paper ignores the elephant in the room (and in the title of this forum) that is the leaked Navy videos.

This is a fair point, and should perhaps be mentioned in the part around Congress, as it was largely Chris Mellon's efforts to bring the Navy videos out in public, and the Navy pilots in front of Congress, that has spurred this entire endeavor.

I believe a logical consequence of these leaks should have been to revoke the security clearances of the individuals who leaked them. You note Elizondo's involvement in them; Elizondo losing his clearance would immediately explain why he was relieved of "assigned responsibilities" and why he had to resign eventually.

There is no public evidence to suggest that Elizondo has lost any security clearances, and in his own words he has not - the IG report being made public would give substantial insight into if this is the case or not, but that might not be forthcoming.

It has become clear from narratives disseminated by Elizondo and also accompanying the report that military UAP sighting reports provide a way for foreign adversaries to gauge the capabilities of US sensors, especially if these adversaries can identify the underlying phenomena, either through their own research, or because they have caused them. Therefore, all of these reports are classified, and none of them should leak. (How many military UAP sightings have leaked from Russia or China?)

This is an excellent point, and one that is very compelling - that UAP sighting logs should not leak due to the sensitive data it might contain, and the public availability of it would signal both the type of capabilities the US military has in surveillance, and an avenue for foreign adversaries to gauge capabilities.

The video leaks also provide the reason why the 1969 Condon report conclusions no longer hold: that report was written in an age of eyewitness reports, while we live now in an age of multiple digital sensors and cameras and complete radar archives that help separate spurious from substantive reports and provide enough corrobaration for a small amount of UAPs to not be dismissible as the imaginations of deceived minds: we now have to dismiss them as the imaginings of deceived sensors and/or deceived analysts, which, given our general trust in technology and "experts", is much more difficult to achieve.

Your point regarding this is also a fair point that is worth exploring more, that changing technology and ability to gather data necessitates this change in policy - and is actually something quite overdue. This is a strong argument that should be considered - I will have to look for corroborating data, but a strong hypothesis nonetheless.

However, the concept of outright dismissal should only be done after dissemination of data and analysis, predicated on the idea that there is "more" data that is unavailable publicly, and that the UAP report isn't exclusively lying or put together with exceedingly poor analysis. Otherwise, I agree with you that stronger information gathering and analysis processes and methods can lead to better data, which in turn can lead to stronger concepts and more accurate and clear understanding, which will lead to the full debunking of the advanced breakthrough technology hypothesis.
B

As Metabunk has shown, there are conventional explanations for these videos; yet they have swayed a large fraction of the population, which may well include a number of lawmakers withmostly non-scientific backgrounds, into believing these UAP could be advanced aircraft. A hearsay report from the committee session indicates that there were 40 minutes of video presented by the UAPTF, and that some committee members were "gobsmacked". Well-chosen video underlaid with a well-written propaganda narrative is an effictive tool for proselytizing even as far-fetched beliefs as Flat Earth and other conspiracy threories, as Metabunk readers are also well aware of. The UFO believers in government have maneuvered themselves into a position where they have been able to propagandize influential members of Congress behind closed doors in a manner that is impervious to public analysis and critique due to "national security". Trump's presidency has been a historic lesson on the effects of conspiracy theories in government, and how much damage they can cause, on a scale not seen in a Western democracy since the 1930s. A military that aligns its efforts against imagined threats instead of real challenges is weakening itself. I would assume that there is foreign influence in this arena as well; it has been proven to have a hand in many other conspiracy theories that have shaped public discourse in the past few years.

This is an excellent take and very concerning, and Trump has shown that even government is not impervious to nonsense - and this may be the natural follow-through after four disasterous years and a global pandemic that has spawned even more conspiracy and confusion.

Sadly, to do a proper analysis of the points you are making, I would need both insider access and funding, which both are highly unlikely. Your points will help strengthen this paper, however. As said, I treat this as a type of peer review, as there is still the stigma in academic journals to even this type of analysis.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
This is an excellent take and very concerning, and Trump has shown that even government is not impervious to nonsense - and this may be the natural follow-through after four disasterous years and a global pandemic that has spawned even more conspiracy and confusion.

