The US Congress has held a public hearing on claims the government was concealing a longstanding programme that retrieves and reverse engineers unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
Three retired military veterans testified on Wednesday before a House Oversight Subcommittee that was the Congress’s latest foray into the world of UAPs – unidentified aerial phenomena, the term the US government uses instead of UFOs.
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The US government has begun taking the issue of UAPs more seriously in recent years, pushing for more research as the sightings observed could be a national security matter.
The central worry was that the sightings potentially are unknown aerial surveillance technology used by China to collect intelligence on US defences.
Here are some key takeaways from Wednesday’s hearing:
Retired Major David Grusch, one of the veterans who testified on Wednesday, said he was asked in 2019 by the head of a government task force on UAPs to identify all highly classified programmes relating to the task force’s mission.
At the time, Grusch was detailed to the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that operates US spy satellites.
“I was informed in the course of my official duties of a multi-decade UAP crash retrieval and reverse engineering program to which I was denied access,” he said.
When asked whether the US government had information about extraterrestrial life, Grusch said the US likely has been aware of “non-human” activity since the 1930s.
US Representative Tim Burchett supported the idea that the government was concealing information, saying at the opening of the hearing – which also featured testimony from two former Navy officers who said they witnessed UAPs – that “we’re going to uncover the cover-up”.
The Pentagon has denied Grusch’s claims of a cover-up.
In a statement, US Department of Defense spokesperson Sue Gough said investigators have not discovered “any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently”.
The statement did not address UFOs that are not suspected of being extraterrestrial objects.
Grusch said that he became a government whistleblower after his discovery and has faced retaliation for coming forward.
“It was very brutal and very unfortunate, some of the tactics they used to hurt me both professionally and personally,” he said. Grusch declined to be more specific about the retaliatory tactics, citing a continuing investigation.
During the hearing, Congressman Tim Burchett asked the former whistleblower if he possessed any knowledge of people who have potentially been harmed in efforts to conceal extraterrestrial technology, to which he replied, “Yes”.
Pressed for details in the course of the hearing, Grusch seemed reluctant to answer even under oath, repeatedly saying he could not comment in a public setting because the information is classified.
He said the US government is hiding information on UAPs not only from the public but also from Congress.