Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson, Susan Gough, told Liberation Times:
"To date, AARO has 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."But when pushed, whether the term "extraterrestrial" could extend to materials of unknown origin or non-human intelligences (a term used specifically by whistleblower David Grusch), Gough declined to go beyond the existing on-record statements provided by the DoD.
Liberation Times has offered the DoD an opportunity to comment further on its stance regarding such terminology - as of publication, there is no indication that such a move is likely.
Although noteworthy that the DoD refuses to comment further, this is not an admission that programs dealing with materials of unknown or non-human origin have been discovered.
There may be a variety of reasons for using the term "extraterrestrial", a term which means 'of or from outside the earth or its atmosphere.'
But as a department highly attuned to the power of language and its ramifications, it is essential not to overlook the significance of the DoD's lack of acknowledgement of Grusch's specifically chosen words when responding to his allegations.
Also of note, Gough confirmed that the AARO has approached alleged Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP)-related programs mentioned by individuals who have come forward as part of a congressionally-mandated historical review - increasing the possibility that team members have encountered exotic materials.
And when investigating such, programs, the DoD spokesperson confirmed that the AARO has not been denied access:
"AARO has been rigorously investigating alleged programs mentioned by individuals who have come forward as part of the congressionally-mandated historical review.The AARO, under the leadership of Director Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, lacks Title 50 authorities.
"To date, AARO has not been denied access to any United States government program, past or present, during the course of its work."
As a result, the AARO cannot access information pertaining to covert actions and most intelligence operations conducted by agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or National Security Agency without being given explicit authority and access.
However, members of the AARO's staff can gain access if they meet individual security standards.
Susan Gough suggested this potential issue had not impacted the AARO's mission, stating:
"By law, AARO may receive all UAP-related information, including any classified national security information involving military, intelligence, and intelligence-related activities, at all levels of classification regardless of any restrictive access controls, special access programs, or compartmented access programs.Directly addressing Title 50 authorities, Gough added that such authorities are unrelated to the AARO's ability to receive all UAP-related information through authorised disclosures:
"Moreover, there is no restriction to AARO receiving any past or present UAP-related information, regardless of the organizational affiliation of the original classification authority within DoD, the Intelligence Community, or any other U.S. government department or agency."
"The issue of potential supplemental statutory authorities for AARO, whether codified in title 10 or title 50 of the United States Code, will be considered as part of its mission requirements. This issue, however, is separate and wholly unrelated to AARO's unimpeded ability to receive all UAP-related information through authorized disclosures."DoD spokesperson Susan Gough is a figure regarded as the U.S. government's gatekeeper when it comes to the UAP topic.
Liberation Times asked whether there is currently a policy, either within the DoD and/or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), that, in effect, any inquiries related to UAP will be directed to and/or coordinated with Gough. The Pentagon spokesperson responded:
"It is DoD policy that all interactions with the news media at the Department level, including press queries, are coordinated with the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Within the Defense Press Operations office in OSD(PA), public affairs specialists are assigned portfolio areas.Of note, Gough's portfolio contains the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security (OUSDI&S), to which the AARO currently reports.
"Amongst their many duties, public affairs specialists are responsible for coordinating DoD responses to news media queries on subjects that fall into their portfolio area. My portfolio includes UAP, AARO, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, as well as other issues and offices.
"Responses to queries on UAP matters are coordinated with all the relevant stakeholders in DoD, and may include coordination with other federal agencies, depending on the nature of the query.
"I refer you to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence regarding their public affairs policies."
Sources have told Liberation Times that the AARO, which, up until now, has reported to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, is not trusted by numerous whistleblowers.
The issue may stem from the AARO's proximity to the OUSDI&S, which has previously been criticised for allegedly persecuting whistleblowers.
The former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program and UAP whistleblower, Lue Elizondo, has previously commented:
'The [O]USDI is the one single office that has continuously lied about this topic and persecuted whistleblowers.'Of note the National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 means that the AARO should report directly to Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, and the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence on all operational and security matters relating to the AARO.
However, there is no indication that this has been implemented yet, meaning up until now the AARO still reports on such matters to OUSDI&S.