This may go beyond the scope of what you are trying to do, and/or the resources you can devote to it, but an interesting part of all this is the tendency of societal stresses to manifest as irrational belief in conspiracies, identifying existing or fictional entities as scapegoats, or potential saviors. The first big UFO wave in the West coincided with the existential fears of the Cold War, mixing worries over whether UFOs represented some advanced weapons systems developed by the Soviets with contactee stories about how the aliens were here to bring us a message of peace and universal love and other save-the-day stuff. Whatever one might argue about the sources of the stress, it is pretty clear that society was pretty severely stressed ove the past few years. (I wonder of if the lack of "they are here to save us and bring peace" messages in the current environment speak to a more deep-seated pessimism among folks in the early 21st century than was felt by those in the mid 20th. Or maybe the Aliens are now more pessimistic about us!)
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
UAPPolicyAnalyst, thank you for your discussion of my reply!

I'd like to pick one issue for further consideration:
Regarding [3], it is obvious from the UAPTF report that, currently, there is NO evidence that shows the existence of "advanced craft" or "breakthrough technology" in a way that is "untenable to ignore". There is no data suporting these hypotheses that has been confirmed to not be the result of sensor malfunction or spoofing (or simply operating the sensors at/beyond the limits of their design capability).
My reading of the UAP report differs significantly from yours.

"In 18 incidents, described in 21 reports, observers reported unusual UAP movement patterns or flight characteristics... the UAPTF holds a small amount of data that appear to show UAP demonstrating acceleration or a degree of signature management. Additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts to determine the nature and validity of these data. We are conducting further analysis to determine if breakthrough technologies were demonstrated." - pg. 5.

and

"we may require additional scientific knowledge to successfully collect on, analyze and characterize some of [the UAP]. We would group such objects in this category pending scientific advances that allowed us to better understand them. The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management." - pg. 6.

Nowhere does it say that those 18 incidences are single-sensor anomalies, and it can only be implied to be so. To me, that isn't sufficient evidence to rule out the possibility. I am willing to retract that hypothesis when the US government does, but the report does not rule it out.

I grant you that the UAPTF, as explored in the paper, was a tiny group of two to three individuals, working on the report part-time, and some without security clearances. This could lead to all sorts of shortcomings in their analysis and data processing that should be acknowledged. However, to completely rule out advanced breakthrough technology as a potential hypothesis, when it is stated clearly in the report itself as not having been ruled out, would be premature.
My quotes:

[4] P.3: "In a limited number of incidents, UAP reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics."
[5] p.3: "These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis."
[6] p.5: "The UAPTF holds a small amount of data that appear to show UAP demonstrating acceleration or a degree of signature management. Additional rigorous analysis are necessary ..."
[7] p.5. "Additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts to determine the nature and validity of these data."
[8] p.5 "We are conducting further analysis to determine if breakthrough technologies were demonstrated."
[9] p.6 "The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management."

This reads as if the UAPTF has not made a determination whether the sensor data is to be trusted or not.
As long as that determination has not been made, the evidentiary value of this data is neglible.
(It can, of course, still influence public opinion: conspiracy theories do not require good evidence.)
 
This reads as if the UAPTF has not made a determination whether the sensor data is to be trusted or not.
As long as that determination has not been made, the evidentiary value of this data is neglible.
(It can, of course, still influence public opinion: conspiracy theories do not require good evidence.)

They certainly do sound like they’re hedging their bets, but I see it as an abundance of caution in making such a significant call. If they get it wrong, they’ll be ridiculed. If they get it right, they’ll have alerted every nation on Earth that the US is outmatched.

I think the part I focus more on in still entertaining the advanced craft hypothesis is “additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts”.

They certainly believe they have something that requires a coordinated effort by multiple groups to reach a conclusion on. I think, if they felt it could truly be ruled out as likely sensor errors, they would have said as much more explicitly. On this point, we might have to agree to disagree - I’m not disputing that this hypothesis will eventually be put to rest, I just think it’s premature to do so now, as any rigorous inquiry shouldn’t rule a line of thinking out until all available data indicates that it must be - and the central report that heralded this apparent policy shift has not ruled it out, regardless of their competence, motivations or knowledge.
 

gabelewis

New Member
Claim: It's pretty obvious that the way people read the report is 100% in line with their priors.
Evidence: *gestures broadly*
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I think, if they felt it could truly be ruled out as likely sensor errors, they would have said as much more explicitly.
I think if they ruled these out as sensor errors, the report's conclusions would have to be similar to those of the 1969 Condon report, maybe with "drones" added in. You've explained very well in your draft paper why that goes against the interests of those behind UAPTF.
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
They certainly do sound like they’re hedging their bets, but I see it as an abundance of caution in making such a significant call. If they get it wrong, they’ll be ridiculed. If they get it right, they’ll have alerted every nation on Earth that the US is outmatched.

As discussed earlier, it's not in the Pentagon's interest, nor the interest of most federal agencies, to bite the hand that feeds them. In representative democracy, government departments and agencies are usually careful not to give off even a whiff of a signal that they are not taking the supreme legislature (Congress, in the US case), or the opinion of the interest-groups shaping public opinion and certain legislators, seriously. Especially if concerns on "national security" are publicly raised. All of the above remains the case even if the Pentagon itself, internally, has not found significant evidence to raise an equivalent level of national security concern.

The few physical records mentioned in the report under the section "And a Handful of UAP Appear to Demonstrate Advanced Technology" concern UAP appearing to demonstrate "signature management" and "acceleration", as well as "military aircraft systems" processing "radio frequency energy".

The leaked footage seems to represent precisely the type of physical records that "appears" to demonstrate unusual movement patterns and acceleration whilst proving far less awe-inspiring in closer scrutiny. This begs the obvious question: Does this "small amount of data" include the leaked footage, and is the undisclosed data of the same nature and as easily demystified as evidence as the leaked records? We are unlikely to receive a satisfactory answer to this question, pending further leaks. But our cursory, quick and pop-culture-flavoured viewing of the very same footage which has already been somewhat successfully demystified by Mick, obviously looks like "sci-fi". It is therefore unsurprising that even some of the legislators may have been "gobsmacked" whilst others, in their own words, were far from impressed by the classified congressional briefing that preceded the unclassified report.

I think the part I focus more on in still entertaining the advanced craft hypothesis is “additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts”.

They certainly believe they have something that requires a coordinated effort by multiple groups to reach a conclusion on. I think, if they felt it could truly be ruled out as likely sensor errors, they would have said as much more explicitly. On this point, we might have to agree to disagree - I’m not disputing that this hypothesis will eventually be put to rest, I just think it’s premature to do so now, as any rigorous inquiry shouldn’t rule a line of thinking out until all available data indicates that it must be - and the central report that heralded this apparent policy shift has not ruled it out, regardless of their competence, motivations or knowledge.

In terms of the 'significance' of the non-anecdotal records mentioned in the report, the report read "small" twice, "a handful" once, and "limited" once: "A small amount of data", "a small number of cases", "a handful of UAP appear to", and "a limited number of incidents". This is the UAPTF itself confirming four times they have but a limited amount of interesting material. There is only a small amount of physical records associated with the 18 UAP incidents reported by observers as demonstrating unusual flight characteristics. Also the expression "observers reported" caught my eye in the first reading. If the eyewitness observations on the 18 incidents were supported by "a significant amount of sensor data", then it would warrant the characterization of a "significant" finding that seriously merits closer expert review with extra resources.

The phrase “additional rigorous analysis are necessary by multiple teams or groups of technical experts” must therefore be read in the foregoing context.

"The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management."

After all, the very first sentence of the executive summary, reading in bold text, seems to highlight low quality reporting on the UAP as the chief reason for the difficulty to analyse it further with current resources. Not the extraordinary nature of the technology that "appears" to feature in a small number of cases:

The limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP.

In other words, if the Pentagon, under continuing congressional pressure, seeks better analysis of the admittedly limited UAP data currently available, "additional rigorous analysis" is obviously necessary which, in turn, would require more resources. These expressions do not smack to me as a particularly poignant plea for more resources, but more of a statement of fact. 'The data is not impressive but a few cases did seem strange, while they can be explained variously. If you want better analysis of these few cases, give us more money and more competent staff.'

This is to highlight the multifarious ways all these sentences can be read, depending on the reader's interpretive slant. My slant is simple. That the Pentagon, and the current UAPTF (as opposed to earlier iterations of the entity), is somewhat matter-of-fact about it. And deliberately circumspect (non-offensive towards any group).

As long as there remains (1) a sizeable and noisome alien-believing demographic of voters, represented by the 'usual suspects', and newly fired up by Mellon/Elizondo leaks, and (2) bipartisan congressional interest in securing their votes and/or in UAPs as potential national security threats, (3) some manner of congressional pressure on the Government to investigate UFOs will continue to be exerted irrespective of the actual national security threat of the UAP as currently determined by the DoD core organization based on internally reviewing the available UAP evidence.
 
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'The data is not impressive but a few cases did seem strange, while they can be explained variously. If you want better analysis of these few cases, give us more money and more competent staff.'
I think this is an excellent summary of the report. However, a reading of the report like this still leaves the advanced craft hypothesis on the table - even if the reason it’s still on the table is due to inadequate analysis and lacking data - because there are sensors and individuals who have provided data that believe they saw something advanced.

It goes back to the point Mendel made earlier, that reversing the Condon report makes sense purely from a need to debunk sensor data and trained observer eyewitness statements due how much data collection has changed.

not in the Pentagon's interest, nor the interest of most federal agencies, to bite the hand that feeds them. In representative democracy, government departments and agencies are usually careful not to give off even a whiff of a signal that they are not taking the supreme legislature (Congress, in the US case), or the opinion of the interest-groups shaping public opinion and certain legislators, seriously. Especially if concerns on "national security" are publicly raised.

While I agree up to a point, and the memo may just have been issued to placate Congress and the general public as you argued earlier, the Pentagon is a respected institution that, if they said there was nothing, Congress would accept that conclusion (the general public less so due to long history of distrust), as the interest groups involved in this are, while influential, still very minor compared to established lobby groups in the defense field. I agree that invoking “national security” has allowed for the US government to enact some highly adverse policies without having to reveal that information publicly, and is now a useful (and dangerous) tool and framing to throw around to get attention, budget support and to be taken seriously - precisely why Elizondo and Mellon have pursued the national security threat angle on this topic.

I think at this point expected 90 day update on reporting strategy and technical co-ordination will be significant in signalling if this policy and discursive shift is definitively occurring
(budget as you mentioned, more eyes and better analysis on the data to reach firmer conclusions, etc) or is merely the appearance of a policy shift, being ultimately a congressional flap (quietly taken behind the shed and dropped once public scrutiny has waned).

It might be that they’ll implement the changes they’ve needed to implement to more broadly monitor and surveil the skies, utilising this whole affair as an excuse, and then slowly discontinue an independent UAPTF to fold it into existing intelligence infrastructure.
 
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LilWabbit

Active Member
I think this is an excellent summary of the report. However, a reading of the report like this still leaves the advanced craft hypothesis on the table - even if the reason it’s still on the table is due to inadequate analysis and lacking data - because there are sensors and individuals who have provided data that believe they saw something advanced.

We're on the same page.

While I agree up to a point, and the memo may just have been issued to placate Congress and the general public as you argued earlier, the Pentagon is a respected institution that, if they said there was nothing, Congress would accept that conclusion (the general public less so due to long history of distrust), as the interest groups involved in this are, while influential, still very minor compared to established lobby groups in the defense field.

What you wrote in parentheses goes to the crux of the matter. The Congress, for obvious reasons, panders to public opinion. Some Members of Congress also genuinely share public opinion, whatever it may be. If public opinion, or at least a sizeable voter demographic, believes in aliens and distrusts the Government, many a Member of Congress would be poised pander to those sentiments, at least in public. The Pentagon is acutely aware of this. The notion that the Pentagon, or other widely respected agencies in the executive branch, would be unfailingly straightforward and blunt to the Congress about all that they know and think, is a nice one. But the reality is more nuanced imho.

If the DoD core organization has already internally deemed the UAP evidence to mainly constitute perennial sensor fluff at sensor capability limits, LIZ artifacts and occasional human misperceptions of mundane low-threat phenomena, then to bluntly share such an assessment in public would make the Congress, and the UFO lobby groups with a corps of sympathizers both within and without the DoD, look alarmist, panicky, gullible and stupid. It is very unlikely that the Pentagon would bluntly set forth such a damning assessment. Rather, a gentler dialling down of the alien flap as well as all hyped-up UAP "national security" alarm is more likely, and is precisely what the released and decidedly underwhelming Pentagon report may accomplish. Neither is DoD interested in defending its internal positions by engaging in public debate.

But on the other hand, the DoD is equally unlikely to express objections to congressional pressure for a separate UAP entity with a beefed up budget if such an entity secures funding from outside its core budget, concerns itself with mainly unclassified data, and strengthens Pentagon's public relations with the Congress and the general public.

However, the DoD core organization would continue to be characteristically hesitant to share classified information on any cutting-edge military capabilities with its contracted entities, especially with unclassified ones like the AATIP/UAPTF which are perceived fringe, political and ideological. In my earlier work I have conducted internal inspections on such information security challenges and suspicions widely held within a major military agency towards even its long-standing and reliable contracted entities. What more with the likes of AATIP/UAPTF.
 

LilWabbit

Active Member
One last point, since we're on the topic.

There's the real possibility that, for instance, NEMESIS drone swarms, being tested during a Navy fleet experiment, feature in the USS Omaha footage released by Corbell (constituting a several notches more serious national security breach on the part of the UFO college). If so, then the DoD has little choice but to officially state it is "unable to confirm" that classified US programmes and systems account for some of the UAP evidence. Denial would be an outright lie, whereas open disclosure a national security risk. As the report reads:

"USG or Industry Developmental Programs: Some UAP observations could be attributable to developments and classified programs by U.S. entities. We were unable to confirm, however, that these systems accounted for any of the UAP reports we collected."

NEMESIS is a highly classified program and we have no access (nor should we) to footage or images of what "reconfigurable and modular EW payloads, Distributed Decoy and Jammer Swarms (DDJS)" (some disposable) would look like and what would be some of their flight characteristics. We already know LOS drones perform amazing flight feats.

Bluntness and straightforwardness, when pressed on classified Navy programmes, would obviously pose a national security risk. Even during a classified congressional briefing.

If indeed secret US capabilities feature in some of the UAP evidence, DoD would want to ensure such material would not "leak", in the future, even within the DoD to the UAPTF. Alien speculation rampant on such footage offers fortunately a convenient smokescreen, albeit an unintended one (i.e. not a PSYOP).
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
It is therefore unsurprising that even some of the legislators may have been "gobsmacked" whilst others, in their own words, were far from impressed by the classified congressional briefing that preceded the unclassified report.

huh. it's interesting how many people take that alleged comment, in a way completely opposite to how i interpret it. I took it as "we were all gobsmacked" ....that we had to sit through 40 minutes of science FICTION, when there are so many important -and not fiction- matters in the world that need attending.

hhmmm..
 

Greene

New Member
huh. it's interesting how many people take that alleged comment, in a way completely opposite to how i interpret it. I took it as "we were all gobsmacked" ....that we had to sit through 40 minutes of science FICTION, when there are so many important -and not fiction- matters in the world that need attending.

hhmmm..

My favorite quote from the initial batch of reactions was "I’m not on the edge of my seat", from Rep Welch of VT.
 

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